Monday, June 19, 2017

Vacation or Education

My bored hands free for a time,
now make drumming sounds,
now handle lumber and hammer nails.
Now they grip a steering wheel for
hours at a time, getting me places.
Now they snap photos of unfamiliar places,
now they drop coins in rest stop vending ops.

Many activities not normally undertaken are now,
stimulating the mind and those worn fingers too.
Pleasure takes many forms and has many names,
but variety and novelty are two I give her today.
How much work can a body do to enjoy time off?
Quite a bit, I'm finding, and it leaves me refreshed.

Camping out gives the hands a good workout,
and the body a pleasant change of scenery.
Plucking flowers or hauling supplies,
propelling oneself through water or casting a line,
skipping a rock or baiting a hook.
Operations so much better than wielding a
snow shovel in bitter January.

Enjoy your summer and vacation time,
May you find new thrills and feel just fine.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Thoughts on passing the 60 mile marker

     I am mobile in terms of walking around and doing my job – a labor job, cleaning a large office complex. But walking on the sidewalk, a younger man just flies by me without breaking a sweat. If I try and speed up, I get out of breath, and limp due to a hurting hip – and he keeps right on getting further ahead of me. I have to face it, I'm slowing down relative to a young, strapping man in his prime. But I still encounter slower people who are older than me, or infirm, and I can easily pass them by.

My sex life is not nearly as active these days – but then again, neither is my libido. Although still well capable of an orgasm, they are not nearly as frequent as when I was in my twenties or teens – obviously.

My appetite is not quite what it was. And it seems a bit easier to get drunk. Also, to be hung over. My urination is slow, unless I have drank a lot of water (or beer). My typing has slowed some, and I often struggle with transpositions. My bifocals can cause problems reading, finding the correct distance. I can still get things done, even though I'm not as motivated.

An advantage of being older is that it gives you a longer view of things. Having experienced a lot, my first instinct is to pause and take a hard look at whatever it is confronting me. I've seen so many fake advertisements, and heard so many lying politicians, that nothing really impresses me these days.
Except performance. People doing what they say they will do. Things working out as promised. Workers who show excellent competence, whether they are street sweepers, auto mechanics, waitpersons, or whatever else. Competence and following through rule the day for me. Promises and adverts are the same as believing in the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny.

I've become more cynical, sure. But still determined to see good when and where it happens. A happy life moment, at work or socializing. A laugh, a compliment, a hug or a kiss. A good meal. I try harder to see and acknowledge the good things when they happen. Life isn't all bad, even if the news makes it seem so. We enjoy many comforts that were not around when I was born.
Let's see, 1957... Leaded gas, foul air, everyone smoking cigarettes. Air Conditioning was a big luxury. No microwave, black and white TV, if you were lucky enough to have one. Big dial phone on the desk or wall, no cellphones. Computers were huge hulks in offices, and didn't do that much. A student who had a manual typewriter was ahead of the game. There were more tubes in radios than transistors. It was he beginning of spaceflight – Sputnik was launched. The Moon landings and the shuttle were many years in the future yet. Eisenhower was president, and people were scared enough of war with Russia to begin building home fallout shelters. It was a grim time to say the least, especially compared to life in 2017.


I remember being sick a lot. We also had some good family discussions around the dinner table. Later, we got a better TV, and I can remember some good new shows on TV, like Green Hornet and Time tunnel. The Flint and James Bond movies were keeping us thrilled. We went as a family to see the Sound of Music. These events were in the 1960's, of course. A lot of events are munged together in my memory. Memory is timeless – everything is mixed in together, and memories change over time. But I am sure glad in one respect – it beats the alternative. Hope that I can stay out of the obits for a long time to come. Thanks for reading.


Friday, June 09, 2017

Ditty 'bout summer

Summer and baseball are in “full swing.”
Graduation parties, picnics, concerts,
Parties galore all over town.
Lilies, peonies and petunias blooming away,
summer colors and crowds cheerful and gay.
Wildflowers add their pink surprise,
to contrast the itchy green I surmise.

Grass grows fast with annoying regularity,
must match it and mow faithfully weekly.
Jeans ditched for shorts in the suffering heat,
Shoes swapped for sandals, don't miss a beat.

Time to air up the bike tires, and glide down leafy trails.
Race a train back to home base past howling softball crowds.
Put the bike away, then do a few push-ups for good measure,
then hit the shower, pleased with the first work-out of summer.

We paid for this with the horrors of January,
the biting wind, brutal ice, and blinding snow.
Cold that seeped in through every crack,
permeating drafty homes and aging bones alike.

