A Random Pattern

Archive for the 'philosophy' Category

Walk before you crawl?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Practice. Time. Patience.

These are things we tell our kids. But I bet your first reaction on reading those words was negative. Did they excite you, or did you brace yourself, grit your teeth subconsciously?

I have a 9-month old. He figured out crawling a little while ago, but last week he learned something new. He learned he could stand up on this little rocking chair we have.

Elijah uses rocking chair for standing practice

Elijah uses rocking chair for standing practice

For the last several days, Elijah has spent most of his time at this chair. It’s really quite adorable. He crawls over to it, pushes, pulls, and works until he gets to a standing position holding on to the chair. Then he stands there until he falls over. Lately he has begun moving his feet. For some reason he really wants to climb on the chair, but he doesn’t have the skill. Still, he’s learning the skills he will need to walk, even if he doesn’t realize it.

For those of you who’ve been around young children, I don’t have to tell you how adorable this is.  Inspiring too – he doesn’t know how easy or hard this whole thing should be, that he should give up, or that he’s working towards something he’ll need for a life skill. But he does know how to be persistent in working toward something he wants.

Maybe we forget this later on, maybe we get distracted by too many goals, shiny things, activities. But there is no substitute for “crawl before you walk”.  I unreasonably expect to stand up, and even start running, when I haven’t been practicing or training.  I expect success and perfection when I haven’t worked through the failures.

I enjoy and admire watching my children work hard to – slowly – gain new skills.  Maybe I need to learn to enjoy and admire walking through that process myself.

Should we be quicker to learn as adults rather than children? Or do we expect to many shortcuts and quick fixes?

I’m not who I was

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008
Highway Lights In Motion

         Highway Lights In Motion

There’s been a song on the radio lately, with the lyrics:

“I used to sing about love and stuff, maybe cause I want it so much, but I’m not who I was.”

(Brandon Heath, “I’m Not Who I Was” iTunes link Amazon link lyrics )

Very recently, I gave in and joined Facebook.  There’s a lot I can say about that (and don’t you worry, I will) but maybe the first thing to hit me was the reality of establishing contact with people who, until now, were essentially part of my past.

They had gone on with their lives, I had gone one with mine.  When we had crossed, years or decades ago, the intersections might have been pleasant, encouraging, life-giving – or they might have been abrasive, tempest-tossed, fraught with misunderstandings.  Now we’ve “all grown up” as the saying goes.  At least, my first thought and hope is that those I’ve contacted have matured as I have, that there is not some long-held grievance out there against me.  Of course some of this is silly thinking: I don’t remember nearly as much what these people did as what I did; it is probably the same for them; And even what is remembered I wouldn’t hold against them now.  We all make mistakes, and most of us grow, learn from them, change for the better.

Another thing that struck me this morning: I don’t “do” memories.  I don’t live in the past much, nor look back.  In fact, I don’t remember most of my childhood before age 10, and I’m not sad about this at all.  (It is something I don’t care to remember anyway.)  But I do greatly value the many wonderful people I have met, known, and cared for over my time here on earth.  I’m just not a person who spends much time remembering or reminiscing – at least not anymore.

I have been looking to the future lately, realizing it is important for my children that I have a clear vision.  For me, looking forward also requires looking back.  I began to see how decisions (both mine and others) shaped my path through life.  I realized that I’m not who I was.  I’ve changed, grown up, moved on.  Yet so much of who I was still remains in various ways – habits, old goals unfulfilled and unforgotten, even reactions to certain smells all come from where I came.  I can’t move on from things in my past by ignoring them.

How have you changed?  Who are you now, compared to who you were?


Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Go on, if you haven’t already, get to your polling place now.  If you have, sit back and enjoy the satisfaction from having done your civic duty.

Also, relish the fact that the election onslaught of the last few weeks will be reduced (in volume and tone if not eliminated).

I’ll leave you with this good reminder: chill a bit.  The last few years have been startlingly bitter and hateful, divisive.  Let’s get back to respecting our neighbors (yes, even those we disagree with) and our president – whoever it will be.


