Einstein Quotes

May 24, 2014

2014-05-16_11-07-27“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

Albert Einstein

2014-05-15_16-29-54The concept of Yin/Yang originated in China thousands of years ago but the thoughts behind it are common to many other traditions. The concept is all about balance. Here are some examples:

Black/White – There is very little in life that is black or white; everything is a shade of grey which of course is a combination of the two.

Hot/Cold — Who wants to take a shower in either totally hot or totally cold water?  Maybe some teenagers need some cold showers once in a while but most of us prefer a combination of the two

Everything/Nothing — It seems that for us Americans we are usually at the yang end (everything) in this dichotomy. Our capitalist system almost demands that we consume more and more as the years go by.

2014-05-15_19-50-46I originally thought I would use another book as the primary source for this series of posts but decided to change to one entitled “Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox” by Eun Y. Kim.

Dr. Kim,who became a naturalized U.S. citizen  in 2000 and wrote this book in 2001 has since went on to become a very influential person on the international stage. She offers a unique perspective on American life similar to Alex De Tocqueville in the mid-19th century.  Here is a little from the preface to the book to help you understand more about her.

It has been a long journey from Korea, where I had my first interactions with Americans when I was only eight years old . My father , who was an educator, believed in foreign language education during early childhood and sent me to a language institute in Seoul when I was a third-grader. It was a place for American children in Korea to learn English, but for me it was a place to learn English as a second language and to experience American people and culture. All Koreans have had a close acquaintanceship with America since the Korean War. In school, we studied the contributions of numerous Americans, including George Washington, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin , Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. We had to memorize Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, and the Monroe Doctrine. For fun and play, we saw American movies like Ben-Hur, The Sound of Music, Love Story, Gone with the Wind, Rocky, Saturday Night Fever….

Through these experiences, we grew up with a fascination for America. We looked up to Americans as “superior” people and perceived America as a symbol of all virtues. We admired Americans as intelligent, rational, civil, clean, fair, generous, and sophisticated and envied those who had the opportunity to go to the United States.

Dr. Kim spends much time in this book studying American culture and how it is different from her native Korea. It is a very interesting look at the U.S. from a different perspective and from a different philosophical point of view. I think you will enjoy this approach to understanding Yin and Yang and the differences between East and West….

To Prevent War…

May 22, 2014

2014-05-15_13-38-34Somebody is always telling us in the papers how to prevent war. There is only one way in the world to prevent war and that is for every nation to tend to is own business. Trace any war and you will find some nations was trying to tell some other nations how to run their business. All these nations are interfering with some other nations’ personal affairs but with an eye to business. Why don’t we let the rest of the world act like it wants to?

Will Rogers June 28, 1925


May 21, 2014

Addiction is defined as being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially alcohol or narcotic drugs). We all have addiction in on form or another.  Many of us are addicted to our daily dose of caffeine. Without it we just can’t seem to get our day started. Some are addicted to nicotine. Gladly that number seems to be decreasing and hopefully the lung cancer that results from it will also go down.

But I think the number one addiction for many of us in the U.S. is violence. I don’t think we start out that way. It likely starts with an adrenaline rush caused by the “flight or fight” primordial instincts and then moves on to obsessions such as video games, violent movies, and eventually at least to some with our obsession for war and other forms extreme violence.

Violence gives us a sense of superiority and that in itself is addictive. Like cigarette and booze for some, once you get started you can’t not do it. I pride myself in being a non-violent person. The very thought of war sickens me. But, I also have a dark side in that I enjoy watching “blood and guts” movies once in a while. Maybe this imaginary violence somehow helps me release some form pent-up aggression that might otherwise be released in another form. But I am not obsessed with these types of movies. In fact I can’t remember the last time I saw one.

One of my major past addictions was cigarettes. I started smoking as most of my generation did in high school and did not manage to kick the habit until almost thirty years later.  It was a dirty habit that I am now convinced very much affected my dating life. So many potential girl friends just couldn’t put up with that smelly habit. I attempted to quit on several occasions but only managed it after my wife had her first of several heart attacks.

People trying to escape their current dreary lives if just for a little while, many times end up taking drugs. Once addicted it is hard to stop. That very fact has filled our prison system to almost ten times more than it did forty years ago.

But I think everyone learns that the thing about addiction is that it never ends well because whatever made us feel good eventually wears off and it starts to hurt. Sadly we just can’t seem to kick an addiction until we hit rock bottom.

2014-05-15_11-28-09I am kind of in a nostalgic mood lately. My wife has pulled out of storage several of my old record albums from the 1960s. The one on the top of the heap right now is Bob Dylan’s first, and I kind of think best, albums entitled “The Freewheeling Bob Dylan”.  About the only thing I spent much money on besides tuition payments during those years was record albums.  As I was looking over the song lists in the album one stuck to me and that is the title of this post.

Here are some of the lyrics.

I’m walkin’ down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
But goodbye’s too good a word, gal
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

Bob Dylan just seemed to reflect my mood in those rumbling years of the 60’s. He said what I wished I had been able to.  I don’t know the background behind this song but it was probably about a past relationship he had. I always wanted to be “freewheeling” but never really managed that lifestyle.

Forgiveness is something that most of us have a hard time accomplishing. I think this song is kind of like that. I guess Bob was expecting something that he didn’t get but that is just the way life goes sometimes.

If somehow someone gave me back the sense of hearing for just one day I think I might spend it listening to some of these old albums and reminiscing about the good old days. But if that doesn’t happen I won’t think twice, it’s all right.

College Years 002The header of this blog contains one of my favorite Will Rogers quote.  “Do the best you can and don’t take life too serious”. It would be years before I realized the power of putting those two things together.

We all have different skills and capabilities. We all have different talents. I think that the secret to a satisfying life is to discover just what your skills and talents are and then do the best you can to make them flourish. My personal history it this regard is kind of so-so. But I did for the most part do the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time and maybe that is all I could have asked for.

As a kid I seemed to always be looking to the future and trying to imagine where my place would be in it.  But I never seemed able to latch onto that one specific thing. Looking back I seemed to be looking at the forest and not concentrating on any particular tree for potential growth. It would have been nice to have the knowledge and wisdom I now have in those early years.  But, I guess that is what growing really means.

As much as can be expected I did do the best I could with all my circumstances in life. I got into a profession that I really didn’t have much passion for but I did the best I could while there.  It would be more than twenty years into my thirty year work life before I found an area that I was passionate about and that was software development. My analytical mind thrived in that area.

But then along came deafness that put another obstacle in my path and it proved to be a tough one. What should have been sure fire advancements in this new area were not there because of my new affliction. My superiors just couldn’t see a deaf person leading a bigger team than I already had.  The depression that my deafness caused almost took me down for a while. And then I got my second wind and started coping as best as I could. Struggling without hearing in a hearing world was certainly  my biggest challenge.  But I did the best I could.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in realizing Will’s quote above was the last part. It would be years before I was finally able to not take life too serious. The first part of meeting that challenge was to not take myself too serious. I was convinced that I needed to change the world and was always disappointed in my lack of being able to do much of that.

The progression from not taking myself too serious to not taking life in general too serious was a natural one it seems. The first serious stage in that process was to realize that today’s politics are just not worth the worries that they inevitably cause. Our country is just too divided right now to allow any serious advancements in the political realm. I found it very satisfying to finally realize that fact and to put the muddy politics of our times to a very remote rear burner of my life.

So, here I am approaching my 68th year on this earth and I think I finally have Will’s quote down. It’s about time…..

The picture above is of me in 1966 during my college years….