Unhappiness

I’d like to go on again about happiness. My first post about it was The Texas Shit Pit Story and is also on my blog. This one is more about why people cause their own unhappiness.

We must understand that most people are unhappy by choice. They don’t know that, but it’s true. What happens is people imagine what their lives could be if only they had money, fame, looks or whatever they imagine would make their life better. They build this picture in their head about how much better their life would be if only they had these things. They compare their real life to this idealized version of their life and the real thing looks bad by comparison. They don’t understand that if they got those things they would still create an idealized version of their life, because nobody has a trouble-free life, and their life would still suffer by comparison. It would never be enough.

People are unhappy in their jobs by choice. If the job is really the problem, get a new job. Most of the time it’s not the job, it’s their expectation of the job that does them in. If you’ve ever been unemployed, do you remember how it felt to not have a job? If you’re like most people it felt pretty miserable. You stretched your imagination to figure out what you could do to get a job. You were willing to do tasks you’d never done before just so you could go to work and feel useful and take home a paycheck. Then you get in a job and after a while you start to decide what parts of the job you think are worthwhile and react badly to the parts you don’t think are necessary. Every job has tasks to do that aren’t what you’d rather be doing. That’s why they pay you. By judging the tasks assigned to you, you’ve created your own black hole to live in. It’s not the tasks, it’s your opinion of the tasks.

Rather than comparing your life to an idealized life (that you’ve made up in your head), compare your life to your ancestors life 1,000 years ago. We live better today than the kings did back then and we’re just working class. We have more food available to us, better medicine, more information, more leisure time. Your job is easier and you work shorter hours for better wages. All of a sudden your life doesn’t even look pretty good, it looks fantastic. All because of a decision in your head.

Quit fantasizing about your ideal life, chances are if you got it, you wouldn’t like it. Live in the real world and look at what you’ve really got. Be happy on purpose.

Trip to Italy and Greece

This was written for a newsletter at work, I work for the USPS, and I was assigned to write the article myself. I had to write it from a third person perspective. This trip was in the summer of 2002.

Call it a promise kept.

When Dale White’s son, Jared White, enlisted in the Army, he requested Europe as his choice of assignment. In November of 2000, after finishing boot camp, he shipped out to Vilseck, Germany. Before Jared left, his dad promised to come over and see him before he came home.

That’s why, from June 20 through July 4, Dale visited Rome, Athens and the Greek island of Santorini. When asked what was his favorite part of the trip, he says it was the time spent with his son. “He’s been over there for a year and a half and I wanted to see him.”

Dale’s an electronic technician on tour 2 who’s worked for the P.O. for almost 7 years. He said that, “Jared has a six month detail as a peace keeper in Kosovo starting in November,” so this was the last summer before he comes home that Dale could visit him on the continent.

They spent the first 5 days of the trip in Rome, including a side trip south to visit the ruins of Pompeii. Dale’s interest in archeology is the motivating factor behind his selection of destinations. Three years ago he traveled to Turkey to see the ruins of Ephesus, Troy and 5 of the seven churches of the book of Revelations.

This trip they visited the Colosseum, the Roman Forum (including the Palatine hill where the emperors lived), the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, and the Vatican.

“St. Peter’s Basilica was unbelievable,” Dale said, “the sculptures, the altar, the architecture, but most of all knowing the history and the people who’d been here before was all very awe-inspiring.” He arranged a tour of the sub-crypt through the excavations office before leaving Spokane. “The Basilica is located on the site where St. Peter was buried. In other words, on top of a graveyard.” The sub-crypt is the excavation of that graveyard located outside the circus of Nero where Peter was martyred.

Of course, not all their time in Rome was spent visiting remains of the Roman Empire. On one of the guided tours they took, they discovered the Piazza Navonna. “We were on a bus tour called Illuminated Rome. It started at 8 PM and they took us from place to place so we could see everything lit up.” The last stop was the piazza. They had such a good time during the 15 minute stop that they decided to stay. It was around 11 PM and the plaza was full of people; performance artists, sketch artists and musicians. That’s where the picture on the front cover was drawn.Dale

Leaving Rome, they took the train to Bari, Italy where they boarded the ferry for the 15½ hour trip to Greece.

