Monday

A Close Encounter Would Be Different (different from the Norway Spiral), I Think

Billy: I mean if they're so smart, why don't they just reveal themselves to us and get it over with?"

George: Why don't they reveal themselves to us is because if they did it would cause a general panic. Now, I mean, we still have leaders upon whom we rely for the release of this information. These leaders have decided to repress this information because of the tremendous shock that it would cause to our antiquated systems. Now, the result of this has been that the Venutians have contacted people in all walks of life - all walks of life. [laughs] Yes. It-it-it would be a devastatin' blow to our antiquated systems - so now the Venutians are meeting with people in all walks of life - in an advisory capacity. For once man will have a god-like control over his own destiny. He will have a chance to transcend and to evolve with some equality for all.

--Easy Rider, the movie


If there are aliens, and they are advanced enough to get here, they are advanced enough to get here undetected. They are advanced enough to study us and know all about us. They are advanced enough to know that a gigantic swirly light show in the sky would be the wrong approach. I mean: Why do that?

If they were going to come here, it seems that their motivation for doing so would be one of the following: 1) Malicious - they wanted to eat us or steal our resources, 2) Friendly - they are so advanced, and they want to share their technology and wisdom with us on a good will mission. Period. Am I right? So in either of these cases, I can't see why they would do the big swirly thing, you know? If they were coming for malicious reasons, their robot tractor/tank/harvester things would land here and just start shredding us. If they're advanced enough to get here, they're advanced enough to have killer shredder robot tractor/tank/harvester things - - which is what they'd need to get the job done, right? So that would happen pretty quickly, right? Like, suddenly, spaceships start landing, the hatches open, and out come these killer shredder robot tractor/tank/harvester things mowing us down like action figures accidentally left in the grass before lawn mowing time (which actually happened to me...my Bionic Man doll/action figure guy...long story). Anyway, it would happen REALLY FAST.

If they were coming here on a goodwill mission, I still think it would be different than a big swirly thing in the sky. If they're advanced enough to get here, they're advanced enough to understand us very well, I would think. I do think that they would contact our leaders first. There's a chance that they would disagree with our leaders. (Imagine that: somebody disagreeing with our leaders.) Maybe the aliens would decide to overrule the decisions of our leaders to "repress this information because of the tremendous shock that it would cause" - because they think that we the people can actually handle it...or for whatever reason. Even if the aliens decided to ignore our leaders and reveal themselves to us, I still don't think they would do it with a gigantic swirly thing in the sky.

How would they reveal themselves to us? I don't know. Ask a scientist. Maybe they'd send out a bulk email...which might would end up in the spam folder of our email accounts...and who uses email anymore...Twitter? Facebook? Both? TV?

I don't know: I just don't think that they would freak us out and give us heart attacks with some grand entrance...if they meant us no harm, I mean.

But, let's look at the other side of the argument, and can a better argument be made against all the nonsense I just typed here...: Why would aliens create a gigantic swirly light display in the sky prior to their arrival? ...or not even prior to an arrival...maybe they just did it to do it...space performance art...space graffiti... Maybe aliens are a bunch of artist types.

Maybe it would be a good way to introduce us to the idea that there is some kind of activity in space which is the result of _________ something, what...aliens...possibly... You got people around you, some of them believe this is alien activity, and they are going around saying it. So the idea is being placed in our heads, the possibility, whether we believe it at this point or not. Maybe more 'signs' will be presented. And bit by bit, the bigger picture is pieced together: there are aliens. They are dropping hints of their existence in the sky. Little by little. Some people swear that they've seen them. Everybody you talk to has a story about some weird moving light they saw in the sky (I do. My wife and I were laying on our backs one time in Cape Hateras, North Carolina on a camping trip on time, and we saw a bunch of lights circling in the sky and zig zagging and all that...I asked her if she saw it, and she said yes, and we corroborated and described and matched our descriptions and we both know and remember what we saw)...

...where was I going with this...I don't know

Maybe my tiny little brain can't understand why aliens would come. Maybe there are infinite reasons to come here, and therefore, there are infinite ways they'd make their entrance.

Why not a grand entrance? Why not pomp, grandiosity...if they're advanced enough to get here, maybe they have some pretty big egos.

I definitely don't think that this was the contact, but who knows - - maybe it was the beginning of a series of introductory hints before the big contact.

Maybe there's some alien kid, from some supremely advanced space world in the sky - the kid is bored - so he just lit off a firework in the sky in front of a bunch of primitive creatures just for kicks - in his little space aquarium in his room.