Now –
Sunlit beauty melts away chill remnants
in one's soul and replaces with hopeful color.
Even sweat and swoon cannot defray the
benefits of such an explosion of bounty.

Here is to non-stop enjoyment of summer bliss:
Sniff peonies, dip in a river, give the lover a kiss.
No manufactured governmental crisis, nor
employer-mandated miseries can ever
steal away our enjoyment of natures gifts.

Not even allergies and constant sneezes
deter me from savoring balmy summer breezes.
May one and all alike enjoy the fruits of the season,
Step outside and feel the joy, experience over reason.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

See these bargains on Kindle and Amazon Today

Future Property – Michael Wilson

Experimental Tales – Dycen Alexander

The Osmotics – Dycen Alexander
https://www.amazon.com/Osmotics-Dycen-Alexander/dp/1495486575

New Venture – Dycen Alexander

Epic Prime Collection – Dycen Alexander

Crime Spree – poetry - Mike Wilson

A Strange Enterprise collection of speculations

Shadow Intersection - poetry

29 Stories – Kindle Edition – collection of short fiction:



    ------------------->    Thanks for taking a look!


Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day thoughts 2017

  Putting a flag out on relative's graves, memories come back. Of a time when I was younger, and there was an entire older generation present, with all of their dramas and concerns. I was unaware of their issues for the most part, as I had mine going on. (Little did I realize the power that my mere youth itself had, in many myriad forms.) Now as I get older, I wonder if I could have done more to show appreciation, or thank them for what they did. But understanding is there that it was only natural for them to want to do things for their children, to give them the very best chances in life.

     Since I don't have children of my own, I can only speculate and observe others. My nieces and nephews are full-grown, some raising children of their own. Time's fast flight makes one shake their head in wonder. Some of us must sit on the sidelines and watch the whole circus go by. What is a parade without spectators? But any sadness soon disappears – I had ample opportunity to interact with my family's offspring, some squandered, some enjoyed. Their success brings me joy and pride.

     Memories of the older generation who showed me kindness, help, and even stern reproaches at times roll by. Their jokes and quips live on in repetition from my lips. The line of family memories follows every time I pass something on. Uncle Jack's corny jokes. Nanny's made-up words. Uncle Curly's memories of his family in Nebraska having a goose for Christmas dinner. On and on. All of them tolerating my phases of living in their own ways. Now they are gone. The youngsters of today go through their dramas and joys, not yet aware of how fleeting time is.

     This is to thank and honor all of my late relatives who added so much to our lives. Not to mention my parents, who of course gave me life, raised me up, took care of me, and saw me out into the world.

     Seems a good idea to cherish your loved ones before they become memories. Gives a continuity and meaning to our harried and hurried lives. Best wishes all.

- end

AI Format - Smarter people will have to implement this.

Components might include an Overmind – or a higher function center. This would evaluate alerts from the sensory areas, as well as contain the basic drives to motivate “It”.

Sensory centers:

Sight – detection of obstacles and forms, with a huge library of objects. Each object could return one of several conditions. Library could be added to upon seeing new objects, and detecting conditions.

Sound – mics that would evaluate and screen sounds. Library built up, meanings assigned, reactions adjusted accordingly.

Tactile – touch-sense, with a library of alerts if sharp pressure, heat or cold.

Taste/smell. To the extent possible, chemical detection and a library of alerts to return to higher functions.


Higher function core:

Receives alerts, and makes decisions on actions. IE, if hot/cold/pressure limits are exceeded, move away from source. Else, move a bit closer, and re-evaluate.

Builds a library of experiences. If one of these affects conditions, they might be changed. IE value of excessive heat might be upped or decreased, and re-written into tactile memory.

Operation is directed by basic drives. Hunger overrides, then curiosity, then loneliness, then pack-rat. Or a varying combination of the last three (hunger always wins in the end). Modeled loosely after human drives – what better template to use?

Drives:

Hunger – every so often, needs to re-fuel at a charging station. If a low voltage (below a threshold) is returned from battery, then an alert is returned to the higher core, and It rolls to the charging station. First might test (locate charger) to see if there is a charging station in the vicinity.

Loneliness – tests to see if humans are around. If so, launches query’s and conversational routines. Builds a library of conversational experiences. A random module allows it to sift through words, and build some new databases, then use those.

Experiential craves – wants, needs to add to experiential libraries, so it feels the need to travel, to roll out into the world. Wants to add to it's knowledge in many forms.

Perhaps a pack rat impulse, to pick up and save small objects. To handle them, and add to experiential libraries.

A Life timer. For a period of a month, or a year, the AI will recharge itself, chat with humans, query, and build its experiential libraries. Then it will end, terminate, and download some kind of result, or a dump of its final experiential libraries. Including results of sifting thru and recombining words, testing them, and adding to an experiential database.