After taking the bus from Patras, where the ferry landed, to Athens, they visited the Acropolis, site of the Parthenon and walked the streets that Socrates and Plato had walked. “Also, the souvenir shopping was terrific in Athens”, Dale said. It seems that one of his favorite parts of any vacation is coming up with memorable trinkets from his journeys. “My mantle at home is covered with stuff from Turkey, Rome, Pompeii, Athens, Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and Leavenworth, WA.”

In the middle of their visit to Athens, they took a three day trip to the island of Santorini. The ancient site of Akrotiri on the island is believed by some to be the source of the Atlantis legend. The island was the site of a huge volcanic eruption around 1600 BCE. The tidal wave from that eruption wiped out the Minoan civilization on Crete and traveled all the way to the north coast of Africa. But the task for Dale and his son was less intrusive. Lay on the beach and relax for 3 full days, as well as sampling the cuisine.

The people that know him check their watches before asking him to describe the food on his trip, because they know it won’t be a short answer. We won’t go into details here, suffice it to say that he was impressed. If you feel you have the time, ask him yourself, you won’t be disappointed with the answer.

It’s About Time

Ok. Time to get something off my chest that I’ve been ruminating about for a while now. It’s actually about time. Not like I should just get to it “about time”, but the subject is actually time.

For as long as I can remember people, including boffins, have been saying the fourth dimension is time, as though time is an actual physical thing. This belief leads to hope for “time travel”. I use quotations because we all travel through time, just at a constant speed and always forward. The time travel that folks fanaticize about is instantaneous and in both directions.

I propose that time, rather than being an independent physical phenomenon, is a human invention useful for organizing events in our lives and history.  Consider time like money. A tool created by man to track important transactions.

Let’s do a thought experiment, just like Einstein used to do. Imagine a two dimensional existence. In that reality there would be only width and depth, no height. Therefore a two dimensional creature couldn’t see my finger held one inch above the plane of their existence. They would have no concept of up and down. They can’t move in that dimension and probably can’t conceive of it since their world is complete in two dimensions. We, as three dimensional creatures, have a complete world in three dimensions. We live in three dimensions with the ability to move backwards and forwards through all three. But we also move through time, one way only, making this travel dissimilar to actual dimensional travel. Similarly, those two dimensional creatures move in a linear fashion through time. Since they can’t conceptualize up and down or point to it, like we can’t point to the fourth dimension, they would then conclude that time is the third dimension. We as three dimensional creatures know that this isn’t true. Since it’s not true for two dimensional creatures, it follows that it’s not true for three dimensional creatures. Time is not the fourth dimension.

Issac Newton proposed a force called gravity. Albert Einstein found that gravity was simply a distortion of the “space-time” grid based on mass. Similarly, I propose that our perception of time is a result of traveling through space. Different rates of travel cause different passages of time, again proven in Einstein’s relativity. Boffins have said that there is nothing in the laws of physics that prevents movement through time in both directions.  My proposal that time is a result of travel through space would make backwards time travel impossible. Whichever direction you travel through space would create the appearance of time moving in the only direction it can move.

If there are eleven physical dimensions as predicted by string (or M) theory, time is surely not one of those. I’ve heard many physicists suppose that the extra dimensions are curled up on a microscopic scale and that’s why we can’t see them. That, in my opinion, is ego speaking. Not scientific ego, human ego. The thought that we must be able to experience everything rather than believing that there are things out of our ability to experience is simply that, ego.  In other words, since we exist  in 3 of the available dimensions, the other 8 would be not available for us to relate to, much like the third dimension to those two dimensional creatures I spoke of.

The boffins also say that during the “Big Bang” the universe expanded from a point to the size of our solar system in a fraction of a second and that is also misleading. If time, as I’ve suggested, is an offshoot of travel through space, than the time that expansion took is immeasurable from our perspective since the space was expanding and therefore time was moving at a different speed than it is today.  They say that the universe expanded faster than the speed of light in those beginning moments, they say that this was possible because it was space that was expanding, not matter. I say that since space was expanding the definition of time was different and therefore we can’t know how long the “Big Bang” took because of the uncertain nature of time in expanding space.