Sunday

Are we connected by the message or the word count?

Lately, when I'm clicking through links on Twitter or clicking through Twitter search results - when I'm looking at Twitter users and I'm trying to decide who to follow - an important thing for me is volume. The volume isn't the first thing that draws me to a user, obviously, but it is a strong secondary qualifier. I will search a word in the Twitter search feature: an author's name maybe, or a very specific term from a subject of interest, or a place name, or a word for a mood or...damn...just about anything (usually not one of the top current trend terms (I guess I'm outta touch))...or I'll cruise the Twitter Public Timeline, remember that thing? Or I'll follow links through people I follow...and I'll land on a user's page and I'll read read read the first few tweets on the person's page to get the gist of what they say...and then a huge thing that shapes my decision is volume. I skip to the end of their first page to get an indication of how many tweets they have on the first page of their profile. Like if you looked at my profile, at the bottom, you'd see messages from today back to November 17th fill my Page 1. I look for that same measure in others. That's just as shallow and ridiculous as can be, right? And it's hypocritical too...anybody who's ever met me knows that I babble and babble and babble and have no right to impose a word count on anybody.

But isn't this a good compatibility test? I mean: what exactly do you want out of Twitter? I want to use it on my phone. I want to hear from as many people as possible during the day while I'm slaving away, but I don't want to have my phone blowing up so badly it's unusable. I have passed on following some really interesting people because of their volume. And I only let certain people flood my Twitter stream. (You know who you are, and I LOVE you and there's a reason I follow you like a disciple.)

I don't know...maybe I'm going for Dunbar's Number.

Obviously my opinions could differ from somebody - like night and day - even if they tweet the same amount as I do. Of course. But the 'connection' is about more than just agreeing, right? It's about a successful communication process, the right conditions for a successful communication process to proceed. I am a firm believer in the power of Twitter as a means of meaningful communication.

People who have the same volume as I do, maybe they have a similar expectation for Twitter.

People who think like me (or: at the pace that I think), who refine their thoughts and shape a message and utter an utterance with the same frequency with which I do it - they might use Twitter in the same way that I do. Pacing! Synchronicity! Maybe these are the most important facilitating elements of a 'connection.' By 'connection,' what the hell do I mean? I mean somebody posts messages to Twitter regularly which 1) I can relate to, 2) I can learn from, 3) make me laugh, 4) challenge me, 5) enlighten me, 6) scold me when I'm screwin up....and I hope to do the same back to the person - - a connection - -

I don't look to Twitter for ALL OF MY INFORMATION AND TRUTH. There are some messages that are too heavy or too long for Twitter. (Guess what: I read books too. And lots of newspaper and magazine articles and blogs and forums and...wow...just about anything...cereal boxes, government websites, association websites, think tank websites, academics, pdf reports downloaded...and then there's all the stuff I listen to and view....) But for what I am looking for out of Twitter, what I am hoping for out of Twitter, maybe my volume thing is a good idea. Maybe I am getting the most out of Twitter. (Or maybe I'm missing so much it's a freakin tragedy.) What I miss out on - on Twitter - I hope I pick it up elsewhere - - or I just don't get it I guess. Whatever. In this life you gotta go with what you got. Use the info at hand to make a decision, to make a statement, to produce your art or write.

I just know that the high volume user squelches a low volume user on Twitter - because of how it's designed. When Twitter Lists came out, I started a list of low volume users...so that I could be sure to hear from them when I'm logged on...when I'm not using Twitter via phone but instead via computer. (Maybe I should have a high volume list too. A fast lane and a slow lane...but then I would be forced to click around a buncha lists...I don't know...maybe I'll do that)

Maybe I should just use Twitter to answer the question that Twitter itself poses to me, the question at the top of your Twitter page right above where you type stuff asks: What's happening? ...didn't it use to ask: What are you doing?

What would you do with a found photo?

