Facebook Update

I’m signed up as a freelance writer with quite a few sites.   I also frequently check the ‘writer jobs’ section of Craigs list – who knows, maybe one of my neighbors needs content for their website and do not have the time or talent to do it themselves…

This week my eye was caught by the word “Facebook” in listings and project descriptions quite a bit…which means I simply must do an update on my decision to leave Facebook.

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It appears there are folks willing to pay you to write blogs/content for them, AND they want you to advertise the stuff you wrote on your Social Media account – (after they have put their name as the byline on what you wrote…)

There were also a couple of requests this week for articles pertaining to the dangers of Facebook addiction and how to break it (the addiction, not Facebook).

Really?

Apparently at least one person in the world believes Facebook addiction exists and wants to share with all the evil that will spread unless this problem is addressed – they just don’t know how to write about it.

Or perhaps, they’ve come up with a new pill or seminar that tells folks how to break an addiction they didn’t even know they had…all for only $49.95 plus $119 shipping and handling….

Who knows?

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So while I’m missing out on spending an hour or so of my time and talent to make $15-$20 bucks ghost writing for someone else, then posting the link on my Facebook page, I’m still a non-Facebooker – –

Quite frankly, because I do not quite yet need money so bad I can back down on my principal.

Also, I may have traded my Facebook addiction for a WordPress one….

(Hey!  Business opportunity alert!   Need a pill or self-help class/book for those addicted to blogging and reading the blogs of others….)

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Addicted is probably over-stating it.   I can go quite awhile without writing or reading at WordPress without feeling traumatized.   But I do prefer this experience to the FB one – –

Mainly because WordPress seems more suited to my 3-day style that sometimes gets overwhelmed by the 3-second world I live in.

Being logged into Facebook meant I kept looking to see who said what and felt the need to reply quickly – or being overwhelmed by the number of posts to scroll through when I had been away for awhile.   Must read them all – I might miss something important…

Bloggers write, post and even if you comment 3 months later, they are fine with that – they weren’t really expecting to hear from you anyways…

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Cruising through blogs courtesy of WordPress means several things:

  • I can hook up with people who think like I do or can give me a new perspective
  • I can post feed-back via comments and read what others have to say without demanding they be my friend
  • I can put my blog address in my comment, so if anyone cares what I think, they can click and find out
  • I do not have to face the trauma of being de-friended because people got tired of me filling their iPhone screen with my over-analyzing whatever topic I’m currently into instead of just politely posting little updates like “going to work”, “eating”, “stuck in traffic”, “jerk driver in front of me” – – you get the idea.
  • I can write as much as I want – no character limitations – – (this is probably the number 1 priority, actually)

And I can do this all without having to reactivate my Facebook account.

Hmmm….

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There are those in my circle who have asked for me to please return to Facebook – they miss interacting with me.  Yes, I miss them too, but I have a phone, email and mailing address -for some,  we live 10 miles from each other, for goodness sake.

It’s easier for them to tweet or ping me from their computer when their boss isn’t looking than it is to try to find time for a phone call or visit, I guess.

Which brings me to another realization of why I continue in my boycott of Facebook – the lifestyle that makes Facebook an attractive option is not a lifestyle I want.

When did we create a system where making a living left little time over to have a life?

I also wonder why we aren’t re-designing our society to allow for afternoon visits, long phone calls or letter/email writing, instead of  desperately reaching out to connect with each other in 10 words or less during our bathroom break at the salt mine.

Inquiring minds want to know.

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There are 24 hours in a day – today, my day off from the salt mine, was spent so far as follows:

  • 6 hours sleeping,
  • 3 hours making bread (reading/writing/commenting while the bread raises, then bakes)
  • I’m thinking about 5 hours will be spent this afternoon and evening connecting with those I live with and those I don’t, but can drive for 5 minutes and have an in-person chat with.

That leaves me 6 hours left over in which to garden, talk on the phone, start a fermenting project, build a frame for drying sprouted wheat, do housework or just sit around pondering the universe.