How to eat Healthy (Magic Fitness, Pt. 2)

Monday, November 5th, 2007

You’re going to have to make a trade.  Accept it, internalize it, and move on to the next step: what are you willing to trade?

Some ideas (you only need to work in one of these):

  • Drink water instead of soda.  This works for me by supplementing with Gatorade or juice whenever I get bored with the water – and I feel much better.  In fact, soda no longer even tastes good or appeals to me.  I used to drink at least 1-liter of Mountain Dew a day, so you can change this.
  • Cut down on the coffee in some significant way.  Again, water is a good thing to have handy when you need a drink.
  • Add in one vegetable to your dinner every night.  Or one meal of the day.  Maybe buy a bag of carrot sticks and add them to your lunch.  Try to eat the veggies first – this will get them out of the way, and help fill you up, while you can end the meal with something that leaves a nice taste.
  • To complement your exercise regime (you did read Part 1, right?), add some fruit to your diet.  It makes a great mid-afternoon snack.  If you can’t fit that in because of your work schedule, then you need to decide what’s more important to you, your crazy work or your life.

The bottom line is: find something in your regular diet (the things you eat and drink every day) that you are willing to give up or trade in.  If you can’t find something, then you’re willing to be fat and unhealthy.  Maybe you can have less bread with your meals, or less condiments.  Maybe you eliminate some of your sauces, such as the mayonnaise, from your fridge.  Maybe you commit to eat out less, or eat some of those pre-made “healthy choice” meals a couple times a week.

Whatever it is, find something that works for you and is a real change to your regular diet.  This isn’t “going on a diet”, this is “I’m going to change my lifestyle and eat better”.  You’ve only got to make one change now, and stick with it.

So, is getting healthy still important to you?  If it’s important enough to read my rambling, it is important enough for you to spend 5 minutes figuring out what you are going to change in your life.  Get to it!

Magic Weight-Loss, or How to Get Fit (and Stay That Way)

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

If you came here from a search engine looking for an undiscovered “magic” diet that will trim you down in weeks….

you’re going to be disappointed. Not because this won’t work, but because it will require changes you aren’t willing to make. Yes, I know you’ll eat cucumbers and tofu for a month, or puree all your food and drink it for two weeks – there’s nothing you wouldn’t do, right? If that’s really true, this’ll be a breeze for you.

All you need to do to get in shape is change your life, in a couple specific ways. Here’s the plan:

  1. Change how you spend your time. Decide on something to give up every day so you have 30 minutes for exercise.
  2. Change something you eat or drink. By change I mean eliminate or replace with something healthy.

That’s it! It really is that easy, I promise. The scariest part of the whole thing is “Change”. But you can do it, and it won’t be that bad. In fact, I think you only need to worry about point number one – exercise. If you can commit to that, you’ll find the rest to be easy.

Are you wondering why this would work? Why no bran flakes or fish-only? Why no carb-counting or points or formulatic hand-waving? Shoot, you could just take all the time you used to use planning and implementing a fad diet, and exercise instead – you’d be there, baby! This works because our main problem isn’t that we eat too much, or exercise too little.

Again, our main problem isn’t that we eat too much, or exercise too little. Our problem is that we don’t listen to our bodies. The reason you need to give up 30 minutes out of every day is so you can learn to listen to your body. The exercise is a nice conduit to this goal. I’m going to assert that if you are committed, and do this right, you won’t have to worry about anything else. Food? You’ll actually want to eat healthier, and eat less. Exercise? You’ll start enjoying it, wanting to do it. Time? You’ll actually look forward to your “exercise time”, a little peace and quiet where you can actually think.

In fact, you’ll become willing to fight for your exercise time. Which is good, because you’ll need to fight for it. You’ll need to fight hard to keep at it, 5-6 days a week, all year. There are two tips I can give you that might make this last challenge a little more doable.

  1. Give up something in your own life. I know this is hard, but it’s going to be impossible if you don’t do it. This is a very hard lesson for me, as I like to “have my cake and eat it too”. But it is a simple fact that you only have 24 hours a day, so something’s gotta budge for you to have an extra 30 minutes. Oh, and taking that time out of your sleep – nice try. You’ve already done that with too many other things, it sure won’t work during the critical first 3 weeks of your new exercise lifestyle. I suggest you commit to giving up a single T.V. show that you now watch. If it’s that important, you can buy (or Netflix) the season DVD later to catch up.
  2. Buy a Wii. Seriously, if you’re having trouble getting started, try the “Wii Sports” exercise regime. It will get your body moving, and help you find 30 minutes a day. You might not take my advice for your health, but if it’s fun….

