Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 22, 2012

Some thoughts on food justice

Many people don't understand what food justice is. Several conservatives I've talked to don't think there is a food justice problem, just like they don't think it's a problem if there is a huge and rising gap between poor and wealthy. Here is a food justice history lesson for us from 1987. West Siders (where I live) in St. Paul, down along Concord Street had a food justice problem. The residents had to go more than a mile to buy food. That might not seem like a problem for someone who doesn't think twice about hopping into their gas guzzling SUV to drive 3-1/2 miles to one of the massive super markets like Cub Foods or Rainbow or now Super Target and Walmart. But in a low income area with transportation equity problems to compound the task of just zipping out to the store to get a few things for dinner, even one mile is too far. Try pushing a baby stroller a mile and getting groceries and getting back home. What they really needed was a quality local, neighborhood grocery store or market that carried the things they all needed. But here is the catch: Those with the means to do so didn't want to invest in opening stores in the poorer areas of town. Access to quality food was not the same for everyone then or now. In current times, there is a trend of local farmers markets and urban farms springing up all across America in different neighborhoods, which is a way to level the playing field and provide access to healthy food for everyone at affordable prices. Most of these kinds of local markets existed in the past if we remember history, but were driven out of business by larger supermarkets. But in the case of the West Side neighborhood, all of the local markets were destroyed in the early 60's when the river flats were torn down and redeveloped for factories and industrial purposes. What was the solution in 1987 to the food justice problem? The neighbors banded together to create their own market. The 5 Corners Coop started and the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors triumphed. The 'West Side Voice' paper stated, "Democracy works only if citizens take the initiative to know one another and together plan the future." This is scary territory for most Republicans whose focus is on profits for the superstore instead of solving the food justice problem. What happens to food justice problems when natural organic food is available at a lower cost or even traded with neighbors and the profits stay in the neighborhood? Food inequality disappears. This is not a myth or a communist plot to take over the world, like some Conservative politicians would have us believe, but history proving what really works for sustainable neighborhoods. Human cooperation and involvement in each other's lives is the answer for a better life on this planet. The model of the isolated, gated community where people shoot innocent strangers walking through their neighborhood is the exact opposite, and the model of community that is being sold to us. When one of those neighbors can no longer sustain their lifestyle they have to move out of the neighborhood. In a real sustainable neighborhood, there is no food inequality in neighborhoods, everyone has access to the healthiest foods and there is no reason for being forced out of your home because you lost your job. History repeats itself because we don't remember the struggles of real people against power and injustice. Something to think about.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:13 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Art"

Category "Attitude"

February 15, 2011

Goodbye Snow

Goodbye Snow; We'll make a man out of you next year again.
Seasons end; When leaves are falling, I'll remember you then!

Posted by carl1236 at 12:55 AM | Art | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

February 11, 2011

Do you see anything in your children that reminds you of your spouse?

This is an interesting question I pulled from my "Journal in a Jar" this morning. The short answer is yes. Of course I question all of my views on life so I naturally expand this question to include humanity. I ask myself if people pass on to their offspring, not only genetic physical characteristics, but also dispositions. I do see in my daughter many of the same characteristics in her motherhood that my wife has as a mother. The way she handles and cares for the new baby, the way she is strong even when she doesn't feel like she is. I know my daughter will be a great mom just like my wife. Is that motherhood in general? Or is that a disposition that she inherited from her mother? I've seen many moms I could not compare with my wife in the care and love they use toward their children in daily practice. So I see that as something positive, whether my daughter learned by first-hand experience while growing up or whether the disposition was genetic, I'm really happy with my daughter and how she is handling being a new mom! And that reminds me of her mom, my wife.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:19 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

July 15, 2010

The secret for good health and long life

I don't think it's ever been a secret. I believe that health and longevity first starts with a healthy state of mind. Mental agitation, worry and stress ripple outward and create negative effects in our body.
So a positive, peaceful mental state creates good feelings and good effects in our bodies. It makes sense then that while we eat healthy foods, exercise and take care of our bodies, we should also take care of our minds and cultivate a healthy attitude.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:52 AM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

April 5, 2010

My Least Favorite Job

I don't have a least favorite job. I have least favorite moments within jobs. In general I like to work. I like working toward goals. I love challenges and problem solving. Hard physical work is rewarding to me also.
I've worked in the fields pulling the tassels off the tops of hybrid seed corn plants, in a shoe store selling shoes and accessories, in a shoe store warehouse stocking and sorting shipments, in a factory processing magnetic reel-to-reel computer tapes, washing windows, retail sales in a discount overstock store, computer programming, software technical support, drafting, web design, teaching technical skills, and more. What I have done in my jobs I have generally enjoyed.
I know many people that work in some crazy jobs that I might not want to do, if I were out looking for work. I don't think I'd want to slaughter animals for a living. I don't think I'd want to clean out sewer pipes. And I'm not very keen on handling garbage. But I do know people who do jobs like this and they don't complain. I'm sure if I was there, I'd work and I'd find out it's still work and it's productive and ok.
My favorite job to this point in my life was doing software technical support and training. It was a constant mental challenge that required teamwork and constant learning. And in my current position I get to use some of those skills too.
So my philosophy is that it is not the job that makes the human being. The human being makes the job. What I bring to work is my attitude toward work, creative energy, problem solving skills, motivation to do what it takes to get the job done and people skills.
My least favorite part of my job is when my attitude changes for whatever reason. Then I have to assess why. What makes me tick? And when I say I can't or won't do something I have to ask myself why not. Sometimes my negative attitudes happen in reaction to other people's attitudes and what they are bringing to their work. Then I have to ask why I am reacting like I am. And sometimes that will lead to a needed action or more self reflection. Sometimes that leads to a change of jobs or a change of attitude.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:05 AM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

March 12, 2010

Show me the money!

If I suddenly received $100.00, $1,000.00 or even $1,000,000.00, what would I do with it? It really does not matter. I would not hold onto it. I would not save it for a future day. I would not do what most people consider 'responsible.' But I am not advocating not to save for specific goals like retirement, a car, a motorcycle, a house, etc, because without saving money, a lifestyle can easily become unsustainable. I am stating only that my investment in life is in people, not getting more money so I can live more comfortably and buy more things.
Many people in America are in over their heads in debt. A person goes out and buys a new car at $30,000.00, and a house at 300,00.00, and pretty soon, wham, that person needs to be earning at least a few thousand dollars just to pay for those things. In an effort to stay on top of the debt load, many people then take jobs or positions that pay more money, even if it doesn't make them happy.
Ideally we should all go out there and choose only the career that we are excited about, that we are engaged in, that helps us have purpose and meaning in life. But how many people do you know that actually achieve all of that? And even if a person does, it changes. Anything can happen.
One of my most engaging jobs ever was doing software technical support and training. It was meaningful work to me. I was helping people solve problems and making their work-life a little easier and less stressful. In many ways, I had a calming effect on people because they knew I would not stop until their problem was resolved or they found a work-around. And when people call technical support they are usually already stressed out when they reach for the phone.
Doing software training was also really rewarding. I had knowledge and I could share that knowledge. I loved coming up with creative ways to get people to that 'ah-ha!' point when they understand and can put the principles to work. Teaching is meaningful to me and has tangible and intangible rewards for more than just me.
The third attribute of my most engaging job, that tied it all together and made it even more fun and positive, was being part of a high-performance team. Being part of a real team our job functions didn't always matter. The focus was on getting the job done right for the customer and helping each other do that. There was a lot of cross-training going on, a lot of discussion in the hallways, a lot of late nights working out solutions and solving problems together. We all had a shared vision and goals. And we cared about each other. It was amazing. High-fives were frequently passed between us. In situations like that, it did not matter how much I was getting paid or how many hours I 'donated' to the company.
After five years of doing a job I loved, and advancing my skills, It came crashing down on us. In a really bad April Fools Joke, the owner of the company called us all into the conference room, and introduced us to the new owners. He had sold the company without most of us knowing. We had never met the new owners before this meeting. And worse yet, they knew nothing about our business. And it got worse. The very first month they took over they could not make payroll. The reality of that situation was that they paid too much for a company they knew too little about.
The death of that company came a couple years later after a lawsuit against the previous owners and bankruptcy. One by one, as people jumped ship, our high-performance team was dismantled . I was one of the last remaining employees before the doors were closed. Luckily I found another job that paid enough money to feed my family and pay for my car, rent, utilities, etc. The real tragedy with this change was that not much could compare with the excitement and happiness I had experienced in my work.
I've used this analogy before, and I think it fits pretty well. Sometimes we do things out of necessity versus what will excite us and engage us. One domino falls because another one before it fell. My favorite job fell and I had to find another one as soon as possible or risk losing my car and not being able to buy baby formula. The new job wasn't bad, but it definitely lacked many of the key ingredients I see that make work meaningful and engaging.
I think on some level, I knew and understand that the pursuit of money was not my objective at all. My objective was to have purpose and meaning in my life. It was to make a difference in other people's lives. For me, the drive for money alone cannot satisfy that inner need for meaning and purpose. It's an April Fools Joke that turns into reality.
Now we look around at our economy and wonder how it all got into such a mess. Immediately we start to point fingers. Someone is to blame for this recession. Some of the statements I've read are, "It's because the banks are too lenient on who they give loans to." "People who borrow more than they can afford are to blame."
I think it's a deeper-rooted problem in our society. The drive for profit and a focus on making money shifts the focus from doing meaningful, engaging work that is rewarding to us and other people. Instead of dominoes falling one way, they get lined up to fall based on income and profit, not people.
Our companies of all sizes suffer because of the loss of meaning and purpose, other than the bottom line. I observe people in my current job. The owners and investors are clueless that one of their most respected workers spends an hour to two hours at a time talking on the phone almost daily about personal things. I see it in the zealous nature of a young person that is highly critical of others and lacks compassion and whose drive is the bottom line. And that is rewarded in our society and companies. I see it in the decisions companies make regarding not spending money on tools or equipment their employees need to do their jobs. I see it in people who no longer have each other's backs, who do not see work as a team effort. I see power and control, territorial behavior, versus collaboration, teamwork and a focus on the shared vision and mission. We end up with companies full of disengaged employees, mainly because there is no soul in focusing on making money. The end result is something we spend. And the cycle of spend-earn-spend-earn doesn't have the same meaning as meaningful work that stimulates us, engages our skills and talents, and pushes the limits of our potential.
If I were to receive an unexpected sum of money, whatever the dollar amount, I'm sure I'd find a way to use it with meaning and purpose. Just like I try to use my time. I would probably buy a laptop to write more, I would donate some money to programs I believe are helping people. I'd invest it in people, giving them opportunities to discover what engages them. These are things I do now, regardless of how much money I have. The focus in my life is not about striving for more things that will decay, rot, break, become lost, stolen or earn more. It's about striving for meaning and purpose in life. It doesn't matter how much money I have for that to happen. And in the end, my investments will pay off larger, in ways that I could ever realize if my focus was on the bottom line.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:22 AM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

March 10, 2010

Is it more difficult to be a parent now, when I was raising children or when my parents raised me?

That's 3 Generations I guess. Although I am not currently raising children, since mine are grown up and now raising their selves, I have an answer. I'm going to say 'none of the above.'
1. My parents had a difficult time raising four boys and a girl. We were hooligans! Sometimes angels but often fighting and getting into mischief. We could easily have fallen into drugs or anything else, if we had been in that neighborhood. We certainly knew as kids where those circles were and who those kids were.
2. You can teach a kid values and being able to make good choices. It's a lot of hard work on a parents part, and a certain amount of awareness. A lot of parents are not prepared for this, so it's difficult no matter what generation. And this has to start at an early age, especially before the pre-teen years.
3. It depends on the kids and the parents mental, emotional and physical health in any generation.

What's really difficult in raising children, whether of yesteryear, today's day and age, or tomorrow's hope, is that we have to be engaged in the process of raising our children, and be willing to do what it takes to help our children make good choices on their own. I don't think that is easy at any time. It can be fun and meaningful though.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:06 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 5, 2010

My Greatest Accomplishment

What I consider my greatest accomplishment may be so totally foreign to most people. An accomplishment like this is hard to match until the right moment comes along. Then it's like the heavens open up and love starts to pour down on us.
Quite a while ago, I was riding the bus home from work and a lady that appeared to be homeless, with really ragged and dirty clothes, who was also drunk or stoned or something, got on the bus. She asked the bus driver several times which bus she needed to take to get to the East Side. She was on the wrong bus. The driver attempted to tell her several times too, that she had to get off this bus and walk over another block. She was so confused, and I was moved by her genuine plea for help.
I stood up and went to help her. She could hardly stand, so I helped her off the bus. She could hardly walk so I motioned the bus on and began to walk with her. She asked me to hold her hand. So I did and we walked safely to the correct bus stop. While we were walking I asked her what her name was. Then I said I was happy to meet her. She got a look of surprise on her face and smiled. She asked my name and I told her. Then I looked up her correct bus on the schedule and told her which bus it was and how long it would take. She turned to me, thanked me and said, "I love you John." And I replied, "I love you too." A warmth ran through me as I said that. I was so far out of my comfort zone on this that I felt amazed by it all. Then I told her to be careful and slowly walked back to my stop to wait for the next bus.
The author of the Red Suit Diaries said that no one really chooses to become Santa. It starts with a desire to make others happy and to give them hope. His transformation of the heart started one day when he changed a light bulb for a man in a wheelchair. It felt very good to him to do something that was so easy for himself to do, yet nearly impossible for this man in the wheelchair to do. It was a simple task that made a huge difference in another person's life. He discovered that the real gift was not a present or something we buy in a store, but the gift of our self. This is one of many experiences that have profoundly changed my life.
So I consider my greatest accomplishment in life has been learning to give my self to others and developing a desire to make others happy and give them hope. How can I ever weigh a personal accomplishment or achievement against giving another human being a friend for a block? In another lifetime I might not have done that. This time I got out of my comfort zone and connected with another human being and I changed.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:05 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Winter-Biking"

Category "motivation"

February 26, 2010

My first bicycle commute of the year

Today I bicycled the six miles each way to and from work. It was light when I left and and dark coming home. And I slipped on the ice once when I rode over a huge ice-melt flow that had refrozen. But I saw it in advance and was going really slow, so it was no big deal. No injuries or pain.
The biggest problem I had was that my cheeks were getting cold going really fast down a mile-long hill. I should have had my ski mask for that part. The next problem was overheating. I dressed in layers though, so i could unzip my jacket and open up a little to cool off. All and all though it was easy and fun.
The biggest joy? Getting there by my own power and feeling exhilarated the rest of the day because my blood had a good workout. The fresh air was good too. As a bonus I got to climb back up that mile-long hill on the way home.
I have a really nice lighting system I set up a few years ago so commuting at night is no problem. I have a dual-halogen headlight system with rechargeable battery pack attached to the frame. Plus a 5-LED white blinking headlight in front and a 5-LED red blinking light in back. And I have a reflect vest and leg band to make me brighter. I also have the standard white and red reflectors on front and back of the bike. The headlight system is really handy and it's great to be able to see the road ahead. I originally set up this light system because I hit a curb once that I could not see with just a blinky light and it bent my rim up. So commuting in the dark is a lot more fun with all those bright things.
Now the hardest part about this ride... Getting out the door this morning. Biking in the winter is all attitude. It is actually quite nice biking in the winter if prepared properly for it. People talk to me like I'm crazy when I say this, but then I ask, "how do you prepare for cross country skiing?" Is that crazy? When I started treating winter biking like a winter sport, it was amazing. What I find is crazy is that I know all of this and proved it to myself by biking for a couple of years all-year-round, even through the deep snow. And it was no problem even in 20 below weather. So I have no valid excuses to not bike. Except that I have taken an extended break from exercise, and my body pays the price in not being fit like I used to be. But my mind also suffered consequences. My mind began to make excuses. it's too cold. I'll be late. My bike is not ready. etc. it was only sheer will power that got me out that door with my bike this morning. Once I got on the bike it felt good and there was no turning back. Check out my winter biking category if you are interested in my previous winter biking experiences.
Tomorrow I will bike to the bike shop too.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:37 PM | Attitude | Winter-Biking | motivation

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

February 22, 2010

The most exciting place I have ever been?

I guess this is relative to the experience I've had in each place. I've been to the east coast, west coast, Florida, Texas, Canada, Germany, and to multiple states visiting attractions and working.
I really enjoyed biking, kayaking and swimming in Lake Superior. I also really enjoyed hiking at 9000 feet in the mountains of New Mexico. I also really enjoyed running on the beach in California. And when I went to Germany I really enjoyed the thrill of speaking in German and seeing centuries-old castles.
What makes all of this interesting to me is not necessarily the place, but the experience. I've also traveled for work and found some of those places less than exciting because I was too busy working and had no time to enjoy the beauty of life in that location.
One time last summer, however, I was working in Sioux Falls, a city I don't remember ever visited before. There was a delay in work and I ended up staying over a weekend with no work to do. So I looked up events and attractions in the city. I found out there was an art fair going on and a German Octoberfest celebration. So I made my way downtown, found a parking place and spent the whole day talking to artists, eating german food and listening to german folk music. It was awesome and stimulating. That experience, though it may not sound like much, ranks right up there with doing back-flips off the rocks into the icy cold water of Lake Superior and having my breath taken away. And I got to know a little more about a place that I've never seen up close. If you are from Sioux Falls, I love your city! nice downtown area.
Another experience that ranks high on my list is taking in an orchestra concert on Harriet Island in St. Paul, laying on a blanket with a sea of people just hanging out and chillin' to classical music. And it was free!
So, my next question I ask myself is, what is the most exciting place I will go to and what will make it interesting? It could appear anywhere, depending on the experience.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:39 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Art"

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Learning"

Category "Life"

Category "Writing"

February 21, 2010

What do books mean to me?

Irrelevant as some material may seem, it's still something to read. Why do I read anyway? Today I am writing about what books mean to me. I read because there is relevancy in the words we write as human beings. There is relevancy in the act of expressing ourselves because we are relevant. The book, the paper, the font, and the language used are not the relevant part of the story. Susan Weinstein wrote in an article, "We are English because English isn't about books; it's about us..." It's about our conversations, debates, stories, beliefs, criticisms, poems, loves, losses and joys. Our books reflect our human lives as we see them or can imagine them. Books are relevant to me because people are relevant.
Sometimes insolent is a better word to describe some of the books I read. The author's contempt is so thick it can be cut with a knife. But that comes from somewhere and that author may be coming from a position of fear, anger or a belief in something so strongly that it is expressed with insults and force. Do I have to read this kind of material? No, but sometimes I do and I find it relevant to the human experience. Maybe if I am too shocked or insulted by the writing it is my own insolence that is preventing me from seeing the source of it.
When books, irreverent or praising march before my eyes, they are useful to me. In the case of satire pieces, paying proper respect is not desirable and rather inhibits our sense of humor. I am a big fan of satire because I think we take ourselves too seriously sometimes. I love comic strips because of this. I love reading the Onion newspaper too because they don't hold any idea or person too high to laugh at. And I don't want to take my ideas so seriously that I cannot laugh about them.
Digging into my ideology is a key endeavor for me. Books are like mirrors on what I believe and don't believe. We all form our own ideas about human life around us. Sometimes our ideology is the same as what we are taught by our religions or teachers. But I own my own beliefs because I have systematically built them over my lifetime. When I read a book I get a chance to see what I believe about how things are and how I came to where I am at.
And digging leads to introspection about my life. I am a very reflective person and I meditate on the thoughts presented in books and on my own attitudes. Books are great for bringing attitudes to light so I can look at myself. I definitely feel a certain way and react a certain way to the things I read. I experience emotions like anger, sadness, joy and surprise. Books help me to see what I believe and think about and then examine my beliefs.
All that thinking can be insightful. It can lead to solutions to my perceived or real problems. Especially when I read something that changes my mind. For instance, when I'm struggling with how to approach a problem at work or with the people in my other activities, I find that reading helps me understand and solve my problems. I recently read a book about organizational structure and it helped me understand why the top-down hierarchical model was unsustainable in our type of non-profit organization. This was a change from my normal way of thinking about leadership and decision making. Seeing and understanding why something works the way it does is a key to solving problems.
And there can be such good information available to us in books, coming out of people's real experiences. It would be a shame if the flow of information is somehow turned off, inhibited, directed or restricted. That's one thing that happens in dystopian books like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. The internet also is a huge source of new and old information. More and more information is being put online with greater access by a broader range of people. And the format of information is changing as I type this. The time it takes new information to get to the masses is decreased to milliseconds instead of months. And this also leads to greater collaboration and better information.
As a result of reading books, my intelligence is greater than it was last year and certainly greater than it was as a child. I credit books with that. I learn a great deal from books. How could I not learn if I continuously read?
Whether a book proves good, bad, or ugly, inspiration can be sparked and I will be on fire. I wrote two novels using bits and pieces of things that I have read. And the material presented in arts and crafts books invariably weaves it's way into my creative new work. I don't believe most of the conspiracy theories I read, such as those in books like the DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown, but that doesn't stop me from being inspired by that book.
After all, my world reflects my vision and my imagination. What I create in life comes out of me. And in every paragraph and step in my life, my eyes give me meaning.That is what books mean to me.

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Posted by carl1236 at 9:54 PM | Art | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Learning | Life | Writing

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 15, 2010

A humble beginning to Clean Monday

I am not Roman Catholic or Orthodox but I can stand behind this prayer and even bow down to the floor and lay on my face in appreciation. The Prayer of Saint Ephrem the Syrian is repeated often during lent, mostly by Eastern Rite and Eastern Orthodox Christian's, I believe, has a relevant message for all people today, it resonates in my heart. One version that is easy to read follows:

O Lord and Master of my life, keep from me the spirit of indifference and discouragement, lust for power and idle chatter.

Instead grant to me, your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humble-mindedness, patience and love.

O Lord and King, grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and not to judge my brother; For you are blessed now and ever and forever. Amen.

Regardless of religion, a little humility and love for our brothers and sisters in this human life would be welcome. Not to mention the indifference and discouragement people face in our poor economic times. And what's that about lust for power?

Now let's all join our hands and live a prayer like this

Posted by carl1236 at 12:01 AM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 8, 2010

Something I'd like to do before I die, that nobody knows yet

There is not much that my closest friends and family don't know about me, and I'm not harboring any secret unfulfilled wish or desire that I will suddenly unveil when I'm sixty. I have no desire to jump out of airplanes or bungee jump or sail around the world.
I did have a dream once that I was standing in the mountains in Nepal, in the Mustang Kingdom, looking up at the sky. I had a long white beard and hair, blowing like sails in the wind. I heard the noise long before it reached me, and knew what it was. I know that sound because I used to be in the military. As I stood there like a statue watching hundreds and hundreds of Chinese helicopters flying over me toward India, tears flowed down my cheeks. The next world war was in motion.
Although I'd like to see these regions of the world, along with many other places where people I have met are from, I don't need to travel before I die. I won't have unfinished business and come and haunt you as a ghost because I didn't get to do it.
Many people may not know this about me, but I would like to see Tibet relieved of occupation and colonization before I die. I don't really want to be standing on a mountain with swarms of helicopters flying over my head in a deafening roar. I would like there to be no need for those helicopters. In that light, before I die, I'd like to make a difference in bringing peace to the world.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:44 AM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 7, 2010

The personality traits I most admire

I'm going to start at the top, being this is a list of what I admire the most in people. I'm not saying I have all of these traits either, but think that I try, and that I value them highly. I also hate to omit things from the list, because I know that I like a lot of things about a lot of people and some of the personality traits I omit, are more important at different times. So here I go, My top five, what I admire the most in you:
Your compassion. When you are aware of others around you and aware when they have issues or problems, and then you actually have a desire to help, then you are probably already my best friend. I would call you a very warm person, interested in other people, enough so that you will make time for them.
And right along side this, I really admire friendly people. Last week I went to a meetup group, with people I have never met before. There was one person who came and sat next to me and started chatting and asking questions. She was open, comfortable to talk to and was happy. She was pleasant and memorable. She was genuine and friendly.
A cooperative Spirit also ranks highly with me. I really admire people who try to resolve conflicts, who treat others with respect and love to collaborate vs. compete.
I admire creativity. Creativity is problem solving. A creative person knows how things work and can imagine possibilities. You know how to daydream, you like art, you like poetry, you like to ask questions and see different points of view, and then put them together in a way that others might not have thought about. Creative people are constantly challenging my own perspective.
Openness, or being forthcoming. When you volunteer information you are earning trust. You are obviously not hiding anything or withholding anything and people know it and feel it. I naturally feel more at ease around you because I know your motives are good. I can see them. It's in the emotions you share and your willingness to disclose your inner thoughts.
I'm going to throw in Integrity and honesty also, because it makes you genuine and real. And I highly admire that in people. You are not trying to look for loopholes, you are not scheming, you don't do or say things at the expense of others, you are not lying to make yourself look better. You prefer to obey the laws, and value and respect truth. I know I can trust you because your actions match your words.
Oh, ok, One more...A little humility is good too. Some serious walls crumble between people with a little humility.
It's interesting and meaningful to me that when I asked my friends what personality traits they admire most, many of them answered with some of the same personality traits. I shouldn't be surprised, because I have great respect for my friends and like their attitudes.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:53 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

June 6, 2008

Hard work can get you by?

I think, yes, hard work can get you by in life. And it's rewarding in it's own way. But does that mean hard work = wealth or health? No. Not necessarily. I keep thinking about this more and more these days. I work really hard when motivated and have become skilled in my career field, but the job is not always satisfying or financially rewarding. But working hard and accomplishing things is rewarding. Recently I started entertaining the thoughts of starting my own business so I could work hard for myself.
But as I'm doing research into some business ideas, I keep asking myself, "How could anyone survive owning a business like that?" Many small businesses fail after a few years. Overhead is high, employment issues are challenging and generally revenue for small businesses aren't high enough to pay the owner a decent salary. I know friends who have done it, and are doing it but a couple that I talked to said they are just breaking even. So why be in business if it's destined to fail or fails to produce the kind of income or freedom desired? Passion for the work? The fun challenge of working hard?
I read that new businesses fail generally because the owners fail to plan to win. Every piece of advice I've read said that a good business plan covers all the bases and works on paper. It's less expensive to plan a winning business before even opening up the doors, vs. jumping in without a real plan and failing within a few years.
So I may be planning for a few years, or a lifetime.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:59 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 21, 2008

Mood

Sometimes our mood effects everything we do. And it's easy to take things out on others. Today I faced a situation where someone took out their frustrations on me, and they were kind of unreasonable and would not even listen to my point of view. So what does a person do when they are in a bad mood? I guess first a person has to realize they are in a bad mood. In this case I tried extremely hard to listen to what they were really saying and pinpoint the source of their frustration. I found it, but it wasn't easy. I still don't know if I can do anything about it, but at least I understood and aknowledged that they were frustrated and angry. And I think it all worked out ok.
I hope that I can see when my own attitude causes me to take it out on others.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:04 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 22, 2007

A lesson in Patience

I bought a motorbike, it did work, but then broke. I did some troubleshooting, ordered the part, waited a week for it to arrive and fixed the problem. Until it really didn't fix the problem. It fixed only one of the problems. So it still doesn't work. So I did some more troubleshooting and discovered the carberator float had a crack and was filled with gas. So I ordered a part and it'll be in on Friday. Three weeks with a bike torn apart, put back together, torn apart...and waiting for parts. And in the mean time I'm learning to dislike our local bus system. Anything over a few miles and requiring more than one transfer is not fun or reliable. I missed several busses in the last few months because one bus or the other was running too early or too late to make a connection. And then there is the waiting. Three hours per day on the bus is not a good use of time. And it's too disruptive on the bus to study or read.
Maybe next year I'll buy a little yellow and black Smart Car.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:53 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 5, 2007

Modifacations to my programming

You know how the programming process goes... Plan, code, test, debug, test, debug, test, debug...
Same is true with developing more efficient working habits. There is some debugging to do. But the design is good, the company is good, and it'll be a high-performance application. Providing I can get it done before the deadline. Whenever that is. Yes, I know there is a learning curve on any new job, but I'm approaching the end of my first six months and I realize that I am just at the beginning of really learning what I need to know to accomplish what I need to accomplish. It has been fun and challenging though. Now for the next six months...

Posted by carl1236 at 7:33 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "motivation"

March 29, 2007

A positive attitude and persistence gets results

Today I had the second half of my performance review and my boss told me that one of the things he liked about me was my positive attitude. He mentioned several examples of how my attitude has had an impact on the department and produced some tangible results. So I finished my first 5 months with a good review. So that was a good note to end my day. (and motivating)

Posted by carl1236 at 10:50 PM | Attitude | motivation

Category "Attitude"

March 27, 2007

Crumbling in a pile of uncertainty

That usually comes after high states of confidence, fueled by equally high energy and optimism. The bubble bursting? Or it sets in just how difficult and complicated things can get in a hurry. I realized almost immediately that things were not going to be easy. I made claims, Promises that I knew I could fulfill, but realized that it definately won't be easy and can't happen without major changes, which in this case will take a while and involve a lot of people. So my strategy at work has changed. In order to achieve the goals that were set for me I have to learn how to be certain again after coming to a crashing halt, crumbling into a pile of uncertainty; unchartered territory.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:22 PM | Attitude

Category "Art"

Category "Attitude"

March 10, 2007

Creativity

As I was working on my artwork tonight, It hit me that sometimes creativity is what happens when you run into a problem (ie., it just doesn't look right,) and you modify it until it does look right. Revise, revise. Finding a solution to a problem.
The Craftstravaganza is coming up soon and I'm going to be there, so I had to get started on some artwork. That's what I did tonight. More about that tomorrow. I'll have pictures...

Posted by carl1236 at 10:34 PM | Art | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 3, 2007

And who said there is poverty in China?

China's military spending will jump 17.8 percent this year, hitting nearly $45 billion in 2007, an increase of $6.8 billion over last year.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:38 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

February 21, 2007

When the going gets rough, don't take it personally

There is a difference between failure and success, and that difference is often not the same as failing or succeeding. If you know what I mean. There are times when failing is not something to be feared, but to be honored and accepted and even to be thankful for. Ok, more often than not, we don't recognize this. But here is what I'm thinking...Those times that I fail, the key to success is not really in whether I met my goal, but in my attitude in the face of failure. My attitude. Can I learn from my failures? Can I find a way to not only not repeat my problems, but to find solutions based on them, learn to excel BECAUSE of the failure? Is that an attitude or what?
Anyway, don't take failure personally, but peronalize it. Put your touch on it and change it into a step to success.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:27 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 9, 2007

It's not that I'm open minded, but...

I am not closed-minded. It's different now. I'm not so closed minded that I cannot see the forest through the trees. I'm not so closed minded that I can hate and still call it love. It's different now. It came over me slowly, and all of a sudden I realized that I am not the same person now as I used to be. I remember being someone who bashed gay people, for instance, but somewhere along the line, I stopped needing to do that. I also used to reject other religions. I stopped needing to do that. I don't remember when and can't pinpoint any exact moment or incident that made me change. But I no longer reject other people like I used to. I am also not as insecure as I used to be. I remember how insecure I was. But that is not who I am now. It is different now. I don't exactly remember why I was so insecure, but I was. I guess you could call me open minded. But really I feel like it's not the open-mindedness that matters, but the 'not-being-close-minded' that does. So closed-minded that I could not see how to love other people like I want to be loved. I realized at some point, that I do not have to agree with other people and more importantly, that I don't need them to agree with me. Well, guess what, I have an open mind and my brain did not fall out! Mainly because I stopped having a closed, needy, controlling mind and started listening to my heart. I don't exactly know when it happened. But I'm thankful that it did.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:24 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

February 8, 2007

Changing the work culture

To do what I was hired to do I have to change the entire work culture in our department (and parts of the entire organization)! So where do I begin? Is it possible to do this from the near-bottom of the food chain? I would say it is, and it all starts with ATTITUDE. MY attitude, not theirs.
First, I have to be darn good at what I do. Note to self: Work harder on this.
Then I have to have a great attitude of change and performance and cooperation, etc, without dying or tiring. Note to self: Work harder on this.
What I said yesterday holds true. Persistence is the key ingredient for problems we cannot solve quickly or overnight. Some things are just too complex and involve too many people. So I keep working at it. I predict that by this time next year, WE will be producing better quality projects in 20-25% less time. I have seen enough areas now where we can improve to know this is possible. I hope I can remember to check back on this blog entry at this time next year. Too bad I can't set an alarm on an entry to send me a notification. haha. I could do that in my task scheduler at work though, not a bad idea. I can include a link to this page. Fun! It'll be like a time capsule, reading this next year.
If I survive this job that long. ;-)
So, what's the next step? Get this project done! I'm working this weekend to make sure it goes out on time!

Posted by carl1236 at 8:33 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "motivation"

January 27, 2007

Saturday at Work

Today I went into work for three hours to get some things done. I feel like I'm so far behind on one of my projects and it'll be ME responsible for missing the project deadline. But maybe not. I think I will go in to work tomorrow also. I got a lot done today where there were no other distractions or projects to work on. I also reinforced some of the software techniques I was a little shaky on. It's not enough to get the project done but it's a good start and a boost to my confidence. Now I'm more motivated to go to work again tomorrow to see if I can make some real progress on my project. Regardless of the outcome, missed deadline or not, at least I'm doing something toward the goal. Sot it's good.

Posted by carl1236 at 3:06 PM | Attitude | motivation

Category "Attitude"

January 19, 2007

Relentless

In a book I'm reading now, one of the traits of leaders is to be "RELENTLESS." The book tells us not to be a manager, but a leader. Who ever heard of the "Manager of the Free World?" or "Moses, you will manage my people out of Egypt?" Haha, anyway, to be a leader you don't have to be a super hero, or be the smartest, fastest, most talented. But you do have to be persistant. Relentless.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:55 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 11, 2007

Things that can't be controlled

How much time and effort do we spend trying to control things that can't be controlled? How much do I not even recognize what I have no control over. Or that I should not even try to control in the first place. My objectives at work for instance, are independant of other people's performance. If a coworker has a poor work ethic, they will eventually have to face their own music. My job is to create something better. A poor work ethic is not part of who I am so I cannot go wrong by working hard, being honest and being creative.
God give me the wisdom to know what I can and cannot change and the wisdom to not even go there.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:02 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "motivation"

January 10, 2007

Fear or Stress, which came first?

I was wondering today which came first. Fear creates stress. Stress creates fear. Also I asked myself which came first, motive, motivation or action. A motive or desire creates the motivation or energy to then act on the desire. The action creates motivation to fulfill a desire and can lead to other desires or motives, which lead to action, leading to motivation to do more. Deciding which came first isn't really as important as recognizing what my motives and fears are.
For instance, on my new job, which I started about twelve weeks ago, I asked myself what my motives are in this job, what is my intent? here they are:
To be employed.
To be challenged in my work.
To do real work, make a difference in the field I am working in.
To increase my skill levels in several key areas, including regaining lost skills.
To stay employed.

Now what motivates me to work these desires?
Fear of being unemployed and not being able to pay my bills and support my family.
Fear of being seen as incapable of doing the job.
Fear of not being smart enough, fast enough, wise enough to handle the job.
Fear of not being valued for who I am.
Fear of not making a contribution to society.
Fear of failure.
Ok, enough of the fears,
I was unchallenged in my previous job and know that no innovation comes from no challenge. I wanted to put myself in more challenging positions, under pressure to see what I could create. I am still motivated by solving problems. Without problems to solve, I am less creative. In art too, there is the challenge of presenting a vision using whatever media I chose. The creative process depends on answering questions and figuring out solutions to problems. Need is the mother of invention. Not the other way around. Where there is a will, there is a way. Where there is a need, there can be invention and creation. I am having a blast defining need right now at my new job and coming up with ideas to solve them. It will be fun to look back and see what I've done this time next year.
In my previous job, my work did not really matter. I had to find a more productive use of my allotted time. I wanted to create something more than rules for others to follow. I also wanted to educate myself more on the inner workings of our societies infrastructure, and what better way to do it than drawing and design it? Solving real world problems in tangible ways. It's fun and useful.
So, where do I go now? Get more motivated by doing...create new goals, motives, desires. Get creative.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:47 PM | Attitude | motivation

Category "Attitude"

Category "Blogging"

December 31, 2006

Piecing together who we are by what we write

It is interesting to think about things in this way. Recently I read a book about Leonardo Da Vinci. It was a well written book and the Author admitted several times where history was blank on certain topics concerning Leonardo's views or actions, forcing future historians to guess or fill in the gaps. Some were informed, educated guesses but some were the author's projections onto Leonardo. Leonardo did not write everything down, even though he had a very extensive journal library spanning many years. I am told that he hardly ever made mention of himself or his personal thoughts on topics. Most of his notes were observations, or clarifications on observations he had made on previous pages. Very little personal conjecture on his part except where based on some new experiment. And he was wrong many times in his guesses, but still he was not merely guessing or writing about his views on things. It was more scientific in nature.
This all led me to wonder how much a historian would piece together of who I was personally by what I have written, drawn, painted, etc. I know it doesn't matter, but the thought of some future historian looking back and getting it all wrong sounds like a waste of everyone's time and energy.
For me, a historian would have to piece a lot of information together. (And that historian could be nothing more than some future decendant of mine researching her geneology.) I keep three journals right now that would have to be correlated by date; A work log, with thoughts mixed in, a notebook I carry around, and this blog. And then there are various websites that I've created with various writings and artwork that have sat dormant for a while, but still exist out there on the world wide web. And then there is my artwork in various households throughout the country. Many people do not even know that I created some of this stuff. Especially my woodcarvings and other such artwork. The other journal is the mental one, with thoughts I've shared with no-one. This is the one that I carry in my head. There is a reason for that that Historians wish did not exist. It's because some things should be kept as private thoughts. Although the closer we can become to being transparent to other people, the truer we are in our lives. We are more authentic when we are honest and our actions and words and thoughts all line up. So it's to our benefit if we have no secrets that would torture us if revealed. Or torture our great grand children. But, still, I find it interesting how most human beings live in this dual state of private and public. Often the two are not the same. Sometimes it's obvious and sometimes it's not.
In history, It has been difficult to piece together Leonardo's life, because so little material about him survived and so few people that knew about him wrote about him. This is true for many people that lived in his age, that history has completely forgotton. But now in today's age, in our time, here, now, there is the internet. There is abundant paper and an electronic trail. For instance, all of my purchase are tracked when I use my credit card. It's still not a complete picture but it's a far cry from what historians had with Leonardo Da Vinci. Today for instance, I bought some soup and cold medicine. I noted in my personal journal how I felt like I was coming down with a cold. And now I'm mentioning it here. I feel a cold coming on. Maybe tomorrow I'll write about how I think the cold medicine doesn't really help the cold go away and how I feel dizzy, light-headed when I take it. Someone could correlate my different writings on the topic and have a pretty clear picture of what my day was like and what I did when. Not that I anticipate historians even caring one way or another about me. But now I can move on to the next thought...How even with all of this information someone in the future will totally miss the boat on something I was thinking, because I chose not to share it with anyone. It stayed in my head.
Example: I cut hair today again for someone else after I went in to work. I also had my hair cut by the same person. The conversation and friendship was a highlight of my day. It would have been a lost moment had I not shared it here and had the other person not shared it with anyone else.
Another example is that today I made potato chips out of lefsa, which tasted like pringles unsalted. That was fun. I really enjoyed it.
And finally, my thoughts on today's blogging: This blog entry is for curiosity sake, me exploring thoughts, and thinking about me thinking about thoughts. And it's about you thinking about me thinking about my thoughts. And it's about you thinking about me thinking about your thoughts thinking about me thinking about my thoughts. Regardless of whether it's interesting to anyone but me, I find human thought interesting. I find my thoughts interesting and strange some times. Now you know.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:21 PM | Attitude | Blogging

Category "Attitude"

December 28, 2006

You don't have to want to

I said, "I don't think I'm going to want to go to work tomorrow." To which the reply came, "You don't have to want to." True, I think, and I still have to go, but then I have to want to be there once I'm there. "You don't have to want to be there either." True, I think, yet I still have to be there and I have things that have to be done by deadlines. So I have to want to do them. "You don't have to want to do them in order to do them." True, I think, yet that's why I'm there. To get things done for a purpose. I like accomplishment, so I do it. I like being involved in a project and knowing what's going on and solving problems. So it's fun. I don't have to like that, but I do. I love this job! I can't wait to get to work tomorrow! ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 9:02 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 22, 2006

Co-writing a book, aka, working with others

Whenever considering a joint venture with other people it's a good idea to see what you are getting into first. But unfortunately much of the wisdom we need in working with other people is hidden from us until we experience the interaction between our self and the other person. I have a plan, the seeds of which have been planted many years ago, and fertilized by Sui Generis and other friends who write, and inspiration from the successes of many other authors. I don't just want to write a book, I want to co-write a book with another person. So this year I am gong to make it happen. It doesn't really when or if it is even published. But writing it willl be a lifetime experience. To do it together will be an experience in closeness of the mind and heart. How do you generate an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual support and love?
The fun is in the struggle.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:09 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

December 20, 2006

Panic Attack

When things seem rough, like they have in the past week, I am amazed to discover that my real adversary is panic. It's that massive creature that looks like it will overwhelm me and I won't survive. I realized I don't have to fight panic because it's a vapor. The obstacles I face are really challenges I have to find solutions for, not obstacles at all and certainly don't create the panic I feel. The panic I feel is created by me. It is a feeling of inadequacy to the task at hand. And that's why we think we are going to fail. It can be overwhelming when we don't think we can do it, whatever it is. Even though everything can be broken down into smaller tasks, it's hard to remember that. Especially when there are deadlines to deal with and things are messed up. So my projects are difficult, that doesn't mean that I can afford to be locked up by panic attacks. It means I have to start thinking. I have to start thinking about what the problems really are and how to break them down into solvable tasks. I have to start thinking creatively and of course devote more energy to it. I stayed late at work tonight, but not too late. Tomorrow is going to be challenging but it will teach me valuable lessons. No panic, just work. It'll happen. I've already made lists to follow and a plan is forming in my mind of how to deal with all of the sudden and conflicting priorities.
Even though I have this plan, I am still amazed at how panic creeps up and makes me feel diminutive and incapable. Panic is not the challenge though, I remember and realize. Panic is myresponse to the challenge. Is that the response I need right now?

Posted by carl1236 at 9:31 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 14, 2006

Frustration

Nine weeks into my new job and I am frustrated and kind of disappointed at what I walked into. But I'm trying really hard to succeed in spite of the obstacles. It's very interesting to me how we can think we see so clearly until we have the inside knowledge, at which time we see something completely different. There is nothing clear until we have the inside knowledge. The esocosim we desire is not easily obtainable without actually being inside. Then there is the frustration of realizing things are not as they seemed and we inside of something we did not envision. My only recourse then is to make the best of it. Therefore my plan all along was to make the best of it.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:36 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 10, 2006

Do not be afraid to be a leader

An Australian Advertisement by Henry Lawson

We want the man who will lead the van,
The man who will pioneer.
We have no use for the gentleman,
Or the cheating Cheap-Jack here;
We have no room for the men who shirk
The sweat of the brow. Condemn
The men who are frightened to look for work
and funk when it looks for them.

We'll honour the man who can't afford
To wait for a job that suits,
But sticks a swag on his shoulders broad
And his feet in blucher boots,
And tramps away o'er the ridges far
And over the burning sand
To look for work where the stations are
In the lonely Western land.

He'll brave the drouth and he'll brave the rain,
And fight his sorrows down,
And help to garden the inland plain
And build the inland town;
And he'll be found in the coming years
With a heart as firm and stout,
An honoured man with the pioneers
Who lead the people out.

Posted by carl1236 at 1:38 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 7, 2006

The adventure of leaving work after the busses stop running

When there is no other choice but to walk, there is no choice but to have an adventure.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:10 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 6, 2006

Just Do It

I think sometimes we cannot wait for perfection. I think sometimes we just need to get the first draft done! I took my best shot, based on what I currently know and got down on paper a well-organized process framework for our projects. Then I held a meeting and outlined our team objectives within that framework.
I met with some resistance, and skepticism from my coworkers, but I answered their questions about it, and calmly took it back to my desk and began altering it to more accurately describe our current model of operations. Now I have to take it a step further. I met with a couple of the engineers yesterday and today and am working on my revised model. And I'm discovering that my original framwork was pretty close, and I wasn't totally out of my mind. But without diving in, I would not have been this far, and I would not have learned from the Engineers or my coworkers. The first draft is going to have holes, but it's necessary.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:16 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 28, 2006

insecurity

Maybe the cure for insecurity is in security. Or maybe securing security secures more insecurity. If that is the case then insecurity is the cure for insecurity.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:44 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 26, 2006

The Magic, Sacred, Holy Book of Life

Do you want to know the meaning of life? Do you want the secret of life revealed to you? You can know for certain what you have been missing, if you just buy the book. This is no ordinary book. The book will transform you. The book contains the key to happiness, joy and success. Everything you have ever dreamed of can be yours! If you really want it.
The magic, sacred, holy book of life does not lie. IT grabs you like a prayer on the wind and carries you to the sky! When you open the pages you will not be able to put it down until they pry it from your cold, empty shell. You won't need a bookmark to remember where you left off. It'll be open to the page you need, when you need it all the time. You won't be able to lose your place or lose your way.
The wisdom of this book transcends the ages, because face it, even after centuries, we have not changed and it still applies! Do you want to know where to get this book? It's all around you. It's in you. It is experience and knowledge applied to your heart. It is the book of life you carry with you always. It's pages are filled with your pain and joy of survival. You live and breath by it. You make it each day and it's a magic, sacred, holy book of your life. It is alive. Once you have experienced and applied the wisdom of life, you cannot help but apply it. Go on live life! Learn! Be happy in knowing that you are doing it right and will arrive just the same. Apply the wisdom of experience. I have this book but I can't give you a copy of mine, because your book is different. Don't let anyone tell you theirs is yours. Because your life is your life to experience and fulfill. Yes fulfill. You are the author and the reader of your own book of life. You know, that magic, sacred, holy book of life you can't buy in stores or find on the shelves of the library, or download off the internet. It's yours already. Write it, read it, live it, enjoy it.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:47 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Life"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 18, 2006

The experience of giving a haircut for free.

Today I gave a haircut to a friend, using my Wald haircutting equipment which I bought to give myself haircuts. After giving myself enough haircuts to pay for the clippers, I decided it would be fun to share the wealth with others. So a long time ago I made an offer to give haircuts for free. It was kind of a funny, quirky thing to do, but I did it. No one took me up on the offer until recently though when my neigbor and then my friend Eric decided to do it. Haha, this one was an easy job though because he has short hair like me and just needed a cleanup. Thanks for the great evening Eric! That was fun hanging out and chatting and having dinner and talking bikes, computers and food stuff.
Now that makes haircut number two for someone other than myself. Anyone else want a free haircut? I'm sharing my wealth. Come on. It's free. Actuallly, it was really fun to touch base with Eric and see what he was up to and to just chat. Life can be fun and interesting when we treat each other well and with respect.

For reference here are my orignal posts concerning my haircutting adventures:
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carl1236/dailyspirit/026911.html
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carl1236/dailyspirit/056335.html


Posted by carl1236 at 9:19 PM | Attitude | Life | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

November 9, 2006

The end of the fourth week on my new job

Tonight I bought bagels and spreads to share with my coworkers tomorrow to mark my fourth week on my new job. I wish I could detail my experiences starting a new job, but it's too much. I do believe everyone goes through similar experiences though and I am taking copius notes. I will probably write about it when I recover from the shock of it all. ;-)
So tomorrow I am celebrating a whole month at my new job! I can hardly believe how fast it seemed. I am starting to feel more comfortable there but at the same time I feel like I'm on the edge of a cliff, in a precarious position. When will I fall? Not while I'm trying to solve problems and learn everything I can about what I'm doing. Troubleshooting is a an activity that takes care of time. It's all part of the process of starting a new job. And continuing in a job. And continuing in a job. To troubleshoot you have to care about finding a solution to the problems.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:02 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 7, 2006

I voted

A friend asked me if I was going to go vote today and I jokingly said, "Yes, someone has to." I voted but seriously, why do so few people vote relative to our voting population? Do so few people care about the result?

Posted by carl1236 at 7:25 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 6, 2006

What would Leonardo do?

First of all, have a desire to uncover and discover. Today was a Leonardo day for me. It was a good day for learning new things. I think because it was interesting to me. Therefore a key to learning is to make myself desire to know.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:48 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Korean"

October 21, 2006

My love of Kimchi

I don't know what it is but every time I eat Kimchi, I experience intense pleasure. It's like music to my soul, like an aphrodisiac to my taste buds. I don't eat it very often but a few weeks ago I bought a jar of it to make Kimchi-pa-jon and tonight I was having rice with cashew chicken and remembered that it was in the fridge. It was perfect. I must be reincarnated from a Korean. But then again I could have just discovered what Koreans have known for centuries...Kimchi is really good! Why did it take me so long to discover this?

Posted by carl1236 at 7:24 PM | Attitude | Korean

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 19, 2006

When does Karma take effect?

I believe it's not some ultimate retribution we face, but a little-by-little erosion of our humanity. We do get what we give and we give according to our humanity. When we can no longer love each other, we are essentially blind and empty.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:15 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

October 17, 2006

Day Two on the new job

Today was tough. I spent today learning how things were done. It's a lot of information to take in at once. Last night and tonight I have been mentally and physically exhausted. Now I'm ready for bed at 8pm! I wonder if I will even realize when it happens that I no longer feel like this. I wonder if I will even recognize the point when I no longer feel like the new person, when I'm deeply involved in projects, trying to solve problems and get things done. It will happen, but probably not in the first week. In the first week I am going to learn. That's it. Next week I will report where I am at with this. right now, I'm going to bed to dream about the good work I'll be doing and speedy learning curves! ;-)
By the way, I added pictures to my entry about trading Artist Trading Cards (ATC's)

Posted by carl1236 at 8:04 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 16, 2006

First Day on a New Job

This weekend someone showed me a small article on how to handle your first day on a new job. Some of the key points were to Focus on getting to know people, getting settled into your new office space, and not being afraid to ask questions. Also they suggested that if you didn't like something about your previous job, imagine that the changes you would make were already changed in your new job and then act like it.
I didn't have many questions because they were very organized and detailed and had handouts for me. There was only one thing left out... how to log into my time sheet, which I did ask about at the end of the day and someone showed me the secret password.
So taking the advice of the article I had a great first day. I tried to get to know people and asked them a lot of questions and told them about myself. It was good. Tomorrow is another day, but somehow I already feel at home. I'm even more excited about my new job now. It's a breath of fresh air.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:25 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 2, 2006

The wisdom of a St. Paul Taxi Driver

Today a cab driver tried to turn right while I was to the right of him, leaving me no room to ride. He hit his brakes and yelled through his window, "Darwin is going to get you!" I proceeded ahead and he sped past me. I caught up to him at the light and he again tried to tell me that "Darwin is going to get you!"
I asked him where he got his driver's license and if he knew what the law was concerning passing bicycles. I also told him that it wasn't Darwin that's going to get me, but drivers like him that are willing to risk the lives of other human beings because they are in too much of a hurry.
To prove something to me, he stepped on the gas when the light turned green, and sped on ahead. I rode the rest of the way home in the smog of cab driver wisdom.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:35 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Life"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 26, 2006

Why do we need usless things like this?

One commenter on SENSELIST asked why we need museums like those listed here and called them useless. At some point there was a statement that implied these people don't have a "life." Haha, define "Life." Why do we have any kind of collecting? Many people can't see the point in stamp collecting or bug / butterfly collecting. I can see the point. Someone gets a fascination with something and becomes an expert on that one micro-facet of life. Isn't a museum some sort of collection, but open to the public? Art Musueum. There is certainly some really weird art in some of those collections. But it's still called art. Some whole art museums are dedicated to really weird art. I'm sure there is a Hocky museum and plenty of baseball museums around. What if I don't like baseball or hocky. I probably wouldn't go there. But If I did I'm sure it would be fascinating to me, because any kind of highly focused exhibit like in a museum is bound to go into way more depth than my general education would provide about these subjects. One commenter pointed out that it was definately worth 20 minutes of his time to visit the "antique washing machine museum."
I thought it was interesting that while almost all of the other commenters were jumping in with names of other museums they thought were weird, one commenter felt it necessary to critizice the need for these museums and critize the people involved in them. It's not exactly a loving attitude toward other people who have found something fascinating to occupy their time. It seems to me they are living life they way they wish. Aren't they?
Hey, Andy, Wilbur, did you see comment number 30? There is a Mushroom museum in the U.S!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:13 PM | Attitude | Life | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

September 23, 2006

How do I overcome Fear?

Sometimes I don't. It depends on the situation. We've all been taught that fear is a naturally occuring emotion that protects us from danger. Instinctually, or biologically we get a rush of adrenaline and our muscles tense up, getting ready for action. We get into self-protection mode. But often our fears are not responding to physical danger and our fears actually interfere with the solution to our problem. For instance if I am performing on the trumpet, tense muscles and adrenaline rushes don't help. It makes the playing worse.
My fear of a new job is also real, but there is no physical threat. I'm very close to starting a whole new job at a different company. At least I hope so. I really feel like it will be good for my soul to do this. The job would be more challenging and I would be putting my skills to a better use. But I'm going into unchartered territory for me and I would have to do some things I'm not real comfortable with. I was reminded by a friend, that I have done very well in situations like this so I should relax. She was right, I should relax, because fear is not going to help me in this case. Coming up with a plan will.
I do use logic to help me overcome fear. For instance in the job situation, I know that logically there is always a learning curve in every job. And if I work hard, as I have in the past, I will quickly get through the learning curve. The harder I work at the beginning, the faster that learning curve is over. After six months I know I will feel like I've been working there for a long time and I will be comfortable. Logically I know I am capable of learning new things. So what makes this job any different? I start classes In subjects I know nothing about, yet I do well in them.
I also don't beat myself up with negative affirmations, like "I never do well in math." or "I never do well in new situations." Sometimes I still get afraid of new situations, but that fear is because it's an unknown. I start to talk to myself almost immediately to logically work out my fears. Why would I want to counteract my own success at overcoming my fears?
Now what about my fear of losing my mother to cancer? This is a different kind of fear I think. In this case the fear is far removed from the reaction to danger. It's more a feeling of helplessness against an unknown, and a feeling of loss. Of course death is an unknown for all of us until we experience it. We can read about experiences all we want and pretend we know, we can even understand it's meaning, but until we go through it we have not experienced it. So it's an unknown experience for us. But I have a certain detachment to life in general. I am not owed anything by this life, so there is no loss to me if I were to go. I do not need to hold on to anything here. But at the same time I feel sorrow for people who are suffering pain and fear of death, the great unknown. No I don't want to lose my mother and I encourage her to fight for her life. I would do the same thing. I want her to live. Just like I want people to be successful and happy in life. I love my mother and will be sad when she does go. But I don't feel like it's her time yet. She's handling the treatments well so far and it seems like her cancer is being diminished. Time will tell. I feel positive about it. My mom is scared but after making it though three treatments, she's gaining confidence in the process. My detachment from life is not denouncing the things of life, but it's more a letting go of the attitude that life somehow owes me anything. Whatever happens is happening and I have make choices as they happen. Right now my mom needs some comfort and encouragement. You know? Sitting there while someone else is getting chemo makes a person think about life a little more. My mom told me today that it really makes her think about what is really important in life. She's doing more painting now and she's working on her family tree and she's enjoying her gardening. She's also doing the best she can to fight this cancer. I think my fear and hers are both helped by talking about it and being encouraged by how she's handling it.
As things go along in life, I have fears, and sometimes I don't overcome them. But often I can come to grips with it. Another way I do this is by taking action. It seems like an opposite thing to do, but I learned a long time ago that action replaces fear. The action may be as simple as calling my mom and talking it out. Or calling my brother to talk to him about how he feels about all of this. Also, in the case of fear of a class I am taking, action in the form of making a study plan and doing it, or talking to the professor to see how to do well in the class replaces my fear. I do much better when I am actually doing something about it instead of just being afraid of it and doing nothing, which would lead to failing the class. Very counterproductive.
Death is a natural occurance, and we are usually afraid of it but just having fear and doing nothing about it is not helpful to anyone. Even feeling helpless against cancer, I can still take action to replace my fear.
Fear of not doing well in a running event is not helped by not running for practice. Taking the action of trainning for the event helps. For me action replaces my fear. When I'm in the midst of taking action I'm not afraid because I'm too busy working on the solution. Same with my mom. She's working on taking her pills and eating the right foods to help her regain her strength and getting enough protein, etc. She's also doing some things she loves to do, that she feels are important in life. And she takes it all as just something she has to do in order to overcome this disease.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:38 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Bicycles"

Driving in the Rain

I'm not sure when it happened, but now I know I do not like driving in cars. I drove a couple hours to my parents house in the dark and rain on Thursday night. Then I went to Duluth and back with them on Friday. I spent Saturday morning helping my brother with a bike project, then since we didn't want to go for a leisure ride in the rain, I packed it up and came home after lunch. It rained the whole way home. It's still raining. I did not enjoy driving in the rain at all. Everytime someone passed me I could hardly see where I was driving. And then there was the semi trucks that create a wall of water when they pass. I'm glad to be back and look forward to riding my bike to the shop tomorrow morning. Even running in the rain is going to be more fun I think than driving in it. That's my plan for tonight. Rain running.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:29 PM | Attitude | Bicycles

Category "Attitude"

Category "Life"

Category "Love Yourself"

Category "Triathlons"

September 19, 2006

Asthma and Allergies, Oh my!

Today I went to the doctor, twice, in order to get to the bottom of all of my recent health problems. I found out I am allergic to Ragweed and dust mites and that I have asthma. That explains a lot. Now I understand what I've been feeling. And like a stereotypical guy, I didn't bother going to a doctor until my friends and family got tough on me. So today I took some time to look into it by seeking professional help. And I'm glad I did. Now I have an inhaler I'm going to test and some nasal stuff for the allergies. And I have to vaccuum with a dust mask on.
My day was good overall. After my morning doctor's appointment, I got to go to the coffee shop and play a game of chess with a regular who I've only heard about. It was fun playing again! Then I picked up my prescriptions, ate some lunch and went to my next appointment. Then I ate dinner and went to a job interview. That felt really good. It's my third interview and it lasted two hours! The funny part is, I have a fourth interview with the same company! haha. Now I'm getting excited! And I feel like I really want to work there. It will be good for me I think. (for myself and others) For a while I thought I would do more good by staying, but now feel I'll do more good by leaving. make sense?

Posted by carl1236 at 8:52 PM | Attitude | Life | Love Yourself | Triathlons

Category "Attitude"

August 1, 2006

A person's value for any given purpose

Today I went for a job interview. It's the first time in six years that I've done this. One thing that's weird about this whole process is that person A has to convince persons B, C, and D that A is exactly what they are looking for. Person A has to promote Person A to B, C and D in a way that they find a value in A.
One of the problems with this scenario is the money involved. Person A has to convince B, C and D that A is worth what A is asking. Well, A is currently getting paid a certain amount and doesn't really want to take less, so B, C and D must be convinced that A is worth what A is getting paid currently. It's wierd.
I know the goal of the owners of the company is to make money. The purpose of companies to exist is to make money for the owners. It's an interesting position for employees of the company, B, C & D to have to place a value on a person applying for a position in their owner's company. I don't even know if I'm worth what I'm making but I'm doing a job and someone is paying me to do it and I keep getting raises and they are satisfied with my work and value it to some degree. Therefore I must be worth what I am getting paid. By this company. It's all wierd. In any case, I have opened pandora's box. I am looking for a new job. My current company doesn't value me as a person, yet still pay me as if they do. Short sighted B, C and D people don't understand that the real value of a human being is not the money but the person. In society we slap all kinds of labels on people and place values on them and many times it is because of this need to make money. Or the perceived need to make money for the owners of a company even if we are not the owners of the company. Many people value themselves by the company they keep and the position they hold. One of my problems with seeking new employment is I don't value position or title, I value my contribution to other human beings. So i'm struggling with this a little.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:57 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 25, 2006

We fly when we are having fun!

Here I am talking about TIME again. haha. I looked at my blog tonight and realized it's been about a week since I posted something and from a lifetime of training I said, "Time flies when you're having fun!" But then I instinctively knew that it wasn't time flying at all. Time as we measure it never speeds up or slows down. Time is consistent and steady. We fly through time like space; sometimes faster, sometimes slower. Then we say time is fast or slow, but it is really our own speed we are measuring, not Time's. So, my discovery is that I've been very busily training, working, bikeshop, training, sleeping, eating and doing it all over again day after day with no blogging mixed in. I tended to leave it until the end of the day and I've been too tired at night to sit in front of the computer. My priority right now is training for triathlons, so other things have a lower priority. I'm not complaining though, because I'm getting in great shape and on Sunday morning I actually swam a whole mile with the front crawl. cool. When I started swimming I could only swim one length of the pool without being exhausted. So I'm improving. Tonight I did a brick workout with a 13 mile bike followed by a 3 mile run followed by a 13 mile bike. Now I know I'm doing better than when I started. And I am not dead from my experience. I am more alive and excited about life. It's fun and feels good to get the blood going. I guess we really fly through life when we are having fun. So right now I'm slowing down and reflecting things and enjoying listening to the rain come down. Fast and then slow, then fast, then slow. Now a hard rain and strong wind.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:45 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Triathlons"

Category "motivation"

July 17, 2006

Priorities

If a person wants to make a change in life the usual place to start is with the choices we make. It seems like a logical place to start because we hear over and over that we are supposed to make better and better choices. I've even said it myself, I've written about. Yes, better and better choices are a good idea, but often it's hard to make any other choice than the one we have to make at the time. Why is it so hard to change our choices? I think it's because we have not addressed the motivation behind the choices we make. Every choice has a motive, whether we see it or not. The motive is something that moves us to make the choice.
If I choose one thing over another, I could say that one of those things was a higher priority than the other one. Choosing one over the other was motivated by my priorities. One thing seemed more important to me for whatever reason. It seems more logical to me that if we want to change ourselves, we should focus on our priorities instead of our choices. If our priorities change, then our choices will follow. Right now training is a high priority for me. So it's easier to be motivated to train. I want to do it. I choose training over watching TV or many other activities, even most of my artwork is put on hold because I feel it's important to get the proper training in if I want to compete in these sporting events. The idea here is that I'm not struggling with choices between doing this or that, I'm having a higher priority in life and the choices seem obvious, almost like not choosing at all. Resistance is futile, but change the need/purpose/motive/priority behind the choices and there is no resistence fighting back.
Of course then there are also no excuses because we are setting our priorities, saying 'This is important to me."

Posted by carl1236 at 10:23 PM | Attitude | Triathlons | motivation

Category "Attitude"

Category "Triathlons"

July 16, 2006

Rest

Energy levels increase with a day of rest. Legs get restless. Spirit gets restless. It is a sign of getting stronger with each breaking down. There are many successes in life that follow exhaustion and break-down of strength. Sometimes we just need a break, to let our muscles rebuild and our spirits regain the vision. Maybe a new vision, a stronger vision.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:48 PM | Attitude | Triathlons

Category "Attitude"

Category "Triathlons"

July 13, 2006

How does the language we use effect how we feel?

Tonight I went to the Y to run indoors on the track where fourteen laps is equal to one mile. I ran 100 laps. 100 laps indoors on a tiny track is a very interesting experience. For the first two miles I was feeling every ache and pain possible I think. But then I loosened up and it felt good. somewhere at about 45 minutes of running I started zoning out and had to refocus to keep count and to keep the pace up. Then I picked up the pace for the last ten minutes to make sure I ran my desired distance in the allotted time. I did. I know I ran over seven miles tonight.
As I was walking around the track after my run, I was thinking about how this experience felt. It was good, but my immediate reaction was, "Man that sucked!" But that's not how I really felt. I know it hard, even really hard, but it didn't suck. It felt good. So why was I tempted to say it sucked. It's a psychological thing. I didn't like that line of thought, So I changed what I was saying. Instead I said, "That was an interesting experience! But good." I wanted to quit many times while running tonight but I didn't let myself. So that's one reason it was good, and didn't suck.
Another great thing about this run was that I got to feel what seven miles on an indoor track felt like. It also helped me to bring my focus back.
While I was running it seemed like it was going on and on forever. Four other runners came and went while I was still running. But I did it. So what would have happened if I walked around saying how much it sucked. Would it effect my attitude or motivation? I'm thinking yes, it would change how I feel. suckiness is relative. So a good attitude is part of a good experience.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:25 PM | Attitude | Triathlons

Category "Attitude"

June 28, 2006

Peace on Earth

By proximity, not proxy.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:13 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 27, 2006

I'm starting to wonder if this model works

I'm starting to wonder if it's even possible to run a non-profit business with volunteers. There are not enough volunteers putting in the hours to do the work to make it work. Maybe it's possible with the right volunteer leaders who can rally the volunteers and take charge of all the different program areas. This is one of the problems I saw before I took over the reigns. But now that I'm here, I'm failing at doing what is necessary to make it work. I need to be the leader that gets people involved and active in the organization or there is no organization and we haven't made it off the endangered list.
I guess I'm an idealist and think the idea is cool, but in reality, it seems that people really want the "what's in it for me?" part. Now let's get down to the space issue. In today's world, there is little space available for next to nothing for an operation like this. Small self-funded non-profits like this keep getting forced out of their market by high rents. It's going to happen to our bike shop too. But the trouble is, everywhere we look, building owners want to give us half the space for twice the money. And that's generous. The trouble is we would never survive with just a volunteer operation. So we would have to forget about the 'charitable organization' part of our non-profit and focus on making money, which would change the whole look and feel and mission of our organization. Then it becomes more like a business and there is no real incentive or 'goodwill' feeling in volunteers to staff and run a business just for money.
It's too bad our society revolves around money. It lives and breathes by monitary value. Maybe what we need is a benefactor who believes in what we do and is willing to donate a large enough space to us to do our thing. I don't know if this model of a bike shop can really work. To make it work like other non-profit bike shops, we have to hire an executive director who gets paid a large amount of money to make it all happen.
I'm still evaluating what a workable solution might be. It's very interesting though.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:18 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 26, 2006

Now it's raining, I don't have to mow

Haha, now it's raining and I can't mow the lawn. And I didn't do my training tonight because I was avoiding getting wet. But I'm sticking to my plan of slowing down. Tomorrow is yard and garden day. After work of course.
There are a lot of choices we can make in life aren't there?
Today I was reading a very good article on the Buddhist teachings about time and space. Though some of their conclusions contradict what they were trying to say about time, the end result was the same. Though it is almost incomprehensible, I do not believe that time changes at all. Our perception of time changes and we change. Matter changes. Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma. Mass in a state of change. Our measurement of time is arbitrary based on some marking off of our change. We say we are growing older, but we are not, we are merely changing from one form to another. We call it aging, but the matter is changing. We say the rotations of the planets in a certain pattern equals one year, yet it could be called a week or a month. It's just a name for some other forces moving and changing.
In Buddhist teachings its desirable to be able to see all of eternity in one instant. It's because there is only one time. It's been said that we cannot go back and change time, and it's true, we cannot change time, and we cannot undo change and transformation from one form of mass to another unless the circumstances are right. Aging is a curious question then. It's change. It may be prewired into our systems to change in this way, but it's only a matter of discovery to find a way to alter the change.
And so all things in life are change. And it's all happening right now.
The grass is getting longer, not because of time, but because of change. It's changing, growing. There are specific reasons and conditions for it to grow. We could apply a time measurement to it, but it's not growing in a week, it's growing and changing right now. When I cut it tomorrow night, it will change again. Time is irrelevent. Change happens regardless of the time.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:57 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 24, 2006

Communication

Communication doesn't just "happen." Relationships don't just "happen." Things don't just "happen." Everything is a creation of human beings "doing and creating" something. If things just happen we are all victims of what happens next. Yet we all create what happens next and want to blame someone or something else for what happens to us as a result of what happens in life.
I think good communication is essential in all relationships. It helps us relate and know how to help each other. And it's something ongoing. Something we build on. Something we earn through trust and learn from. There is heart-burning honesty and trust in good communication. It's very difficult to get to this point but well worth it.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:58 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Bicycles"

June 22, 2006

Everything slows down

Everything slows down when you are carrying a bin full of books on the back of your bicycle. As I was riding home I realized that this is probably the maximum weight this old dumpster bike could handle on the backend. Any kind of side-to-side motion in pedalling sent the bike wobbling. Then my back tire was really low.
Going up the Smith Avenue bridge was fine, just really, really slow. I just kept a nice steady pace and the workhorse made it.
I can get the books home, but now I have to find a place to put them, haha. It was nice to take a really slow ride home tonight. It gave me time to think. The added weight basically enabled me to have this use of my time.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:58 PM | Attitude | Bicycles

Category "Attitude"

Category "Triathlons"

Category "motivation"

June 19, 2006

Discouragement

So tonight, just six or seven weeks into my triathlon training course, I became a little discouraged about my swimming. I lost my spirit or morale because I could not swim a continous 200 meters, which was part of our exercise tonight. The most I had done up until this point was about 25 meters, or one length of the pool. But tonight I accomplished four lengths of the pool without stopping to rest. I am a little sore right now, but I did it. That is a small progress, so it encouraged me. I think that sometimes when we lose spirit, it's like losing hope. It's like giving up because the obstacle seems too great. But tonight I learned to push just a little more each time I tried. First it was three lengths of the pool, a ten second rest, followed by the fourth length. On my next attempt I did three full lengths, then only a five-second rest. Then I did all four lengths of the pool. No I did not make it to a half-mile swim yet, and I didn't even swim 200 meters continuously, but I did improve. I think when we are discouraged, it is the perfect time to push a little harder, to remember that by going just a bit more beyond our known limits, we get stronger and better. It's a hard way when things seem overwhelming, but I'll take any encouragement. It's better than giving up, or losing the heart to go on. Now I can't stop practicing, but have to try harder to make noticible improvements.
And I'm off to bed so I have the energy to run and swim tomorrow. hehe. It's a tough schedule where discouragement has no teeth. Our failures fade to the back as we work on the task at hand and try to push a little more than we thought we had.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:07 PM | Attitude | Triathlons | motivation

Category "Attitude"

June 9, 2006

Karma and the reason we do things

The other day I had a chance to get a cool bike frame and some other parts and it would have been totally cool for me to do this. The owner of the material was going to scrap it and later he said I could have anything of value off the bikes. I was doing the scrapping, which I wrote about the other day. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt in my heart that I couldn't keep any of it. The main reason I was doing the scrapping was to help out Lester when he was in a bind. It wasn't for bike parts. It was to save his butt when he was under pressure and to help him with his livelyhood. So instead I am bringing the few good parts I got down to the bike shop to donate. I felt guilty because keeping any of the parts was going against my original intent of giving to another person. Recently I've been looking at original intent, the heart of our actions. This relates to Karma. Too often though we lie to ourselves and justify our actions because we want something. Our desires cloud over our heart's intentions. I feel better now and it all worked out better than before. I helped Lester out, and he was thankful. Now I have restored my purpose in doing good for the sake of doing good, not for a reward at the end. The reward is in the process of doing not the end result or recognition.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:46 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 6, 2006

One of a Kind High School Graduation

Today I attended the High School Graduation of the Creative Arts High School in St. Paul. It's an alternative High School. Basically it's a small school with a small personal atmosphere where students are accepted for who they are and taught to bring out the best of who they are. Over the past couple of years I've seen some great things from students there, and now they are graduating! And the ceremony is like none I've been too. Instead of long, drawn out speaches by school officials, we saw and listened to performances by students who have now entered the 'real world.' I have a strong sense these young adults will do ok in life.
Last fall I purchased a finely-crafted small pottery cup from one of the students and I'm reminded every time I drink from it that I'm drinking from a cup of hope, a cup of what life is made of. The art infused in these student's curriculum and lives is also the art they will carry into everything they do in life. More high schools should be like this and more students should be so lucky to have a staff and teachers so dedicated to teaching. Their graduation ceremony was wonderful and different than traditional high schools, but then again, learning is not about worshiping existing knowledge but questioning it, and these students have done that. (a quote I borrowed from the ceremony) Best wishes Class of 2006!