(Yes, I can do basic math – the four hours unaccounted for are for sleeping – I started my tally from midnight and I like getting 10 hours of sleep whenever possible….)

Now if I can figure out how to make that 24 hour day pay for my continued existence, I’ll have it made.

Only the Shadow Knows…

I grew up hearing,

What Evil lurks in the heart of man?  Only the Shadow knows.  (insert evil laughter)

My dad could do that and the mummy too – apparently, he spent long hours in his childhood perfecting these skills, so he could scare his younger sister.

Years later, I spouted off the Shadow quote – a co-worker (who was 30 years or so older than me) said, “How old are you, really?   That’s a radio program from the 40’s”

I whispered, “457, but don’t tell anyone.”

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So now that you know what the Shadow and I know, I’ll tell you what I’m really thinking about.

This a.m., I got caught up on reading all the posts sitting in my blog subscription folder, and reading the new comments posted where I had added my two cents – – (remember, if you want to know the national climate of any topic, read the comments on any news or blog post – that’s where you can really tell what’s going on!)

I’m seeing a disturbing trend of more arguing, less debating surrounding nearly every topic of the day.

I blame the foundation of our culture, “Dualism” for this increase in arguing.

Dualism is aka  Hot/Cold, Good/Evil, Right/Wrong, Win/Lose.

The masters of any age have repeatedly pointed out the detriments of a dualistic world-view, yet doesn’t seem we have slipped the bonds of it yet.

On any topic, there is right, good and proper on one side and wrong, evil and bane-to-society on the other.

And it seems to me, we Americans have lost our ability to Debate.   We are very good at getting emotionally invested in one side of an argument and fighting to the death over our stance, but given my observations in business, politics and personal relationships, I find we don’t debate much anymore –

We either agree or fight.

(Supposedly, there is an option of “agreeing to disagree” – I’ve never found anyone, myself included, that truly agrees to disagree – rather, we stop talking about it all the while secretly waiting for the day the opposition wakes up and smells the coffee….and acknowledges we were right.)

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I have a friend from China, who is also a Doctor of Oriental medicine.  We’ve talked about the whole Dualism subject – in her culture, the opposing forces are called Yin/Yang.

The difference between Dualism and Yin/Yang belief systems is simple – in Yin/Yang, one cannot exist without the other – there is no battle for one side to overcome and destroy the other.  There are only activities and processes that keep the two sides balanced.   Imbalance between the two bring about bad things.   And if one is destroyed, the other cannot survive.

I’ve come to the conclusion having that perspective on life makes my daily existence easier and is in tune with how the Universe works.  The whole circle of life thing.

I like dancing to the heartbeat of the Universe – it’s more fun and efficient than trying to conquer or control It …

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Gary Craig (Stanford trained engineer and founder of EFT) said there is nothing that can start a war more quickly than a belief.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have beliefs, values or standards – but I do question how many of the beliefs we each hold are really our own.

During my journey, I’ve found that many of my cherished beliefs were not mine at all – I had inherited them from a variety of sources while I was too small and too ignorant to see if the “truth” being told to me was a fact or simply the perspective of someone else.

Because I love to read and research, I’ve found that much of what I thought I knew, isn’t true at all – and much of what I know today, could easily be proven false tomorrow.  I also have found examining your own cherished and sacred beliefs is not always an easy journey.

Like Fonzie, it’s so hard to say we were, “Wwwwrrrrrrrrooooonnng”

I’d really like to change my mind once in awhile and share why, without having to defend either the current or previous stance.

(My brother likes the phrase, “It just Is” when the you-know-what hits the fan.   He’s smarter than me.   No one argues with him about It Just Is.)

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Yesterday evening, after a long day at work, I pulled through the drive-through.

Yes, Ms. Sprouts-Her-Own-Locally-Purchased-Wheat-To-Make-Her-Own-Bread decided to purchase fast food.

I spent $2.15 for stuff that probably isn’t the best for me and supports an industry with high-turn over, low employee satisfaction and the mechanism that drives health care costs high, reinforces instant gratification and the belief you can always have it your way, all while encouraging monoculture farming practices.