Oh, and speaking of human ego and the fantasy of time travel. The Earth is rotating on its axis while speeding through space orbiting the Sun. The Solar System is rotating around Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is speeding through the space grid relative to all of the other galaxies out there. What makes anyone out there think that if time travel were possible that it’s geocentric? If you move radically forward or backward in time you’d likely end up somewhere in space wishing you could breathe and wondering why you thought everything revolved around your planet.

Mistake

Don’t mistake kindness for weakness.

Glen Campbell

I’ve been a lifelong fan of Glen Campbell s. The first time I got to see him live was in 2009 at the Spokane Interstate Fair. I was in the 7th row on the aisle and he was wonderful. He sang and played as well as he ever had. I saw him again this past March after he had already announced his trouble with Alzheimer’s disease. It was sad to see how he had been affected but inspirational to know that he was still touring so the fans who love him could pay their respects once again.

 

When I saw him in 2009 I was talking to the people sitting around me before the show (I’m very social) and I told them the story of how I’d discovered Glen.

 

I lived outside of Cleveland, Ohio where my father was born and raised but most of my family lived in Spokane, Washington where my mother was born and raised. Pop was one of two children, mom was one of 10. We only got to see the relatives out west every four years or so, so it was always a special treat when we went to visit. We went in the summertime and drove as we didn’t have much money, though being young I never realized it. But in 1968 it was different. We were going to Spokane for Christmas. Here’s the thing. My father was a barber. The week before Christmas is when barbers get their biggest tips. Their regular customers are more generous due to the holidays. He wasn’t going to miss that week, as I said, we weren’t well off and those tips helped pay for our Christmas. Anyway, they decided that mom, Allen (my older brother), Sharon (my younger sister) and I would take the train out and pop would fly just before Christmas. Allen was 14, I’d just turned 13 and Sharon had just turned 12.

 

On the train mom was motion sick and so we were left to our own devices to entertain ourselves. I started talking to the fellow who was sitting across the aisle from us. He was a Green Beret who had just returned from Viet Nam and he was very kind and spent time with me. At some point he asked my mother if I could accompany him to the men’s room. The only place on the trains at that time that had electricity for the passengers was the bathrooms and he told mom that a bunch of servicemen were in there playing cards and listening to music and would it be alright if I joined them. She agreed. We went in there and the room was filled with cigarette smoke the soldiers were playing cards and Glen Campbell was on the record player. I was in heaven. I felt like I was part of something that was beyond my years.

 

Anyway, that was the first time I ever heard Glen and when we got home I immediately bought the Wichita Lineman album with some of the money I made shining shoes at the barber shop where my father worked. I also joined the Glen Campbell fan club. I’ve never forgotten that moment and I’ve never stopped loving Glen and his music.

 

After telling this story to those folks at the fair they asked me if I was going to stay after the concert and tell Glen my story. I shook my head and told them that this story is important in my life, not Glen’s. I didn’t bother him with it.

 

I was listening to my MP3 player at work today and there’s a haunting instrumental from his Ghost on the Canvas album named Valley of the Son and it was so beautiful I knew I had to come home and write this out.

Dark Matter

I study physics in my leisure time. Yes, I’m a geek. That said, I believe the difference between science and philosophy is that science addresses what’s provable. If you don’t know the answer in science, the answer is I don’t know.

I’m currently watching a program called How the Universe Works on the Science Channel. They just did a segment on dark matter and how important it is to making the universe work. The problem is they don’t know what dark matter is. it’s something they made up to address phenomenon they can’t understand.

The greek philosopher Aristotle proposed a substance called Ether that conducted electromagnetic waves. It filled the universe. It was assumed that it existed and was used in scientific reasoning until it was proved that there was no such thing in 1887. It’s important to note that the people using this theory were all labeled philosophers, not scientists. After the Ether theory was disproved, Einstein went on to  create a theory of the universe that didn’t use Ether and is still used today.

