Shades of Gray

Life can be weird, as I have stated in a past blog, everything that we see, do, and understand is interpreted by our inner selves as this is where we live. While most happens outside of our physical selves, it is our inner selves that must translate what we are seeing into something we can  understand. With that said, it takes experience in life to be able to understand and truly interpret what we are observing. When we reach the age where we can begin to remember things, our views and conclusions are very basic and very black and white, absolute. It is here where we begin to learn boundaries. We do not know what can harm us, and we hear the word “no” a lot. This negative given to us to protect us from harm by loving parents. Plainly said, it is what we can do verses what we are not allowed to do. So it is a green light – red light situation.

As we continue to grow and learn, many times from our mistakes, we begin to develop views of this world that we are a part of. Opinions that we form at this stage in life are much the same – black and white. With little real experience we can only make conclusions from our limited views and understanding. So when we are told that something is true, we believe that it is the whole and complete truth. If someone in authority states something, or we are taught something in school, then we accept it as fact. After all why would it be any different from what is presented? In many ways this is encouraged. But again, in one’s youth, we are still learning life’s rules. So we have to take some things as fact, and many times we’ve had personal experiences to remind us that these facts are true. Gravity comes to mind. After all we’ve all fallen learning to walk, to ride a bicycle, by tripping over something during our clumsy years. We’ve enjoyed jumping into that pile of sand or down the pile of dirt. We know that our mothers expect certain things from us, and that our dad’s patience is short, and his punishment comes faster than mom’s. So with these experiences we begin to understand the world.

As we grow and our experience in the world grows, we begin to learn that truth is not absolute, and that when something is stated it can be true, but by not either stating the complete truth, an example would be editing out of something, or it can be stated in such a way to give the ones listening or reading it a different interpretation. For example: A long time ago I heard a story. Whether this story was created or real I cannot recall, but it does a good job of demonstrating this very thing. There was an automobile race between 2 countries, the USA, and USSR.This was a long distance race with the winning country taking home bragging rights as who’s  autos were the best. In the end the USA won and the USSR lost. And in the USSR’s newspaper there was an article stating the true facts of the race, it stated. “The great country of the USSR in an automobile race came in second, while the USA came in next to last! Are we not a great people?” So when one looks at this statement you can see that it is the total and complete truth. Yet the perception from any that would read this would be very different from the facts.

Partial truths are even more dangerous, and insidious. After all what is presented is fact, but not all of the facts are given. So if one doesn’t take the time to look for the complete story, then what has been presented can be skewed to say anything. In your youth all of these kinds of manipulations of the truths go right over one’s head. After if it is true, I must accept it as fact and the conclusions I have been presented, and I do not need  to look anywhere to confirm or deny. But as one continues down the road of life, you begin to see these half-truths for what they are, because you have seen them before, being used to create specific conclusions, and may have even been manipulated by them before. And in many ways you lose patience with the younger generation, because it is obvious to you what is going on, but they cannot see it at all. And with the fire of youth, they go out and accept much of this as absolute truth, black and white, that years later looking back they realize that it wasn’t that way at all. So as one ages in life and experience, very rarely are things so easy. No longer are they the black and white of youth, but instead all have become subtle shades of gray. After all what isn’t being said may be more critical than what is.

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Published in: on March 31, 2012 at 9:19 am  Comments (2)  
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Math

This is a subject that makes many shudder. But why? Unlike language the rules of math have no exceptions, so once the rule is learned it never changes. Whereas language always has an exception to the rule – I before E, except after C, and words like neighbor and weigh, as an example. So why is it not language that is the issue instead? “Ah, but we use language every day, but not that dreaded math.” One could say. And if they did, they would be totally wrong. In fact we probably use math in its simplest form almost as much as language.

Don’t believe me? Okay then, here we go. When you buy that cup of coffee in the morning, you are unconsciously comparing what you have in your pocket, if you are not using either a debit or credit card, to see if indeed you have enough for maybe adding that donut. Or do I have enough gas to make this trip? Hmmm, let’s see. . . I get about this many miles to a gallon so I should be able to cover this distance before I need gas. Or, you have to shop for groceries for the week and is there enough money in the budget to get what I need, and maybe a little left over to get want I want? Then you go to the grocery store with that coupon in hand giving you $1 off if you purchase 2 – 16oz items. Looking you see that by using the coupon your final price for the 2 items would be $4. Then you happen to glance over and see that a single 32oz product is $3.69 saving you an additional 31 cents over the coupon. So you take the deal and put the coupon away for a later time. And of course I could continue on with examples, but there probably is no need. After all we look at spread sheets at work all the time, and what are they doing for us? Let me guess, results from math problems so we can make intelligent decisions.