Last night in front of an ATM machine I found a little photo. It must have fallen out of somebody's wallet. It was old and faded. The guys in the photo had big hair and those frilly old 70s tuxedos. This photo had been in somebody's possession a very long time. It had a pin hole in the top, so it must have been pinned somewhere a while, but most recently, it was in somebody's wallet...but now, here it was on the sidewalk in front of an ATM. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to keep it. It was such a great photo. It was like found art...or maybe my 'love' of it was only like the fondness one feels for a baseball card or a wacky action figure or something. I put back on the sidewalk exactly where I picked it up from. Maybe the person would come back for it. At the time, that was the best decision I could make. Maybe I should have kept it, celebrated it: posted it here maybe, maybe made some copies...Maybe I should have tried to slip it through the bank doors (and risked setting off the bank alarm and bringing about circumstances and sirens and questions it would be hard to address). Maybe it will be blown away by the leaf blower Monday morning. Maybe the next user of the ATM would face the same quandary. Maybe I should have picked up the photo and come back to the bank and given it to a teller so they could give it back if somebody came for it - I didn't think of that. That's what I should have done. Or maybe I could have mailed it to the bank. Would the banker really have taken the time to deal with this? What if the person was five minutes away, on his or her way back to pick it up...and then they were back on their way to New York or where ever...My gut feeling was to not remove it from where I found it. This seemed like the best option according to my instincts and quick decision making faculties (which were impaired). I'm thinking it and rethinking it now. I knew it was important. But I treated it differently from....an ATM card I found one day at that very ATM machine. That ATM card: I mailed it to the bank. But an ATM card really stick out, laying on a sidewalk...that one was obvious. That little picture, I barely noticed it. It was face down, it looked just like a blank piece of paper until I picked it up. I really had this strong inclination to put it right back where I found it. Maybe the person would have given up on it right then and there if they came back and saw it was gone. Maybe they wouldn't realize it is gone until...who knows when. What would you have done?

Saturday

What's going on: That damn car that I just bought died on me last week. It was the car computer. It was covered under the warranty. I thought Toyotas were supposed to be super great though!?!? The dealership was so rude and horrible to me. WHAT ELSE WHAT ELSE: My shoulder, when it's not hurting, it feels weird - like I'm wearing an ill-fitting shirt that is binding and wrinkling and creased against my shoulder. Weird. Weird shifting of bones and muscles: twang, clunk. It's not hurting too much though. Still a visible protrusion of bone looking slightly freakish up there. The doc said they get just as good an outcome from letting it heal on its own as they do from cutting you open, sawing off the end of the bone, and reattaching the muscle -so yeah- gonna go with the less frightful option there. And then there's...what: WORKING SO HARD. Afraid not to. It's LIKE that. And hmm: Having some bad arguments with the wife. We're working through it, and I hope there's not much fight left. With all of these things going on (none of which is as bad as Baghdad), with this steady stream of low grade tribulations, I've forgotten to remember my 'mind-right/mentals-right/dharma reading/dharma practicing- but you know what? The progress I made is still there. I'm hoping to know it and live it like it's not a set of instructions you memorize, it's a way of being that you exalt yourself to. Or you try to. You try to balance yourself up there.

Sunday

The blog needs words to grow. Summary: I am working so hard! I just feel that I have to, currently - - I must work as hard as I can, I must not fool around. This leaves me pretty tired at the end of the day. My shoulder (which I recently separated playing soccer (I was in the air (don’t ask), and I came down right on the shoulder)) hurts. At different times, in different places, it hurts. At one point it might feel like somebody is working on it with pliers - attempting to remove or twist a bone. At another time, it might feel like I am out in the sun with somebody standing behind me with a magnifying glass focusing a burning beam on my back. Or sometimes the other shoulder hurts - or my neck. Sometimes I’ll do ‘something wrong’ and it will shoot tingles down my arm, and it feels like a rubberband snapping in the crook of my arm. It’s such an interesting injury. The bone across the top of my shoulder sticks up higher than it should, and it’s noticeable to people. What else hmm: I bought (financed) a 2006 Toyota Corolla. It’s silver...or gray. It has a stick shift which is perfect because it never really gives my injured shoulder a chance to rest as I make my long commute between home and work (didn’t plan that one). What else: The accounting class I was going to take: I ain't. It ain't me I guess. What is me? What is me? What is me? What is me?

And this song.

Friday

Why would you put all your 'real life shit' out there on the internet?

Nobody's ever asked me this to my face, but I could see somebody asking it. These stories on this blog are stories I would tell anybody if I got to know them for just like...five minutes or so, you know, so what's the big deal?

I've had certain... *material* ...on this blog that made me cringe when I read it later...years later...hours later. I've removed stuff.

Sometimes I wonder who all knows about this blog - like in my real world. I wonder how many people in my physical world are actually doing freaky stuff on the internet...you know what I mean? I guess I can take some comfort (and so can you) in knowing that this is as freaky as it gets for me on the internet. Read all you like, it's good stuff for bringing about drowsiness when you're trying to go to sleep.