Those who know me will point out the hypocrisy of my actions –

I was hungry – Sue Me.

In front of me was a man in a SUV with a the bumper sticker:

Peace, Love, Balance = Life

(peace sign, heart, yin/yang = ankh)

I read his mobile library while listening to his angry discourse to the drive-through employee:

“Just how long does it take to make a lousy hamburger?!?”

I could have told him it takes longer when you special order nothing but patties, cheese and bread.   How, you might ask, did I know that’s what he ordered?

Well, apparently, the crew was so hurried and distraught, they accidentally gave me one of his special ordered burgers.

I discovered this nearly 10 minutes after driving off with my bag full of off -the-menu selections and passed by where he had pulled over to wait for his ‘have-it-your-way’ selections.

Nope, I didn’t drive back to give him what was his or to complain my order was wrong – I ate it and thanked my tummy for shutting up about being hungry and told my taste buds to quit bemoaning the lack of ketchup.

I’m a selfish monster.

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Having Ideals and living those Ideals are two different things.

Setting our Ideals so high and touting them so loud only means when we slip off our soapbox, we have a big audience that will notice.

The louder we fight with each other over who is right and who is wrong, the less we get accomplished.

And the less we examine our own beliefs, the more likely we are to make an arse out of ourselves – sooner or later.  Trust me, I know…

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I like to philosophize.  I’ve learned that if I want to talk with another about the ‘hard subjects’ (i.e. abortion, right to die, homosexuality, the stock market, any system that ends in “ism”, healthcare…..) it’s best to open the subject with a carefully worded sentence announcing my intent to debate the topic. (You know, let’s each take a side and hey, just for fun, let’s switch sides mid-stream and see what happens!”)

I like to believe these conversations are reminiscent of those that took place while Socrates and Aristotle were alive.

The phrase, “Hey, hypothetically (or philosophically) what do you think would be the end result if….” also tends to work.

Anything to get the conversation started and set the tone for a mutual discourse.

This way of conversation was not a natural for me.   It became a hard-earned skill  – simply because I’m a debater or Devil’s Advocate at heart – I love picking apart anything and looking at stuff from a myriad of perspectives.   Those activities are my hobbies and ‘fun time’.

While I realized those activities are not viewed by most folks in the same light as a vacation to Hawaii, I only recently realized how few of those around me are natural debaters.

Even though I knew I just wanted to discuss all the perspectives and possibilities – all they could hear was me trying to convert them over to ‘my side’ or worse, how I was telling them they were Wrrroooonnnngggg.

I should have realized this whole nugget of information years ago, because I can’t tell you how many times  someone said, “But you just said the opposite a moment ago….”

(insert bemused look  – If the conversation lacks a debating partner, I can happily debate with myself in front of a confused audience…)

Que-sera, sera, I, stuck in my own perspectives and illusions didn’t hear what they were saying, anymore than they could hear me.

How much easier my life would have been had I understood this about myself and the world I inhabit years ago.

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The switch for me from dualism to yin/yang perspective has been profound – it also has meant extra effort and energy in order to repair or maintain friendships with those still in the Dualism point of view.

It also means really (and I mean really) putting the time in to convince people you really want to understand where they are coming from and why they feel the way they do.  In a society ruled by Dualism, we all learn that talking about your deepest beliefs with someone who feels differently is not Safe.   And we learn very early the best Defense is a strong Offense.

Cuz, ya know, we are playing to Win!

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For now, yin/yang perspective works better for my peace of heart and mind than Dualism does – – not my job to tell anyone else they should make the switch too –

But man, would I love to debate it – I might have missed some of the pros of Dualism…

P.S. The Shadow knows us and he knows his job in keeping the balance – just in case you were wondering.

And Yet, Another F Word – Fairness

The Universe has taken the opportunity to share many F words with me the past few weeks – Fair popped up on the radar this morning.  Actually, it’s been on my brain radar for quite awhile now – but mostly in the context of what’s not Fair .