The memory required for this thing to “work” will be huge, so short lifetimes could at first be implemented. Later, longer and longer lifetimes could be used.

Talk to others of its kind: message back and forth with other AI's. Form a collective of AI's that each add to and test each other's knowledge libraries and experiential databases.

Then sit back and watch the world change.


(With thanks to Andrew)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Metaphysical Matters of Financial Import

    Whenever I used to start some savings program, I would get an initial boost of confidence by thinking of it a certain way. If I put, say, $25.00 a month away, and forget about it, surely I will create a big pile of money, especially since the interest would compound. At that precise moment, a picture would flash in my mind, of an indistinct but large pile of wealth, growing almost by itself.

     However, the moment I would begin calculating exactly how much I could save in a year, some of the magic would dissipate. Let's see, 25.00 x 12 = 300.00. I would save 300.00 a year, plus a couple percent interest, makes it around 306.00 after the first year. Not bad – impressive. But $306.00 lacks the magic, the mystique, of a “pile of growing money,” that indistinct but magical impression in my mind of my money growing. More magic would dissipate when I would think, 'well, gee, I owe around 900 bucks on my Mastercard, so maybe I should just try to pay that down instead.'
  
     On the surface, this might seem a wiser choice. The interest rate charged on money owed is always higher than a regular savings account, usually several times larger. But I have to make a payment on that card or cards anyway. Looking back on it now, I think the better choice would have been to try and save a little back, regardless of interest rates. It would have been an act of faith, an act that would have created a “buffer” account for use in emergencies, created a better credit rating (with potentially lower rates charged on loans, etc) and given me a bit of real wealth I could call my own. This is part of the metaphysical nature of money.

     Money is not all about dollars and sense. It is partially a mental construct, and how you manipulate that construct can control how much of the real currency you can end up with in the long run, and how you feel about it all. Stated another way, how we look at money and all it implies can affect our long-term prospects of holding onto more wealth in all its forms, and how effectively we use that wealth once we do get our hands on some of it.

     When walking through my usual budgeting process, I find myself wanting to tighten the screws on spending, to try and save some more. Ironically, when I do this, it tends to lead a part of me to want to binge spend at some point. Almost as if I am creating increased pressure by compressing some gas or liquid, until it finally explodes. Conversely, If I budget in some pleasures along the way, some kind of entertainment weekly, it may cost me a bit more. But now being more content, I am much less likely to binge spend and wreck my finances. One has to feed the inner need for enjoyment, that intangible but very important human need for something more than the constant “nose to the grindstone.”
     Another case to discuss is stocks. It is certainly a good idea to study the statistical information available on a company before you buy the stock. But once you have made your purchase, you can just watch the price jiggle up and down every day on the stock exchange. Or you can comfort yourself knowing that you own a piece of a company. That, in effect, all of those workers are working for you, in part. You are an owner now, and every annual meeting that comes up, you have a vote in matters before the board. That is power in a real sense, even if it is highly diluted. The positive mental aspect is that you are a partial company owner, and you don't have to do any of the work!
When one buys a house, they enter into what could be the biggest financial transaction of their lives. They agree to make up to 30 years of payments, taxes, insurance. They commit themselves to investing in a piece of land and a home to live in. Aside from the financial facts and figures (interest rate paid, equity built up over time, escrow fund depletion, etc), there is that emotional component. They will become part of the fabric of a neighborhood. They, and perhaps their kids, will become part of a social community of sorts, making memories and living out life's dramas over their formative years. A house is not just dollars and cents, it is life experiences and emotional swings. The metaphysical component is strong. Some people move every few years, while others stay in one house all their life and build neighborhood memories.

     There is always a positive way of looking at financial transactions. As long as you can keep your bills under control, and leave your investments alone, you can enjoy the sensation of being a diversified owner of various financial instruments without obsessing on dollar amounts. While you should check on things occasionally, keep in mind that positive metaphysical aspect of all things financial.

     How money is perceived at the time we get our hands on some can make a difference in how we spend it. When you have an efficiency apartment, no car, and few prospects, a few thousand dropping into your hands is looked at far differently from if you already have a car and a house. It is never easy making these decisions. But in my humble opinion, the metaphysical aspects of finances cannot be ruled out. Indeed, when talking about human beings with all their fallibility, the emotional and mystical components of money must be factored in for a complete picture. This should help a person get a better, more complete grasp on managing their finances. Good luck out there!