Dark matter is the ether of today. It doesn’t exist. There is a force or substance or connection to another dimension or something that science doesn’t understand and rather than saying that there’s something extremely powerful affecting our universe but we don’t know what it is, they talk about dark matter like it really exists.

I’d like to address all Physicists. Stop being philosophers and start being scientists. If you can’t define something and prove it, than say so.

Our Christmas Adventure

I was born and raised in Parma, OH, a suburb of Cleveland. As I’ve stated in a previous blog I now live in Spokane, WA. I have 2 sons, Jared, born in November, 1981 and Ben born in October of 1984. My marriage came to an end in September, 1995. These things are noted as background. This was a letter I wrote in 1997, but I’ve gone through and updated to make the time frame current. Otherwise it’s the same letter.

I decided to take Jared and Ben to Cleveland for Christmas in 1996, and it turned into quite an adventure. We left Spokane on December 21st. I worked tour one, starting at 10 PM and getting off at 6:30 AM, and I left work, spent an hour at the office Xmas party, drove home and picked up the boys and left. I figured I could make it to Bozeman, Montana before I had to stop and sleep. We made it to Bozeman at 5 PM. We had a nice room, it was actually two rooms and a bathroom. The front room had two beds, a table and chairs and a TV. I had made reservations there because we were 3 blocks from 2 movie theatres, there was an indoor pool , and restaurants next to the hotel. I gave the boys $50 and told them to go see a movie, go swimming, eat dinner, watch TV and enjoy themselves. I went to sleep. I woke up Sunday morning, the 22nd, at around 2:30 AM. I packed, drove to a gas station and filled up, then loaded up the boys and we were off again. After we passed through Billings, my oil light started flashing on and off. There was nothing open in eastern Montana at 6 AM, so I drove on until I got to Sheridan, Wyoming. I pulled into a gas station and told Jared to run in and get a couple quarts of oil. I opened the hood and saw that the engine compartment was covered with oil. There was a restaurant attached to the gas station, so we went in to eat while I made phone calls. When I bought this car, it had 60,000 miles on it. The dealer offered me a 4 year/48,000 mile bumper to bumper extended warranty. I accepted. So, it was the extended warranty people I was calling that morning. They told me that the repairs had to be made by a dealer, and since all the dealerships were closed Sunday, it would have to wait until Monday. Remember, this was the 22nd, and I hoped to be in Cleveland on the 24th. So we drove to a motel, with an indoor pool, checked in, and my car was towed away.