Posted by carl1236 at 5:52 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Triathlons"

Category "motivation"

June 1, 2006

My Goal of the Summer

Today I decided on my goal for my first Triathlon. Before I just had the vague idea that I wanted to try a Tri. And I wanted to do it after my Triathlon training course was over at the beginning of August. I reasoned that would give me enough time to train and get in good enough shape that I wouldn't drop out of the event. I can be realistic too. A person doesn't just wake up one day and say, "I'm going to do a triathlon," and then throws on her running shoes, grabs a bike and goes for it. Well, someone might, but I don't think I would actually go through with it unless I was prepared for it. And with this class I am learning how to prepare for it and working with a training plan to get me there. The plan however doesn't tell me how to improve my swimming so I can actually swim a half-mile. That I will have to figure out.
My first Triathlon will be the St. Paul Triathlon on Lake Phalen, August 20, 2006, 7:30am.
Swim: 1/2 mile
Bike: 20k
Run: 5k

I was told today that swimming 1/2 mile is like swimming 20 laps in the pool. non-stop. ah. sure. After swimming today I was a little discouraged because I could only swim one-and-one-half lengths of the pool without stopping! I have to tell you that this really is going WAY beyond my known limitations. A big question in my mind is, "Can I turn 1-1/2 lengths in the pool into 1/2 mile before August 20th?" Is this mission impossible?
Maybe I need to find a swimming coach. Or a therapist. But now I have a tangible goal, something to reach for. Now I can find what it will take to get there.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:23 PM | Attitude | Triathlons | motivation

Category "Attitude"

Category "motivation"

May 27, 2006

Sweet_Exhaustion

Yesterday after I got home I was physically exhausted. I had done two
hard swimming workouts, one at lunchtime and one right after work. When
I swung by the bike shop to see how things were going, all I could do
was sit there and talk. It was a great feeling. Physical exhaustion is
much different from mental exhaustion where a person feels like doing
nothing, being non-motivated to do anything. I equate mental exhaustion
with that feeling of not wanting to do and not caring. But with
physical exhaustion I feel more like I want to do more, but am
pleasantly weak all over. And when something comes up I'm back in
motion, mainly due to an attitude of 'can do,' pushing beyond limits
of strength or energy. I think spiritual, mental energy is still going
strong and motivates us to keep going. Looking out of the shop door we
decided it was time to close up and get home. Dave rode off on his bike
and I rode off in the opposite direction toward home.
As I was pedaling I was amazed at how it felt on my muscles.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:50 PM | Attitude | motivation

Category "Attitude"

May 14, 2006

Quality is an unfinished process

In August of 2005, about nine months ago, I talked about the lack of caring that I found in my volunteer activity. But actually after all this time, I have not accomplished changing anything. Today I was working at the shop and a new customer was supposed to be returning today to pick up a bike a couple volunteers had been setting up for her. So I decided to look it over to make sure it was ready. Here is what I discovered:

Front Derailer:
Not tight on the seat tube and too high.
Not shifting into the large chain ring.
cable end frayed.
Bottom Bracket loose.
Back wheel out of true, rubbing on brake pad.
Front wheel off center, spokes rubbing on fork on one side. Washers were used on one side to adjust for a speedometer device but it was over-compensated.
Front brake too loose and brake lever went all the way to the handle bar.
Both wheels had tube stems sticking out at a severe angle.
Front wheel rim strip was broken.

I fixed most of these problems and told her to bring the bike back for free repairs if she runs into any further problems. I used to look at these issues as a matter of 'not caring' by those doing the work. But now I'm thinking it's a matter of 'not knowing' how to fix a bike so it's really fixed and not admitting to 'not knowing'

Because A person really would not send a bike out in this condition knowing it's not fixed properly would they? I don't think this is the case because these people do feel good about the work they do. So this is my failure. I have not implemented a good education program or quality checking program for volunteers work, for everyone's work. Everyone's skill levels should be brought up and checks have to be made. I want to buy a bike that actually works and is safe, so this has to be my focus this year.

Has it really been nine months since I discovered a quality control problem? It's alarming to me that I knew a problem existed and yet could do nothing to resolve it in an area that is potentially the most valuable part of our program. My attention was focused on so many other things that I lost sight of this. Now I realize that fixing this bike for the customer only solved the issue once and that it's an ongoing process that will need the most dedicated focus by many people, all the time.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:03 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 10, 2006

Going Blind and Knowing it

If I were going blind and knew that it was coming. I think I would try to see what I could, to draw what I have in my mind, to try to remember those faces I have come to know. In this sense, oh how I wish to be going blind as I live each day. To really see with intention of knowing and remembering each sight, each color, each person so we never forget. I do not think I am there yet. My sight is not yet that clear. I may still be blind. I know it. Oh how I wish to gain that sight! Knowing this I think I will try harder to see what I can, to draw what I can, to remember what I can each day.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:33 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 3, 2006

Memories

I'm watching a Korean Drama right now on AZN TV called Winter Sonata. It's very interesting. One of the main characters was in a tragic accident, presumed dead by all of his friends, but was really alive but had amnesia. After the accident his mother took the opportunity to change his name and take him to the U.S. He came back to Korea and met his old girlfriend but was living as a different person, and did not remember her. Then he was in an accident again and started regaining his old memories. This would have been more intersting I think if she would have lost her memory also and they still ended up together.

It brings up a good question. How much do our memories make us who we are?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:03 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 30, 2006

Hwang Sun-won ideas

I haven't read much from "The Book of Masks," by Hwan Sun-won, but I already like his writing. He seems to focus on common human attitudes through their reactions to life. It's suggested in the forward that he did not attack the problems in the world directly but by showing honest reactions by the characters to what is going on around them. Much of his writing seems to deal with the commanalities we all have as human beings and attempts to bridge the gaps between us instead of focusing on the separations we create. I want to read more. And I can see why he is considered one of the best short story writers in Korean history.
In the introduction Martin Holman says about Hwang, "Hwang approches his labor aware of the loneliness, depravity, squalo, and brutality in the sould of man, but, recognizing that there is also great strength and virtue in the heart of human bonds, he strives to forge the links that save the human spirit from the void."
"Now the soldier worked hard alongside the farmer." It's very good.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:08 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 25, 2006

Melvin and the Car wash

Today I experienced something great; a bond or connection with Melvin. Melvin shows up at the bike shop every so often to keep his bike running. He's kind of eccentric and very interesting. Today after work I just ran into the shop to check the mail. The shop wasn't even supposed to be open, since our hours are short on Tuesdays. But as I was coming out to go home, Melvin rode up. We were talking about his pedials. I asked him if he needed something urgent and was willing to go back in and help him with whatever he needed but he said he was going to the car wash on Robert Street because they have a wash special for 50 cents. He wanted to powerwash the grease off his new crank that he got at the shop on Monday so he could put it in. He just came by the shop to see what was going on. He found me there. And so together we rode off. We both go in the same general direction so I said I would love to ride along with him. But we didn't go right to the car wash. First he wanted to show me this really sweet 3-speed bike he saw with mustache bars parked at a bike rack nearby. We checked it out and it was still there. It was nice! It was a brand new Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub on an old green Raleigh frame, with nice cream-colored plastic fenders and mustache handlebars. I loved it. We talked about that bike and the tenspeed next to it that had sawed off drop bars reversed to simulate mustache handlebars. Both bikes were nice but the three speed was cool. It even had a brooks saddle on it.
After the bike tour he wanted to show me a building that they were remodelling in downtown. I looked and he was telling me all about the good work they were doing and had me ride right up into the recessed doorway, "Go ahead, you can ride your bike right up in there so you can see inside, that's what I did." So I did and it was cool to experience what he did. I did see inside without getting off my bike.
Then we rode together down Robert Street to the car wash. It was only fifty cents and that's exactly what I had in my pocket. So I decided I'd also wash my bike to get all of the winter salt and grease off my bike. It worked. But another amazing thing was that someone had left a few quarters on the pay box so I paid my 50 cents and used 50 more cents to rinse my bike. Melvin used half of my rinse, switching it to soap, then paide another 50 cents for a high-pressure rinse. It worked great. Then he kept the rest of the quarters and we rode on together. He showed me a shortcut to the road I wanted to get home, then he turned and continued up Robert Street. As we were parting, he told me that he really appreciated the ride and the chance to get to know me better and that this is what happens when people get out of their cars. I like Melvin. He's very interesting. He showed me the cool bikes, the renovated building and the 50 cent car wash on Tuesdays. And now my bike is clean. Tonight was full of great experiences. And tomorrow I get to witnes Melvin change out his cranks. Pizza tomorrow night at the Depot, come on down and check it out.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:04 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 20, 2006

Bush in bed with Hu, while Macalester bans freedom of speech

Life is very strange. President Bush kisses Hu's butt because he doesn't understand the the true meaning of life. He apologizes for the outburst by a Falun Gong member, who supposedly doesn't understand. Life. Bush is not a true Christian. He doesn't know the meaning of Christ. It's funny how the Christian community has fallen for his lies. Strange how people believe lies before they believe love.
In a second note, Macalaster College cancelled the Chibaganza, marijuana festival, after stating that they support the student's right's to free speech and legitimately stating their desire to change the laws regarding marijuana use. It's too bad the college caved to the conservative desires and cancelled freedom of speech. Bush should have gone to bed with Macalester college officials too. They already agree on the need to squash true freedom.
Bush apologizes to Hu for the embarrassing Macalaster students who want to speak out. They unfortunately talked to the newspapers, so he had to cancel their event. And America sees nothing wrong with this. It just hums along while Macalaster College officials sleep with Bush. It's all in the family. Hush. We should not speak of this publicly. It could be seen as an embarrassment to the administration.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:47 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 18, 2006

Transitions and growing up

It's difficult knowing how to handle transitions. As we grow up ther eare definately transitions between childhood and adulthood. There are also transitions between student and professional.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:00 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Life"

April 14, 2006

Running a volunteer non-profit corporation

Running any business takes a lot of time. We have a non-profit 501c3 organization with a board of directors who are responsible for the welfare of the corporation. I'm the President of the corporation. It's a real business but none of the board members get paid. We are a volunteer run, non-profit. So what volunteer would be crazy enough to run a business on the side with no compensation? Because most of us have to have real jobs also. We do it because we believe in what we have here and feel like it's a good thing to keep going. We're not generating a lot of revenue but we are touching a lot of lives and making people more self-sufficient and empowered. The low-cost services and products we provide are only part of the benefit of this organization. A major benefit is the learning that goes on inside our walls. But it's still crazy because it takes a lot of time. Volunteering is like that. Sometimes we put in a lot of our life's energy, passion and time into a volunteer activity, not to mention our own resources. Why do we do it? Maybe it's just because it's a good thing to do.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:58 PM | Attitude | Life

Category "Attitude"

April 12, 2006

The End

I just finished watching the Korean Drama, Emperor of the Sea. The message seemed to be, If you compromise your love, even though you gain the world you lose. The series is over, and in the end the bad guy won, all the good guys fought to the death and the woman who Bo Go loved escaped with his son alive. Basically she and BoGo's baby son were the only ones to survive the slaughter. Did it make sense? It didn't prove anything except that the bad guys won and the trusting, loving ones all were murdered. This is the way of this world it seems. But I agree with the statement that even if we win we lose. There is something about power and force that corrupts our hearts. We can gain a lot in this world by taking advantage of others, lieing, cheating, steeling, killing, etc. but what good is it in the long run? We have already compromised who we are and lost out on life. We are the most dead when we lie to ourselves, pretending we are the most alive. Do those corrupted by power really think they can take it with them beyond the end? What gain is it? It's shallow and meaningless and so short lived.
Overall, I was impressed with the quality of the series, but I didn't like the ending. Yang Kim should have died instead of taking over, and Yoem Jang should have turned from evil instead of killing his best friend from youth. And the young emperor boy who was put on the throne, surrounded by corrupt nobles, oh what a sad, manipulated life he will lead. Nothing about this ending was satisfying to me. The woman who escaped lost everything and everyone she loved, but I suppose it's a sign of hope that she gained a son from the man she loved. Still, it was a very sad ending. The end.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:58 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 11, 2006

"I did not even know him"

There are several things coming together at once for me with the theme, "I did not even know him." Meaning, "I thought I knew who that person that was so close to me was, but I didn't really know anything about him." First, I have been watching a Korean Drama on TV. It's 50 episodes total and is now nearing the end. I believe there are only two episodes left to see. In this Drama, or soap-opera style epic series, mortal enemies can suddenly join forces to fight a third enemy or be sentenced to death in one episode and be leading the country in another. In many cases what is so obvious to the viewer as a lie is totally unseen and unexpected to the people involved. It's the way they write these things in soaps. It's why they call it drama. The drama is exagerated and what infuriates us also drives the ratings up.
The second thing with the theme, "I did not even know him," is the disturbing movie I watched last night, Ted Bundy. The serial killer, Ted Bundy was directly responsible for more than 150 deaths and was eventually caught and executed in the electric chair. When his long-time girlfriend finally realized that Ted really did commit all of those terrible crimes, she left him, crying and shaking her head. She later said, "I did not even know him. How could I have been so close to someone and not even know him?" I can't answer that except that Ted was very adept at saying what others wanted to hear. I was disturbed by this movie, as I should have been. It was intended to wake people up.

Many times when we feel like we've been betrayed, we look back and feel like it was all a sham. We want to be trusting of other people and have other people trust us. But we can be disappointed when things don't go that way.
Now the third thing is a process of discovering another person's true soul. It's easy to not really know another person if we don't connect with them on a deeper level. That happens when we don't value another person enough. In reverse of the Ted Bundy and the Korean Drama idea of, "I did not even know him," there is the person we underestimate and discover later they were much, much more capable than we gave them credit for. This is why it is important to talk to each other and open a dialogue. It is the great conversation of souls. When we value someone and help increase their capabilities and trust them to do it, even if it's not the way we would do something, we won't have to say, "I did not even know him." Underestimating and undervaluing another human being is disappointment to both parties. There are better ways to communicate and enhance each other's lives.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 7, 2006

Elusive but vital

This will be another strange entry. I want to tell you about Terry. Terry is a homeless guy who has put in thousands of hours volunteering in the bike shop. This week we paid him for working the whole week with the other shop staff to teach a class for high school students. As I tried to take his photo he abruptly got up and walked directly into my camera, thwarting my attempt to photgraph him. Oh well, next time. Actually Terry is a great guy, and I wish more people could be like him in that he doesn't want or seek attention for what he's doing, he just wants to live and do what he likes doing. Terry is vital, because Terry IS community involvement. Those with grander aspirations need not apply.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:40 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 5, 2006

Mr. Magoo

I don't know how he did it, but he went everywhere blind and went through countless near-death experiences totally unaware of any danger. He knew no fear because he did not see any danger. And somehow he continued living. I think a person can capture this kind of fearless living not by being blind, but by being wide awake, more aware. Then just go on doing what you know to be good and right and just. The more aware I become the less fear I have of doing that.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:29 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 4, 2006

The Reality of Being

Crap! I exist! Now what!? In the Reality of Being, life situations dictate life. Yeah, dictate. Like Hitler. Too often we condemn others and consider them our enemies. Life is like Hitler when we think we are just doing our jobs, and not really loving each other. Do you realize the reality of being is realizing the reality of being alive? Being alive is a reality that many of us don't realize. We go through live unfulfilled and unrealized. Life sucks. But it doesn't have to be that way. Isolationism isn't the anwer. We cannot claim ignorance. We are guilty. We are the cause of our own problems. We are indicted and have no recource but to serve time. The reality of being is that we are the cause of our reality. So what do we do about it? Comedians make us laugh, because we can relate with somethign they say. We can relate because we are dealing with the human condition! It's the reality of being alive. The reality of being. Life happens. Life is real. It's not going away. So what does it mean? Don't be a pig. Live life and live life in love for other people. Chang the world by love, not fear. This is the reality of being. Don't live in fear. Fear is the reality of not-being. Love is the reality of being.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:56 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 26, 2006

Blast Belly Fat While you watch TV

A magazine article proclaimed, "Yes - it really works!" Well, what really works is doing the exercise consistently, not the watching TV part. This is the hard part for most people when it comes to doing things; motivation. Sometimes it is so hard to 'want' to do the things that will achieve the results we say we want. This is why many fitness plans fail and there's a huge market for second-hand fitness equipment. If we don't change our inner habits then we don't have the motivation or the stamina to continue an exercise program to change our outer, physical habits.
An inner habit of wanting to exercise and liking it is a good place to begin the exercise program. Then it doesn't matter if you are in front of the TV or running through the woods, although fresh air exercise is contageous and feels so good. Just do it regularly and do it because it feels good. This attitude is habit forming. Then the focus is not on doing something miserable to reach a goal, but enjoying the exercise and feeling good as part of life, and the end result is achieved without a battle.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:20 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 25, 2006

I don't know what I don't know

I can't say what I don't know. But many people like to tell you what they know about what they don't know. What they are really trying to do is justify their beliefs. We all do it. But this is one reason why Jesus taught us that it's important, no, really important that we are humble and not arrogant. Because, at any moment we could be a hyporcrite. Just when we think we are "right" we experience we are wrong. Sometimes we look back on things and realize how foolish we have been. That is wisdom. Oh the joys of wisdom! If only we could be wise before we open our big mouths! Why do we do this? I think it's a matter of wanting to feel in 'control.' We all want personal power and control, especially when we feel like the world is out of control. We want knowledge and power and control over our lives and our destiny.
But just when we think we know, and swear we are 'right' we see an alternative view. Life is fluid, not static. For instance, there is this popular Thai video that shows a traditional Buddist deity doing the moon dance. But in the traditional sense, the character performs a slow, specific dance to tell a story. But there is a new modern story being told here.
I like this story. It's fresh. renewed. Life is not static. That is why I am constantly humbled. I don't know what I don't know. I realize this and it's a good thing.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:40 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 24, 2006

A beautiful day today

A beautiful day to take off from work early and get some things done at home. I cleaned, watched my Korean Drama and even took a nap! That was awesome! Good for my mental health.

I'm hosting a lunch tomorrow and it'll be a fun day also. Then I have the job of designing and building my display cases for my eggs to put them on display in a coffee shop in Downtown St. Paul this next month. So much to do. So today was good day to get a jump on the weekend!

I hope everyone had a great week!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:50 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 22, 2006

Elephant Dung Paper: When poop is beautiful

I just bought a notebook made entirely of Elephant dung and paddy paper pulped to perfection in Sri Lanka by Maximus. Of course it has to be distributed in the US by someone named Mr. Ellie Pooh. Their card says:
Eat -> Dung -> Boil -> Pulp -> Paper

None of the paper smells or looks anything like it's origins though, haha, and it's very nice, thick paper hand bound into a book. I don't know what I'm going to do with this book of recycled dung paper, but it's cool. Given an elephant's diet though, I can see why this paper is fibrous.

Even poop can be beautiful.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:21 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Elephant Dung Paper: When poop is beautiful

I just bought a notebook made entirely of Elephant dung and paddy paper pulped to perfection in Sri Lanka by Maximus. Of course it has to be distributed in the US by someone named Mr. Ellie Pooh. Their card says:
Eat -> Dung -> Boil -> Pulp -> Paper

None of the paper smells or looks anything like it's origins though, haha, and it's very nice, thick paper hand bound into a book. I don't know what I'm going to do with this book of recycled dung paper, but it's cool. Given an elephant's diet though, I can see why this paper is fibrous.

Even poop can be beautiful. Make something new.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:21 PM | Attitude

Category "Art"

Category "Attitude"

Category "Korean"

March 19, 2006

God as Place

Today I created this piece of 'word-art' that displays God as a sense of Place. God is everywhere. God is my life. God is my hometown, where I come from and where I currently live...
GodAsPlace.gif

Posted by carl1236 at 9:42 PM | Art | Attitude | Korean

Category "Attitude"

March 18, 2006

Computer problems

I think I'm getting tired of working with computers. Today I went to help fix a problem on my friend's computer and it took me 7 hours to get it all back up and running the way he had it before it crashed, with data restored. I also had to call my brother for tech support, which I was very thankful for. The best part of this whole experience for me, was that he can now get his work done, where before he was out of business. The other equally good thing that happened was that I got to meet his mother, who is such a sweetheart! She made food for me all day long, with a couple of great surprise treats. I'm a little full now. Therefore it was a great day, but it had nothing to do with my enjoyment of computer work. I wasn't really enjoying that part of it. So maybe I'll find something low-tech to do with the rest of my life.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:52 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 13, 2006

A Local Celebrity Now?

Haha, here I am. This appeared in Sunday's paper. I'm famous now:

http://www.startribune.com/389/story/296216.html

It's interesting to note that they used a different picture in the online version than they used in the printed paper on Sunday. That's me riding up the Ohio Hill, one of my commute routes and a tough ride no matter how many times I ride up it.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:48 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 10, 2006

Something new and fun

I really had fun this morning! I took the day off and got up way earlier than I'm used to, met Mike at the bikeshop, picked up 6 bikes the volunteers had fixed up on Wednesday night, and we then hauled them off to a Middle School where Jerry teaches. It was awesome!
We set up cones in the school yard near the ball diamond, and ran relay bike races. There were six teams of about 6 kids. When one member rode down and returned he/she would hand off the bike and helmet to the next team member in line and they would go at it full speed. Well, not quite full speed if your bike is in a low gear and you don't know how to shift! Haha, he made good time though with his legs spinning furiously the whole way.
Then 45 minutes later the two classes of students went back into the school building and Mike and I hauled the bikes back to the shop. That was it. A fast and fun event! They really had fun, I could tell by the way they were acting, but at first, we heard a lot of, "Do we have to do this?" And there was one girl who came to school in shorts and sandles! I have declared it Spring already, but I still dress for the weather, haha, but evidently her attitude is a declaration of Summer!
When they all went inside, they were all excited and talking and thanking us for bringing the bikes there and doing this race. We waved goodbye to them, loaded up and left. But one thing that struck me was how such a simple thing can create so much positive energy and enthusiasm! Too often in life we are stuck in a rut of ruthless rules and decorum that prohibits trying something new. Not so with Jerry. He's a good teacher. He got parents there to help out, got us to bring bikes, got another teacher to bring her class outside and they did something out of the ordinary. The kids showed some good teamwork, by holding the bike while the other person put the bike helmet on, and they were all exited when they went back into the school. Who knows, maybe they learned something today with all that buzz up there! Good times.
And I learned to appreciate the people I have around me more and am happy to know them. Thanks Mike and Jerry!

Posted by carl1236 at 5:25 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 9, 2006

A ride in the smog

Yesterday I rode my bike from Downtown St. Paul to the wastewater treatment plant for a meeting. I decided to race a train that was leaving St. Paul on the tracks along shepard/warner road. I was really pushing hard and when I arrived at the plant, I was breathing hard and my heart was pounding and my legs were like jello. But I made it in 16 minutes! Of course I had to cool down then before my meeting, but it was ok. Then on the way back to my office I took it easy and enjoyed the view of the river.
When I checked my email I discovered I had an air quality alert for the day. Due to the low winds and the fog, more microscopic particles than normal were just hanging in the air. The alert said for people with heart problems or lung conditions should refrain from going outside and reduce their activities. They recommended for athletes to take it easy. Too late. Now my lungs contain a lot of some microscopic polution.
A ride in the smog, how nice. This is the world we have created for ourselves, how nice. One of our first steps in fixing a problem is to stop creating it. If a boat is leaking it does no good to plug holes in the hull if we are drilling more as we go! How many holes can we drill before we realize we cannot possibly plug them all, ever?

Posted by carl1236 at 10:32 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 7, 2006

Creating Systems

Here is a way to cope with things in life:
create systems, not end results.

Instead of creating a rulebook, create tools that are useful and knowledge about why things work the way they do.
Example:
Intead of saying I need 50 bikes repaired for this by this deadline, why not say that every bike that comes in the door gets a tag put on it, which has a repair checklist. Any volunteer can start with any bike and work on it, checking off the item as it's checked/repaired. The next person that grabs that bike knows where it was left and they can do what they are able off the list. When a person finishes all items on a repair tag, she can notify the shop manager for inspection, or moves the bike to the 'done' isle. The Shop manager also goes through the bikes on a regular basis and looks for bikes with completed tags, and/or spot checks bikes, then inspects and signs off on the bike. Then as we go, someone says, "I need 6 bikes for this donation," and we pick out 6 completed bikes, or mark the tags for the project. Then progress can be easily determined on those bikes. In an operation like this, it's always an ongoing process of fixihng bikes regardless of what they are for. If there is a system to handle the workflow, it gets done. They get fixed. Ok, so maybe volunteers aren't skillled enough to keep working on bikes, then the system becomes, "if you are an experienced volunteer, don't do it alone, find someone who wants to learn and pair up!" Amazing things will happen.
I know people want things to be finished, so we can say that we 'arrived' somewhere, but often the process never ends. For example, we may wish to win the lottery so our problems are over. But if we are poor money managers and we win the lottery, it doesn't absolve us of managing money, it only makes matters more complicated and larger scale. We'll still blow it with a greater amount. Having more money doesn't improve our process and we get into bigger problems and waste more money. Creating a process of doing things is beneficial. Processess are not rigid, but problem solving tools.
Jaak and I were talking the other day about training and motivation. He made a good point, that we are often motivated by a goal. True, it's helpful to have goals to work toward, but a process of improving health is also good. For instance, I will eat fruits and vegetibles on a regular basis and exercise daily. Then when an event comes along that you want to train for, you can create a specific training plan and already be on your way, any time, like pulling a fixed bike out of the lineup and knowing it's ready to roll.
I don't know, this may all be bunk, but I see much of this as a positive approach to life. I approach retirement this way also. I don't think I will ever 'retire,' by kicking back, laying around etc. The end result doesn't appeal to me. I like the idea of being active and engaged in life. Sure there is time to rest, but isn't it better to be balanced and mix action with rest throughout our whole lives? Then in our retirement we are not regretting all the things we gave up in life and now cannot do because of failing health. It's the process of living that is important isn't it?

Posted by carl1236 at 10:00 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 6, 2006

It's just another day for you and me in paradise

Hey, hold tight! The bike ride is getting wild! Tonight was an interesting and eye-opening evening at the bike shop. A year ago I never would have imagined what I'd be getting into. This is often how things work in life. Life is very interesting and full of adventures isn't it?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:22 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Boats"

March 5, 2006

The boat that stayed

Well, I tried to give my old wooden sailboat away, but it is in too bad of condition. I kind of suspected this but you know, I don't have time to work on it nor do I know enough about boats to have known it was this bad off. But it's ok. I wish it would have been in better shape, but it's not and I really won't be able to work on this for at least another year. I wanted it to go to someone who wanted a good restoration project. But if it's this bad, it's almost like building a brand new boat. At least with a new boat the materials are all new so it's starting fresh. Rebuilding and reusing is a cool idea to me though. Oh, well, the boat didn't want to go. But my table saw did. I gave it to Josh because it was going unused and he is going to repair it and use it. New life for the table saw that I haven't used in at least 5 five years. And since I declared it Spring already, I've started my spring cleaning! haha. This table saw came out of my garage, which will be transformed into a bike shop/inventor's workshop, welding shop eventually. Proof that Spring is here? we rode from St. Paul to Minneapolis hauling the table saw on a trailer. Then I had a great cup of tea and rode back! It was really fun and a good experiment and experience! I can Imagine the possibilities knowing this is possible, because i did it! Yeah the boat stayed, and there is a good reason I'm sure. But the table saw went to a good home! So it was a great day!

Posted by carl1236 at 7:11 PM | Attitude | Boats

Category "Attitude"

February 21, 2006

Direct and to the point

I'm happy to be working with a person who is direct and to the point. I like to get things done too. Tonight we accomplished something by working together and laying out a direction and setting tasks to be done. But at the same time, I'm thinking that this should be fun and we should be enjoying the process. Getting things done is enjoyable also. I want to be productive and have fun. Productive as in 'produce results.' All in good time. Just meeting tonight with another person working toward the same goal was productive. Honestly, when one person has an idea, if we really listen to others, we can clarify and help our idea come to fruition. Our egos tell us we need to do things by ourselves. But it is often involvement by others that will make our Ideas succeed. We may have a great conceptual idea but to make it happen we need other people. So it goes that our attitudes about working with others and our willingness to compromise and cooperate with an overall vision in mind, will help the overall idea succeed. Tonight I learned something valuable. I learned to keep the overall vision in mind and be thankful for a direct person's involvment.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:49 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

February 18, 2006

Innovation

Tonight I'm going to start with two quotes, then tie them together with my experiences today:

Goethe said something like, "‚ÄúWhatever you do or dream you can do - begin it! Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.‚Ä?

Stemming from an ancient Roman saying, "Necessity is the mother of Invention."

These two phrases ARE related in a big way. I'm kind of a creative, inventive person and a troubleshooter. I do software technical support for a living, so pinpointing problems and finding a solution has become more standard procedure for me than an oddity. I love to solve problems. And I love creating beautiful things!

Today I was at the bike shop teaching Ying how to rebuild a bottom bracket. Bike repair is interesting, but even more interesting when we find out two key things about the bike we are working on. One is when we discover that the part has not been serviced in a very long time, as evidenced by the congealed, hardened grease, or what's left of it. The second is when we discover that this part has been altered by someone and is non-standard. It takes a long time for grease to get into this condition! And so, thinking about the alterations on this bike, I have to think that the repairs were also made a long time ago. The crank was stripped and had to be replaced, so we either had find a crank and sprocket that was right for this bike or improvise as the original mechanic had done. We tried but found out that this old three-speed bike originally had cottered cranks and the crank we were replacing was a single-piece crank. Well, that was fun! But we weren't going to put an old cottered crank bottom bracket together, though we probably could have done it. We instead put another single-piece crank together. We improvised with an old Huffy single-single piece crank using the original chainring that the bike had on it. Then when we put it together discovered that it wasn't an exact fitt because the s[rpcket ended up too close to the frame. So we improvised again and found a safe way to make this work. When things did not work, we used creativity and found a good solution. We were actually inspired by the original repair job, but did it better.

Then after the bike shop I went to my art studio and worked on some Ukrainian Easter Eggs. On one design I splattered some water on it while draining the egg and got some white splotches on the egg. I then tried to correct this by using a cue-tip and wiping some die on the egg to cover the lightened areas. That didn't work. It made it worse. So, instead of trying to match the original darker tone of the surrounding areas, I found a natural division of areas on the egg and made that whole area a lighter shade by rubbing the color with the cue-tip dipped in dye. It made a striking image on the egg and the design was actually improved over the original intent!

This is where the genious, power and magic come in. Once we get into something and it's not working so well, if we are creative we invent a solution. This is why we are encouraged to follow our dreams and just do it! Because if we do, once we are in it, being creative beings, we will find solutions to whatever obstacles we come across. In fact, before we begin many things we don't even comprehend what obstacles or challenges we will face because they are hidden from us. Necessity is the mother of invention. Once we discover the problems we can work on a solution to the problem. We can be creative.

So whatever you dream of, just begin it! Be creative and the magic will follow.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:16 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

February 16, 2006

In search of answers without knowing the question

Today I did a google search and ended up riding down the middle of the street on my bike on a ten-degree night at midnight alone. No cars, just me, my bike and the wide open road. So I took my lane and it felt not only wierd but unexpected. Like when you start out to do one thing and end up doing another because circumstances led that way. And there I was experiencing a an odd, but delightful thing. It was cold and the wind was even colder, and biting at my cheeks. I kept trying to tuck my face down into my jacket collar, but it was hard to ride that way. I contemplated stopping and putting on my extreme cold weather mask, but then thought I could make it home and it would be a waste to stop at that point. I did make it home, and it was ok. As I was riding I discovered my last turn had taken me on a course that put the wind to my back. That not only made me go faster, but I felt much warmer!
Sometimes in a search we end up with results, but there is another kind of search, which is a process. It is a process of seeking answers to questions that we don't know we have. At least until we know the answers. Tonight I knew it was a perfect night as I rode home from the Bike Shop down the middle of the empty street. If I would have followed my original plans, I would not have experienced this. And prior to riding home, I discovered answers to problems I did not know needed answering. I learned so much tonight and got none of my original plans accomplished! Interesting how that works isn't it?!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:52 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

February 8, 2006

Can we change?

Can we change ourselves, or are we changed by something?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:39 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

February 7, 2006

Paradise Lost

The 'Garden of Eden' or 'Paradise on Earth' they just found will soon be lost. There is a reason it's so pristine and untouched, with hundreds or even thousands of species of plants and animals unknown to mankind living there. The reason is because we didn't know about it or it was too far removed from our access before. I know this sounds pessimistic, but it's not so much that we destroy things on purpose, but over the centuries we as human beings have moved from respecting all life as equal to us and being grateful for all life, to exploiters of our environment for gain, to consumers of resources available to us. Just think of all the 'untapped' resources available in that remote jungle paradise! Creatures who previously lived without our presence now must live with our presence. Unless this newly discovered pristine wilderness is protected somehow from the exploitation of human beings, it will no longer be paradise. There is a reason it's a paradise now.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:29 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

February 2, 2006

Spokes Pizza

I'm really happy right now for several reasons. First, that Spokes Pizza is getting back up and running after having all of their Pizza ovens break down. I was there tonight and really enjoyed a slice of pizza and some coffee. Spokes Pizza is a collective, which is a concept I really like and support. I am still trying to grasp what it means to be part of the collective, but basically it boils down to, what is in the best interest of the other members is also in our best interest. It's collectively sharing in the profits and the risk and the responsibilities and duties. So, to me this form of business bound to not only be successful but also good to the worker-owners where no one person takes all the profit while exploiting the workers who make it happen. I don't know, but this seems like a good thing to me. In practice, I think it would be difficult for many people in the U.S. to be part of a collective. I feel like much of our culture pushes and admires the 'me-first' attitude.
Then, I got to watch part of the bike messenger movie, Quicksilver. Very cool stunts! I have to find that movie and watch the whole thing.
I also met Peter and Zach and played my second-ever game of GO. It was a good learning experience and fun, though I floundered around, not quite what I was doing. But I'm just starting to learn so it's ok.
All-in-all a great night. Welcome Back Spokes!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:50 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 26, 2006

Nothing but Something happened tonight

Often life does not work the way we plan or the way we think it should. For some reason I got the Grease Pit meeting date mixed up and missed the meeting. I went and talked to a few people there and then got to see part of the rehearsal for the new play at the Bedlum. I have to go see this play! It looks really fun, with good music. It's called, "Big Ole's Theatre for the Revolutionary Arts: The first 100 years." Ok. But it looked cool watching them run all over the stage and act crazy. I am happy that I went there tonight just to see that.

Then I ran over to Spokes Pizza and found out they were closed for the weekend due to a broken oven! So sad. But, um. We are supposed to have Spokes Pizza for our meeting on Saturday. Now what's going to happen? I have to order standard delivery, ordinary pizza. So sad. But it's free, come on in to the shop (Sibley Bike Depot), Saturday 6pm. Let me know if you're coming so I order enough pizza. I'd love to meet you and show you what I've been so busy with. I'll show you my art studio too if you're interested in that. I don't have a picture on this site, but here's your chance to meet me in person. hehe.

Anyway, on the door of the Seward Cafe, there was another note that said the Go Club was meeting at Hard Times Cafe. I had never been there before so I decided to go check it out. I was looking for someone I knew from Spokes and couldn't find him, so I got a yerba mate tea (one of my favorites) and hung out watching a young guy named Matthew teach a couple people how to play Go. Then they were done and I jumped at the opportunity to learn. Matthew is a great teacher and patient. I actually won our first game by one point. That kind of beginners luck and observation is dangerous, because it gets us hooked. haha. But at least I know where to find the Go players to play with.

After work today I was riding home and saw that I was passing by my own bus in downtown as it was stopped at a stop. I decided today would be a good day to race the bus home, haha. So I started booking it as fast as I could and pulled out of downtown fairly quickly. I was about a mile away from where I started and way ahead of the bus. But I was already exhausted and decided that since I had the lead on the bus, I'd stop at the next bus stop and wait for the bus. So I did and got a ride the rest of the way home on the bus. I didn't plan on that but it was a good idea and I had a nice conversation with the bus driver. I'm glad I did it this way.

Oh, and tonight I saw that Dee posted a comment on my blog, but her link did not work so I fixed that. Check out Dee's Blog, "I have a Headache." I so understand a lot of what she is going through!
I didn't accomplish anything I set out to do tonight, but a lot happened. And it was good.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:10 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 14, 2006

Accepting and being kind to ourselves

To be whole and balanced I believe we need to have a nurturing and loving attitude toward ourselves also, not just toward other people as we are so often taught. We can be harshest sometimes with ourselves. But think about it. Use logic. It doesn't make sense to be too harsh on ourselves and get cruel with ourselves when that is exactly what we fear others doing to us. So we go and do exactly what we don't want others to do to us? Doesn't seem too healthy. Of course we should recognize it if we are jerks and need to allow change in ourselves. This is also part of becoming whole. When we are nurturing and loving toward ourselves, we are looking out for our spiritual, emotional and mental health as well as our physical well-being. It's tough though when we are self-defeating. I wonder why we do this to ourselves. Often it's because we are running or hiding from parts of us we don't like or where we feel inadequate. But isn't it being kind and loving to ourselves that we can accept that part of us and allow it to be changed or healed that will actually make us whole?
A very creative friend recently told me about his struggle with doing artistic interior designs, which he's really good at, and managing his business, which he's exceedingly stressed out about and not so good at. For dozens of years he kept deriding himself and attacking himself for his lack of business sense and his perceived shortcomings. It was a very loving, nurturing and courageous thing for him to do when he finally accepted himself for who he was and realized that it was counterproductive to his well-being to constantly attack himself, and even go into long bouts of depression over it. Recently he decided to change his strategy and let go of some things he's been trying to do on his own, like managing his business affairs by himself. He sought out a business partners that were much better about legal and legal and financial affairs and concentrated on doing better designs. But not just ignoring that he felt like he was inadequate in these areas, he did not waste the opportunity and breathing room his partners left him, but instead allowed himself to try to be better at it himself, without self-attacking and started taking more interest in learning and developing that side of himself. He became more nurturing and caring about his emotions toward himself and learned to not consider it a failure in himself but a chance to accept who he was and stop knocking himself down. Instead his life became a process of becoming whole instead of always feeling like less or lacking.
Another friend keeps saying that "we cannot change ourselves, we can only be changed." I believe the truth in this statement is in how we accept ourselves and be kind to ourselves, allowing change to happen. Instead of attacking ourselves and saying things like, "I'm worthless." or "I'm no good at anything." We say things like, "Yes, I'm having trouble managing my finances, but I'm really good at my art. What can I do about it? I want to continue doing my design work, so how can I do that and do better at my finances? It's ok if I can't do it all. I should get help in this area of my life." Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to admit things we are hiding from or running from, when if we would only say it's ok, we could allow others to help us and change us. But our self-confidence erodes and we condemn ourselves without a process of healing and nurturing ourselves. I want to be whole and accept myself for who I am. It's a big step in the right direction of living a happy and fulfilled life.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:42 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 13, 2006

Falling Asleep

Last night I was waiting for the computer, which my daughter was using and I fell asleep on the couch while reading.
I missed blogging, but by the time I woke up again, it was 5am. Too funny. But I decided it was better just to go to bed and get a couple more hours of sleep. So I went to bed and woke up at 9am to the smell of crepes. Wow, what a smell. I got up and had a fresh cup of dark roast and ate crepes and fruit. It was a great morning. Oh, yeah, and I took today off because it was my birthday. It was nice to have another Friday off. I have to admit I took every Friday in December off too. It's been nice working 4-day work weeks! This weekend however was an added bonus. I get Monday off as a holiday, so I get two 4-day work weeks by taking one day of vacation!
Anyway, today I was planning on doing a lot of things for the bike shop. But I was playing by a different set of rules than other people involved and ended up getting going at 3pm. We met at the shop and went to Minneapolis to buy some locking metal cabinets for the shop to lock up new inventory. It took us a long time to look through this warehouse and finallly make the purchase of two of these cabinets. I think they were a good deal, so we are on the right track. Inventory control is good,.
This post is really about flexibility. I wonder how things would have turned out if I was a hard-nosed hypocrite? I would not have tolerated the 'take it as it comes' mentality as another person I'm working with. In life I think it's important to always, ALWAYS remember what is really important in life. Yeah, business will get done, but human beings are more important. If my partner in the bike shop runs on a different mental clock, I need ot understand him as a human being and learn to work with it, if I value his role in our group. I do. So it's a matter of looking at my own expectations. So I do and found out that today was a great day! Because of this guys' friend in the salvage business, we got two locking cabinets for well under market value. So instead of spending 150 dollars, we spent 90. Good. More money to carry out our mission.
Now I'm falling asleep and better get to bed again... haha. The mind is willing but the body is weak...

Posted by carl1236 at 10:51 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 11, 2006

You can be a hero too

The commercial says, "You can be a hero too. Take your family on a Walt Disney World Vacation." Is that what it takes to be a hero? Due to the expense of it, a Disney vacation is usually a one-time shot, maybe twice in a child's youth if their parents can afford it. Is that being a hero? Or is it buying a moment of entertainment? In raising children, I think a true hero is one who is spending time over the long haul with their children, teaching morals, values, skills, compassion, love for others, etc. It's a parent who sacrifices not to entertain, but to develop their children's ability to live and survive in this world and still have a good heart. This is a problem with commercialism I think. It tries to sell us on what we will be if only we will buy what they are selling. We will be heros if only we will buy a Disney vacation. We will be heros if only we will buy a Hybrid Car. We will by a hero if only we give diamonds for presents. Commercialism then becomes a matter of what we spend becomes what we are. If we buy into it we are accepted and loved, if not, we are seen as 'less.' Should we value 'purchasing' our heroship? Should we be valued for how much we can buy for our family? That is a modern perception of who we should be and what we should value and our advertisers tell us so. Let's all go to Disney World and be heros. When we come back from our fantasy vacation, we will be better people, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, virtuous and unfailing in our desire to help others. Let's all buy a nice car and we will be nicer to other human beings and masters of the environment. We are saving the world after all by spending 30,000 dollars on a car that saves a little gas. We are heros if we buy diamonds for our wives for christmas. It's a superficial view of what a real hero is I think. A real hero teaches and lifts up another human being. What is really important in life after all?

Posted by carl1236 at 10:47 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Knowing God"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

January 10, 2006

The sudden urge

Tonight at about 7pm or so, I was riding my bike through downtown St. Paul on my way home. I was just passing by an intersection and the Aroma's Cafe sign caught my eye. I've seen it before, but never had the need to stop in. Tonight however I had this sudden and urgent urge to take a detour and stop in for a treat. This coffee shop is not right on the corner and I couldn't see in from where I pulled up to the stop sign, so I didn't know why I was being 'pulled' in that direction. I parked my bike and looked in the window and to my wonder and surprise I saw my friend Kurt! I haven't seen him since November I think. So I parked my bike and went in and said hi. I ended up staying and eating a bite and having some coffee. We really enjoyed talking and made plans to meet again next week on Tuesday in the same place to play some chess and watch some student films they'll be showing.
Then when I began my journey home again, I was feeling pretty good. I was happy. But as I was passing the street where my bus runs, I felt this huge pull to go to the main bus stop and see when my bus came. It's several blocks out of my way, so I had to make a concerted effort to go that way. I kept telling myself that it would be a pain going back up the hill from that location, but I did it anyway. There at the bus stop I saw my friend Melvin with his bike. His bike was missing a pedal but he was riding it all over like that! I told him to stop by the bikeshop for a new pedal. He was happy to see me, and I was happy to see him. I ended up riding the bus home just to keep talking with him a little longer. Melvin's a good guy. We made plans that he would come into the bike shop on Saturday for a new pedal. Both times tonight I had this sudden urge to detour out of my normal course. I listened and it was amazing. It was totally worth it! Oh the mysterious, amazing thing this life is.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude | Knowing God | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

January 9, 2006

Fear = Alone

The more fear we have, the more alone we feel. When fear controls our hearts and minds, we have a really hard time loving others, let alone loving ourselves. Because of our fears of ourself and others we distance ourselves. The fear of being alone creates the reality of being alone. We are alone because we have great fear and it controls our hearts and minds. As it controls us we cannot see there is another way, but there is. It involves letting go of our fears, letting go of the things we create that do not help us; letting go of the things we create that seperate us from each other and from ourself, making us feel so alone. When fear speaks to us, we can so easily be blinded. We can embrace our fears and then let them go.
I am no longer afraid of losing my job. I have already given it up in my mind, yet now my job is getting more interesting and challenging. I still have not resolved the issue of having an abusive boss, but maybe I cannot resolve it. At least not without help. But now, since I have let go of my fear of losing my job, there is no power over me to make me feel small.
You know how fear can screw up relationships. When we are constantly afraid of losing someone, it usually happens. It's better to just live your life according to who you are inside and all that you know is good and right, and not worry about 'losing' something we cannot control in the first place. With people we cannot possess them yet we want to control them. But we have to learn to let that go or they will let us go.
Fear pulls down life, instead of building something new. Fear says we are alone, yet we are not. Unless we fear and are alone.
It is so lonely being alone, unless we are not really alone. As soon as we begin to fear, we begin to be alone. But if we do not feel alone while we are alone, we are not really alone.
No Fear.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:12 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 7, 2006

Learn to relax Max!

The wooden cat on our end table got knocked down and broke his leg. He's looking up into the air, and now he looks like he's praying to God asking to have her leg fixed. It's kind of cute looking but sad. It's a good thing I have Gorilla Glue. I know who knocked these little wooden cats off the end table and his name is Max. Max is a mix of Norwegian Elk-hound and something else. He's a really cute Luck-Dragon looking dog that still acts like a puppy, even though he's a year-and-a-half old now. Max is the cutest thing since sliced bread but his tail is uncontrolable and spins in a circle. It's like a little cyclone. I didn't see the accident happen but I can imagine. Dogs and cats you know. In fact I know our two dogs gang up on the cats while we are away. It's a game. They can hardly conceal it while we're here!
In life I want to say to some people just like I want to say to my puppy max, you gotta learn to relax Max! Just set yourself free! And then we don't have to use gorilla glue anymore to repair the damages left in the wake of your hurricane tail. Learn to relax Max! ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 7:17 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 6, 2006

Wow, I'm tired

Last night I went to a meeting held at Spokes Pizza. I just love that place! Good pizza and good friends and good atmosphere. Anyway, by the time I was done there and got back home to St. Paul it was well after eleven something and I blogged then read some more in 'The Chronicles of Narnia' book. It was fun reading and I ended up staying up until 2am or so. I fell asleep only to be woken by the alarm shortly after. I had to be to work by 7:30 this morning. That was harsh! But I showered, brought coffee with me in my little 20 oz. insulated container and had a nice ride into work. That woke me up a bit. Then once at work, I checked my email and calls, grabbed my laptop and rode off to the wastewater treatment plant. I spent the whole day there and luckily my clothes don't smell too bad. Usually there is a residual smell on everything. I know, too much information. But it was a great day and we accomplished a lot. Then at about 2:45 I went back to my office, put away my laptop, checked my email, answered some voicemail, shut down and left at 3:30pm. I went to my art studio, grabbed my little cash box to get it opened at Kat Keys. That's a strange story in itself, but anyway, I had to get that open to get the keys out, since they were taped inside and I had to make a new key for the bikeshop for our new treasurer. I got that done, grabbed some dinner on the way and headed back to the bike shop. Once there I helped take care of an emergency and then finally I ate some dinner and got started on my artwork in my studio. So it was a busy day for me, and there was no time to condiser how tired I was. Now I'm feeling it after riding my bike home and cooling off a little. I'm really feeling like I will fall asleep as soon as I lay down. I think sometimes our occupation of time takes our minds off other things, and that's why we fill up our time. But tonight I forced myself to slow down and do my eggs. I got two eggs done though and had a lot of quiet thinking time to myself in my little pocket studio. By the way, I will be in the St. Paul Art Crawl displying my eggs, woodcarving and paintings. So I have to do a lot of artwork in order to have things to show. But back to slowing down... Doing this kind of work in isolation is meditative. I think about all kinds of things while doing these eggs. And at times I'm so focused on what I'm doing, that I don't think about anything else. It's a really nice and much needed break from an otherwise stressful day. Time to think. I think time to think is the missing ingredient in our lives when they become so frantic. 'Slow down you crazy child, you're too ambitious for a juvenile.' That's what I sing to myself whenever I feel like things are going crazy. Now I'm exhausted, mostly from lack of sleep, but I feel good. It feels good to slow down and allow myself the time to do artwork and meditate on life.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:01 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 26, 2005

Tools for the Future

Many people define a good investment as something that provides a good return after some period of time. It implies that we have to put something into it and we get something more valuable in return. The problem with investments are this: We cannot control the future. It happens. We happen. We can make plans and there are some predictable results if all things go according to plan. For instance, we can invest money in the bank and earn interest on that money. It's a predictable, published amount that we can count on to give us a return on our investment after a specific amount of time. That is if we are alive to collect the return on investment or that we don't have to spend the money to pay our bills. Savings have a habit of disappearing when we are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and that's the way life is sometimes. Emergencies happen and life is unpredictable sometimes. But we can predict logically what the most likely outcomes will be given our current thoghts and actions.
I like Idea of investing in people. What does that mean to me? I like teaching people things they can do for themselves. I like giving people skills they can use for their own benefit and that they can use to benefit others. There is a huge multiplying effect of investing in people. For example, the beautiful old Ukranian woman that I took Russian language classes from believed in investing in people. Svetlana taught Russian and Ukranian to hundreds of people in the Twin Cities. One day a long time ago we were sitting in class and she mentioned the traditional Ukranian artform of Pysanki. Ukranian Easter Eggs are made by a wax-resist dye method of applying wax in layers and successive dying in different colors of dyes. Then at the end, the wax is removed to reveal the beautiful image on the egg. We were amazed at the beauty of these eggs and she offered to teach us in her home. She was making an investment in us students, from one artist to many artists. The investment was not lost on me. I have produced hundreds of beautiful eggs over the past 5 or so years of doing it. Though she may not realize the return on her investment, it's happening in me. I am carrying on a 2000 plus year tradition, in the traditional way using traditional tools and methods and designs. And they are beautiful! I am creating beautiful things. She didn't try to hide her skills and techniques from others to make more money for herself, she invested her gifts and talents in other human beings. I am truly thankful for Svetlana. Her investment in me has changed me forever. When we took the class from her we paid her a small amount for the class, which barely even helped pay her living expenses and was affordable for a starving student to take. When we take classes we are investing in ourselves. We hope there is a dividend in the future. We don't know what the future holds but there are some predictable results based on what we do know about education. Education when applied can be wisdom. It can have measurable and amazing return on investment. If I took a class on making Pysanki and never made any after the class was over, I would lose the skill and not produce results. Education builds on itself through experience and makes the education more valuable. In a sense it changes us and therefore changes the world. I like investing in other people. I taught computer classes and art workshops and was a scout leader for 7 years. I loved teaching young boys how to survive in the woods and be self-sufficient, how to climb the tower, shoot, make projects, tie knots, build self-confidence and so on. With almost all of these boys, I will never see the results of my investment. But just as something has been invested in me and I applied it to my life, there will be a return on my investments in them.
Teaching people how to fix bikes for themselves is a natural fit for this kind of philosophy in life. What a better way to use our gifts and talents than teach someone else how to use theirs and be able to do for themselves what they previously had to rely on others for? One artist becomes ten! Ten pieces of art become hundreds!
Today I went to the Ukrainian Gift Shop and invested in another kind of tool. I bought an electric Kistka with interchangeable tips to draw wax onto the eggs. This should save me considerable time and reduce the risk of 'blobbing' of the wax on the egg. I'm excited to use it. The tool is locally produced by an experienced egg decorator and gives me a wider range of tip sizes than I currently have (5 instead of 3). This kind of investment is a tool for the future also. It is a tool to create with. Just as a carpenter needs a hammer to build, an egg decorator needs a tool to draw the wax onto the egg. For wood carving I have knives and gouges and a special jig for the table-top. Today I invested in a tool to create eggs faster and more detailed and beautiful. Now I have to apply that tool to create something beautiful or it's a wasted investment. I am expected to use these tools or lose the investment in myself by Svetlana and by my own practice. It is up to us to find a use for the investments made in us that return a positive result. We definately cannot control what others do with their gifts, talents and resources, but we can choose what we create. I am excited to use my new tools. I am working on displaying these beautiful eggs in a local coffee shop downtown in February or March, so I have to get busy now!
Today on a related topic, It dawned on me that my language learning is the same. Teachers have made an investment for the future of their own language in me. There will be a return on their investment though they do not know what it will be and they may never see it. I have made a considerable investment in the future by applying myself to learning. It would be a shame to waste that investment and not use it. Use of those language skills is a high form of compliment. There are other human investments that we cannot measure with tangible results. If I even read one story that was written in German, Russian or Korean, in the author's native thoughts and language, and understood it, then I have already provided a return on the investment. How do you measure that? It's beautiful though. Today I ran into Doug at the coffee shop, who is in his 40's and studying Japanese. He inspired me to pick up my learning tools and start again. Today we excitedly talked about all the similarities between the Japanese and Korean languages. It was totally motivating and engaging. Spending time together talking about learning languages was also an investment in each other and a forming relationship. His enthusiasm for studying Japanese and encouraging me to pick up my studies again is an investment. This is investing in people. There are predictable results based on current actions and attitudes and I like the results I see. We all can make a difference in this world. Every one of us can make a difference by investing in others and ourselves as human beings.
Peace,

Posted by carl1236 at 6:40 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 25, 2005

It's OK. Time for a rest.

It's OK. All of our family gatherings are over for this holiday season. I'm a little tired from last minute work on the wood projects and staying up late, getting up early routine, but now I have one more day off work and I am going to relax and watch a movie now and do a Sudoku puzzle.
Tomorrow I'm going shopping to make an investment in my future activities if they should transpire. I'll write about it if I can make it happen. I'm already looking forward to the new year.
Anyone want to spend New-Years Eve with me? No plans yet.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:38 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 24, 2005

Forgive me Father for I have sinned.

Going into confession a person says, "Forgive me Father for I have sinned." God answers back, "No." Sitting silently for a moment, the person then stammers, "But, but, this isn't how it's supposed to work!" There was silence. The person waited and still there was no reply, so once more the person asked for forgiveness. Then God said, "No. you do not deserve forgiveness."
The person was really shocked and beginning to become scared. This is not how confession is supposed to work for sure! In confession a person admits wrongdoing, confesses the transgression and is pardoned. But this is unwavering and unforgiving. After another long pause, the person began to cry. "But Father, please forgive me, I will never do that again!" God answered, "No, you will not do what is necessary to redeem yourself, so you will die." "Wha...wha...what did you say?" the person said, shaking vigorously now. "I am to die? Please, I will do anything you ask."
And to that God replied, "Then Give me back my Dodo Bird."

As human beings we have really messed up a lot. And it's all because of greed and selfishness. Self-centered, short-term thinking. We have destroyed countless species of God's creation and still do. We are a contentious lot and yet we ask forgiveness. Dead as a Dodo we are.

Posted by carl1236 at 3:17 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Don't Give Up!

If you haven't seen this yet, check it out. It's a very good Peter Gabrial song sung by Alicia Keys and Bono. The photos are very good and moving. "Don't Give Up!" You have friends.

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/richlee/Thoughts/

Posted by carl1236 at 12:45 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 23, 2005

You Don't Know the Power of the Dark Side!

Well, it happened. I caved to the power of the Dark Side tonight. haha. We had ordered a gift for our new step-nephew-in-law and tonight we checked to see where it was. The shipping statement still said it was going to arrive by the 21st. hmmm. That's already long gone. We checked with UPS and they said it's right on time to arrive by the 28th. Right on Time? I am laughing though, because I was so happy I would not have to go out shopping at the last minute like all those other people who were at Target tonight right up until 11:00pm when they closed. But the Dark Side had it's moment with me. I was there shopping at the last minute for a special gift that Target had sold out of long ago. But I found something really fun and cool. A Darth Vader mask with real sounds and a voice box that turns your own voice into something that sounds like Darth Vader. And I also bought him a black cape to complete the costume. Hmmm. One would think this is Halloween. Maybe the Nightmare before Christmas. The store was crowded and the streets were crowded.
But he likes Star Wars and he has an active imagination so he should have fun with this. I would have fun with it. hehe. But I didn't pick this present. My daughter did. I trust her youthful viewpoint better than my own. I was going to buy him a lego set. Then I found a whole bunch of cheap stocking stuffers.
I was weak. The Force was not strong in this one. I was a last minute shopper. But the good news is I'm home and tomorrow will be a nice family day. We are having my family over for lunch and then going to church, then going to my Father-in-laws where we will get to give and receive some gifts and have a great dinner. Then on Christmas Day we get to sleep in, get up and open the stockings and have a nice liesurely breakfast with coffee. No place to go until 2pm when we have another family gathering.
What a great weekend so far. In spite of the Dark Side of the holidays, I'm really loving all the great food and good company. Semper Gumby!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:51 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 22, 2005

Wine and Cheese

We went to a 'wine and cheese' party. There were about 15 bottles of various wines on the buffet and a table full of good food and cheeses. It was kind of interesting being the designated driver at an event like this. I could definatetly tell the difference in behaviour between those who drank in moderation and those who imbibed a ltttle too much wine. But it was family and lifetime friends and connections sharing good food, wine and conversation. The event was kind of fun, in that it was a 'dress-up' event where all the guests were supposed to wear their finest. Two of the men wore tuxes. As one of them put it, "Because I have one, and there are not many opportunities to wear one." I found a wool jacket in my closet and wore black pants, black mock turtle, a thin black leather belt with small brass wire buckle, black mocasin-toed dress shoes and for the occasion, I cut my hair again. My wife wore a new, elegent black dress with a new soft, pink-fuzzy sweater over it. All of it was a fancy excuse to spend some time with each other. This whole wine and cheese party idea actually is a monthly event for the women in this family, except for this holiday party, they chose to invite all the men. This got me thinking about gatherings with friends and family and what these gatherings mean. I think we bring ourselves together with other people to feel that connection, or human/spiritual bond between each other. And we will use any excuse to do so. No-one wants to be alone really. Yeah sure, we need peace and solitude also, but it's the overall connection and love and acceptance we want with each other. Basically, everyone wants, needs, to be loved. Any excuse to group ourselves together accomplishes at least part of that.
But often we dread these holiday gatherings instead of looking forward to them. Why is that? With some of these parties there can also be a lot of pressure, when we feel like we have to live up to other's expectations, or our own expectations. Our own expectations of ourselves can be brutal sometimes. And our own view of other's expectations can be brutal. They can be brutal and stressful and defeat the purpose of coming together in the first place. For example, my wife fretted over the hors d'oeuvres she was bringing. She feels like because she is a 'personal chef' that she has to bring something noteworthy and spectacular. And then this expectation is kind of reinforced when people start looking for her hors d'oeuvres and make comments like, "She must have brought this one, she always brings something really amazing." That person I overheard by the table was right of course, and my wife did a fantastically beautiful hor d'oeuvre that tasted great. But she went through considerable stress worrying and searching through recipes to decide what to bring. We can put a lot of pressure on ourselves. It may be worth it because art is sometimes worth a lot of effort. And we do want to be accepted and loved, so this is another way for us to feel esteemed in other people's eyes. Another example, my sister-in-law is a beautiful, vibrant, outgoing woman who never lacks in something to say. It's a natural that she works in sales. When she was getting ready for the party, she accidently burnt her neck with the curling iron and it left a mark. She worried about it a lot before coming to the party and even during the beginning of the party. The truth is, the mark wasn't that big and when she smiles and talks to people she really engages them and no-one notices her neck anyway. I didn't notice until she pointed it out embarrassingly. But she didn't want people to stare at it so she worried about it. Then when she discovered that people didn't really concern themselves with the burn mark, she relaxed and forgot about it. She was beautiful and charming as usual. And then there were the expectations and worries surrounding our jobs, social position and standings. There is the question that always comes up, "John, what do you do for a living?" I answer, we talk about it, I ask what they do, etc. It's a stressful topic for many people because it's tied to our own sense of self-worth and what we see as 'successful.' There are many variations of this discussion too, like "What is your major?" But it all boils down to the same thing, sometimes there is a lot of pressure on us to present ourselves in a certain way we feel we will be accepted and loved.
At first I didn't really see the point of a 'wine and cheese' party, since I'm not really fanatical about either. Sure I like them, but a special themed party where we have to dress in our 'finest' is a little out of my norm. I don't even own a full suit, let alone a tux. But I was missing the point. Totally. It's not about the wine and cheese at all. It's another excuse to come together. Then I was happy to go and get to know people better and 'connect' with friends and family. It was very nice. And my wife was happy I was there. I got to hold her arm on the slippery driveway and street and talk about her cooking. Though I did not talk about my activities much, I really loved helping other's feel accepted and loved. These really are wonderful people, and seeing that is part of the family gathering. Letting go of our expectations and stress is important to connection with others. As I was cutting my own hair before the party, I had to let go of my fear of doing a crappy job and having someone notice the bad haircut. But at the party no-one noticed my little mistakes with the clippers. It was fine. I didn't tell anyone that I have been cutting my own hair for a while now. Anyway, remembering the purpose of coming together is not for appearances, but to connect with other people and feel accepted and loved and help them do the same, it gives us a new attitude to prep our minds for a party. It's a viewpoint that allows us to be who we are and to be genuinely interested in who others are. Then there will be no worries or fear that can compare with the results of this attitude. It was a great party. Oh yeah, and there was wine and cheese there.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:23 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 20, 2005

The Gift of an Experience

A little while ago I was talking with a friend and she told me that she never gives 'things' for presents. She always gives 'experiences' to people. For example, for Christmas one year she took her grandson to see a musical and he loved the experience and the time with his grandmother. It's another way to make a gift personal and does not seem so commercialized and material. It could even be a gift that keeps giving, like a cooking class or art class, where the experience creates the ability to do more of it. I think this is such a great idea.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:08 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 18, 2005

Time

One great thing, and I mean awesome thing about life is that we cannot control time. We think we can, but we cannot give ourselves any more time than time allows and we can cannot speed it up or slow it down. We cannot go back in time or forward in time. This is the stuff of science fiction so far. In the grand scheme of things all time is right now, past, present and future, but the closer we get to our physical experience of life, time goes on and we have our moment in it. Or we could say that time stands still and we move through it over and over. What if time is not 2-dimensional, linear, from beginning to end, but multidemensional? Regardless, though we sometimes wish, we cannot control it.
We talk about lives being frantic around the holidays because we have so many parties to go to, Christmas presents to buy, maybe birthdays thrown in, Church choir practice, a childrens play to help with, cookies to bake, and on and on... What we wouldn't give for a little more time!
What would we give for a little more time? Let's say we can buy more time. I'll buy 6 more hours per day so I can get everything done. It's a deal. Now I can fix more bikes, build that sculpture I started but never finished, do some wood carving, paint, work on my house, go out for bike rides, read more, learn to weld, start teaching a night class, add swimming into my workout for the upcoming triathlon season, do more with my family, and on and on. I could add a lot of activities into my day and get a lot more done! But I've felt the feeling of working really hard and being exhausted and still feeling like I've accomplished nothing. I think we would always fill up our time with things to do and maybe overfill our time. So Is it time we need more of or is it less things to do? We cannot slow down time, but we can slow ourselves down. I'm quoting Mahatma Ghandi again, because I've been thinking about it all week. He said, "There is more to life than increasing it's speed." Or rephrased, there is more to life than increasing the speed and volume of our activities. There is a lot more to life and I cannot control time any more than I can control how much life I'm allotted. But I can do everything In my power to not destroy either before their time.
Relax, it's supposed to be a peaceful, reflective time of year. If there were more time, we'd just use it up and ask for more. Take your time and see the beauty in it. It's ok to slow down.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:17 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 14, 2005

Today was a strange day.

