Not Cease from Exploration...a blog by Steve Albert

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thinking

My Myers Briggs Type Indicator is 'ISTJ', which stands for 'Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging'.  This isn't all that uncommon a personality type, but I tend to make it uncommon with how I score, namely that I am extremely introverted, extremely thinking, and extremely judging.  By "extremely" I mean that I get the highest possible scores in these particular indicators.  Of late the one that is giving me the most grief if "Thinking".

Thinking is good, when there is a problem to be solved.  Thinking becomes toxic for me though when I don't have a problem that actually can be solved, or even a problem at all.  Yes, dogged mental determination comes in handy at the office or when I've had the personal crisis in my life to handle that require logical decisions, but what happens when the thing you are constantly thinking about is more of an emotion or series of emotions?

Here's the answer to the above question:  You get the perfect storm of personal dysfunction.  For me it becomes this almost endless feedback loop where my mind is constantly thinking about, thinking around, thinking through feelings and thoughts that don't have solutions.  It's a computer trying to compute the value of pi, pulling more and more CPU time into something that doesn't have an answer.

The trick for me...make that the "opportunity for personal growth"...is going to be one where I try and suspend my constant over-thinking when I know that the situation isn't one where there is a "thought" solution.  Maybe this is as simple as "Acceptance", maybe it is as complex as "Faith".

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Road Trip

Well it's off to West Chester (Pennsylvania) today for a campus visit.  My youngest daughter is strongly considering the school, so in about 20 minutes we will be on the road.  After the obligatory campus tour and festivities we will head back to Scranton, but with a stop in Kutztown to visit with my oldest daughter.

I really enjoy the campus visits, as they bring back tons of memories for me, and they make me very excited for my daughter.  It's the kind of thing that a father does.

Road Trip!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I've Heard It Said...

...that human beings have an almost infinite capability to change and adapt.  This is how we, and we alone, ended up dominating our planet (although you could argue we haven't been Earth's most successful species:  that probably goes to ants or cockroaches or Norway rats).  Given the mechanics of modern life and how we all fall into patterns of behavior, I wonder how we ever survived so far.  Then again I'm probably putting too much of myself into the "typical" bucket of humanity.  For all I know I could be the "blip", the one who is an abhors change.

Well whether I actually abhor it...but put on a good front...or actually carefully embrace it doesn't mater.  Why?  Because sometimes changes almost becomes this necessity, pain and difficulty aside.  The way I feel now is like the climber looking up at the peak of Mt Everest from down below, knowing that the journey is long and perilous (about 150 people have died climbing the mountain), but yet I'm compelled to climb anyway.  Sometimes I'm energized by the climb, other times I'm tired by it, still other times I just climb anyway, knowing that progress (in climbing mountains or moving forward in your life) sometimes requires a certain blind determination.  Maybe this is faith, maybe this is fate.  I'm not sure.

As for me, my mountain isn't quite so dangerous, at least not physically.  Unlike the a real mountain though, I don't necessarily know what's at the top of this climb.  I can imagine, and I am certainly have real hopes, but it's still that "undiscovered country" that both invigorates and frightens at the same time.  The toughest part isn't the actual climbing though, for me the toughest part has been, and will continue to be all of the feelings associated with simply making the journey.  Did I wait too long to start?  Am I equipped for it?  Both questions create a certain level of anxiety for me.  Yet though the answer to both questions is pretty simple:  it doesn't matter (because I'm making the climb anyway). 

Here's to big rocks looming in front of you, here's to fear, and here's to the undiscovered country.  Regardless, I'm climbing up.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Song Running Through My Head Now...

Kind of strange when you consider my present circumstances, but hey, we don't always get to pick the ear worm...often the ear worm simply picks us.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some Good Advice...that I Need to Remember to Heed

Howard Jones - Life in One Day

Smoking & Alzheimers

On page 6D of today's USA Today there is an excellent article about the connection between smoking and the risk of developing Alzheimers.  The bottom line:  Heavy smoking in midlife more than doubles your odds of developing Alzheimers disease.

You can read the article HERE.

I can think of far fewer worse way to go than to simply have your brain cells atrophy as you slide into a walking-dead like state.  That's the kind of thing that makes even people faith question the notion of a loving God.

As I've noted here on many an occasion, please, if you smoke try and quit.  If you can't quit, keep trying.  I don't care if I know you or not, as no one deserves to deal with the very real health hazards that are caused by smoking.  Come on people, this is simply not worth it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Road Apples, #79

Routines...Routines are a funny, funny thing.  We curse them as part of the bane of boredom and creators of stagnation, but it's amazing how much of an impact changing them has on us.  Right now I'm a test case in routine change, and there have been times when it's been nothing short of nerve rattling.  Yet there is this certain refreshing aspect to it all.  It's like sticking your toe in the pool water, feeling that it's cold, but yet you move the rest of your body into the water anyway.