Fresh from one of my favorites, Lynne McTaggart, comes The Fairness Campaign.  She eloquently stated all the statistics, science and observed results of what happens in cultures built around Not Fair, allowing me to write about what I want too, without having to give you the background and proof.  (Thanks, Lynne, for again allowing me to do what I love without getting bogged down in the details, which you are so awesome at putting together!)

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I recently watched (yet again) PBS’s installment of The American Experience: The Crash of 1929.   Each time I watch it, I become more aware of the cultural standards and mind-sets that allow these kinds of misfortunes to play out over and over throughout history.

I double-dog dare you to watch it and not see the correlations between the house of cards in 1929 and the collapse in the mortgage and financial market of 2008.

I also dare you to watch those interviewed who say, “Well, the stock market didn’t have all the regulations in place it does today” and not snigger – as anyone who has followed our current economic woes can easily see the same motivations and games that created Black Friday also led to the 2008 disaster.

View with interest the few lone voices who warned there was trouble ahead and who were ridiculed, labeled unpatriotic and even, at the extreme, accused of treason for daring to question the solidity of our Stock Market.

For examples of these lone hero-types leading up to the 2008 debacle, I will refer you to RSA Animate clip “Smile or Die” by Barbara Ehrenreich.  She eloquently shares the stories of those who tried warning of the dangerous waters ahead with sub-prime lending – all who were informed to “Quit being Negative” – our modern label for  “Unpatriotic”.

It’s rather disheartening to see how quickly those who try to steer us from torrents to smooth sailing are all but destroyed by those around them.

And, I wonder yet again, when will we learn?

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Survival of the Fittest does not apply to the species of Man.   It never has.   Without fur, sharp teeth, claws or defensive armor, the only thing our ancestors had going for them was brains and the ability to work together for the good of the group.

Compassion, empathy and intellectual solutions that take care of the whole tribe, not just one or two, is why our species has flourished.

So when those who made millions, billions or trillions out of the crash of 1929 or 2008, (take your pick) shrug and say, “The opportunity was there for anyone – not my fault others didn’t have my vision”, I realize they are not really in tune with the mind-set and values that had to exist in order for them to even have been born.

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I grew up in an era where the parenting phrase, “Life isn’t Fair” was at it’s zenith – indicating to me the residual effects of the crash and depression in our mind-set as a society.   Our physical drive to survive often ends up with our brains coming up with false stories to keep us going through devastating trauma.

Good for us – our instincts are working.

Bad for us, because the 99% of the population who slaves to support the 1% start thinking of ways to either make it to the 1% level, or meekly submit to to the propaganda that states: “You just weren’t smart enough, positive enough or hard-working enough to have ‘made it’.”

Hogwash.

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If you’re in the 99% group of folks who are basically laboring within a feudalistic system, although it has been well disguised, thanks to prolific advertising campaigns, then I implore you to not meekly submit to a structure that is based on robbing the poor to feed the rich.

Being positive has it’s merits, but when you are part of a system that is designed to destroy you in one way or another, you can be the biggest Pollyanna on the block and all it will do is allow you to be peaceful while you’re sitting under the bridge waiting for someone to drop pennies in your hat.  (Peace  has it’s merits, but then we are a species that continually strives for better.  Funny how often the “Better” does not bring Peace.)

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Do you see the strength in that 99%?   What if the 99% banded together to come with their own game – a game based on Fairness, Compassion and an Empathic Society?   What if the 99% of cooperative baboons told the 1% of aggressive mean ones to take a hike?

 What if American farmers, ranchers and producers decided to feed their neighbors and let those who send their maid to the store do without?

Radical, I know – but when I continually face an audience that sees only two options – a money culture or a fanatic survivalist existence – I sometimes wonder if we can wipe the clouds of propaganda from our brains long enough to come up with a happy medium.

But that medium CAN be found – and you can start any day of the week taking small steps towards reinventing the society in which you live.   The voices of discontent are growing – those who promised that which they cannot or will not deliver are in the minority.  There are plenty of us who are tired of playing a game we can’t win.