Today I went to a meeting with my boss for my performance evaluation. Can't believe he reiterated the same points that I've filed a grievance against in almost every performance item! His reprimands failed to produce the results he intended so now he has tried to put it in my performance evaluation. This man is making things up and doesn't even see how his behavior is the cause of all of the problems in our department. The truth behind all of this is how he treats other people.
I didn't sleep well last night because I was having nightmares about my performance review. I knew I felt uneasy and he was too self-assured when going into it. But I don't think he expected me to stand up for myself. He feels justified in his treatment of me. I just happen to be the current target of his power struggle. A bully uses tactics of intimidation and doesn't speak in specific truths, just generalizations and lies to achieve power over another person.
It seems like my life is involved with a few of these people lately and there is a reason I'm sure.
I had a good talk with one of my coworkers, who told me a good story (she was also verbally abused by our manager. She was his target before me.) She said that through all of this, she has learned to stand up for herself. She relayed how this has changed her life over the past years and in defending herself against our bosses abusive behavior she learned to respect herself and realize that she is not the fault here. She also spent countless hours not sleeping and getting stressed out about work. Our boss just doesn't get it. He feels justified in how he treats other people. And it's all about personal power over other people. It has nothing to do with our job performance. She is constantly going above and beyond her duties, but yet has to defend herself against her supervisor's patronizing and abusive behaviors. It's too bad.
I stayed until 6:47pm at work writing responses to every negative comment he wrote in my performance evaluation with specific examples of how I was communicating with him and accomplishing my tasks at work. I know and most of the people around me know that I'm doing a good job and work well with others. I really am a team player and I get along great with the other team players. But my boss isn't a team player, he's a bully. So what can I do also. Like several others in our department, we have to document and defend ourselves. He isn't changing. He's abusive and non-communicative with us and isolates himself in his cubicle. If anyone contradicts him he goes on the offensive and attacks that person's character. I feel better now that the review is over. I submitted my comments and have a meeting tomorrow with his supervisor to hopefully resolve the issue of the grievance finally. I don't know what to expect in this meeting but given my bosses presentation of my performance review, he must think that my grievance against the reprimand for the same issues will stand. It's so strange. My wife said that, of course, no-one believes they are wrong, and that we all somehow justify our attitudes, beliefs and actions. Yes, somehow he feels like he is right. I think there is a problem too, but not with my performance or willingness to work with him. The problem is with how he manages and treats other people.
I see great beauty in having all of this thrown at me at once, including the abusive and unprofessional behavior in the non-profit organization I'm working with. I am learning a great lesson about work and ethics and behavior and learning how to stand up for myself. I just didn't think I would have to stand up for myself when I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. But I've had to learn to calm myself and talk rationally and with specifics. This can only help me in the future (and the present) Good communication is a two-way street and to improve communications, generalizations and accusations have to be broken down into specific actions and desired outcomes. My boss refuses to do this. So communications break down. So I have had to be specific and ask for specifics from him. He still doesn't get it, but I will not lose sleep over it tonight. Today I gave my fortune cookie message that I've been saving, taped to my computer monitor, to my coworker who told me about her experiences with my boss and how it has helped her. The message was, "See the beauty in everything." I am starting to, but man is it hard sometimes while we are in the middle of the storm. (not the eye of the storm, but IN it)
I had a good reafirming night at the bike shop with some of our regular volunteers. It put things in perspective and showed me that I was on the right track. It's amazing what can be done when everyone cooperates and has the best interests of other people in mind. What a great group of people I'm working with there.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:57 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 8, 2005

ripples

One drop of water in a still pond sends ripples out in all directions. One act of kindness effects things we do not yet know. With one act of kindness there is a ripple created, flowing out in all directions. Something will be touched by that ripple. I certainly had no idea that I would be blessed also by what happened.
A little while ago I saw a friend I've known for a few years. He was evicted from the building and was trying to dump some of his possessions. He's been down on cash and doesn't have a home. But in that moment he offered to give me some of his stuff. He had a collector's set of 1990 baseball cards. I looked in the box and saw that he had sorted all of the cards by teams. I was touched that he was willing to give it to me. Then I asked him how much he paid for that box of cards and he told me. I offered to pay him for it and he said ok. I handed him some cash, which he was really appreciative of. I knew it meant he would have money for dinner.
If any of you know me, I'm ok with sports, but not really a fanatic about them. So I was wondering what to do with these cards. I thought about selling them on ebay, but then remembered that we were going to my Father-in-law's house for Thanksgiving the next day. My father-in-law just remarried and his new wife has a daughter with two young children. So I brought the baseball cards in with me and gave them to the older boy. I remembered he was into sports and loved baseball. So it all worked out perfectly. My friend got a meal, I got to give a gift to our new nephew and he got to receive it. It's neet how things work out isn't it? One thing led to another and many people were touched.
Then this boy took his cards to school and shared them with his friends. They all had fun with the old baseball cards. Now today...
I received a card from our nephew and he said,
"Thank you John for the BaseBall cards. I shared them with my class mates and they said that they were so cool. For the second time I meat you are pretty cool. Oh, I almost forgot your job is pretty cool!!!!!
From Johnny, Thank you."
Ripples, ripples, ripples. ;-)
Seriously though, what a touching card and great reward for me! One act of kindness can have different results than we know. And we never know who will be effected by it.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:28 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 7, 2005

Chasing the bus on a bike

Today as I was going home, I was riding my bike through downtown and I saw the bus I would take to get home if I were riding the bus. I decided to see if I could beat it home. So I chased the bus. I caught up with it at a red light downtown, then the light turned green and it zoomed off and turned the corner. I caught up with it again just as the left-turn arrow turned green and the bus took off again. This time there was a long straight run and the bus didn't have to make any stops so it got way ahead of me. I decided to take a shortcut up the Ohio hill and see if I could reach the top before the bus got there going it's route. I reached the top of the hill and the bus turned right in front of me. I was over halfway home then and the bus took off down the road. So I pedalled furiously and took another shortcut. I am pretty sure I beat the bus in time getting home. If I was on the bus I'd still have to travel the 3 blocks from the bus stop to my house. That was fun! I should chase my bus more often!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:29 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Winter-Biking"

December 6, 2005

Chasing down a winter-bicycle-commuter

I don't know. Normally people would think this is crazy. Even crazier than riding in the winter when it's so cold. I saw another bicyclist tonight in downtown, a block ahead of me as I was leaving work to go home. I tried to catch up to him in downtown, but he kept running red lights and I sat there and waited for each one. But then he headed over the Robert Street bridge and I caught up to him on the hill past Plato. I don't know why I followed him, it's not my normal route. For some reason I felt like it was important. When I caught up to him I started to talk to him and he told me he works about two blocks from my office and that last winter he missed only 7 days of commuting by bicycle. I commend this person for his winter commuting tenacity. In Saint Paul, it's a rare sight I think. But there are a few. The other advantage of it was I got to try a different route home. Robert Street is a BAD bicycle route. This man rode on the sidewalk, while tried (risked my life) on the street where we are supposed to ride. Robert street was designed as a highway made for cars. There is no shoulder or bike lane, just two automobile lanes. But get this...with two lanes and not a lot of traffic, when I pulled up alongside this other bicyclist and was chatting while riding, in the right lane, someone had the audacity to honk at us while passing rapidly in the left lane. It's tough to have to switch lanes while driving, I know, I used to be arrogant too, until I tried riding a bike and get the finger, honked at and almost run down. Changing lanes is a burden I think. A car driver is much too important to slow down and yield part of the road to a bicyclist. There were two lanes and hardly no traffic!!! Why do people have to be such jerks? Can we even blame the cars? No, we have to blame their attitudes toward other people. In any case, I'm glad he didn't decide to run us down to make a point instead of just honking at us!
St. Paul needs more bicyclists if nothing else than to change automobile driver's concepts of road sharing and treating others with respect and kindness. What is our true theology? It is what we live while passing bicyclists, and pedestrians walking across the street for that matter. How we treat others is important.
But on a lighter note, I am happy that I followed this man home. I got to experience riding up the Robert Street hill, the one that leads up to George Street. That was nice! I ran up this hill once last year with Dan and thought I was going to die. But tonight on my bike I wasn't suffering. It felt GOOD! Then, there was the freedom and sense of exploration I felt at having ridden a new route. I loved doing this in the summer, but lately my commutes have become less than adventurous the colder it's become, mainly to minimize the chance of becoming too cold. But it was fun and envigorating! I also met someone new and checked out his bike. He thought I was riding an expensive bike. It's a 50 dollar solid steel huffy that was repainted a nice brown color. It has cheap brakes, steel wheels and a really heavy steel frame. But it has extreme knobby tires, very good traction without studs. And it's a 10-speed, not a modern bike. So, it's a great winter commuter that can handle anything! This is one tough bike! I will ride this all winter now and it willl be the perfect commuter bike. It's funny how we think we need 'expensive' in order to have fun or even to be practical. By the way, a 10-speed mountain bike is plenty good enough to handle that Robert Street bridge. No Granny gear necessary. ;-) Keep on riding! It's good for the soul. Kind of like Dog-Sledding I imagine.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:49 PM | Attitude | Winter-Biking

Category "Attitude"

December 5, 2005

Doing our Passion

Tonight Andy was talking about a previous job where he liked what he was doing, but then transferred to another job in the same company and learned that he hated it. They wouldn't let him transfer again so he quit and moved on to another company. So what happens if we can't find a job that we are passionate about? Many people ask this question. It has a great deal to do with how we feel about our purpose in life. What does it take to know our purpose in life and know if we are doing God's will in our lives? That is a good question. It is a question that has good answers. The answers effect how we view life and every occupation of our time while we are alive. There are a lot of crappy jobs out there. Someone has to do them. But there is something to be said about doing something you care about and love doing. When we are passionate about something we are generally more productive and could do it for hours without breaks or even realizing where the time went. In one way, life is too short to do things that have no meaning or purpose to us. So sometimes moving on to something that we feel good about is what we need to do. And we do have the freedom of choice and that's a good thing. But sometimes our jobs are not night and day, where we hate the job, the people, the place, etc. We may be involved in a project that is a nightmare or have one coworker or a boss that we don't like, but we love our job and overall love why we are there doing it. Part of walking awareness, is that our beliefs and attitudes go everywhere with us. When our passion is 'doing a good job' then no matter what challenge we are facing, scrubbing a floor or editing a book, we will go to great lengths to do a good job. This is a dawning awareness for me. I realize that I have not been this way for most of my life. Off and on I have, but really did not understand what it meant.
In Buddism there is the story of the monk who was happy to be cleaning the stairs with a toothbrush. People kept asking him why he was using the toothbrush, a very inefficient tool for such a huge job, when there were better ways of getting that job done. But he replied that he was doing a really good, thorough job and was sure to not miss anything. That is doing the will of God. There is great beauty and hope in the process we are going through in the present moment. That monk did not see it as a crappy job or beneath him. His attitude was much different. His passion was doing a good job no matter what he was doing.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:14 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 4, 2005

At the Expense of our Soul

There is a verse in the bible that says, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" It's a verse that many christians use to try to scare other people into becoming 'saved.' Yeah, nobody likes the idea of losing their own soul. Just like we don't like the idea of death. It's a sinking, horrible thought. We especially find it repulsive when other people tell us we are dead, as if they know our soul and our relationship to God.
The idea of losing our soul is also expressed as 'going against what we know as the right thing to do, or going against who we are inside. If we compromise who we are to please others, for a job or some other gain, then we are said to 'lose our soul,' or lose sight of who we are. Someone once expressed , "You don't do your best work for others. You do it for yourself." Don't compromise who you are.
Sometimes we lose our soul by gaining at the expense of others. In situations of Power and Control we lose some of our humanity when we try to control others. A bully controls others through intimidation and fear. "What does it profit a man to gain power over another person and lose his own soul?" When we mistreat others, we do lose something. When we seek the thrill of power over others, which is sometiems very subtle and not so concious, we are losing part of humanity. We are really 'using' people for our own gain. Using is losing.
I was reading a book called, "The will of God as a way of life," by Jerry Sittser and he expressed another interpretation of this verse... "Is it worth it to become master of the world at the expense of the soul?" We often make work or other activities an idol. We value business and fragmentation. In his book, Sittser quotes Thomas Merton, "blinded by our desire for ceaseless motion, for a constant sense of achievement, famished with a crude hunger for results, for visible and tangible success..." This destroys our capacity for living contented and contemplative lives. He says we don't even get close to contemplation! We can lose our own soul by making our lives so busy we drown it out.
When we learn to live with others, let's say with your roomate at college or with a significant other, there are certain comprises that are inevitable. Today when I was in church the pastor talked about his experiences of moving off campus with his buddies. It was a great idea that would save them money and gain them more 'freedom.' So they found an apartment and the three of them moved in. At first it was ok, but then they discovered that they had very different upbringings and they really didn't know each other's daily habits. Our first inclination is to blame others for our discomfort or problems in our relationships. They are 'slobs' or they are 'neat freaks' or they are 'republicans' or 'democrats.' Other people's religious beliefs are equally blamable if they conflict with our own. When we are learning to live with others, we often don't look at our part in it. What part do we have in the relationship? In our relationship with God, God is asking us to be forgiving and loving, but it's not the part we want. We want the part of expectations of others. When people do as I expect then it's easy to get along.
Bob Marley sang, "Don't gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver and gold." Yeah Bob! Wisdom is the application of knowledge and applying the knowledge of "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" means we have learned to forgive others, love others more than ourselves, don't use other people for our own gain, and are not so self-absorbed that we don't bury ourselves in our work or other activities to the point where we miss life. Life is how we treat others. When we treat other people with love, dignity and respect we are alive and it shows. We don't have to worry about losing our soul. We have a part in losing our own soul. We have the responsibility of our own soul. Nobody can live it for us.
I've talked about our extreme free will and about how our purpose in life is to love God and love each other. When we start to put other things first, we lose sight of God and our soul. They are connected like life is connected to breath. So close they cannot be seperated or life dies. We do have free choice over everything. I know some of you want to be told what to do. It's amazing that God is so clear on how to live in the present moment but so vague on the future. I can be sure that the only time I have to do God's will is right now. God's will is to love you and my boss and every other person I come into contact with. It's not to lose sight of that and think that my work is more important or that building an empire is more emportant. Those things decay and vanish, are stolen or lost. The love of God is eternal. Life is full of choices and we can do God's will in everything by remembering our part in being a good roomate, our part in our relationships with others and our part in the world as we take and give. Why are we here? It's not to build a fortune, have fun and then die. It's not to build a kingdom, have power and control and then die. It's not to forget God's grace and forgiveness for our mistakes and turn around and condemn others for theirs. "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

Posted by carl1236 at 8:31 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 30, 2005

A beautiful Love Story

Today I was feeling a little heavy with all of the stuff going on at work and I decided to treat myself to a warm smile, café mocha and a cookie. It was a very nice break. I just love Anne, the owner of the Boiler Room coffee shop in Downtown St. Paul. She is so nice. She is a good-hearted person.
So I was sitting there eating my cookie and sipping on my mocha and Anne was talking to a friend who was telling about her relationship. I was trying not to listen in, but I was sitting right next to her so it was kind of hard not to. It was such a good story that I almost cried. Anne’s friend was being empowered in her relationship and and that was a big step for her. I had to ask for a lid and get out of there before I got all teary-eyed. She was so happy inside it was bubbling out. I’m happy that she had a friend like Anne to share her love story with and that I was there to hear it. I told her it was a beautiful story and wished her the best.
On my way back to the office I was just walking along and the snow was falling and every step was in pace with the snowflakes falling and my mind was calm and happy and I was blessed by a real break from work and all of the negative thoughts. I felt light like the snowflakes. I remembered a phrase that a friend uses often, ‚ÄúGod doesn‚Äôt give us more than we can handle.‚Ä? I think It‚Äôs a good phrase and when my heart gets heavy the timing of some lightness is appropriate. On Monday I almost got hit by a car and the blog site was down and my boss wasn‚Äôt speaking to me and then Monday evening I had a good chat with Andy and his enthusiasm was contagious and made me realize that yes, this is a good thing we are doing. Then last night the students from Mac were at the bike shop and they bought a tandem bike and started renovating that for use on campus. It was so cool that they were so excited about it. And since I took a couple of days off from riding my bike after my near death experience, they gave me a ride home.
I think we need a warm smile and some affirmation that yes, we are doing ok and are on the right track. And a little light-heartedness can go a long way! I have really appreciated the help from everyone this past week. Life can be a beautiful love story.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:06 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 29, 2005

S.A.D.

Part of the SAD, (Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder) syndrome is not related so much to the ugliness of the grey or the persistant rains or the length of the cloudy-rainy times, but the LACK of the nutrients and energy provided by the sun. This effect magnifies itself the more isolated we are from nature. People who lived closer to nature, right out in it, did not suffer nearly as much as modern humans who live in a car and house culture. We tend to move from heated/airconditioned houses to heated/air-conditioned cars to heated/air-conditioned work and isolate ourselves from life to the point where we deprive ourselves of the energy that all living things need to be healthy. It's not just the sun however, but everything the sun touches, the plants, the rocks the earth. Insulated and shielded from life, we develop more and more syndromes and illnesses because we are depriving our bodies. Here in the north, SAD has been treated effectively by adding some tanning booth time to the week and getting outside more, even in grey, wintery weather. The fresh air even helps. Our culture has not been helping because its emphasis is on isolation from the spirit, focusing on physical and mental aspects of short-term gain. So there we are also 'lacking' something vital for our health. Not because this world is so grey and dull in spirit, but because we have cut ourselves off from spirit and all the life that it is. This life is so vibrant and full of energy, yet we can't always see it or feel it. Probably because we have too much distraction, drama and trauma, and I'll add, isolation. Kind of a self-imposed 'lacking' of life. Sad.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:43 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 26, 2005

A Chorus of Nobodies

I was reading a meditation by Franz Kafka called 'Excursion into the mountains.' He says, "all these lifted arms linked together, these numberless feet treading so close! ... Our throats swell and are free in the mountains! It's a wonder that we don't burst into song." Yes, it is a wonder. There is a fellowship in being nobodies. Over the centuries there have been countless multitudes of people treated like nobobies. So many we cannot number them. We totally understand and experience the same disregard. We are so many that it is a wonder that we don't all rise up in front of the sombodies and be heard. Then we are no longer nobodies. We are sombodies in chorus. And the sound of being silenced is very loud and recognizable. Of course we are all in dress suits with our heads held high and our arms lifted up and our throats swell and are free! We join the chorus because we understand and experience together.
Why must there be such a volume of nobodies, past, present and future? How do we treat others to create such a chorus? It is truly deafening.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:12 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 22, 2005

Yes, it's still good to be thankful

Regardless of the time of year, being thankful is an attitude toward life and others that is still considered a good way to be. Gratitude is a powerful thing and recognizes a value in other people and their contributions to our life.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:46 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 21, 2005

I am thankful for...

Good health
My family
The ability to see
just how thankful
I really should be.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:56 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

The hard times will begin to fade

Joy will take their place. That was from one of the fortune cookies from last night's dinner. I think hard times is sometimes a matter of perspective and attitude. Tonight I was talking with a friend about living situations and posessions and jobs. Here is a man who is living on a few dollars a day and not complaining. He has very few posessions but a wealth of knowledge and skills. Sometimes hard times means different things to different people. What is a hard time to me seems like easy and luxurious to my friend.

Today I started making a list of what I'm thankful for. In this way, hard times do begin to fade and Joy takes their place. Hard times just don't seem as hard when we are not suffering about things and are truly thankful for what we do have and use.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:49 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 19, 2005

Bicycles and Pedestrians

I got to experience something very interesting and fun again today as I was riding my bike to the bike shop. I pulled up to a crosswalk at a red light and a man was walking by in front of me. He turned and looked at me and I said, "Good morning!" He was genuinely startled, then then he managed a head nod before turning and walking faster. I guess he wasn't used to having traffic talk to him. I don't know. We were the only two people around and the streets were pretty quiet. Maybe he was lost in his thoughts when I spoke to him. I sometimes forget when I'm on a bike that I do have a voice and can speak to people. Have you ever only nodded or felt speachless when someone talks to you while you are on your bike? How about in the skyway? In skyways people go out of their way to avoid eye contact or make conversation. Anyway, I think there is something very nice about bicycle riders and pedestrians talking. It's a very humane way to live. It's not isolated or shut off from the outside world and each other. It's very close and personal.
It's a new, brave way to live. I like it. And just saying 'hello' out loud is a step in that direction.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:57 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

November 18, 2005

Too cool to be true

That is true love

Posted by carl1236 at 9:52 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 15, 2005

Postponed Grievance Meeting

Tonight I'm really sad. Monday we were supposed to have a meeting to resolve the problem at work with my boss but they postponed it until Wednesday. I have a sinking feeling in my gut that this bully is going to not only get away with it but attack me with everything he can think of. I don't know what to expect. It is fear yes. I know how this man can lie and believe his lies and how he treats other people. So tomorrow I feel like the good old boys club will protect the manager and I'll be on the fast track to losing my job. Tomorrow morning at 10:00am I'll be in a meeting and we'll see what happens. Right now I feel sick to my stomach. My biggest challenge right now is how to love a man like this. He will get nasty I feel. How do I love this man? Maybe standing up to a bully and not letting him get away with it is a way of showing love? Life is not easy. It's easy to love the ones that are loveable. Everyone can do that. But not so easy to love the jerks. I don't want to see him lose his job either, which I don't think will happen in this case because management will protect him, but I do want him to change. Is this unreasonable to want? I want him to treat other human beings with respect. Is that unreasonable to want? One thing that makes me sick is by bosses almost joyous persona today, almost gloating. He was unusually happy and light. He must think that he doesn't have to worry at all and that he has me where he wants me. I don't know what to expect now. Unless he's in denial or told not to worry by management. Probably a little of both. He's going to try to sling mud, but I'm not going to play along. I don't wish this on anyone. Good luck on your future careers. Some people do not make very loving choices toward other people. That brings me back to how do I love a man like this? By having courage, seeing this through and finding a way to help him? Maybe I will only make a difference after he's gotten rid of me and he's old and has a chance to think about his life. Maybe he'll remember all the lives he's damaged. Who knows. Right now it's not easy for me. I'm going to go to bed early, read and get a good night's rest.
Tomorrow night I'll be at the bike shop and then write my blog entry when I get home. Maybe I'll be looking for a new job soon. We'll see.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:20 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 12, 2005

Four Sheets of Paper in an Hour!

Tonight my wife and I made paper together. We worked as a team and were able to make four sheets in an hour. That was enough for one night and considering the labor and time involved for two people it was hardly worth it economically. But it was totally worth it from a different viewpoint. As far as our relationship goes, this was worth a milllion bucks. It's something we can do together and that we both can use. It recycles our used paper, like old bills we no longer need to have on file, and it's really cool looking paper! We both had fun with it. Making paper is not really difficult, just messy and time consuming. But what else do we have to do with our lives besides spend time together and help each other out? Life is life, and it's short. And love is love and it's good to find things we enjoy doing together. This, we discovered, is one of them.
Tonight we blended up some old white computer paper with a gray beverage holder from McDonalds. It produces a beautiful light-gray paper with some speckles in it. This time though, we addes two teaspoons of liquid starch to the pulp because I read that it can help reduce bleeding when printing ink onto the paper. We'll see how it goes.
Regardless, one attitude lesson I can gain from this is: It's worthwile doing if we enjoy it and we can share it together. All other things such as time and monetary value just seem to fall way then.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:41 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 11, 2005

Self Isolation

I know it's not real healthy to isolate ourselves when we are having problems. But it is a natural mode of self-protection. When we are having difficulties, we don't want to share them with other people because of a fear of being seen as somehow 'less,' or 'weaker.' We don't want to air our 'dirty' laundry. So we keep things inside and isolate ourselves from that kind of pain.
Some people are lucky to have really close friends who provide a certain amount of safety when confiding in each other. They may not even realize how healthy this is. One of the problems we have in society is that there are too many people facing challenges alone while surrounded by people. Feeling alone while facing problems is disheartening and isolating. I think in our society we have it backwards. We think that it is courageous to face our internal struggles and fears alone, while putting on a front that there are no problems. Putting on a face that says, "I'm in control." But it is fear of rejection and scorn that keeps our troubles inside. It takes great courage to share our inner-most fears and problems and weaknesses with others. And isn't that the only way we not feel 'alone?'
Going into the confession booth at church was never supposed to mean 'confess your sins and be forgiven' but was a safe way to let out our inner troubles and share them with someone else, someone tangible who will not chide us and condemn, ridicule or think less of us. In safely confessing to someone tangible we gain a sense of not being alone in the struggle. And there are always struggles in life. If you look at confession in this light you can see how beneficial this can be. Confession at church is just an example of course, because a sister, brother, long-time friend, mom, dad, roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. can all provide a sense of not facing the world alone.
But it's hard. It's so hard sometimes that we find it easier to just keep it all inside. That is not brave. It's being alone.
I find comfort in knowing that I am never alone. I know that God is always present, always listening and understanding and I can share my problems and struggles. In one respect it's like confession. We can talk to God and God listens and we know that someone else is privy to our inner-most-thoughts and struggles and we are not alone. Of course you have to not only believe in God for this to be useful to you, but also believe that God is always with us and always listening and real, tangible. Otherwise we might as well confess to the rock. We are still alone. Belief in this way is not just 'thinking' something is true, but also feeling and knowing it's true by experience. And like any relationship, we cannot truly know and experience each other without communicating and sharing our inner-self with each other. So our relationship with God is the same way. We have to build it and get to know God and feel God's presences in our life, deepening our understanding of each other and not being alone.
Right now I am facing some serious and troubling things in life. For instance I'm dealing with a couple of self-centered, ego driven people who have disdain for other people and their ideas of working together. They are very vocal and accusatory also. It's difficult to share these kinds of struggles with anyone because first of all I am choosing to be involved in this. I could walk away from it, but to me that's not a good solution. When things get really bad, that's when help is really needed. So I try to figure out how to deal with these problems, first internally, then with the understanding and help of others, including God. Sharing with others some internal struggles like how to deal with people like this can be frightening. I see the problems in the bike shop, but we are dealing with live, breathing human beings and pointing those problems out can be seen as complaining and making waves. It is fearful to be seen as a trouble maker. But I only want to make things better for all the people involved, not tear things down. So I turn this all over and over in my mind and heart and it agitates and stirrs my emotions. Sometimes I am very hopeful and sometimes it's downright depressing. Like when someone comes in and throws a temper tantrum and thinks that's an ok way to treat others. Or like the other day when Dave was in the coffee shop next door making an espresso, this other person made a comment that was totally rude and humiliating toward Dave. He said, "Are you going to run the coffee shop like you run the bike shop?" This is disheartening to me. The person making these comments does not understand what he's doing to other human beings and doesn't see anything wrong with what he's doing. He will feel like he's the best thing since sliced bread and no-one else can do things better, all the while being petty and self-centered. I have to share this with someone to know I am not alone in thinking this person is making some bad choices in how to treat other people. That person has an attitude of tearing down other people instead of helping and building up. I talked to God about how to handle this situation and the response from God is a peace inside that I'm going in the right direction and to hang in there, I'm doing the right thing in defending the mocked and the belittled members of our group. The strength of any team is in how they treat their most vulnerable members. This answer from God is very comforting and in the following example God expands the answer.
At work I'm dealing with a sticky situation right now. I have an abusive boss who will use his position of authority to intimidate and belittle others to maintain power and control. This is the same boss who has made several of his employees cry in meetings and has had a negative impact on the moral of our department. Last week he gave me a written reprimand for being 'non-communicative' and not working with him. He stated some lies in the reprimand and wrote that if I don't change, it will lead to my termination. He doesn't realize that he is abusing his position nor the psychological damage he's doing to the whole department. I'm filing a grievance and may end up losing my job over this, because I don't think it's right what he's doing. He doesn't see anything wrong and feels justified in what he's doing. I only hear positive feedback about my contributions to my coworkers and other activities I'm involved in at work, so I don't think it's me that is a problem. He creates an atmosphere of fear and abuse and then tries to fire me for not being cooperative. I am cooperating, with my coworkers and the law. But who do I share this struggle with? Thankfully there are people at work that I trust and understand. God is also with me and I'm thankful for the peace and understanding. I have to keep tightening the binds that hold things together, and do the things that are good and right and helpful to the one's that are being abused and diminished in value. Not tear down, but build others up. Treat others with dignity and respect and love. You can see why it's so tough to share feelings and expose ours inner-struggles. I still feel like I could end up losing my job by standing up for myself and the others in my department, but I can't let this bully continue his phsychological tryanny. Every day I listen to my coworkers complain about our boss. So where does this leave me? If I continue to allow it happen I lose my soul, and what does it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our souls? Keeping my job doesn't seem nearly as important. He went after several of my coworkers, and the last time I stepped in. Now he is after me and trying to make me look bad and fire me. I am deeply saddened by this. I will continue to be a friend and help to those most vulnerable at work and I am a little afraid of having to go out and find another job. I don't want to. I shouldn't have to. But it may come to that. I accept that. It's ugly though and this is why it's so easy to feel alone in this struggle. Why do people have to be such jerks? It doesn't gain them love or acceptance and their power is short lived. I know God understands.

Posted by carl1236 at 1:26 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 9, 2005

How much lighter I feel now

I feel like all the efforts I've been putting in to save a sinking ship are finally starting to work. There is a lot to be done still, but there are new people getting involved and tonight we elected a new Treasurer. That's a key position in a non-profit organization that we've been missing since January. And recently several other new people have approached me, with enthusiasm, volunteering their energies to help make this work. After tonight's board meeting, I feel lighter, less burdened. I am encouraged by the willingness of others to selflessly jump in and help out, not expecting anything in return.
I just have to keep going, strengthening the board, getting new members and old members more involved and developing the teamwork in the whole organization.
One thing though; If anyone believes that it's in the best interest of the community or this organization to simply close up shop and distribute the assets to others, they are completely missing the beauty of what we have going here! It shows a lack of understanding of what has been created and the value in it. I feel lighter also because I've found others who do see the beauty in what we are doing right now and want to see that stick around.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Being part of a team

One thing I see lacking in the bike ship is the idea that we are a team. Some people suggest that if anyone has an idea they should be willing to step up to the plate and put in the time and do it, or shut up. This mentality negates the idea that no one person can do anything without the cooperation and help of many other people who are effected by whatever it is they are doing. For instance doing rentals of a fleet of 15-30 bikes requires the input and efforts of at least 5 or 6 people and impacts the use of space in the shop. Someone (not the same person) has to work on the bikes, tune them up, check for safety, negotiate and make the arrangements with the group renting the bikes, deliver the bikes, do the billing, pick up the bikes, staff the event or rental, pick up bikes that break down, repair them or replace them, etc. And then if we are doing fleet rentals space is needed to store the bikes when not being rented and someone has to maintain them and make sure they are ready to go. It all impacts the shop, the volunteers and the paid staff. No one person can do things in isolation without the cooperation of others. The first bike rental I did, I felt really isolated. I ended up pulling an all-nighter fixing bikes for the rental. Not a single person from the whole organization, including the president stepped up to help make it happen. It took the help of an outsider to help me get it done. The second rental went way better because I got more people involved in prepping the bikes and repairing and delivering the bikes. Not all one person. Many people were involved and it showed me who the real team is. This is a team effort. So building teamwork is one of the most important tasks we can do. If we are not building teamwork we are actually self-destructing. We are a team and that is one of the aspects of the bike ship I see that needs to be strengthened. There is no denying it is weak right now. But I see improvements. It will change and improve the more we work together instead of just snearing and pointing the finger and blame on why it's not working. Teams figure things out together, not from the top down, but from inside out. Every team member needs to be actively involved in contributing to the team, and not just pointing the finger at the other team members and chiding them for not being part of the team. 'Being' part of a team means we are part of the solution to problems and help the other members of the team be the best they can be.
As leaders of a team it is easy to forget or dismiss the contributions of others and take all the credit. It is also easy to forget we cannot do it by ourselves. Until we find out that there is no longer a team to support us. They've all jumped ship. That is why team-building is one of the most important tasks we have. It effects everyone in the organization.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:56 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Intelligent Design

One of the arguments that surfaces in elections all across the nation is this conflict between teaching 'intelligent design' verses science and 'evolution.' I am telling you right now that there is really no conflict between science and God. We make it a conflict. Science is truly about uncovering the truth. In Science we may make theories and then try to prove them or disprove them. It's a discovery process. Believe this, that there is no conflict between creationism and the discovery process. There is a conflict between people's attitudes toward others though. So what if God created living beings over centuries of evolution or in an instant! We are here. let's uncover the truth of our origins and test our theories. Eventually science discovers what is true because it is the process of discovery. True science is not a doctrine of 'Evolution,' against 'Creationism,' although can be just as dogmatic and false as religions, because of non-scientific bias and treating theory as fact and discounting beliefs without facts. One theory is 'creationism through Evolution.' Another is 'creationism in an instant.' Another theory is 'no intelligent design,' just random evolution or natural selection. There are also facts that we cannot explain. True Science would not say creationism is wrong, it would say, "If Creationism is true, then what evidence is there to support it? And what form does 'creation' take? I create things every day. Does that make them evolutionary or created? Do my creations appear out of nowhere or are they a derivation of bits and pieces of influences and encounters of my life process? Let this be a lesson in Science and Creationism. There is only a conflict if we want there to be a conflict. Then it's not Science and it's not Religion. It's an attitude problem. A problem where we are no longer willing to uncover the truth. Maybe we can at least believe in our existence here in this form. Somehow we got here. Let's believe this together and realize that how we got here is to be discovered. Where we are going after this is to be discovered. No conflict. There is definately intelligent design to life. It's beautiful beyond words. We are slowly discovering how it all works. Awareness of how it all works is very valuable for living life. So we should not fight true science and not consider it an opposite of 'creationism,' but a compliment. Truth eventually is discovered. Look what we have learned over the centuries!!!! Beautiful how this intelligent design works. Inquiring minds want to know the truth and ignorance is not bliss, it's just ignorance and causes suffering.
As far as Evolution verses Creationism goes, Let's always seek the truth and we will find it. Jesus promised that and it is true. There is no conflict. There is only discovery and awe and the revealing of the truth. Don't be small and stubborn and unaware. Both 'sides' are guilty of this. It's not science or belief in God that creates this, but simply ignorance. And don't feel guilty for your belief in God. It's as real as the awe that science uncovers. True belief in God also uncovers awe in what has been created and how it was done. No matter what we beleive we really believe in the same thing. Life. Life is amazing and truly unique and inspiring. Science uncovers how things work. It's true. Our spirituality also uncovers how things work. This is also true. Eventually we learn about love and life and death. Somehow I came into existence, whether that was centuries ago or yesterday. Somehow I exist and it doesn't really matter how I got here, except that we can use any information available to us to better our human condition while here, now. DNA suggests we are all related. But even so, that does not tell me how to live my life currently and cannot absolve me of loving others. Are we intelligent enough to know that it is in our own best interest to love others? Are we intelligent enough to design a life that is clean and beneficial to the planet? Are we intelligent enough to create instead of destroy what we've been given? Or will we ultimately turn out to be the 'unintelligent design?' In that case 'Intelligent Design' and 'Evolution' both suck. Let's evolve into something more than what we have been given. Is it possible? Time will tell.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:42 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 8, 2005

Find a penny have good luck, but even better...

Find a piece of paper, pick it up, read it and have good health:

"Make Snacks Healthy and Fun!!!

Use pretzel sticks or toothpicks to pick up pieces of fruit, cheese, meats, etc.
Wrap shredded veggies (carrots, broccoli, cucumber, peppers) with ranch dressing in a tortilla.
Use pudding or yogurt as a dip.

Nutty Quesadillas
4 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup dry roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 can chopped green chilies, drained (optional)
Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup cheese, 2 Tablespoons peanuts and 1/4 of the chilies; fold in half. Spray skillet with cooking spray and heat, add one quesadillas cook 2-3 minutes or until bottom is brown turn over and cook 3 minutes more or until golden brown. Remove from skillet. Cut into four. Serve with salsa if you wish. Makes 4 = 16 servings. Because of peanuts best served to children over age 2."

What luck!

Posted by carl1236 at 8:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 7, 2005

Hey Nice Bike!

Today I heard that a fellow blogger had visited the Bike Depot and wrote about it. I checked it out and now remember our conversation when he was in the shop. We were talking about tall 3-speeds. In his blog, he mentioned a cool bike that I had been riding around for a few days, but it wasnít really my Schwinn, it was the Shopís. He was right though, it was a cool bike with folding baskets on the rear that I thought were very handy.
My current commuter bike is a Schwinn also, but not nearly as polished as the one I borrowed. My bike came out of the trash heap. It looks like it too, but it also rides really smoothly. Well, since my mind was on the dumpster bike, here is a little review. Tonight riding home I was thinking just how luck I really am to be healthy enough to ride a bike, let alone ride something that came from other peopleís trash!

Birth of the Dumpster Bike: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carl1236/dailyspirit/024433.html

The Dumpster Bike Revived:
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carl1236/dailyspirit/026137.html

The current state of the Dumpster Bike:
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carl1236/dailyspirit/030760.html

On the way home tonight a man in a wheelchair sitting alone on the sidewalk in the dark barked at me as I rode by. I said hello. He just stared. I rode up the hill on my nice bike with my nice legs and was truly thankful for what I have. I am truly blessed.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:34 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 4, 2005

slow-motion nightmare

Today was an interesting idea. It started out as a sleepy dream and progressed into a tired daydream. I wandered through my mind, fading in and out, contemplating my slow-motion movements and slurred thoughts.
I was there at work trying to get some work done. Everything I started was delayed and interupted and rescheduled. Every task required unexpected steps to accomplish. I finally discovered that I was fighting a fog. I was resisting a quicksand that tightened the more I struggled. When I realized that I just needed to do what I had to do without worrying about the end result, I was able to move forward. As the afternoon wore on I was mentally involved in what I was doing, almost losing track of time, leaving work late instead of watching the clock waiting for the day to be over. Analyzing the nature of resistence, it is like the slow-motion nightmare. We know it's not real but can't seem to get out of it fast enough. The 'enemy' is catching up to us and we move slower and slower until we are consumed. Worry about the outcome can be a source of resistence. Instead of focusing on things that actually solve our dilemma, we focus on the fear and worry and it makes us feel like we are helpless. When we focus on troubleshooting, step by step, one step leading to another, unfolding the hidden causes, time unwraps itself and reveals clarity. The fog lifts and our speed is natural and free. Doing and being healthy and free of fear is not always easy when we are slogging in self-doubt and fear of what is going to happen, and it is really the focus on working it out that will set us free.
After I realized work was over today, I shut everything down, rode over to the bike shop and had a good conversation with Terry and Tom. Then I rode over to a grocery store on 7th where we got a 50 cent soda from the machine outside and sat talking for a while. The thought that struck me was, "This is a good use of my time." In a time when I'm incredibly busy, have a lot of committments, I'm riding my bike with Tom, going to movies with Tom, eating dinner with Tom and chatting with Tom. At a time when I am overloaded with thoughts about how things will turn out, spending time with Tom seems like a good use of time, building a relationship and friendship, which will do more to solve problems in this life than worrying about outcomes. We always worry about outcomes and results don't we? We tend to worry about how it will all play out, when it's playing out as we go through it. In this case I feel like I'm aware that this is the real part and not the fog, the quicksand. As I go through it, I am creating a friendship and hearing another soul tell his story.
Tonight I was invited to go check out some Jazz with a good trumpet player at the Artist's Quarters in downtown St. Paul. So it will be a nice night out with a new friend enjoying some good music. This is a new friend that's really into music. He's a great guy and loves to play guitar himself. I have a feeling I'll be going to the open mic night sometime to hear him play. I feel like this is and important part of going through it, being aware of other's needs and giving not only our time, but also our friendship and ear. Going through it being aware of the tasks at hand we are not in quicksand or a nightmare, but know we are right where we are supposed to be and when we look at the time, we can hardly believe the shift is over. I am right where I'm supposed to be. Going to hear some Jazz trumpet with a new friend.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:25 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 3, 2005

Second night of BSL

Tonight was the second night of "Bikes as a Second Language," (BSL). It was very good. I lost one student from the first week because he had to work in his uncle's store, but I gained another student who has been in the US for one year. I have to say they are very good learners and already know how to change flats, patch tubes, check for holes in the tires, adjust rear derailers, adjust brakes, change a derailer cable and housing and say the names of 10 tools. Oh, and they know the difference between presta and schraeder valves! ;-) Bikes are a beautiful language and so is enthusiasm and a desire to learn.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:55 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 2, 2005

Team Building and Community Building

Tonight the bike ship worked together with a big corporation to build and bring 12 kids bmx bikes to some kids in the neighborhood. Our neighborhood. It was a good collaboration. They bought new bikes. They were having a sales meeting with their reps from all over the country and wanted to have a team-building exercise that also had a sense of purpose. We set up 4 workstations and instructed and gave pointers while they build the bikes. We picked out an organization in our area that was focused on community building. It was a great relationship. The corporation gets to give, we get to give and 12 kids get to receive new bikes. This is a good thing.
Tonight was fun. And everyone involved really enjoyed it. Now I'm totalled. I have to crash and burn :-) This is also a good thing. Tomorrow night is BSL night. ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 11:44 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 30, 2005

Victims of Prom

Here is another interesting article from the "Indian Spirit," Friday May 16, 1980, Volume 14, number 7, a High-School Student Newspaper. I think this article by Stacie Schimke could just as well be speaking about all kinds of consumerism today, 25 years later:

" Tonight is the Prom, Sally Jean just can't wait!
Billy Bob asked Sally Jean to go with him three weeks ago, and Sally Jean has saved up enough money to buy her dress, get her hair "fixed up" and buy Billy Bob a boutonniere.
Billy Bob, on the other hand, HAD a bank account, but he paid $18 for the Prom tickets, $45 for renting a tuxedo, $40 (estimated) for dinner, two dollars for a flower for Sally Jean, and $30 for possible hotel arrangements. (Billy Bob isn't certain about the hotel arrangements. I guess his parents weren't too happy about them!)
In total, Billy Bob will be spending $125 in one night, not counting the picnic the next day, which will push the total to $140.
Billy Bob and Sally Jean are the "Prom Victims," and all you other "Prom Victims," should make the most of tonight, because all the "Prom rejects" will be out having fun!"

Posted by carl1236 at 2:00 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 29, 2005

Let our overabundance help others

Sometimes we find ourselves in the position of having more than we need. We have a choice to build an empire of more and more and to try to control our overabundance, or among other choices we can use our good fortune to benefit and enable others. Sometimes we are so busy building our empires that we choose to not help or ignore others and often miss great opportunities. We often miss great opportunities to collaborate, nuture and help someone else develop or create something outside of our empire.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:34 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 28, 2005

Too Much Rain

Today I had the pleasantry of my wife buying Paul McCartney's new CD "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard."

"Laugh when your eyes are burning,
Smile when your heart is filled with pain,
Sigh as you brush away your sorrow,
Make a vow
that it's not going to happen again.
It's not right, in one life
Too much Rain...

There is hope and something comforting in this song. He sings, "Who wants, a happy and peaceful life, You've got to learn to laugh."

No more Rain.

Today was a day of ups and downs for me. I feel good right now, but I had some very sad moments today. I also had some very bright moments. It's a strange feeling to recognize this happening. The bad was ugly and the good was sun-bright. Now I'm off to watch a movie with my wife. :-)

Too much Rain,
No more rain.
Laugh when your eyes are burning, learn to laugh.
Today is beautiful and so are the songs on this CD. Thanks Paul.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:11 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 25, 2005

My Ride in this morning

Though my day at work was not a very good one, my ride in this morning was worth it. Here it is in photos. (I just happened to have my digital camera with me and was rewarded with the beautiful fog over Downtown St. Paul which dissappeared before I made it to work. In one photo you cannot see the building with the "1st" on top, but in a subsequent photo it's visible. The fog was going fast after that. I was in the right place at the right time I guess. Very cool. Also not 'Dumpster Bike' still being used after I replaced the back wheel with another throwaway wheel because the axel bent and I broke a few teeth off one of the cogs in the back. It happened while torquing up a hill.
No more words are necessary:

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Posted by carl1236 at 4:43 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 24, 2005

Political Ads

I find it sad how one candidate can send out literature with the opponents name all over it accusing that person of doing or not doing something, yet provide any information about what they will or will not be doing themselves. St. Paul's mayoral election is November 8th. One of the candidates has a poor tactic that just backfired on me and they lost my vote. Tell me what you stand for, let me make my choice. I don't want to hear you slamming the opponent. I want to hear how you are going to make this a better city and why you think your plans will work. Sell me on you, and stop trying to slam the opponent to make yourself look better.
As voters we have to learn how to look through this crap the politicians and their committees try to pull and vote for the candidate that really does have the best plan and the best answers to the challenges we are facing in our society.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:38 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 23, 2005

Two days of downtime

I didn't show up at the bike shop on Saturday but instead took care of work at home. Dave called me tonight to make sure I was ok. Haha. I think he was worried about me after Friday night going to the movie. I usually show up on Saturdays but he didn't see me or Tom, who went with me to the movie, and thought that something might have happened. What really happened was that Tom and I rode our bikes back from Minneapolis to St. Paul, then went to Villa Roma's Italian Restuarant for a late all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner. By the time we finished gorging ourselves it was really late. I got home after 1am and then was up another couple of hours chatting with friends online. 3am rolled around and I crashed hard. It's tough to get up in the morning. Then Saturday I just relaxed, refreshed my memory on how to make Turkish Coffee on the stove, read a little, replied to some emails and then mowed the lawn and raked up some leaves. After spending four days at the bike shop, I needed some time for myself and for my home. So Yesterday and today I did just that. Down time. Down time is really up time. Yes there were times this weekend where I felt like I should be doing something else. But I didn't. I was going to do a bike race today also. But I didn't. Instead I went to the coffee shop, hung out, read the paper, came home, cleaned, worked on organizing my library and putting more books on the shelves and making more Turkish coffee on the stove. I still don't have the technique right. But I'm getting closer. I had some good family time this weekend and time to chat with old and dear friends from around the world online. It fealt really good.
Tonight talking to Dave tonight I felt really good about this upcoming year at the bike shop. I think there is so much potential for what we are doing. We are working with societies most fragile citizens and encouraging and enabling year-round bicycle commuting. We are cleaning up the environment, providing transportation alternatives, offering services that no-one else is willing to handle and donating a lot of bikes out after fixing them! It's a good thing. I know in my heart this is the right thing for me to be doing at this time. So, I do it. And it's good.
But this weekend I took some time off and shut it off. I did ride my bike to the store for bread and milk today, and to the Chinese restuarant for dinner tonight, but that is as close to bikes as I got. I've been having fun cleaning and organizing my own mess in my library and helping my wife and daughter. There is a time and a place for everything. And I know the time and place for the bike shop is going to be four out of five evenings this week. Next year it may be different, but right now it's necessary. There is a season, turn, turn, turn...
I have thoroughly enjoyed this time off. If I did not do it, I would not have had the chance to talk to my good friend Cecilia from Argentina and get the words of wisdom or encouragement to move forward with energy and focus. There is a certain magnifying energy passed between people. Do you know this energy? It's called inspiration. It's a trigger that releases the best in someone else. God's energy. God's love. During downtime we are able to hear, see and feel it and are revitalized. Tomorrow night I will get all of the tires put away in the shop! That will clear significant floor space. Tuesday night I will be teaching and helping a group of students with their bikes. Wednesday night I'll be directing and working with volunteers to finish up some old projects and Thursday night is a basic bicycle maintenance class and Friday night I want to try the Minneapolis Critical Mass ride, then Saturday my Bikes as a Second Language (BSL) class. I can imagine I'll be taking some down time on Sunday. Wow, a busy week for being a slow season for bikes! Can you imagine? But I know it will also be a beautiful week with a lot of good things happening and I'm ready for them. Mainly because I'm well rested and have had time for myself. now let's roll on...

Posted by carl1236 at 10:46 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 22, 2005

I'm just doing my job.

Last night after work I went to the bike shop just to hang out, maybe do some cleaning and there were a few people there working on bikes and talking. I didnít get any cleaning done but I did have fun chatting. I had two free tickets to the screening of the movie ďDarwinís NightmareĒ at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis and asked if any of them wanted to go with me. Tom said he wanted to go. I knew this would be an interesting and fun night. Tom and I first rode our bikes to SA so I could get some cash. Then we went to Blink Bonnies for dinner. That was good. I bought dinner for Tom and we sat there talking while eating. Then he bought a cookie so he could get change for the bus.
After eating we loaded our bikes onto the 94 Express bus and rode it from downtown St. Paul to Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, then rode our bikes down Hennepin to the Walker. Whatís with the bike lane just ending, leaving us in the middle of the road with a bus on our right side, a car on the left and a car tailgaiting? City planners should ride their bikes sometime and see what that feels like. Then riding the bike the rest of the way to the Walker felt like riding on a freeway. Anyway, we made it safely and locked our bikes up. We were almost an hour early for the show but it was better than being late. We picked up our free tickets and the nice man also gave us passes to visit the museum. That was good. Tom and I had a good laugh though at one of their main installations, by Yong Ping, a Chinese man living in France. Well, some of it was very thoughtful but we were laughing about a few of the paintings which Tom referred to as ďFinger Paintings.Ē they were abstract paintings that looked like paint smeared onto large canvases. I told Tom that my next painting was going to be a finger painting in honor of our visiting the Walker. Haha, now I need the canvas and the theme. Itíll be fun. Anyway, some of the other artwork was very interesting and makes me wonder. For instance, a book on the history of Chinese Art that had been run through the washing machine and the wet paper placed in a pile like a dung-heap over a piece of broken glass on top of an empty wooden box. What is he trying to say? To me I can only imagine, because of my upbringing and the whole Ďcold-warí anti-communist struggle, that Chinese documentation about art was full of rhetoric and spin when art is about life and making statements about living life. This particular piece, like some of the others there, was visually raw, evoking in me kind of a disgusted feeling. Another one was the large display with the long animal cages, raw bones, mostly eaten laying on the floors, representing one of the two options at the customs gates in airports. The signs above the cage-like hallways and the free passages read ďOthersĒ and ďNationalsĒ I definately felt the feeling of being singled out as being an outsider, untrusted and alien, subjected to being eaten alive, down to the bones. When you are given no other choice but to go through the animal cage corridor, there has to be fear of what will happen to you.
We looked around the museum some more, then it was time to see the movie, Darwinís Nightmare. Iím not going to talk much about this movie, but there was one statement in particular Iíd like to share. One of the Russian pilots who flew guns in and fish out knew very well what his cargo was, but when confronted with a direct question about his cargo he turned away from the camera and said, ďIím just a radio technician. Itís not my job to know whatís in the cargo.Ē It struck me that this is the same kind of attitude that many of the people in Germany took leading up to World War II. To the Russian Pilot it was just business and he knew to keep his nose out of where it did not belong or risk losing his income. He knew he was hauling grapes for Christmas from one location in Africa for instance to the children in Europe and hauling guns back to the children in Africa. Nice Christmas present huh? In a recognition of this problem, the pilot felt guilty, but helpless to change it. Itís part of the system he knows and is working within to make a living.
ďRight LivingĒ really means, ďit is my business, my responsibility to stop contributing to the horrors of the world and find a way to contribute something helpful, beneficial to mankind. ĎJust doing my jobí doesnít alleviate guilt or the suffering inflicted on others. The time to make art is in every day life. Thatís where statements of awareness are needed. Oh man thatís hard sometimes! It takes a certain amount of self-assuredness and lack of fear. When we think, ďHow will I survive?Ē itís a scary thought and we think we are alone. But at the other end of the customís gate, there is a Ďotherí feeling helpless and alone at the monolithic collective power forcing them through the tigerís cage. How can I survive against an attitude of ďitís not my business to know my cargo, I just do my job?Ē

Posted by carl1236 at 11:44 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 21, 2005

Substitution Effect

Today as I was walking back to work after lunch I spotted some bright-colored paper that had some writing on it. I walked a little closer and saw that it was a small, bright-pink colored notepad with a couple of pieces of purple notes sticking out of the middle pages. There was some blue ink-pen writing on those two pieces of paper. After examining them I discovered that the two pieces of paper were Ďflashcardsí for some business-oriented student. There was a word or phrase on one side and the definition on the other.
Card one had the phrase ďSubstitution Effect,Ē which is ďChange in Quantities demanded of a good that results because buyers switch to substitutes when price increases. I.e. Pizza to Cheeseburger.
The second card defined ďSubstitutes.Ē ďTwo goods are substitutes in consumption if increase in price causes right shift in demand curve.Ē
As I was walking back to work from lunch I was thinking of my own substitutions in life. These little notes just reminded me and drove home some thoughts that had been swirling around in the breeze flowing through my brain lately. When I set sail on the bike ship it was a runaway ship with the crew and captain doing their own things, sometimes together, sometimes contradicting each other. I found it somewhere between the rock and the hard place, stuck on the shoals but still afloat. At first I thought it was a cool ship, but then saw that it was full of pirates, steeling the heart and soul of it all, thinking they were touring the world while stuck in their dilusions. I decided to board to see if I could at least get it off the rocks and set it free. It was going to sink and still may. But I thought it was still worth boarding. After all, I can swim and teach others how to swim. Thatís another story though. One thing I did not come on board to do is start a mutiny. A mutiny at this point would be stupid because there is hardly a crew on board that can handle powering and steering the ship. What is needed is not a mutiny, but a substitution. Iím not here to fight against the leadership and destroy the only crew available, but to bring myself and others aboard, who can create a seaworthy ship out of a pile of canibalized bones. There is going to change, but the change is not brought about by resistance and fighting but by substituting despair, anger and burnout with hope. That which we resist, persists. I donít want to fight anything or anyone. Nobody has to be fed to the sharks to make the ship float. Itís not sinking under the weight of the crew. Itís sinking because of the lack of crew. The ship still waives a beautiful flag from itís rocky position and the crew is fed a steady diet of fish, but eventually the water would fill more than the bottom of the hull, substituting the light air for the heavier water, bringing it down. Itís stuck and Iím going to help the others rebuild it and sail it free, breathing life into the sails again. No pirate flags, no looting, no bragging rights, just a beautiful, clean-sailing bikeship, sailed cooperatively and willingly all over the world.
The way to do this, is not to tear down and destroy. That which we resist, persists. The way to do this is to create something wonderful to take the place of void. Put wood where there is an open gash. This creates a substitution effect. Filling the spirit of the ship with goodwill and good works makes no room for depression and that old sinking ship feeling. Instead of scrambling for lifeboats, the crew is mending sails, cooking up a storm in the galley, and feeling good about the destination. There is a substitution going on and Iím not worried about losing the things that were not working. Iím only concerned with building something that will sail and be able to sustain itself in the rough waters. You wonít see me in the captains quarters, youíll see me in the bowels of the ship building something cool. Can it work? Well, time will tell. Iím hopeful. I see the vision and hope. Itís not beyond repair. Seriously. It still has a lot to offer the community and a lot of good works it could be doing. Sure it may be too late, and I canít do it by myself, but itís also worth trying to save. Just the process of creating a seaworthy ship is fun and worthwhile. Even if I have to swim to shore and build another ship, Iíve been inspired by this shipís design and world-class ideals. I will never be the same again. Every ship I touch in the future will be effected by the people and the experiences here.
In life we donít have to fight evil we have to create good. We have to create good in order to create more good. Iíve been learning about Cooperatives lately and think this is a good example of substitution. Workers creating a new way of doing business, by sharing ownership and risk is a beautiful, successful thing, displacing the greed of a rank-based, owner-takes-all business model. All the workers benefit from their own hard work. Instead of fighting corporate greed, they created a better ship to sail on.
Jesus talks about filling our hearts with love and there will be no room for evil to grow. Many people donít follow this advice. Iím even guilty of not following this. But more and more Iím believing this by experience. The more I love others the less room I have for hating others. The substitution effect is really about making better choices. Making choices that create instead of destroy. Making choices that lift up instead of tear down. This is very hopeful and encouraging.
Last night at the bike shop I had three very enthusiastic learners who could hardly speak a word of english. They were excited to return next week. Bikes as a Second Language (BSL) is going to be a worthwhile creation. They loved the idea of helping to fix bikes for others. At the same time, they get a language tutor to help them live in this country. I sent them home with three tire-irons, a patch kit and language study material. They are going to fix tires at home, study hard and come back next week to fix two flat tires each. That is more than six tires that were flat but will now work. Do you see the beauty in this? Next week's instruction will be the braking system. Are any of you good english tutors? Want to work with some Hmong refugees with practically no english skills? This is a cool opportunity on a small scale with a large-scale effect. Let me know. There's plenty of room aboard.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:02 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 20, 2005

Bikes as a Second Language (BSL)

Sometimes inspiration comes to us in a chain of events or encounters. On the Bike ship, we were sailing along doing things as usual. I have a good friend who owns a Duplex in St. Paul that he was rennovating. He lives in the upstairs and now rents out the downstairs. When he was looking for tenants to occupy his duplex the Hmong refugees were just arriving from Thailand to this country. Someone talked him into renting to these new immigrants. As a community service I fixed up and donated six bikes to the children of this family a week after they arrived. This was great but then the other refugees wanted bikes. My friend put together a list of ten more people who wanted bikes, but we didn't have the supply of used bikes to give to them at the time. I've been collecting the shorter bikes for them in the shop.
Then I met my hero Dot the teacher, who teaches English for Hmong immigrants. She had been buying bikes at garage sales and giving them to her 'English as a Second Language, or ESL' students. (They call it something else now, but I forget what.) But most of those bikes were in need of repair. One day Dot showed up at our shop with two bikes, asking if we'd fix one if she donated the other to us. I said ok and she was ecstatic. So now she gave me a list of bikes she needs for students and she's bringing me tall bikes in exchange for shorter bikes. haha. It's a cool community relationship.
But then I was talking with my friend about some of the other people and the bikes they wanted and how it would be great if they not only got bikes but learned how to fix them. I've been working on curriculum for our earn-a-bike program from material I downloaded from 'Bikes-Not-Bombs' and thought this would be a great opportunity to practice teaching it. So tonight is the grand opening of our new "Bikes as a Second Language Program (BSL)" I made up some handouts with language tips related to bikes. This will be fun! They will learn to fix bikes, improve their english, work on our bikes and earn adn fix one of their own!!! Inspiration is even cooler when it's put into action. We have four students and two instructors. Tonight is fixing flats. Thursday nights are gold now!

Posted by carl1236 at 4:58 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

October 19, 2005

Irrational behavior

What do you do when your teenage daughter throws a temper tantrum and acts irrationally? Logic and rational discussion have no meaning. And don't even try to point out the mean, hurtful attitudes because it just makes matters worse. For all the hateful things I've said to my parents when I was that age, I'm sorry mom and dad. I honestly don't feel that way about you now and can't believe I ever acted that way toward you. But I did. I know I did. Part of it is the age and part of it is hormones and all kinds of other things going on in a teenager's life. I cannot be angry with my daughter now. I love her too much.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:53 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Bloviation in traction

Words without action is bloviation in traction.
Action without bloviating is living words.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:04 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 18, 2005

Making it happen and other speculations

Speculating. INteresting word. In all things we can make plans, start to work the plans and it could all come crashing down on us. But it's worth it. The process of making it happen is worth it. There are risks in everything, but to not do because of the risks is to not do. Speculation is not really speculation when it's experience. It is no coincidence Nike used the slogan, "Just do it." WE all want to just do it. We don't want our actions to be a gamble. Success is in the process!!!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 17, 2005

Letters of Thank You

Being thankful is a good quality. As I've talked about before, we cannot do things in this life alone. We may think we are 'self-made' and 'self-sufficient' but we do depend on a lot of people for even our bare necesseties. So it's good to be thankful for what we've been given and the opportunities we have. Here are some particularly thankful letters from some immigrants to their ESL Teacher "Dot" in regards to bikes she is providing to her students:

Dear Teacher Dot.
I am happy. Because you gave me a bike for my family to ride.
I'm thankful for teacher.
Sincerely,
----

Dear Teacher Dot
Thank you for the bicycle you gave to me. I'm happy you are very generous. I will always remember the gift you gave me. Thank you Teacher Dot very much.
Sincerely,
-----

Dear teacher Dot,
Thank you for the bicycle you gave to my children. are very happy to theacher Dot thank you very much good person.
Thank you Teacher Dot,
----

Dear Teacher Dot,
Thank you for the bicycle you gave to me -
I happy last month teacher buy -
bicycle for me you are very generous
to me I will always remember the gift you gave me.
Thank you Teacher Dot,
Sincerely,
----

Dear Teacher Dot,
Thank you for the bicycle you gave to me.
My children are very happy to Teacher.
You are very generous to gave the bicycle
to my children.
I will always remember the gift you gave me.
Sincerely,
----

Dear Teacher Dot,
Thank you for the bicycle you gave to me.
My children are happy for the bicycle .
My 6 years old daughter riding it.
and my children say Teacher Dot you are very generous.
----

Dear Teacher Dot,
Thank you for the bicycle you gave to me.
My Children and I are happy.
My 7 year old son. He thanks you for bicycle. Thank you.
----

Teacher Dot,
My name is ----. I am happy you gave a bicycle for my daughter.
Thank you very much.
----

Dot is another one of my heroes. I can't take credit for any of these donated bikes but I have partnered with Dot to lighten her load a little and have even started plans to work on an english tutoring/bike repair experience for selected students. It is amazing what can be done when we work together.

Good job Dot! I'm so happy to know you.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:34 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 12, 2005

Tonight on the Bike ship

I've been cleaning and organizing the bike shop over the last few weeks. It's a huge operation! More like open heart surgery. But this last week I made huge progress so there is so much space and it's so much cleaner and organized that it has had a positive impact. There are many reasons why I took on these tasks, but one of them has to do with how the space effects the volunteers. A clean and organized space feels good to work in, is easier to work in, accmodates more people, and it's contagious. Right now the workbenches are spotless. If you've ever visted the depot before, you know how this has to feel right now. Tonight after people were done, they all picked up after themselves and cleaned up their messes and parts, etc. It was really cool. And all of the volunteers were working on bikes tonight. Some on their own bikes and some on our bikes. Tonight I felt like we were actually implementing our mission. I felt good about what we were doing. The real results of a good house cleaning will show up in attitude as we rebuild and refocus the organization. At some point people need a fresh start. This is the year of fresh starts.
Instead of thinking of this as a process of changing everything, I think it's more like a process of renewal; refreshing of the spirit, dreams and hopes of everyone who has ever been involved in this program.
Tonight one person wanted to throw an old trophy away that one of our predecessors got for excellence in promoting bicycle commuting. I suggested that it might be good to keep it around, now more prominantly displayed, to remind us of where we came from and that a lot of people put in countless hours of their free time to get this organization to where it's at now. It didn't just happen by itself.
Another guy told me the history of the organization tonight, from his own perspective, as one of the members of the original yellow bike program and how it evolved and changed into what it is now. When the yellow bike program collapsed and the funding dried up, it was almost impossible to maintain. They had to reorganize and consolidate. They had to renew their mission and resolve. So what did we end up with? A non-profit community bike shop that is doing a lot of good things for lower income people and other community organizations. There is a lot more. There really is a lot of potential and hope in renewal. I believe we can all use a fresh start sometimes.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:42 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 11, 2005

The Board of Directors Meeting that Never Was

Here is another board of director's meeting that only two out of eight board members showed up. So we talked and then the other person left and I hung out for a little while, then rode home. For us to do any business, we need a majority present because we have to vote on things occassionally.
But there is good news. I have to wait to tell all the details, but it looks like the non-profit community bike shop will not have to move! I'm really thankful for that. Now I have to work on this board of directors to show up once per month.

Also, Don't forget the Art Crawl in downtown St. Paul, Friday night and Saturday: http://www.artcrawl.org

Posted by carl1236 at 11:12 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 10, 2005

Title

I couldn't think of a title for my blog entry. And that reminded me about what bothers me so much about our rank structures in society. I'm liking the collective idea more and more. It just makes sense because we too often start to value some human beings higher than others. Then we also have the feeling of 'entitlement,' where we feel like we are entitled to everything we get because of our position. I can tell you right now, I don't need a title to do good works. I just have to make sure that I treat everyone with love and respect. No title necessary. "Friend" would be ok with me though.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:04 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Cynical or Observant?

I'm always trying to be careful about my 'observations.' Sometimes what we consider observation is really biased by our attitudes and can be clouded by pre-conceived thoughts on how things are. I don't think it's fair to pass on our biased views when reporting something as 'observation' when it's obviously just us being cynical about something. There are always multiple facets to every situation and multiple people involved with their own views on how the situations unfold. I'm aware that sometimes even reporting an observation can lead people to think negatively about a situation, based on their own biases.
Yesterday I attended a Grand Opening of the little town park a block away from the bike shop. My observations follow, without a clear understanding of why things were as they were:

1. Attendance was relatively low. There are hundreds of condos surrounding this new park and only about 50 some people showed up for the grand opening of their park. There were two major groups of people that showed up - One group from each of the two churches that are next to the park. Each of them had about 10 or so people from their congregations there. Their pastor/priest presented a speach. About 10 or so people from the condo's were working the tables with free food. Then there were about 7-10 bicyclists there who showed up from the emails we sent out to rally for support of our bike shop remaining in the community. There were also a group of ethnic Karin children (Refugees from Burma/Myanmar) They performed a traditional dance and ate food. They were part of one of the churches there. I think I saw about 5-10 residents of the condos there - I know because I saw them sign up for the park-flower-planting club. That was it. Oh, the Mayor also showed up and gave a dedication speech.

I am trying not to be cynical, but where were all the condo owners at the dedication to their park? Is that being cynical or observant? I wonder why they were not there in force.

It was worth going though. I talked to a lot of people (mostly people from the churches) about the mission of our non-profit community bike shop and what we do. They loved the idea and although they knew we were there, they did not know what we did.

After the event, I went back to the shop and did house cleaning until late into the night. That was also very good.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:49 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 8, 2005

Rally for community

Tomorrow (Sunday, October 9th) at Noon we are all rallying around the new park, one block from the bike depot to show our community support and to show the community we are part of it and want to stay. If anyone is interested in biking to St. Paul and seeing a small urban park be dedicated and showing your support for our community bike shop that would be cool. Noon at: http://www.bikeped.org

A community business really should be integrated into the community.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:56 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 4, 2005

What does it mean to be alive?

Sometimes I just want to say, ďWho cares!?Ē Why do I have to put a reason to it? Iím here. Once I tack a reason to it, Iím forever trying to live up to it. I prefer to think that there is no purpose to life. At least there is no ONE purpose to life. There are many reasons for life. Do I need any of those reasons to continue living? No. Iím already here, alive. Itís like being stranded on a deserted island. A person can question why the ship wrecked, or why they were on the ship in the first place, but it doesnít help in finding fresh water and food. Sometimes life is a matter of survival. Many people are in survival mode.
When I go to work I see many people who are there, not because they love the work, but because they need the job to get the money to live their lives the way they want. I do it sometimes too. I go in and out of survival mode. Sometimes work is just a paycheck. There is no purpose or meaning to it. Then I think of the great relationships and friendships I have with some of my coworkers. I love people really and think that this could be the reason I am here. I think of my other activities outside of work and think, ďThis is the reason I am working; For them.Ē And all of the things I am doing may or may not be the reason I am alive. But life goes on doesnít it? I am really happy to be alive, even if my boss is being a jerk or Iím not into doing my work some days.
I think just being alive is enough of a reason to be happy and to go on living. Then at least I can wake up every morning thankful and happy for another day. I can make choices about what I want to do based on what I see going on. Iím going to refrain from hanging a purpose around my neck and just live the best way I know how. I already know I am alive so now what? Well, letís see... So many choices, so little time ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 11:47 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 3, 2005

Plans

It's good to have plans, but plans do not always go as planned. Then what? Much of our happiness in life depends on how we view things and how we react to things doesn't it? I don't think we can become too attached to an idea that has not happened. This is especially difficult when we pour our hearts and souls into a project and then have it all fall apart. This happens. Circumstances change, there are other people's choices that also have an influence on how things progress. So, even though we can plan, we cannot attach our happiness to a desired outcome. It is great when it happens but we can't let it destroy us when it doesn't. It's ok to be sad and upset, but when we really think about it, life goes on, stuff happens and we have to find another plan.
I can deal with change of plans because I am not focused on the end result but on the process of doing what I think is best. I will enjoy the struggle. I remember reading a book about a successful local restaurant. They subtitled their book, "The fun is in the struggle." It's true.
Tonight I looked at the space where the artwork will be displayed for the artcrawl and was met with a pleasant surprise; we will have an entire room now to fill up with artwork. I'm purposefully trying to keep the expectations low, since it's short notice. The best plans are simple. This big studio space is icing on the cake. We will have several young artists displaying in their own studio now along with me. Why am I doing this? Because it's a great opportunity for everyone involved. So it's worth the effort.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:27 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 2, 2005

Beijing Bicycle

Today was obviously a bicycle day for me. I woke up late this morning on purpose, not having set my alarm. Then I started watching a movie that a friend had loaned me called Beijing Bicycle. I had to interrupt it to go to the bike shop to take in some rental bikes and while I was there I decided to clean more. I mostly hung out and talked with Terry while waiting for the bikes, but then when everyone left, I started to clean. 7:30pm rolled around and I decided that was enough for the day. It looks much better now. Tomorrow night I'll be at the shop again with help. We should make huge progress then. For me persistence and stubborness will get it cleaned and organized. (plus team work) But I have found it's too easy to start a huge project that seems overwhelming and then stop when it does indeed get too overwhelming or we get tired of doing it. I've also found that sometimes it takes true leadership in the task at hand to get others motivated to jump in and do the same. It sometimes takes the demonstration and commitment to an idea to show other people what is possible. Enthusiasm is catchy. So is determination.
When I got home, I watched the rest of my movie while eating dinner. In the movie a young man had earned a bicycle by working hard at his new courier job. Right as he was about to receive full ownership of the bike he was riding, it was stolen. He came out from one of his deliveries and the bike was gone. He failed to make a delivery then and got fired from his job. The rest of the movie was about this young man trying to get his bike back. At the very end of the movie he gets beat up and his bike is brutally stomped on over and over by one of the assailants. But he gets his bike back for good and limps away carrying his bike.
I'm not sure what the moral of this story was. I think he learned a lot about life. First he learned about persistence. Then he learned about cooperation. Then he learned about forgiveness. Then he got his bike back, even though it was nearly destroyed and he had to hit a guy over the head with a brick to get it back. Maybe he learned that the use of force works in a society that values posessions. That's kind of the lesson that many people learn and use because it fits with our survival instinct. I kind of liked the cooperative and creative solution to a shared dilemma that they came up with earlier in the movie though. Violence proved to be futile and they ended up trading off the bike with each other every other day. Another solution they could have come up with was to get the bike thief a job at the courier company so he could earn his own bike. That also would have been interesting and a creative solution.
I'm glad I watched this movie today, with the bike shop cleaning sandwiched inbetween. It led me to a very interesting view on the movie and my activities.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:52 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 1, 2005

It's in the process not the product

I was talking about my woodcarving and Ukranian Egg decorating. I've done a lot of intricate, beautiful woodcarving over the years and have one piece hanging in my library now and a few hiking sticks. Everything else I gave away. People have asked me, sounding kind of shocked, why I did not sell my woodcarving. But I can give it away, because for me the true beauty is not in the product for sale, but in the making of the art. The process of carving and seeing the object revealed is the beauty and the reward. I can make as many of them as I want in a million variations because I know how, and I enjoy doing it. The same is true for the Ukranian Eggs. The process is the most important part of the whole thing. And I can create an infinate number and variety of these eggs because I know how to do it and really enjnoy.
Some people just don't get this. In life the most valuable part of it is not the stuff we accumulate or the status we achieve but the process of living it. It is through this process that we learn to love and share and change.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:30 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 30, 2005

Forming Partnerships and Cooperatives

We cannot do everything by ourselves. This is a message for everyone. A message for myself. A warning to heed. A ray of hope in the world. I cannot do everything myself, nor should I. Each of us has something to contribute to this world. Each of us has a part in it. Collaboration and cooperation is not only a tool, but a necessity. Together we can do so much more and lighten the load for everyone.
I am investing myself and my resources in a cooperative effort. The cooperative ideal is that everyone benefits and there is less duplication of efforts. As I progress along these lines, I am trying to strengthen and build relationships with other people and organizations to everyone's benefit. Today I talked to a friend who is really interested in helping me with community outreach and building relationships with different groups to mutually benefit each other. He's enthusiastic about the idea of arranging some collaborative efforts. The possibilities are endless. He will be coming on board the bike ship soon. That is hope. I am getting excited as the bike shop gets reorganized, volunteers are helping out on Monday nights and Wednesday nights, and new people are plugging holes in the bow. The ship may be in rough waters, but I can tell it's not going to sink just yet. Two more weeks and we'll know whether we've made it through the shoals safely.
I know this sounds kind of cryptic, but it's fun using the ship metaphor for the bike shop. I'll call it the bike ship instead. haha. We still need a treasurer and a membership coordinator and a volunteer coordinator and a few other key people, but we'll get there. I am so happy and thankful for Tom, Sam, Andy, Nate and everyone else who has stepped up to find some way to help. And this is really a good community builder so everything we do is a good thing for society. Tomorrow I'll be at the bike shop all day, FINISHING the major part of the reorganization! It is looking so good right now.

During the Art Crawl we are going to have an open house at the Depot to build more community and share in our good fortune at being alive and getting people onto bikes. October 14th and 15th. http://www.artcrawl.org This is a cool event anyways, so you should all go see the art and meet the artists in their studios. Mark your calendars now.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:45 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 29, 2005

You can read my mind

One thing that is interesting to me is how we as human beings tend to see things from our own point of view. Imagine that! Each person sees other people only from their own perspective.
That leads me to tonight. After work, I spent all evening at the bike shop again. I was mostly listening, talking and working on small things until the others left, then I was a whirlwind of organizing. At different times several people made assumptions about why I was doing what I was doing and those assumptions were not accurate. I admit that overall I may be too little, too late for what has to be done, but it's a good use of my time.
I am really an open book and if someone is really looking at me instead of their own motives and ambitions, they could read my mind.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 28, 2005

The only way to be a great runner is to run

I saw this ad in a magazine for runners. I think itís a great saying, but taking that one step further we can basically say that the only way to be a runner is to run. That seems obvious, but the implications are huge. This is a good parallel to other aspects of our lives besides fitness activities. In order to be a Christian we have to be Christ-like. In order to be buddhist we have to be Buddha-like. In order to be a compassionate person, we actually have to be compassionate. Words just donít cut it. Plenty of people know all the lines and know all the rhetoric, but donít practice what they preach. Off and on in my life, I have been just as guilty of being all talk and no show. Isnít what we expect in other people to actually be what they profess to be? If someone professes to be a good person, well, theyíd better not turn out to be a rotten soul.
In order to be a doctor, I actually have to go through the right schooling, get the right degree and be certified a doctor. I canít just pretend to be a doctor. We can point fingers at the world and state the blame, but if we arenít part of the solution we arenít living. We might as well be dead.
The only way to be a great human being is to be human. The only way for good deeds to get done is for someone to do them. Do good, be a great runner of life!

Posted by carl1236 at 3:30 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 26, 2005

They will wear you out

Someone who knows me very little made an "observation" the other day about my activities at the bike shop. He said, "They will wear you out." I joked about it with him, then kept doing what I was doing. His meaning sunk in later. He's mentioned several times to me to pace myself so I don't burn out. I think his intentions are good and he's trying to be helpful, but in this case his observations are not observations but a lack of true understanding...
First of all, let's look at the meaning of the phrase, "They will wear you out." The [wear you out] portion of the sentence is pretty obvious. He thinks that somehow this kind of work makes me tired. In truth it's energizing. The more good work I do, the more I want to do. I have my limits, true, but attitude goes much further than physical and time limitations. And I'm not trying to do it myself. This brings us to the beginning of the phrase, [They], which implies that someone else is doing this to me. This is where many people lose hope in life. They think someone else is doing something to us that we are not agreeing to. Sure it can happen with a particular boss or something, but we are still chosing to work there. In this case I AM the "They," he is referring to. Am "I" going to wear myself out? Quite possibly I will, but it's by choice because I believe it's a good use of my gifts, talents and resources to be involved in this right now, where I can make a difference in other people's lives. If it's by choice, I am not a victim. No-one else can wear me out or wear me down, because I am the They that will do it to myself. Got it?
There is more. Sometime soon I will talk about 'Chains' of events that lead to other things. Sometimes a person HAS to follow a chain of events to get to some other point in their lives. It all adds up and we are exactly where we need to be. I am where I need to be right now. How can that wear me out?