It's the Little Things...that sometimes unnerve and piss you off.  Right now I can't type and watch TV at the same time, as my TV is behind me.   It's irritating and surprisingly stressful.  Must have been one of those routines. 

Political Blogging & the Ironic...NEPA's favorite local blogger (or maybe it was Gort...I forget) once told me that if you write about politics at all you are automatically considered to be a "political blogger".  So I guess that's where I fall; maybe saying that Tom Corbett looks like Leslie Nielsen wasn't such a great idea after-all.  Anyway, what's the ironic part?  For all of the political stuff I've written about or pondered, since I recently moved I didn't get a change to change my voter registration.  Translation:  I really can't vote in this next election. That's okay, as rumor has it that a certain local political message board administrator almost never votes, despite the arrow slinging. 

Speaking of Politics...I have a feeling that Dan Onorato is going to make this a very close election.  What makes me thing that way?  Because my uber-conservative brother Chris, a guy who thinks Limbaughness is next to godliness, is going to vote for Mr  Onorato.  Why?  Simple...The current AG's very unreasonable stand of natural gas drilling taxation (re:  none).  I know that Pennsylvania's "like clockwork" swings between Dems and the GOP for the governor's mansion basically gives the election to Leslie (I mean Tom), but if my brother is voting for him, maybe miracles are possible.

Vonage...I am officially joining the ranks of the VOIPed.  I figure I need to make good use of all this cable Internet bandwidth.  We shall see how the experiment works out. 

The Day the Earth Stood Still...My youngest daughter had to watch this movie (the original...not the one with that Ted starred in) as part of her Cold War history class.  I was kind of proud of that actually, as there were more contemporary movies she could have watched.  The best part?  She really liked the movie, although she complained that the special effects looked "cheesy".  Fair enough, although the effects on 2001 looked dated as well, and they are light years ahead of The Day the Earth Stood Still

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bear Creek Dam

Saturdays have proven to be problematic for me, for a number of reasons, so I'm working on strategies to re-arrange things to keep the mind off of over-thinking every detail of my life until my neurons literally scream out in pain.  Yesterday I decided to do some exploration in the wilds of Luzerne County.  Among the sights I encountered:  the Bear Creek dam.

The strategy was only partially successful, but, damn, it sure is a pretty picture.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Catching Up

Another brief hiatus from my hiatus.

According to Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe from the University of Washington School of Medicine, life events usually list out in a stress scale that goes something like this:
  1. Death of a spouse 100
  2. Divorce 73
  3. Marital Separation 65
  4. Jail term 63
  5. Death of a close family member 63
  6. Personal injury or illness 53
  7. Marriage 50
  8. Fired at work 47
  9. Marital reconciliation 45
  10. Retirement 45
  11. Change in health of family member 44
  12. Pregnancy 40
  13. Sex difficulties 39
  14. Gain of a new family member 39
  15. Business readjustments 39
  16. Change in financial state 38
  17. Death of a close friend 37
  18. Change to different line of work 36
  19. Change in number of arguments with spouse 35
  20. Mortgage over $ 50,000 31
  21. Foreclosure of mortgage 30
  22. Change in responsibilities at work 29
  23. Son or daughter leaving home 29
  24. Trouble with in-laws 29
  25. Outstanding Personal achievements 28
  26. Spouse begins or stops work 26
  27. Begin or end school 26
  28. Change in living conditions 25
  29. Revision of personal habits 24
  30. Trouble with boss 23
  31. Change in work hours or conditions 20
  32. Change in residence 20
  33. Change in school 20
  34. Change in recreation 19
  35. Change in religious activities 19
  36. Change in social activities 18
  37. Loan less than 50,000 17
  38. Change in sleeping habits 16
  39. Change in number of family get- togethers 15
  40. Change in eating habits 15

Right now eight of these things are all poking at me simultaneously.  Pretty daunting stuff.  In fact, I'd probably note that September 2010 was the worst month of my life, absolutely barring none.  Yet, as I look at the middle of October today, I can honestly say that I got through it.  Well make that "getting through it" as I think that's a better description.  I have my good days, and I have my bad, and most of these things are going to take a long, long time to work out.  Some may never, in fact, work out. Like most things in life though, it's not as much about arriving at a "place" as it is about learning from, and to the extent possible, enjoying the journey.  T.S. Eliot knew that all too well.  What's more, none of us are born with the promise of a perfect, stress-free life.  In the midst of the "stuff" that's not much in the way of consolation, but it does have the benefit of being real.