I've tried a bunch of times in different ways to explain why I think blogging is important, and the following comes to mind: If you share your story, maybe somebody else can learn from the mistakes that you made. I'm going to rename this blog: The Mistake Log of Bobby from Portsmouth

The Most Exciting Thing In My Life Currently...

...is pickup soccer, adult soccer, easily. It's all I can think about. As I'm walking between cubicles at work, to and from the bathroom or the breakroom or the mailroom, all I can think about is the a ball at my feet and the ways in which I would maneuver the ball through these narrow pathways and how at some point I will have the goal in sight (the opening to somebody's cubicle, perhaps) and at that point I will shoot the ball, kick it as hard as I can at that opening.

Nobody's going pro out there, as I've said, there's really no need to take it very seriously - - but it's hard not to take it very very seriously when you're out there.

But surely there must be something more worthwhile to think about.

Umm. Nope.

Just pickup soccer. That's all I can think about at the moment. It is sooooo exciting. Lately I'm trying to really create openings for my team mates: I'll take the ball in a crazy zig zag pattern all the way down the field - try to attract a lotta attention and coverage - - and then somebody on my team will be left wide open - - and I try to zip it through to them right quick. OR, if I find myself in front of that goal - with the ball - and I'm in range - I just hammer that ball. I shoulda gotten ten goals last time, but my aim and luck were a little off, I got one goal. Next time, my friend, next time. And the next time is TONIGHT.

Thursday

Dear Everybody IN THE WHOLE WORLD:

Calm down. It's going to be okay. Really. You know: not much has changed for humanity in the last two hundred thousand years - if you look at life in a certain way. We're born. We die. See? We been doing that for years. In between birth and death we have these tribulations, these conflicts. Some people live for the conflicts - and that's just messed up. Ya might not realize that the conflict is dumb. You might not realize that you're trapped in a conflict. Just walk away from it. Walk to nice shady place and have a seat. Bring your attention to your breathing. Meditate. After everybody is calm, then come back out and get engaged in life. Do your thing! "What's my thing Bobby?" you might ask...well...you have to figure that out...but don't fret. Just give it lots of thought. Try different things, trial and error, until you find YOUR THING. Maybe YOUR THING is to go around trying Different Things, here and there, now and then - but you never really settle for Any One Thing. I think this is MY THING. Here's something worth mentioning: Try to pick A Thing that doesn't encroach on Somebody Else's Thing. And usually there are very very clear indicators when this happens. It's a Common Sense Thing. The Common Sense Thing - everybody has to do that one.

Best regards,

Bobby

Sunday

I’m Seeking The Positive Here:

Scenery - If you got one tree, you got scenery. Look at your town as though you are seeing it for the first time. What is it that brings tourists to your town? Me, I’m lucky in this regard. Florida is a beautiful state. Virginia was pretty, DC lovely - but Florida, wow.

The Infinity of Human Knowledge - Every subject, I just want to plunge into it and read a hundred books and become a scholar in it. There is so much wisdom available, already set in print. Humans are expanding their knowledge constantly. AND YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE TO IT! Your narrative is as important as everybody else’s.

Love - If you got an internet connection, you are reading this. If you got an internet connection, you got love! You got interaction. You got people interested in you. You got interest in other peope. You got love! What is love? I don’t know. I mean: I do know - but I can’t put it into words...because it ain’t supposed to work like that. Love is internet ready.

It’s great to be alive! Every day a new delight will delight you. Civilization keeps on civilizing. I’m glad to be alive. Now. Here. And I can shape my life, make it a work of art.

Tuesday

My Car Won't Start

So why am I not out there trying to fix it? Because it’s raining.

I guess I should expect this kind of thing now and then given the fact that I drive a ten year old car. But I really got lucky with this car. It’s a 99 Ford Taurus. I bought it off craigslist in June of 2006. I bought from this graduating college techy guy who got it from his dad - they’d taken great care of it.

It had under 60,000 miles on it when I bought it. I’ve put 60,000 of my own miles on it since then. I drive 35 miles to work and 35 miles back...a big, smelly carbon footprint, I know...but there were other compromises/concessions/loving decisions to make...long story. I wish I didn’t drive that far, but...long story...long drive...long story...