Posted by carl1236 at 4:53 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 21, 2005

We can't do it all by ourselves

I read something yesterday that was right along the lines I was thinking. The word "Community" could be read "Common" "Unity," meaning that we have to have some common base of beliefs and values to bring us together as a community. Some of those are obvious, like our belief that each human being should be free. But there are some consequences living with other human beings. There are also common problems to deal with and it's easy to step on other people's freedoms when one person takes more freedom than others. For instance if a person in your community steals from you, it's a problem. It really is a community problem because there is no 'common' 'unity' in the belief that it's ok to steal from others. Most people in the community would feel violated and betrayed by having something stolen from their house.
The other thing to note about commuty is that one person cannot do it all. One person cannot repair all the houses, stay up all night watching for that thief, mow all the lawns and sweep all the sidewalks, take care of the neighborhood park and garden, run after-school programs for the neighborhood kids, check on the elderly, etc. These are all things that it takes a community of people to do. The one thing all these people have in common is a unity in the belief that what they are doing makes their community a better place to live. If each person decides to find those common beliefs of unity and DO something toward that cause, then it's a nice place to be. If we are truthful about it, we must realize that we can't live life alone, with no other people. We are inter-dependant and what we do in our communities effects everyone else. What are we choosing to contribute? The beauty of a community is that we don't have to do it all by ourselves. If the community is falling down, we need to find that common unity again. Life, liberty, freedom, are all things we take for granted sometimes and things we deny other people when we take more than we give. Yes, sometimes we give and give and give and still there are some who will take, take, take. So how do you deal with those? Expell them from the community? Educate them on community values? I wish there was an easy answer, but we have to keep doing our part, whatever that is. We cannot do it all by ourselves, so we have to get others involved in solving the community problems. Just like we form block clubs to help watch our neighborhoods and get to know each other. That's a good start. Partnerships between neighborhood businesses and clubs and churches would be nice. Our common unity is all about joint beliefs in living a happy life. Let's work together and build a good community. This pervasive, 'every person for themselves' idea is shortsighted and leads to distrust and unrest. It tears apart communities, like the thief who steals your family heirlooms.
Every person for themselves means everyone has to do everything all by themselves. It's not practical. Ok, then start making your own clothes and building your own car and house and paving your own roads so you can drive. Yes, that's extreme but it does illustrate the point that we are not alone and can't do it all alone. We are not in this life to go it alone either. Coming together is a natural thing. But once we come together we have to work together and do our parts. Or we are not pulling our weight in the community. We are taking but not putting back.
We are all in this life together. That's a good thing. Now what kind of community can we build and maintain together? How can I contribute?

Posted by carl1236 at 7:57 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 19, 2005

People think I'm crazy

Tonight after working at the bike shop, I went next door to the Bobo Club, where Gary was doing a little wine tasting. I tried a sip of four different wines he had, and didn't like any of them. Three of them were way too sweet for me. The other one tasted kind of tangy. Anyway, there was this guy sitting there who is a really talented graphic artist. He told me, "People think I'm crazy." He started telling me about his new philosophy of 'bartering' his services with places he hangs out. For instance, he did some advertising graphics for one coffee shop, now he gets two free latte's per day. Cool idea. Bartering is a good idea. It's a direct exchange of goods or services without the middle man (money). I know someone else that has bartered his automobile mechanical expertise for things before. He got a microwave for one job he did.
The thing is, this graphic artist made sense to me. He was a successful advertising graphic artist in chicago with his own design company until he sold his half of the company to the other partner and moved away. He told me he could make as much money as he wanted if he wanted to. But it didn't mean anything to him. Two latte's per day on his regular rounds without paying cash meant something to him. I can understand the convenience and the wisdom in this kind of deal. Both parties win. The company gets really good advertising material and the artist gets his fix and gets to be a regular somewhere.

So then I was standing there and another artist asked me if I could fix his bike. He didn't want to pay any money for it though, because he was short on cash. Since I was just talking to the graphic artist about his bartering adventures, I said, "Sure I can fix your bike. Do you want to barter for it?" He said, "Yeah that would be cool." So now I have to come up with something useful that he could exchange for bike repair services. hmmm. Maybe I could have him paint my dumpster bike, like an artbike. haha. But then it might be too nice and people would want to steal it. Maybe he could help me reorganize the shop. ;-) There's a good idea! And people think I'm crazy.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:18 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

A stolen Vice Grips and a plan to reorganize

I know it happens. I was working alone tonight at the bike shop and I was distracted by a couple people that wanted to buy a bike. Meanwhile, one of the guys that was there stole a tool off the workbench and took off with it. Then someone saw him looking into cars in the parkinglot. When he realized someone outside was watching him, he took off. But in the mean time, one of our tools are missing. We are a non-profit organization and all the work I was doing tonight was free. And we have been known to help people who needed parts when they didn't have any money. All they have to do is let us know they need something. But he stole from us. Now I am forced to rearrange the furniture and block off the shop from customers so This can't happen again. Those that want to steal from us will ruin it for those that could use a little help. Well, not really, it will make it less open, but we'll still help people get their wheels rolling for a reasonable and just price. They'll just have to wait behind the counter while we do it now. I just don't have enough eyes to watch those that choose to be dishonest and take things that don't belong to them.

Tomorrow night that's where I'll be. Reorganizing the entryway. Or maybe on Wednesday night we'll do it when all the volunteers are there.

So what do we do? It's too bad, but this shop has had a lot of theft over the last year. The bikes I had locked up on the deck? Someone stole a whole back wheel from one bike and a rear derailer from another. They were cheap bikes and components too! So tool expenditures will go up and we have to use more used stock to replace stolen parts.

I'm not upset or mad at these people who do this though. They are worse off than I am and are working within the system they find themselves in. Maybe they are in that system because of the choices they've made. In any case, I can't let tool theft continue. It's a drain on our budget and harder to help people who come to get their bike fixed for a low fee.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:48 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 17, 2005

One Grain of Sand

I had the chance to glimpse the meaning of the world in a grain of sand. It was life in it's simplest form. It allowed me to see things in a new way.
Yesterday Terry gave me a word-find book, which he pulled out of the pannier bag on his bike after asking me if I liked to do word finds. I said yes without even considering that he'd GIVE me one. Now I am finding words.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:04 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 16, 2005

Resistance is futile

How do you deal with a Bully? Some people just should not be in positions of responsibility. They are demeaning to other people, high on their own self-importance and often are very articulate and vocal about getting their way. They use intimidation, passive agressive attacks, and twist the truth of situations to their advantage. They will drive everyone else away and then complain no-one else is pulling their weight. If someone tries to point out their poor behavior, they go on the offensive and attack the intentions and motivations of the person who brings their behavior to light. A bully likes to be challenged on the same terms; It's arena combat and the victory is a power rush.
In God's eyes, it really doesn't pay to treat bullys with their own tactics. It is futile to resist on their terms. It just fuels the fight and gives them more ammunition against their opponents. A better way to deal with a Bully is to not resist but to innovate and create something new. If a bully takes your lunch, you let him take it, then make a gourmet meal and serve it to all of his friends. Haha, or something. Maybe more like, create a free meal program so he looks foolish stealing your meal.
Eventually bullies are exposed or they are seen for who they really are. We don't have to allow them to get away with it. Stay calm, stick to the facts and avoid raising your voice. They will be the only one yelling and it's a harsh light.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:30 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 15, 2005

So many things I could be doing

But Iím doing this. Because I want to. I have to explain something about my philosophy in life. The reason I got close to the bike shop was the cool idea behind it and the uniqueness of it. But the reason I joined the board of directors was not because it was such a cool, smoothly run show that I wanted to be a part of, but because it was in trouble. If there is any place that needs help, any time, then it is worth being there to work on the issues.
There are a lot of things I could be doing, but I'm not. I'm doing this because it needs to be done. Where will it lead? I'm hoping it will be really good.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 14, 2005

Designing a Community _________ (Fill-in the blank)

I may have a whacked-out vision when I think of a Ďcommunityí something business. But I donít think so. I think it is something that is a part of the community and something that the community is a part of. When I was growing up a community business was one where the owners were local, they new everyoneís name, they sponsored and showed up to community events, they participated in the local community, they helped the local community grow and they helped the community when it was down. A community bank made loans to people who might not be able to pay it back. A community gas station kept everyoneís cars running and reminded people when their oil needed changing. A community barber knew all the guys in town and was often the first person to cut a new family memberís hair. They saved a snip of hair for the parents in an envelope. A community drug store was also the candy store and soda shop. The local people went there for their medicines and bandaids. A community business was a community business because of the community it was part of. So where are these community businesses now and how integrated are they really? Do they really care about the community they are in or just out to make money off them?

My question is how do we redesign a true community bike shop? In my view it has to remain totally non-profit and be integrated into the community so tightly that the community is the bike shop. Is that possible? I think it is. I think even though there have been problems with the one Iím involved in, it shows promise. I have been inspired by some of the things that have been done right in the past. That bike shop has provided so much cheap, basic transportation and kept people going all year-round that I think it is really serving the local community in that way. It has also provided work for people without housing and opportunities to gain skills. Iíd say that is a great community service. It has educated and worked with hundreds of children, teaching them bicycle safety and basic repairs just in the last year. It has installed bike racks all over the city, building infrastructure. It has been the sounding board and aid for dreamers and inventors, local artists and musicians. It has repeatedly responded to requests for help to different community groups by fixing and repairing and giving them free bikes. I just love the way local residents are starting to hang out and learn and volunteer in the shop. It has conducted bike rodeos for local schools. I like the earn-a-bike program it did. Hundreds of people have Ďearnedí bikes by putting in a little work. Iíve seen bike messengers and bicycle commuters come in for a quick seat replacement when theirís was stolen from their bike or when their chain broke or they needed a tube to get back home. They come in, fix it themselves and are back on the road. Iím truly inspired by what has been done in the past and therein lies my hope for the future. I can see and believe in a community-based organization that the community owns, uses, suppports, feels a part of and cares about. But like any program or business, nothing is static and things change with the people that come and go. The heart and soul of the people involved are poured into something and it becomes part of their lives. Right now I think this one is not living up to the ideal of being a community bike shop or education facility. At times it is, but it feels like the tide is out. Could it be done better? YES. So my vision of something that ďISĒ community is building in my mind. I am very hopeful and enthusiastic when I think about things in this light.

If you could dream a little, what would you create?

Posted by carl1236 at 4:20 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 13, 2005

Energized by Challenges

One of the greatest attitudes to have is being energized by challenges. It means we believe in what we are doing and are willing to do what it takes to get it done, instead of being locked up in paralysis by conflicts and problems. It happens. When we believe in what we are doing then there is always hope. It's when we stop believing in the original good cause that we lose hope and become burned out.
Some things are a good cause and worth working for. I believe that and am willing to put in an extraordinary effort to create something good. When problems come up, I know why I am there. Another way to put this is because I know why I am there, it is because of the problems that I am energized and work toward solving the problems. Jesus said something like, "I did not come here to save the saved." In other words, he wouldn't have been involved if there was no need to be involved. There was a need for him and he believed in what he was doing. Therefore he looked for the problems and made a commitment. That is energizing and fulfilling. As long as we keep a fresh eye on that original 'good cause.' It is worth it!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:44 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 12, 2005

Monday Night Running a bike shop

Ok, tonight was the first night of the Bike Depot's Fall hours. Closed on Monday during the day and open at night. Myself and two other volunteers are staffing the shop at night. We had three customers. One took about an hour of hard work to help, the others just needed tubes and other things. Other than that we worked on the 10 rental bikes that are going out on Wednesday. We had to select some different bikes for this group due to sizes and finding some better bikes to replace some in the rental fleet. Of course the bikes are not ready for Wednesday. Tomorrow I'll be busy at work, then after work I'll help load them up for delivery. Then I'll hang out and wait for the board meeting at 7pm. I'm looking forward to it.
My attitude toward putting in Volunteer time? I think everyone should volunteer somewhere. I've heard one person say they are against volunteers because they think volunteers do shoddy work. But that's just an excuse to be critical of others. It is good for our souls to give to other people unselfishly. So much of the real work in life gets done by volunteers. Even where our own government fails to provide for the basic needs of the poor and homeless, volunteers, using donated money and resources build houses, counsel, teach, type papers, make phone calls and provide other services. Of course it's often not enough, but it's better than nothing. There is always a need for volunteers. And it's a good thing to do for our fellow human beings.
Tonight was a success. We are still looking for volunteers to take a turn on Monday nights and also we want to stay open on Thursday nights. Shifting the hours to the evenings are part of the plan to stay open longer in the Fall and Winter using volunteer labor, since business will be very slow.
Also on Monday nights we'll be running the new 'Earn-a-bike' program format. We've had an 'Earn-a-bike' program before, off and on, but it was never a formal program that had a training course associated with it. Now people who want to earn a free bike have to take the 16 hours of basic bicycle maintence instruction plus work on fixing bikes for the shop. Eventually we'll do the advanced training also. But for now, we don't have anyone signed up to 'earn-a-bike.' Tomorrow is another day.
Volunteering helps the world function when the leaders want to make everyone fend for themselves.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:32 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 11, 2005

Haircuts for free

After buying my Wald hair clippers with attachments and cutting my hair myself, I'm now on haircut number four, which means this haircut was free. My equipment was paid for on the third haircut, using 10.00 per haircut as my guide. With the hot weather and wearing a helmet while biking, having short hair has been great! It's much cooler and very easy to take care of. Nothing against long hair, because last year I was a hippy with a ponytail. No kidding. It's just way more practical this way.
So, now to share my wealth from getting free haircuts, I am now offering a free haircut to anyone who asks me. Of course you might get what you pay for. I'm not a pro yet, but it is free. Just send me an email anytime and we'll make arrangements.
My attitude with this self-hair-cutting thing is not to go against barbers or hair stylists. Everyone has their place. What I am illustrating to myself here is that we often get stuck in one mindset that things have to be a certain way, just because that's the way they are. With creativity and a willingness to try things, it is truly amazing what we can do. We are not powerless. We are not helpless. We can do and create things because that is who we are. Step outside of the mold and be bold. Actually it's not bold at all cutting my own hair, but it feels good. Many people would not even attempt to do this. I would not have when I was younger, although It would have been very beneficial to me then, since I had to have my hair cut short once every month for my job. Now I don't need to and I am doing it myself. Go figure. It's fun though and economically a good thing for me.
Want a free haircut?

Posted by carl1236 at 9:23 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 30, 2005

Very interesting podcasts

I just found this very interesting blog, intended primarily as podcasts. It's called the Philosopher's Almanac. Good stuff to get the brain and heart working.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:54 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 29, 2005

The Dumpster Bike Revived

I wrote about my dumpster bike before:
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carl1236/dailyspirit/024433.html
and now is a good time to bring it up again. Jim http://blog.lib.umn.edu/thil0020/carfreelife/2005_08.html#025834 was writing about the different categories of bicycles and it generated a lot of good discussion. I wondered what category my dumpster bike fit into and my conclusion now is that it has to be an economy bike. So far I have exactly seven dollars invested in this bike for miscellaneous parts to make it run; I replaced the chain, added fenders and a rack. Finally, here is a photo of the Dumpster Bike:

DumpsterBike.JPG

A few weeks ago I had to stop riding it because the chain snapped as I was trying to accelerate. I think the problem was not only an old chain, but my chain line was a little at an angle since I had it on the 42-tooth on the front and the 13 on the back. This time when I put the chain on I put it on one ring larger on the back and the chain is in a straight line now. Itís also easier to pedal uphill.
One of the reasons I decided it was time to get that bike running again was that I rode my mountain bike in the rain and had to go to a meeting at another office. The only way to get there was through an industrial area with a thick layer of concrete-type dust on the road. Imagine that stuff all wet, spraying all over my wheels, bike, bottom bracket, chainrings and getting in my derailers. I thought about my 1971 Schwinn Suburban 5-Speed that I was using for a commuter bike and realized how nice those full fenders were. And it was nice having a bike like that for a Ďbeaterí bike. They are solid bikes that can take a lot and are easy to fix. Unfortunately for me that bike was stolen. Then I thought about my Dumpster Bike sitting in my driveway waiting for a chain and fenders. I found some yesterday, brought them home and this morning installed them. I rode it to work today and it was great. The purple frame and blue fenders really make the look too! Haha. But itís functional! It is an economy-utility bike after all.
I rode it to the bike shop during lunch one day and Terry looked at it and said right away that I should get a can of black spraypaint and paint the whole bike and fenders the same color. Well, yeah I could do that, but it doesnít really need paint to be functional. That would be a purely cosmetic expense. Donít purple and blue go together? If I added some yellow bar tape it would be a rainbow bike. But then Iíd be back to adding things for appearance, when the old ratty black cloth tape is still functional enough to give me grip.
I am not condemning other bikes, because I have several that I use for different purposes. But I think I am proving a point to myself and maybe others, that utility and functionality donít have to be expensive. That much of what we say we Ďneedí is not really a need, but a Ďdesire.í Also Iím saying that if this functional bike was being thrown away, we are a wasteful society. To ride a Dumpster bike with a purple frame and blue fenders with the derailer missing does require me to give up some of my notions about what I actually need. It teaches me that what I really need in bicycle transportation is two wheels, a frame, a chain and brakes. The fenders I added were a bonus and so was the rack. I have a backpack after all. And riding this bike is easier on my feet and faster than walking everywhere. For that I would only need two feet and two legs. Maybe I could get by with one of each. Plenty of people get by on less.
The dumpster bike is a teacher and I am a student. What am I able to learn? I can apply itís lessons to the rest of my life as well: The house I live in, the clothes I wear, the activities I do, etc. What do I really need, how much is enough and what am I wasting that is still functional?

Posted by carl1236 at 4:48 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 28, 2005

A RAM of a day!

Today was a great day, but exhausting. It was really the culmination of a weekís worth of hard work. Today I started the Bicycle rental adventure at the Minneapolis Convention center with the National Recycling Congress, hosted by the Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM). We recycle bicycles and get them back on the street and recycle the metal from the ones we donít/canít fix. It was an interesting concept to do this rental with them and helps promote more bicycling. Instead of the convention attendees riding cabs or walking they had the option of renting a bike. Nine people rented bikes this afternoon alone.
Here is how it all happened:
Starting on Wednesday at volunteer night, we had everyone working on these bikes. Only about 4 people did though, since Wednesday is more of a social event than a serious work night. And even though they were working on them, not much got done. Those bikes needed a lot of work!
Thursday night I worked on 4 of the bikes and got them finished. On Friday at 5pm we went on the St. Paul Critical Mass ride, which was fun. After the ride, Nathan and I went back to the bike shop to work on these. Saturday at 10:00 am was the deadline. Nathan really came through. Thanks Nathan! I could not have done this without your help so you really made a difference! Nathan alone fixed 11 bikes before going home. I kept working until 6am when I couldnít do any more.
I went home, ate a large breakfast, showered, napped for an hour, then went back to the bike shop. When I got there, I called Paul and he told me our storage room would not be available until Sunday morning, so not to bring the bikes until then. I was really happy, because I had six bikes to finish. Those six bikes also needed a lot of work, but I finished them by 4:30pm and went home. I was really exhausted at that time but had to stay awake so I wouldnít screw up my sleep pattern for the night.
This morning at 11am, I loaded up 15 bikes and hauled them over to the convention center, then came back for the rest. At 1pm I started renting bikes out and talked to people about our bicycle recycling and other programs. Nine bikes rented out, and the people came back all excited and told me about their rides. One guy made it a point to tell me how lucky we are to live here and mentionioned how beautiful the area is around lake Calhoun. Cool! A lot of people talked about how nice our trail system is. Isnít this a good idea? Convention goers get a good deal on bike rentals and they get out there and see our city up close, without wasting gas.
I came home at 5pm and then ran some errands. It was a beautiful day, but hard. There was a lot of sweat in getting this whole thing pulled together. But itís worth it. When I returned for the second load of bikes, David told me I was insane basically. Well, yeah, but for a good cause, itís not a burden.
Wednesday I go pick up the bikes, and I will see how things turn out. Oh, one of the highlights of my day was meeting Dizzy and chatting about his fixed gear bike and other things. I have to thank him too, because he was a huge help to me unloading, at a crucial time when I was frantically trying to get these out before 1pm. He also gave me a good tip on another project Iím working on with teaching kids, so it was perfect timing. Thanks Dizzy!
Now itís time for bed. I have a hard ride in the morning with some GP guys. Not sure if Iím up to it, but Iíll try. Today as I was picking up my second load of bikes David told me I was going to burn out from putting in so much time at the bike shop. I understand what he's saying, but I told him he doesn't see me yet then. When something is important and worth doing, someone has to do it. This is what he preaches all the time: Theology in action. It's fine to talk about things, but even better to put your heart into action. It's not heavy and it's energizing. This last week I charged like a ram and now it's time for a rest for a couple of days, then another vacation for 5 days.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:09 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 27, 2005

Bike Fixing Delirium

Well, I'm almost there. I stayed up all night fixing bikes for this bike rental project. I couldn't have made it without Nathan's help. Thanks Nathan, I can't even express how thankful I am.

These bikes needed a lot of work. For instance, the last one I did had already been repaired once, but the rear derailer wasn't working properly. I looked closer and saw it was a new cable, new housing, etc. But it was the wrong cable for the job. It was too thick and had a coating on it, and was sticking in the housing. And the cable housing was cut too short on the front end and the back so it was bending at really sharp angles. Too bad. I had to redo the whole thing. Another bike I had to just give up and replace the whole front brake. All of this takes time. At six AM I finally called it quits and came home for breakfast, some coffee and a chance to close my eyes for a brief moment. Now I'm headed back to the bike shop to finish and deliver these 30 bikes.

The deadline is today and there was no-one else who seemed to think meeting this deadline was important. Everything else up to this point has taken a higher priority for everyone else and they kept taking the good bikes out of my lineup and selling them, then giving me the junky ones. I don't know why this happened, but I did learn some valuable lessons:

1. There is a huge need for quality improvement all through the organization. The standards have to be set much higher.
2. Next time I won't wait for others to prepare things like this and I'll start the ball rolling myself much sooner. Last night was crunch time, and too late to be doing the kinds of repairs I was doing.
3. I have to keep working on this rental fleet of 30 to improve them and keep them up. I will have this group of bikes ready to rent to any group or convention or event at a moment's notice. Our rentals are the cheapest I've seen anywhere and it's a good way to promote more biking. Imagine if people going to a convention used a bike to get back and forth between their hotels and the convention center. Well, that's the idea anyway. I think it's easier to maintain than to rebuild each time.
4. We need to work on building the mechanical skills of our volunteers. This goes along with improving the quality of the output, but even more than that, I saw a lot of uncertainty and lack of troubleshooting skills, which led to work not being done, ignored or done incorrectly on the bikes people were checking. Volunteers do everything at our shop, so it would be good for everyone to boost those skills. How to do this? More in-house training I think. I might institute a brief tutorial session every Wednesday night for volunteers on different subjects and find one volunteer willing to share their insights with everyone else with a demo.

Ok, enough thoughts, back to work. I'll most more later after I get the job done. My attitude right now? Someone has to do it even if it means me, and that I have to stay up all night to do it. I'm willing to make huge sacrifices to get it done and done right. So is this the right way to think? I don't think there is a right or wrong way, but I feel good about what I did and how I did the repairs to make these bikes safe and meet the deadline.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:27 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 25, 2005

Setting a course requires a captain and a crew

Here is one thing I learned from the seven years of leading a youth group. It's cool to make plans with lofty community and people-saving goals. It's nice to have a well-thought-out plan that develops people. But unless everyone is on board, the ship is headed for the rocks along the shore.
So thank you Andy and Nathan and Tom for jumping on board! It's exciting and we can do some great things together!

Posted by carl1236 at 6:58 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 23, 2005

Priorities

Just when a person thinks their priorities are straight, it all falls apart. As I was wrapping up at the bike shop tonight at 9pm, I kept thinking about something my wife said earlier in the day. I'm spending a lot of time working with the bike shop. So that means I'm not spending enough time at home. It's not hard to understand 'why' I'm doing the things I'm doing, just hard to understand where the balance is going to come from. It seems that everything I get involved in, I really get involved in and go all out. Just when I thought I was slacking off and not doing enough training for bike racing, my wife tells me that I'm spending too much time exercising and that it's 'excessive.' Or probably another good term would be 'obsessive.' It's true, I do get heavily involved in the things I am doing, which tends to make it a higher priority than everything else. We are all faced with limited time, ability and resources. So it becomes a matter of priorities. I'm not sure I have this figured out yet. I do know that once I see a problem it's very hard for me to turn my back on it, even if it means personal sacrifices. Learning healthy prioritizing is a good goal. I have to keep working on it

Posted by carl1236 at 9:54 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 22, 2005

Quality Control = Caring about what you are doing

Tonight I went to the bike shop after work to check and work on the bikes we'll be renting at the convention center for an upcoming event. This is a huge deal and will be important to do right. Low-cost Rental bikes for convention goers is a great idea! They can use them to get from their Hotel to the convention center or to ride around on their free time. Each bike will come with a bike trail map, helmet and lock. We have a fleet of 30 bikes now. But are they ready yet? No. Will they be ready? Yes, but with a lot of work.
I was told that the bikes are all ready to go and I didn't need to check them. A few days ago I spot checked one bike, the third one from the end, and the back brake was completely disconnected! Ok, from that point on I determined to re-check all of them myself. Tonight I started on the end of the row which are the bikes they worked on today. I was there until nine and only got through two bikes!
I won't bore you with the list of problems, but I'm writing them all down and checking them off as I fix them. On the first two bikes I checked tonight, both of them had brake problems, one had a loose bottom bracket that wobbled about a quarter inch! Anyway I fixed most of the problems I found on those two bikes but I still have 28 to go before Thursday night. Not good. I'll be there tomorrow night also and Wednesday night every volunteer will be working on those bikes. If anyone is interested in working on bikes and learning from others as you do it, you can come and help too. 6-8:30pm at the Sibley Bike Depot in St. Paul, Wednesday night.
I care what people will think when they rent these bikes and I care what kind of problems they could have with them. I care about their safety. I care that when I say I fix a bike that it's really fixed. I care about doing the best job I possibly can and not cutting corners or blowing it off. I care because it's a good way to be. Quality control takes care of itself when we care.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:50 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Dreamland

Yesterday was a strange, dream-like day for me. I was up very late Saturday night because of the bike movies at the Bell and hanging out talking with David and others. But I still got up at 6am. Being short on sleep makes the whole day seem kind of out of balance. I did some things at home, went to the coffee shop for some coffee and read the newspaper, then came home to get ready for a bike ride. I rode the dumpster bike for about 30 miles. I met Terry at the bottom of the High Bridge and rode along the river bluff, down behind the old Brewery to Shepard Road. We watched the In-line skaters doing the marathon. The road was blocked off to automobile traffic but we were riding on the bike trail. Terry was having fun crushing water bottles that the skaters had thrown down. Evidently there was a crew coming behind later to pick up all those bottles? I would think it would be more efficient If they would have to skate by a barrel and throw the empty water bottle in.
We rode up around Fort Snelling and along Minnehaha to the Hub bicycle co-op. That wasn't our original plan, but Terry had never been there, and had only heard about them. He told me, "That's our competition," and that sent up a red flag for me. Terry is a super volunteer that puts in a lot of time at the bike depot. He pretty much doesn't go to any other bike shops and could care less about 'competition,' so where does he get thoughts like that? I think it comes from the mentality of others that are in charge of the ship and he picks up on it, like a child repeats the words of the parents. Seeing the other bike shops as competition is not actually the way some of us believe though. We've started to have some discussion about how we can work together to make a better biking community. There are interesting changes coming up for our non-profit group and it has everything to do with cooperation and working together.
But the stop at the bike shop was originally unplanned. We were going to ride the Greenway, but never made it. Both of our chains were squeaking so I told Terry we should stop and get some lube so he thought it was a good idea. We bought some and the ride home was much more pleasant on the ears.
We then rode back along Lake Street to the River, then South on East River Road to Summit and back to Downtown St. Paul. My time was up. I had to meet my wife to go pick up a new bed. I thanked Terry for the ride and headed up Smith Avenue again. I discovered that whatever gear I put that in seems pretty comfortable going up Smith. I think it's a 15 or 16 tooth ring.
We picked up the bed and brought it home. It's huge! We got a King-Sized bed and box spring set with four sets of sheets for free, and our bed was shot so we brought it home. Then we discovered that King-sized beds don't fit up our old-house stairwell. Now what? We really bent that mattress like it was a contortionist and barely got it through and up the stairs. That took almost all evening to do. Then I showered and cut my hair. That's haircut number three by the way and my barber kit is paid for. The next haircut is free. I'm still having trouble with getting the taper in the back to look tapered instead of lopped off, but it'll come with practice.
Collapsing on the bed last night was great. I've never slept in a bed where my feet didn't hang over the end, or close. Now it's like the other edge of the bed is a foreign country or at least another zip code. It was so nice though that I feel into a good sleep right away. I had an interesting dream about the bike shop and the people there. It was a dream about change. Change is scary for most people and in my dream I was talking to everyone and helping them get through their fears of change. The only thing that was a constant in the dream was that 'change' was inevitable. There was no way we were keeping anything the way it was. Nothing would remain static. So in my dream we were discussing ways to deal with change. One of them was coming to an agreement between us that change is going to happen and that there is no problem or challenge that we can't resolve together. Isn't that so true?! Everything in life changes, but if we work together, everything is easier to deal with. Our burdens become lighter. When we are not facing change alone our fears dissipate.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:10 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 19, 2005

Community Development

I looked around downtown and saw a bunch of new condo developments. I saw an ad for one last week and it touted the 'sense of community' in this development. Each unit was selling for about 300,000 dollars. Each unit has an underground parking space and a nice little patio hanging off the side of the building. The construction looks to me like 1980's low income housing, designed to minimize costs and increase profits. The ad pictures people gathering in the central mini-plaza/park and laughing and talking. The picture I see has nothing to do with community. The condo people don't hang out together, the surrounding buildings are low-income and full of artful characters, collaborating on ideas. The guy from the Artist's building a few blocks over is working on the brochure for the nightclub where he frequently hangs out. The guy running the coffee stand opens the door early on a Saturday morning for the guys in the bike shop and has the coffee ready for them. The condo's I see don't participate. The condo's I see were built on a promise that can't be fulfilled. The community is active and bustling with activity down in the streets, between the cracks of the highrise steel and glass and parking ramps. The developers see dollar signs and market 'community' which people desire. We think it's cool, we like connecting with other people and helping each other out. It's too bad the thing they claim creates community will ultimately choke it off until it can't live or is forced to move on. Instead of community development it looks more like displacement.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:25 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 8, 2005

The Others

WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE "THE OTHERS" AND DON'T WANT ME TO REVEAL THE PLOT, STOP READING NOW. ;-)

This morning I got up early again and for some reason my daughter was up already watching a movie. She had "The Others," with Nicole Kidman. It's a story about Ghosts haunting a house, but with a twist. The whole movie is focused on a mother and her children who are living in an English mansion. Her husband had gone off to fight in WWII against the Nazi's. Then her housekeepers just up and vanished so she called to get another housekeeper and an older couple and their daughter showed up at the door one day. But they had a special reason for being there. They were there to help this woman and her children realize the truth about their lives. Wierd things began happening in the house and the mother and children began seeing a 'ghost' family. That's where it gets interesting. There is a huge twist in the plot and we discover that the mother, her two children and the housekeeper family are all the real ghosts and the 'ghosts' they saw were a flesh-and-blood family that had moved into the house. That family left the house because the wife couldn't stand the thought of living in a haunted house. Then the real 'ghost' family decided that they were going to continue haunting their house because they didn't really have a choice. They couldn't leave but the difference now was that they understood who they were and that they were not in the physical world as they knew it. The mother remembered then that she was the one that had smothered her children and then shot herself in the head with a shotgun, and that's what got them into this predicament. At the end she made amends with her children and they all lived happily ever after in the ghost world, prisoners of their house and yard with a thick fog surround them. They vowed that this would always be their house, possessing it until some unspecified time in the future. In the end the mother also admitted to the daughter that she really didn't know anything about her religion while she was living. I guess from that point on, they knew that they were ghosts. But then what? What happened to their Hail-Mary's and Lord's Prayers'? Maybe it wasn't "What" they believed in that was screwed up, but "How" they believed in it. But from their point of view, it didn't matter, because what they knew during their physical life no longer seemed valid. I don't know about them, but I would have felt ripped off, deceived.
Often when our lives seem so real and right, it's not always the truth. Sometimes we are living in denial. We get gentle prompts from friends, relatives, co-workers or other acquaintences that something is not right. The truth in the case of these ghosts brought them peace while they were stuck in their limbo. The truth in our lives can also bring us peace. For instance, when we are addicted to drugs, alcohol or have depression, we often are in denial until some traumatic experience shakes us up and makes us realize we were lying to ourselves. After we realize it, we can move forward and deal with it, no longer afraid to face it.
There have been several similar themes in movies, like the Matrix and Sixth Sense.
It's a brave new world when we start to become aware of our true lives and FEAR no longer covers our eyes. What do we have to be afraid of? Being dead?

Posted by carl1236 at 9:17 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 3, 2005

Live according to our own truth

Too often we react to the outside world and stop living according to our own ideals and the way we believe we should live.

Gail Pursell Elliot wrote in her Food for Thought article that we should like what we do. She said, ďWhat really defines us is our approach to what we find ourselves doing, not the job itself. We may not always do what we would like but we can find something to like about what we do.Ē In her article she also quoted a man named Kent Kieth as saying, ďIf you're not giving the world the best you have, what world are you saving it for?" - Kent Keith

To tie these two people with good messages together, Gail and Kent, I searched the internet for the name Kent Keith. I like to find out who these quoted people are and other things theyíve said. In my quick search however, I could not find anything official on Kent Kieth. I did find a blog with something he wrote though:
Ryan Masuga wrote about Kent Kiethís 10 Rules for Living:
http://www.masuga.com/?p=266

For your reference, here is the link to Gailís website: http://www.innovations-training.com/index.htm You can subscribe to the free ďFood for ThoughtĒ newsletter, attend her training and buy her books on Mobbing and Dignity and respect. I like Gail because she always has a message about how to treat other people like weíd like to be treated. Kind of the golden rule in day-to-day terms.

Ryan makes a good point about not taking things personally. We should continue to live in the best way we know how regardless of how otherís are choosing to live.

Posted by carl1236 at 2:32 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "CHANGE"

August 2, 2005

Change requires discipline

It's 9pm and this 'morning person' has to go to bed. 21 mile ride in the morning. I'm going to try to get up at 5 am tomorrow instead of 6. Man this is hard. I don't even feel tired now. But it will be worth it. That is if I really have the discipline to do this.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:04 PM | Attitude | CHANGE

Category "Attitude"

July 29, 2005

25-Minutes

Tonight I watched an old Star Trek Next Generation episode where Captain Picard lived a whole life-time on a dying planet in 25 minutes. Very interesting situation to contemplate. On this planet he had a wife and children. When his daughter was grown his advice to her was something like, "Don't wait. Make the most of this life now. Live now." He knew that the planet was dying.
The Picard of the Enterprise was lucky because he had a chance to live two lives. Or maybe not so lucky because he had to live on in Picards body after having lived an entire life in another body. In any case, It gives me some things to think about. I love life and belive that we should all not wait until we are dying to live. I'll take that 25 minutes now.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:19 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 27, 2005

Joe's Response

Ok, so remember yesterday's post about the Bob Sansevere (I mistakingly thought it was Joe Soucheray because of the tone of this one) article in the Pioneer Press? After writing an email to him, he did not respond to me. But Another writer, Joe Soucheray wrote another scathing article (which I won't link to). His attitude seems to be flippant and disrespectful to bike riders who are doing something to make themselves more fit and save energy. Joe snottily says, "I asked a guy the other afternoon...[It's a rare occasion when one of 'this type' actually stops next to you at a red light, but when they do, ask them]...Can you name five top-flight cyclists besides Lance Armstrong? He swung his head to look at me. I was evil. I was burning gasoline. 'Bug off' he said, or words to that effect..."

Who is the evil one? The one burning the gasoline and acting like he owns the road or the one riding the bike?

I found out my friend Dan wrote this letter to the paper in response...

"Your recent articles on Lance/biking are truly creepy and could not be more out of touch with reality. I realize that you are just ignorant like the majority of motorheads in our country, but what is scary is that you'd write about something you know nothing about. FYI, bikers prefer to wear moisture-wicking fabrics with rear pockets (called jerseys) and virtually all of these are sold colorful (to help drivers see you) and are sold with sponsorship logos of some type (for advertising purposes, which brings down the cost to buyers). And it seems obvious (but I'm sure not to you) that the purpose of tight fitting clothes is for aerodynamics and avoidance of getting fabric caught on the seat or bike.

And regarding bikers disregarding traffic laws, why do you waste your breath generalizing about a group of people (I thought journalists tried to avoid making such a major blunder). If this is your goal why don't you mention the 99% of people who are so lazy, wasteful and careless that they use a polluting 3000 pound machine for transportation when all that is needed is a 25 pound bike to accomplish the same thing. I have found that there is virtually no need to even drive a car in the metro area. While I own a car, I only drive it about 1,000 miles per year while I bike 11,000-12,000 miles per year. My round trip commute to work (from Brooklyn Center to downtown St. Paul) is 42 miles and I bike it almost every day (I have only driven my car to work twice in the past four years). I have never understood how people can waste their time sitting in a car when they could be enjoying the ride on a bike and getting exercise at the same time (it's a shame that most people are like you and don't know the pure joy and euphoric adrenalin you get from cycling). It only takes me 10 minutes longer to bike to work than drive and the faster I go the more fun it is (which explains your claim of "riders racing through the city streets").

And during all my rides, I stop and wait at every red light (partly because I know I'll see the same drivers later and for my own safety I don't want to lose their respect). And the vast majority of other bikers I see do the same, although some don't (which is irritating) just like some drivers don't. So why do you single out bikers when the same percentage of drivers disobey traffic laws, especially when a driver's violation risks other people's lives, while a biker is risking only his own life by going through a stop sign? And why don't you write an article about the 100% of drivers who exceed the speed limit? While I have read some horrible articles by you in the past, this ranks as one of the worst. I mean you can't possibly get more pathetic than to say "will the streets of St. Paul and Minneapolis quiet down?" If you really want the streets to quiet down, get out of your SUV and bike (you'll save the planet, prevent war, reduce traffic congestion, improve your health, reduce health care costs, save money, have fun and improve your quality of life at least 300%). If you had the least bit of sense, you'd see beyond the Lance-factor and you'd be encouraging cycling and praising Lance for everything he's done."

Sure it's free speech to trash bicycle enthusiasts (and people who care about the environment), but is it helpful to our society and is it warranted? It's like someone running around swearing. They sound tough, but are all hot air. As long as he's not willing to give up his car and ride a bike, he's in no position to call anyone "Red Devils in Yellow Jerseys"

There is no real response to people like this. Maybe boycott the paper or something. I'm thinking about that. But it probably won't do any good, because papers sell on controversy.

Anyway, I loved Dan's response letter. Enjoy.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:51 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 26, 2005

Owning the Road

Today I read an article by Bob Sansevere in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He seems kind of like a jerk toward other people. Is he always this way? Anyway, his column was titled, "Lance wannabes hog roads."
I don't usually like to blog about newspaper articles, because it's not new news that people can't get by picking up a newspaper and reading it themselves. And my commentary may or may not really add anything of value to the article.
But today I'm going to talk about the article in a round-about way. I'm going to share the email I sent to Bob Sansivere and not link to his article. You can look it up. My favorite quote from his writing is, "The problem is, there are far too many SOBs (Spandex-Obsessed Bicyclists) who think they own whatever road they're on."

Here is the email I sent to him, and as soon as he writes a response, I'll be sure to post it here as a follow up. If he responds at all, it will be interesting what approach he takes in writing a response. Will he:
A) Write a mocking response.
B) Write an apologetic response.
C) Get defensive
D) Be argumentative and show how right he is.
E) Not respond at all.
F) Other.

"Hi Bob,

I read your article, "Lance wannabes hog roads," in today's Pioneer Press. It's not your most attractive attitude.
The problem is, there are far too many automobile drivers who think they own whatever road they are on. What gives automobile drivers the right to endanger bicycle rider's lives? Speed? Tons of steel isolating them from the outside world? Impatience? Bicycles do belong on the road and own it. Automobiles traveling in the same vicinity are more lethal to bicycles and pedestrians (and other cars), therefore have a greater responsibility to respect the human beings walking and riding a bicycle. If you think bicycles on the road are annoying, you should try riding a bike and experiencing being tailgated and physically and verbally threatened by an automobile driver. Where is the respect and love for our fellow human beings in that? Slow down. Share the road.

John"

My second favorite quote from Bob Sansivere is, "While it is massively impressive that Armstrong overcame cancer to win a record number of Tour de France titles, I hold him directly responsible for the surge in scofflaw bicyclists."

I hold Bob Sansivere directly responsible for his lack of love for human beings who happen to be traveling by bicycles. His kind of attitude is also why we had to make laws to protect pedestrians walking in crosswalks. A couple years ago I was hit by a pickup truck driver when I was crossing a street in a marked crosswalk, almost to the center of the road by the centerline. The driver zoomed up to the crosswalk, not even seeing me two feet from his truck, then proceeded to turn left without stopping. I was spun around by the driver's side mirror on his truck and was lucky to not be lying dead on the road because of his driving. I ask Bob Sansivere, and every driver of a motorized vehicle, who is going to do more bodily damage to another human being?A pedestrian/bicycle or a pickup truck? By law bicycle riders do own the road along with motorized vehicle drivers, but who is more likely to cause the death of another human being?

My guess is that he will not respond to my email. Or if he does, he will still be clueless about how to treat other people with love and respect. We'll see. Any guesses on his response?

Posted by carl1236 at 5:38 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 25, 2005

Another Rainy-Day Blog Entry

Today riding home from work in the rain I was soaked! I threw a bag over my backpack to protect it then just went on out there and rode my bike in the rain. It was so much fun it reminded me of when I was a kid. We used to play in the rain and were almost giddy at the experience. There is something about playing in the rain that's energizing.

In the past I wouldn't have done this. Now I wonder why it took me so long to get back to it. That's the shame about growing up sometimes; some of our attitude changes are not for the better. I did not melt, I had absolute fun and it was cooler than riding in the hot humidity. We often make excuses not to do something because of our attitudes, not because we physically can't do it.

Life is very good. Especially when riding a bicycle in the rain!

Posted by carl1236 at 6:05 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 23, 2005

Thinning Out

Moving time is always stressful, with things to sort through, organize and pack. And usually we end up working under a time crunch. Iíve moved a lot in my life. There was one stretch when we moved seven times in seven years. Each time Iíve noticed something: Moving is also a time to take an inventory of our lives. Sure the stuff we own is not really who we are, but it is a snapshot of the many things weíve done and our interests over the years. When we are going through everything packing, carrying and unpacking into a new setting, our things donít always fit our vision of the future. For instance, Iíve been building a library in my house. Today I carried down a few boxes of books from the attic and found a stack of military books which were once very useful to me. Now Iím so far removed from the military that I donít think Iíd ever need these books again. My life at one time was entrenched in the military lifestyle, and my career depended on military skills and knowledge. The same is true for C programming books. I used to do it, but that was over 4 years ago and I havenít touched it since and donít plan on doing it ever again. At one time I devoted hundreds, thousands of hours to programming. Not so much now. These objects I own are snapshots of my hopes, dreams, devotions, and determination of past times. Touching these things gives me a chance to examine these snapshots and evaluate where I am at in life. But Life is not the snapshot. Itís a continuously flowing, changing stream. We are changing. We are life that is changing. Snapshots are static glimpses of part of that process. Like Julian Lennonís ďPhotograph SmileĒ song, often these images donít tell the story of our struggles and pain. If someone else were to look at them they might see the photograph smile. They see the snapshot but not the feelings and emotions that went into our lives at the time.
Today we helped Dave and his wife move to a new house. A lot of people showed up to help. It was really cool. Looking around I saw people from the bicycle world and people from the music world. Daveís a great musician and some of his friends are really talented. As we were moving they couldnít resist picking up one of his guitars that was sitting out and playing a little. It was very interesting and also a part of Dave I have not met yet. Guitars, keyboards, other musical instruments are all snapshots of the emotions, dreams, time and energy of this man Iíve only been able to associate with bikes. But we all have lives that keep going on, inside and outside, visible and invisible, flowing like a river. When talking with Dave about the future, he said, ďMy life is a like barge flowing downstream quickly. Thereís no changing course until it reaches the end.Ē Along the way there are a lot of encounters and experiences, but it flows on.
As we were helping Dave move, we saw some of the snapshots of his life, but we didnít see the whole photo album. They had worked really hard before we arrived to have us move only what they wanted to keep. If they are anything like me though, going through all of that stuff brought back a lot of memories. There are some very good memories and some very bad ones. But life goes on and sometimes itís important to thin out. Our stuff is not really who we are, but pictures of things we were involved in. Sometimes we can spend so much time holding on to the snapshots and miss the flowing river. Or to put it another way, we can spend so much energy trying to get our barge to carry everything downstream with us that we cannot enjoy the ride and we sink under the weight of it. Going through my stuff, I can evaluate where I am and where Iím going. Life will go on, but itís always changing and I can decide what to do and how to do it every step of the way. Itís a little easier to do that when Iím ok with thinnning out a little. It creates room in my new space, my present, for new opportunities to love, experience adventures, challenges and choices.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:07 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 22, 2005

What was good about today

At the end of the day I find it's always good to look back and find something good about the day. What was it that I learned? What did I accomplish? What act of kindness did I do? Did I treat others fairly?
Tonight I got to thank Andy for writing some very nice words about me. I also got to help him with a bike for his dad. Very cool British 3-speed by the way ;-)
I also straightened up the shop more and arranged for my brother to come and help fix the computer. He did a great job and it works again! I can't even express how thankful I am for that. As a result, I got to have him over for dinner tonight. That was cool.
I went to see Jeff Ray play for an hour tonight! That's a good sound!
Actually now that I'm thinking about it, there are a lot more things about today that were good, but now it's bedtime and tomorrow I'm helping Dave move. Another good day in the works! Have a great Saturday!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 21, 2005

You expect me to run this ship?

Sometimes we just have to try. No matter how hard it is. Tonight I saw a perfect reflection of something I'm going through right now. We had the movie, "The hunt for Red October" on. In the movie the Soviets in a Submarine were defecting. The captain of a U.S. sub and some others boarded the Red October and were about to accept their surrender. Then another Soviet sub started firing on them. The Americans and the Soviets on the Red October began manning the stations and evading the other Soviet sub. How on under the sea did they do that? I would think that the controls of their sub would serve similar functions but the layout and organization and shape and design of the equipment wouldn't be identical would it? But the Americans on the Red October jumped right in and started evading and firing and eventually beat the skilled Soviet adversary. Except for the American CIA guy, the other crew members didn't need any instructions and they outperformed a trained Soviet crew. There's nothing like fighting a battle in a foreign submarine. I think it's worth it though. It doesn't matter that there are torpedos coming at me. The Red October is worth saving and the lives of the crew are worth saving. Even if it is foreign to me, I can crew this sub because I have to. It makes a difference.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:26 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 20, 2005

Some people are bullies

Bullies think that threats are the way to get people to do what they want.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 19, 2005

Health and Longevity

Right now Iím reading a book about health and longevity. In this book the author relates the effects of our Socio-economic Position (SEP) with the health and longevity of people. Itís very interesting. Evidently there is a huge gap in the length of life between the wealthy, powerful and the poor, powerless. Itís easy to point the finger at lack of health care, etc. but itís not that easy. According to the author even in 10-15 year studies where the rich, poor, lower status employees and the highest status employees had the exact same health care, those with less money and status had shorter lives and more health problems. Another obvious answer was in diet. Many lower-status/income people eat less fruit and whole grains. They also have higher rates of smoking and eating fatty, high cholesterol foods. Diet accounts for some of the life expectancy related to SEP, but even in studies where the diet was the same, the differences in SEP life expectancy was still huge. The main gist of all of this was that all of the other baggage that comes along with our SEP effects our health and longevity the most. Our attitude and the way we think has the greatest impact on our health and longevity!
This is probably no surprise to people who study this kind of thing, but to us uninformed in general society, especially those of us with little money and status, it should come as an eye opener. Do people deserve to live longer lives and be healthier because of their SEP? In my opinion for this situation to change, itís not the wealth or status of people that needs to change, but the attitudes.
What attitudes could effect our health and longevity?
A sense of self-worth/value.
Care, attention to our own health and well being.
Stress.
Worry.
Fear.
Happiness.
Enjoyment.
Challenge.
As sense of purpose.
Love
Hate, angerÖ

Probably a lot of things can be attributed to our attitudes. Thatís why people have said that we create our own realities. For instance, if we view the world as Ďagainst usí then it will be. If we have purpose and determination, then the reality we create is fulfillment of purpose.

It gives me something to think about as I have purposefully and systematically decreased my social and economic status in this society over the past 5-10 years. Today for instance, I turned down an opportunity to do some specialized GIS software training for $125.00 per hour. It would have been an easy $500.00. I have now ridden my totally free dumpster bike that looks like crap for over a week and itís been a liberating experience. In our society there is this constant lust after the perceived ďbigger, better, more efficient, higher status, more respectful, etc.Ē I carry my own respect in knowing this bike was discarded and no one, even the homeless guys wanted it. And itís a pure pleasure to ride! It gets me from point A to point B. I had the freedom to dig this piece of junk out and turn it into something functioning and useful to me. Will I die sooner because of my plan to reduce my SEP? I donít think so! My self-worth is not tied to my position, rank, earning status, purchasing power, education level, etc. but based on a God given base of spiritual equality between every living thing.
Fear eats away at us in more ways than one.

To your health!

Posted by carl1236 at 12:06 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 18, 2005

Haircut Number 2

Yesterday I gave myself haircut number 2 with the Wahl home-haircutting system I bought. At a conservative $10 per haircut estimate, it will take exactly 3 self-administered haircuts to pay for this equipment. In two weeks Iíll do this again and from that point on Iíll be saving $10.00 per haircut (minimum). This is a handy skill. For now Iíll keep learning on myself and practicing haircutting techniques. So far Iím totally happy with the look of my tapered crew cut. Iíve been using 4 different sizes of attachments for the clipper, the largest being ľ inch, and I think itís just right. It is sure cooler for cycling, especially with this heat wave!
The hardest part of this whole maneuver is using double mirrors to cut the back. Itís almost easier to close my eyes and feel my way through it, cutting in the proper zones with each attachment. Eye-hand coordination seems most difficult when looking into the hand mirror at the bathroom mirror and then trying to move the clipper left or right. Itís confusing to the brain. But once I get my hand in the correct position and make a few motions, my brain kind of gets the hang of it, like a special game or something. As long as I donít look away even briefly, I move my hand correctly relative to where I want it to go on my head. But when I look away, itís all over. I have to reorient my brain to the mirrored image and figure out how to turn my hand. Isnít it great how our brains adapt to whatever circumstances we throw at it? Sure it takes a little practice but it can be done. This is kind of like writing left handed, which Iíve tried before with limited success. I bet Iíd do better at that now that Iím older and can cut hair using a couple of mirrors! Our learned programming in our brain CAN be relearned!

Posted by carl1236 at 4:31 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 15, 2005

Renewing my Driver's License

Today after work I rode my bike over to Sears, just north of Downtown St. Paul to renew my driver's license. I had to wait for 45 minutes because there were tons of people there! I've kind of let this task slide for a while because I really haven't been driving a motorized vehicle but instead have been riding my bicycle everywhere. But I felt this strong compelling urging inside to get this done now! So I did. I didn't plan on doing this today but now it's done. It's really wierd, but I didn't really care about it. But I did not go as far as another guy I've heard of that actually went to the Department of Motor Vehicles and turned in his license. I felt like I could have though. I remember when I was in high school and wanted so badly to drive. It was a passage to adulthood and independance. I went through driver's ed, took the test and got my first car as soon as I could. But now It wasn't even an exciting process to renew my license. It was kind of sad, because I really prefer riding my bike to driving a car now.
As I was riding the couple of miles back home, each pedal stroke reminded me of why I'm doing this and how good it is. My heart was pumping, I was sweating and my blood was flowing. In my car I would have missed that, and I would have had the air conditioning on with the windows rolled up. I have a driver's license but I don't think it will be used a whole lot in the coming years.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 12, 2005

The Dumpster Bike

Today at work my bike was stolen so I was stranded at work. But then by God's grace I found a dumpster bike. It's and old Schwinn 10 speed that's in pretty sorry shape. But I qickly disconnected the derailer, shortened the chain and made it a single speed, patched up the tires, adjusted the brakes and rode it home.
For nothing I rode it home. It was a good day. Going up the Ohio hill though was brutal. I don't know how you single-speed, fixed gear's do it! Maybe you are flatlanders.
I plan on riding this bike in place of my stolen bike as a commuter bike, but I have to go the longer route home because the slope is more gradual. I could replace the derailer but why? In the original Tour de France they didn't have derailers.
It's too bad that whoever threw this bike out didn't know how valuable it is. It will make an excellent replacement for my commuter bike.

Now I just have to figure out how to convert this freewheel into a fixed gear. I think Sheldon Brown had an article on that...

I'm happy my bike was stolen. Someone else gets a good ride and so do I.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:12 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 5, 2005

We have to be out of our minds!

Freedom comes to those that have lost their heads! The idea is that our minds complicate things sometimes. First, there are the things we have learned, engraved in our memories. These things often limit us by not allowing us to see new ways of doing or thinking. Also, many things we have been taught are not really the absolute truth but one viewpoint. If we continue in our present state of knowledge, unchallenged, lacking updates, we could be dead.
Secondly, logic doesnít account for love. Our mind has itís place but the way things work out is not always rational, thought out. Remember the Vulcans on Star Trek? They were constantly trying to get rid of their emotions to become pure logic. It never worked. Our minds tell us one thing, and itís usually very logical, but our hearts tell us something else. Sometimes we need to follow our hearts. A common question after a major fight between lovers is, ďcould you still love me after what I did?Ē Surprisingly, illogically the answer is yes. Forgiveness for others and even for ourselves is often outside of our mindís comprehension.
We have to take a look around us. If our life is not working then isnít it time to change it? The first step is to forget everything we have learned and get out of our head. Start fresh; change the attitudes and thoughts that are causing our suffering. Then create a new head, one that is guided by our hearts. This kind of transplant saved my life. Freedom is a constant process of renewal.

Posted by carl1236 at 2:50 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 28, 2005

Serendipity

Serendipity is the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for. In the book ďThe Road Less Traveled,Ē M. Scott Peck, M.D. says that it happens to everyone, but not everyone recognizes it or takes advantage of it. Either we are not fully aware of itís presence or we donít appreciate the value of it. If these events are happening to us all of the time, how many have we let slip by? There is no way of knowing, but we can learn to watch for these events and learn to see the value in our encounters.
Tonight I had a very good meeting with a couple of friends that helped me clarify my thoughts and set goals for me to work on. Thatís not what we were meeting about at all, but by the time we were done I had an outline of tasks that I had to take care of, which I was planning on doing in the next two weeks anyway. But now I have focus and more concrete ideas. I didnít call the meeting. I didnít expect this outcome. But I appreciated the gift that will help me be more effective.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:39 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 27, 2005

No more Bike Shop Reviews

Recently I wrote about my experience at One-on-one Bike Studio and before that, Freewheel Bikes, and before that Erik's and since then Behind Bars. Several people spoke up in defense of Freewheel and One-On-One bike shops. Some were critical of me and my attributes as an objective first-time visitor to the shop. I really donít have anything against the people at Freewheel or one-on-one and they and their loyal fans are right about one thing: One visit is not enough to really know the people involved. I can tell you about my experience and the condition of the shop and the service I received, but that really is not the whole picture. I really do try to get to know the real person behind the public face, except this time. I didnít give it enough time.
Stacey wrote a really good response in this blog:
http://aflowercallednowhere.blogspot.com/2005/06/in-defense-of-one-on-one-bike-studio.html

Also, One-on-Oneís very own blog linked to this. One June 23 they posted a copy of my blog entry: http://www.oneononebike.com/117.php

You guys at One-on-one are interesting and good people and really I apologize for not approaching my blog entry from a more humanistic approach. I shouldnít have even called it a Ďreviewí because it wasnít an accurate picture of the people involved. I know and understand that everyone is just trying to live life the best they know how. Looking at my own blog entry, I realize that I was accurate in relating my own experience at this bike shop, but if it was me, I would not have liked a review like this. I would also get a little defensive.

Really, on this subject, why am I even writing bike-shop reviews when I really intend on writing about my experience? I do think all of us should treat others like equal human beings and not marginalize each other. If I were a journalist, which Iím not, I would have really talked to the people there and got to know them so I could produce an accurate picture, which I did not do. All I did was produce a snapshot of one experience from the point of view of an outsider. Itís not my place or desire to tell anyone what they should or should not be doing and that was never my intent. Itís also not my intent to convince anyone against patronizing a particular bike shop.
So I will stop doing Ďreviewsí and frame everything differently. From a more human viewpoint. A fellow-human viewpoint.

So, I noticed I have been critical of some of the customer service at the Sibley Bike Depot in St. Paul too, where I have been putting in a lot of volunteer hours fixing bikes and doing other things, like making scrap runs and cleaning out the woods of old discarded bike parts, helping teach kids how to fix their bikes, hauling the trailer to different places to pick up bike donations and so on.
I have been critical of the way the old-time, insider volunteers are critical of the newbies and members who come in to fix their own bikes. Iíve been critical of the parts vultures hanging out looking for the best things to come in so they can snatch them up for their own needs. These are usually the people most critical of other volunteers. Iíve found that people in any organization can create their own little terfdoms and once theyíre established they donít want it to change.
I have also been critical of the mess at Sibley bike depot, but itís a recycling center and used bike shop. There will be broken bikes and parts all over until they are fixed and parts organized. I find it very difficult to find the tools and parts I need, even though we have tons of parts and 4 workbenches full of tools. (Try to find the Cotter Press for cottered-cranks sometime!) I remember when I went into One-on-one bike shop. In the back of the basement, I saw a layer of bike parts on the floor and even tools buried under the layers. I remember thinking, ďAt least Sibley bike depot is not that messy.Ē But it has been at times since then.
I like the model of the Sibley Bike Depot though as a recycling center, community bike shop, self-service center, education center and bicycle advocacy center. It doesnít always live up to those ideals though. As I have been volunteering I have been observing itís impact on the community it is part of. So last week I made the decision to join the board of directors of the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance, which uses the bike shop for itís overall mission of bicycle advocacy. This should also mean a support of the bicycling community throughout the Twin-Cities and greater Minnesota.
All I have proven is that I really donít know the bicycling community out there. Iíve learned to be a good bike mechanic myself, Iíve helped others learn how to fix their bikes, Iíve fixed a lot of bikes for people who couldnít afford a bike in the first place, like the guy from the Dorothy Day Center who pulled his bike from a dumpster. On our group ride his back wheel was rubbing on the frame! He rode that way without complaining all the way to Minnehaha Falls from downtown St. Paul! I took the time to true up his wheel the best I could and adjust his derailers. At the same time I was explaining to him how I was doing it. He was ecstatic about it and enjoyed the ride back much more. But I am far from an expert on the bike business, and have a lot to learn. Itís a start. My new mission at the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance is to bring back a focus on community building through the vehicle of bicycles.

I think bicycles as a way of transportation make a lot of sense in many ways. Itís good for the environment, good for our bodies and good for the soul. It is liberation from the expenses, lies and bondage of the Automobile culture.
I still plan on visiting all of the bike shops I can and finding ways to strengthen their communities not weaken them.

This blog entry is an apology to Freewheel bike people and One-On-One bike people, owners, workers and devoted customers (Yah, and even Erik's customers and employees also) I may not shop there for my own reasons, but I've since met some people who are getting a lot out of the group rides they do that are sponsored by them.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:21 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 26, 2005

A bike ride, breakfast, Star Wars, dinner and a bike ride

I want to talk about something that a lot of people call 'coincidence.' Some people call this 'Fate.' Whatever it's called, it happened to me this morning. I am happy that I'm aware of it when it happens. I was in the right place at the right time, when I should have been somewhere else.
This morning I set out at 6:15am to ride to Lake Nokomis to meet with Jim and whoever else showed up for the ride. I was really looking forward to the social ride and breakfast with them. Jim is a great guy that I rode 150 miles with a little while ago. I had never been to Lake Nokomis and I looked on a map to see how to get there, and I ended up getting twisted around on a few streets south of the lake before finally getting onto Minnehaha Parkway and reaching the Community center. I arrived at 7:09. Nine minutes too late. Well, I felt like I just missed missed them and was really dissappointed. So I felt a bit sorry for myself for a few minutes, then looked around at where I was. I was amazed. It's really a beautiful park with nice trails. There were plenty of people out using them and enjoying the morning either walking, running or bicycling. I had never been to Lake Nokomis before so I decided to ride around it. It's not very big but it was really cool. Two people commented on my new yellow flat-bed trailer which I was taking on it's maiden voyage.
After riding around the lake I wasn't prepared to go home yet, and I had forgotten to write down the place they were meeting for breakfast, so I decided to just ride back to Minnehaha Falls and then across the Ford Parkway bridge and see where it took me. I was on an adventure and just soaking in the surroundings and enjoying every minute of it. This is where I entered into the twighlight zone, or in other words, being in the right place at the right time when I should have been riding and eating breakfast with Jim and company. As I was riding across the Ford Parkway bridge, some guy pulled up along side of me and yelled, "Nice trailer!" I waved to him and he pulled off the road up ahead. I pedaled up to him and stopped behind his car. He had a bike partially sticking out of the trunk of his car. He got out and we started talking about the trailer and bikes and he asked me if I knew anyplace to rent 20 bikes for a conference he's organizing. His idea is to put together a hotel/bike package for the conference members. I told him about the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance and he said he had just looked at their website yesterday! He was going to call them tomorrow to see what we could work out. I couldn't believe it. We exchanged information and he was going to send me an email later in the day detailing his proposal. I'm sure we can help him and I look forward to taking on this project. We'll also be leading some rides in the evenings around the lakes in Minneapolis for something to do. Also we are going to provide bike racks and locks for the convention site. We connected and it was good. He didn't know anything about me when he stopped me, except that I had a very interesting looking trailer. And it seems to me that he was a little bold to even stop someone to strike up a conversation. But I liked him instantly and thought he had a great idea.
This is a reinforcement for me of a spiritual idea: If we let disappointment or mishaps destroy our ability to observe and live in the current moment, like me being 9 minutes too late to go on the group ride, then we are too distracted and filled with anger that we miss the opportunities we have in front of us. I could have stormed off back home feeling sorry for myself or do what I did. I aknowledged my disappointment and allowed myself to feel it. Then I turned my attention to my current situation. Look at where I was! It was beautiful and the morning was nice. I decided to check it out. When going home I followed my heart and had a chance encounter that I wouldn't have had if I had ridden home by the most direct route. Instead of regret for missing out, I'm filled with awe and thankfulness for what I did experience.

Then I spent the rest of the day with my wife. It was really good. we went for a very nice bike ride together after the movie and dinner. What a great day! Right where I was meant to be.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:27 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 24, 2005

The best laid plans...

My fitness plans get put aside when I stay up too late. This morningís ride was a bust because I was up too late last night. But I had a nice morning with a cup of coffee and watched a special on TV about the building of the Queen Mary II Luxury liner cruise ship. Itís the largest cruise ship in the world. This thing has itís own wastewater treatment plant onboard that treats wastewater biologically back to drinking water standards! They then use the treated water to wash the decks and do laundry. This ship is so large and complex that even the best plans had problems. After 5 years of work by thousands of people, it finally went out to sea for itís first tests. Engines failed to start, controls failed and the force of the bow thrusters blew one of the doors completely off. It sunk to the bottom of the ocean. But evidently they learned a lot from the failures of the Queen Elizabeth II because that ship had to limp back into port after major problems.
I found this whole process very interesting but I probably wonít be riding on this cruise ship in my lifetime. At 1500 to 30000 dollars for admission, this floating city isnít on my list of places to visit. It is an amazing engineering feat though.
This morning I was supposed to go pick up a load of bicycles that are being donated to the bike shop but Dave was supposed to call Bill to help me, and then get back to me to see when he could do it. He hasnít called me yet, so my plans are on hold. Today I have to work on my bicycle trailer and try to get it done. Tonight is the second Critical Mass ride in St. Paul. Iím planning on going. Tomorrow is the grand re-opening of the Greenway. Iím planning on being there.
Notice I'm blogging in the morning?

Semper Gumby. Itís a good motto.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:32 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 23, 2005

Are we even remotely alarmed by what we have created?

Shouldn't everyone be alarmed by this situation? Enough to say we are making a mistake in the way we are doing things?

I received this alert in my email today:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air polution health advisory for high ozone (smog) levels in the Twin Cities that may extend north to the Brainerd area for Thursday June 23. The ozone should be dispersed to much lower levels on Friday due to a cold front which will bring cooler temperatures and rain.

According to the MPCA, sunny skies and very hot weather will combine with lingering ozone from Wednesday and build rapidly. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is predicted to reach 101 which is the threshold level for the category: "Unhealthy for sensitive groups." Sensitive groups include those with heart or lung disease, children, the elderly and those who exercise vigorously outdoors. These groups should postpone or reduce heavy or prolonged exertion (play shorter games, walk instead of run,
and take more breaks).

Ozone is most common in hot summer weather and also requires volatile organic chemcials and exhaust emissions from engines, power plants and other sources to form.

To help reduce ozone levels it is important for us to reduce additional contributions to the problem by:
* Driving less to reduce vehicle exhaust
* Postponing use of small engines such as lawnmowers
* Postponing projects that inolve painting or the use of solvents and
* Refuel when it's cool (after 8 p.m.).

For additional information about reducing air pollution, visit Clean Air Minnesota at:
http://www.mn-ei.org/air/resources.html#Factsheets

To check hourly updates of the AQI, go to http://aqi.pca.state.mn.us/hourly/

Posted by carl1236 at 12:01 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

The body and spirit are weak

This morning I got up at 4:30am to ride with a group of guys at 5am. I got to the start point and met 4 other guys. We took off and were going at a pretty good pace and I felt ok. Until about 7 miles into the ride when we hit the first of two big hills in a row. I fell back because I couldn't maintain their pace up the hill and my lungs were working hard and my legs had no energy. Then one guy dropped backed and helped me catch up to the group. Then we hit the second big hill and I looked down at my speedometer. It read 15mph. I was dying. I kept that pace and they still flew up the hill, increasing the gap between us. When I got to the top, my lungs were heaving and my legs were jello. Nine miles into the ride at an average speed of 19.5mph, I called it quits for the morning.
Do you know what was going through my mind? I didn't want to quit. but I didn't want to keep going. Then I wanted to quit but then I told myself, 'no pain no gain.' I didn't feel like a cyclist this morning. I felt like a quitter.
My wife was surprised I was home so soon, and I told her all about the ride. She asked me what I was going to do about it. After thinking about it, my answer wasnt' to quit training, but to do more hill training and throw in more sprinting training, and change my sleep patterns to get up earlier in the morning and go to bed earlier.
I dropped out of the ride this morning feeling a little critical of myself, but for me this doesn't mean give up, it means retreat, regroup and attack at dawn.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:50 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 20, 2005

Finding out if your tent is secured

Today after the storm I saw a couple of those canopy tents that had blown down, along with a few trees in our neighborhood. The first thing I thought of was this:
It's not until a storm comes along that we find out just how secure our tent is. There is an instant meditation on life. Metaphorically these blown over tents are like our lives sometimes. Stuff happens and we see how we handle it. Sometimes we get blown over and hopefully we are not too bent out of shape to get back up.
This weekend I was kind of in a funk and didn't write anything for my blog, mainly because I was too tired and had too much going on. I ended up taking today off work because I was too exhausted from the weekend.
It all started Friday night when I rode up to Blaine to the Velodrome at the National Sports Center to try the track. It was just our Saint Paul Bike Racing Club Beginner's Racing Program students and instructors therel; about 50 of us total. This was a totally awesome experience. Very strange feeling riding on those steep banks. It just made me want to ride faster, since it was easier to control the bike, or at least feel safer the faster I rode. You don't really have to steer these things; It's more like counter steering. And another highlight was the experience of riding a single-speed fixed-gear bike. That was an interesting experience. Now I want to build one just to play around on. You know, for those times when I get bored with riding 27 gear combinations. But like usual, money doesn't grow on trees, so now I'm looking for cheap options. Anyone have an old fixed gear my size?
So, by the time I got home on Friday night I was too tired to sit in front of the computer. My wife was sitting in the neighbor's yard having some wine with the neighbor so they invited me over chat. I changed real quick and had a beer with them. That was fun until my eyelids started closing and I started getting delerious from the night's exhausting activities and fun.
Saturday I worked all day on our wood picket fence, then started building my wooden bicycle trailer. It's going to be awesome when I'm done. I designed and built (am building) this thing. I ended up changing my design a couple of times and had to rip it apart to redo things. It's huge. It's 2 feet, 6 inches wide by 6 feet long and has a flat bed with 16-inch wheels and mounts to the seat post. I can haul lawnmowers and bikes and almost anything else on this thing. Mainly I wanted a serious trailer for bulky but not too heavy of objects. I won't be carrying any refrigerators around on a bike I think, but who knows. I've decided I'm going to learn how to do welding, so I might make a metal trailer frame for objects like that. The design and building process on that trailer took me until 3am, Sunday morning. I set my alarm for 5am to get ready and go for a ride with Jim, but didn't wake up until 6:15am, then started getting ready, eating, etc, and realized that I'd never make it to the rendezvous point so I just called it quits and went back to bed. After that I went to the coffee shop and overdid the caffeine intake. I came home, did a few more things, and then worked on my trailer some more. The tongue is not stable so the trailer wobbles and I was trying to find a solution. It's very difficult out of wood. I think I have a solution now. We'll see. Then we went to my father-in-laws house for Father's Day and had dinner with my wife's family. It was late when we got back home and I worked until 2am on that trailer. I was too tired to go to work today so I called in and told my boss I wasn't coming in. As it turned out, my help at the bike shop was needed teaching a class to about 15 high-school kids, but I didn't know about it until it was over. Too bad, it would have been fun for me. Today I talked to a guy who had a bike sitting upside down outside of his apartment for a few days. It's his son's bike and he was unable to fix it, so I told him I would fix it and bring it back. Well, the tubes were shot and one of the tires was wrecked so I had to make a run to the bike shop to get parts. I did that but haven't fixed it. My daughter recruited me to build a built-in shelf for her TV in her room. So we engineered that and it works great. But I needed anchor bolts for that to hold the braces onto the plaster walls. That trip to the hardware store cost me 75 dollars. I bought other things. I found some nice yellow paint for my trailer and some other hardware and things we needed for the house.
Then I came home, ate dinner and built a shelf. Now it's too late to do anything else and I have to go to work tomorrow, so I'm going to bed. I guess in retrospect I was blown over this weekend by my own storm. I haven't ridden my bike since Friday night, I shorted myself on sleep, stopped exercising, ate like a pig, drank too much caffeine and didn't write my blog entries. After all of this I was feeling kind of cruddy. I think I like my athlete lifestyle better. At least then I feel like I'm functioning within normal parameters.