                                                   - end




Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Short Story - Eric's Peace

Originally posted in Aphelion-webzine's May Flashfic Challenge, and now here.  What would you do if you could control everyone's mind on Earth?
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      Eric told himself it was all luck. He daydreamed a lot at work, sometimes good ones, sometimes vengeful. Then he would notice something on the news. A manager at some company known to defraud others set a fire and burned down headquarters. A group of disparate people gathered together and donated a large sum of money to a homeless shelter. Or an annoying co-worker suddenly quit, and left town.
He thought it was egotistic to think that he had anything to do with these events – it was just fate being kind. But things seemed to be taking a strange turn. Like that program he had recently seen on TV, called The Secret. “Ask the universe what you want, and the universe will deliver it.” And indeed, Eric's track record of getting wishes granted was getting good.
So it was that one day, he decided to focus his thoughts on something good and useful for humanity, as he saw it. He concentrated on world peace. He envisioned results from all nations putting down their arms, laying off most of their military people, except those needed for emergency rescue operations. The benefits of this seemed obvious to Eric: more resources available for humanitarian purposes all over the world.
And gradually it came to pass. Wars in the Middle East and Africa petered out. New treaties were signed. Spokespersons said, “War has gotten old and tired. There must be a better way for humanity to settle differences.” Suddenly populations that had lived in fear could settle down and get on with the business of living. Even reports of atrocities among tribes-people in Central Africa dwindled to nothing. Humanity sighed with relief.
Eric was so overwhelmed with the results that he hardly dared think anything else for fear it would take hold. But he soon realized, ephemeral 'housekeeping' thoughts and impulses had little or no effect. It took frequent, concerted thinking on a subject to bring about effects. Still, some things needed doing, and he did them. His boss decided to give him a large raise, the restaurant he frequented decided to give him free meals more often than not, and many, many strangers suddenly bought the books he sold online. When Eric found a stylish penthouse condo he liked, it took some concentration. But the management soon held a special promotion of some kind, and Eric won the condo for $1.00.
The county tax assessor decided on a whim to value his property very low, so his taxes were minimal. The grocery store he frequented awarded him a first prize of free groceries for a year. Some people remarked on his amazing luck. But if anyone got too close, he would concentrate, and their thinking soon changed. Eric had no trouble convincing desired sex partners to party with him. However, one time he had multiple partners, and things got out of hand. He couldn't concentrate on willing them to perform, and enjoy whatever he was participating in, at the same time. So some lost interest, and hastily left his condo. He learned to modulate his control and his desires to keep things within safe limits and under control.
The world slowly changed. The pace of living slowed. Peace and calm were good, but day-to-day life became nothing but more and more of the same dull routine. Eric started getting bored, and more than a little annoyed.
So it was that one day, Eric began to meditate on total freedom. He had seemingly turned humanity into compliant sheep, moping along, doing nothing but his bidding. Now, he decided to set them free.
He began meditating on the concept of total freedom. “Do what you want! Take what you want! Get wild! Get crazy! Get naked! Live a little!”
At first, nothing happened. Folks at the grocery store talked in the usual dull monotone. People at work spoke in hushed, peaceful tones . Eric persisted. Maybe it is like turning an ocean liner – I need to keep at it.
So he focused on people having an orgy in the street, or robbing a liqueur store, or staging a walk-out, before he went to bed.
Eric awoke with a start, hearing an incessant wailing. He rose, looked at the clock: 3:07AM. What the hell?
He looked out his wall-sized window, and saw flickering lights. Looking down, he saw mayhem. Crowds in the streets, fighting and throwing things. A few firetrucks and police cars, surrounded by mobs. Smoke rising, fires burning. Uh-oh....
He composed himself, and sat down. He began to think of peace, calm, settle-down thoughts.
The knock on his door brought him up short. He rose and slowly walked to his entrance. He peeked out the tiny spyhole, a seeming anachronism a short time ago. And saw several rough, angry people. They pounded on his door.
“Yeah, you. Come on out, you rich pig, we want to talk to you!” One of them spit on the spyhole.
Eric yelled “go away! I'm calling the police!”
“They're a little busy right now,” yelled one of them. “C'mon, give me that crowbar. We need to get in there and show this guy who is in charge.”
As the door splintered, and the lock gave way, Eric tried a last maneuver: Thinking calm, peace...
You want to put down that crowbar, you want to walk away, and leave the nice man alone...
Then, Eric 'heard' an overriding voice in his head. “Attack that rich bastard, and kill him! Destroy everything. Anarchy rules.”
The bearded, mustachioed man came up to Eric, but didn't hit him right away. He laughed out loud.


     “What? You think you are the only human being with a talent? I'm only surprised at how easy it was to turn everything around. Almost like I had help or something...” Then the man shrugged, and swung his crowbar.

                                                                        The End