So this is all in the perspective, and like language we really never think about how much we use such tools. And if you think about it, both math and language are tools. And both have their place and importance. And we in this modern society could not live without either. So I guess that when one looks at it from this point of view, then math is not so dreaded after all. So now that we have that out of the way, it is time to have some fun, and maybe learn a couple of things. Now, I’m the first to admit that I was never any math wiz, and never did very well with higher math. Yet, can I blame it on me, or can I blame it on the way math is taught? It matters not for me but as time has passed me by I learned a few things that makes everyday math easier.

Now, I don’t know about you, but multiplying by 9’s were always a problem. Yet, why? It is almost as easy as 10’s, and easy to check. 9*1=9. 9+0=9. 9*2=18. 1+8=9. 9*3=27. 2+7=9. Now what I am presenting for the 9’s is just that a way to make it easier and has nothing to do with the rules of math. Still there seems to be a pattern developing here. Actually there are 2 patterns. Fist the number to the left of the last number increases by one, and is one less than the number you are multiplying nine by. Second the result of adding the two numbers together is 9, and each time you go up the last number in the answer is one less. So for example if someone said the answer is 45 you would know by the first number that the number that is multiplied by nine is five, and that 4+5=9 confirms that it is a correct answer, and that the next multiple of nine would be what? Why it is 54, because the left goes up one, and the right goes down one. Ah but there appears to be one change to this and the answer is 11*9 giving us an answer of 99. When you add these together you get 18, but it is two numbers and we need only one. So again, if we add 18 we get 9, proving the answer. And that would cover 9’s all the way through the tens and then the last 2 – the elevens and twelves are easy, and this was all we were  required to memorize back in school. To repeat, it would be easy to determine what 9 has been multiplied by,  if one just looked at the first number. An example would this, 6 – that tells us that the number is 7, since 6 is one less that the actual number that was multiplied by 9, then we would know that we would have to add 3 since the total would have to equal 9 giving us 63. See how easy that was?

Now the next number manipulation I want to pass on has to do with what I call the rules of 5’s and 10’s. If you think about it, we can add and subtract easily anything that deals with fives and tens. This applies very well to the handling of money. I taught my children this, and when you first start doing it, it appears to be just too complicated. Yet, if you stick with it, in a short time, your mind will do it instantly without having to think about it at all. Okay, are you ready to stretch your mind? Mentally you  have to begin to look at differences and relationships of the numbers you are dealing with. For example, the position and difference of any number that falls between 10 and 15. How close is this number to either 10 or 15? And once you determine that, this is the number you will work with. Say that number is 13. 13 is 2 away from 15 and 3 away from ten. So we would use 15. We know for example, that to reach 20 is only 5 more away from 15, and it is easy to add 5 if our ultimate goal is 20. Say for example that it is, and you are wanting to know the difference or what you need to reach twenty. First we now know that it is 2 to reach 5 which reflects 15 to 20, and then 2+5=7. this is what we need to reach 20 from 13. I show you this to give you the concept of what we are doing. Okay, you are working a cash register and when the total is presented it states that you need to collect $13.27. The customer gives you a $20, instantly you know that the change would be $6.73, giving you a quick check on what the register says the change should be. And no, I did not grab a calculator to get the change amount shown here. I had the answer instantly, thank you. Here’s the mental manipulation involved: First I view the dollars, 13 to 15, which is 2, and 15 to 20, which is 5, giving me a total of 7. But that does not take the change into account. Since the change takes it above $13, then I now know that the dollar portion of this will be 1 less than the 7 or 6. This allows me to look at the change, and what is due, which is 27 cents. It takes 3 cents to make it 30 cents, and it takes 70 cents to make it $1. So 70+3= 73 cents. Thusly the change to the customer is $6.73. While I know that this is a simple example it works quite well for more complicated transactions or number groups. It just takes a little practice and after a while your mind will do all the manipulations automatically and you will instantly have the correct answer. And there are others, but that is for another blog. And you can have fun with this last one since you see the answer even before the cashier,or you if you are the cashier, sees what the register says you need  to make change.