Cars have been the cause of much stress in my life (three car fires, numerous break downs, my share of wrecks(no injuries, thank goodness)). I’ve never made a lot of money, so I’ve never been willing to take on a car payment - never had a car payment. I’ve always had older cars. What can I say? -What I can say is that I’ve lived well within my slender means...and felt like an outcast doing it. My car is one of the oldest cars in the parking lot at work. There are people at work with BMW’s and Saabs and Hummers and so on. Sometimes I feel a little ashamed to have such an old car, and I park way in the back and shit. Ridiculous, huh? I think the only people who have old cars like mine are the accounting clerks. They drive some beaters too. But...they know how to crunch those dollars I guess.

Anyway, I’m thinking it’s the battery. It’s got a massive growth of corrosion that looks like something from a horror movie on top of the battery. I’ve named it BLOBTAR THE KING BEAST OF CORROSION. I think it growled at me when I lifted the hood.

The car did some weird stuff when I tried to start it. I turned the key, and it didn’t even try to start. I observed that the radio and the wipers still worked, but when I switched on the lights, that caused the radio and the wipers to quit working. WEIRD. But then I thought about it, and I decided not to overthink it. It probably just didn’t have enough juice in the battery to do all the above. I’ll get a jump. If it takes a jump and starts, I would be pretty confident that it was the battery or the connection to the battery. If a jump doesn’t do it, that’ll suck. That’ll mean something like a relay or a switch or something I’ll have no chance of finding.

I’ve had good and bad luck fixing cars in my life. I used to watch my brother and his friends fix cars, so I can do some of the minor stuff. But I usually don’t. I’m too lazy and too afraid the car will fall on me and kill me if I get under it...which is where you have to go a lot of the time to fix stuff.

So much information about fixing cars is available in online forums. You can just google your symptoms and your car make, and you’ll arrive at a discussion about your car where people may or may not be full of shit. The rule that I go by is to look for the posts with the worst typing. That means it’s somebody who doesn’t care much about typing, but who cares enough to get online and barbarically bang out a post in a forum about something he DOES care about and know about - FiCKSiNG cARs. If you see a posting to an auto forum with pretty typing like mine, ignore it.

Sunday

I can't help but wonder what the world will look like when we get through this thing. I know we'll get through...I don't think THEY will let us starve to death...some of us might end up doing some homeless stints...I don't know.

I guess there's a chance the world will look just like it does now - after the BIG CLIMAX.

I wonder what my situation will be. Like right now, I have a cushy cubicle job in the air conditioning in sunny Florida. After the BIG CLIMAX, where will I end up? I don't really have any marketable skills. I gots a engLISH major, emphasis professional writing. I'm scared to death I'm going to end up doing hard labor out in a swamp somewhere with alligators, snakes, bears and maybe even panthers.

I mean: I've done labor before. And that's why I have a cushy, air conditioned cubicle job now.
I’m reading a book called Buddhism without Beliefs, by Stephen Batchelor. A quick summary of this book might be: You can use the dharma practices from Buddhism without believing in it as a religion. It’s something that you do, not something you believe in.

I will read this book more than once.

Some of my biggest take-aways are:

Negative emotions are transient. They arise, and they pass away - if you let them. You have to let them go. LET GO...so the mantra goes.

You really are not independent of the bigger world around you. There's a greater sensitivity you can tune into when you realize your position as a part of the whole world.

You live in a constantly changing world, you can't really 'hit the brakes' and freeze the here and now. You have to move with the world around you, or it'll knock you off balance.

The origin of anguish is craving. Cravings will come - and they'll go away too if you let them.

I guess it's common sense stuff in a way, obvious stuff.

Sometimes I worry that it only does me good while I'm actually reading it. As soon as I set the book down, my stresses return. Maybe I'm not taking it in deeply enough. Maybe it's in one ear and out the other. I have been guilty of ignoring common sense in the past.

I don't know. Keri says she thinks I'm doing a lot better...I seem a lot less stressed out, she says.

Maybe I'll just keep reading this kind of stuff for the rest of my life - or as long as . . . something. Maybe that's what it takes to keep this particular mind right.

I wasn't terribly horribly bad off before I started reading all of this kind of stuff...but maybe I can feel even better.

Is this inner peace crap taking the fire out of my belly? (Was there a fire to begin with?) Are you smothering creativity when you seek total peace? Without the emotions churning in you, you don't really feel anything maybe. You are uninspired. Well, Batchelor's book and some others I've read lately say no - you will start see the world in all its beauty and creativity if you're not dogged by negative emotions. I don't know. Who knows...do you know?