My storm knocked me down this weekend. Now I hope to get back to something healthier. My fence is all up, my trailer is almost done, both need to be painted but I can see the end. I'm going to ride my bike tomorrow hard and fast. I remember the doctor asking me once, "How many times a week do you break a sweat?" I chuckled and answered, "You mean how many times per day?" Well, in the past few days, the sweating I've been doing is just from the humidity, not from getting my cardio-vascular system cranking.

Sorry Jim for missing your ride. It would have been fun for me and I was looking forward to it. I'll try to catch the next ride you organize. Happy Father's day!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:17 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 15, 2005

Road Art

Over the past year as Iíve been riding my bicycle Iíve seen all kinds of things in the road. My friend Dan calls it ďRoad ArtĒ and has a display shelf at work where he proudly shows off his collection. Iíve added a few pieces to it that Iíve discovered in my path.
Many strange things have been found such as pennies, quarters, forks, spoons, knives, toys, nuts and bolts, car parts, employee ID badges, and various other strange and odd wonders. A few weeks ago I found a book and tonight as I was riding home I found another one. This one is a Childrenís Level 3 Ė Reading Alone Dorling Kindersley Readers book. These books are designed to help kids ďlearn to read then read to learn.Ē This book was titled, ďSpacebusters, the race to the moon,Ē by Philip Wilkinson. It was actually quite informative and interesting. It talked about our first trip to the moon. One thing that struck me was that these astronauts had a 50-50 chance of coming back alive. If anything went wrong during any stage of their mission they might not have come back alive. For instance when they were landing on the moon they couldnít find a clear, safe landing spot so they had to expend a lot more fuel to find and navigate to one. If they spent too much they wouldnít be able to rendezvous with the control module again. But they made it. When they were ready to leave the moon they had to fly up and meet the control module and dock with it. If they didnít fly the craft just right, they could have missed it and be left stranded in space. They were also afraid of the moon dust igniting when it came into contact with the oxygen in the spacecraft. It was all over the astronauts suits from their walk on the planet. They could have exploded in space, but it didnít happen.

Nothing I do during my life carries with it a 50-50 chance of coming back alive. So I have some respect for the people who took that risk and am thankful that Iím not in a position that requires me to do so. Today Iím particularly thrilled to be picking up road art, especially when It makes me think and I learn from it.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:51 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 14, 2005

Banding together

During a crisis people come together and support each other and give each other comfort. Often as the dark times are coming to a close and daylight approaches, people stop coming together and go their own separate ways. But let's not stop talking and meeting together, but let's encourage one another - Even more as we see the day approaching. What gives us comfort during a crisis is also what makes a great community.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:56 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 3, 2005

Learning a lesson

The process of troubleshooting a bike is no different than troubleshooting software. When you really understand how something is supposed to work, it's easier to diagnose why it's not working. Today I was working on a customer's bike while he was waiting so there might have been just a little pressure to get it fixed quickly. first I had to fix both flat tires. That was easy. then I had to adjust the brakes. That was easy. Then I had to adjust the Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub. That was not going so well. Just when I thought I had It started acting up again, missing a gear. I tried backing it off, I tried tightening it, I tried readjusting the indicator chain. Nothing worked, until I discovered my shifter lever was sliding up and down the handlebar. After I tightened that I tried to get it to shift but it was not shifting into first gear. Dave looked at it and backed off the adjustment screw and it started working. I started with the screw all the way off, so my methods were correct, but I failed to start back at the beginning after I secured the shifting lever. So now I should not have to make that mistake again. When troubleshooting anything, we can only do one fix at a time and there is a reason for sequences. I am so happy that I am able to learn lessons.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:36 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 31, 2005

Losing Sole, Gaining Soul

Tonight as I was working on our fence the sole of my boot fell off. I thought about buying new boots but why do that when glue will solve the problem and make them last longer? How many things get thrown away because it's too difficult for us to repair, or we don't know how, or we can't find the parts, or the parts are more expensive than buying a new object?
A $99.00 bicycle from Walmart, Kmart or Target is disposable when a part + labor costs more than buying a new bike, which could easily happen.
A plastic fan at work that had a problem with the electric motor is disposable because getting a replacement motor is more expensive and time consuming than it's worth. The fan was tossed.
I think it's good to re-gain some sole to stop losing soul.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 29, 2005

The good little consumer

Yesterday I had problem with the new tire I bought at Freewheel bike on April 9th. It was a $51.99 Continental Grand Prix 4-Season. Under close examination I see that the seam between the thick bottom rubber and the kevlar sides is very week and somehow I got a small slice along the seam.
I decided I would bring the tire back and see if there was anything they could do about it. Well, they weren't convinced that it was a defect in the tire and the sales lady basically told me it was bad luck. I suppose I should be thankful that she offered to give me another tire at half off. I accepted her offer because I needed a new tire for my bike and it was cheaper than buying one at full price. I told her how frustrating it was to buy a new tire and have it fail so quickly (I haven't ridden on it too much in the past 3 weeks due to the rain and the tire has very little wear on it.) She didn't care. It was business to her. Her line was something like, "It is the strongest tire for the amount of money you paid. I could put you in a tire that will be much stronger, but it'll run you a little more." Maybe so, but unfortunately it is the last item I will ever buy at Freewheel bike. Frankly, it felt like I was in Erik's again. It's not the competition that kills business. It's staff who doesn't really care about the person buying their products. I was a salesperson and I know what upselling is. I know what the sales lines are and what they sound like. I was a good little consumer and bought it the first time, and the second time, but won't be going back.

Then I went to find the Hub. There I bought a new set of 45 dollar clip pedals for my mountain bike to match the shoes I have. Now I can ride with the same shoes on both my road bike and the mountain bike. At the Hub I witnessed a guy come in with an old blue 1976 Schwinn Suburban and ask to borrow a screwdriver. The person working there was more than happy to help this guy so he could tighten the basket on the front of his bike. I talked to him for a little bit about his bike and the 1971 Brown Suburban 5-speed I have and then I bought my pedals and was on my way.
The lady at the Hub was enthusiastic about their co-op and wasn't trying to upsell me anything, and given the decent treatment of that Schwinn bike user, I'll stop there again.

Granted I'm only one person and the salesperson at Freewheel won't even notice I'm not coming in there again. They don't know that I bought my cycling shoes and my original clip-pedals there and my cycling clothing and other various parts over the last year. They have enough 'consumers' that it won't matter.

I won't matter.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:40 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 27, 2005

The Non-Critical Mass

Tonight I met with a couple of other bicyclists at Kellog Park, by the water fountain at the top of the hill, closest to the Wabasha Street bridge. Itís the last Friday of the month and this is the same time for Critical Mass rides all over the country. There are a couple of reasons I called this ride non-critical. First of all itís not like the Critical Mass rides Iíve heard of in other places. My intention is not to purposefully block or hinder traffic. My intention is also not to bar hop and get drunk and act crazy. We did mass, and we did ride around St. Paul for about Ĺ hour, but we rode in traffic on the right hand side, used arm signals and talked and generally had a nice tour of downtown, twice. Itís just not that big of a place, unlike downtown Minneapolis. Another reason I called this Non-Critical Mass, was that it is not designed to make a statement or cause something great to happen. Itís just a good night to get out with some good people and ride around beautiful downtown St. Paul. The connection between people is more important than how the drivers of cars perceive bicyclists. If there were political or other motivations for this ride, then it would most surely fail at itís mission, because there are many more things that have to be done besides riding around. As bicyclists, if we want to be more visible then we need to get out and ride more all the time. Ride to work, ride to lunch, ride to the grocery store, ride to dinner, ride to our friendís houses, anytime, all the time. That would have an impact. Getting people used to bikes on the road will take 24 hour per day of bicycles on the road. Most people arenít willing to do that. But I sure enjoyed this ride tonight. I plan on meeting there every month to do this ride, rain or shine.

What: The Non-Critical Mass ride in St. Paul. Itís not critical you are there, but weíd love to have your company.

When: Last Friday of every month, 4:45 massing time, 5:00pm ride departure time. It goes until we decide weíve covered enough of downtown.

Where: Kellog Park, by the large water fountain at the top of the hill, closest to Wabasha Street. There are two fountains there. Itís not the one with the walkway through the middle. Itís the other one.

Who: Anyone who loves to ride bicycles and loves to do it with other people. Also anyone who appreciates a nice city like downtown St. Paul. We may discuss ways to improve biking in various parts of downtown as we take our tours. If you are Councilman Dean Zimmerman and you are reading this, weíd love to have you come out and meet with us and ride along. Itís really a great city to tour on bike!

Why: Because we can and want to.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:14 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 11, 2005

Honking Horns

This morning it happened to me again! Someone came speeding up behind me on 5th street in Downtown St. Paul and honked their horn at me. I didn't get out of the way because I was already going the speed limit on my bike! The driver, obviously impatient gunned his engine and passed me in the clear lane on the left. So what was the point of that display? I am starting to appreciate and understand the problems bicyclists face. Last night on the club ride someone threw a paper bag with glass bottles in it at our group and hit one of the riders, but that kind of agression is different and more isolated. Honking the horn and gunning the engine to pass, while speeding is another kind that's much more common. The driver somehow feels put out by having a bike in front of him and becomes impatient. The driver has an underlying attitude of owning the road and bikes have no place there. It's an inconvenience and irritation to the driver to have to wait for a bicycle. Hello! Bicycles are street-legal vehicles!
Last year I got in an accident by getting too close to the curb while going downhill fast, trying to accomodate the driver passing (over the speed limit). Now I don't do that. When I'm riding that fast, I move into the middle of the lane where a car won't be tempted to pass me at close quarters. So to all of the impatient horn honkers out there: What are you trying to prove? Slow down and stop endangering lives. This is really about respecting other human beings.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:53 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 7, 2005

My Car is Gone!

Tonight I finally got rid of my car! I wasn't even sad to see it go. I wasn't worried about what I'd do without it. My wife asked me if I felt liberated now, but I don't. I think I'll feel liberated when I have to give up some activity because I can't get there within a reasonable amount of time or condition. Let's say I get in a car vs. bike accident and happen to survive it but I break my leg and can't ride my bike and the bus doesn't go where I need to get to. then I will feel liberated.
I will feel liberated because I won't have a choice. For the first time since my junior year in High School, I will experience what people without cars exerience every day of their lives. So I don't really feel liberated from my car yet. Right now I'm just riding my bike like every other day this past year. Maybe in a month or so I'll realize the impact of being without my car. So far I don't miss it. I'll let you know when it hits me.
Tomorrow morning is my first Time Trial. Time for bed. I'll post the results tomorrow. It should be fun. My goal is an average speed of 22mph for 5 miles.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:18 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 3, 2005

The Cult of Human Power

I just borrowed this book from someone called ďThe Immortal Class. Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power,Ē by Travis Hugh Culley. First I skimmed through various parts of the book to get the flavor of it, then read the first chapter. My first impression is that being a bike messenger is another one of those little understood forms of sanity. And we can read about it, but not fully grasp the implications until we experience it. I think raising children is another one of those we canít quite grasp until we are in the thick of it.
I like the way the first chapter starts out with the authorís indoctrination and gradual awareness into the bike messengerís inner circle, until it was no longer just a job, but a state of being. From the outside looking in, it may seem absurd, but to anyone who knows the ropes, itís perfectly sane.
I am a bicycle commuter. I ride my bike to work and back, nearly every day. It practically seems like nothing to me anymore, and perfectly natural. To some people, including myself about a year ago, this would have seemed insane and something requiring medication. But I think that Iím closer to sanity being outside in the fresh air and all that comes with that.
Human power is a cult, just like any other inner-circle we decide to Ďbelongí to. Once we are inside of it, after the indoctrination, we are no longer outsiders. Outsiders canít always comprehend what itís like until they dive in. Some would never dive in because itís too insane or itís below them or any other reason. They are still outsiders. But they have their own inner-circles that they belong to. I rode bike once with a guy who was really into acting in plays. Evidently he has been in hundreds of plays. Itís an inner-circle that I have little real understanding of. I can read about it but until I go to the rehearsals and practice my lines, Iím still in the audience, an observer of a life I think I understand. Until someone told me about his passion for acting, he was just another guy on a bike. Itís because we were in a different circle together.
The SPBRC is a cult. Many people who belong to it donít even race, but are insiders because they ride together. The community bike shop Iím working with is a cult, with itís own set of characters and rules that only insiders can know. The workers at the group-home company I worked at had their own inner-circle and set of unwritten, unspoken rules to follow. It took me a few months to learn them and become an insider.
There is more of course, but Iím still an outsider, looking in. But at the same time Iím also an insider, with my own inner-circles looking out, which seems to me can be equally incomprehensible until we experience what is out there.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:43 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 1, 2005

Dare to speak positively

"Every happening great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message." - Malcolm Muggeridge, from the book, "Your best life now." by Joel Osteen.
Today was my last day working at the group home. My coworker was wishing she was leaving and we talked a little bit about the company and it's management, or mismanagement. Then I started to direct the conversation toward what was good about the job, and how it was the perfect part-time job for me over the past year and how the flexible schedule and weekend hours was good for her also. It allowed her to finish graduate school and be at home more during the week with her youngest child. She's been doing this kind of work for 6 years in a job that usually has high turnover and burnout rates. Working at a group-home isn't always easy or pleasant. A person has to bring a certain attitude with them each day that's positive, patient and persistent. My coworker has those qualities. She used them at work and she's graduating with her Master's Degree Next week.
Let's face it, we can complain about anything, but like diamonds, there are always multiple facets to it. Which facet we are looking at may determine how we value our experience. And sometimes we cannot even see the whole thing when we are examining the flaws.
It's easy to fall into the complaining mode, but the truth is I've had a great experience this year and so has she. Even cleaning up someone's bowel movements from the floor has taught me about human dignity. God has spoken to me a lot this year and I've tried my best to get the message. Sometimes when we find ourselves in the middle of a mess it's difficult to speak positively and it may even take some courage to do so in every situation we face.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:34 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 25, 2005

My day in the rain

It wasnít raining when I left the house this morning but I got a little wet riding in to work. I had a rain jacket on so my upper body was fine but the tops of my legs got a little wet. After I got inside it took about an hour for my pants to dry completely. Itís a good thing I didnít have a meeting this morning. But then again, If I did, I would have put the whole rain suit on or packed a dry change of clothes to put on when I arrived. Oh well, I didnít melt and the ride was very pleasant. Oh that reminds me... I didnít put my Kool-Stop brakes on yet and that laziness made my commute a little less safe in the rain.
At lunch time I decided to go to the bike shop to get two new tubes for that bike I found. Both tires had slow leaks and this morning I found them both flat. I saw the problem was that both tubes were installed improperly and holes developed on the sides of the stems. This created a slow leak, so thatís why they didnít go flat while I rode it the first time. Also whoever installed these tubes had them twisted and folding over themselves.
Attention all bicycle owners: Changing an innertube is a good skill to know how to do! It can save a lot of grief later down the road.
After hanging out at the bike shop during my lunch hour, I was out of time to eat. It was fun though. After work I went outside and changed the tubes in that bike. Now they are in good shape to ride on. All I have to do is clean it up. Itís kind of dirty. Then I think I will put this 3 speed near a busy bus stop with a ďFreeĒ sign on it. Or park it by the homeless shelter, or something. Itís a good little bike and rides nicely.
After I fixed those tires, I began my ride home on my Schwinn 5-speed. I had installed a new headlight on my helmet and some kid was making fun of it as I rode by him. I just laughed and kept riding. I looked in the mirror when I got home and I do kind of look like a miner with that thing on! Then I laughed too. On the way home my five-speed all of a sudden wouldnít shift into the lowest gear for the big hill. So I stopped and adjusted the rear derrailluer so it shifted properly. I wondered how it got out of whack. All Iíve been doing is riding it to and from work. Must be like a Harley where parts vibrate loose as itís been ridden or in this case, vibrate out of adjustment.
When I got home I didnít feel like working on anything so I read some blogs, made a couple of comments, talked to my brother on the phone, talked to my mom on the phone, sent some email replies and sat down to write this. And here I am. It was a rainy day but somehow it didnít seem like that mattered. I still got a lot done and I still rode my bicycle to and from work.
Did I mention that I also had a motorcycle? Last week I gave it away. And next week my Jeep will be gone. It wonít matter though, because Iíve already been riding my bike almost everywhere I go. For some events like the Iron Crotch bike ride I did in Stillwater on Sunday, Iíll have to ride my bike to or find a different way to get there, or not go to things like this. Iím with Jim in not wanting to drive to events. It might make some bike races interesting. How much energy does a person need? My activities will probably get moved closer to home starting next week or Iíll have more interesting adventures to talk about. Either way itís a win-win situation for me. It is because of the car that we have become so spread out and spread thin. I remember driving my children all over the cities to play with their friends or take music lessons or go to gymnastics or soccer practice. Nothing was done in our own neighborhood it seems.
One more week until I cut the dependency on my motorized vehicles. Of course my wife and daughter will still have their cars but I think Iíll not ask them to give me rides unless we are going somewhere as a family and they have a reason to go themselves.
Another rainy day that turned out nicely.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:20 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 16, 2005

This crappy computer

I know I'm persistent. My computer gave me so many problems tonight while I was writing. I think I should have learned my lesson a long time ago to not type in this edit box, which I'm doing now. I always think it's going to be a quick entry, but find myself getting too wordy and it locks up and I lose everything. Tonight I lost about 45 minutes worth of work. But here I am writing in this edit box again. This time I'm ending here and going to bed. My persistence allowed me to vent a little frustration abou this crappy computer and gave me an opportunity to write about something I haven't discussed recently. I did write about my bike, but there was no way I was going to try to rewrite that tonight. Tomorrow night you'll hear about my restoration project.
Oh and Happy Birthday UThink Bloggers!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:51 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Themís the Brakes

Iím borrowing the title for this blog entry from Nathan, http://oat5tout.blogspot.com/, because itís appropriate to todayís encounter with brakes. Today I went to the community bike shop to pick up my new brake pads and to find a ball bearing for my retro bike. The bike shop had put in a parts order and I had ordered Kool-Stop breaks for my mountain bike, and when I got to the shop, another guy was putting them on his bike. Ok, thatís cool. I didnít need them as bad as he did. He was rubbing metal on metal. So I ordered another set for my bike. Hopefully Iíll get them next week. Themís the Brakes! (Thank you Nathan, ;-)

Don't sweat the little things.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:20 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 15, 2005

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who commented and sent emails about my health issues. I really appreciate it. I'm very thankful for my life and to have met some nice people like you. Health problems like this do make me think about what's really important in life, and your thoughtfulness is high on the list.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:54 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 14, 2005

Last Nightís Missing Entry:

Last night I spent about two hours trying to troubleshoot my internet connection last night, which was intermittant, then non-existant, until I called Comcast Cable and heard their message that there was a service outage and they were working on it. I called back several times and it was still out, so I went to bed. Sometimes it helps to be troubleshooting the right problem. In Einsteinís way of thinking we have to be working on the right problem: One that has a solution. Because of the intermittent way I had access, and the way my cable-modem and router were acting, I assumed that the problem was internal. In my way of thinking I was working on a problem that didnít exist and therefore had no solution. I could have worked all night on it, sometimes having success and then not. Sometimes itís difficult to see the real problem when we are busy applying the solutions we know to work to a problem that we think exists.

Tonight I saw an episode of Star Trek, the Next Generation, in which Data was being put on trial by a Star-Fleet officer who wanted to dismantle him to study him. Captain Picard was chosen to defend Data. At first Captain Picard thought he was trying to prove that Data was more than just a complex mixture of hardware and software, and he was losing the trial. Then he realized that the real issue was Dataís right to choose and without that right to choose, Star-Fleet would be creating a race of robotic slaves. He could prove that Data had a right to make his own choices. By working on the real problem, he could find a solution.

I think our Governor, and other Republican Governors that are doing the same thing, are working on a different problem than the people are by trying to create Government sponsored Casinos. They say it is to adequately fund our social programs, our schools, our transportation, our government, but isnít the real problem they are working on how to fund government without relying on taxes? The problem they are working on is not the lack of funding, but Ďalternate funding sourcesí. Another one of the solutions to THEIR problem is to increase fees for government services, or creating new fees which were previously paid for by taxes. Then they call anyone who stands in their way a Socialist, with a negative connotation. Once they get their money without taxes, wonít they be able to spend it on whatever they want without having to go to the people to ask for it? Donít we want to spread the burden of paying for our government and itís services out over all the people through taxes? Obviously we donít want taxes without representation, but do we want a privatized government without representation? What problem are they really working on?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:48 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 12, 2005

Why do anything?

We have to do something with our time and we do until we die. Beyond that who knows, so letís stay focused on this life. Many people seek to be told what to do with their lifetime. But you are free to choose. So do it by choice. Donít wait.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:27 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 11, 2005

A day in the sun

This morning I rode with Mike, Kevin, Rich and Scott for 21 miles at an average speed of 19mph, then I crashed into a pole and broke my speedometer. I think I was about 5 miles from home. My handlebars were bent but I was no worse for the wear. I took the day off from work and promptly took a 2-hour nap. After that I worked on my bikes, blogged, rode my mountain bike down to the Sibley Bike Depot and replaced a broken cable housing and adjusted my rear derailleur. I had fun talking to the other people there working on bikes. I canít believe there were 6 people there working! It was really interesting. Then I followed one guy to a church where he was going to eat dinner. We were talking as we were riding together and I found that he sleeps under a bridge. We both made it to the church while there was a lull in the rain, so at least he was dry for dinner. Then I proceeded to ride home and it started to rain heavily. I didnít have any rain gear on, so I got really soaked. But let me tell you that the ride in the rain was awesome. First of all, I learned this last year while commuting every day even in the rain: As long as you have dry clothes to put on at your destination, who cares? The rain is actually very cleansing for the soul and itís liberating to not worry about it. I also had my wallet in a Ziploc so again, who cares if itís raining? Secondly, I had just cleaned and lubed my mountain bike, put two new slick tires on, plus the new aluminum stomper pedals, adjusted the rear derailleur and it was a great smooth ride that handled well in the rain. The final great thing about today was that if I didnít follow my heart into the rain, I would not have had the interactions I had and would not have been building these friendships. It was really a great day.
When I got home, I was already soaked so I sprayed off all the road dirt from my bike with the garden hose, shook it off, carried it into my basement and hand dried it. Before bed Iíll go down and relube so itís ready for the next ride. Tomorrow night I have to fix the handlebars on my racing bike and replace the speedometer. I have one from my old bike so I donít need to go out and buy one.
Today was kind of rainy and cloudy, but to me it was a bright sunny day. What made today so bright? It had to be coming together with these other people, first on my morning ride with Mike, Kevin, Rich and Scott, then the bike shop with the six other people, then the ride to the church with my new friend who lives under a bridge and gets around everywhere by bike, all year-round. Life is really good when you can see the sun through the rain. He told me that.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:19 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

April 4, 2005

Scrapper

Do you want to see a picture of me? Here I am riding my solid-steel 1971 Schwinn Suburban 5 speed hauling a bike trailer.
Using the rental trailer at the Sibley Bike Depot, Andrew Koebrick and I went down to the woods by the railroad tracks and recovered three abandoned, wrecked bicycles for recycling. On my lunch-time runs I often go this route, and because the leaves were not yet on the trees, my eyes were drawn to something bright yellow. Being a bike enthusiast, I recognized it right away as a bicycle, though at a distance I couldnít see it very well. The next time I ran by there I decided to check it out. Sure enough, there were several bikes hidden down there in the woods with wheels off, parts missing, rusted steel frames, rusted chains, etc. It was a little bike graveyard. A place where useable bikes became abandoned after stipping their useful parts presumably for use on other bikes.
Why they ended up in these woods is a good question. My guess is that the person or people responsible just did not know what to do with old bikes. I knew what to do. The Sibley Bike Depot has a program that recycles aluminum and steel and also salvages useable parts for rebuilding other bikes. If a frame is in decent shape itís often saved for rebuilding. Brake calipers, crank arms, fenders, handlebars, seats, bottom brackets, bearings, deraileurs and other re-usable parts have often been saved for future use. The rest gets scrapped or recycled. They know what to do with old bikes.
This is the second time Iíve used the rental trailer to recover abandoned bikes. Both times Iíve seen these bikes while out running then went back to pick them up, usually in some obscure location out of sight by most motorists. I think itís good to clean up our environment of these little bike graveyards, because no-one should have to see junk laying around while out running. Itís trashy, unnatural and detracts from the overall well-being of our environment. Recycling makes sense because it gets materials back into use.
If everyone just knew what to do with their old bikes, I think I wouldnít need to go around cleaning up. Sure, any excuse to ride a bike is good, but I shouldnít have to do it for this reason. These old bikes simply do not belong out in the woods or under a railroad bridge.
The Sibley Bike Depot accepts old bikes as donations, and puts many bikes back on the road. Last month I gave two bikes to them from my garage. Iíve ridden both of these bikes over the past years and have since replaced them with other bikes. When I discovered the Sibley Bike Depot this winter I decided that I should start my Spring Cleaning early. Both bikes ended up going to good programs and are in use right now.

While cleaning out your basement, garage or storage shed, consider donating your unused or abandoned bikes to a good cause. If you canít make it to the Sibley Bike Depot you can arrange for a pickup.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 29, 2005

Last night's entry that died

Last night I did not post a blog entry, not because I didn't write anything, but because my computer decided to keep crashing on me. I lost everything I wrote. It was getting late and I was tired and didn't feel like trying to remember everthing I wrote, so I decided to call it quits and get some rest.
I call this the spirit of allowing ourselves to be flexible. I can be pretty demanding on myself and have stayed up into all hours of the night, even through the next day completing things that had to be done. In this case, I gave up and went to bed. For my sanity, sometimes it's better to just give myself a break and start fresh again at another time. But allowing this is sometimes difficult when we hold onto things too tightly. I have to let go of things sometimes and not beat myself up over it. I think it's a good attitude, because otherwise we take ourselves too seriously and end up miserable. But also, giving up on my blog entry for a night doesn't mean throwing it out the window. It means taking a break and writing two entries the next day! ;-)

Last night's blog entry, before my computer so kindly killed it, was about buying a bike on eBay! I'll tell you more about it when the bidding ends and if i get it.
Now I'd better not push my luck and have this crash again. Have a great night!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:16 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 24, 2005

Where will the oil go?

I don't think any of us like to be deceived. But it's so easy to feel that way sometimes when we don't know if we can trust our politicians. When they are elected we trust them to be making decisions and taking actions with honesty and integrety. But sometimes we find out about alterior motives, like a president who swings deals to make his buddies rich, or sweeting his own holdings. Of course it's never so public and my guess is we don't hear about a lot of the things that go on unless someone gets caught.
Last night I felt a twinge of being deceived. Someone asked the question, "With this new drilling, where is that oil going to go?" Then they answered their question, "That oil is going to be sold to Japan and other countries overseas."
I had not heard that viewpoint before and if that's the case, then the only reason we are drilling there is to fatten a cash cow. And it's not reducing our dependence on foreign oil, because since the new oil is being sold, we still have to obtain oil from other sources to feed our country's consumption. On top of that, we'd be increasing these asian countries dependence on our oil.
This is why I feel like President Bush is deceiving everyone. I'm sure since we elected him he's going to act with integrity and honesty right? I'm almost afraid to find out where this oil is going.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:59 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 19, 2005

Short Timerís Attitude

Iím the only person I know that has put in a two-month notice at a job. Who would do such a thing?! I told the supervisor some specific dates I needed off this month and next month, and then Iíd be done working there. Last Saturday was my first day off when I ran the Lake Johanna 4-mile running race. Tomorrow is the second day off, when Iím running the Human 8k (5-mile) race. Then in April Iím doing the Iron Crotch 60-mile bike ride on the 24th, and finally April 30th Iím running in the Get in Gear 10k at Minnehaha Park. Also on the 30th, Iíll be at the TCBC swap meet at Southtown Bingo staffing a display table for the Minnesota Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance. Then on May 1st Iíll be working my last day at that job. After that my schedule becomes really intense and Iíll be gasping for time to breathe.
I gave two months notice because I donít want to leave these people stranded. I work at a group home every weekend and itís hard to find people for these jobs. Most people have better things to do on their Saturdayís and Sundays. And many people donít have the patience or stomach for it. I remember my first week on the job when I took all four of them to a restaurant and one guy decided he needed to use the bathroom. Then he made a mess all over the bathroom and himself. Being new to the job I really wondered what I got myself in for. I did the best I could to help him and he kept saying to me, ďIím sorry. Iím sorry.Ē And I did my best to reassure him help him maintain his dignity when he walked out of that bathroom. This past year working there has been a huge benefit to me. But now itís time for me to move on. I canít sustain working 7 days per week forever, and I want to experience some new things. Although as far as jobs go, I could manage working every weekend because it really was like taking care of a family. I cooked, cleaned house, did laundry, took them to movies, the library, the fair, birthday parties, shopping, to get their hair cuts, etc.
Another advantage was that I became a good housekeeper. Today for instance my coworker came back from her break and the first thing she said was, ďWow, the living room looks great!Ē I had dusted, swept, shook out the rugs, mopped the floor and put it all back together before she had returned. I also had the laundry done and made dinner. The experience of doing all of these things with this group-home has made me a better person with more skills and has changed my life. I can clean a bathroom top to bottom, bathtub, shower and toilet included in fifteen minutes. ;-)
And my ĎShort timerís Attitudeí is NOT ďI canít wait to get out of here!Ē but more like, ďI donít know how I will be able to handle leaving these wonderful people!Ē I should have put in a one-week notice and then I wouldnít have to think about leaving, for another whole month. Iím used to seeing them every weekend and I know their personalities and likes and dislikes and little quirks. I will miss the hugs and their excitement to see me when I get there each day (and my excitement to see them).
With two monthís notice though, they should be able to find a replacement for me. But with one month to go, Iím feeling sad that I wonít be able to replace them in my life.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:24 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 10, 2005

Soft-Core Porn (Marketing)

Jim posted an interesting topic about soft porn in magazines. For instance, he posted a picture of the Outside magazine that had a picture of a nude woman strategically covered, who is a rock climber, and he mentioned the bicycling magazineís sex issue, which showed nude, but covered women bicyclists. Jim brought up a good point: Why do these magazines feel they need to show that?
I posted two responses about the magazines, one that was mostly about the lack of real deep content, which I think Jim was also saying when he talked about the Outside magazine, ďAnyway, Outside doesn't do interesting pieces like that anymore. Now they do a bunch of shit that looks like it could be found in any men's health magazine: what to eat, what to wear, how to get laid more, pictures of unnaturally muscular men doing Tai Chi. And they also have become a purveyor of soft-core porn.Ē
Jim has a valid point.
Then I posted a second time talking about the advertisements to identify who these magazines are being marketed to. I did not even go into the types of articles being written for a target audience, but I think that applies also. Perusing the magazine rack, there seem to be more and more soft-porn articles also, like in one of the menís fitness magazines Jim mentioned carrying an article titled, ďThe orgasm almanac: How to keep her coming back for more.Ē I look at magazines like that and see that itís mostly about body building and according to the many advertisements in the magazine for supplements to build Ďbulk,í Iíd guess these magazines are targeted toward young male body builders.
Then posted to a comment on Jimís article, I listed the advertisements in my Time magazine, in which I did not see any soft porn, but according to the advertisements, that I think itís targeted toward aging baby boomers with a good income. You have to read Jimís post and my comments to see what I mean on that one.

Now Iíd like to continue this idea with a different magazine to see how the advertisements indicate the audience intended for the magazine. An interesting discovery came out of this for me, in that I did not pay attention to the ads when I bought the magazine and I did not expect what I would find in the Psychology Today magazine, mainly because Iím highly interested in psychology and I enjoy their articles, so I would have expected to be part of the target audience, but Iím NOT according to the advertisements:

Premium Fresh Step Scoopable Kitty litter Ė Step into a fresher house.
Capella University degreeís online featuring a woman outdoors with sun reflecting off her hair looking into the distance. The caption said, ďExtend a hand and see what a difference you can make.Ē
Judy Singerís MetaSystem weight loss pills showing a before and after picture of a middle aged woman and a quote, ďI went from size 16 to 8 in 3-1/2 monthsĒ
Better Eggs (lower fat, less cholesterol) ad showing a woman holding up a plate of eggs smiling
Barbaraís Bakery Multigrain Shredded Spoonfuls cereal, saying ďSometimes Smaller is betterĒ
Hidden Valley Ranch dressing showing a young girl running through a grassy field holding a carrot dipped in the dressing.
CIIS New masters degree in integrative health studies
BehaviorialScienceBooks book club
Glad ForceFlex stretchable strength kitchen garbage bags
True.com Ė Find out what True Love feels like Ė Find your soulmate
Yogi Tea Ė Organic Womanís Teas Ė Supports Breast Cancer Research
Neuromins Dietary supplements DHA showing a woman drinking a cup of coffee or tea smiling.
Lyc-O-Mato Dietary supplement
LycoMato Tomato Lycopene Complex
The i-ching Book of answers ďif you have ever doubted what action to take in a situation, this book will end that doubtĒ
Two Perennial Currents books called, ďHow can I forgive you?Ē and ďAfter the AffairĒ
Estroven Menopause Monitor home test kit
Concerta once-daily methylphenidate HCI ďWith Concerta, I see Matt. Not his ADHD.Ē
Zand Changes for Women Day and Night formula
Natureís Path Optimum Choice organic cereals showing a woman riding fast on a dirt trail on a mountain bike smiling.
Zzone Sleep Solution showing a woman with fist raised in the air, the caption reading, ďUnleash your personal power.Ē
National Mental Health Association asking the question, ďHow can you make a REAL difference?Ē
Shen Therapy Institute, True emotional healing is much more than merely releasing emotion.
The Psychology Today bookshelf, advertising itís books
An ad for Stephen Levineís book Unattended Sorrow.
Clayton College of Natural Health, Celebrating 25 years educating the Leaders of Natural Health
409 deep-cleansing formula for a kitchen so clean it shines
Tempur-Pedic Pressure Relieving Swedish Mattresses and Pillows
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Ė donít just clean. Clean and disinfect.
Find a therapist! You want to talk to someone...but how do you find the right person? showing a woman sitting in a soft chair looking on her laptop Ė psychology today dot com.
Tilex Mold and Mildew remover with pictures of super models, saying Their homes have mold too.
RosettaStone language learning software showing a woman at a table with a laptop
Glad Pressín Seal food wrap
MHP Thyro-Slim complete weight loss program Ė Breakthrough formula is making women smile!
EstroLogic Natural Estrogen Balance Herbal Supplement
Whole Ground Flaxseed meal containing Omega-3 fatty acid
Zand liquid formula Glucosamine and Zanergy showing a woman rock climber on the face of a cliff
CortiSlim As seen on TV weight loss dietary supplement showing a series of pictures of one woman going from fat to slim with her arms up in the air smiling saying, ďThis has already been the BEST YEAR of my life!Ē
Poise Pantiliners

Iím probably not saying anything new here, because it may be pretty obvious that magazines and advertisers target specific audiences. They want buyers and subscribers. But something I havenít said, is what kind of a message are these magazines sending to their target audiences? In Pscychology Today it seems to be that a womanís job is still in the home. In the Time magazine it seems to be that to be successful you need to buy luxury vehicles and invest your money wisely. In the Menís fitness magazine it seems to be get more muscle, get more power, get more women.

Is that what life is all about? Have we had our fill of soft-core marketing?

Posted by carl1236 at 8:49 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

March 8, 2005

Time and ability to do it all

I've kind of let my language studies slide these past two weeks, even though I've had a plan, although kind of loosely designed. But Tonight I have restarted and maybe this weekend I'll try posting again in Korean and russian.
One interesting thing that happened though, was my wife bought me a pair of "Smartwool" socks for running (very unexpected, sweet of her and much appreciated) and on the container there were several language translations talking about the product. Every one of them used the word for 'Marino Wool' except for the English language which used the registered trademark name, 'Smartwool' :
* Only 100% Smartwool next to your skin
* Uniquement 100% de laine de merinos de categorie fine contre votre peau
* Nur 100% feinste Merinowolle direkt auf Ihrer Haut
* Solo la mejor lana 100% de Merino junto a su piel

Also today I bought a Time magazine off the newspaper stand because of the title and found it very interesting. It's a good article about the science of the brain. I think it's worth reading if you can find a copy of it. March 7, 2005 issue of Time: The Math Myth - The real truth about women's brains and the gender gap in science.
I think this is a good answer to Harvard University President Larry Summers' ideas about gender disparities. For instance, statistics by the National Science Foundation show that more women are receiving bachelor's degrees in science fields than men now and that the trend increasing. Also they show that the balance in the Doctoral gap is slowly changing as more women persue advanced degrees. 30 years ago 1 in 10 PHD's in Sceince and Engineering were women as opposed to 2002 when 1 in 3 were women. Also an interesting part of the article is about how the brain differences in men and women are not static but change and adapt in response to differences in input.
I think one reason why I instinctively react to statements that try to oversimplify and divide men and women into categories, especially in the area of capabilities is because I recognize the ability and choice of human beings to use anything they can find against other people to justify their beliefs about the world they live in. This applies to other areas of life besides gender, like sexual differences, religious beliefs, race, nationality, social status, wealth, etc. People who want to divide will find a way to rationalize it and try to find divisions instead of uplifting other people and finding ways to minimize inequalities in the way people are treated.
Anyway, I found this article very good and worth reading. There were also a couple of interesting articles in the current issue of the Psychology Today magazine related to gender differences and how those differences are changing based on experiences, especially the changes in mens brains based on their more intimate relationships in the family now verses previous generations.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:31 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

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. Isnít 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 itís usually a mental game. To get through it I try to look at the reason Iím doing what Iím 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, itís never as tough as my mind makes it out to be. So I usually dive into things now and keep going.

I didnít quit running today but I felt like it three times.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:33 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

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 | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

February 21, 2005

Seeing the good in others

Jim called me an unflappable optimist, which I am; I see the good in others. I see and recognize Jimís 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 itís 30 degrees, some itís Ė20 degrees, and whether he feels up to it or not, heís 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 couldnít 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 Jimís. Commuting by bike every day even in Minnesotaís 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 heís quick to point out, not having expensive equipment shouldnít 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 doesnít 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 donít really fight to survive like we did before. Now our survival seems much more mental. We donít 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 wasnít 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 | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

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 donít know because we are not yet capable of knowing them? Is it because some things are beyond our current comprehension that we donít 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 itís 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 donít 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. Thatís kind of obvious. Our bodies cease to be Ďaliveí 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 wouldnít be able to comprehend it until we are ready.
Therefore itís 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, weíll 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 | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

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 couldnít 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. Itís 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 Iíve seen have cost 300 dollars and up, but obviously this one couldnít 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 wasnít really the only aspect motivating me. I did expect though that Iíd 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 itís 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 thatís 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 thatís 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 wasnít 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 elseís trash and recycled some metal.
When I got to the Sibley Bike Depot, the person I was going to meet didnít show up. I waited for a half hour and then came back. I had no way to secure this trailer there and couldnít get into the shop, so I had to leave. Now tomorrow Iíll 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 didnít have my phone number so if something came up he wouldnít 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 donít 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 peopleís expectations. So I understand and accept that also and itís ok. But while I was waiting for him to show up, I got to experience something special. Outside of building lobbyís 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 didnít notice me watching him. It was a rare opportunity to just observe another living creature doing itís 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. Iíve heard people say before that ďlife is full of disappointment, get used to it.Ē But thatís not the lesson we should learn. Thatís a cynical view of life and is not helpful to bringing us more joy and peace in life. ďLife sucks and then you die,Ē 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 Iím 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. Itís 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. Itís a beautiful thing. We have the capacity to love and to feel emotions and be alive.

The adventure is not overÖ

Posted by carl1236 at 5:18 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

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 couldnít quite place what bothered me because I didnít think that people going faster than me was a problem. Iíve had people fly by me many times throughout last year and it did not effect me like this. I thought, ďgood for them!,Ē ďWay to go!Ē or ďI will get there.Ē 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 wasnít envy, anger or a competitive feeling. It was self-doubt.
It wasnít 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. Thatís when it hit me; I understood what I was feeling when that cyclist zipped by me like it was nothing. Iíve 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.
Itís 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 wasnít 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 donít 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 Iím 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 didnít expect to see this much progress so quickly. Too often we are willing to degrade our progress because itís not Ďenoughí compared to others. Itís true. About 15 years ago I used to be a good runner, but then just quit cold-turkey and havenít been able to break through my mental block against running since then. Now Iím 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 itís 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 itís 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 wonít be so drastic. Our ride will be smoother and weíll be happier.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:30 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

February 14, 2005

La pronuncia italiana

Sunday, and at work today, and while running Iíve 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, itís 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 Ďpronuncia;í It is respectful to the people of the countries that speak the language as their native language. Itís kind of like the problem of mispronouncing the word ďItalian,Ē as Iíve heard so frequently around here. Instead of saying a short Ďií sound, as in ĎRickí, people say ĎI-talian,í as in Ďeye.í
As Iím reading about Leonardo da Vinci, Iím 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 Ďgí in ĎBuongiorno!í sounds like a ĎJí to me; Itís for the same reason that the Ďcí in ĎLa pronuncia italianaí sounds like a Ďchí instead of a Ďkí 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 elseís 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 | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

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

ď...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 youíll do it!Ē

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 doesnít necessarily mean weíll be happy once we arrive at our goal. However, being thoroughly engaged in something is pretty joyful. Carl Honoreí, author of ďIn Praise of SlownessĒ, about our cultureís addiction to ďmore-better-faster,Ē said that one of the keys to happiness is to slow down. Learn to live in THIS moment and enjoy it. Itís 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 | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

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 Readerís 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. Itís also the title song of the new CD by Draper Daniels. They sing, ďIíve always had this urge to see Odessa, I confess I just like the name.Ē 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, ďItís not looking good for going to Odessa, I wonít get there this time around,Ē 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 Trudeauís character Reverend Scot Sloan in Doonesbury. Itís interesting reading about how people find, lose and find their faith. I canít believe this book only cost me a dollar. What a deal. Now you see why Iím 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, ďWhatís right with you?Ē 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, itís true. But learning to be happy is often hard work along with change of attitude.
I wasnít 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 | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

February 10, 2005

A Winter debate

Now that itís been a few days where the temperature has hung around 20 degrees while Iíve been riding my bike, Iím starting to get used to it. Itís almost like itís 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 Iíve been associated with on various projects. Heís a very intelligent man in his field and well respected for what does. But he struck up a mini-debate with me about why itís 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. Itís not enjoyable when itís 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 waterís 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 Iím 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 Iím stiffening up and Iím 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 Iíll 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. Itís a lot easier to stick to a plan when there is a goal in sight. Tonight and tomorrow Iím working on the racing schedule for the year. That will tell me how Iím going to train each week.

No arguments against my cycling in the winter are valid, because Iím doing it and itís not insane to me. If Iím capable, mentally and physically prepared, doing it regularly, improving my health, being environmentally friendly and itís enjoyable is it insane? But I can see why some people canít do this. My friend Lee is in a wheelchair. He probably wonít 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 donít really think his arguments were meant to dissuade me from cycling in the winter, but more to justify to himself why he canít or wouldnít 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 couldnít do before. In this way we really can be our own enemies.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:43 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

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: Itís not bad Karma. All things wear out.

Q: Why did that woman have to die so young? Itís 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 doesnít 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: Whatís 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 ďWhat is this life doing for me?Ē Or ďWhat can I get out of life?Ē Because life was not designed to do anything but provide life for us. We donít deserve anything more than life, and we donít deserve less. Nature is impartial. But when we always ask, ďwhat can I get?Ē We are trying to secure what we are afraid of losing. We are trying to make it Ďfairí 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, ďwhatís the best use of my life?Ē Then when you find the answer, do it.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:12 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

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 heís driving at a slower pace than an automobile and heís right out there where people can talk to him, heís 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 wouldnít 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 Iíd hire him just because of his can-do attitude.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:17 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

I could never do that!

Too often we get into a set way of thinking and have every excuse in the book why we CANíT do something. We tell ourselves ďItís too hard,Ē ďI live too far away,Ē ďIím too old for that,Ē ďIím too busy for that,Ē ďI donít have enough money,Ē or ďI could never do that.Ē

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

Itís not just pretty sounding positive affirmations to try to talk ourselves into something, itís 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?

Iíve 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, ďIs that really true? Do I really hate that? Or Can I really NOT do that?Ē I think I am capable of a lot more than I often give myself credit for. Once I started catching myself saying things like ďcanít,Ē ďwonít,Ē ďdonít,Ē ďam not,Ē ďcouldnít,Ē a red flag goes up and I ask the question. Too often the answer is ďI can,Ē ďcould,Ē ďwant to,Ē or ďwill.Ē Then I had no excuses and I began to change and be free.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:05 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 30, 2005

STRESS Relief

One of the reasons meditation improves memory is because it helps us reduce stress. Stress is counterproductive to learning. Another reason it helps our memory, is it can help our focus and concentration abilities. Meditation is a practice that can clear our minds and release our stress so we can gain a balanced state of mind.
Think of it this way: The mind gets overloaded with worry and stress. The mind gets overwhelmed and shuts down. Our memory fails us. Have you ever knew something really, really well, gone into a test and drew a complete blank? Then after the test remember it again? I have. Thatís stress somehow blocking our memory.
There are many kinds of meditation and playing music is one. You are focusing your attention on the beat and the sounds and nothing else. Many people meditate on their own breathing. Itís kind of the same idea. It gives us something to focus on. Notice how you feel when you finish playing? You donít feel quite so overwhelmed.
There is nothing so magical or mystical about meditation and itís better to not treat it that way. Itís just a step we take to clear out the noise and the distractions and look at things with a fresh perspective. We can go all out and take meditation classes, buy a video or simply start by taking silent walks or finding some quiet time at home, shutting off all the noise (distractions) and letting go. Thatís why hot baths with candel light with soft music are so effective for some people. And things like working on a craft can have the same effect.
A lot of things help us reduce stress. I meditate, pray, read books, play my trumpet and harmonica, paint, draw, sculpt, do woodcarving, dye Ukranian Easter eggs, write, exercise, sleep and many other things. Eating properly can also help relieve our stress. Not that I know of any certain foods that are anti-stress but the lack of proper nutrition, and sleep, can hinder our capacity to deal with stress.
So you want to reduce your stress? Take up meditation, continue your hobbies, they are important to life also, play your music, take that quiet time for yourself, go to the fitness center, get on your bike and pedal. Any of it helps. None of it allows stress to rule.

The Stress of Learning a foreign language

In my experience the stress of learning a foreign language is similar to the stress of performing. We are required to learn so many words per day and take quizzes and speak phrases on demand. I have found that when I acted in a play in High School, taught computer classes or played my trumpet in church there was one key ingredient that helped reduce my stress. That was PREPARATION TO THE POINT OF CONFIDENCE. When I did not prepare enough for the performance I was more stressed. When I prepared enough I was more confident and the stress was minimal, because I knew that I had already done what was going to be required of me and knew what to expect and how to do it. Then itís just a matter of doing it one more time out of the many.
With Korean when I walked into the classroom not knowing the vocabulary I was supposed to learn I was more stressed. Then my learning in that class was hindered. But when I knew all the words and grammar points I was confident and more relaxed and learned a lot during class.
This last semester I realized I had more instances of not knowing what I was supposed to know and not being prepared for class than I had in previous semesters. That accounts for a lot of my stress.
With teaching computer classes I was always really stressed until I had my outline defined. I knew as long as I had that I had a plan to follow and when the plan was done, I was done.
With performing my trumpet I played a song to death until I didnít crack and I felt it in my bones, until I could play it with my eyes closed. Then I was confident and less stressed.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:54 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Cycle Racing"

January 29, 2005

La bella Lingua!

Today was an awesome day! It feels like every cell in my body has been exhausted. Another guy at the race kind of chuckled and told me, ďInteresting choice for a first race.Ē Yes, It was kind of an interesting beginning for me into the world of bike racing. Some people have been doing this for a few years now and I overheard them talking about how they improved their bike or their technique and that they just wanted to finish with a better race time than they had the previous year. For my first try, I just wanted to experience it. And I did. I went full out. Well, as full out as I could have. There were a few points in the race when I just wanted to kick back and ride the rest of it easy. I started telling myself that there is no point in really pushing yourself. Itís just for fun. And for a time I caught my breath and rode behind a guy I was having trouble passing. But he was taking the corners too slow for me, and wanted to pass him. When he went around the corners he was taking up the whole space and swinging his bike from one side to another. When I tried to pass on the inside, he stayed on the inside. So, then on the straightaway he sped up and I had a hard time passing. I did manage to pass him a few times, but then he came back and passed me like it was nothing. On the final lap, he must have had enough because he gave up the chase and I zipped ahead of him. Then I came around the rest of the course in a steady pace and kicked it up in the final stretch to the finish. Overall I did well. I came in 22 out of 43 riders!
This is the competition that I was looking for in cycle racing. Not with the other guy, but with my own mind. When I say things like, ďkick back, relax, itís just for fun, you donít have to do this. Itís not really important. You canít win anyway,Ē then I say back, ďI am here to race.Ē And then I give it 100% of my effort. Where I came out in the standings was not important. That I finished the race and gave it my all is important. When I started the race I was at the very end of the pack. It was a mass start and at first the crowd moved very slowly and it was really a challenge for me to move forward in the group. Because of the narrow, twisty course on the ice passing was very difficult. But I still managed to move up to about the middle as everyone spread out.
When I was out there racing, all time stopped. It was just me trying to stay upright and pedal and breathe and give it more when I thought I had no more to give. Once about the fifth lap I was pushing really hard and was thinking, ďThis has to be almost over. I must have been racing for almost 30 minutes by now! The race is only 30 minutes long, plus a lap. Itís almost over, I can handle it. Keep going hard.Ē But of course I was working so hard I couldnít take the time to look at my watch to time it. So I ended up doing seven laps and came in 22nd place.
It was worth it. It was a good experience.
That leads me to the exhaustion part. After the race I was beat. I went out to lunch with my Korean Language partner and then drove him back to the U of M and then came home, unloaded my bike and other things I brought, did a few errands and then took a good two hour nap on the couch. I think part of what sapped my energy so much was also being out in the cold, fresh air.
Now Iím feeling better! This experience resonates with my soul! Do you know that feeling of trying something new? Of experiencing something totally out of your comfort zone? By going beyond your existing known limits? This is the feeling Iím talking about. This is the openness and questing frame of mind that Leonardo da Vinci had. Curiosita. (How to think like Leonardo da Vinci.) If I wouldnít have wanted to passionately try this how could I ever truly understand it? How could I know what to improve for next years race? How could I understand people who are really into bike racing or people who have made a life-long passion of being an athlete? How could I learn what my own limits and capabilities are? In Italian, the phrase, ďla bella Lingua,Ē means the beautiful language. Saying it with feeling comes from deep down inside, close to the heart. Experiencing life is part of the language of our souls. We feel it, experience it, live it and know it. Experience is la bella lingua!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:13 PM | Attitude | Cycle Racing

Category "Attitude"

January 28, 2005

Cyclist Pushes Car out of Snowbank, Almost

This morning was no ordinary commute for several St. Paul residents. As I was coasting merrily down the road I came to the Ohio Hill, which is a steep S-Curve hill that takes me from the bluffs down to the river flats each day. There on the first curve was a car that didnít quite make the turn. He was deep into the snowbank and another man in dress shoes and nice jacket was there helping, trying to push while the driver spun his wheels. The car wasnít budging. I stopped my bike and offered to help push. That didnít make a difference at all. So I began digging out the tires. Still the car must have been stuck on something underneath, it wouldnít even rock back and forth.
Then a guy in an extended-cab pickup truck stopped with a chain and hooked it up to the back end of the car and proceeded to easily pull the car out. My work was done, I did what I could, but I wasnít able to get that car out of the mess the driver got into. I think between me and that other guy we could have gotten it out eventually with more digging, but that truck was much more adept at pulling the car out than we were. As I saw him get pulled out, I got on my bike and zipped down the hill, not hitting any snowbanks and freezing my nose in the wind. I pulled my mask up over my nose and tilted my head down. After I got down to the flats and started riding on level ground I saw the car we were trying to push out fly by me. He was obviously in a hurry. He must have been late.
This incident made me think about how each vehicle in our society has different functionality and capabilities. Our problem with pollution is much greater than my individual car, but I canít expect a bike to substitute for a tow truck or a cement mixer. And we canít expect to get rid of certain vehicles or our infrastructure would fall apart. Therefore our work in the area of saving our planet has to extend beyond our personal commute. What can we do to make other vehicles cleaner and more efficient? Thinking more globally than my ride, we need to work together as a society to create more fuel efficient vehicles and cleaner emitting vehicles that produce less toxins and waste. For example, the move by Metro Transit to equip all of their busses to burn more ethanol is a good start I think. Itís a renewable resource, and even that has environmental costs in its production but the impact is much less than pumping oil, refining and producing gasoline. Detroit auto manufacturers claim they just canít make their cars more fuel-efficient.
But we know itís possible already. There have already been people and companies that have created super efficient vehicles and now we are starting to see some hybrid cars out there. Mainly because there is only now beginning to be a market for it. People are starting to ask for it. For the owners, managers of auto manufacturers, itís a matter of profits. They want to sell what consumers want to buy, and they want to make the largest profits they can. If there are few people buying energy efficient vehicles, they wonít waste their time on making them more energy efficient or cleaner. This is true for other industries as well. Manufacturers of anything wonít clean up their factories until they are forced to by the government or by the loss of their profits.
Itís almost a daunting task for individuals like me to be aware of who is really polluting and then finding something I can do about it. So we have to start with ourselves. We can make ourselves less wasteful and use fewer resources. Do what we can to eliminate the pollution we can control. Thatís a start.
That young man could have slowed down and taken that curve at an appropriate speed, but he was in a hurry. He just cost the environment by requiring a big, less efficient vehicle to expend more fuel. That extended-cab pickup-truck owner was good enough to help this man in need, but then he got back in his truck and drove alone to wherever he was going. I donít know what else he could have done. I would have helped the guy out with my truck if I were driving it. Iíve helped people out of the snow before and itís a great feeling to liberate a little car from deep snow. But in the long run I couldnít justify those few times for all the rest of the driving I was doing. Maybe in this case a smaller car with a tow strap could have done the job. Who knows, maybe not. We should all help people in need as we are able to, but maybe that has to be in the form of calling a tow truck if we canít use our own brawn. Accidents happen. Tow-trucks are designed for this purpose. But regardless of all of this, it still comes down to our own personal attitudes and actions that change the impact on the environment. If that young man had been commuting by bike he wouldnít have needed a tow truck. Bikes rarely get stuck and if they do, the driver can push it or carry it. Also if that man had been driving slower instead of taking that curve too fast, he would have saved fuel and prevented the accident and subsequent truck involvement. Also if he were driving with someone else, maybe he would have driven slower or at least he would have had another person to push.
As for me, Iím now more aware of the different uses of different vehicles and see that we have to extend our efforts to help the environment beyond our own personal choice of transportation. I wonít buy a gas-guzzler again. When and if I get ready to buy another car, Iím going to demand a more fuel-efficient model or tell them to forget it. Iíll find another way. And If I do have to buy a car for some reason, Iíll try to carpool and maximize the use of my vehicle. Thatís a start. If enough people change the demand, the supply will change.
Hey, there is always an alternative; we are not slaves to the people who run the automobile companies! Our culture is so stuck in it though, like the guy in the snow bank, so itís hard to imagine anything else, but there are options.

Here is one option I wouldnít have thought of. The man stuck in the snow with his car this morning could have gotten at least to the bus stop before it killed me. Until I get my pedi-cab or multi-human powered vehicle, I donít think I will try bike pooling as an option. Haha.
riding.jpg

Now that's teamwork!
How does all of this affect our spirits? Helping that guy who was stuck is important to do. Regardless of what heís driving or what happened to get him into that predicament, we still need to have compassion and help others. Also, we need to take care of all living things, like our environment. Itís our home; itís our childrenís home, and our grandchildrenís home. If we destroy it, we are destroying lives and thatís a stupid practice. By helping the environment we are increasing the quality of life for every living thing. Thatís a very loving thing to do.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:02 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

The New Look

I'm thankful to Shane for his great work on improving the look of my blog. He picked a great picture for the banner and complimenting colors, set up my links and even put the most recent comments in. I see I have to clean up a few spam comments, but that's a nice addition. So, this entry is just to say thanks to Shane for making a difference and helping me out. His creativity and thoughtfulness has made this new look to my blog and I love it! I hope you like it also!

Posted by carl1236 at 6:20 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 26, 2005

Random thoughts

Today I ran 5.75 miles during lunch. I ran 8.3 minute miles on average. The first mile I ran an 8 minute mile, the second mile I ran an 8.5 minute mile, then I slowed down slightly. That second mile was a killer because it was all uphill. I was breathing so hard and my body felt like it was going to scream. Or something. I didnít feel like I was going to die though. After I got to about the 3 mile mark it was mostly downhill back to work and my muscles felt all warm and I was breathing at steady pace. I thought to myself that I just have to keep going even if I slow down. Evidently I didnít slow down too much, but got into a groove. When I went to the UofM the first time I was in ROTC and we ran a lot around the U. That was nice running. Of course I was much younger then and was running a lot faster. But at least Iím doing it again. Itís been really. No I mean REALLY hard to get myself to run again after all this time of not running. Not only have I had a mental block against running, itís just easier not to push ourselves, which running forces us to do.
I ran with my friend Dan for the first two miles then he bolted on ahead and ran a few extra miles than me and he came in 8 minutes behind me. So he ran about 8.75 miles only 8 minutes slower than I ran 5.75 miles. I think Dan is a superb athlete in cycling and running. He used to be a professional bike racer at one time. But more than that, heís been an athlete his whole life.

I officially got Saturday morning off work to do my ice criterium race. I also got next Saturday off to run the Frozen 5K run in downtown St. Paul. So, Iím committed and I have the time.

Over the past few days Iíve been thinking about the implications of giving up my car totally. Iím afraid to mention this idea to other people because invariably they say something like, ďOh I could never do that.Ē I donít know what to say to that. I never intend to make other people feel guilty but I think some of them do because they are not exercising and not doing anything for the environment. But no matter what other people are doing, Iím still going to do my own thing the way I think best for my life.
Thinking about how to pull this off though without being a burden on others is something else. Because really my decisions do effect my family and others. For instance, if there is a blizzard and I have to ride my bike 20 miles to work next winter, Iím not going to want to ask my wife to borrow her car or have her drive 40 miles in those conditions and then another 40 miles to come and pick me up. There are no busses running there at the times I need to come and go. So how did people do things before the automobile? Simple. They werenít so spread out. Everything they did was closer to home. Or they spent days or weeks on horseback or walking to get to where they wanted to go. And does this mean Iíll give things like airplanes also? Maybe not. I still want to go to a few foreign countries in my lifetime, but maybe Iíll get a hot air balloon or something. hmmm.
How will I go to the grocery store? There is one by us, but itís more expensive than cub foods and they have less selection. I can ride the bus there. I am also looking around our neighborhood to see whom I can help with grocery shopping. After Jim came up with the idea to coordinate shopping with the neighbors, I was meditating one day and this thought came to me: ďOffer to go with your neighbor, (the one that is extremely overweight and always has trouble with her groceries when she gets home.)Ē I know exactly who that is and have been thinking about making an offer to help her shop together and help her carry and load and unload her groceries with her in exchange for the ride there. Itís a good match. Or there are also a lot of elderly people in my neighborhood so I could expand it and alternate between them helping them when I go along with them. I think this is a good topic for the block club meeting. Maybe Iíll start a bike grocery delivery service for them.
Speaking of bikes... I now think I need 3 different bikes. Dan said his wife would kill him if he bought another bike besides the four he currently has. They all have different purposes though. He has a time-trial bike, a commuting bike, a road-racing bike and a mountain bike. I think I need a road-racing bike, which Iíll use for time trials also, because I just donít think it will help my speed at my level. I think I also need my mountain bike for winter riding and off-road trail riding this summer. Then comes my shopping and all around tour bike with big road tires and racks I can load down with groceries and that I can pull a trailer with camping gear or cans of paint from Menards. 3 bikes will work if I am creative about rigging them properly for the conditions.
Iíll still need a car to pull my vintage wooden sailboat though. I canít see me doing that by bike unless I somehow develop super-human strength. Anyway, Iíll have to use my wifeís vehicle for that. I still plan on renewing my drivers license every year. And at the same time Iíve eliminated one car from our family. But here is also an idea. I might take it to my cousinís cabin on a lake so the whole family can enjoy it and I can ride my bike there when I want to use it. Itís only about 75-100 miles away. I think the more I think about this, the more ways I come up with to really be able to eliminate my car from my life. I can rationalize any need for a car and itís easy to do. But to stop rationalizing takes creativity and thought and letting go of some things, and bringing my lifestyle in, closer to home. How did I ever get so spread out geographically in the first place? I hate driving in rush hour traffic. Thatís why I loved it so much when I moved from my previous job in Bloomington to Downtown St. Paul, which is much closer to my home, and I donít have to drive on the freeway. Cycling is the next logical progression I think. Hey, Iíve already ridden my bike out past where I used to work and it was easy. But still I wouldnít want to do a 20-30 mile ride in a blizzard. There is a lot to be said about bringing my activities closer to home, within my community, and occasionally out further. This really is a life-changing idea.
Life changing ideas:
Going grocery shopping with a neighbor is life changing.
Giving up my car totally, no excuses is life changing.
Becoming a lifelong athlete, for whatís left of it that is. Who knows, it may even help me live to my full potential life span instead of cutting it short.

We are so happy with our new dog Max. Heís getting along great with our other dog Molly. They are so cute together and I think they like each otherís company during the day when Iím at work.

We started the Spring cleaning already. We started ripping up the old pukey brown carpeting from our bedroom to discover beautiful wood floors. We had thought about painting the floors but when we saw what was under there, we changed our design. We are going to sand and stencil and varnish it so we can see the wood grain. I think it will be beautiful when done. I can carry a floor sander home on my bike trailer I think. hehe.

So you are probably getting to know me gradually through things I write. You know then that Iím not a couch potato. But I donít have anything against watching TV or movies. I just prefer to do other things with my time.

Time. There is that word again. The thing we all seem to need more of and that slips away so fast. Itís time I got back to that book-editing project I put on hold for my Korean class. I have to finish that! Now is the time. I contacted the author and we are getting started on it again. Right after I finish posting this blog. I still have about an hour and a halfís worth of time to figure out where I left off and make a plan to finish it. Itís a novel idea.

I havenít had time yet to install the counter on this blog as Jim did. He told me how to do it, but I havenít yet decided I need to know that. It would be fun knowing though. I could always ask Shane for a count now and then. I donít really need to know I think. Iíll just get a count from the administrator when I get curious. Youíd think there would be a plugin for Moveable Type for this. Anyway, Iím skeptical about using a counter from another website. I donít know why. Just seems like a hassle. I am curious right now though how many people have been reading this blog since I started almost a year ago. Very few people make comments so I canít really count by that. Thank you to those who have made comments though, because they make me think more and itís nice to hear from you.

I always like meeting new people. Some people get really stressed out about it, but I like to really look at other people and get to know them and learn what is good and true in their hearts. Itís like getting to know a friend over time. I cannot be prejudice or hate someone if I treat them like that. I got a fortune cookie last week that said, ďIncluding others in your life will bring you great happiness.Ē Yes, thatís true. Iím happier for getting to know other people and including them in my life.

Life is too short to waste playing games and pretending. Thatís what I think. We only have a limited time here and limited resources. So what am I doing with it? Iím figuring that out still. Iíll let you know when I get rid of my car and buy (or make) that bike trailer. Maybe my dad could help me design and build one cheaply. Heís an awesome mechanic and welder. Thatís a good idea. Iíll call him now and spend some time with my dad and give him a challenge.
Now I have to challenge my brain again and get going on that novel editing. At least see where I left off and make a plan. Enjoy life. Be kind to yourself. Donít beat yourself up. You are your best ally.

ohhhhh! the bunny just peed on me! lol. time to go back in the cage.. Iíve been sitting here holding and petting him while I was writing and I held him a little too long haha. Now I have to change and then call my dad and then work on the book!

wow, I just stood up and realized how stiff I've become from all this extra exercise today. I'd better add stretching to my routine tonight.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:38 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 24, 2005

One Meme or another

Without going into too much explanation, Iíll try to paraphrase what many others have used as a definition for meme. Then Iíll talk about something Iíve noticed about memes and their propagation.

A meme is any idea, thought or thought pattern that replicates itself. Memes is not really like genes, but thatís where this new word came from. Ideas or thought patterns are said to replicate themselves by Ďinfectingí other brains like a virus and then altering behavior. A meme rapidly spreads from mind to mind in this way. But even this analogy of a virus to me is not an accurate choice of words to describe the transfer of information from one person to the next and the conversion of that information into knowledge, because a virus implies only something bad that needs to be eradicated or inoculated against. Some examples of memes are: ďHow to start a fire,Ē ďMinnesota is cold,Ē ďWe have a divided country,Ē ďOur life is very short,Ē ďHow to mix acrylic paints to attain the desired color,Ē ďOur freedom is in jeopardy,Ē ďwhatís fashionable to wear this year,Ē ďBiking is fun,Ē etc. As you can see any thought or idea that gets put out there for others to here, see, and comprehend is a meme.

One article I read, which was related to computer technology in the workplace talked about bad memes that we had to watch out for in our workplace. It warned about being deceived by memes that attempt to manipulate our minds. Yet, without realizing it, the author offered his own meme to replace the undesirable, manipulative meme. His meme was attempting to offer a better way to relate to others in our work environments. Like a virus, his idea will effect some people and not others. Or if we use the analogy of a seed, some seeds are planted in fertile ground and grow, while others fall on dry, unyielding ground and die. Some people will think about his ideas and pass them on to others. Then his meme has replicated itself.

Every idea is a meme, and when we disagree with one idea we are offering a counter idea whether we realize it or not. We are replacing one idea with another idea that we are attempting to propagate. An example of this is the thought put out there that ďReligion is trying to manipulate us.Ē We argue that religion is using memes to control us, but at the same time we are attempting to manipulate others with the meme that ďReligion is bad.Ē Our alternative is still a meme that will either spread or die, like a virus.
Unlike a virus though, some memes we want everyone to share, like the idea that itís ďtheft is undesirable.Ē In general, weíve determined that this idea should survive and be propagated into everyoneís minds. There are not too many people who like the idea of having their things stolen. We wish that everyone would not steal so this is an idea that we want to pass on to everyone. I share this thought pattern.

Hereís another meme I want you to consider: Investigate Everything. Memes attempt to manipulate our behavior so we should recognize them for what they are and evaluate all memes that get planted into our brain. As we grow from babies to adults to death, we are constantly learning and changing. Every idea or thought we come into contact with has the potential to change us, good ideas and bad, healthy ideas and unhealthy ideas, practical ideas and impractical ideas. But rather than just classifying, processing and accepting memes, investigate the truth or factuality of every meme. That includes the memes we are trying to pass on to others. Be a scientist with your own brain. Investigate everything.

In a recent ďCSI,Ē Crime Scene Investigation episode on TV, Grisholm sat listening to his team explain what they thought happened at a very old murder scene. They didnít solve the case of who did the murder but were willing to accept the answers they did come up with and put it to rest. They found the missing body and notified the family so they could have closure. Grisholm said, I donít like holes. We still donít have the murderer. What does the evidence say? They all began to dig further and soon they came up with the answer. The evidence revealed the truth. Find the facts, find the truth. Investigate everything.

In the book Iím reading now, ďHow to think like Leonardo da Vinci,Ē one of the key attributes given of a genius is, Curiosita, a natural childlike curiosity to investigate everything. It is the willingness to question everything, including oursleves. Be a genius and Investigate everything.