And on that note, we’ll end today. I’m going to take my own advice, and let you know how it goes this time (after falling off the wagon this year). I’ll be putting more up on the Wii soon, so come back later this week.  I’ll also cover how to change what you eat in an effective way.

5 Reasons God Exists, or Philosophy of Religion

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

You can intelligently disagree with the points made in the following YouTube video (or even intelligently agree). If so, we can have a great discussion. But if you don’t understand the arguments tendered, or aren’t familiar with the quoted sources, then you have no room to snub “christians” as ignorant.

Which point do you disagree with most, or find the least compelling? Why?

White Shadows

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Tessa woke us up this morning.  As she was talking with us, trying to get us to wake up and get moving, she noticed something on the covers.

“White shadows” she said excitedly!  (Never mind that she says everything excitedly.)
She was pointing at the bright spots of light where the sun was making its way through and around the shades.  My still sleep-numbed brain tossed about for another word or phrase to describe the sun-dappled scene that had entranced our daughter.  No, it seemed to me that “white shadows” was quite good enough, and a remarkably adroit phrase for a 4 year old.

footnote:  It says something about the world that our children learn first about the dark, scary shadows at night in their rooms, before ever being given a word for the kisses of sunlight in the morning.  Perhaps the latter is so much bigger, so much better, that it is hard to wrap up in a simple word.

Do you question authority?

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Do you question authority at every turn? On what authority?

From an (old) article on conspiracy theorists, I found this gem:

At some level, everyone knows this, even if some people pretend to think otherwise. The secularist who chides religious believers for having faith in what the Church teaches will also tell them, in the very next breath and with no sense of irony, to shut up and trust the experts where scientific matters are concerned. That there are philosophers and theologians who can present powerful and sophisticated justifications of religious belief is taken to be no defense of the average believer – he ought to “think for himself,” says the secularist. And yet while the average secularist couldn’t give you an interesting explanation or defense of quantum mechanics, relativity theory, or evolution if his life depended on it, the fact that there are experts who can do so is taken by him to justify his own faith in their findings. As the philosopher Christopher Martin has noted, the real difference between medieval and modern people is not that the former believe in the need for authority and the latter don’t – in fact both medievals and moderns believe in it and act accordingly – but rather that the former admitted that they believed in it, while the latter pretend they don’t.

Those of you, gentle readers, who are quite anti-religious, may not be able to read much of that article without your eyeballs going up in smoke. I encourage you to attempt to understand the writer’s point of view, and find that which you can agree with instead of being distracted by a few comments that raise your blood pressure (and are hardly critical to the core premise).

A “thinking” video

Monday, May 14th, 2007

This is the kind of entertainment I like.

Not mindless, perplexing.  Not straightforward, obtuse.  Not dashed off, flawlessly executed.  Not boring, entrancing.  Not entertainment, Art.

I probably found this piece all the more fascinating because of my growing obsession with technology, and my simultaneous (and deepening) study of humanity and societal interactions.

Viral Marketing: Billboards gone … nowhere?

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

Strange billboards and  another attempt at good-ol viral marketing: Why do I care?  Because when you enter into the murky world of viral marketing, guerilla marketing, you need to realize one thing: You lose control of the message.  It will become whatever it will become, but it is not under your control any longer.  I’m not suggesting it’s a bad thing to do, but you better know you’re playing with fire when you do it, and it’s a good idea to be as prepared as you can.

When bloggers talk about Transparency, they aren’t just spilling ink.  Things have changed, so don’t go into this with your eyes anything less than wide wide open.

Back on the Billboard topic:



Follow the link if you want to know (sort of) what it means.  Otherwise, feel free to speculate here about The Algorithm.  I’d suggest that the algorithms not only need more work, but that they aren’t the only answer.  :D