The high temperature that day was 10 below zero in Sheridan. That day we went to the local movie theatre and saw the Beavis and Butthead movie. The next morning, I called the dealership, told them our situation, and was pleasantly surprised when they told me that they had replaced a bad seal in the engine block and that they were done so we were leaving town by noon that day. The dealership suggested, and I agreed, that I pay for an oil change and new filter. As we were driving through South Dakota , snow was blowing across the freeway, and according to the radio, the temperature was again below zero. We pulled into Mitchell, South Dakota around 7:30 PM to fill up with gas. The gear shift seemed to stick a little before going into park, but it went and I filled up and got back onto the freeway. This was the night of December 23rd, and I planned on getting to Sioux City, Iowa, before stopping that night. As we got onto the freeway, I noticed that the car wouldn’t shift above 2nd gear. I got off at the second Mitchell exit. About two blocks off the freeway, I saw a sign for, believe it or not, Dale’s transmission service. I figured this was an omen and I went there. I left the boys in the car, the car running and I went inside. It was about 10 minutes before 8PM, and I felt lucky find a place open. I called to the man working there, it was Dale, and told him about the transmission. He told me that he thought I was in a diesel from the sound. He went out, got in the car, with the boys inside, and drove away. When he returned, he said that I was correct about the transmission, but I had a bigger problem than that. He opened the hood and again it was  covered with oil. He checked the oil and there was none. He gave it the gas and pointed out the tinging noise. I asked and he told me that that was a rod. I asked what the solution was for a thrown rod and he told me that I needed a new engine. I asked and he told me there were motels back up by the freeway. We got a motel with an indoor pool and I started making phone calls, again. I was feeling pretty low by this point, it was 10 PM on December 23rd, and we were 1,000 miles from Cleveland. The tow truck was coming at 8 AM the next morning. I woke up around 4 AM, did some soul searching, and by the time the continental breakfast was served, I was determined to be in Cleveland for Christmas. The dealer where my car was towed also rented cars. I rented one, and we were on our way by 9. We pulled into my parent’s driveway shortly after midnight, and had a super Christmas. While in Cleveland, I visited with friends and visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I promised the boys that one of their presents for Xmas would be a day at the Mall of America in Minneapolis and $150 spending money each. I kept in touch with the dealership in Mitchell, telling them there was no reason for me to leave Cleveland until my car was going to be ready. Finally, on January 6th, they told me that it would be ready on the following Thursday. Tuesday, Jan 7th, we drove to Minneapolis. We spent the 8th at the mall. I bought the boys all day passes at the amusement park inside the mall, Camp Snoopy, and they decided to eat at Hooters rather than Planet Hollywood. We shopped, they rode rides and we saw the movie Mars Attacks! The next morning, I checked the weather and the guy on Good Morning America said everything was clear through Wyoming. We went south, and when we reached I-90 we turned west. As we crossed Minnesota, the weather got progressively worse. The radio said that they had closed the freeways in South Dakota. When we got to Sioux Falls, there was a gate across the freeway. I asked the guy in the Blazer (State Patrol) if there was a way to get to Mitchell. He told me of a state route I could take. As we drove that way, the visibility got so bad that I had to watch the white line in the middle of the road so I wouldn’t off, and I had Jared watching for cars ahead of us. We got stuck in a snow drift and luckily someone came along and pulled us out. I told the boys that we would be finding a motel and stopping as soon as possible. We stopped at the next town and found out that the closest motel was 17 miles ahead. As we were driving that 17 miles, the rental car suddenly lurched. After that every time we hit a drift, we seemed like there was no power. The visibility was practically zero, and when we hit a snow drift, I knew we wouldn’t make it through another one. I told the boys to start looking for a house while I tried to stay on the road. Before they saw anything, we hit a drift, and stopped. As I started trying to figure out what we were going to do, Ben said he saw a mailbox. I wrapped Jared up in blankets, and sent him up to the house. He came back shortly and said that he knocked on the front door, that nobody answered, but he looked in through the front window and saw a woman inside. I said that she would have to let us in; we had nowhere else to go. I had two blankets in the car, so I gave one to each boy and we ran up to the house. We got in, met Urban and Mary Catherine Healy of Montrose, South Dakota, and called the dealership. The dealership said that they had my car ready the day before, but noticed an oil leak in the head of the new engine. They had transferred my car to the GM dealer, because it was a warranty problem on the new engine that had come in a crate from GM in Detroit. They said it would be the end of the following week before the GM dealer could get to it, in the meantime, they would stop all charges on the rental car at that time, but, since all roads were closed due to weather conditions, we would have to stay where we were until they could get to us. We spent the next three days with the Healys.

I can’t imagine having fallen into a situation with two nicer people. They fed us, entertained us, Jared even went to church with them on Sunday morning. Finally, Monday came; I called the dealership and said that we had been imposing on these folks long enough. The tow truck came, picked us and the car up, and dropped us off at the same motel we stayed at on December 23rd. We stayed until Thursday playing in the pool, eating microwave food, playing cards, and watching TV. Management at that motel bent over backwards to help us having heard about our situation. Thursday morning, the dealer called, said the car was ready, and we got on our way. The total bill for the repairs was $4,100, but since I bought the extended warranty, my cost was $50. We got home Friday afternoon, without further incident. The boys spent the weekend with their mother, who they hadn’t seen in a month, and we went back to our routine.

As I spoke to friends about our adventure several commented about our bad luck, I told them that we couldn’t have been luckier. If the cars were going to break down anyway, how lucky were we that they broke down in locations where easily found food, shelter, service and friendly people to help us in our time of need.