Be it one meme or another, youíll get thoughts and ideas that will try to propagate in your brain and youíll try to pass on thoughts and ideas to others. Let this be one of them that changes you. Investigate everything.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:32 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Learning"

Bringing back the Joy

I know this is not encouraging to some of you language learners out there, but Iíve completely stopped learning all languages. As I explain, I hope you will understand. I talk a lot about motivation and some of you who know me well, know that I am extremely busy, and never lack things to do. To do as much as I have been doing, Iíve had to give up some things and have had to motivate myself to do things I didnít really care to do. Regardless of what we get ourselves into there seems to be some things we donít enjoy about it, but we have to do it anyway.
Well, I didnít completely give up on Language learning, because over the last couple of weeks Iíve been sipping on some really awesome yoo-ja cha (Citron preserve tea) Itís a Korean product and itís healthy. It contains about 3 times the amount of vitamin C as a lemon. (so Iíve been told) Also a couple of weeks ago, my Russian friend showed me again how to make Turkish coffee. To me itís like making espresso on the stovetop in a funny bell-shaped pot with a wide bottom and narrow neck. We also talked about making Tvor-rog, a Russian homemade cottage cheese. To me these are some of the fun parts of languages. Yes, food is part of our language. Itís part of the real language in each of our daily lives. When I learn languages Iím not just learning words, Iím learning lives. Iím learning lifestyles and hobbies and how life is for the select people I come into contact with or read about.
This last Fall Semester at the UoM killed my enjoyment of the Korean Language and even of learning any language. I havenít pinpointed the source of my troubles yet, but Iíve been thinking about it a lot. Regrettably, I wonít be taking the fourth semester of Korean this year at the U. Iím taking a year off. Many people donít agree with my decision, for various reasons, but it really came down to how much money I have available. I simply wonít be able to afford it this Semester. Itís really sad news to me, because I would have found a way to do what I had to do to finish my two years of Korean for the language requirement, even if it was drudgery. This last semester proved to me I could do that. Now I have to wait a whole year to take the fourth semester of it. So in spite of tough talk about motivation and attitude, I end up making a tough decision. Quitting anything is extremely hard for me.
But maybe itís for the better, because I will attempt to get the joy back into learning languages as I restudy all of my previous material and play with the languages I love. (making more food is part of the plan and visiting more with my friends in the various languages Iím learning.)
I quit something else recently also, which was really hard for me to do. My good friend Cecilia talked to me and consoled me on that. Thatís also related to money. Iíve been supporting several people around the globe for several years and due to my current financial condition, I had to finally stop it all. It was not easy. This morning I got a call of despair from one family in India who Iíve been helping. I felt like crap. But as Cecilia told me, maybe this is for the better too, because what I was doing was not helping them live for themselves, but was enabling them to rely on me. My original goals were very specific and were enabling to all of these people, like buying medicine for a sick baby that would have died, or paying tuition and living expenses for someone so they could finish their education. But then in some cases, I just continued the support them even after the initial purpose was met. What I was doing was not sustainable. And I kept adding people to my list without increasing my revenues available for this purpose.
But I was still sad and that phone call this morning was heart wrenching. I could do nothing for my friends who called me this morning except tell them I was sorry. But I canít help my situation immediately. There are some good reasons why I am having financial trouble, but it has nothing to do with my willingness to work hard. Iím already working seven days per week. I have higher heating bills this year, I have unexpected college expenses from my son, I have a daughter who just started driving Ė insurance costs are staggering, I have expenses for my wifeís business that she is trying to get going, and other specific things. Itís all cumulative. I know I have to work at improving how I handle these parts of my life also. So thatís part of my challenge moving forward.
Now that you know the real reason Iím not taking the Korean class this semester, I want to talk about the loss of joy in my language learning over the last year. Even though I got an A in every class Iíve taken at the U of M since returning to college, I felt like I didnít learn anything this semester. To me real learning is being able to apply what I learn to my life. Information is just information until it becomes experience, knowledge. I felt like this semester and part of the previous one, I wasnít really doing that, at least not in my language studies. I felt like I was going backwards in my progression. Somehow I managed to do well enough on the quizzes, homework and exams, but my retention was getting worse. Gradually I was losing my joy for languages. As I learned a while ago, joy is an integral part of language learning.
In a Cadalyst Magazine article from August, 1999, Mark Middlebrook, the author of ďCoping with CAD burnoutĒ wrote about job burnout. In the article he stated that ďIt helps to recognize two characteristics of human nature:
Sharp people need to be challenged.
Human endurance has its limits.
Burnout is usually a result of violating one or both of these principles for an extended period of time. That is, people burn out because they are bored, overworked, or both.Ē

Although I think burnout is a real problem, there is also something missing from this explanation. That is the lack of Joy and enthusiasm for what we are doing. For many years I worked in a very high-stress computer consulting job doing sales, training, technical support and programming related to Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) software. I spent a lot of time working overtime and loved it. I loved what I was doing and the difference I was making in other peopleís lives. To me it was the most rewarding job I have ever done. Unfortunately the company didnít make it and I moved on to something less demanding. In this case I did need something to challenge me, but without the joy in what I was doing, without having it matter to me, the job would have been impossible to maintain. I was overworked but didnít feel like it. The same is true with my work now. I work a lot, but burnout wonít make me quit, because I love what Iím doing. The difference is in the attitude. What will kill this part time job for me will be the day when I no longer find joy in doing the job (or if something happens with the company I cannot control, which I doubt will happen in this case, since it seems like a well-managed company.) Also, my other interests might move up higher on my priority list and then I would have to make a decision about what to cut out. Marks second principle has an application here also because even given the proper motivation I realize I cannot do everything at once, due to lack of time, resources and physical energy. I have to sleep too. Haha. So, even though Mark is right, I need to be challenged and I have my limits, the missing principal is that human beings need to find joy in what they are doing. Without it, itís drudgery. Itís a chore that we resist mentally, emotionally and physically. We will burn out for sure if we are lacking joy.

Markís answer to this burnout is (written from a managerís perspective):
1. Keep them learning
2. Challenge them
3. Donít isolate them
4. Protect them and fight for them when necessary
5. Remember that you canít win Ďem all (despite your best efforts some people will still leave)
6. Know yourself (so you donít ruin it for others by your own burnout)

And Iíll add, Ďfind the things that make it joyful to do in the first place and reinforce and encourage those things.í
Two examples of this:
In Star Trek, Captain Kirk was promoted to the rank of Admiral, which removed him from what he really loved doing, exploring the galaxy, making a direct, hands on difference. Also, one of my former co-workers was promoted to manager from a drafter and it removed him from doing the drawings he loved doing. He only lasted one year as a manager and had to quit. His energy and enthusiasm was sapped. He no longer had joy in his job. He wasnít over-worked. His job was challenging but he didnít like doing it. He liked the hands on drawing and creation process in drafting.

So, how do I bring the joy back into my Language learning? Find what I love about languages again and do more of it, nurture it, reinforce it and encourage it in myself.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:28 PM | Attitude | Learning

Category "Attitude"

Category "Winter-Biking"

January 21, 2005

Events as they unfold

All things do not go as planned. It might seem predictable what I will be talking about. Itís the talk of the town already. The wonderful winter wonderland we live in just became more wonderful and interesting. Jim already hit a lot of the key points that I also experienced about bicycling home in this snow, so I wonít repeat that part. See Jim's awesome description of this adventure. Iíll just say that I got one of the greatest workouts of my life. And I didnít even have my studded tires on yet. That was interesting. Like a controlled slide when going downhill and pushing my bike while trudging through the snow while going uphill. Since my route home is mostly uphill I walked a lot. One person yelled out to me, ďyou gotta put skis on that thing!Ē I laughed loudly and gave them the thumbs up and kept sweating my way along the sidewalk, pushing my bike. Interesting idea though. I saw a bike like this in a book about Minnesota winters. They had big spiked tires in the rear and a ski on the front and they used to race them on the ice and snow. I don't really know how well it would actually work though. That sounds like a test for sometime in the future if I would even go there. It's interesting to imagine though.
I am totally happy this snowfall happened. It may sound crazy, but I got a good workout, and I learned what a bike without studded tires could really handle. It is experience! I rode to work just fine this morning and it was a beautiful ride. Coming home I got an experience I will not forget soon.
Then tonight I went straight to my daughterís workplace to drive her car home for her. She drove over an hour to get to work, for what should have been a twenty-minute drive. But she made it, and Iím proud of her for handling the rough conditions without getting stuck or in an accident. Getting her car home was a different story though. I barely made it, and then got stuck in our own driveway. I got another good workout! If I keep this up Iíll be Mr. Universe for a day. I donít think I have to go running tonight. Our driveway is about 50 feet long with a hill. I shoveled the whole thing and put kitty litter down, moved the cars from the street to the driveway, with help from my wife, who drove while I pushed, then made it into the house by 10:00pm. whew! This was a long, interesting, exciting day. Itís a beautiful thing to appreciate and enjoy weather like this.
I had other intentions tonight than doing all of this, but circumstances changed my plans. I was going to go to the hardware store to get more screws and finish my studded tires, but I didnít want to drive any more than I had to. And it became too late by the time I was done with my workout. ;-) So I adapt. I accept and love what I am doing. I am exhilarated by the exercise and the ability to enjoy the weather. Sometimes events as they unfold can be stressful and upsetting, but much of our suffering or joy is dependant on how we perceive things. Happiness at any given moment is dependant on our attitude toward the moment. If we are crying about the loss of our expected plans, we are not able to fully be in this moment and experience it. Sometimes events unfold and we have a choice about how to perceive them and react to them. Enjoy the snow and be safe. It'll start melting next week after it warms up.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:10 PM | Attitude | Winter-Biking

Category "Attitude"

January 19, 2005

Why I let go of the horse

When I was younger, about 24 years ago I entered an art contest. When I was 17 I was really shy and introverted. As one of my outlets, I drew pictures. I loved to draw. My creations were coming from inside and it was an expressive way to show my emotions. Even before that, when I was in eighth grade, I broke my knee and had to have an operation and a couple of casts in series put on. After the first, full-leg cast, I had a walking cast put on, which allowed my foot and ankle to move. Then I was bored and decided to paint it. My mom had been teaching me how to paint with oils and at that time she was also working with acrylic paints. My mom is a great artist and Iíve always thought that she could have done much more with her art if she would have spent more time at it. But how can you when you are raising 5 kids.
Anyway, I painted on my cast with acrylic paints because they dried quickly and were washable. It was a cool design that I just winged. I did not draw anything, just painted. I donít know what happened to that cast but it was great fun creating it. It gained me a lot of attention when people saw it, but of course that attention made me feel uncomfortable. Once I created this work of art I enjoyed it as a memory every day until my cast was taken off. I didnít create the artwork for other people, I painted it to kill time and to alleve my boredom while being stuck in the cast. Activities are a little limited when wearing one of those.
So when I entered that art contest it wasnít really my ideal. I didnít really care to be recognized or paid attention to. I entered the art contest because some of my mentors and youth workers at church thought I had some real talent and that it would be a good experience for me. As it turned out, it was a good experience but not for the reasons they thought.
Before the contest I drew up a lot of sketches and ideas, most of which I kept in my sketchbook, but finally I decided on a very simple drawing that showed my love and relationship to God. It was simply one hand reaching up to another, anticipating the touch, and knowing that our hands will meet, that God always extends a hand when I need it. At that time I thought my drawing was really good but I wasnít concerned with whether I would win or not. During the creation of the drawing I was drawing from my heart and used my own hands as a model. To me this was significant because I was deeply involved in the creative process. I was busy working out the details.
On the way to the contest I spilled coffee on my drawing. I was kind of upset about that, but in that moment my church youth leaders gave me some very good advice, and helped me try to clean it. They said something like, ďNo matter what happens, you have already received an great award during the process of creating this art. The true reward is the process of creating. With the skills and process of creating, you can create more artwork and your life will be filled with creativity and joy. Donít worry about the outcome of this contest. After itís over youíll do more, greater things.Ē And those words I knew were closer to how I felt about art, as opposed to an idea of art as a product. Just like life is not a snapshot or an end result. We often work towards goals only to find other goals and ambitions. When we arrive somewhere, we often find other destinations. Then when we look back on life, sometimes out of regret for the things we failed to do, we stumble on this truth: It is the process of creating the art that is the most important part of our life. Itís not the house we have or the job we have or the artwork we have created. Itís the creative process that brings us the joy. Itís living life that brings us the joy.
I did poorly in the art contest, and the judges said on their review form that, ďItís obvious you are a good student of art, please keep up the good work and the studies.Ē I thought that was a bunch of crap actually. When I looked at my picture I saw God reaching out a hand to help someone in need. It was the most beautiful picture I had created because it was me.
I realized the truth that the contest was just one motivation to get people to create and that I didnít need a contest to create. I donít know how to explain it any better than this. When we look at our lives as the creation of art, what do we see? How are we living it?

A few years ago I scanned in that old drawing which I kept in my attic and moved from house to house over the years and created another picture for a special friend. This was part of the process of creating a friendship. I added some Korean words to it and it makes an interesting statement by itself, but the true artwork was in giving a part of myself to someone who needed a real, true friend.

Why I let go of the horse. What should have been heartbreaking was a lesson in living.

jonchingu.gif

Posted by carl1236 at 9:23 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 18, 2005

Kicking my butt and other tales

Work and exercise. Then comes eating and sleep. This is a very interesting experiment.

Yesterday I spent all day shopping with a friend. I'm not a big shopper in the first place, but I can hang with the best of them when it comes to finding the best deal. I also think shopping is more fun when you can buy something for yourself, so I bought a lighter weight jacket for winter bike riding. It worked great today!

I rode my bike today and it was really nice! It's getting warmer! I also saw two other people out on their bikes! cool huh? One I saw while riding my bike home, and the other one I saw while running with my dog. Speaking of which, our new dog Max is working out great and he loves to run.

To any faithful readers out there, I apologize for missing an entry yesterday. My exercise program is taking a lot of energy out of me. I fell asleep at the computer last night so I thought I'd better just go to bed. It was a good idea.

Last night I saw my Korean language teacher in the restaraunt. That was nice. I was able to have a short conversation in Korean with her. The one thing I willl change in my learning practices, is more regular review of old material. Also, I will do more listening comprehension practice.

Now it's off to bed so I can do it all again tomorrow. :-) Have a great day!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:17 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 15, 2005

Leonardo da vinci Question One

What did Leonardo da Vinci feel when his twenty-four foot high model of the Sforza equestrian monument was destroyed by the French archers when they used it for target practice in 1499? He spent almost ten years studying and working toward this masterpiece. The actual bronze statue was never built but Vasari described it as ďnever a more beautiful thing or more superb.Ē In 1500 Leonardo moved to Florence and focused his efforts on painting.
I know what I would feel. I would have already said goodbye to it long before it was destroyed.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:48 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Winter-Biking"

January 14, 2005

Bike Ninja II

I think today was the coldest day of the year so far. But the days are getting longer and there are only about 60 days left of Winter. I was excited because as I was riding my bike home today, at 5:30pm there was still a little light left.
Today when I got into work, one of the co-authorís of our company newsletter took my picture and wrote an article about my winter bike commuting. I thought the picture turned out well and wanted to share it with you. Due to the extreme cold weather, I am dressed like this. Which looks very similar to Jimís picture.

bike.jpg

Today riding my bike to work I actually got too hot because I over-dressed for the conditions. The key to riding a bike in subzero weather is having 'no exposed skin.' To stay warm I put on layers:
* Long underwear, pants, windbreaker overpants. Synthetic socks, thick wool socks over that, then waterproof workboots.
* Thin Nylon gloves inside of thick winter gloves with thinsulate lining.
* Light nylon ski mask with a military Extreme Cold Weather Mask over
that. To protect the exposed skin around the eyes and lips I used a thin coat of Vaseline.
* On my upper body I had on a normal work shirt, a sweater and winter Jacket. The sweater was overkill because with the work of riding a bike, the core tends to warm up quickly. Going home I have to work much harder because it's almost all uphill. I had to take off the sweater for the ride home. With the right preparation and attitude the bike riding part is no different than riding on a summer day. Well, almost no different. I feel a little constricted in all those layers. But even sub-zero weather is manageable.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:41 PM | Attitude | Winter-Biking

Category "Attitude"

January 6, 2005

The Goal of Education

The goal of Education as I propose it, is not Encyclopedic Knowledge. It is the transformation of the self and the expansion of the mind, the gaining of wisdom. Education includes informal and formal instruction and anything that teaches us something. This includes every experience in life and everything we see, hear, feel, touch and do. There is a distinction between Information and Knowledge.
Breaking this down, we can see that words included in books are information. When we read a book we have to process that information. Then our brain has to figure out what to do with the information that it is receiving. Does it store it for later retrieval or discard it or recombine it with other information? We decide what to do with the information we are bringing in. At some point information becomes knowledge. Knowledge though is not simply reciting memorized information. Anyone can open the same book we just read and look at the same information. But that doesnít mean they or we Ďknowí this information. To know the information is to internalize it and experience it. If I am reading a book on Engineering principals, I can memorize the formulas and be able to recite them, but if I donít know how to apply the formula to real world situations, I have not really learned anything. Once I apply those formulas, then I have knowledge of that formula and itís not just numbers and variables that Iíve memorized. And my project gets completed with proper engineering principals and is structurally sound. Applying principals learned by others is how the transfer of knowledge from one person to another really takes place. Until itís transferred into Knowledge itís just information.
We are deluged with information every day. What you are reading right now is just more information to process and perhaps convert into knowledge. Today for instance I was given a calendar of the 2000 New York City Marathon by a co-worker to inspire me in my fitness goals. The calendar has a lot of amazing photos and quotes. I had not realized how massive the NYC marathon was. Itís one of those sports I wasnít paying attention to since it didnít relate to my interests over the years. But now I looked at this calendar and wonder how much preparation and training I would need to run a marathon. Well, first Iíd have to run. My workout plan this week does include running, but itís only 1 mile per day at 10 minutes. People running the NYC Marathon run for two to eight hours. Sam Gadless of Boca Raton, Florida, ran the marathon for the first time in 1997 with a time of 8 hours, 10 minutes. He was 85 years old. At 91, he competed in his seventh NYC Marathon, along with his 56-year-old son, Lou, and 26-year-old grandson, Steve. Why is this information important to me? Because itís a story of change. Itís a story of inspiration that means something to me and that I can apply. I am not interested the statistics about ages or how many people run the NYC Marathon each year, though itís interesting trivia. What can be applied to my life is the information on how he changed, and what he was doing and what his attitudes were. Sam said at 91 as he was preparing to start the race, ďIf you can do it, I can do it!Ē But his change didnít happen overnight. He didnít just go out and run a marathon because he thought it would be cool. When he was in his 70ís doctors told him that he was in sorry shape. They said his future didnít look too bright. That was the information he needed to change. He quit smoking and became active. He began researching healthy living. He changed his diet and stopped eating junk food and prepared his own nutritional meals. He began exercising. The information from the doctors was about his current state of health and some projections about how his future would turn out based on that. How Sam applied this information changed his life. Then he knew the truth. Information became knowledge.
To me this information about the NYC Marathon and in particular about Sam Gadless is a meaningless statistic unless I can somehow apply it to my own life. Is there something in it that I can use? His spirit of Ďtry ití is encouraging to me as I am trying to change my own health. Seeing by example that age doesnít mean there are no options and that old age doesnít mean helplessness is encouraging to me to continue on this path of change. His example is proof that living life verses merely existing and surviving is fulfilling and it reinforces many of the ideas that I already have about living a full and balanced life. I donít know Sam Gadless or anything about him besides what Iíve read now. But I donít necessarily have to know him personally in order to apply this information to my life. My mind is already expanded to know itís possible to run a marathon at 91 and that change is good, even if itís the most difficult thing in my life.
If we want to change the world, this is one area on which we need to set a higher priority. The education of our children when they are young should not be only a series of rote memorization of statistics and testing to recite this recorded information, but an expansion of their minds and the creative application of information to lifeís problems and challenges, creating true knowledge.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:18 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 5, 2005

sticking to a plan

It is difficult to stick to a plan. I should have been in bed already, and so much for my plan to get more rest. But I had my blog entry written by 10:35pm and was just going to post and go to bed. That's fine, unless my computer decides to lock up and not let me post, or do anything else. Finally it let me reboot. Now it's midnight and I'm off to bed. Sometimes we just have to go with the flow and refocus our efforts. I might try posting my blog in the morning before going to work. Novel concept if I can get out of bed on time tomorrow. haha. It's all good. See you in the morning.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:52 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

January 4, 2005

The Team that doesnít play together

On Sunday Randy Moss walked off the field before the game was over and the press made a huge deal out of it. I think there was only two seconds left on the clock and the Vikings had to turn the ball over and score a touchdown. Randy may have just been realistic. I could almost hear him say, ďCímon guys, the gameís over, whatís the big deal? We lost. Iím headed for the showers.Ē
I saw that game and the Vikings could have won it, but they had too many fouls, especially the one that called back an amazing catch and touchdown by Randy Moss. Iím sure Randy wasnít happy about that. He caught the winning pass and the game would have turned out differently. But that wasn't the only play they had trouble with. I donít know football very well, but in the replay it looked like Daunte Culpepper would have been sacked if not for that personal foul and the pass probably wouldnít have been completed in the first place.
More football oriented sports fans could probably analyze why this team is not winning. It has one of the greatest Quarterbacks in the NFL and a couple of the greatest receivers. Individually this team, In my opinion, has some real talent and athletic ability. So why arenít they winning? I canít answer that, but it probably has something to do with how well they play together. Randy Mossís walking off the field when the game was almost over was not the straw that broke the camels back. It probably is a good indication that he was frustrated with a team that wasnít playing together.
What will solve the Vikingís problems? Itís hard for me to say, but Randy Moss walking off the field is only a symptom of deeper team issues. It is a symptom of some underlying problem. In life we often see people throw up their arms and say, ďThatís it, humanity is doomed. The game is over. This team sucks.Ē Sometimes itís frustrating to see ignorance and prejudice and hate and violence and see people getting away with murder and other unspeakable crimes. And often those that think they are pulling the weight for the team often get frustrated. They work hard at work, they work hard for their causes and they see things falling apart or going against their ideals. What else is there to do?
Here are some ideas to help the team of humanity:
1. Take a step back and look at the big picture. Have hope that humanity is moving in the right direction. If we look at even something like slavery, which was commonly accepted as ok in the not so distant past, we see that weíve come a long way. It may not be perfect yet, but in the U.S. anyway, slavery is not tolerated and most people would agree that itís not OK. I know Slavery is still a problem in other parts of the world and the U.S. has had problems with sweatshops recently, but those are being exposed. Not so long ago either, we had World War II, where Hitler and Nazi Germany with their allies tried to take over the world. Italy had Mussolini and Europe was divided. Now people drive freely from North to South and donít even need passports between the countries. The currencies of many nations were abandoned for the common Euro. Economically they were probably forced to work together to survive. But in the recent past, would any of these countries have dreamed of this level of cooperation and openness? Each of us needs to take a step back and look at the big picture and have hope. Though itís tempting to walk off the field in the last play of the game, and feel like we are doomed because we have a lousy team, take a look at how far weíve come and have hope that itís moving in the right direction. (I canít say that for the Vikings, haha., but to me this seems like a better team than last years, especially since I didnít watch football at all last year.) Have hope and donít walk off the field just yet.
2. What are you going to do about it? When I really started listening to God, I found out that I was part of the solution. Those that are aware of the problems are in a greater position to become part of the solution. As I was riding the bus, I would see some people in trouble or see a homeless person that was sick or cold. Or when walking in the park see garbage lying around. At first I would become angry with the people that threw their fast food containers in the park. Then God would ask me, ďWell, Iím so glad you saw that, arenít you going to pick it up? Are there any other solutions to this problem?Ē Whenever I would pray to God to help those poor people I saw on the bus or at the bus stops I started to get the response, ďYes, you are right, now that you see it what are you going to do about it?Ē This is one of the hardest questions to answer. Often our reply is, Iím too busy or thatís someone elseís responsibility.
3. Education. And more of it. Do I need to elaborate on the benefits of education? If we want our team to perform better, we have to know what works and what doesnít work. We have to memorize the plays and know what the opponent is capable of and be ready for it. We should all learn from history. Leonardo da Vinci said, ďHe is a poor pupil who does not go beyond his master.Ē Education eradicates ignorance. As a society we are getting better and as a world we are getting better. Itís not as apparent when we only see our current situation, but when we look back in history we see that only the elite were educated. In Korean King Saejong the great said that the commoners needed a way to express themselves and so he and his scholars developed an ingenious phonetic alphabet that was easy to learn and then began translating literary works into this new script and teaching the people how to read and write. At this time, well before Gutenberg, King Saejong the great and his scholars also invented movable type so they could print educational material for the masses. Before that time, only the royalty, the ruling class and the scholars were educated. By the time the renaissance came around even an illegitimate child in provincial Tuscany like Leonardo da Vinci could become one of the greatest painters, draftsmen, inventors, anatomists, musicians and philosophers. We know education is needed, we need to each become educators for what we can, and we all need to learn from history and we need to place more emphasis on the education of our children and our society. If we value education as a solution, which we should, we need to place it higher on our list of priorities and elect officials and lawmakers who feel the same way. And we need to get involved. My wife served on the site council for our local school long after our children left that school because she felt that it was important. Itís one reason I was a Scout leader for 7 years even after my son dropped out of scouts. I felt it was important enough to give up my life for those years. We can all make a contribution to the education of others. As for ourselves. We must also continuously educate our selves to free us from deception and ignorance. One of my favorite ancient quotes is still, ďOne is taught in accordance with oneís ability to learn.Ē If we do not learn our lessons by being taught, will learn them the hard way.
4. Make better choices. Each of us makes choices. Last week on Wednesday, December 29th there was an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about the death of Susan Sontag, age 71. She is said to be an ďacclaimed Novelist and avant-garde star.Ē I found it interesting that she spent a good portion of her career educating people in Sarajevo. The article ended with a quote from one of Susanís books. ďWhat I want people to think about, ďshe said, ďis how serious war is. How it is elective. Itís not an inevitable state of affairs. War is not the weather.Ē The leaders in our country made it sound like war was the only alternative. That there was no longer any choice. But that is a choice in itself. Itís like walking off the field because the team canít play together. Everything is a choice. We should all stop pretending we donít have a choice because we are making choices anyway. Sometimes our choices are very difficult, and we have to swallow our pride. Sometimes we have to invest ourselves in the problems. The news article headline said that Susan Sontag lost a 30-year battle with Cancer but I say she won 30 more years of life investing herself in the world trying to make it better, the best way she knew how. We all make choices. We have global warming, we have pollution, so what choices can I make now to help that situation? One choice I made is that I wonít use artificial fertilizers and chemicals on my grass. Itís been proven to run off into our wetlands and our rivers and cause all kinds of problems with nature. Thatís a choice. I have weeds in my yard but at least Iím not contributing to a greater problem. Often the tough choices are not convenient, comfortable or desirable. But they will make a difference. Itís our choice.
5. Love each other. This seems like a sentimental platitude, but thatís because the word love is so often misused and is conditional. But the Beatles were right when they sand, ďAll we need is love.Ē We should let this guide our choices and our actions. Love includes respect for others. We should promote this in our schools, our workplaces, our neighborhoods and our homes. When there are great insults and wounds to heal, what really works to heal them?

Thatís five places to start. We are all part of the human race and there are no excuses. We can look at the world and see the game as lost or we can see the problems and become part of the solution. Pass it on. If enough people are part of the solution just think what we can do when we finally learn how to play together.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:49 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Winter-Biking"

December 29, 2004

WINTER BIKE RIDING

ATTITUDE

With this weather I can hardly call this ĎWinterí bike riding. Today I rode my bike and it was fun. But tonight I met with my Korean Language partner and picked him up from the UofM. There were still a lot of bikes in the bike racks and I saw dozens of people riding around on their bikes. I feel like Iíve made a big deal out of something that many of you are already doing, namely riding your bikes for transportation. I am assuming that itís because itís easier than walking and cheaper than a car to own. I have learned that as long as the streets are clear there is no reason not to continue riding our bikes. The cold? Wear warmer clothes. The wet? Wear waterproof footwear and have fenders that block most of the spray. The snow? Well, weíll face that soon enough. In the mean time, we can keep riding. We are only limited by our own attitude.
In the book, The bicycle commuting book, Using the bicycle for utility and transportation, by Rob Van der Plas, the author shares with us his ideas on Cycling in Bad Weather. Most of what he talks about is attitude. He said, ďI shall never forget my first group ride in the US. After having lived and cycled most of my life in such rainy regions as Britain and Holland, I had made arrangements with some colleagues in California for a Sunday cycle tour. At seven in the morning the phone rang: ďThereís a 20% chance of rain, so weíll have to call off the ride,Ē I was informed. That seemed a curious attitude and I went on the attitude anyway, together with two other Ďhardyí cyclists. We had a wonderful day. It didnít rain Ė after all there was an 80% chance of that. But even if it had rained, we would have had a pretty good ride: Though rain may detract from the pleasure of cycling, it is not usually so serious that cycling becomes punishment. And the same can be said for all kinds of other weather problems, ranging from snow to wind and from excessive heat to frost. Consider that in many parts of the world, cyclists accept what seems normal there. In Scotland or the Lake District it rains. Everybody knows it and so you donít stop cycling if it does. You dress for it or you ignore it, but you wouldnít lose a nightís sleep worrying about it. The same can be said for the cold in other parts of the world: If it often freezes or snows, you just learn to ride when it does. At the other extreme, I donít go for heat too much, but folk in much of Australia seem to think nothing of riding their bikes when itís 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The message is simple: Keep in mind what can be done Ė and enjoyed Ė in other parts of the world, and start doing it yourself...Ē He goes on to describe how to do that for the various conditions. He talks about using the right equipment, wearing the right clothing and proper fuel.

EQUIPMENT

Today I rode my Schwinn road bike because I didnít need the big fat knobby tires. I had some mechanical problems today, like a flat tire, broken toe straps and a scraping fender. None of these equipment failures were serious enough to stop. I had to fix them though, which was a pain. For winter biking I feel itís even more important to have a well-maintained bike. Breaking down in the cold is not as much fun as riding in the cold. Iíve pushed my bike in the cold three times now. Iím learning that I need to avoid this by fixing and maintaining my bikes better.

LINKS TO SITES

Here are three good sites with information on winter biking: I especially liked the Fairbanks, Alaska cycle club site. They are winter cyclists! I am a fair-weather rider compared to these people. If they can ride in the snow and love it, so can I.

Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Association
http://edmontonbicyclecommuters.ca/cgi-bin/content/content.cgi?action=winter

Totalbike.com information on winter cycling
http://www.totalbike.com/February2000/winter.html

ĒNaturally, we have a lot of winter here in central Alaska. This is a Good Thing, as it treats us to almost six months of excellent winter bicycling. For the uninitiated, it sounds mad and ridiculous, but for folks that have tried it and gotten "the buzz" from winter trail rides, it is sublime, and some of the best riding of the year.Ē
http://www.fairbankscycleclub.org/Winter/


SUMMARY

Attitude makes a huge difference in everything we do. Today, December 29, 2004, I went for a bike ride, can you believe it? Should it be this warm at this time of year? At 30 degrees Fahrenheit it was a comfortable ride. I can see how out of shape Iíve become already though. I feel it in my legs now as I sit here.
Just one and a half blocks from home I had a flat tire. There is only one thing more discouraging to me than a mechanical failure and thatís to not get right back out there after fixing whatever problem it is. I walked the bike back to my house, fixed the flat in my basement where itís warm, then went right back out. At first I wanted to just say forget it, because it was a lot of work fixing that flat. Then it was a half hour later and I was running out of daylight. But I went out anyway and rode. I had some other irritating mechanical problems but nothing that kept me from enjoying the ride. I rode hard for about a half an hour and Iím happy that I did it. Iím sure my body will be better off for exercising again. It felt really good! So did a positive attitude. Looking back on the day, I feel much better because I just did it and did not let anything stop me from enjoying it.
I have this feeling that like the people in Fairbanks said, this will be ďsome of the best riding of the year.Ē

Posted by carl1236 at 11:26 PM | Attitude | Winter-Biking

Category "Attitude"

December 28, 2004

Ponce

As we were sitting around the table playing Ponce, a wicked game of solitaire run amuck, Lois commented that I was sitting at the table with four aunts and that it was remarkable. I would have to agree that it was amazing. Especially since I havenít spent this much time with any of them in many years. So, Iím really thankful for the chance to be able to relax, have fun and enjoy their company.
My wife has said this many times, that she absolutely loves my family. They all have always been open and welcoming and made her feel like part of the family. Part of the reason I believe is they all have good hearts. An example is when my Aunt was moving and selling her house, they needed help moving something. So, she was going to call her brother and just as she was headed for the phone, he showed up. He was there because he thought they might need some help. Then another time, my other aunt was moving and someone broke a light switch right before the final walk-through. It was late at night and no stores were open. Just as they were about to call my uncle again, he showed up wondering if they needed help.
A desire to help each other in spite of what life throws at us is a sign of a good heart. This is the kind of attitude I grew up with. It's kind of fitting that a family like this plays a game like Ponce, where everyone is playing solitaire, but playing off everyone else's cards. In life we each do our own thing, but we are never alone and always can count on each other. One of my aunts said they play this game because they can play it no matter how many people happen to be there. It's an all-inclusive game. Anyone can play.
This is the kind of attitude that Jesus asked us to have toward the greater family of humanity. We are all in this life together. What makes it better is a family with a desire to help each other in spite of what life throws at us. Anyone up for a game of Ponce?


Posted by carl1236 at 11:56 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 27, 2004

10 Things to be thankful for

1. My friends in Chennai, India are ok.

2. I rode my bike to work today.

3. I took a nap after work

4. My friend came back from Laos and Thailand and I'm having lunch with him tomorrow.

5. I'm going to my Aunts house tomorrow night to play cards and socialize with my relatives some more.

6. I'm going to bed early tonight.

7. I'm getting off work early tomorrow

8. I wasn't the only person who biked to work today.

9. I learned something new about my old 35mm camera tonight

10. I read some good blog entries on here tonight that made me think. One interesting question: What does unity really mean?

I can always find something to be thankful for. Sometimes we can use this exercise as a mental and emotional boost. Try listing at least 10 things you are thankful for, and don't stop until you have all ten. Sometimes we really have to look for the positive side of things but looking at the list after we are done is very nice.
As an example, when I said that I rode my bike to work today, I was really thankful for that, but on the way home tonight my pedal fell off again. I had a wrench but this time I couldn't fix it. I didn't let that ruin my whole day. I pushed the bike the rest of the way home. It didn't kill me to walk and was actually quite peaceful. It gave me time to think. But it could have easily destroyed my whole day if I wasn't thankful for a good ride in the morning and wasn't able to see the positive side of pushing my bike home. I'll rebuild that bike even better and it'll be like new at a fraction of the cost of a new bike of the same quality. I enjoyed the walk and the time to think about all the things I'm thankful for today.
Now tomorrow will be a great day.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 23, 2004

Living in a mosquito net

I know itís hard to think of mosquitoes at a time like this! At (minus) -8 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about -22.2 degrees Celsius, this is the coldest day of the year so far. With the wind-chill it drops to Ė27 degrees Fahrenheit! But I was reminded of something today, when my wife said, ďIn weather like this a person aught to just stay at home.Ē And a little later she said, ďYou canít ride your bike in this cold!Ē

In a mosquito net
A man may for a little time
The cares of life forget.

- Riukio

From the book, Haiku, Seasons of Japanese Poetry

I know many people are against Religion. For many people this has become a nasty word. They get some kind of angry revulsion going on in their minds whenever they hear it mentioned. Because many people have tried Religion and have not found the relief they are seeking from their suffering. We think, shouldnít Religion make life easier or better? We go to church or the temple, hear about Godís grace or meditate on Love, peace and compassion, and we might feel that for a little time. Itís a retreat from life but does little to help us live like that outside of the Religionís building. In church we often sing the song, Amazing Grace but then we walk out the door and feel everything assailing us and donít feel saved or transformed. The mosquitoes are biting constantly and sometimes ferociously. In the Religions we dislike we often have not found the answers or the relief in our daily lives that we look for.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that one of the most important parts of Buddhism is the training of the mind. When Buddhists meditate, they are training their minds. They are clearing their minds of negative emotions and learning to fill them with positive ones. In the Christian Religions, we are allowing Jesus Christ to transform our hearts so when we walk out of the doors of the church, we practice what we have learned and put it into action. To live in a better way, we have to take the peace and grace of God with us in our daily lives.
I used to read religious materials by priests, monks and religious teachers and think, ďThis is a bunch of crap.Ē Itís because I was not able to experience relief from my daily life-struggles from what they were teaching. In the past when I read a book by a Buddhist Monk talking about meditating and training the mind to achieve enlightenment, I used to think, ďYeah right, anyone can have peace of mind if they remove themselves from life and sit around meditating all day.Ē I wanted to be a monk in a temple because I thought that being in the mosquito net was better than being outside of it. Monks in any Religion seem to have the peace and the joy, but could they come out of their monasteries and do my two jobs and go to school and raise my family and still feel the same? Could we go to church and gain the peace and joy inside and just stay in the mosquito net forever?
It certainly makes sense that the simpler our lifestyles, the more at peace we are. In my experience the busier I get, the more complicated my life is. There is more turbulence and more things to take care of. Sometimes we need retreat and rest from our struggles, but we canít live forever in it. So in our Spiritual practice, in order to carry our peace and joy out of the Churches and Temples and into our daily lives, it has to be a way of life.
I no longer have a dislike or fear for any Religion because I realized a long time ago that if our practice is not done on a personal level, continuously, then itís not real. Itís not a solution. If it doesnít change me and doesnít dispel my miseries, then it is not real. Or a better way to put it, is itís not Ďrealized.í The teachings then are just meaningless ink on paper. Also I realized that Religious Organizations cannot live my life for me, nor can they experience life for me, nor can they relieve me of my free will and the consequences of my choices. So it's not practical or necessary to separate myself from my family or my circumstances to find and keep happiness. We need something that is not separated from our daily life to achieve happiness and peace.
Living in a mosquito net does bring us respite for a little while. So does staying inside when itís freezing cold outside. But having the tools and skills to go out and live life outside without suffering is even better. When we look at religions and their teachings in this light, we can take what is useful to apply in our lives and carry out the practices that work. If itís not working, we can look deeper into why it works for others, and what it is thatís causing it to work.
A lot of our spiritual happiness is tied to our underlying motives and attitudes. This is a good place to start. Faith, hope, love, truth, peace, joy and compassion are all spiritual things that our religious teachings talk about, but they are also practical things in real life to practice. How we live our lives and how we deal with our problems are affected by these. A person does not have to be Religious to experience the effects of these. A positive attitude goes a long way toward dispelling our miseries.
Today I experienced a liberating attitude. I rode my bike to and from work. The temperature was -8F / -27F with wind-chill. When I left work someone asked me, ďYouíre riding your bike in this weather?Ē I said, ďyeah, sure, it all depends on how well prepared we are.Ē And I was prepared. I was actually over dressed for the occasion. I did not suffer because I carried advice from friends, my peviously gained knowledge, wisdom, positive attitude and past experience outside the mosquito net.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:52 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 20, 2004

Marshall

At the family gathering I just attended, the most interesting observation I had was something that should have been videotaped, if someone would have had the foresight bring a camera. But many of us got to enjoy the sight. One of my wifeís cousins has a little boy about 6 or 7 years old whose name is Marshall. Marshall is a handsome little guy with huge eyes and a quick smile.
Another one of her Cousins has a 10-week-old baby girl. Marshall wanted to try to hold her. So mom put hum up on the big lazy boy chair and showed him how to hold on and support the neck with his arm and then set the baby in his arms. He sat there gently holding the baby and looking at her. The baby obviously felt content and safe there, because she was happy. Marshall raised his eyebrows a couple of times and said out loud, ďSheís so quiet.Ē Marshall was in no hurry to give up his experience of holding that baby. He was intently studying this baby and observing itís every action and sound.
I think Marshall is a special little guy. None of the other children at the party showed any interest at all in the baby. Marshall is a contradiction between Tough and Tender. Marshall plays hockey and has also been known to rattle the house down with his brotherís help. There was something about this night and that baby that captivated Marshall. Who knows what it means now or will mean for Marshall in the future, but I know I was lucky enough to be in the right place and the right time to witness this interaction between Marshall and the baby.
We can all learn from Marshall. Where is our child-like wonder and amazement in life? Somewhere in the process of growing up we tend to put it aside in favor of what we perceive as adult-like behavior. Life is much more fulfilling and amazing when we can remember to marvel at what should be an amazing miracle. Letís not become too calloused or afraid to hold the baby. Life is really amazing and we can see that if we take the time to really observe it.

Posted by carl1236 at 1:06 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 17, 2004

The Red Suit Diaries

As promised, here is my blog entry about the book, The Red Suit Diaries Ė A Real-Life Santa on Hopes, Dreams, and Childlike Faith, by Ed Butchart. Iíd write a normal book review about this book, telling you how great it was or how great the author was, but I think even better than a bunch of flattering words would be telling you a few key things I got out of the book.
First I learned that being Santa is a year-round gig. The real Santaís believe, as I do, that we should be doing nice things for people and making dreams come true for others all year Ďround.
Another thing I learned is that being Santa has a lot more to do with your heart than it does the costume or the nice beard.
I learned that being Santa is a big responsibility. First of all, a lot of kids have expectations of Santa. Who wants to be the Santa that blows that image? Being Santa is the embodiment of a great spirit of generosity and love. Children pin their complete faith, trust, hopes and dreams on this spirit.
I learned that in the life of a real-life Santa, there are many truly sad children out there. Like the boy who whispered in Santaís ear that the only thing he wanted was for his dad to stop hitting him.

Itís a good book. Several parts were really moving and brought tears to my eyes. Iíll let you know what else I discover as I finish reading it.

Now itís just after 10pm, and Iím going to bed, haha. Just because I donít have homework to keep me up past midnight. ;-) For those of you that still have some finals, good luck to you! They usually are not as bad as they seem.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:11 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 14, 2004

Everything since then has been a bonus

I was reading an interview with Stephen Hawking, the renowned physicist and Science Fiction Author in a New York Times Magazine supplement today.* Stephen Hawking has an incurable motor-neuron disease
The question that interested me the most was this:

Q: ďSeriously, how do you keep your spirits up?Ē
A: ďMy expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.Ē

Many people who have life threatening experiences and live through them seem to have a renewed sense of life in them. They take less for granted and are more thankful for every second they have. To them life is a gift. Lance Armstrong, six-time Tour de France winner fought cancer and lived to tell about it. His struggle and victory over cancer propelled him into victory on the bike and in life. He changed.
When we have faced the prospect of losing it all, we tend to value it more while we still can. I donít have to go through a near death experience to know how preciously short our time here really is. I can see it in my family members who have already moved on. I can feel the loss and the joy and understand that I have to make the most of the limited time I have. It goes by quickly.

Another reason to be thankful today.

*. New York Times, December 12, 2004, Section 6, The 4th Annual Year in Ideas, Email Interview by Deborah Solomon, The Science of Second Guessing, Questions for Stephen Hawking.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:04 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 8, 2004

Final Exam Cram II

Last May I wrote about studying for final exams. For me these general tips still work:
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/carl1236/dailyspirit/2004_05.html#000884
If anyone wants to add to the list, feel free to post a comment.

I started exercising again today after taking 3 weeks off from all exercise! I have been feeling it, with less energy and a general feeling of crud. Exercise is a good way to relieve stress also, so that might be why I was having a panic attack over finals this past week. My blood has not been flowing properly to the brain! Iím not going to over do it, but some exercise in my daily routine is really important so I had to get back at it.

Also, here is another Russian saying that is appropriate for final exams:
Tyazshyelo v oochyeneeye, legko v voyoo. Hard in the study, easy in the battle.
So study hard and the battle will be easier. (I still havenít figured out how to type Russian or Korean fonts in this blog. That will be a project for winter break I think. Then Iíll go for a multi-lingual blog.)

Final Exams and Languages are so much fun arenít they? Here is something to think about:
If our 'Language Final' kills us, I guess we could call it our ĎFinal Language.í

Posted by carl1236 at 4:48 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 5, 2004

What do I have to fear?

Record numbers of criminals are filling our prisons, our teenage girls and boys are being abducted in public places, scandals erupt as athletes are building their bodies through illegal steroids, Internet scams are on the rise, our elected officials are lying and stealing and extorting, violence is erupting in our schools, on our roads and in our neighborhoods, drug trafficking is at an all time high, AIDS is killing millions, terror has spread to all ends of the globe. There are thousands of problems that could be listed here. It seems overwhelming at times. Our newspapers and T.V. stations are filled with these negative images. It makes us wonder if there is any hope for humanity.
I was talking with a good friend about this and she had some dire predictions about our country as well as other countries, namely Iraq. I had to agree with everything she said because her predictions are right. Some things will get much worse before they get better. But even so, there is something even more terrifying that we should be afraid of. It is much more insidious and dangerous than all the terrorists in the world: It is our lack of compassion and love for others. It is our apathy toward problems in this world. It is the de-sensitizing ourselves against violence, greed and suffering. It is our own abuse of power over others. These are the hidden snipers of our mind.
All of these have devastating effects. Repeated over and over by millions of people it destroys our humanity and creates the very situations that we fear.
What do I fear? I fear my uncaring, unsympathetic, uncompassionate, unloving, apathetic self that I know can rear its ugly head.
As long as we can love there is hope. The darkness of fear fades as the sun rises in each of us.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:17 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 4, 2004

Boxes within boxes

Today in the paper there was an article about cross-country moving scams. The picture showed a moving truck with boxes labeled for each room stacked here and there. One box said ďLiving Room,Ē another ďKitchenĒ and another ďBedroom.Ē It was a very interesting article about extortion and theft on the Internet. The headline said, ďMover Beware.Ē Itís a good article to read if you are planning on moving.

Seeing the pictures of boxes stacked and ordered in categories by room, ready to move into the house led me to think about what we construct around us. Then as I was driving to work I passes over this high hill and looked out over a new development that was going up. It was rows upon rows of identical looking houses that have not yet set themselves apart. Then a little while later I saw another development that was older. From a higher elevation looking down on it, it was still rows upon rows of boxes within the box of the neighborhood. Looking deeper into the homes we would see some differences, but maybe those differences are not so different, considering most neighborhoods contain ethnically, economically and philosophically similar residents.
But no matter which neighborhood we move to, there are similar parameters to life there. There are expectations of the residents to fit in with everyone else in that neighborhood. Besides our neighborhoods, cities and countries, there are also mental boxes we create, within boxes, within more boxes. Containers we label for proper handling and moving into their proper spaces. Class, status, race, sex, language, marital status, etc. are labels and order we create. Itís of our own doing. We can move from one to another and in and out of boxes, yet we find ourselves still contained by our notions about things. Before we are too harsh with others or too critical, itís helpful to remember to avoid generalizing about people, labeling and stacking them for neat placement in our house. We can learn to look at each other as individuals with unique needs. We can also learn to love each other. We can be aware that even our own lives are self-made and ordered by our own design, and we can change it. Before we are too critical of others it is helpful to understand our own lives.

These walls close in around me
containing, enshrouding Rose,
Soft petals enfold my name,
turning inward in a dream.
Iím lying between the sheets
tossing and turning about,
a box smaller and smaller,
one enclosing another.
Within sheets, within walls, in house,
within locks and doors and halls,
this box contains, holds, enshrouds;
this dream entombs and confines.
Placed neatly, this box in box
by my design, house in house,
neighborhood, city, enclosed,
row upon row, line on line.
Once defined a dreamy flow
becomes waves upon the rocks
holding in its walls the shore,
building blocks enslave, enshrine.
This age, this race, class and sex,
Whereís the new when itís all old?
Box upon box amassing
this living concealed in days.
Within roses and houses
Iím lying between the sheets
of defining norms, poses,
rank, labels, status and dreams.
Is there escape and repose?
when outside of box is box,
and itís all by my design?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:58 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

December 2, 2004

rest

Sometimes we just need to give it a rest. Tonight I worked on my computer for about 3 hours after losing our internet connection. One hour of that was talking to tech support on the phone trying to see why my modem wasn't connecting. Then the technician finally gave up and said he'd have to send a service person out to my house. The next available date would be Sunday. I was a little disappointed by the long wait, but I accepted it. Then just as I was hanging up the phone, my modem decided all on it's own to start working again.
Now here I am online, but I'm out of time. It's midnight and I have to get up for work in the morning. So we all get a break from my blog tonight. Maybe tomorrow if my modem decides not to cooperate. That's my experience for today. It taught me patience. Without this computer problem I would not have had the opportunity to test my patience.
Have a great day!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 30, 2004

A concerted effort

In studying the art and architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, I find a common current flowing through it all. It is the concerted effort he made on every project he worked on. The effort went way beyond the design. He tried to integrate the wishes of the client into his designs. He tried to design in functionality that was also beautiful. He tried to use natural materials. He tried to simplify and open up confined spaces. He paid attention to the details. Every project combined creative design, utility, the natural environment, the clientís needs and art into one cohesive unit.
Even when working in Tokyo on a hotel, Frank Lloyd Wright worked tirelessly with contractors and clients in the United States to get his projects built according to the design. His efforts during the design and building phases of his projects were detailed and persistent, and thorough. He even went so far as to design clothing for his staff at gatherings so they would match the decor. He even designed clothing for his wife that fit in with the design of their home. Many of his designs included matching furniture and carpeting. He really went all out in his work. He put in a concerted effort to put his ideals into form.
In school we have to put in a concerted effort in each of our courses. We cannot expect to get by without studying or doing our work. Educating ourselves does not happen without effort.
In life it seems that very little comes for free. No matter what we are involved in, it seems that we have to work at it. Frank Lloyd Wright did not get things done by luck or chance. He practiced his designs on his own home. He worked many hours to achieve his goals.
In our spiritual lives we donít get to our goal for nothing either. We have to work at it. We must make a concerted effort to apply our spiritual principles and ideals to our lives. Many people like to label themselves. They like to be called Buddhist or Christian or Muslim or whatever, without applying the principals of those religions to their lives. Most religions at their core offer a way to transform a person into more loving, more compassionate, more giving, more caring, more complete, happy, whole beings. But transformation requires work. We canít expect overnight transformation, and we canít expect instant enlightenment, free from all suffering. Transformation requires a concerted effort on our parts.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:23 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 29, 2004

Live in a better way

In his book, Live in a better way, Reflections on Truth, Love and Happiness, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gives candid guidance on living fully and responsibly. One thing he said that I really liked, and that is good advice for all lifelong learners like me is,
"Pay attention not only to the cultivation of knowledge but to the cultivation of qualities of the heart, so that at the end of education, not only will you be knowledgeable, but also you will be a warm-hearted and compassionate person."

Posted by carl1236 at 10:01 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 25, 2004

Born into Bondage

In the year of 1963, I was born into bondage. As I grew up, I willingly cooperated and colluded in my own submission. I was like a puppet on a stage, in a play that was already written, cheerfully acting out my part. I wanted nothing more than to live the part, acting out my fate. When I was little I was given a mirror. It wasnít just any mirror though. It was like magic. When I looked into it, I saw what everyone else wanted me to see. I saw what everyone else expected of me. As I played my part in the play I looked at the mirror frequently to make sure I was getting it right. I didnít even know that other mirrors existed.
Several times throughout my life the play ended. I didnít understand why. I just looked around helplessly to see if there was another stage to play on. Of course there always was, and it was just like the previous one. The play was the same too. While I was lying on the floor between plays, my strings in a pile, the masters of the play looked at me with disgust, ďWe canít have this!Ē they sang in unison. And soon enough I was back in action and I was happy to be playing my role.
However when I was lying on the floor, looking at the other stages and puppets, I saw other plays that were unlike mine. I saw other stages. I saw other puppet masters. But each time, I looked into the magic mirror. Then I was back up on the stage and life went on. I was happy again.
Over the course of my life something else happened. Not only did I see other stages and plays, the other puppets started acting in my play, and other puppet masters started pulling my strings and others around me. One day I looked at my magic mirror to see who I really was, and remember thinking, ďoh crap, this mirror is cracked!Ē I saw strings attached to my arms and with my eyes opened, I followed them upwards to discover the means and motivation for my movements. Thatís when I had the heretical thoughts, ďWhat if I got a new mirror? What if I chose a different puppet master? Could I do that? Man, for an unconscious puppet I sure have some ideas.Ē
Of course, I couldnít stop there. I wondered about which play I would like to act in. I also wondered to what extent I had a choice in which play I could be in. My old mirror was no help here. It always told me to keep acting. I was in new territory. I determined that indeed, the only way to be in another play was to find another mirror. One that showed me for who I really am, that allowed me to be in another play. Then, I determined that yes, I also need to find the master of the play I want to be in. I need to have my strings pulled by the right puppet master.
Ok, not easy, but it can be done. The first step is knowing how we are animated, that there are other mirrors and other plays. The second step is to wonder what it would be like to be in those plays. The third step is to willingly change mirrors and to accept a new master. Then our freedom from bondage is on its way from one stage to another until we find the ultimate truth beyond our socially constructed reality.

In the year of 1963, as I was being born into bondage, Peter L. Berger declared, ďthe individual locates himself in society within systems of social control, and every one of these contains an identity-generating apparatus. Insofar as he is able the individual will try to manipulate his affiliations in such a way as to fortify the identities that have given him satisfaction in the past.Ē

Posted by carl1236 at 11:39 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 24, 2004

Ammit the gobbler

According to the book, "Ancient Egypt, an illutstrated reference to the myths, religions, pyramids and temples of the land of the pharaohs," the ancient Egyptians believed that, when they died, they would be judged on their behaviour during their lifetime before they could be granted a place in the Afterlife. There was a judgement ceremony that took place before Osiris, the chief god of the dead and Afterlife, and a tribunal of 42 deities right after death.
The heart was placed on a scale and weighed against the principle of truth and justice (maat) represented by a feather, the symbol of the goddess of truth, order and justice, Maat. If a deceased person's heart was heavy with wrongdoings, the heart would weigh down the scale and sink. Sitting at the base of the scale was the beast Ammit, 'the gobbler' Ammit was a composite animal with the head of a crocodile, the front legs and body of a lion or leopard, and the back legs of a hippopotamus. The Egyptians did not believe in hell. If a person't heart was found to be too heavy, Ammit would gobble it up and the person would cease to exist. (pg. 394)
I think some people cease to exist before they die when their hearts are gobbled up by the beasts of this world. Much of the joy in life comes from giving to others and doing what is good and right. Otherwise it seems kind of empty. We don't have to fear Ammit when we die, we have to fear it while we are alive.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:28 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 23, 2004

2004 Korean Thanksgiving Event

Tonight I went to the 2004 Korean Thanksgiving Event at Coffman Union. There were a few highlights of the evening for me. One was just being able to practice some phrases in Korean with so many willing Korean native speakers. Even though I got a few things wrong, it was still fun trying. One person told me I was addressing her too formally. haha. It will take me a lifetime to negotiate just the right amount of formality and respect in my interactions with Koreans. But Iím working on it. Itís built into the language, so the more I learn, the better I get.
The second highlight for me was the food of course! I love Korean food. Give me Kim-chee over Sauer Kraut any day! Although Iíll eat that too. And they had another one of my favorites: Kim-Bap.
Then for something completely new to me, and an experience I wonít forget very soon, they had traditional Korean drumming. It was nice to see and hear in person. Basically itís a combination of dancing and drumming by a group of performers all in sync with each other. Very well done and interesting. I especially loved how the drummers turned themselves upside down as they followed the edge of the drum around, beating on it.
There was also some great music performed on Cello, Violin and Piano, and a Tae Kwon Do demonstration. I thought that was too long, but it was interesting.
Tonight was an interesting night and I waffled back and forth about a decision I was struggling with regarding taking another semester of Korean. This semester has been really tough so far, and after tonight I decided it would be better if I continued. Learning any language is difficult. Learning it well takes dedication and patience. Leonardo da Vinci said, ďImpatience, the mother of stupidity, lauds brevity. Impatient people lack the time for gaining complete knowledge of a particular thing, such as a human body, yet they try to embrace the mind of God, which contains the universe...Ē
He goes on to comment on how we live with ourselves our entire life and are still ignorant about who we are.
His words are a little harsh I think, but he was a master of observation, especially of physical phenomenon. I still want to master Korean and Russian, and German and several other languages and some that I havenít dreamed of yet. So I have to patiently persist, knowing that itís a lifelong process and the rewards are part of the process. Tonight proved that. I have a greater appreciation for the world around me.
We cannot predict how much time we actually have on this earth, since if we donít die from old age or sickness, we could still die of a freak accident tomorrow, or 10 minutes from now. With Thanksgiving as the theme for the week, Iím thankful for every moment I have here. This is really a beautiful gift to be alive. Take advantage of it and be alive while living!

With the renewal of my trumpet playing, my artistic creativity is kicking up some dust. I was inspired by Leonardo de Vinci, and have the needed piece now to complete a painting I started last year. Then, my wife and I stopped at a bookstore and I found another a book on Ancient Egypt and was inspired for my next project; a relief carving depicting a special story.
Life is always worth living and worth fighting for. Donít give up, have patience and donít live in fear. Be alive, be thankful for right now. Peace.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:39 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 22, 2004

Natural Law of Variety

In the times of Plastic Surgery, reality show make-overs, modeling ourselves after Supermodels and the dawn of cloning, this is a good time to remind ourselves of a reason for Variety: To make it possible to distinguish one person from another. Throughout history human beings have changed their ideas about what is beautiful many times. For instance, at one time, robust was the in-thing. Now, skinny seems to be the model of beauty. Many people go to extreme measures to look and feel beautiful. Often they want this attribute overnight, without the agony and discipline of getting there. This could be a sign of a pervasive need in our society for instant gratification, or simply a really strong desire to be accepted, no matter what the cost, maybe driven by low self-esteem. Of course, our ideas of what it takes to be accepted are all different and change with the times also.
Leonardo da Vinci observed the laws of nature and came to the conclusion that there is a reason for everything in nature. He said, ďThere is no effect in nature without a cause.Ē Tied with another quote written in a separate volume, he elaborates on what that cause will look like, ďNecessity is the mistress and guardian of nature. Necessity is the theme and inventor of nature, the brake and eternal rule.Ē So the cause of an effect in nature is driven by some need. When it comes to our appearance Leonardo da Vinci comes to a conclusion about what the cause is for the infinite variety of our appearance: ďIf nature had laid down a single rule for the character of numbers, the faces of all men would have been so similar that it would be impossible to know one from the other. But she varied the five members of the face; though she followed an almost universal rule with respect to their size, she did not observe the same rule with respect to quality and thereby made it possible to distinguish clearly one face from another.Ē
Part of learning to love ourselves, and learning to live free of fear, is to accept who we are. This can be difficult sometimes. There are all kinds of voices telling us who or what we should look like. Variety is the spice of life, itís beautiful and itís all natural.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:25 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

November 2, 2004

Concession?

With Election coverage on TV, I'm a little distracted from writing tonight. I liked Patty Wetterlings concession speach. She is a good person.
I think it's good to keep life in perspective and remember that no matter what the result of this election, we need to have hope and keep working for the values we believe in. If our favored candidate is not elected, it doesn't mean we change our values and what we believe in. Keep hope. Keep what you believe in and keep working toward that.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:54 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 31, 2004

Keeping the Junk out of the Dump

One personís Junk is another personís Treasure. Thatís one of the principles behind Garage sales and Ebay. Someone out there might want it. And it keeps many still-useful (and not so useful) things from ending up in the dump.
Garage Sales, Goodwill, Ebay are all good choices. There is way too much waste going on here in the land of disposables, and our Landfills are filling up. But now we have more options for finding stuff people are getting rid of, and giving our stuff to others. For FREE!
Check out these sites to pick up free stuff and unload your stuff for free:
http://www.mnexchange.org and
http://www.freecycle.org and
http://twincitiesfreemarket.org

I read about this in the paper and thought, ďYES! Great Idea. Who says you canít get something for nothing?Ē Well, you might have to go pick it up. In the Newspaper they talked about a dairy barn someone was giving away. They said itís all or nothing. Come and get it and itís yours for free.

This reminds me. One day last year my sister called me and said, ďJohn, do you want a free sailboat?Ē I said, ďYes, that would be cool!Ē Iíve always wanted to do sailing and have a boat. Iíve been sailing with friends and loved it. So I fell for the ĎFreeí boat. I had to go pick it up in Northern Wisconsin though. The first obstacle was finding a boat trailer because the free boat didnít come with one.
I borrowed a boat trailer from a coworker. The second obstacle was finding a vehicle that could hall the trailer. My sister Ďvolunteeredí since it was her idea and her friend who was giving away the boat. So, early one Saturday morning we set off to get the boat.
The boat was an old wooden Johnson Boatworks X-Class racing scow. It was a very fast racing sailboat made by a company right on White Bear Lake.
The free sailboat had a lot of rotten wood that needs replacing. But I was optimistic still and wanted a free sailboat. Iím still excited about it, but the repairs are going slowly because I donít have any free time to devote to it right now. But at least the free boat is off the ground and covered now. Maybe in a few years Iíll have it completely refinished. It will be beautiful! That old sailboat is a good project for me, and if I didnít come along and fall for the Ďfree boatí trick, it would have been bonfire wood.

Recycling stuff between people is really a good idea. We have way too much waste in this country.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:49 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 30, 2004

Anticipation

Today was an interesting day. Not too often but some days I feel outside of myself. As if the events of the day are on parade, slowly marching by me as I watch.
I watched myself working on my computer this morning, and then rush out of the house to work. At work I watched myself interacting with the residents and cleaning and making dinner. The day was very busy and then It was time to go. I drove to my Language partner's house and we went out for dinner. It was great. He likes to eat at Pho 79. The Pho is very good. Anyway, After that we drove around looking for a good coffee shop to hang out at, to talk and practice our language skills. But after driving around and talking, we didn't see anything, or I couldn't find a parking spot, so I drove him home. Then we were done for the evening. Then I got home and my computer was still having problems so I worked on that. Now I'm typing this blog.
The day is over and I'm tired. There were so many things that happened today that it's hard to list them all. It was a very busy day. I think that's why I'm anticipating sleeping-in in the morning. Looking back on today It was kind of a long day with a lot of reflection on what I was doing.
Tomorrow's another day and it feels good to be done with this one.

Have a great Halloween day and be safe.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:31 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 28, 2004

The pouring Rain

Wow, the rain is really coming down hard right now! It's a good time to be sitting here typing instead of out in it. I didn't ride my bike today because It was raining this morning and I had class tonight so I rode the bus. I stayed dry but didn't exercise today.
Last Friday however I did not stay dry. I rode with my friend Dan again and got drenched. I was waterlogged by the time I got home. And I chose to do that? Haha, yes. I did. Strange as it may be, I did purposefully ride in the rain. It was fun and had a good purpose for me. It reminded me that a little rain won't make me melt. Sometimes when our worlds are gray and rainy we feel like we can't do anything. But after venturing out there we discover that we can do anything. The pouring rain is no longer an obstacle. It's an adventure.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:54 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 27, 2004

Letting Go

Letting go of our expectations of others can be liberating. How many times have we been disappointed because someone didn't live up to our expectations? We end up punishing ourselves because of our reaction to events we cannot control. We have to admit that what others do really is out of our control. We can make our expectations known to others, and that's good for communication, but it's not a guarantee that they will meet those expectations.
For most people it's easy to say though, and not so easy to do. Tonight I let go of some expectations of myself. That's sometimes harder even than letting go of our expectations of others. Tonight I rode my bike really hard, and I'm tired. It felt good, but I don't have the energy to do other things that I feel like I should be doing. At some point tonight I realized that I needed to just let go of my superman expectations and get some rest. So I'm not posting my blog at 11:59 because I'm here early, on my way to bed. Once I made the decision to let go of some of my expectations, like that I had to clean, and had to work on some other projects, had to study more, etc, I felt a weight lifted. Now I can get some rest. It's liberating.
Too often I think we like to control everything. Some things we can control and some we cannot. We can control our reactions and we can let go of some of our expectations.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:08 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 26, 2004

The Journey

"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey
that matters in the end." -Ursula K. Le Guin
Sometimes we think, "Why does everything have to be so difficult?"
But you can stop attacking yourself, and stop attacking those that try to help you.
It's not your fault the lawnmower wouldn't start.
Blame it on Faulty workmanship, bad design, human intervention.
The Universe is not out to get you.
The Universe is not against you.
The Universe supports all life.
" The kingdom of God cometh not with observation....the kingdom of God
is within you. " Luke 17: 20, 21.
The next quote is often used to justify fighting other people because of our perception of their wickedness. In life we often find out after a lengthy bloody battle against others, we are alone and empty.
" We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12.
Since the Kingdom of God is within us, the wickedness in high places also means within us. We are not and should not be fighting other human beings, we are fighting ourselves.
ďIn some sense man is a microcosm of the universe; therefore what man
is, is a clue to the universe. We are enfolded in the universe.Ē Ė David Bohm
Thatís why Lao Tsu said in the Tao te Jing (8. Chapter 30)
ĒWhenever you advise a ruler in the way of Tao, counsel him not to use
force to conquer the universe.Ē Not only is it misuse of force, but itís a use of force against ourselves.

The psychology of cowards
By Bill Douglas
http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=1133

ĒWhen it's you against the world, bet on the world.Ē - Anonymous


Posted by carl1236 at 11:47 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 23, 2004

Six Stages of Childrenís Moral Development

In the book CHILDREN OF CHARACTER, by Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D. the second chapter is devoted to the six stages of Childrenís Moral Development. The author says that we should have ďRealistic, age-appropriate expectations of children.

Here is the list:

Stage 1: Might makes right. Power is the key to behavior. The weaker are controlled by the stronger. Many kids and adults still function in this level. They suffer from arrested moral development. Commonly found in children ages 4-5.

Stage 2: An Eye for an Eye: Take equal and exact revenge. Payback. This is the principle of exacting damages in kind for injuries, real or imagined. Everything has to be paid back. At this stage fairness is the key. There is jealousy if things are not equal. If younger brother gets a present when itís not his birthday, then older sister demands one too. People at this level live lives of moral indignation.

Stage 3: The Moral Mirror of Others: Look for approval

Stage 4: Internalized Ethical Self-Image: Temper Justice with Compassion

Stage 5: Social Obligation: Participate in a larger, more complex group.

Stage 6: Spiritual Democracy and Personal Responsibility: Respect the rights of others.

According to this, President Bush would be in Stage 1 and 2 (War in Iraq) and Governor Pawlenty would also be in Stage 1 and 2. (Ultimatums to Minnesota Native American Tribes in an attempt to take gambling revenue from them) See Saturday, October 23, 2004 Pioneer Press and Star Tribune Articles.

A Stateís Conflict of interest:

As stated in the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act the major goal of the act was ďto provide a statutory foundation for Indian gambling operations as a means of promoting economic development, self-sufficiency and strong tribal government.Ē

In 2001 there were six separate gambling-related bills referred to the Minnesota State Gov Ops committee:

http://www.press-on.net/articles/10-26state_casino.htm

At that time one Republican in the Legislature stated that if they didn't get (the money) one way they would get it another way. So, letís see, what stage of moral development is that?

State owned Casinos? A for profit government? Isnít that an attitude of ďThey have lots of money and I want it.Ē and ďI will get it because I make the laws.Ē What kind of a message are we sending our children? When Gold was discovered in the Black Hills, the treaty with the Native Americans was all of a sudden deemed no longer appropriate and the U.S. Government decided that it was ok to renegotiate with the tribes to gain the gold. They didnít renegotiate though, they offered ultimatums.
It was a lose-lose proposition for Native Americans just as these State-owned Casino and expanded state gambling proposals are.

Maybe our society has not learned from history and have not morally developed beyond age 4-5. Well, maybe it's just the people we have elected.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:16 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 19, 2004

Victims of our own intelligence

ďWe think we are so clever, but we have become victims of our own intelligence.Ē The man on the bus said. I was overhearing a man who was telling someone else about a song he had written.
Because we choose every attitude we have, we cannot say that we are victims of other people. At any given moment we are making choices about how to think and act. At the moment we think itís the right attitude or right action. But sometimes in retrospect we become aware that our attitudes werenít the greatest. We might be appalled by our previous attitudes. But we can only blame ourselves. We chose those attitudes at the time and thought they were right. Hopefully throughout life we can gain awareness of our attitudes and we change. ďWe think we are so clever,Ē he said.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:19 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 17, 2004

Who Am I? What am I doing here?

Politics can be brutal. The insults fly from both sides. Words that the political candidates speak are used like swords to cut their own throats. Each side is ready to pounce on and devour any little action they can exploit. Even if it means twisting the truth.
Admiral James Stockdale asked in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate, ďWho am I? What am I doing here?Ē This quote has been tossed around a lot since then. Most of it not in a good way. I vividly remember watching that debate on TV. I remember thinking what an intelligent man that was and that his words were humble and that he spoke with sincerity. But after he said that line, the opposing political force played it over and over, out of context and claimed their opponent was a stupid, confused old man who did not know who he was or why he was there.
I think many people like to jump on the bandwagon. And are willing to throw stones at someone without really knowing why. Anything goes as long as their side wins. People still fall for it and that seems to be the way political wars are won.
Hopefully we are intelligent and wise enough to be able to see beyond the mudslinging this year.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:54 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 16, 2004

Drowning

When we are overwhelmed by everything, so that we canít get to the surface, we know we are in trouble. The more we struggle, the more we feel like we are drowning. We try but when it seems like we are not getting any closer to the surface, we panic and become more self-defeating. Sometimes when we are almost out of air, deep under the water, we donít even know which way to swim to the surface.
The way out of drowning is to slow down, regain perspective, get oxygen, and get to the surface without inhaling water. When a scuba diver gets confused and has to get to the surface they are taught to calm down, blow bubbles into the water to see which way the bubbles go (they float to the surface), then follow the bubbles.
When you feel like you are drowning, cutting back on extras helps things. Itís like giving yourself a spare tank of air so you have some breathing room and more time to find the surface. This is calming down, taking a step back. We need to stop moving, stop struggling momentarily to evaluate the situation
Then we need to find our way to the surface. Itís easy to be confused and not understand what people want, or what our next move should be or what will do damage and what wonít, or how to even continue on our current path without feeling so overwhelmed. We ask, ďWhy is everything so difficult?Ē Being paralyzed by fear is a natural reaction to drowning. Even though we know how to swim itís very difficult to do when we cannot breathe. We need to find the air. Once we look for the surface, blow some bubbles, then we will have hope and confidence.
We have to be able to discern the direct route to the surface. Blowing bubbles is anything that will help us to see how to handle the problems we are facing. Get counseling, get help, hire someone, get medical help, find a consultant, talk to friends and family, and read.. Doing nothing is like being paralyzed by fear. It doesnít get us any closer to the air. Make a plan.
Once we reach the surface and are breathing again, we have to swim. We have to do what we are good at and keep doing it. But remember that we canít swim forever. We need breaks, rest, and to keep swimming.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:39 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 14, 2004

When We are tired

When we are tired and donít think we can go on, we have to really dig deep for the energy to make it. Like tonight Iím sitting here at 11:45pm thinking about what to write in this blog. I want to go to bed, but I feel like this is an important enough issue to get it down in writing. I see so many college students who are stressed out. I see many of my co-workers who are burnt out on life. Sometimes itís like people are sleepwalking through life.
It might seem obvious but when we are tired we need rest. Not just rest from work or school (physical rest), but we need to know how to rest easy. To ease our minds. Life can be very stressful as we pursue our goals and dreams. Life can also be very gray without goals and dreams. Learning to rest inside is very helpful to living a joyful life.
A lot of our happiness in life comes down to what we are looking for in life. Are we ever going to be satisfied with what we can get out of life? We canít take it with us. When we are tired itís easy to forget what it is we are looking for. We can set our goals on the things that will bring true happiness.
Have faith that when we are tired God will give us rest.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 13, 2004

catalogablog

I found this great Library related blog recently. Yesterday he blogged about talking about blogs, and I thought it was interesting. David Bigwood is a Librarian in Houston, Texas. If any of you are interested in Library cataloging, this is good stop. There are also links on his site to other blogs:
http://catalogablog.blogspot.com/

One attitude I find common in most librarians I meet is that Information should be free and accessible. To reach that ideal, information has to be organized so that it can be retrieved on demand.