I've alluded to this in a prior post or two, but one of the things I've learned...and am learning...from all of this is that you don't get through changes in life like this all by yourself.  Well maybe some can, but I have learned the hard way that at least I can't. Real acknowledgments will come at a later date, but suffice to say in depths of the worst is when you learn just how blessed you really are in life to have people that care. 

Interestingly enough, one of the best bits of advice I got that relates to personal matters came about from a conversation I had with my (new) Vice President at work:  if you spend all your time looking in the rear-view mirror you are going to miss what is in front of you.  He was talking about business, but most of that advice I've tried to apply outside of the office.
 
Here's to keeping one's eye on the road.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anxiety Waves

A brief hiatus from my hiatus.

As I am going through a few personal and professional changes, I've experienced more than my share of anxiety.  Yesterday I was trying to describe how this felt to myself, as I recently learned that your feelings drive your thoughts, and your thoughts drive your actions.  I know, I know, that's probably something that most "normal" people already know (the connection between feelings and actions), but it was something of a revelation for me.  Anyway, if I could better understand some of my feelings, I might be better able to understand how they impact my thoughts and actions.

Here's how I was able to describe how I've been feeling.

The anxiety* I've been feeling is like a series of waves.  A few weeks ago those waves were enormous.  I could see them coming, and they were so large that they towered over me.  They would crash into me, I'd be over my head in "water", and I'd struggle just to take a breath.  Just when I could regain my footing, I'd see another enormous wave coming my way, and the whole cycle would repeat again, and again and again.  

Over time these waves seem to have gotten smaller, and they come in with less frequency.  Towards the end of September, they seem to have gotten to the point where, when they would hit me, they weren't really that much over my head.  Yes, I'd get hit by the wave and it knocked me off balance a bit, but I no longer felt like I was drowning.  

Now?  Well I'm still getting hit by waves, but right now they seem to only come up to my chest.  I get unsteady has they hit and the undertow pulls at me, but by and large I'm able to hold my ground.  

I don't know what the next wave or waves will look like. The enormous ones could start again I suppose at any moment, but having been hit by them before, I'm thinking that I can withstand another barrage.  Time, however, will ultimately be the judge.

Have a learned something from all of this?  Absolutely.  But the verb "learned" is incorrect, at least in the context of tense.  I'm "learning".  Maybe, if there is a benefit to difficult times, it lies in the ability to learn from it all. 





(*) I'm using the term "anxiety" as something of a catch-all for a whole bunch of feelings.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Please Stand By

I'm going on something of a blogging quasi-hiatus for a week or two while some things happen in the background that I laughingly refer to as my life.  More to come...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Just Suppose....

Just suppose that establishment Republicans, knowing that it is their hard right base that is the most discontent in the electorate (after all it was a Republican who gave us the evil TARP), acquiesce to the "throw the bums out" cries and take what is basically a protest movement and turn it into a quasi-political party.  Now they don't do this all that overtly, and in some instances they may even protest over the candidates this group puts out, but behind the scenes they know that the movement is better off under their control than it is running wild.

They also know that this movement has the capacity to put forth some fairly extreme candidates, mainly because some of the movement members are, in fact, fairly extreme.  All the better for establishment Republicans:  it's like allowing your four year old to to pull the cat's tail...some lessons need to be learned the hard way.  Getting the extreme wing out front and center, with tacit support, gives the larger American electorate the ability to see just what "hard right" really means.  These candidates may fail, and the establishment Republicans get a de-facto purge without actually having to do any of the dirty work themselves.  Well at least not in the limelight.

Could some of the movement candidates actually win?  Sure.  But that's okay as well.  I think the establishment Republicans need poster children for their far, far right brethren, and since Rick Santorum was discovered to be an ineffective buffoon, and Rush Limbaugh prefers to earn his millions honestly, a replacement or two is called for.  They key though here is control:  who really controls the movement?  Is it really all that "grass roots"?  Who benefits from the success of the movement?  Who benefits from its failure?

Here's what I think...

Q:  Who really controls the movement?
A:  The established Republican party.  Remember, people like Jim Demint and Michele Bachmann existed long before tea was being served.

Q:  Is it really all that "grass roots"?
A:  It was, once.  Now just look at who is throwing money into it.

Q:  Who benefits from the success of the movement?
A:  Establishment Republicans.  In seniority-based systems, the new guy/gal seldom gets to call the shots anyway.  Establishment Republicans get to claim all manner of victory if the movement wins.  They get to move some rotting corpses out of their own party, people who probably should have left a long time ago anyway.

Q:  Who benefits from its failure?
A:  Establishment Republicans.  The dialogue works something like this:  "Hey, we told you O'Donnell was too extreme to win in a general election.  Next time listen to your party leaders."

In the limited bits of political calculus that I understand, it seems to me that the Tea Party isn't all that bad of a deal for establishment Republicans.