Published in: on March 24, 2012 at 11:20 am  Comments (2)  
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One Year Old

With March comes the first year of writing to this blog. When I began it last year I knew nothing about blogs, had really never planned on doing such a thing, and had never read one. So with some trepidation, I entered this world and wondered if I could truly carry it off. After all to keep something interesting for any period of time is difficult. But as an aspiring author I wanted to get my books out there. I felt that the stories I wanted to tell were good enough and enjoyable enough to have readers who would want to read and enjoy them. But will a million plus books published a year this would be a hard nut to crack. I had already worked a career that required most of my waking hours, so writing, while it was something I really wanted to pursue, was not a reality. I couldn’t even find time for recreational reading, and this had always been a favorite – a cheap vacation, so to speak. So like many of us in the real world this want had to be placed on the back burner until time became available.

In the past I had tried my hand at short stories, and such – even submitted a couple. Receiving the dreaded rejection letter that is common among writers. I guess if you never received one, either you are one of the greatest writers out there, or your works just sit and are more hobby that reality. So with the years passing and I finally retiring, I decided it was time to try writing one more time. Through those intervening years much had changed and I went forth naive to these very changes. At the time in the past, when I had seriously contemplated writing there were no agents, no internet, no blogs, no web pages, no social media – none of these even existed on the horizon. Yet, now if one wants to be successful, all of this must be used. And for an introvert like myself, that is a serious change. After all, all I really wanted to do was write some great stories, stories that people would want to read, and be happy. I never had plans to really earn money from this endeavor. So in some ways I just probably did not look far enough ahead, since the reality of writing and publishing now has a cost to the writer. So somehow enough money needs to come into the coffers to offset the outgo. While there are many places out in cyberspace that are free, such as WordPress, others still cost. And if you self-publish as I did, then you are responsible for everything. The advertising, the cost of getting your book out there, whether it be the traditional method or the e-book method, and know that by not being known, that the odds are completely against your success.

With these thoughts I started the blog not even understanding much about them. The worry simply stated was: Can I do this? And if I can, how do people find me? Then came the biggy. Could I maintain enough ideas and direction to be able to keep a weekly blog going? I know that while I have some followers of this blog, that even here that this is short-lived. One can stroke their personal ego and say, “Look at all the people who are reading my words.” But if one is truly honest, and have lived in this world long enough, then you know that even if someone has signed up to follow, that eventually for whatever the reason, they quit. The link may still exist, but that’s all. When weekly  blog arrives in their inbox, it is immediately deleted, with the thought that I really need to get rid of that thing. But then something else takes priority and so the old links remain. Have you ever taken time and looked over your favorites? How many of those are dead sites? I know personally that there are more dead sites than active ones in my favorites. But do I take the time to clean it out? Well, you already know the answer.

So while my share of readers out there is small, I thank every one who do continue to follow. I can hope that what I say will continue to be interesting and thought-provoking. Words is all I have, and as I have said in the past, words are a poor substitute for life, but it is all we have to allow us to touch each other. To try in our own poor way to show and explain things as we see it. And if at times I can be successful at this, then that is all I can ask. To keep it fresh is my goal. Whether I can do this is an unknown. We all have our blind sides, and forgetfulness, so it is easy for any of us to repeat. So if at times that happens, then I will apologize in advance. I will continue to write manuscripts for as many years as my age permits. I am in my 60’s now and really do not know how many creative years will still be available to me. Presently, including the one e-book, I have 4 completed manuscripts, with 2 additional ones in the writing phase at this moment.I have 2 that will require serious rewriting, but I have to admit that I love my actors in that story. It is a trilogy with 2 of the books already written, and the one I am writing now, for which 30,000 words are written, is the second of a 2 book story. Most of these manuscripts, because of the time frame and subject matter, fall into the sci-fi genre. But as one can see from my short stories, for which I am presently writing another, I write across many genres, and plan to continue.

So to wrap this up – I look forward to continuing this well into the second year, and if allowed years to come. And that next year at this time, I can post a blog titled Two Years Old. So as this time flows by us I hope to continue to learn, to continue to grow, and keep busy with family, and my second career as a writer. God Bless all.

Published in: on March 17, 2012 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Compassion . . . Really?

I was sitting here at home recently when an old favorite song came on the radio by the Hollies – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. It got me to thinking that the full truth is that we are all sisters and brothers, even if time has made this a distant fact. Again once space flight had been accomplished and we could see our planet from space that this would have led to a better understanding between all of us. Yet, if one looks at the world, all of this has been for naught. For a world that supposedly has entered the modern age we act more like tribes protecting our territories from each other, demanding that it is our way or the highway. I suspect that honestly, it will be generations before the hate and passion that drive us apart ends, and we as a race, the human race, begin to act sanely and live and work as we should.