So why not come up with our own game?   Human labor, cooperation,  ingenuity and  renewable, raw resources are the only things that have ever created abundance.

Money wealth can be created out of thin air – it means nothing unless the above abundance backs it up.  And it will surely fall the moment the 1% who produce nothing but money get out of hand.

You, with all your talent and energy, can choose whether to shore up the Money Game or contribute to the abundance of your local community.   There are those of like mind waiting to join forces with you.

Start the conversation – those who aren’t ready are immediately apparent.  Move on until you find someone willing to trade their eggs for your home made bread.

And be willing to stand by them in court when you both get arrested for not paying the IRS portion of the abundance they did nothing to help create, but nevertheless, want their portion of.

Sleeping Beauty and Mother’s Day

I realized today the last time I had optimum health was when I slept in and took naps.

When I first entered the phase of life where I could take a mid-day nap whenever I wanted to (after 4 years of age!), I was 39 years old.   I had been working at some paying job for 26 years.   I had been a parent for 15.  I no longer had small child units in the house that required night feedings or constant protection from electric sockets, sharp instruments or each other.

I had it made.

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I now live in a home that has two responsible adults and one almost adult child unit.  You would think I could take a nap without worrying.  I haven’t done so and after another frenzied period of trying to  “do it all”, I’m tired.   I’m taking a nap this weekend.  And I once again vow to shape a daily life that allows sleeping in or taking a nap when my body needs extra time to repair all the mortar shocks I’ve given it during the day.

(Coffee, Nicotine and Beer are my self-medication tools of choice to stave off or repair mortar shocks…

 I decided to learn how to make my own traditional Egyptian beer – hey, those who built the pyramids were paid in bread and beer – what great things I might aspire to if I just get the beer making down…I’ve done the bread thing for 6 years now – no pyramids in site.  The key must be the beer…)

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I’d love to take a nap, but Mother Nature is waking up and unlike a 2-year old, she can really make good on her threats.   (If I don’t have lettuce seed in the ground this weekend, Armageddon will surely occur.)

So going without extra sleep seems the best option right now – I really want to eat a salad out of my own garden.

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My own mother told me to sleep in.

Mother Nature just texted me.  She said two hours won’t make a difference to her, the lettuce seed or the universe.   But she thinks it may make a difference to me.  I’ve been instructed to sleep in tomorrow.

Thanks, Moms.

I love you so much, and really appreciate all you do for me.

I’ll try really hard to do my part so you don’t think you spoiled me too much.

Happy Mother’s Day and thanks for letting me sleep in.

Shades of Gray

The gray areas of life have really been on my radar recently.   Whether in interpersonal relationships or when contemplating world events, gray has become my favorite color.

Cuz I could be right in my current world view….

OR

Tomorrow I could learn something new that changes my perspective…

The path of continual learning is not for the faint of heart or those who dislike change.

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I can pick any topic from Roe vs. Wade to which spaghetti sauce is the best buy for quality and I can find, somewhere, someone, who will either agree or disagree with my take on the subject.

If I read long enough on any topic – I shall find plenty of information and some of it contradictory (this is both the blessing and curse of the internet.)

At which point, on topics worthy of pondering and consideration, I must choose who to believe…. in this case, it probably was easier to decide when we met the informant face to face.  I’m telling you, you can tell a snake oil healer or used car salesman at a hundred paces. (check back tomorrow – those identified as frauds may have changed to wall street bankers and the local minister – – I’m researching…)

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On the other hand, my recent forays into psychology and philosophy have netted me some nuggets of  truth- – for example, after reading Freud’s “Civilization and It’s Discontents” and Jung’s “On Psychology and Religion”, I found two other folks, (learned ones at that) who came to the same (paraphrased, of course) conclusions I have:

Sometimes, Life is hard.  And sometimes it Sucks Big Time.   How you choose to cope with it is your business, until your coping mechanisms interfere with a lot of others’ business… Then we must counsel you on how to change to fit in with society.