At work today I found out that our company wants to lock up some information which is now accessible to anyone in our company on the intranet. They are doing this in the name of security against possible terrorist activities within our company. ?!? wow, are we taking a step backwards! Sometimes management only knows how to choke a company in a slow agonizing death. This idea of restricting access to our information, which is not secretive by any means, is contradictory to one of my major job responsibilities: To spread the use of our information throughout our company. How about instead of doing as management says and restricting access to those that are determined to have a "Need to Know," we trust our employees and hire employees we can trust. If we cannot trust our employees, should they be working for us? It's also funny to me that the people planning this lock-down have not consulted the person responsible for managing this information (me).
This brings me back to the topic I talked about a couple of days ago, "REPEAL THE USA PATRIOT ACT" One thing I'd like to add to this now, is the idea of living in fear verses living in love. How much energy do we waste when we base our decisions on fear? Fear creates more fear, and it's a downward spiral.
The next struggle for them will be to determine who has a "need to know" and to develop a plan for how to request and grant access to this information. (which is now available to everyone without hassle.)
Living in fear is a sad way to live. Some people think it's good, but that's because it gives them a sense of power over their world. We all try to control our worlds to some extent. It's like the early days of the internet. Our company also did not want to give employees access to the internet because they were afraid that employees would be browsing porn sites at work.
I agree with librarians. Information should be free. I also think that we as human beings should be free of fear. It starts with real love for each other.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:57 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 12, 2004

Flogging Molly

Tonight when I got home from class, I saw a CD sitting on my desk with a note from my daughter on it. ďDad, This is the band I went to see last night, I hope you like it.Ē So I had to pop it in the CD player and see what it was. Flogging Molly songs seem to be something like Celtic rock-n-roll. I like it. Itís strange but good.
One of the songs on the CD seems appropriate for tonightís topic. Feeling flogged in one of your classes? Sitting on the steps outside of the building before class, I talked to one of my classmates about the Korean class. He was expressing sentiments like the song on the CD, ďItís been the worst day since yesterday.Ē
The conclusion we came to though was that we just need to keep working hard and we will ultimately be better off for it. An old saying in Russian that I remember every time I have a difficult time is ďPersistence is the key to success.Ē When we feel like weíve been flogged and Itís been the worst day since yesterday, just keep going, itíll get better. Ultimately we will be better off.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:10 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 10, 2004

Clowning Around

Tonight after work I went with my wife and daughter to a Halloween store to look at costumes for a party my daughter is going to. As I was browsing I found some new accessories for my clown suit. Yes, I have a clown suit. (And a Santa Suit!) I was a youth leader for over seven years and I did my share of entertaining and bringing smiles to childrenís faces. We had fun.
Iíve used the same costume every year, but now I have some new very large shoes, a blinking nose, and a squirting sunflower! This year, working at the group home I discovered they have a little party every year and they all like to dress up in their costumes. They wear them to work on Friday and they get really excited about it. So I said Iíd wear a costume too. I think itíll be fun.
Within the context of life, Joy is supposed to be part of it. Too often we get hardened and forget what itís like to have joy. Iím not talking about reckless abandon, but about fun and joy, which take on different forms at different times in our lives. There can be joy at seeing others smile. There can be joy in doing something with others, and even joy in working hard and accomplishing something. But isnít it funny how it is usually ourselves who take the joy out of living? It is easy to lose sight of Joy when we are immersed in struggles for survival. But itís still there if we choose it. Especially if we choose to give it to others.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:52 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 8, 2004

Organizing ourselves

Iím currently reading a book called the Organization of Information. In the book the author talks about what information is and why we organize it. She asserts that we all organize information all of the time without realizing it. From the earliest age we organizing our thoughts and our actions. One of the main reasons we organize information is so we can later retrieve it.
Tonight I spent some time organizing my stuff at home. Itís an interesting experience trying to put things into a good system or order. In the process of doing this I found some things I had not seen in a while. It was really cool.
Sometimes we need to reorganize ourselves. Our thoughts become jumbled, we start to lose facts and ideas. Organizing myself includes things like reviewing how I stand on issues, and what I value, and how I can retrieve the courage I need to do something I am unsure of. Sometimes I find some interesting things I havenít thought about in a long time. Itís really cool.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:58 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "Knowing God"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 7, 2004

A sign of the times

Usually on the news we hear all of the bad things. Mostly because sensational things are newsworthy. It drives ratings. And I think everyday good things are harder to present in the news. We also hear from one side, that these are the end times, that life is just going to get worse before it gets better. So itís easy to begin to think the world is going to ĎHell in a hand basketí quickly. It can be a troubling idea as we look around and see all of the fighting, terrorism, crime, prejudice and lust. Thatís what we hear about.
But, Iím going to paint a different picture. One of hope right now. If we think about it, for most of us life is not like we see on the news. We have families, we have jobs, we love our children, grandchildren, parents, wives, husbands, we have dreams, we have faith and we go through life just like everyone else. So our view on life just doesnít coincide with the view that the world is getting worse. I think there have been much worse times to live through. Can you imagine what it was like to go through World War Two? Or in some cases, like just 20 some years ago. Recently there has been a lot of news coverage of sexual charges against priests who abused young boys. But when we read the fine print, we see these young boys are now grown up and are just coming out with what happened. But did we feel safer 20 years ago? Horrible things still went on in those times. Much of it was just hidden or swept under the rug.
There has also been an incredible amount of good to go along with the bad though. We just donít hear about it. Like the people who stopped to help me with my bike, or when I was injured. Like the man and his wife who took us in one night when my wife and I were traveling home for Christmas 15 years ago and got stuck in a blizzard. Tonight on the bus I witnessed two great acts of kindness on the bus riding home from the University; a young woman quietly asked a drunk man who had just boarded the bus if he needed money for the bus fare. After he said no, he dug around in his wallet but couldnít find anything. She offered again, and then she just leaned over the isle and put it in his hand. The drunk man paid his fare and then turned to her and asked, ďwhy did you do that? thank you.Ē Then a few stops later an old woman got on the bus and the lady next to me jumped up, stood in the isle and offered her seat to the old woman.
Sure there are problems in our society, but isnít it each of our responsibilities to make our worlds a little better, all around us? These kinds of acts of kindness I see all the time. We can see them if we are looking. Also if we feel the same way, we start to notice others who are practicing what we also believe in. Itís like buying a car. Before we bought the car we hardly saw any of the model we bought on the streets. But after we bought it, we could see them all over. These two kind people are heroes in our modern times, but unlike anyone famous, their greatness may go unrecognized because we are not geared toward recognizing them.
Another sign of the times, we can always think about our world as troubled and messed up, or we can do what these kind people are doing all around us. Give to each other. This kind of thing gives me hope, and are more examples of God working on earth. Have faith and hope that when we pray, ďMay your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.Ē we will see some action. Maybe the action will be the next time we see someone who is in need and feel the urge to do something about it.
Donít live in fear of the times, live in love right now and our world will be a better place.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude | Knowing God | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

October 2, 2004

What do you wish for?

There is a photo exhibit hanging in the Old Man River Cafe showing the refugees from Thailand who came here recently. The photographer took the photos as part of the delegation that went to Thailand to visit their refugee camp. These are very good photographs and itís interesting to see how they were living there.
One photo showed a line of children waiting for something. The caption by the photo talked about how one child was asked what heíd like to do when he grows up and the child simply replied, ďI want to go to America.Ē
I was talking to my wife tonight about a picture of a Porsche 911 GT2 that she had on her desktop. Itís a beautiful car that can go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. This reminded her of discussion she had a long time ago with one of her coworkers who had just come back from an Auto Show. He saw a car he really liked for 185,000 dollars. My wife laughed and said, for that price it better come with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths!
At class the other night one of the phrases we practiced was, ďWhat would you do if you had a lot of money?Ē One of my classmates repeated a line from the Bare Naked Ladies song, ďIf I had a Million Dollars.Ē which kind of pokes fun at this idea of suddenly striking it rich.
Tonight at dinner my niece was talking about how she wishes the candidates for Presidency would stop attacking each other and talk about the issues and what they could do about them.
We all wish for different things. Me? I wish for world peace, peace in families, love between all people. Is it too much to ask? For the price we are paying for it, it had better come with 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms!
Everyone wishes for different things. What is it we are all looking for?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:22 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

October 1, 2004

Dinner at Tong-Yang Market

Tonight I met with my language partner. We went to dinner at a Korean restaurant just off Central Avenue. It was really good! At his suggestion I ordered a special soup, but I won't mention some of the contents. It was very good though.
In continuing my language studies I felt like I made some progress tonight, thanks to his help.
We can never really do anything by ourselves in a vacuum. We need other people.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:41 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 30, 2004

More on Language Learning: Working ahead.

Tonight in class some of us students were talking about what it takes to learn a foreign language and it reminded me of something I did last semester that really helped me learn better in class. I would work ahead and memorize all of the vocabulary before the grammar lesson for that day so when we were practicing the examples I wouldnít be hung up on the words and could concentration on the grammar and pronunciation and things like that.
Because of the great amount of homework I have I came to the conclusion that I would have to work ahead to be able to get it all done. So on Tuesday nights when we get our homework assignments I plan on being done with Thursdayís homework before itís assigned. We have a class schedule with due dates so it should be doable.
Working ahead allows us to relax in class and get deeper into the language. At least knowing the vocabulary before the lesson is taught helps us practice and focus on the grammar being taught in class. This is also a technique Iíve used in Church many times in the past. During the quiet reflection time before the service began, I would look in the program for the bible verses being talked about and read them myself. Then when the sermon came along, I already had a familiarity with what was being talked about. It allowed me to absorb and understand more when I heard it.
When I go to software training classes I try to learn the software on my own before I go to the class. When I get there, I already know the basics and can ask deeper, more complex questions. I also understand better what the instructor is teaching and it sinks in better.
Working ahead is a very useful tool. It's also good for our confidence level and our motivation.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:44 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 29, 2004

Our teacher is not a good teacher

Some classmates were expressing their unhappiness about our class, saying, ďour teacher is not a good teacher.Ē Part of the problem is the work load and the speed that we are going through the material. Another part of the problem is a perceived expectation to remember everything we talk about in class and that we have learned in the past.
In the previous two semesters we had a different teacher and their teaching styles are very different. In this class we do have a lot more homework, and daily as opposed to weekly quizzes. This pace is much more demanding than last semester. So, itís kind of natural to look at the teacher and blame the teacher for the troubles we are having.
Tonight in my other class I was talking with one of my classmates and she told me that she almost didnít come to class tonight because she felt like it was way over her head and she was discouraged. She loves the teacher but feels like the class is too fast and she is struggling. She said that much of what we cover in class goes right by her. But then she told me why she came to class.
ďI came to class tonight because I figured at least that way Iíd learn something.Ē She knew that even if she wasnít getting most of it, she was going to learn something. Something would sink in and she would advance her knowledge a little. I commended her on her attitude. She is not giving up and she is positive.
Youíve probably heard the phrase, ďWhen the going gets tough, the tough get going
Instead of losing hope, this is the attitude we really need in times like this. When we feel like not coming to class, or that the teacher sucks. It happens, but mostly our experience is effected by our attitude. For instance, I believe when it comes to foreign languages, persistence really is the key. That and lots of exposure to the language: practicing, reading, writing, listening. The more we put into it the faster the pace of learning.
From this viewpoint, our Teacher is a good teacher. Hard work will actually help us in our goal to learn this language. The more practice we do, the better off we will be. Now, I still have to finish my homework, mainly because I know itís due tomorrow and I donít want to lose any more points because of a lack of hard work. I love this class!
The raw facts about this teacher so far are adding up to her being a good teacher. She is doing everything in her power to help us learn this language. Often in life how we perceive things makes a huge difference in our experience of it. I know Iím going to have the best semester ever.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:23 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 28, 2004

Today's thought: Thankfulness

Today was a great day! After studying really hard over the weekend, I aced my quiz in Korean class! granted it was just a short list of about 23 vocabulary words, but these were hard to memorize for me so it was a great victory.

Then I rode my bike home from the U of M. After the trouble I've been having with the tires it felt really good!

I'm thankful that I can still learn and thankful that my physical well-being is improving enough to be able to ride my bike like I do.
I'm thankful for my friends who helped me with problems at work today.

Some days we cannot be too thankful.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:51 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 27, 2004

A simple repair

Sometimes it seems that things just donít go as well as planned. One simple repair turns into an hours-long ordeal. Tonight I was going to listen to some Korean audio material on the internet for class. I clicked on a file to play it, and a message popped up telling me that I had to update my Real Player to continue. So, I clicked on the Update button and thatís when the simple turned into the complex.
Half-way through the installation it locked up and I saw a warning message on my screen that told me I was running dangerously low on hard drive space. So, I clicked on the cleanup button and the Real Player installation disappeared. I got more hard drive space, but by then my Real Audio installation was messed up and I had to re-download and install the whole thing over. Finally after over an hour of messing around, I was able to hear the audio files.
Later I was trying to fix my bike tire and noticed that the repair job I did yesterday actually made the problem worse. I tried to fix it again but when I put air into it the tube ended up ripping along the valve stem and no patch would hold there. Total time spent messing around with the tire: 1.5 hours. A couple simple repairs ate up an entire evening.
When I think about the problems around the world, I think that it would be nice to do a simple repair and move on, but itís not always that easy. Some people would like to just apply brute force, but when we do that, something is going to break. We may end up replacing what we broke, like buying a new bike tube. We have to search for real solutions to real problems. We cannot just treat the symptoms but have to get to the root of the causes. Often the solutions are more labor and time intensive than we had anticipated.
Sometimes we lose our patience when a simple repair turns into an ordeal. Isnítí that when we most need patience? Theoretically, the same things that bring us peace inside normally should also bring us peace inside under pressure or when things donít go as planned. At times when it doesnít work for me, I know something is out of balance and I need to see where my spirit is at.
Some things are not working in our country and around the world. These are times when we need to find the source and apply the best solutions. If we donít understand the problem, thatís where we should start. Especially when our simple repairs turn into complex ordeals.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:00 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 25, 2004

Be bold or stick to the old?

Today was a good hard day. I was busy from the moment I started work until it was time to go home. Then almost as soon as I got in the door, I had to leave again to meet my language partner. It was a great evening with good food and conversation. And now itís 10:50pm and Iím winding down.
The title of this post is ďBe Bold or Stick to the Old?Ē This is one of the topics we discussed tonight. We used one of the topics from his TOEFL Exam study guide. Rephrased the question is, are we the type of people who stick to the familiar, who prefer to not try anything new? Or are we the type of person that loves to try new things?
One thing I have discovered is that I love to try new things and Iím not too afraid of it. My reasons are :
∑ The more we experience the broader our picture becomes.
∑ Itís an adventure.
∑ I love people and really enjoy meeting new people.

Tonight we made some Korean food together; Pan-Jon and Kimchi-Jon; Korean pancakes, one with onions, green onions, green peppers, and mixed seafood. The other one with Kimchi mixed in. Mix the ingredients into the special pancake mix, fry it in vegetable oil and serve hot. As we were sitting down to eat the neighbor brought over some Kim-Bap. It was a perfect addition to the meal.
One reason I love learning languages is because they are always new. I am always learning something I did not know before. I learn about cultures and attitudes and nuances of other peopleís lives that I would not have known before. Learning languages is a challenge and helps me stretch my mind.

Usually the only thing that stops us from being bold and trying new things is fear. It makes sense then that finding a way to work through our fears can help us have more fulfilling lives..

Posted by carl1236 at 11:18 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 24, 2004

The problem is the blessing

When we take a step back and look at things from a wider view we can see more than we did when we were closer. Sometimes when we are in the middle of a struggle it is easy to not see a bigger picture. But there usually is one.
In my Korean class many of the students were complaining at how hard it was and how much they dislike the teacher. And itís easy to jump on the bandwagon because I can relate to that feeling. We have more homework this semester, more quizzes and the grading is tougher. But I also noticed that this teacher is putting in a lot of effort to analyze what each of us is doing and trying to come up with examples and homework to help us improve.
The large amount of homework and quizzes and the harsh grading could be viewed as a big problem, especially if we donít do whatís asked of us. It can also be viewed as a blessing because the more practice and exposure we have to the Language, the more we learn. Our learning this semester will be greater than the last two combined. Learning the language is our goal, so the problem is the blessing.
Another example from my language learning came up tonight. I was talking with my language partner and he said something that I didnít understand, then explained in English. However the way he explained what he said didnít match what I had learned in class. He then taught me a different way to say, ďI want toĒ in Korean, saying that most Koreans say it this way, not the way we learned in class.
Regardless, it can be a frustrating thing for language learners to learn one thing then be told to do it differently later. We can look at that as a problem or a blessing. It is frustrating that we learn it one way and then are told to relearn it another way. But it is a blessing that we are gaining a deeper knowledge of the language and that we are experiencing a process of discovery.
Some people complain about the struggles in life and pleadingly ask, ďwhy does it have to be so difficult?Ē But taking a wider view of life, we can see that many of our struggles have made us stronger and wiser. It is a blessing that we went through them because they helped us change in some way. The problem becomes the blessing.
The trick then is to see the blessing in the problem while we are in the middle of it, without taking a step back. I canít stop the amount of work in my class, but I can change my attitude while Iím doing it, knowing that itís for my own good. Seeing our problems as blessings might take a little faith but from experience we know that somehow we will be changed by it. This awareness can help us live our daily lives with more peace and happiness.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:33 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 23, 2004

Wisdom on the bus

Today was a rough day for me. I had a hard day at work and then a test in class tonight. By the time I was finished my head hurt. So, when I got on the bus to go home from the University I was relieved.
As I was sitting there a young girl came on and was talking to a young man about fights at her school. She seemed like she was in high school. She talked about why someone was trying to beat her up. It had something to do with what someone else said about her, that she said wasnít true. She went on to explain some of her other fights, and made sure the young man was aware of how tough she was. She talked about someone who had just been released from prison, and the young man she was talking to said, ďman heís a dead man. They are gonna eat him up after what he did.Ē I heard some talk about guns and some beatings. This went on for about 15 minutes or so.
Then from the back seat of the bus a young, but slightly older looking woman spoke up. ďI have an old brain,Ē she said. Everyone around her turned and looked at her, waiting to hear what else she had to say. ďI May look young, but I have an old brain.Ē She said that the older people get, the less they worry about fighting. They donít mess with it nor do they have the time for it. And, she said that the older we get the more itís a waste of time. The other two said a few words in agreement, but then were silent for the rest of the bus ride.
I remember thinking, this is a very wise woman who spoke up at the right time.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:09 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 17, 2004

Escape

Highlights of my day:
1. A very fast bike ride into work. I turned a 15 minute ride into 10.
2. I learned more about library cataloging today: How to understand and generate Cutter Numbers. I saw a very old 3 character Cutter-Sanborn book that one of our Librarians keeps around because itís old and nostalgic.
3. I finished creating a list of the books I have labeled and cataloged so far. My Ďorganizedí collection is now at 39 books and counting.
4. I overcame a great mental block in one of my programming projects by outlining and identifying the scope of the project fully.
5. I met with my language partner and ate with him at a good Chinese restaurant in Dinky Town. I had this really great tasting Tomato Shrimp dish. Then we went to a coffee shop and listened to some live folk music and talked. It was fun and I learned a few new things and we both practiced our language skills.

I was thinking today about the motivation behind many of our activities in life. Sometimes people see them as Ďescapes.í Many people read a lot of books and it could be viewed as an escape. When people cycle a lot of miles it could be considered an escape. Anything could be an escape from our daily lives. When I looked at the programming problem I was having at work, which I had been stalling on for a while, I realized that some of the other tasks I was doing were escapes from that project. It wasnít until today that I saw that. When I finally broke through the mental blocks I was having I came up with a good plan. Having a good plan I was able to focus and keep on task with this project today. I wasnít looking for an escape from it.
Itís very difficult to know when we are playing escape games with ourselves because itís not always easy to see. Understanding our underlying motivations behind our thoughts and actions can help us. However, I am in no way saying that all escape is Ďbad.í Our underlying motives determine the consequences of our actions. If I continued to Ďescapeí from my programming tasks, I would not have a happy boss. If I escape from work and stress by writing, reading a book, cycling or seeing a movie, Iím not avoiding work, Iím resting from it. We all need rest and the escape is refreshing. An escape that is Ďavoidanceí has different consequences.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 16, 2004

Faith

I have talked about faith a few times before. On September 5th I said that true faith comes from experience, and is not ďBlind Faith.Ē
On June 2nd I talked about restoring our faith in humanity.
Yesterday I talked about faith being a Ďknowingí that God always answers us. Faith is something that grows in us through experiencing God.
Tonight I had faith that all of the homework we are getting in my language class is going to make me know the language better. I know from experience with learning languages that the more effort I put in, the more Iíll learn. Sure itís going to be difficult, but I have faith that it will make me more fluent.
Tonight I am going to add to the topic of faith with a story I remember reading in the Qurían. Sura II. 2:158
This verse is really rich in meaning: In Mecca there are 2 symbolic monuments of the Virtue of Patient Perseverance in Faith; The two hills of Safa and Marwa. Hajar, mother of Ismail, prayed for water in the dry desert. God led her to the Zam-zam Spring as she eagerly looked for the answer while circling the obstacle of the hills. It is a reminder to all pilgrims who travel to Mecca, how she patiently persevered her trials and had faith in God to guide her and provide her with life. Not only did she know, she eagerly looked for the answer!
Hajar was not sitting back in the parched desert waiting for it to rain. She knew God had already provided water for them. So she was actively looking for it.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:44 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 14, 2004

Review Time

ďThis is why we have 3 weeks of review,Ē my Korean teacher said. I could tell by looking around the class that most of the people were lost. We were doing a listening comprehension exercise and it was like we had never learned the language. To make matters worse the teacher said, ďThis is basic stuff that you learned in the first Semester. You should know this.Ē
Maybe we should know it but first semester was a year ago, and second semester was before the summer break. And now at the beginning of the third semester we feel like we didnít learn a thing. At least during this exercise we did. The problem isnít that we didnít learn the vocabulary and grammar during the first two semesters, but that we learned it and promptly forgot it. Use it or lose it. Lacking any reinforcement over the summer, it would be difficult to remember what we had learned previously.
But the language is coming back to me faster than the first time and I know that Iím reinforcing what I do know.
Sometimes we need a review on why we are here on this earth. We often get too wrapped up in lifeís daily grind that we forget who we are and why we are here. Maybe we havenít learned that yet, but itís something that we should have learned in the first part of our lives. The funny thing is, that if we donít really know that, then we struggle through life, just like we struggle through language class when we canít remember our vocabulary and grammar lessons.
Sometimes I need a spiritual review session, just to see where I am at and to refocus on the present. With all the distractions in life itís understandable. So I make time for spiritual review. In my heart I know I will be stronger, clearer and healthier when I make the time for it. Reading devotionals, books, our holy scriptures, listening to speeches and sermons and getting together with a group of people who believe the same things are all ways to refresh our memories. Itís like riding a bicycle, it comes back to us quickly with a little review.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:45 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 13, 2004

Inspiration comes in many ways

We can be inspired by many things, but sometimes it comes from unexpected sources. Tonight as I sat down to write, I was staring at the white screen, reflecting on what kind of a day I had. Then my daughter came into the room and started bouncing off the walls. She went through more subjects in a matter of minutes than I could keep up with.
First she asked me if I was having trouble writing, then without pausing, she said, ďhey, write about music!Ē She ran off to her room shouting back, ďWait right there!Ē When she returned she was carrying her portable CD player with an Atomship CD going. She said I have to listen to this one song, which is her favorite by that group, Pencil fight.
The song Pencil fight is interesting and musically they are good. I enjoyed listening to it. I had to ask my daughter what it meant though, because by listening to the song I could only get a vague idea. Evidently a pencil fight is something kids play in elementary school or junior high where two people use pencils as little weapons that they battle with. The objective is not poking at each other, but to flick them with their fingers, whacking the other persons pencil (or hand) in order to try to break the other persons pencil.
That reminded me of other games we played when we were kids, for example, bloody knuckles or chicken fights on the monkey bars. So my daughter and I talked about those too.
She informed me that sheís feeling better now, maybe thatís why sheís bouncing off the walls. Except her back is still aching. My back is getting better I told her. I feel much better now than I did a few days ago. Itís liberating. Tonight I was able to ride 26 miles without pain.
Among the many other things we talked about, she started describing each of our catís meows and how they are different. Then like a tornado sweeps through an open field, she was gone, and I was left staring at the white screen wondering at what just happened.
Sometimes our daily activities seem kind of mundane, like they donít seem that important. But tonight I was left with the feeling that there was nothing mundane about my conversation with my daughter. For one thing it was a blessing to share a half hour with her, regardless of the topic. I am very thankful for these moments. Sheís a bright, funny person and I enjoy talking with her, and I never fail to learn something new.
Do you remember that old phrase, ďCanít see the forest for the trees?Ē Too often in life we are focused on the trees and canít see what a great thing we have in the forest. We overlook the beauty of sharing a half hour with our daughters because we are so focused on what we were doing. Tonight I did not have that problem. Inspiration came not so much in the words she said, but in the time we spent together. That is part of the beauty of life.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:56 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 12, 2004

Finding our voice

Sometimes I read something and think, ďyes, that was right on the mark.Ē Or, "That was really good!" Today I read another good blog entry by Stacie that was thought provoking and well written. See also my comments from yesterday.
One thing Iíve noticed about writing is that we do much better at it when we are honest and speak from the heart. The technical aspects of writing are not as forced. We tend to speak eloquently about things that we care about. This is our true voice, what we have to share with others. Finding our voice is then easier when we are not trying to create a voice that is not our own. Stacieís blog today is her own voice in a way that is uniquely hers.
Today at work one of the Downís Syndrome guys I work with stayed in his room all day playing with an electronic keyboard. He was playing the demo songs and switching between the different sounds. This is unusual for him since he spends most of his time in the living room upstairs with everyone else. I couldnít understand why he was isolating himself all weekend. Then he spoke with his voice. He canít speak verbally and only knows a few signs, but I think I got the message. Late this afternoon he came upstairs and stood between one of his housemates and the television. We asked him to move and he gestured with his hand quickly, in a sort of sweeping motion, like we would motion for someone to move out of the way. I understood finally why he was doing that, bless his heart. Instead of causing a conflict before, he chose to just go to his room and play with his keyboard. His housemate was sitting in his spot. Rather than trying to get his housemate to move he chose to just go off by himself, until he could no longer stand it I suppose and then he made his voice known. He wanted to sit in his normal spot.
Too often in life we lose our own voice because we are too afraid to speak up or we donít want to cause a conflict. Sometimes we are afraid our voice isnít worth sharing. But really just the opposite is true. Our voice is worth sharing if itís real, from the heart and something we care about.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:28 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 10, 2004

Passionate People

Tonight my daughter was using my computer to scan some photos, so I had to wait While standing there talking to her one of my plethora of books on the shelf caught my eye, (see yesterdayís post ;-), so I picked it up. These are great quotes and stories in this book! Chicken Soup for the Soul. Iíve never read the book but acquired it from my wife, (who was trying to sell it at our garage sale last month).
I turned to a page that had a nice hand-drawn bookmark in it to find a quote by Danielle Kennedy that says, ďPassionate people embrace what they love and never give up.Ē I think I could describe much of my life like this. I think I am a passionate person. When I love someone, I really love them, and when I take on a project I go all out on it and enjoy it. I donít think I was always like this though. But I like being passionate about things. It is like adding spices to our food, or colorfast bleach to our laundry, life seems a little more spicy and a little more brighter. What is the alternative?
Today at work I looked up, cataloged and labeled 5 of my programming books using the proper Library of Congress (LC) classification. I also had a good long discussion with one of our Librarians, who gave me some great tips on searching Library databases.
Tonight I rode with Dan (AKA Lance Armstrong) I ended up riding 33 miles tonight! He is passionate about riding and I think it rubbed off on me.
This week was my first week of Korean Language class this semester and I loved it! I have a good feeling about this. I am enthused about it and I know the learning will be much greater this semester.
When we look at the things we do, itís not always about whether we win or whether we achieve our goal even. The Joy and the Passion are found in the PROCESS of doing what we do. What is the alternative?
We can all be passionate people by embracing and loving what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:16 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 9, 2004

Library Cataloging for Dummies

Today I started delving into the world of Libraries. At work Iím part of the library team by default because I have a collection of about 800 volumes of engineering documents that I maintain. That will be expected to grow by about 10 times in the next few years. But I donít catalog my materials like a librarian so we have our own database, separate from the libraryís.
To understand Libraries and cataloging better Iím going to start to organize and catalog my entire book collection at home using the Library of Congress (LC) Authorities as a guide. So I started researching the LC. Now Iím even more confused than when I started! haha.
I think I have a book on that in my collection though. Letís see, where did I put it? Be right back...
...minutes pass...
...an hour passes...
No luck. I know I have it somewhere because a long time ago I discovered I like books and have a large number of them in my house. I thought it might be nice to organize them someday and I found a handy little book on how to do that at some book sale. But now itís lost between the shelves or something. It was sure fun browsing through the books though as I looked for that one. I was sidetracked a few times I think.
Today at work I tried to look up a book I had on my shelf called, XML for dummies, using a web tool. I found the book listing online, so I can see how it is supposed to be cataloged and marked using the LC format. So I think Iím on my way.
This is really a new area for me, and Iím still searching for a simplified set of directions to help me understand what Iím doing quickly. But even so, there is not a Ďfor dummiesí book for everything in life. Sometimes itís very difficult and complicated knowing how to do or handle things that come up. How about a book called, ďPurpose in Life for Dummies.Ē or ďMaking a difference in life for dummiesĒ or ďHow to live your life for dummies.Ē Well, if we actually had one of those books, we probably wouldnít like it or even open it. Sometimes we have to learn things the hard way. Why do we do that to ourselves?

P.S. If anyone knows of any good basic reading material online on how to think like a librarian, please post the links here. Thank you!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:22 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 7, 2004

Reducing Stress

Today I went to a health screening at work where they were checking our blood pressure. Mine was 121/63. More interesting than that however, was some information laying on a table by the health display. It was titled, why manage stress when you can prevent it? In it there were 26 ideas to help prevent stress.
One tip they left off the list was: ďPut a positive spin on it.Ē In other words, try to see things in a positive light. Today when I was looking at my syllabus for class I started to get a little nervous. It made it sound like the class was going to be really hard and they were going to be very strict. But from past experience I knew that it would not be as bad as difficult as it sounded. I told myself that for sure I would learn something during this class if they lived up to what they said in the syllabus. So thinking about it that way, I could relax and know that I was making a good choice about this class. When we look at the situation, sometimes it looks overwhelming. But putting a positive spin on it often helps us reduce our stress.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:37 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

September 6, 2004

Getting off to a good start

MY VACATION PLOG (PAPER-LOG) ENTRIES

As promised, here are the PLOG (PAPER-LOG) entries from when I was on vacation this last week. My notebook is way too messy to read so I typed it all into the computer to post here. I hope you enjoy my notes on my vacation. I decided to list the highlights of each day also, because it seemed like a good way for me to recap what happened that day that made it such a great vacation. (good for my memory later) ;-)

Iím posting these and then changing the dates back to the day I wrote each one so it accurately reflects when I wrote them. Here is an index to each post:

Monday, August 30, 2004
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Wednesday, September 1, 2004
Thursday, September 2, 2004
Friday, September 3, 2004
Saturday, September 4, 2004
Sunday, September 5, 2004

Getting off to a good start

Tomorrow classes start again and I wish all college students a great semester! Iím really looking forward to my classes too! Tonight I was talking with a good friend who is a teacher. She was excited to be starting to teach again tomorrow after a summerís break. I feel the same way. And I know there will be high levels of energy tomorrow in the classrooms as everyone starts something new.
This is a time when each person, student and teacher can start fresh, take advantage of the high levels of energy and enthusiasm and get off to a good start. We can each re-create ourselves in the way we wish to be and during times like this, starting something new, we have that opportunity. We just have to make up our minds and do it. Then at Midterms or finals we might not be feeling as much pressure!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:49 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 31, 2004

Surmising the level of difficulty

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 PLOG Entry Two

Highlights of the day:

Driving off-road with our Jeep Wrangler.
My daughter driving off-road with our Jeep Wrangler.
My daughter learning to use the clutch on a steep hill.
Molly running through the water at the ďMud RunĒ
The rain stopping and the sun coming out.
Cycling to Virginia and back to Gilbert. Somehow when I got to Virginia I rode through the city streets and couldnít find my way back to the mesabi Trail entrance. I found the trail again but it was on the other side of town heading the wrong way. A very nice Jogger stopped to help me find my way back to the correct trail leading to Gilbert.
When I was riding on the trail, there was one spot where rock walls rose above me on both sides. There was graffiti all over them. I laughed a little to find graffiti this far out of the Urban setting.
Foil dinners.
Writing by the fire
Listening to my wife and daughter talk by the fire about things we did together in the past.

Surmising the level of difficulty

In the off-road park by Gilbert there were many occasions where we had to look at the situation and surmise the level of difficulty before proceeding. I got out of the Jeep several times to look over the edge of a cliff or around the corner of a trail to see what was beyond. At one spot I was looking over a hill at the boulders and stumps littering the way. I was trying to decide whether the Jeep could handle it. Then I thought, ďThe Jeep can handle it, but can I?Ē
When my daughter was driving there were a couple of very steep hills that she didnít think she could drive up. I drove to the top first to give her confidence that it could be done safely. Then she got behind the wheel and I gave her a few tips about acceleration and positioning of the tires to keep the Jeep on track. After knowing how difficult it would be and seeing it done, she started up the hill. Afterwards she said, ďAll I could see was sky! But I knew where the trail went and I just kept it pointed straight until the Jeep went over the top.Ē
Knowing what is ahead of us and what kind of obstacles there are helps us know how to handle them. In off-road driving, a person has to drive with purpose and intention or risk damaging the tires or underbody, rolling over or getting stuck. In life we have risks also, which are not all physical risks. It helps us to look ahead and survey the level of difficulty and prepare our minds and spirits to handle it.

The mesabi Trail

We were staying in Gilbert, Minnesota at the Sherwood Forest Campgrounds. It was a great blessing to us to be in a spot right on the mesabi Bike Trail. I took advantage of that and rode parts of the trail two days in a row. My conclusion is that this is an awesome trail! Itís paved smooth, about 6 to 10 feet wide and offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in Minnesota. Riding from Gilbert to Virginia I passed high over Crater-like lakes left over from the open-pit mining days, and through tunnel-like paths cut through the iron-rich rock hills.
Unlike most recent bike trails Iíve seen built, this one is only partially built on old railroad beds. It winds back and forth, through woods, up and down hills, past open fields, over bridges and through towns. The trail also splits off in many places to allow cyclists to divert to other nearby towns. The trail is well marked with signs and markings on the trail.
The mesabi Trail runs from Grand Rapids to Ely, Minnesota, making it one of the longest bicycle only trails in the state. But the trail is not complete yet. There are parts of the trail from McKinley to Ely that are scheduled to be completed before the year 2008.
This would be a great cycling trip for all levels of enthusiasts. A person or group could start out at Grand Rapids and ride the entire length, stopping at nights to stay at one of the many campgrounds or motels along the route. The people in the campsite across from us were doing that. They had nothing but good things to say about the 70 some miles of trail they had ridden so far and the experience. I think Iíll try to find someone to share that ride with next summer.
For more information and to see photos of this great resource, visit http://www.mesabitrail.com

Posted by carl1236 at 9:02 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 28, 2004

A change of heart

Yesterday I wrote about changing our beliefs about happiness, but I did not give any examples from my own experience. This is really a two part post, so if you did not read yesterdayís post, you can go back and read that first.
A long time ago I used to smoke cigarettes. I was really addicted to them. Part of that was a physical addiction, but most of it was mental. I know that because when I finally did quit, it only took about 5 days for the physical symptoms to subside. I know now that our lungs return to near normal capacity within a very short time.
When I was smoking my views about happiness were different than they are now. There was a whole culture surrounding smokers and the need to smoke. I was unhappy when I didnít get a chance to smoke. I was unhappy when I smoked too much. I was unhappy if a store didnít have the right brand. I was unhappy when people asked to borrow a cigarette when they werenít intending on buying their own. I was unhappy when the price of cigarettes increased. I was unhappy when I woke up in the morning after drinking beer and smoking half the night and felt like Iíd been hit by a truck. I was unhappy when I had to pick up cigarette butts that other people threw on the ground. I was unhappy when I started smoking again after quitting. I quit smoking about five times before my final attempt. I wasnít happy with the way smoking made me feel, except maybe at the very moment I was inhaling, at the point when my brain was being deprived of oxygen. That I didnít seem to mind. In fact, all during that time I thought I was happier as a smoker. But wow, reading back over that list, thatís a lot of unhappiness! I donít understand why it took me so long to quit smoking.
When I did quit, it was very liberating. It was nothing short of a miracle! What it really took was a change of heart. It took a viewpoint change. I used to view smoking as one thing necessary for the fulfillment of my happiness, but I shed the need for fulfillment from cigarettes. I then became healthier and saved a lot of money! All of the unhappiness associated with cigarette smoking vanished into thin air.

When I was 20 I got married and was really happy. But before that and even during much of my marriage I did not know the source of my happiness. I often thought of others as the source of my happiness. I mean that I thought they needed to give me something in order for me to be happy. I had expectations and demands on my partner and if she did not fulfill them I become unhappy. There was a point, well several points, when our relationship fell apart. There was a lot of unhappiness. In retrospect I realized that much of it was due to my faulty views about what a relationship should be like. I later discovered that true happiness does not come from trying to get something from others. If we are expecting that, we are going to be let down at some point. Reverse that idea: You know what itís like to constantly live up to otherís expectations of us right? It doesnít work too well. Especially if they have unrealistic expectations. We become exhausted and feel like a failure when canít do it. Thatís what I made my wife feel like. It was a difficult lesson for me to learn. It took a change of heart to save our marriage.
My views of relationships are much different now. I have learned that to get happiness we have to give it. In uplifting someone else, we are uplifting our self. When we are only taking we are actually taking from our self until we are bankrupt. My source of happiness is inside of me, which really makes it possible for me to have something to offer someone else in a relationship.

The August 10th edition of The Times of India had an article about an 18 year old girl who committed suicide because she could not get into the school of her choice. The government decreased the seats available and her College Entrance Test scores were too low. After seeing the news on TV about the lowered allotment of available seats, she went into her bedroom and hung herself from the ceiling fan. In her world she was facing an uncertain future in professional studies. To me it is very sad and tragic that her life ended in that way. Life for her was looking pretty bleak. Her happiness was dependent on that future and when it seemed out of reach, she could not be happy in her current life.

Our belief becomes an obstacle to our happiness. So if we are unhappy it makes sense that we can change that by changing our basic beliefs about happiness. This is really a change of heart because that is where our happiness resides.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:40 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 27, 2004

Our Basic Beliefs about happiness

What is your basic belief about happiness? What are the conditions for your own happiness? Sometimes our own beliefs about happiness can be the very thing that prevents our happiness. For example, if we believe that we will not be happy until we are wealthy, then we will be miserable until we are wealthy and if that never happens we will never be happy. Our belief becomes an obstacle to our happiness. So if we are unhappy it makes sense that we can change that by changing our basic beliefs about happiness.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:55 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Category "motivation"

August 25, 2004

More Motivation

I have updated ďThe Motivation ListĒ It now has 21 items to help us elevate our enthusiasm! Perfect timing for the start of Fall classes in a couple of weeks. Most of todayís entry is about motivation, so you have to click on that link to read the numbers 14 through 21 which I added. I also made changes to numbers 10 and 11. Iím enjoying this list so far and have benefited already from the search.
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For those of you learning a foreign language, while I was searching on the internet for motivation, ;-) , I found a link to a book on language learning. Download a free copy of Success with Foreign Languages. and it looks pretty interesting. See also my post about How to learn any Language.
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Also tonight I went out to eat with my friend Sam, whoís in Korean class with me.. We had a good Korean meal at ďThe Mirror of KoreaĒ on Snelling Avenue. I tried a Kimchi pancake for the first time! (kimchi-jon) It was very good! The food was good and the company was great! And it was motivating to talk with a classmate about the upcoming class. Thanks Sam! See you in class in a couple of weeks!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:45 PM | Attitude | motivation

Category "Attitude"

Category "motivation"

August 23, 2004

How do we find motivation when we don't have any?

How do we find motivation when we donít have any? Thatís a question that a friend asked me today. I didnít have a good answer right away. I had to think about how I motivate myself to do things, especially when I donít want to do them. Sometimes I just make myself do them. Then my friend asked, ďhow do you make yourself do something you donít want to do?Ē Again I had to think about it. ďI donít know, I just do it,Ē was my first reaction. And my second reaction was, ďSometimes I donít motivate myself.Ē But I offered the best advice I could at the time.
Iíll give one example of a way that I motivate myself, then Iíve listed the start of my internet search for motivation for you to see what others think. My example is in the name of my blog: The DAILY Spirit-Human. I put the word DAILY in the title intentionally. This motivates me to not miss a single day. Sometimes I post at 11:59pm and Iím fighting my slow computer to get it here. The title itself forces a schedule on me, which I wanted, to help me be creative every day. A lot of my blog posts take a lot of thought, so it can be a major commitment. I had to make it a high priority in my life. So for me one thing that can motivate me is a desire to succeed at whatever my goals are. Iím now at 116 days and counting...yay! Ok, I guess a second thing that motivates me is success at something.
Now here are some links. My plan is to put together a composite list of ideas to motivate ourselves. What works for some people may not work for others, but this is a good place to start:

Finding Motivation workshop:
http://www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/motivation/

Finding Motivation article by Chris Widener:
http://www.4hb.com/blogging/20040209121212.html

Finding motivation for dance practice:
http://www.irelandsdance.com/practice/motivation.htm

Daily Affirmations article on Motivation:
http://www.yourdailyaffirmation.com/self_empowerment_motivation/motivation.htm

A Christian article on finding your motivation by going back to what motivated you in the first place:
http://www.findthepower.com/dailydevotions/DevFindingHeartEphesians1_18.htm

Motivation for the Language Learner:
http://members.aol.com/ChineseLLC/motiv1_2.htm

Exercise motivation tips:
http://www.reliable-health.info/fitness/get-moving.shtml

Also, please feel free to post a comment on this blog entry on what motivates you. Iíll add it to the Motivation List. Iím adding a category to this blog also, MOTIVATION, to enable searches later for all entries related to motivation. I feel this is one area that adds to the quality of our lives. Without motivation our worlds can look pretty gray.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:51 PM | Attitude | motivation

Category "Attitude"

August 19, 2004

2000 miles and counting...

Tomorrow I am having a Celebration in honor of my reaching an important
milestone in my life. Tonight I have surpassed 2000 miles on my
bicycle!!! That is double my original goal for this whole year!!! To
celebrate I will be bringing bagels and toppings in the morning to share
with the people in my department and a few cyclists I know at work.

To give you some idea of how monumental this is for me, I'll share a
few highlights with you:

1. Setting goals and sticking with it: I started bicycle riding on
March 16th this year. Before that I was doing nothing. Last year I
rode my bike for about 13 weeks off and on, but only very short
distances. But that motivated me to set my goals higher this year. I
told myself that I would ride every day, weather permitting. I started
riding this year on March 16th and the next day it snowed. Being all
pumped to exercise, I decided to run the 2.7 miles into work. That was
a mistake, haha. I wasn't in shape yet. But I have only missed a few
days of riding since I began. Many times, especially at the beginning,
I would ask myself, ďWhy am I doing this?Ē I felt like quitting
many times.

2. Going beyond my previously known limits: It's been about 5 months
of riding bike for me now. After one month of riding 5.4 miles each day
round-trip, my friend Dan subtly convinced me I should extend my miles.
Dan has a way of making it sound like fun! haha. So I found a beautiful
detour of 7 miles along the West bank of the river, through Lillydale
and back to downtown. Then my next increase in miles came a few weeks
later when I realized that since I could handle 7 miles one way, I could
ride 10 miles one way. I started riding 10 miles two days per week from
my class at the University back to my house in St. Paul. Then on May
14th, almost 2 months later Dan took me on a ride along Shepard Road to
the Mendota bridge after work. This became my new 13 mile route which I
still ride quite frequently, but now with added variations, like through
Crosby and Hidden Falls parks! From that point on, I realized that I
would not die from extending my miles. Two weeks later I began riding
to Burnsville and back at least once per week for my part-time work
there. That's 20 miles each way!
On June 27th I went with Carol and her boyfriend Jeff to the Tour of
Saints bike tour by Saint Cloud. It was a 50 mile ride and it rained
almost the whole time! But it was a great experience with a lot of
participants, and it encouraged me to keep biking (it did not kill me).
By the beginning of August I was riding about 100 miles per week.
During the first month of cycling, I calculated that I would ride about
1000 miles for the whole year! As I increased my miles I had to keep
changing the projected date when I would reach 1000 miles. Finally on
July 2nd I reached my goal. Then I had to set a new goal. At that time
I thought I would be able to reach 2000 miles by the end of the season.
Now I'm there and still have a lot of bike riding left to do this year!
I am riding about 200 miles per week now, so weather permitting, I could
reach 4000 miles this season!!! At the beginning I never would have
dreamed I could do that!

3. Attitude: Riding my bike has changed my attitude in several ways.
The first is a certain liberation that came from being able to get to
and from different places on my own power. It freed me from the
limitations of my car and parking downtown or other places. I found
that I no longer needed my car to get around, especially since I combine
bike riding with the bus and light-rail. The second attitude adjustment
was in what I considered acceptable or not. I discovered I can ride in
the cold (March), I can ride in the rain (Commuting every day in
Minnesota weather and the Tour of Saints), I can ride in the heat (July)
and I can ride in the cold (this
morning). It's all good bike riding
now. I don't melt. The third attitude adjustment came when I started
to explore beyond my initial route (Thanks Dan). I learned the fun of
cycling and that I loved to discover new trails, parks and parts of the
city I had never seen. This adventure is an element I had not foreseen
in my original goals.

4. Fitness: We all have to start somewhere. My attitude coming into
this was, "whatever we do above and beyond nothing is better than
nothing." And I still hold that as true. But I've found that with the
better shape I'm getting into, it makes it more fun, and makes me able
to take on more. I started slowly this year, but now feel more like an
athlete training every day. That's a huge fitness improvement for
someone who sat at a computer screen all day and all evening. I still
can't believe how far I've come in such a short time. I feel much
better and stronger and more alive by integrating fitness into my life.
If I did nothing else but this, I'd be happy, because I've already far
surpassed my health expectations with this exercise.

5. Competition: This really has to do with attitude, but originally
my goals did not include competition. The only competition I saw was
with myself to keep doing it every day even if I felt like quitting,
which I did many times. But Carol said a few insightful words about
this. Competition helps us push ourselves beyond our limits. It
involves an attitude of not letting something like age or even ability
to be a limit in that process. It's really a 'CAN DO!' attitude. Over
the past few weeks I've made up my mind that I will compete next Spring.
I will attempt as many bike races as I have time to do. If I train
hard enough, maybe we'll be celebrating a race victory in the future.
In any case, the competition will drive me to go beyond my known limits.
I'm starting to train now, by riding at least 200 miles per week and
I'm joining the St. Paul Bike Racing club for training and assistance
and group rides.

Fitness is a great thing. Exercise goes a long way to helping us have a balanced life.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:03 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 18, 2004

Music Break

Michael Monroe will perform again this summer outdoors at St. Anthony Main this Saturday, 8/21 @ 7:30pm. Michael has been playing here since the mid 80s. I'll be at the Saints Game, so won't be able to make it, but if you haven't heard, I like his music and highly recommend seeing him live. It's free, it's fun and it's outdoors! What more can you ask for? See my previous comments on Michael Monroe.

Today a friend gave me a copy of a homemade CD that him and his buddies recorded live in their living room. It's titled Mikes Music Night, November 21, 2003. Debbie's Bon Voyage Gig. What's so special about this CD is not so much the music, which is pretty good, but more that this same group of seven people have been getting together weekly for years having fun playing folk music together.
I've come to the conclusion that making music is a good occupation of our time. It doesn't even matter how good we are, the joy is in the practice. You'll probably never hear me play, but I really enjoy the trumpet.
After driving my family crazy, I moved to the bathroom with the door closed to practice. Then they bought me a Yamaha electronic mute, which is really, really silent on the outside but sounds like I'm playing in a concert hall through the earphones.
About the time I was really into practicing hard, a friend from the Philippines, who plays electric guitar was telling me about a new device called a Zoom Effects Pedal. I thought, hey! I have this electronic mute, and my son has an amplifier, I could plug that device inbetween the two. Thus the birth of the trumpet that sounds like an electric guitar! hehe.
Music comes in all forms and people have different tastes, but in one form or another, music is a part of everyone's life. We hear it on the radio, we sing it, whistle it, play it and enjoy it. It is one of those things that makes this life a little more pleasurable. Like the folk song Mike's group sings, 'Til the well runs dry, we often take music for granted until we don't have it.
If you get a chance, take advantage of the summer's remaining nice weather and get out to see Michael Monroe on Saturday night. If any of you takes a photo of the concert and emails it to me, I'll buy you a Latte' or something at Starbucks in Dinky Town. Enjoy the music!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:42 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 17, 2004

Instant replay

Tonight we were watching the swimming events in the Olympics. The announcers were talking about the Japanese swimmer who reportedly violated a rule by using a dolphin kick, with the tops of his feet, right after a turn. There were several complaints from other teams and tonight he changed his style. But they would not have seen that if they did not have underwater cameras. The judges stand at the end of the pool above the swimmers and could not see a slight bend in the knee.
With the use of multiple cameras and instant replay they could easily go the way of other sports like football. According to the announcers there has been talk about this for a while but there has been no move to make it part of the judging. The announcers however were replaying the underwater shots for this one swimmer during multiple races and commenting on the style used in each race and how it was different.
I want to know where the instant replay shots are for our daily interactions with other people. Some peopleís actions are less than admirable and it would be nice to file a complaint and have an instant replay. There was an article in the paper a while ago about a man who stole some bags of ice-melting salt from outside of a gas station. The security cameras caught him in the act and police were later able to spot him and pull him over. The man profusely apologized and said he didnít know what came over him. The salt was returned to the gas station.
The actions of that man stealing salt were replayed from video capturing his every move at a gas station. Much more insidious are the crimes of hate, mental abuse, power and control against other people that go on every day in homes and communities around the world. The instant replay for these crimes of the spirit continue over and over in the minds of the victims. But often there are no officials standing over the lane watching for illegal moves. There is no-one to watch the instant replay. Sometimes I think it would be valuable for the perpetrators of these kinds of violations against others to watch what they did over and over like the victims have to. Not only should they have to watch their actions and thoughts and words, but they should also be put on public display so everyone else would see what they did.
I read in the news recently that there was an attempted abduction of a young woman at the University. Thankfully the man was caught. See my May 26th blog entry about Rape at the University. Itís sad that it is even happening, but these things are happening too often. I hope that all of you are safe and do not ever have to view instant replays like that. Summer is almost over and class is about to begin again in a few weeks. Everyone will be trying to cram a little more summer fun into their lives before getting serious again. Please be safe and help watch out for your friends. The man who tried to abduct the young woman on campus was thwarted because other people were around.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:48 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 14, 2004

Thanks for the motivation!

Here is a tribute to the cyclist who passed me on Highway 13 today! I was at about 17 miles into my 20 mile ride and had a hill just ahead of me coming up out of the town of Mendota heading North East. I was on the bike trail that runs behind the townís buildings and just past the edge of town I turned onto 13. Directly ahead of me was the hill, and to my left and a little ways back, I saw another cyclist rounding the corner of the main road coming my way.
I knew he was moving fast but I decided that Iíd push that hill so I wouldnít get passed while climbing. I made it to the top and started to accelerate and there he was. Then he called out to pass on my left and I said hi as he rode by me. I decided to see who it was so I picked up the pace and stayed on his tail. At one point I looked at my speedometer and it read 25 mph! I donít usually ride that fast, but today I was motivated to stick with this guy. After a mile like this he had to turn off and he slowed down to make a right turn. I saw him turn his head to see if it was clear, and the look of surprise on his face to see me. He laughed and said hi. I said, ďThanks for the motivation!Ē and he laughed again, and asked if I was turning there. I said, ďNo I have to go straight but thanks.Ē He nodded and turned back to his task.
As I rode the rest of the way home, I knew that I owed that burst of energy to the cyclist who passed me. I latched onto him and kept with him. Yes, it was challenging to keep up with him, but it felt great! Sometimes we need to latch onto someone who can motivate us. We still have to pedal hard, but with motivation we can do things we normally could not or would not do.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:33 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 11, 2004

More Adventures

Tonight I rode with my friend Dan again. This time we ended up at Freewheel Bike at 6th and Cedar on the West Bank: http://www.freewheelbike.com
That was fun looking through the store. Itís kind of like a candy store for adults. Well, cycling adults anyway.
But I had to laugh when I called my wife to tell her where I was and that Iíd be home later than usual. Itís about a 40 minute bike ride from the U of M to my house. She laughed and said, ďNext thing you know youíll be calling me from Iowa or something.Ē Well, I didnít ride that far tonight, but I did ride 26 miles.
To me this is another example of the idea that we donít know what we are capable of until we reach a certain level of fitness.
One of my favorite quotes is still, ďOne is taught in accordance with oneís ability to learn.Ē I first heard that in a 1978 movie, Circle of Iron, with David Carradine (Kung Fu). Sometimes we have to have a certain level of ability just in order to comprehend the next level. Just like with physical fitness, I couldnít even imagine right now that Iím capable of competing in the Olympics. Iím just not at that level. But if I was at that level I would know about what it takes and I would see that I had a shot at it.
Having adventures on my bike, or exploring, is an attitude level for me. Last year I was bound to my car, thinking I needed it to get from point A to point B. I couldnít imagine life without it or how I would get to and from work even. Being able to explore and not having to have an in-depth plan is a whole new level of freedom! Itís an attitude adjustment.
Sometimes itís hard to see beyond the level we are currently at emotionally, mentally, physically, or spiritually. We think we know what life is all about without realizing that we havenít seen anything yet. With each new discovery comes an awareness of something greater.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:03 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 10, 2004

Tonight's Adventure

Tonight I was looking for an adventure. That is one thing I have learned to appreciate about my new cycling hobby; There are so many places we can ride our bikes and it can be an adventure. Itís like exploring the city.
My friend Dan and I rode from downtown St. Paul, to Fort Snelling, got on the light rail and rode to the Metrodome. From there we rode a few blocks to the West river road and went South again along the river. I had never ridden the light rail before, so this was a first for me. We also used the bike rack in the train which was really easy. We just wheeled the bike on, stood it up on itís back wheel and hooked the front wheel onto a hook sticking out from the wall. Then we sat down and enjoyed the ride. It was smooth and quiet and spacious. Of course we were going the opposite direction as rush hour traffic.
Then Dan and I rode along the west side of the river. I had never been North of Lake street on that side of the river before, so it was nice exploring that route from the metrodome. I rode under the bridge connecting the East and West banks of the University. Itís a different perspective from under the bridge. Then at Lake Street Dan turned around and headed home, while I continued across to East River Road and back to St. Paul. In all I rode 20 miles tonight and got to experience a ride on the light rail. It felt great!
I donít know what point in life we stop having adventures. It happens sometimes and we look back and wonder how we lost that. I think itís because we often get so bogged down in trying to make things work that we forget to have fun. We forget to just go out and explore like when we were kids, maybe because we feel like we need to have everything planned out well in advance of doing everything. Surprises are not fun in much of our adult life. But honestly, it was really fun tonight! The temperature was cold, the wind was blowing, it was cloudy and threatening to rain, but it was fun!
This has to do with our attitude during life. We can live however we want, but itís kind of sad when we take the adventure out of it. And itís kind of refreshing when we put it back in. Iím not talking about recklessness or carelessness, but about a good attitude of freedom and a willingness to look beyond our small view of the world and expand it. To boldly go where we have not gone before, knowing that it will work out, but being excited about the next discovery.
Now Iím looking forward to more adventures, now that I remember itís possible.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:03 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 7, 2004

Picking up dropped responsibilities

I knew eventually it would catch up to me. I was working on an editing project this Spring, but with so much going on, I had to put it on hold. When my schedule finally let up a little, I conveniently forgot about this project. I cannot say how it will go from here on out, but at least Iím working on it again.
When I first made a commitment to do this project, I had more time available, and then once I got into it I realized what a big job it was. The editing was much harder than I thought, and required major changes. To make matters worse, I didnít think I had the skills necessary to do this kind of work, which really amounts to rewriting large portions of it. The manuscript is 283 standard novel pages and Iím almost half-way through.
Tonight I was encouraged though, because I started at it again with a fresh mind. This time though instead of promising a given number of chapters per week, I decided the best I could do was promise a set amount of time per day. In the long run this will get the work done by our new deadline of the end of September.
Sometimes in life we think we can get away from responsibilities and promises, and I probably could have let this one go altogether, but itís an empty resolution to the problem. When I picked this back up, I had the renewed strength of knowing that I was going to fulfill a commitment I made.
I was also thankful for the commitment that this author had in me. We canít always go back and pick up our dropped responsibilities, because most of the time people move on and situations change. It can become too late to pick up where we left off. I was fortunate, and now I have to make sure I hold up my end of the bargain.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:53 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

August 3, 2004

The inner circle - A book review

This morning I finished the book I was reading, Weíve got blog, how weblogs are changing our culture, with introduction by Rebecca Blood. Overall I thought it was a good introduction to what weblogs are all about. The book is well written, by 28 authors. According to the blurb on the back inside flap of the jacket, ďsome of the best writers on the web explaining the history and importance of weblogs, the mavericks who created them, and how they are changing the way we surf the web.Ē
Using a term they used in the book, Iím going to ďdeconstructĒ the book, starting with the front cover. Then Iíll provide a link to the blogs of some of the 28 authors, most of them pioneers in weblogging dating back to the birth of weblogs in 1997 to 1999, so you can get a feel for the kind of writing in this book. Some of it is thought provoking and well-spoken, and some of it is irreverent and cynical. But all of these voices together paint a picture of what a weblog is and isnít and the culture surrounding some of the ĎcommunitiesĒ of bloggers.
The Title of the book is Weíve got blog, how weblogs are changing our culture. But in my view, after reading this book and checking out many of the abundant links provided, it is a lofty and ego-centric claim to say that it is changing our culture. I see change, and people being affected by weblogs, but it is within small pools, or Inner Circles of those that choose to dive in and swim among them, often not coming up for air. Their lives are online. (see page 61, ďDeconstructing ďYouíve Got BlogĒ by Joe Clark).
Traditional weblogs were constructed by people who were passionate about the internet and spent an inordinate amount of time surfing and collecting links to share with others who were equally as passionate. Their pages consisted of links to unique and interesting things usually with commentary by the blogger to add their point of view to it. Kind of like ĎValue Addedí links. The book claims that this kind of weblog is changing the way we surf the web. Is it?
The book itself points to the rising use and need for search engines like Google and yahoo and the greater impact they are having on how people are finding content on the web. Weblogs have been seen as filters on the web, but through the lenses of the blogger, whoís interests and attitudes are reflected in their links and commentary. Then end users of the internet still have to use search engines to find what is outside of the limited views and reach of each individual blogger.
Brigitte F. Eaton, the force behind Eatonweb was interviewed by John S. Rhodes in 1999 about weblogs, usability and beyond. (page 99, chapter 15) She said, ďThey (blogs) are nothing new, theyíre not changing the world with their content, theyíre not going to make anyone huge amounts of money, but they are a form of self-expression and community which others enjoy reading.Ē This is a more accurate depiction of how blogs are changing something. She said, ďI think self-publishing is a huge trend which will certainly be growing over the next few years.Ē
I know this book is about weblogs, but when talking about the overall history of the internet and self-publishing, it fails to mention anything but itís own little piece of the whole. For instance the book fails to mention the role and impact that communities like Geocities web pages, Yahoo and MSN groups, Instant Messenger services, search tools, listservs and portals have on the way we surf and find content and how they are changing our culture. While many of these hard core bloggers are exchanging links among themselves, the world is opening up through live talk and webcams. On Jorn Bargerís website, Robotwisdom, he points to one of his favorite things on the web: Ana Voogís Anacam, which is a way for her to display her life on webcam, 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Heís since found others doing the same thing. Call it ĎReality Webí if you want.
After reading this book Iím left with the impression that the demise of weblogs as we know them now is near, a phase in something greater as the tools become more sophisticated and easy to use. The other impression I have is the Ďcommunityí that the original bloggers loved and cherished is being flooded by non-internet passionate people who are changing the format of blogs and who are not focused on the blog phenomenon. With easier and easier tools, they are focusing on displaying their lives and telling their stories. The book seems to mourn the loss of the weblog origins and the tight knit inner circle of internet junkies.
Finally, most people I know who spend a fair amount of time on the internet do not have a clue about weblogs. So the claims of the book that they are changing our culture and the way we surf the web do not match my experience or observation. However a blog is an easy way to self-publish with tools like Blogger and Movable Type, but so are personal web pages and discussion groups and listservs, which have all become very easy to use and create for novice web people.
I would still recommend this book for a great overview of the Blogging concept. I have read it and enjoyed the stories and the insights into a world I knew very little about. Now Iíve got blog too.

Some of the Contributors to the book:

Cameron Barrett, Camworld: http://www.camworld.com
Rebecca Blood, Rebeccaís Pocket: http://www.rebeccablood.net
Joe Clark, joeclark.org, fawny.org, contenu.nu, various blogs: http://www.joeclark.org/weblogs/
Geekman, the mighty geek: http://www.themightygeek.com
J.D. Lasica, Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/page_one/index.php
Marquis (Sean Michaels), Tang-Monkey.com: http://www.tangmonkey.com
Nikolai Nolan, Fairvue: http://www.fairvue.com
Derek Powazek, Powazek Productions, Fray, Kvetch, San Fancisco Stories: http://www.powazek.com , http://www.fray.com ,
Rich Robinson, a personal website (donít call it a blog): http://www.inferiority.com
Giles Turnbull, WriteTheWeb: http://www.writetheweb.com , http://www.gilest.org


Stay tuned for tomorrows post, ďThe illusion of the inner circleĒ

Posted by carl1236 at 10:42 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 31, 2004

The value is in the process

I look at education as an ongoing, life-long process. I didnít always think that way, but it kind of evolved into that. I know that when I was younger and going to college I was impatient and looked at education differently than I do now. I couldnít understand how a class like, ďThe age of AlexanderĒ would help me in a business degree. I couldnít see how I could apply it to my choice of careers. I know now it was a very narrow point of view but at that time I thought I was wasting my time.
When I first went to the U of M about 19 years ago, I expected a lot. I mistakenly equated my education to making a lot money. It doesnít always work out that way Iíve found. I said Ďmistakenlyí because my basic philosophy was that a college education had to have a specific goal with a payout at the end. Now my philosophy is that the value of a college education is in the process of learning. It doesnít matter what we are learning, and it seems that the broader our range of knowledge the better understanding we have of our world.
I didnít do so well in school when I was doing just what I had to do to get by and get my degree. My grades were falling for various reasons and I ended up leaving the U of M for a technical school. From there I became heavily involved in a skilled trade that paid well. This is what I was looking for in my college education all along! Specific training for a job in that specific field, utilizing the skills I had just learned.
At that time, my computer and technical skills were in high demand. My pay doubled for every five years I worked in that field. I donít regret doing what I did, because I survived. I did what I had to do and what I was capable of. I found out that life, like education was not an end result either. Life is a process. It goes on. We live, we learn, we grow.
Now when I am taking classes, Iím getting Aís. I think it has to do with maturity and a better view. When Iím in a class, now I am not learning for some other goal, Iím there because I want to learn whatís being taught. I enjoy the process of learning more than the credits Iím receiving. In life I enjoy the process of living more than anything I decide to do for a career. Working toward goals is good, but the joy is in the process of getting there, not in the end result.
The ďTech School MentalityĒ seems to be prevalent now in our society. When I tell people that Iím studying Linguistics, the first question they ask is, ďWhat kind of a job can you get with a degree in Linguistics?Ē Itís kind of hard to get it through to them that my goal really isnít a job in linguistics but in learning about human languages so I can better understand people and their languages. I am not worried about finding a job, but I am interested in continuing to learn.

Read the July 29th post in the ĎOne Day at a TimeĒ blog: The value of a Humanities Major. http://blog.lib.umn.edu/mahlu002/oneday/ There is a good discussion going, with several good replies.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 30, 2004

The Miracle

While I'm at it, I want to share this great quote I found on a message board tonight. Thank you Nancy!

The miracle is this--the more we share, the more we have.

- Leonard Nimoy

Posted by carl1236 at 11:55 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

Gawker's Slowdown

Today at lunch I was visiting with a friend and had a good discussion. She was reading the newspaper when I walked in and she pushed it away in disgust. Then we talked about Mike Tyson, the boxer. The news article said that heís starting to box again and his promoter is arranging for him to earn 100 million dollars for three fights. The article (Pioneer Press, July 30 Ė I would have linked to it, but they make you log in to read it.) said that it didnít matter what he did in the ring, the fans connect with him and heís marketable.
My friend said itís like when people see an accident on the highway, they all slow down to look. They gape or stare stupidly. His popularity is in peopleís curiosity and the desire to see him crush his opponents like he did in his early days with 49 second knockouts.
As long as we, as a society and individuals keep valuing things like this, then it will persist. We have to remember who is paying the tab for his fame and fortune. It's the fans. If he had no fans he'd be forced to live with the destruction he's caused and face the consequences of his actions. It's supply and demand.
After wasting 300 million dollars, declaring bankruptcy and doing jail time, heís in the money again. Of course out of the 100 million heíll earn, he has to pay back his creditors. But he'll be allowed to keep 2 million of it. For a man who abuses and rapes women, bites the ears off his opponents, and spits in the faces of his fans, he is doing pretty well, don't you think?
As for me, I'm boycotting boxing altogether, because it seems to be an industry that encourages the glorification of someone regardless of what they do to others. Mike Tyson is marketable. His fans love the dirty laundry and the anger in the ring. They just want to see the opponent crushed and are willing to pay for it.
At some point we have to decide what it is in life we really value and support that. After all, we are creating our society and what we demand creates the supply.
You can read this article, which I can link to, for an interesting view of a Boxing legend and hero to the fans who support him, outrageous behavior and all:

http://espn.go.com/boxing/columns/graham_tim/1560938.html

Peace, Love and sharing of life, that's what I want and value.

Today I was reading more in the book, Weíve got blog, how weblogs are changing our culture, and there was a good chapter in it that fits with this discussion. In chapter 18, Douglas Rushkoff talks about media as social currency. According to his theory, Mike Tyson would prove to be the Ďstickierí content because he provides a richer media experience. Just like the baseball cards in a pack of gum, people buy the packs for the cards not the gum.
Douglas said, ďItís an excuse to interact with other humans.Ē I think thatís probably why so much of our media is sensationalistic and features people like Mike Tyson. ďThe real measure of contentís quality is itís ability to serve as a medium,Ē he said.
I have to admit, that article in the newspaper today had us talking about it. And it prompted me to write about it. I think my response to this media could be called a gawker's slowdown. ;-)

More from Douglas Rushkoff. Heís very interesting to read:

http://www.rushkoff.com/blog.php

Posted by carl1236 at 11:46 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 24, 2004

How to learn any Language

Itís not easy. Itís hard work, but it is P.U.R.E. fun!

Persistence
Use
Repetition
Enjoy

These are key ingredients to success in learning any language, including your native language. Iíve studied German on an off for over 20 some years, Iíve studied Russian, Korean, some Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Portuguese, Norwegian, Chin Falam, and a few others.
Of course I donít claim to be fluent in any of these languages, including English, but that really is not the point. Learning languages is an ongoing process for life. To succeed at any of them, we have to keep learning. Persistence is the key to success.
But before we go on, letís clarify the word success. It means something different to everyone. Success to one person might be to just get a passing grade in a language class because itís a requirement for their major. For that they just need to memorize the vocab and grammar and pass the quizzes and tests. When the class is over they can sell their books and forget it all.
Success to another person might be to be capable of getting around in a country using the language, even if itís difficult. Or it might be to write a novel or serve as a translator in the target language. Iím going to give you my definition of success then introduce you to the man I got this idea from. Success is continuing to learn whatever languages I choose and not stopping until I die. As long as I am learning, I am succeeding.
Barry Farber wrote this book called, How to Learn any Language. In it he describes his life of language learning. He shows his proven memory techniques and talks a lot about attitude. Barry Farber can speak in twenty-five languages. He said in the book that when he first started leaning languages that he got it all wrong. Now he says, ďdo as I now say, not as I did then.Ē I found the tips in this book very useful for my Korean learning and also motivational.
Barryís Book at Amazon.com

We have to use the language to learn it and be able to use it more. Almost every language program will tell you to find native speakers and talk. At first itís difficult but if you canít find a word, work around it in that language. The UofM has a good exchange program for this called the Tandem Language Partner program. Itís been a good experience for me during this last year. I also seek out native speakers in my workplace and around town. If my goal is to communicate with someone in their own language then this is essential practice. Especially since most of us canít immerse ourselves in that language in that country.

Repetition just means learning and relearning, using and reusing until itís second nature. Itís natural to forget things we donít use. Use it or lose it. Repeat it and eat it.

Enjoy it! This gets at the heart of any language learning. If we donít enjoy what we are doing, itís difficult to go on. Since language learning is an ongoing process, we are unlikely to succeed at it if we donít enjoy it. When the going gets rough, make it into a game. Play games with it. Find topics in that language that interest you. I once put Russian words all over my house on the objects to help me remember them. For instance, the word for shelf in Russian is Pol-ka. I had a sticker on the edge of the shelf for a few months until I knew it. Not only did I learn these words, but my wife and daughter started saying them to me. It added a dimension of humor to our lives until I finally got them down and remembered them.
Enjoyment is not only in memorizing words, but in recognizing when we actually understand what we are reading or hearing. Itís one of the greatest feelings.

So if you are learning a language or are planning on learning one, check out that book and remember P.U.R.E. Fun! Persistence, Use, Repetition, and Enjoy!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:20 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 23, 2004

Blog Reviews

Ok, for something different, I'm going to browse the Blogs on this site and highlight some of my favorite entries. Kind of a 'Blog Review' with links so you can read them yourself. This is what I found interesting, funny, moving or creative:
A Heart with a twist of Lemon:
July 18th entry - Three Little monkeys jumping on the bed. Gotta keep a sense of humor in life sometimes. The positive attitude helps. Enjoying meeting other people is a good attribute to have and it does help us broaden our experience and makes us more flexible. Sticking with it is also a good attribute. I think with time, these attitudes and experiences, Mack could be the boss-man and earn the 50,000, but with his college education and these attributes, Mack will probably do much better than that.
But no matter how much money we earn it doesn't take away from the pain of seeing our pets suffer. Poor Nacho. I hope he feels better. See the July 16th entry.
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/mack0257/thirdworldthinktank/
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/mack0257/thirdworldthinktank/

Deutsche Konversation
One entry with several replies. It will be interesting as the conversation continues. It would be fun to see an online journal in German. Regardless, it's good teamwork if students practice and study together. My practice and study sessions with classmates while learning languages has always made a difference in my grades, and it's more fun than doing it alone. Besides, Es macht mir viel spass, deutsch zu lesen:
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/meye0289/DK/

QWERTY
Q - W - E - R - T - Y as read across the top line of letters on the keyboard we use, has a sense of order out of the chaos. I can always find some interesting tidbit of information in this blog. Recently they have compiled a list of their own favorites:
http://blog.lib.umn.edu/hamm0268/qwerty/

Now my time's up, but I know there are more blogs and postings that I like. This is not all inclusive, but just a sampling. Time flies when we are having fun doesn't it?
At first I thought I might go through the index alphabetically, but there seem to be a lot of empty blogs or blogs that have been abandoned. Part of what makes life better is interaction with other people. Blogs are interesting to me because they seem more real and from the heart than many other things we read. And we can interact with the authors by posting comments.