For this to happen it may take something outside of this planet to bring out the compassion for each other that we should be showing. Maybe a cosmic event such as a meteor, or comet strike, or at least a major near miss. There has been enough written over the centuries about getting along with each other, and I guess in some ways this is just repeating that plea. And for you out there who advocate a World Government, forget it. That is the last direction that any of us need to go. All one needs to do is look at existing governments and know that if there is one common thread among all of them is that they fail at what they are supposed to be doing. With corruption, control, and people feeling that they are elite and outside of the very laws they create, feeling that they have the right to do as they please – creating more problems, havoc, and oppression. And if individual governments do this, it would be multiplied ten-fold for a single worldwide government who would have vast amounts of power and control. Total power and control, corrupts totally.

In every generation there are radicals, extremists and such. Unfortunately many times they become elected, or through violence overthrow the present government and finally once driven out of office, if they can be removed, it takes untold years to correct the problems they have created. Is the suffering and destruction and loss of life that is happening throughout this world worth the price? We are limited on just about everything but hate. Why is this so? Many of these so-called governments have murdered millions of their own citizens, leaving a void, and a distrust that will probably never be overcome. At the rate that we are going, this direction does not look promising or have a promising future. We are really heading towards extinction, and if we do it to ourselves then we only have ourselves to blame. And in the end what would be our legacy? And would anybody that found our dead world really care? Their archaeologists would do their digs, do their research, and in the end just shake their heads, wondering how a race could be so stupid.

Life is precious, but is tossed away as worthless. We will always have politicians, the flim-flammers, the salesmen, the ones who want to control, the criminals, yet if we really are honest they are in the minority. Still by who really knows how, they, much of the time, are the ones who control the vast majority out there. The majority trying to keep food on the table, shelter over their heads and pass on to their children good family values, and a true compassion for their fellow-man. Still, if one was to look around, much of this is fading, as manipulation is everywhere, and the destruction of the core family is the target. It has been shown, in history, that if one can destroy the family unit, then eventually the empire, or government, or country where this has been successful will fall. So what are we seeing everywhere today? The destruction of the family unit right before our eyes. So if this trend continues it will only be a matter of time. As the family goes, so goes a nation.

Published in: on March 10, 2012 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Time Compression

This is something that is used often in our entertainment media – whether written, spoken, or visual. Whether the story is fictional, based on fact or stated to be true, to keep a story moving, a story that captures the participant and holds his or her attention and interest, then time is compressed, skipped, and the gory details of day-to-day life is left out. So, as one is involved with the story they see only the highlights, with the lowlights missing or ignored – it can, in the end, not give justice, or a true picture of what the protagonist has really lived through to reach these moments that changed their direction, or life. (The Rabbi speak of Divine Poetry as black letters resting on the frame of the white empty spaces. It’s the white fire that gives the black fire its foundation. In fact the spaces in the Torah take up twice the amount of places as the actual letters, perhaps indicating that at times it is of greater importance. The complete article can be found with this link: http://www.hir.org/a_weekly_gallery/8.16.02-weekly.html )

While it is very important to do this, leaving out or skipping of history, it can lead to misconceptions from the reader, viewer, and so on. For example if one reads the Bible and Genesis about Abraham, the feelings you get is that he talked to God all the time, and God responded back to him all the time, thusly, making it easier to keep faith in God. But this view would be incorrect. Yes Abraham probably did pray to God all the time, but there could easily be years before God would respond to Abraham. Making a meer humble herder show more faith and strength through both the good times and bad times, giving us a complete different view of this man.  So instead of a constant two-way conversation it, most of the time, went from Abraham to God, with silence being the only response. This raises an interesting question about oneself, would you have that kind of strength, that kind of faith, and that kind of belief to continue? Now I am not trying to make this a religious statement or blog this week, or one on religion, but this example is one of probably thousands of similar situations that one can find.

Another great example for Americans is how George Washington is portrayed, especially in the educational system, and how this representation is so far from the reality of the man, and what he did to help establish this country. So here we see generations of people not really seeing George Washington for who he really was. As in the life of another larger than life person, Abraham Lincoln who overall had the same treatment, so it is more important to understand that what is not said, changes the truth and lives of these individuals, and what is being taught or shown in the educational systems are only  pale reflections, leading to misconceptions and falsehoods. The failures and tragedies, the many white spaces that hide the reality of these men and what they accomplished – so many are blatant because of their silence.

And as you ponder what you have read, or viewed, and your conclusion is that this person really had it easy in life, remember those white spaces that are not revealing their story or history but are there, and because they are, it allows you to see and understand, yet remembering what has not been said may be more important than what is, and it may then lead to you rethink  your conclusions and come closer to the real truth or the reality that is hidden but truly there.

Published in: on March 3, 2012 at 9:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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