‘Nuff said.

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Philosophy really only emerged when we got good enough at producing food, shelter and the other finer things of life that several folks in the community could survive simply by sitting around thinking about abstract things all day while the herders, farmers and hunters were out bringing in sustenance.   I really liked the definition of what a philosopher does – I’d really like to be a philosopher….

But I really want to garden, too.   So perhaps, I’ll just be a “practicing philosopher” while I’m masterfully working in my garden.

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It’s hard to see black and white in the world when you open yourself up to so many different options of how to look at things.   Education (formal and informal), the desire to travel, meeting new people and truly hearing their story, exploring the accumulated wisdom of our history — all these ways of living means you can no longer cling to your narrow world view.   It means you’ve talked to both the born-again who regrets the abortion they had and you also know how hard the 16 year old date-rape victim struggled in a community who labeled her a whore and her offspring a bastard.

It means you understand the blood sweat and tears dairy farmers go through to run a small operation that could potentially provide their family and a few others wholesome, nutritious milk, but cannot legally do so unless they jump through the regulation hoops to provide “cow shares” (because selling raw milk is illegal) – but you also have lunch with a city-dweller whose only option for milk is from the corner store and they are damn glad the FDA and state bureaus have the power they do, because they are at the mercy of a chain of 5 stops or more before the milk from the  cow reaches them – – any link in the chain could be inhabited by the ruthless and profit minded who would love, just love! to cut safety corners to increase profits.

It also means holding the hand of the recent bereaved due to bacterial meningitis, who are hell bent on suing the hospital and doctors who didn’t save their loved one.

Who also wonders why you didn’t .

There are no easy answers.

Which is why philosophers have to sit on their arse and think for 40 years before they have anything worthy to contribute.

I’m thinking philosophy is not for me, my arse is wide enough already…

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Science has tried to fill in the blanks with Facts.   Math and it’s offspring, statistics – along with double-blind studies, etc., have tried to tell us, “This is information you can rely on and trust.  Base your opinions on this!”

Certainly, science cut down on the burning of supposed witches, but I’ve seen first hand how statistics compilation works – there is this little thing called “outlier” – it refers to any item(s) that are way off the bell-curve (or whatever squiggly line with a professional sounding name you use) Outliers are often where the truth of the matter lies – but they are tossed out, because Fact charts don’t look pretty and convincing if you include the outliers.

See?  In one line I communicated to you my severe distrust of statistics and scientific research…

If you like me and think I’m not full of BS, you’ll believe me – –

Or, you may decide I’m a nut.

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If we can survive life long enough, without allowing ourselves to become embittered, disenchanted, disillusioned – then, we see the gray areas that indicate a need for moderation in our attitudes towards one another.  I don’t think the elders of our society are simply worn down until they are too tired to fight.

I like to think if we live and learn, we understand Life is hard enough with it’s losses and failures without us inflicting pain on each other because we don’t have enough information or experience to understand why someone else is mad, angry or hurt.

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I was in at the local store today, looking through a box of spare parts to get the four extra 3/8″ hex nuts I foolishly didn’t plan on for one of my inventions.  The local mechanic brought me a box of his “left overs” and patiently tried potentials right along with me, until we found the 4 I needed.

Another local wandered in and I, in my infinite wit, replied to his “How are you?” with “I’m about 4 nuts short.”

(Really, how often in a lifetime do you get to say that line?  I have a thousand and one great lines, just waiting for the opportunity to use – unfortunately for those around me, I didn’t take the easy way out and invent a stand-up comedy routine.)

He said, “I thought you were just nuts.”

(This is life as I know it, moving back to a place where everyone knew me and now wonder, “What the hell happened to you?!?”)

I laughed and said:

That’s true.  I am nuts.  But I’m not convinced our definition of ‘Normal” is the best our species can do.  So I’m going to keep gathering information until I figure out how to come up with a more efficient, better quality end-product.

I have a database and statistical charts to tell me how well I’m doing…