I hope you enjoyed my reviews and links. Have a great day!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:25 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 17, 2004

Transparency

How many times have we seen someone trying to hold their temper? We can tell they are angry. Their faces might flush, their tone of voice might change, their posture changes or they fidget more. The tension gets thick enough to almost feel it in the air around them.
Iím not saying that we should not get angry, but one thing we tend to forget is that we are often much more transparent than we think we are. People can feel our moods and see it in our actions. Not just with anger but with all the emotions. Have you ever had a friend that was feeling down and you just knew something wasnít right?
Is it better to be transparent on purpose and know, accept and deal with our emotions or pretend we are not having those emotions? What happens when we try to suppress or eliminate them?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:39 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 6, 2004

Injuries

My right shin is almost healed, but had a big gouge in it, both knees were scraped up, my right arm had a 3 inch wide stripe that was scraped away, my left elbow was scraped up, and my left shoulder was scraped and severely bruised. My shoulder hurt, my arms hurt, my shin hurt. It was difficult to lift my left arm. All of these injuries happened in what seemed like an instant.
Now that itís been two weeks Iíve had time to reflect on what happened and how I felt. Looking back, my initial reaction was partly based on adrenaline and a work ethic that wonít quit. I had to get cleaned up and get to work. I cleaned the wounds, bandaged myself up the best I could, got on my other bicycle and rode to work. I still made it on time!
One thing I can say about this accident is that I still hurt after two days. It was a serious enough accident that would take weeks to heal. Another thing I can say about it is that it made me think about both how limited, frail and aging these bodies are. At the same time I can marvel at how resilient we can be. No matter what we go through in life, we always seem to be able to make it through it. Sure, a lot of things change, but thatís the nature of life isnít it? And I know we will make it through until itís our time to go. But really Iím talking about recovery here.
Bouncing back seems to have more to do with attitude than physical ability. If I were to whine about my injuries and use them as an excuse to quit exercising, isnít it counter productive? Of course with heavy trauma to the body, I couldnít go out and ride at the same pace and level prior to the injuries, but I could help my body with appropriate exercises and stretching and breathing. The benefits of continuing to exercise my cardiovascular system outweigh my mental worries about what could happen. Even more troubling to me would be what would happen if I just quit.
My body wonít last forever, but I can try to keep it as healthy as possible so Iím not self-destructing. Exercise and a better diet are a step in that direction. Then my body will last as long as it was meant to last without failing prematurely by my own actions and attitudes.
As far as our spirit goes, giving up doesnít help. If we feel sorry for ourselves then we weaken our resiliency. That doesnít mean we should not accept help if we need it. It means we donít lay down on the road and cry and turn sour and bitter. We thankfully accept the help and get back on our feet. We move in the same direction we were going before the injury.
I can say that injuries sometimes help us put life into perspective and challenge our attitudes. That can be a blessing because challenge often leads to change. Physical, mental and spiritual change is part of life. The opportunity is always confronting us to grow up, become more mature, become wiser, become more compassionate, more loving and move in a positive direction.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:46 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 3, 2004

Progression

As the Tour de France kicked off today with a time trial in Belgium, I couldnít help but respect the athletic abilities of these cyclists. Today I rode to and from work, twenty miles each way, with an average speed of 17.962 miles per hour. Many of the times in the Tour de France time trial were around 32 miles per hour. Granted, theirs was a 3.8 mile course at an all out sprint. But I know I pushed myself today and know what it feels like to go past my previously known speed limits.
Several weeks ago I came home a little tired. My muscles were tired because I exercised harder for the previous two days than I had to that point. I exceeded one of my previous known limits then also. I rode 80 miles in two days on my bike going to and from work. I had to go to bed early that night because I was exhausted. But I felt pretty good overall.
I first started riding 3 miles each way to and from work. That was rough at the time! Then I extended my trip from 6 miles per day to 10 miles per day by taking a longer route in the morning. Then I occasionally increased that to 26 miles per day by taking a 13 mile route in the morning and evening. Then I decided that if I could ride 13 miles one way, then 7 more miles was not much more to do. And it wasnít. On the weekends my job is 20 miles away from my house. So by riding there it made that the most Iíve ridden at one time. The first three times I did this, I limited myself to riding only one of the two days on the weekend, for a total of 40 miles for the weekend. But that weekend I did it twice.
If I were to travel back in time to when I first started riding my bike I would not have believed I was capable of doing what Iím doing now. It was a struggle for me just to make the 3 miles to work. Not only was there a progression in my physical conditioning, but there was also a mental progression.
Sometimes we do not know what we are capable of until we get into it and experience our limits and surpass them. This doesnít just apply to our physical limits. Our minds are often limited and we donít really progress until we surpass those limitations. Often we look at things and cannot believe we are capable of anything but what we are currently doing or believing. But just as physical conditioning, we need to build on something. We need to progress in order to see the possibilities.
Life is tough sometimes. Our spirits cannot run a marathon without having ever been exercised. Our spirits need to work out just like our bodies, in order to become stronger and better able to run the race.
We start training by doing what we can right now. We can practice treating other people with dignity and respect, we can love those around us. We can forgive those who have done something against us, we can be more aware of those around us and recognize their struggles and pains, we can lend a hand when we see someone is struggling or lost. Once we are doing these things we can see new possibilities open up, and spiritual insights we have not seen before. We are then in a better condition to handle more exercise and surpass our previously known spiritual limits.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:04 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

July 2, 2004

A change of heart

Today I went to lunch with one of my coworkers. He came up to me at about 10:45 and asked me if I brought my lunch. I had brought a lunch but I could tell he was having a rough day, so I went with him.
As we were walking to lunch he told me that his 70 year old uncle was in the hospital because he fell a few weeks ago and injured something and was not healing. He needed help to walk now which was very difficult for him to accept.
This brought back memories of this same coworkerís father, who passed away 2 years ago. At that time he was devastated by his fatherís battle with cancer and his eventual death. He told me though that because of that experience he is not as afraid of death as he was before.
Not being as afraid of death is a kind of liberation for the living. Itís not that we should throw all caution to the wind and be reckless, but we can live a different life if we accept and acknowledge our own physical mortality. We donít have to sit around and think about it all the time either. My Coworker was not obsessed about death, but his viewpoint on life changed when his father died.
His father accepted death and lived his remaining days gracefully and peacefully. Each day is a precious gift to us. This is the idea that changes our hearts. By living one day at a time, being thankful for what we do have in life, telling those around us that we care about them and love them, and not wasting today worrying about tomorrow or yesterday, we are living now.
I donít know how an idea like this can be taught to people, except through experience. I do know that each of us has the potential to live a life that is free of fear and suffering. A lot of it depends on how willing we are to let our hearts be changed.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:35 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 30, 2004

It's all good

Last week I missed class because of other obligations and I havenít studied for two weeks so tonightís class was rough. And during class my mind was a blank, like I forgot everything I learned in the past. I worked through the lesson and tried my best to learn what was being taught tonight, and made a lot of notes about things I should have learned over the last two weeks.
Sometimes we have rough days when things just donít seem easy. Itís ok. We are bound to have off days full of ups and downs. I think itís in how we deal with it that makes a difference. In class I focused on the new lesson. Right now, Iím happy to be done with class for the night, and Iím motivated to work harder over the next week to catch up on what I missed. In my view, itís better to catch up than get further in the hole. Also, itís better to start fresh today and not get caught up, than it is to be bogged down with too much to do and not get any of it done. In any case, itís 10:00pm, itís been a long day, I have a plan, and now itís time for rest.
As my sister says so often, ďItís all good.Ē

Posted by carl1236 at 10:23 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 28, 2004

Transitions

Not here, nor there, but in-between, we look forward to what will happen and wait for the new, while we still live in our current lives and situations. Itís difficult sometimes to know what to do or how to handle things.
My coworker is going through a rough time with her father who is in a nursing home. His medical condition is changing and the nurse practitioner is asking her mom what she wants to do about some of the changes. Her mom is really unsure about what to do. But one way they are dealing with it is by calling a family meeting to talk about it. All of the brothers and sisters and mom are getting together to discuss all of the options. Good, honest communication is helpful during transitions.
She told me that the time for denial is over. Often in times of transition we want to deny whatís happening, but that usually doesnít help and often makes things more difficult later.
My sister is losing her business partner in February and she wants to take care of transferring ownership of assets and buy her partners share of the company, and fill the vacuum created when her partner leaves, but her partner does not want to even deal with it until February. Delaying action on our decisions also may cause problems later.
My younger brother is thinking about looking for another job because he is getting burnt out at his current job. But trying to look for work while heís working so many hours is difficult. He also feels kind of guilty for thinking about leaving when itís been a good job for him and the pay is good. For him the transition is just beginning. Before he can take action he has to make the decision to leave.
Tonight my mom came to our house and had dinner with us and was talking about how retirement is going and how different things are. She is planning a vacation to go see my older brother in New Mexico to get a break from my dad. Heís off work all summer and sheís spending all day with him every day so feels like she needs a vacation now.
Transition is about change. How many people are afraid of change? Most of us like to have things stable, without change. But change happens. Accepting change can be one of the biggest challenges we face. Growing old is a change. We have to learn to adjust our whole way of life as we get older. We adapt. Being able to accept change and adapt is a good way to handle transitions.
As my children get older and move on in life my wife and I are finding more time together. Itís sometimes like re-learning who we are. This is a positive thing. We could look at it as losing our children, or as gaining a better relationship and recapturing some of what we might have lost. Handling transition has a lot to do with our perspective on things.
I never forget that during transitions there will be some rough spots. How we deal with them is just as important as what we are doing. In my life, good communication, giving up denial, actually making decisions, following through with actions on our decisions, accepting change, learning to adjust our lives, adapting, and changing our viewpoint helps me through these times of transitions.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:37 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 27, 2004

Tour of Saints

Today it rained for almost the entire bike ride. My friends decided they wanted to take the 35 mile route and I decided I'd still like to do the 50 mile route. Shortly after I turned off for the extra 15 miles, the sky cleared and the sun started coming out. It was great.
The first 35 miles of our adventure were really wet. We were soaked, even with rain gear on. There were over 1100 people there all riding in the rain. It was interesting and festive and wet.
This event is held every year to raise money to help people with cranial facial disorders. Our entrance fee was a donation to this cause, which we paid ahead of time. So, in a sense if we wanted to give money to this cause, we could have done so without riding our bikes at all.
So why did all these people show up and ride 35 or 50 miles in the rain?

Posted by carl1236 at 10:33 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 23, 2004

One of my heroes died today

I just read in the paper that 13 year old Mattie Stepanek died yesterday. A couple of years ago I was in a book store and saw a couple of his books laying on one of the clearance tables. I was instantly drawn to the colorful drawings on the covers and my heart was touched by the words inside.

This is my tribute to a boy who inspired me to be more thankful for what I have and who I am. Through Mattieís words I found a fountain of life. There is a truth in the words that help us make it through the darkest storms in life. Itís not so much in the words but in the attitude of living and being thankful.

See the Pioneer Press article:
http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/nation/8988725.htm

See Mattieís website:
http://www.mattieonline.com/

Poet Heroes page:
http://www.myhero.com/myhero/hero.asp?hero=mattieStepanek

Thank you Mattie for sharing your life with us.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:00 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 21, 2004

Proof that it can work

It seems to be a time when many marriages dissolve. And some people are afraid to make commitments because of the relationships theyíve seen their parents have. My parents are still together but it often wasnít pleasant for any of us. One of my old neighbors had been married for over 50 years, but they slept in separate rooms and fought all the time.
My wedding anniversary is coming up soon. Itís hard to believe that weíve been married for 21 years already. In one way it feels like weíve always been together, and in another way it seems like the last 21 years flew by.
When we got married we were both relatively young. I was 20 and my wife was 18. We both went to the same high school, but never formally dated. Right after High School I left for the Army. My wife and her girlfriend both came to my graduation party. I gave everyone I knew my mailing address in the Army and many of them wrote to me at first. It was great receiving mail and fun to write back telling everyone what was going on. Over the next two years my wife was the only one to keep writing and we got to know each other through letters. When it came time for her to graduate from High School, I took leave from the Army and came home.
I went to her graduation and to a party she had the following weekend, and spent a lot of time with her. I only had about a week left before I had to go back to Texas where I was stationed and I asked her to come with me. She said yes, and then I had to talk to her dad. It was very difficult and he wasnít happy. I think there was a threat of dismemberment or something if I hurt his little girl. But I give him a lot of credit because he let her make her own choice after presenting his views. Then once she made up her mind he supported her.
After a couple of weeks in Texas we decided we wanted to get married. It was very late on a Wednesday night and we were laying there talking about how we felt about each other and we decided that since we both felt the same way, we should get married. On Thursday and Friday we took care of getting the blood test, which was still required at that time in Texas, we got our marriage license and arranged with a Chaplain to marry us in a small Chapel on the Army base. Saturday we took a break and Sunday we were married right after the church service. One of the church members volunteered to stay and play the wedding song for us. It was very nice.
Between the ages of 16 and 30 we think we know everything. And we really do know a lot, and have drive and ambition, but what we lack is life experience. Neither of us really knew what it meant to get married or have children. But we did it without thinking.
It might sound romantic now, but really we were just doing what came naturally. We did not really think about Ďwhat ifís.í We thought about the moment and how it felt to be together. And after 21 years we still know that it just feels good to be together. Itís hard to imagine not being together.
I know it might not be considered ideal now days to get married so young. In the past it happened all the time. And for us it wasnít always easy, mainly because we both had to grow up. There were definitely growing pains! But it was worth it.
Yes, it can work, but it isnít really the years that matter, itís about the relationship as we are going through it. Itís about the moment and how it feels to be together. Making today count makes a difference in the long run and immediately. The proof that it can work is not really in the years, itís in the relationship now, and how we work through our troubles and share in our joys.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:49 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 20, 2004

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers reading this. My son gave me a card that said,
"When I was a little child,
you knew everything
about everything.
Then when I was a teenager,
suddenly you didn't know
anything at all.
Now, you know everything again...
You must have just been
going through a phase, right?"
I laughed. I think I felt that way about my dad when I was a teenager. I'm happy though that I see my dad in a different light now. When I called him to talk tonight, he was really happy to hear from me and it was good to catch up on what was going on in each other's lives.
Being a father I know it feels good to really communicate with my son. Just as my love doesn't fade away for my son, I know my father loves me, no matter how old we get or how often we talk.
I think part of the meaning of that card I got from my son was in the process of maturing I went through as I grew up. During different phases in my life, I had different views of my father. Now I see part of it is that we are all human beings, just trying to figure out life the best we can. Each of us does what we think is best and our fathers are no different. They have Just done it before us.
Even if you are not a father, most of us have fathers and a special day like this is a good opportunity to catch up with our fathers. Then it's not about us, or what we need, it's about making a father happy on his day.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:20 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 17, 2004

Flying at the right altitude

An airplane takes off from the runway, pushing to gain speed and rise up, then climbs to a sufficient altitude for the flight to the destination. Depending on the turbulence the altitude is adjusted to make the flight smoother. The pilot watches carefully to make sure the correct altitude is maintained and the flight goes according to the plan.
Today I thought about life and what it takes to keep it in the air. If our life was like that airplane, then we would have to be at the right altitude at the right time so our flight goes according to plan. In this thought I equate the airplaneís altitude with our attitudes. What keeps us going? What motivates us? What colors our view? From the moment we take off in life, we are flying to the best of our abilities to reach our destination. Flying in life with the right attitude makes all the difference. When there is turbulence it helps to have the right attitude. If not, we can adjust our attitude.
Attitude is one of the biggest problems we have in life. Itís what many of our lifeís lessons are all about. And until we learn them, we get to keep experiencing the turbulence. Most of our ancient Religious teachings are about attitude. In Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, I can find hundreds of examples of teachings that challenge our attitudes. These are attitudes concerning how we give, how we live with others, and how we view life.
Most of us have heard the phrase, ďIs the cup half empty or half full?Ē Another one is ďWhen life gives you lemons, make lemonade.Ē These are about having a positive attitude. A negative attitude can kill friendships, can lose business deals, and can create turbulence. Throughout all of life, which is very short relative to eternity, we are learning, adjusting, and applying our attitudes to living. We all take off and we all land, or crash. In-between we have to fly the course. Life cannot be just about the destination. Our purpose has to include how we fly.
Some of us talk about being lonely, yet we push others away or are rude and obnoxious. Some of us talk about how unfair life is; yet we are not willing to work towards a better life. We can be stubborn, selfish, greedy, needy, or whiny and refuse to see how it effects others and us. Some of us are caring, hardworking, and positive and it effects our journey. All of these are attitudes that we live in.
We have direct control over our attitudes. When we really look at ourselves, we often find that it is our own attitudes affecting our happiness and the quality of our lives. We canít always control our surroundings and other people, but we can change our own attitude.
When I was in elementary school, my older brother came home once with a chessboard. He had learned how to play chess and was in a chess club at school. So he taught me how to play. I played and learned, but he was really good at it and really beat me every time. To me it seemed he was gloating and rubbing it in, and instead of just winning quietly, he used to make this triumphant, Ďha-ha!í sound when he would get me in checkmate. I used to get so mad that I would often throw the chessboard over sending all the pieces flying and accused him of cheating.
Much later in life, I met a Russian immigrant who was very good at chess. He played his chess computer regularly and beat it on every level. I told him that I liked to play chess and he invited me to play one day. We sat down and he really whooped me about 20 games in a row. But he didnít stop; he just kept playing game after game with me. After about the sixth game he started making ďoohĒ and ďAhhhĒ sounds and said, ďyou are learning. Good.Ē I kept playing until I was tired. Instead of throwing the board over, I did not take it personally and kept playing, adjusting my strategies and methods. With a positive attitude that I could learn and adapt, It was not about winning or losing at all. It was about how I was playing the game. My attitude made all the difference.
Life is full of turbulence and inferior positions and gloating brothers. But our attitude is our choice and if things are not working smoothly, we can change it.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:53 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 16, 2004

Responsibility

My wife is reading a book right now called ďThe Five people you meet in Heaven.Ē I didnít read the book myself, but she was telling me that one of the lessons that the main character had to learn was how all life is interconnected and what we do effects other people in ways we may not even know. One story told of two boys who were playing by the street. Their ball rolled out into the street and one boy chased after it. He didnít look before running out there and was nearly hit. The brakes screeched and a man yelled out of the window to be more careful. He drove for another block, but the adrenaline rush and excitement had triggered a heart attack and he died. The boys had no idea how their play had affected this man.
There is an old piece of wisdom that says, ĎDonít overextend yourself on extravagant expenses to make appearances.í This is a foolish endeavor that causes us and our families hardship. Yet today many Americans are in debt and canít see the light of day from the hole they have dug. They have become prisoners of their finances.
In retrospect itís easier to see how a little responsibility could have prevented the problems. We donít always know how we effect others when we are being irresponsible, but we do know that some responsibility is good for our current lives. When you get a job youíll want to make sure that you at least think about retirement, because itís much easier to start when you are younger. Paying bills on time doesnít seem like that big of a deal, until you try to get a car loan and they charge you a higher interest rate because your credit is bad. That makes life right now just a little bit tougher. When that student loan bill or the interest bill comes instead of throwing it on the desk and letting it sit for a week or a month, a few minutes of work can take care of it.
Responsibility often is viewed as work. Itís often easier to not do something if it requires some effort. Thatís why itís so easy to be irresponsible. But Responsibility is also being more aware. Like the little boy playing did not look to make sure there were no cars coming. Like once when my son didnít take out the garbage in time for the collection, they charged us extra for the following weeks load. One time I did not come home from work right away and didnít call to tell my wife where I was. She was worried and waiting for me because It was out of my normal routine. Because of that it detracted from her whole evening.. Being aware of how our choices and actions effect others is being more responsible.
All of us have total free choice in everything we do. All of us effect everyone around us and they effect us. We are all connected in life. Being responsible seems like work at first but taking the easy route can sometimes cause more hardship for ourselves and for others. Responsibility is a choice we can make. Being more aware is a choice we can make.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:23 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 15, 2004

Complaining

People can be very vocal about their opinions sometimes. I get an odd feeling though when they are complaining to me about something that I happen to like. Today it happened several times. First I was going to the cash machine in the skyway downtown and I ran into a friend. It was lunch-time so we casually talked about what we were doing for lunch. When I told him I was going to the Chinese food place at the other end of the skyway, he said, ďOh good, this one over here really sucks, doesnít it!Ē I thought to myself, Ďno it really doesnít, I like their Kung Pao Chicken at this one.í Iíve eaten at both places and the food is good. I donít have any complaints. Of course I can eat almost any food and like it.
This afternoon a coworker was talking to me about biking in the heat this summer. He said, ďIíd never bike in that kind of heat. Youíd have to be crazy to ride through that hot muggy weather!Ē I thought, Ďwell, maybe Iíll drink more water and make sure Iím not overheating, and maybe ride some at night when itís cooler.í But I commute by bike, so if it gets a little hot and muggy, I can always walk or drink more water if I have to. Thatíll make it better right? Then it was about the hills. He said, ďNo, I would avoid those hills. Theyíre too hard on the knees. Just think of the pressure you are putting on them!Ē To me hills are great. Hills are a challenge and build my strength so I love hills.
I ran into an artist friend that I know, and was talking to him about his artwork, and he said, ďI have to leave this town. Itís so unfriendlyĒ He went on to explain how rude and unfriendly people in the twin cities are and that ďMinnesota NiceĒ is a myth. So I was thinking, ďwow, itís sure good you have a friend to listen to this. Otherwise you might be really miserable.Ē I think Minnesota is one of the best places to live in the country. Iíve been to other places and I think the people here are nice.
I am not trying to be mean to these people, but itís truly an interesting position to be in when someone is complaining about something we like. I like these people, and donít wish to be rude to them either. I canít agree with what they are complaining about, but feel everyone is entitled to their opinions.
I have found that complaining often is an attitude based on our perception of how things really are. Keeping things in perspective and looking for the positive side of a situation allows us to be happier about it. Sometimes the complaining will fall away. A coworker at a previous job had a good attitude. Every time that I would ask him how work was going heíd say, ďIt sure beats killing sheep!Ē He used to work in a slaughter house. I canít imagine doing that, but I can imagine that almost anything is better than that!
So when we are complaining sometimes itís helpful to remember a phrase like that to keep things in perspective.
If much of what we are complaining about is based on our attitude and viewpoint, then it makes sense that this is one area we can change in our lives. It sure beats complaining about everything.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:10 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 13, 2004

What is fair?

Last night in a discussion group, the topic was ĎWhat is Fair?í Someone brought a newspaper article that gave the top Salaries with Stock Options, bonuses and other perks of top CEOís in Minnesota. One of the highest listed was 49 million dollars per year by a leading health organization CEO. Other CEOís were listed at all different ranges in the millions.
In a different article, 90 year old Al Millinczek was honored for his philanthropic activities. In the news article he made a comment that sums up a lot of peopleís feelings on this subject. The May 23 Pioneer Press columnist stated, ďIn larger society, he thinks basic fairness is undermined by the widening gap between employee wages and CEO salaries. "How can there be that big of a profit for a CEO?" (Al) asked. "You know he's not doing it himself."
In our discussion group, most people agreed that it was disgusting that a CEO of a health organization would make that kind of money when there is a crisis in affordable health care for our citizens. At the same time that these same health organizations are claiming low profits and losses, the CEOís are getting bonuses.
Sports figures make large amounts of money also, but at least the fans have a choice of whether to support them or not, by either buying their product or not. With Health Care there is no option. Our health plans are dictated by our employers or by need. Every person needs at least basic health care at one time or another.
When we look around the world, our country and our city, we might see a lot of unfairness going on. Where is the line drawn between fair and unfair? It doesnít seem that unfairness is only present when money is involved, although itís very common to think that.
One would think that even something like a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby would be fair. Yet many Cub Scout packs had to implement rules saying the boys had to make their own cars. Many parents were making the cars for their boys, hoping their son would win the race. Most people would agree that itís not fair to the other boys who did all the work themselves. Iíve witnessed it. Iíve seen the disappointment on the faces of the parents who tried to encourage their son to do the work himself, to have his car finish close to last because the axels werenít polished enough. Iíve seen the competition in the eyes of the adults as their son constructs and races his car.
Someone in our discussion group suggested that unfairness happens when there is a lack of compassion in peopleís hearts. At some point those CEOís have to remove and isolate themselves from the real issues going on around them and have to justify to themselves that they deserve what they are getting. Another person said that unfairness is part of life. So how do we deal with unfairness in life?
Jealousy doesnít seem to help us or the situation. It eats at us and causes resentment. Neediness doesnít seem help us either. When we feel like we need something that we are lacking, we become prisoners of that need. Jealousy and Need reduce our freedom and joy.
We can detach ourselves from material objects. We can ask ourselves, how much money do we really need to be happy? Often we come to the realization that everything we need to be happy is inside of us. We can remember that we canít take it with us. Doing this frees us from the bondage of jealousy and need.
We can believe in ultimate justice. That everyone is accountable for their own actions, good or bad. We only get this limited time on earth and it goes by quickly. Each of us came into this world with different, unique abilities, talents, gifts, and resources. What we do with them is up to us. Each of us is accountable for what we have done with our lives.
We cannot control what others do or what kind of incomes they receive or what their attitudes are. That doesnít mean that we sit by and allow an unfair situation to continue. When we are activated by our hearts we can accomplish a lot and effect many people. Making the cub-scout races fair for all children was a good choice. Not everyone liked the idea at first, but the races became more fun for everyone. To alleviate the anxiety of the competitive parents, some Cub Scout Packs made a separate race for the adults, and the boys got to cheer for their parents and got to compete against other boys their own age. Everybody won. In the case of health care, a system where everyone has adequate health care would alleviate the unfairness. We can advocate for that and fight for that.
We can choose to change ourselves and to make sure our hearts are in the right place and that we are doing all we can to make life fair for all people.
In Godís eyes, each person is just as valuable as everyone else. We can choose to make choices based on that. We can look at life in a new way; to not think Ďwhat can I get out of life,í but to take stock of our skills, resources, talents, gifts, interests and see how we can contribute to life. We cannot control who takes for themselves, but we can control what we do and how we feel about other people.
When we ask what is fair, we can also ask if we are doing all we can with what weíve been given.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:29 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 6, 2004

We have no choice

I began reading a headline in a newspaper about a company who is sending the manufacturing of their parts to China because they only have to pay 47 cents per hour in wages there. According to the CEO of the company, this makes it more economical than in the U.S. The CEO said, ďWe have no choice. We canít compete with 47 cents per hour.Ē To me this is just another way of saying, ďWe are choosing to send it overseas to increase our profits.Ē

Regardless of whether itís profitable or not, can you imagine a CEO not having a choice in any matter concerning their company? This CEO has already made a choice to send their parts manufacturing to China and is now saying that there is no choice.

Since the CEO is consciously choosing to send their companyís parts manufacturing to China, then we can ask why? Is this CEO directly competing with people who make 47 cents an hour? Or is it just too tempting to pass up?

If a job is worth paying 15 dollars an hour to one human being here, why is the same job only worth 47 cents per hour there? Doesnít that devalue that other human being? The Chinese Government has one of the worldís worst human rights records. Are working and living conditions there are not equal to conditions in the U.S?

A business owner can rationalize this because their goal is to try to make a profit. They are in business to make money not lose money. I say to this CEO, ďGood points and we know where you stand on global and human issues, but donít try to tell us you have no choice.Ē

A couple of years ago my wife asked me to create a web site for her business. I was really busy so we decided to pay someone to do it. She left me in charge of getting it done and I selected the web designer and worked with her to get the site just right. When it was done to my wifeís satisfaction with all the revisions, I paid the designer. It was a good job and worth every penny. I paid 400 dollars, or 100 dollars per page for 4 pages. At that time that was the going rate for basic web pages. The person who created my wifeís site lives in Argentina. Their economy was in the dumps and wages are much lower there. I could have paid at least half that price, maybe even a quarter of it. Do you know what 400 dollars did for this web designer? It paid off past due bills, it bought art supplies, books for school, bought some new computer software so she could build better web pages, bought a scanner and web cam, and helped pay for her brother to burn some of his music onto a CD for a demo. In short, it improved the quality of their lives and gave them more tools to work on their future livelihoods.

ďI have no choice,Ē could also be translated as ďI choose to send my partís manufacturing jobs to China so I can make more profit, even if I take advantage of someone elseís impoverished living conditions.Ē We do have choices and we make them and justify them.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:26 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 5, 2004

Good Relationships

I have heard many people say that we as humans only do things if there is something in it for us. They say that some kind of gain or self-satisfaction is the primary motivator behind all of our actions. That is one philosophy, and is kind of cynical, but it doesnít totally hold up in the realm of love. Sometimes we are motivated by a genuine care about another person, even if it means self-sacrifice and foregoing our needs for theirs.
How many married women in the past have given up their lifelong dreams in order to help fulfill a partnerís dreams? How many Grandparents have raised their grandchildren while their own children become adults? How many spouses stood by their husband or wife while they wasted away in the hospital or even forgot who they were? How many parents have worked two jobs and sacrificed luxuries to put their children through college?
One of my good friends died a few years ago of cancer. He was only 50. He fought for almost 2 years with intense chemo treatments. They were hopeful, but it didnít work. His wife sacrificed a lot during that time and gave up everything to try to save her husband.
There are many selfless acts we donít see. People who give blood or donate platelets through aphaeresis are saving lives every day, but do not look for rewards. They keep coming back.
One of my friends gave up college to take care of her sick grandfather. She didnít have a mother and her father was busy working, so she was the primary caregiver. After her grandfather passed away 5 years later, her college life was gone.
There are youth leaders working with the toughest kids. They are spending thousands of hours trying to make the lives of these kids better than what they might have been. When I was a youth worker, I have had many sleepless nights trying to prepare for some activity with boys that were not my own.
If I were doing it for myself, for some kind of gain, I would have quit, because there is often no reward and no pleasure involved in the things we do. But there is dedication and love and caring for the well-being of another.
I look around me and see so many unbalanced and unloving relationships. One of my classmates told me, ďBoys are really mean,Ē just after her boyfriend cheated on her. My next door neighbors had been married for about 7 years and finally the wife had her husband arrested for beating her. She was bruised physically, but even worse she was battered emotionally. One of my friends is married and spends all of his free time looking for an escape. Not just any escape, but one far, far away from his wife and children. Another person I know has been married for one year and is already cheating on her husband. She says, ďAs long as he doesnít know, it wonít hurt him.Ē
All relationships are not bad, because there are some really great ones. My wife and I have been married for 21 years and we are closer now than we ever were. My friend Sam and his wife adore each other. You can see it in their eyes and their actions. They are friends and a tribute to good relationships. Are they in it for themselves?
The difference between bad and good relationships, in my experience, is that relationships fall apart when we are self-centered and self-serving. If we come into relationships thinking, ďWhat can I get out of this?Ē we are sure to be disappointed. And once we obtained what we were after, we would want to bail. There would be no longer anything of interest or value in the relationship to keep us there.
My marriage went through a lot of ups and downs and rocky paths, but we also came through the struggles together and one truth sticks out more than anything: When we are in a relationship for ourselves it falls apart, but when we are in it to benefit the other person, then it works much better and the relationship gets deeper and more meaningful. Looking out for each otherís best interests, giving to each other and loving each other ultimately does come back to us in the form of Happiness and Love. But if we are only seeking benefit, happiness and love will elude us.
In every relationship we only bring ourselves. Thatís what we have to offer the other person. If we are there to take, then we are taking advantage of our partner who came to offer their own self. Eventually it will collapse and someone will be hurt.
Relationships by nature have to be trusting. We open up our deepest secrets to our partners. We give our partners a great gift in being trustworthy with their hearts. We give our partners a great gift when we actually listen to them and care about their needs and their fulfillment. We find that what is in their best interest really is also in ours. Our relationship is deeper and richer.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:07 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 3, 2004

I know it's good for me but why can't I do it?

One of my coworkers went to a free physical health screening today at work and we were talking about the results. Her blood pressure was good, but her overall cholesterol and cholesterol ratio were high. I did the same screening last week and realized that my cholesterol was also high. But this is not the first time Iíve been told this. This is the first time that I paid attention though.
These kinds of events are good for us, because they generate a lot of discussion and raise awareness. My co-worker was telling me that her husband was diagnosed with cancer last year and he was going through treatment. She said that for the first month of the treatment she prepared a lot of vegetables and fruits for him to eat throughout the day to improve his diet. Instead of spreading it out during the day he ate all of it at once during lunch. Eventually he got sick of five servings of fruits and vegetables in one meal. And when she was busy and could not prepare his lunch, he skipped it altogether.
I know when I tried to change my diet in the past, I kept at it for a few days, maybe a week, then went back to my normal routine. I knew a better diet would help my overall health, but I was having a hard time breaking my old routine which amounted to basically not thinking about what I ate and sometimes not eating at all until I was really hungry. It wasnít until I started exercising every day that I really noticed the need for a better diet.
When I started biking every day, at first it was good and I noticed a rise in energy levels, but then I started getting tired and my rides were losing speed. I talked to a fitness instructor and she basically told me that I wasnít getting enough calories. So I started eating more, but since I had just had my health screening, I learned that just any food was not good for high levels of physical activity. Like I couldnít just eat donuts, haha.
I learned that to help fight high cholesterol we can increase physical exercise and increase the amount of fruits and vegetables we eat. Since my overall goal is to increase my health, or at least stop destroying myself, I paid attention and am doing it. It requires me to change my whole routine though. I have to buy my fruits and vegetables ahead of time and prepare my nutritious snacks the day before when Iím not really thinking about the next day.
I am only able to do this because I am motivated to change. I have known for years that improving my diet and exercising regularly was good for me, but why couldnít I do it before? Mostly because of attitude: I didnít think I needed to worry about it, I had not experienced problems from a poor diet before, at least not that I could associate with my diet, and I was not motivated.
Many of us find ourselves in recurring struggles in our lives. We are trying to lose weight, manage our money or time, quit smoking, get our assignments done on time, etc. Even though we know what is good for us, we justify and rationalize our choices, and we cannot bring ourselves to follow through with it. Whatever our problems, they seem to happen over and over until we make it through them. Then we wonder why we couldnít do it before. The bulk of our problem is attitude. Remember that phrase, ďYou can lead a horse to water, but you canít make him drink?Ē We donít change unless we are willing to. So to break out of a cycle of self-abuse, we have to change our attitude, not just our routine. If we donít, we tire of it and go back to our old comfortable patterns. I can look back and see my attitude changes and how they effected the quality of my life:
I decided a while ago that I would stop putting Ďtoxinsí in my body. My new philosophy was that if I was not actively trying to become healthier I should at least not contribute to the rapid destruction of my body. I quit smoking many years ago. It made a huge difference in my health and general well being. Before I was robbing myself of oxygen to my brain and overall vitality. I quit drinking things with caffeine in it. I did not know how this would effect me, but this is what happened. I used to get sick a lot each year, but when I did this, I have been getting sick less and less frequently. I also quit drinking all alcohol. Even though I cannot pinpoint these things as the cause of my better health, I at least know that Iím not becoming less healthy because of my choices. And my Ďno added toxinsí attitude seems to be helping me a lot.
So if you know something that is good for you, but find it hard to do, donít give up or lose hope. You can change anytime, with the right attitude. No-one else can do it for us. Work on the underlying attitude and motives first and then change comes more naturally.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:07 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

June 2, 2004

This is what I get for being nice?

It seems this is a common sentiment when someone has just done something to us that violates our trust in them. The whole time I was growing up I heard this phrase used by many people. Today my wife said it. She works at a coffee shop and had mistakenly accepted a travelers check that was altered to read one hundred dollars instead of one dollar. Her boss was upset and she felt really bad about it. Enough to tell her boss that he could take it out of her paycheck. He told her that she should have called the 800 number on the back of the travelers check to verify it. But at the time, she had customers lined up behind them, and they were a chatty, nice looking couple that talked about going to Duluth for the weekend. They had purchased their espresso drinks and pastries and sat at one of the tables, joking and relaxing. Somehow in their minds they justify their actions and attitudes. My wife is out 100 dollars because she took these nice people and their money order at face value. Her conclusion was, ďThis job is making me lose my faith in humanity.Ē It seems there are so many people that are willing to take advantage of another human being for their own gain.

The Dalai Lama in one of his talks gave an interesting reversal on this feeling of violation. The meaning is this: When we are kind and compassionate to another human being itís considered a good thing. At the time we carry out the act, itís done for itís own purpose and has itís own reward. Regardless of what the receiving person does with it, we have already carried out our act and received the benefit for it. What they did or how they treated us does not diminish the original act of kindness. The lesson we can learn in this, is that itís still good to treat people with kindness, dignity and respect. If they choose to violate our trust, they are choosing that. Itís not our fault that someone makes choices harmful to others. Place of blame should not be on ourselves for being too kind. What we get for trusting people and being kind and compassionate is a sense of friendship, community and goodwill. The reward is in the giving. What we get when we violate someone elseís trust is a dead-end road with shallow rewards that donít last. Eventually it catches up to us and we are alone.
Our faith in humanity is restored by doing what we know is right and treating others how we know we should treat them, because we are part of humanity and contribute to it. That is still our choice to make.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:52 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 28, 2004

In the Zone - Clearing the Clutter

I have been easily distracted many times and realized that I was out of time to complete something I had started. Part of it was lack of discipline and part of it was taking on too much. I fill up my time and never have a lack of things I feel are important to do. Last night I worked, then came home, ate dinner and talked with my father-in-law for a little while, then sat down at the computer to go into a scheduled chat session. I knew there was purpose in chatting last night and felt like there were some clear benefits to the discussion. However, I did not get my homework done for a summer class I am taking.
It should have been done I suppose by that time already, but I have a lot going on. This is not a new dilemma for many people. Prioritizing our time can be a challenge. During Finals time, I saw classmates skip one class so they could cram for another. I understand that totally.
But last night after clearing out everything that was gnawing on my mind, and weighing on my heart, I dug into my homework. I worked until 3am and finished it. It was amazing! I was focused and learned a lot.
I noticed something else. When Iím out biking a long distance, after about seven miles I get into a rhythm and thirteen miles doesnít seem any further. Iím not thinking about anything except the pumping of my legs and the road. I find the rhythm in the beat of my heart and the steady breathing. The rest of the world passes by as I push on.
Worry is self destructive. Sometimes getting in the Zone and leaving external worries on the roadside is very productive.
Sometimes we need to do that spiritually too. It feels good to get in the zone and clear our mind and hearts of clutter.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:29 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 26, 2004

How many Students does it take to wake up a college Campus?

I read an article in the Universityís paper about rape on the campus. The headline talked about the second reported rape of the year, but really was about rape and what to do about it if you are a victim. One of the statements that shocked me was, ďmore than 1,000 University women are victims of an actual or an attempted rape in a single academic year. Approximately 170 men are victims of the same crime.Ē
So, there are more than 1,170 victims of rape or attempted rape in one academic year. I told a friend about this, who wanted to know how many total students there were on campus and what the percentage was of the total student population. Somehow that didnít make me feel any better about the situation.
Rape is a sexual assault, an act of power, control and violence. How many is too many? There should not be any rapes on campus, in our communities or in our country. We have to look at the culture and ourselves to see what we are creating.
Most rapes are committed by people who the victim knows. We always worry about women walking alone at night, which is a valid fear, but even more troubling and fearful than a stranger is a person we know who might be harboring attitudes that would lead them to commit an act of sexual violence.
One rape is too many. If we open our eyes we can see it, and open our hearts we can know it. What will it take to change our campus and culture and society? Awareness and education is a good start.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:15 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 25, 2004

Timing

Everything happens in the right time. Did you ever try to do something, and feel like there are endless road blocks and delays? Or you try something and it seems like all the doors are opening and everything goes smoothly? It could be an issue of Timing. ďFor everything there is a season.Ē
Thank God for events in my life that happen in the perfect time. I did not always recognize the perfect time for some things, but now I look for it. I pray for it. And more and more I am opening up to seeing the best timing for something.
Iíve been thinking about a project that I want to do, but now is not the right time. I have to keep working on the idea and clear up my schedule before I become deeply involved in it.
I was talking with a friend this afternoon and she told me, ďThere is never a lack of things to do!Ē Which is true. We always manage to fill up our time so it becomes a matter of priorities and purpose. And itís All in the right timing just as her visit was perfect timing to add her thoughts to this piece of writing.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:04 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 24, 2004

Life without Bad guys

Today a coworker told me about how newer cars are coming out with tracking capability so someone can tell where you are at any given moment. She said this would be a great feature if you were stranded. I agree. Even Cell-phones are a huge blessing in case we break down or are running late or canít find a phone to check on our children. Some of the newer technology is amazing. Talking to someone on the other side of the world with a webcam and microphone is amazing. These are tools to use while we are in the process of living our lives. Some help us greatly, some are just conveniences and some are luxury.
Another coworker said that she was worried about people tracking her every move with this technology. At first she said, ďNo, Iím not doing anything wrong, I have nothing to hide. Why would they want to track me? They would be bored stiff.Ē This is a valid point too. Those that are not doing anything wrong donít usually have to fear the law. They have nothing to hide. This is an attitude of ďGo ahead and search me at the airport, I donít have any concealed weapons.Ē But then she went on to explain why she was worried about people tracking her every move. In the wrong hands it takes away our privacy, leaves us vulnerable to discrimination and leads to a loss of power to make our own choices. Power and Control over other people. According to her, even invasive information gathering for advertising purposes is loss of privacy and freedom.
The other day I got an email from a friend about the new Microchip technology, used currently for pets and livestock to identify them. She was worried that it would be used next in Human beings as a way to track them. And itís only a short step for the imagination to realize that this could be used to control people. She is not alone in that fear. Many people share that fear. They believe that once this innocuous little chip is accepted for tracking sex offenders and other socially unacceptable people, then itís only a matter of time until the Government mandates chipping for everyone. Letís call it Census tracker.
Later I met another friend in the park for lunch and he asked if I had read George Orwellís 1984í He was saying that I should because itís even more pertinent today. I found it online at http://www.literature-web.net/orwell/1984 And http://www.gerenser.com/1984/
In an age when our Country, and many others, have to deal with the reality of terrorist attacks Itís easy to fan the fire of fear. We allow the curtailing of freedom and Privacy In the name of Security. But how far does it go? Is Big Brother watching and forcing me to conform?
We can muse, wouldnít it be really nice if none of that was necessary? If we had a life without bad guys? Wouldnít it be great if people did not embezzle from the United Way? Wouldnít it be great if a Companyís owners did not fraudulently bill the government for cleaning up after a tornado? Wouldnít it be great if a sister could find a better way to deal with her brother than shoot him? Wouldnít it be great if the brother could find a way to not anger his sister? Wouldnít it be great if people in a company wouldnít haul empty fuel trucks across a desert? Wouldnít it be great if the bus strike didnít happen and the two sides could have been serious about negotiations that were in everyoneís best interest? Wouldnít it be great if we didnít have other people in other countries and cultures hate Americans?
I have to ask, who are the Bad guys? In most cases itís not George Orwellís Big Brother, itís ourselves. Itís people making bad choices. Do you think we would agree to spend our tax dollars on our large police forces if there were not people committing crimes? Itís a reactionary process. Someone does something unacceptable and we beef up security to prevent it. But it wonít solve the problem until we get rid of the bad guys. The bad guys are each of us when we make bad choices. We have to get to the root of the problems in society to heal them. What would life be like if we didnít beat our women or treat them like property? What would life be like if we didnít cheat on our taxes or over inflate the value of something when we sold it? We can make a difference in this world, not by getting rid of the Ďbad guysí but by focusing on what works.
How about teaching our business students about Ethical business practices, and making that the most important thing they learn. How about teaching our children and leading by example, the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse? How about teaching our children and leading by example, having dignity and respect for all human beings? How about really making sure that no person on the planet is left behind? A lot of it depends on what we value in life. If we value Peace and Love for each other, fairness, and real justice, and when we value each other as human beings, then we wonít have to wonder what life without bad guys is like. Weíll be living it.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:28 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 22, 2004

I don't want to play 20 Questions!

There was a woman who went to a psychic for a psychic reading and the psychic started talking to her. When the psychic asked her a few questions, the woman became upset and said shortly, ďI donít want to turn this into a game of 20 questions!Ē Then she added, ďNo offense, but Iím a private person.Ē
The Psychic understood how she felt but at the same time she was crying out for someone to listen to her. The psychic told her that a few questions were normal to verify feelings. The woman replied, ďItís ok. No worries, never mind.Ē They never got to the heart of what was troubling her. The psychic then asked her about her work and she said it was Ďa touchy subjectí and she did not want to talk about it. She only wanted a reading about her boyfriend on the Internet who was not talking to her since they had a serious discussion about meeting for the first time. She did not want to open up and get personal, let alone deal with the issues that were causing her suffering, but she wanted an answer from a psychic about her boyfriend. She never got to the answers because of her preconceived ideas about how psychics should act and respond and she wanted the answer she was willing to hear. So many people do not want to face their own fears and attitudes and donít want to take responsibility for their own choices. So they turn to someone like a psychic for insight and guidance. If someone else is telling us what we feel and who we are, then we are relieved of that responsibility. When we refuse to play 20 questions with ourselves, and we turn over our responsibilities to others, then we are closing off our chances for real growth and healing. All of our experiences exist for a reason, and wisdom is there for us when we are ready to look inside ourselves and change.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:32 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 19, 2004

Upsetting our Balance

This morning when I woke up I was very tired. Last night I worked until 9:15pm, drove for a half an hour to get home, then went online to meet some new friends in their chat room and do some other work. I had set a limit to how long I was going to be online so I could still get enough sleep. However when I started talking with several people I realized that there was a need to keep talking. It was very good and was a blessing to all of us. But I went to bed at Midnight. One problem though, was that I still had to get up at 5am to keep a commitment with my daughter. So I got up with only 5 hours of sleep.
For some people 5 hours of sleep is enough, but I discovered a long time ago that my body and mind doesnít function well on less than 7. There are exceptions of course, but in general I need a minimum number of hours of sleep to maintain proper balance. Otherwise the day can get really long! Staying up late was something I chose to do, but it upset my balance and effected my levels of energy for the day.
One morning at about 7am when I was getting ready for work it was raining outside. Every day I ride my bike to and from work. That day I did not feel like getting wet, but the thought of going without exercise for the day was kind of a let-down. My body is starting to get stronger and Iím starting to enjoy the progress and the experience of riding daily. I know that one day does not make a huge difference but if it were to rain two days in a row, Iíd be missing two days of exercise. Normally I would have ridden in the rain, since I discovered that I donít melt haha. But I was tired that day also and my motivation sagged. I decided to take the day off from riding. I was ok with that, but I also knew I had to regain my balance and energy levels.
Physical imbalance can lead to emotional imbalance. My motivational levels dropped when I was tired and I did something I wouldnít normally do; skip a day of exercise. I discovered that much of my past was based on decisions made when I was out of balance. When I was younger I suffered a lot from hangovers and late nights. The next day I was worthless.
A friend told me not too long ago about how he stayed up all night working on a project and the next day he had to go help a friend chop and split wood. He was not much help to his friend. Luckily his friend saw it and made him go lie on the couch for a couple of hours. He was out of balance.
It seems that the older we get the more important our physical and mental balance becomes. If we want to enjoy and live fully each day, it helps to understand and respect our balance. When we upset it, we miss out on part of the joy in living.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:35 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 18, 2004

Making it through something tough

Isnít it funny how some of our fondest and most vivid memories are the ones where we have just overcome something difficult or challenging and emerge victorious? We remember clearly the struggles and battles we face, and the results of working through it. It adds to our growth, it adds to our wisdom, and it makes us happier. Facing tough experiences in life doesnít seem like fun while we are in the middle of it, but rising out of the ashes like the phoenix, we realize a much greater purpose behind those struggles; That is a transformation of our hearts and minds into something new.
Today A friend was talking enthusiastically about an outdoor biking adventure he did with his daughter. He said the first day was cloudy and heavy with the feeling of doom to their trip. They started out and no more than 10 miles into it, it started to rain. It rained harder and by the end of the day it was still raining. It wasnít a warm rain either. The temperature for the day did not reach the expected 65 degrees. It was much colder. They finally reached their first destination and they ate hot soup and hot sandwiches. They were drenched. The second day was the same, and their spirits began to droop and they wished they had not come on the trip. They asked themselves, ďwhy are we doing this again?Ē Many people dropped out that day, but he and his daughter stuck with it, determined to finish. But on the third day everything looked better. The sun broke through the clouds and gradually warmed up the air and their enthusiasm. They didnít give up and they made it through something many people gave up on. They were exhilarated by what they had just done and it effected the rest of their adventure. Somehow they were changed by this difficult experience.
I smoked for about 10-15 years and tried several times to quit. I knew it was bad for me, I felt itís effects. Logically I knew it was robbing my brain of vital oxygen, weakening my lung power and overall reducing my vitality, but I could not overcome this addiction. For me this was a struggle of epic proportions that when I finally made it, I knew I had done something amazing. I know it has effected the rest of my life.
Tough times seem to be part of life, and the results of victory over these struggles come in many forms. One of them is the power of knowing that we CAN. We are no longer being held captive by ďI canítĒ and this knowing motivates us to be more than we thought we were.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:18 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 14, 2004

Not What we do, but How we do it.

Too often we get confused in life about what to do and why we are here and what our purpose is. Each of us has been given different, unique personalities, resources, talents, families, location, skin color, facial and bone structure, strength, agility, size, hair color, mental abilities, gender, etc. Much of this comes with the package. We donít chose our family or where we are born, or what natural talents we have.
Since this appears to be true, then each life is unique and has itís own unique contribution to the lives around it. For us to devalue that and say everyone has to conform to one standard of life, is devaluing our own life. We too would have to live up to this universal standard. What if we are too short, or have the wrong color hair, or cannot do math as quickly as another person, or cannot paint or draw or understand computers?
Too often our society tries to make special groups for people to be Ďin.í These groups have special requirements. And often we buy into it, thinking we have to belong to a special group to be successful at life. We even build these inner circles around us and have others join us. Or we keep searching for the Ďrightí inner circle to be in. Some people never seem to find it.
If everyone is unique and we each come with different packages, then life cannot be just about conforming or fitting into one mold. God could not love one person over another. One person cannot be more valuable than another because of what they do or which group they belong to. If life is all about Ďwhatí we do, then where is the list of preferred occupations or tasks? Is it what society holds up and esteems? Then we would all have to be movie stars, football players, Politicians, Olympic athletes, and beautiful. I donít know about you, but I would make a terrible linebacker and my last acting job was in eighth grade in the school melodrama. I got my lines right, but letís just say that my stage movements became a highlight of the performance.
So if there is not just one thing we are supposed to do, then maybe whatever we choose to do in life is ok. Then what criteria do we use to evaluate our own spiritual growth and life success? How about how we do things? How we live?
I saw Andy in the park today. Andy works for a restaurant on the other side of downtown from where I work. Andy comes about 8 blocks just to spend his lunch brake in the beautiful park with running water, birds and squirrels. Andy works to help support and care for his dad He told me all about it before. The first time I met Andy it was obvious to me that he was developmentally delayed, but I have to tell you, Andy has one of the most beautiful souls Iíve seen. He always has a smile for everyone, heís committed to helping his dad, and heís a hard working man. We talked about his dad a lot today, and about Andyís life. My conclusion is that Andy found his unique gift to the world and is using it to the best of his abilities, and that is Love. I would say for Andy it did not matter what job he was doing or what he did for hobbies, but it did matter to him how he was living. I think we can all learn something from Andy and not worry so much. Yes, we each have our own special calling or purpose, but even that is secondary to how we go about doing it. Often we find that the end goal is not really the important part of life, but the process of living that matters.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:33 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 13, 2004

Best use of Time

Time is an interesting thing, that we never seem to have enough of. But in some cases time seems to drag on, slowly. As we get older we feel the effects of time and see our own physical mortality. Passage of time happens whether we like it or not. As human beings we are limited by time, and so far have not been able to find a way around it. I asked God why, out of all things created, we have limited time on earth. Why are human beings, who are created in Godís image, with so much potential and talents and gifts, created with such a limitation? To God who is all-encompassing, the beginning, the end and all that is between, there must be a reason.
Our lives sometimes become a blur. Last night we ate dinner and then I worked on my wifeís computer to try to solve a problem. Then we went out together to run some errands; I got a haircut and we went to the bike shop to get some parts for my bike. They didnít have the right size tire for my old Schwinn Continental, so we went to another bike shop. Then we went to another store to return something we bought a few days ago that was defective. When we got home it was almost 9:30pm. I worked on my bike for about a half an hour and then went online for a little while to check messages and write to some friends. When I went to bed finally it was about 11pm. 5am comes really early! haha.
These days I work full time, go to school at night, work a part time job on the weekends, do homework, and try to spend the rest of my time on other people. Iíve often asked myself and God what the best use of my time is. I know intimately how limited it is, and we are never sure even if we will have another day to live here.
How much time do each of us have? We donít know. Some die in their cribs, and some die at 40. One of my biking friends told me that he saw his best friend die right in front of him during a bike race. He was hit head on by a car coming around a corner too sharp on a winding mountain road. One of my mentors died recently at a relatively old age and left behind 16 grandchildren and a legacy of helping and teaching thousands of students a trade with a topping of chess.
So, what do we do with our time if we only have a day? Does it make us less petty? For me, looking at time this way reminds me to live today, to not sweat the small stuff, and to let the people I love know that I love them. Each of us has our own destiny and time allotment. Each of us has many choices to make every day of our life. How we choose to live it is up to us. What is the best use of our time? Itís nice if our Choices reflect who we really are and when we look back on our lives, we will be able to say from the heart, I wouldnít have done it differently. Each day counts. Be aware, love each other, live. Donít let the ruts get too deep, have hopes and dreams and work on them, find work that you love doing, find partners you enjoy spending time with and enjoy talking to and let the people around you know that you appreciate them.
One thing I know and feel is that however long our lives in this form are, itís a beginning. And how we begin determines how we proceed. Take the time to start eternity off on a good foot. If we stumble along the way, we can pick ourselves up and begin again, making better and higher choices. We all choose how to use our time anyway, but by doing it consciously and purposefully we find the best use of our time and know we couldnít have done it any better.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:36 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 12, 2004

I feel like I'm being talked down to

I was having a discussion with a friend, and as we were going back and forth talking about one topic that she was struggling with, she asked me, ďAre you a public speaker?Ē I answered no and she explained that she felt like I was talking down to her, that the way I was speaking felt like I was slapping her in the face. I didnít quite know how to respond to that, except keep talking and explaining why I was saying what I was saying. To me it was a discussion about a subject that causes many people a lot of suffering and I was trying to explain my views so they were understandable. My views on this subject were different than her views. My intentions were to help her see a better way, to help her to make better choices for herself. To her it seemed like I was talking down to her. We kept talking for a while, then she said, ďok, I got it.Ē But I think she just did not want to talk about this subject. We worked through it and then moved on to other things. The tension was gone, and we were both blessed by the conversation.
The question came to my mind, what happened?
It could be a self preservation mechanism and when our views are contradicted or challenged then we tend to get defensive and we tend to take it personally. This is an attitude also, and is kind of counterproductive to our own growth and spiritual development. One of my favorite quotes is, ďOne is taught in accordance with oneís ability to learn.Ē This reminds me that I will always be a student, and I only learn as much as I am willing to learn and am able to learn. When we leave home for the first time, when we leave school and go to work, when we change jobs or get an MBA, or when we leave this earth, we are not done. These passages are just a beginning.
Iíve felt like Iíve been talked down to a lot, by people who knew a whole lot more about subjects than I did and some that didnít. But I discovered that usually the defense mechanism rising up in me was a dragon defending my views. This dragon prevented me from learning and also really seeing the person I was talking to.
We donít always have to agree with other people to get along with them. Weíll learn, theyíll learn, and weíll all change when we are ready to change. When one person feels like they are being belittled, challenged, or talked down to, it could be their own egoís or it could be the other personís arrogance or methods. Both of these are good areas inside ourselves where we usually find room to learn and grow. When we increase our ability to learn on all sides of an issue, then we are all blessed by the conversation.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:32 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 11, 2004

Final Exam Cram

Last night I took a Final Exam for my Korean class. I was pleasantly surprised that it was easier than I thought it would be. I am happy with the results of this semester although I need a lot more practice with the Korean language to improve my speaking abilities. I had the most trouble with the oral exam. We had to converse with a partner and with the Professor about selected topics. It seems everyone was nervous about this, which I think is natural for learners of foreign languages.
Most of you know the pressure of final Exams, and what it takes to really feel prepared. For me itís been a while but it comes back quickly. Haha. I first attended the U of M in 1985, and have since done many other things. Iím currently employed full time doing something totally unrelated to my major. But I love my work and life. Coming back to school and studying is really invigorating at 41. That probably seems old to you and that would not surprise me, since many of my classmates are the same age as my children.
I took Monday off from work so I could hang out in Coffman Union to study with some classmates for the Final. I could feel the tension and the panic as simple things became difficult, and things we solidly knew disappeared like vapors on the wind.
I donít have final exams on the job, except for an occasional software certification test, and some other mandatory training which includes a test. There are some tests Iíve had to take over the years, but not as frequently as every semester. Being a little removed from the college life, I think it has helped me observe things a little differently than when I was here at age 22. Here are some things I did not know then that helped me this time:
* Panic is natural Ė no-one wants to do badly and fear of failing can be an ally in preparing for finals, if it motivates us to work hard. It works against us if we lock up and do nothing. Accepting fear as natural and not beating ourselves up over mistakes can go a long way to maintaining our sanity. Just drive on and learn it better, knowing that the fear will be replaced by action and will disappear after the final.
* Early preparation is good. Waiting until the last day is not the ideal situation for preparing for a final, or for any type of deadline. There are always complications or things we donít understand about the material.
* Priorities Ė everything has a time and a place. Making the time to study is difficult. I find so many distractions and responsibilities in my life, thatís itís hard to really dedicate large chunks of time to studies. Itís all a matter of priorities though. When I was at the U about 20 years ago, my priorities were not on my classes, or on truly learning what I was being taught. I had to work, I had a family and I had to balance my studies with everything else going on. My priorities showed in my grades. A lot of this is attitude and timing; wanting to be there and doing the best job we can do. That meant putting other projects and activities on hold while I prepared for finals. Itís really hard to do sometimes. But why are we here?
* Itís Temporary. This too shall pass. The cramming and the stress of Finals are ok when we know itís only temporary. We can use this as an additional motivator to work a little harder than normal during finals. We can rest when itís done.
* Destroying/Maintaining our health. Many people change their health patterns during finals. Itís not good for our bodies or minds. Changing our health patterns because of stress is counterproductive. For example, I saw several students who started smoking during finals, and some who drink a lot of caffeine (when they normally drink none), and some who stop exercising and eat more junk food. Maintaining our health and getting enough sleep is important, but if we donít have the time to properly prepare we are more tempted to use drugs to push our bodies harder. I found that itís more beneficial to work harder at maintaining my health during finals and not going out of my normal diet, exercise and sleep patterns. My whole body and brain function better.
* Studying with friends is way better than studying alone. Sometimes it helps us correct errors in our notes and we can see how others are remembering key points. If nothing else, itís much more fun and helps alleviate the fear and tension.

Life goes on after Finals, and 20 years later youíll still be learning new things and many of you will change careers or jobs several times. Keeping life in perspective and balance helps us to have peace inside and get through the cram sessions and exams. Even if exams donít go so well, we can use that as a learning tool. Call it experience and move forward, doing it better.
Most of all, be kind to yourself and try not to be self-defeating. Pat yourself on the back for the amazing feats of memory you do each time finals come around.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:01 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 9, 2004

Thinking before we speak

Living in fear of putting our foot in our mouth, or being a fool can be avoided if our intentions and motives are clear. Thinking before we speak is beneficial to us. Itís better than not speaking for fear of being made a fool. When we think about what we are doing and saying, we can speak with intention and not just say things to get attention. But the key is in not just thinking about what we are saying, but also in why we are saying it. If we speak from the heart and treat everyone with dignity and respect we probably wonít say foolish things we would later regret.

Not speaking for fear of being incorrect is a different situation than not speaking for fear of saying something foolish that we would later regret. Many people are afraid of saying something that is factually wrong or that others will disagree with. Itís embarrassing because no one wants to sound stupid. This is based in fear also, and if we find ourselves doing this, we can look at why we feel we need to be right. Getting the error out in the open can actually help us to remember the facts better. If our goal is to learn, itís better to correct the error isnít it? If we are wrong we can take a healthy approach: admit it, own it, and learn from it. Mistakes happen due to lack of knowledge. For example, Iíve taken many language classes and the majority students in every class will not speak up when called on to translate or when the teacher asks someone to try some grammar in a sentence. Itís a natural fear of making a mistake. However, there are a few students in every class that seem not to have this fear, and they are usually the ones doing really well in the class. Do they make mistakes? Yes. frequently. But they also improve at a faster rate. When they are corrected a lightbulb goes off. They get it and retain it.

Not speaking for fear of offending someone or having what we say come out the wrong way is also a fear that we have. However, this fear can be alleviated by being aware of our own intentions and motives for saying something. If we are speaking from the heart, with love, treating each other with dignity and respect, and being genuine, it does not take a long time to analyze what we are saying before we speak. It is being aware of who we are and what our motives are. For many this is not an easy task, because often our own underlying motives are unclear to us.

The answer to diminish our fears is in knowing why we are saying something, knowing who we are and letting our speech reflect that.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:18 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 8, 2004

Regardless of what they are doing, what am I doing?

A small-business owner was constantly worried about the competition and what they were doing and couldnít understand how those businesses were making it. Every time the subject of increasing business was brought up, the business owner redirected the conversation to talking about the competition. When asked what was being done here to increase business, the reply was, ďThere is not much I can do. Everything I can do to increase business is not worth it. Itís too expensive to invest a lot into marketing and the return is very low. We have a very low profit margin and it takes a long time to recover that money.Ē
That is a good point but it doesnít solve the dilemma of not having enough business. Wondering and worrying about how the competition is doing or if they will stay in business doesnít help increase customers either.
Sometimes our solutions are not easy and we donít know what it will take to resolve the problems we are having. But instead of worrying about what others are doing or not doing, creating our own path and our own solutions seems more productive.
At work the other day one of my coworkers was trying to get a project done by a tight deadline of the next afternoon, but discovered that there was a problem using some files that someone else had prepared. It would have been easy to blame the source of the files for making us fail at our task, and easy to complain about what was done. When we are feeling the pressure sometimes it makes us want to focus on the problems and who created them, instead of focusing on finding a solution. But in this case we worked on redirecting our energies to find an easy solution to the problem and we did.
Having the right attitude and focusing on finding solutions helps in a lot of situations.
Worrying about other peopleís religious views is kind of the same thing. Why are we so concerned with what others believe and are doing , when we ourselves must find solutions to our own lives? Is our focus constantly on worrying about what others are doing? Are we really walking the talk? We can always ask ourselves, ďRegardless of what they are doing, what am I doing?"

Posted by carl1236 at 10:22 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 7, 2004

It's not my responsibility

Today I saw a bumper sticker that said, ďIf you are not appalled, then you are not looking.Ē
Not looking ties into the attitude that ďItís not my responsibility.Ē
We can see problems all around us in our neighborhoods, our society, our state, our country, our hemisphere, our world, and say that we donít like it. We can say we want change, but if we say, ďItís not my responsibilityĒ what will be accomplished?
Itís easy to blame other peopleís Ďchoicesí and say that itís their responsibility to fix it.
But it doesnít solve the problems and it lacks compassion. With this attitude we are constantly reacting to problems and dealing with the symptoms of the real issues and never resolving them.
A good saying to think about is, ďIf not me, who? If not now, when?Ē
Another good saying is, ďwhat we do to others is what we do to ourselves,Ē which is a revised version of the golden rule: ďDo unto others as we would have them do to us.Ē
This always beats blaming others and letting them fend for themselves. At least we can say that we tried something to solve the problems we see.
Each of us comes into this world with unique, special talents, gifts and resources, and every day we get to choose how best to use those and choose what we can create. When we look out into the world and see problems, instead of saying, ďhumanity is getting worse.Ē We can choose to say, ďI am humanity and itís getting better because of my choices.Ē At least we can control our contribution to society. And that is our responsibility, what we have been given to work with. And there is hope in that.

Posted by carl1236 at 1:05 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 6, 2004

Lunch in the Park

Today itís threatening to rain, but Iím going to bike to work anyway. I should be able to make it between the raindrops if I ride fast enough right? haha. A friend once told me that if itís not raining when you leave, you stand a 50 percent chance of getting wet, but if itís raining when you leave you will get wet. So donít give up riding because of the forecast. Enjoy the ride now. This statement has proven to be helpful to me. Iíve only been rained on once in the last year, and it was a pleasant ride in the rain. I did not melt and I did not worry.
I remember a very nice day less than a month ago. The sun was shining, the wind blowing lightly, and it was the first real warm day weíve had this Spring. The birds were out and people were outside moving around. A very nice day. I had lunch in the park with my wife that day. She came downtown and met me outside. We walked together and talked, and bought some lunch at the deli, then found a nice rock to sit on in the park. It was beautiful and enjoyable. We have to take advantage of these nice days and enjoy them. Enjoy the people around us while we are with them. Just like the seasons, there is a time for everything, and everything comes and goes.
One of my coworkers was saying that morning, that the weather will be bad, that this is the last nice day of the week. ďItíll be cold and rainy after today,Ē she said. She was watching the newscast the previous night. To me it seemed like a gloomy prediction. I thought, ďbut itís beautiful right now! And this is the first real nice day weíve had!Ē Learning to see, enjoy and appreciate the beauty right now, instead of focusing on the bad that is about to happen is a matter of perspective and awareness. Itís like seeing the cup half empty or half full. Itís being aware of what is good about right now. Iíd rather have lunch in the park with someone I love and relax in the sun than worry about the rest of the week. When I do that, it will actually give me the memories, hope and energy to face the oncoming weather, no matter what it is.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:39 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 4, 2004

The Loss of Billy

Today I was talking to my friend Samuel in India. I have not spoken to him in two months because he went back to his hometown to visit his family. It was very nice talking with him on his return, but he gave me some sad news. Billy passed on. Billy is Samuelís cousin who lived in NE India, who ran a school for orphan children. I talked to Billy several times through email and he sent me photos of the children and a language book and dictionary to help me learn his native language.
He also asked me to help him with money, but I had to say no, because I did not have the resources at the time. I told him that I would keep him in my prayers and would send him money when I could. But I never got that chance.
I had not spoken to Billy in about 6 months. Now Billy comes to me and says, ďItís not too late to help those children. That work will still be there.Ē He also says, ďPlease find someone to help my children. They need a father and a mother.Ē
Billy left behind two young children, a girl and a boy, who Samuel brought back to Billyís fatherís house in his hometown. Billyís ex-wife had left them prior to his death and did not want the children. So Billy had been raising their children by himself. When he passed on, one of his teachers at the school took care of his children until Samuel arrived. Losing Billy was a loss to this world. The loss is always felt by those who remain. If any of you would like to help Billyís children in some way, please send me an email.
Billyís passing on is a reminder that none of us know the exact timing of our own death. It could be tomorrow by accident, or a heart attack, or a mugger. Last Semester one of my friends at the University was in a car accident, hit by a drunk driver and was unable to continue school. Who knows? It helps to keep life in perspective so we donít forget to live fully while we are here. Right now I can keep Billyís family in my prayers and see if I can make a difference in their lives somehow.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:03 AM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 3, 2004

Mob Mentality

Today I found out that my supervisor was fired. One of my coworkers was really upset about that. Our supervisor was well liked and seemed to have her heart in the right place. Not knowing all of the reasons or details, I can only listen to what people are saying. My coworker was telling me that our supervisorís boss has not liked her from the very beginning. And now she had enough grievances to fire her. I was also told that almost everyone in our workgroup is going to quit because of this. They all liked our supervisor and are angry that it happened this way. She listed off the names of the people who are going to quit, mostly the ones who have been there a long time and have worked more closely with our supervisor. The mob mentality is going along with the decisions of the majority of people in the group, whether you believe in it or not.
Often we have the underlying motive of Ďgetting backí at the person who is responsible for a given situation or the company. Since the company is not a real person, but a collection of people, we rarely succeed in the goal of retribution.
When I was in High School I had a job pulling the tassels off the top of the corn stalks. This prevented the corn from cross-pollinating with other breeds of corn. Each Crew would bus out to one field together and start detasseling the corn. One day someone got mad and decided to quit. Then he incited everyone on the bus to quit with him. I went along with it, but to me it was a shameful way to leave. I later thought about this experience a lot. I was out of work for the rest of the summer, and the job really wasnít that bad to me. I learned a lesson in it: Make decisions based on my own feelings, my own needs, and learn to tell the difference between my feelings and motives and the mob mentality.

Posted by carl1236 at 1:08 PM | Attitude

Category "Attitude"

May 2, 2004

Changing Perspective through Time

Almost every day the people in my workgroup take a walk together outside for exercise and fresh air. We talk about family and friends and whatís going on in our lives. Itís a very refreshing break from the work day and the re-circulated air in the building. Today we talked about aging and time. A couple of my coworkers are much older than me. It is interesting and understandable that their perspectives on life have changed over time. One of our colleagues told us a story about one of her coworkers at a previous job, many, many years ago, when she was younger and just starting her career. The man she talked about was an older Engineer who had just been laid off. He seemed actually to be happy about it, and ok with losing his job. When she asked him what he will do, he replied, ďIím planning on finishing my basement.Ē And she seemed a little shocked about this. She asked him how long he had lived in his house, and why he did not do this before. His reply was, ďWeíve lived in this house for 25 years. But there was no time. I was always too busy working and taking care of other things, than to spend the time to refinish the basement. Something else always seems to come up. Now Iíll have the time to do it.Ē
At that time, our colleague explained, she could not understand how he could live in the house for 25 years and not get it done. Especially since they were in the process of remodeling and doing projects around their house, and felt pressure to get it done. But now, 20 years later, she can understand what he meant. Sometimes we look back and wonder where time went. What we do not understand when we are young, we should be able to see when we are older. Our perspective changes. We see things differently when we have not experienced as many of the ups and downs and circles of life. For that man, working on his basement was not the highest priority while living there. 25 years later he was getting a chance to do it. My colleague could not understand how he could not find time to do it in 25 years. It sounds like a lot of time. But now she is older and looks back and can see how quickly time goes when we are engaged in living our lives. She told me, ďNow I understand why.Ē
Itís a good lesson for me in Midlife to be observant of how Iím living my life, how Iím spending my time, and to be tolerant and understanding of myself and others when I look back at how much time has passed. Our perspectives do change over time, and our priorities change. Seeing this now is a valuable lesson.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:49 PM | Attitude