A new “routine”…


Last week didn’t “count” — well, it did but it didn’t…  I say that because I spent almsot all of Friday in my pajamas…

That can’t be my new “routine” during my sabbatical… really, I won’t get it done.

I gave myself last week because, dang it, I deserve it… plus, Max was with us and we had more interesting things to do than have me work — like, watch most of “The Office” (him) and drink coffee while reading semi-trashy novels (me).  Now, Max is on the way back to his other home and starting school — and I’m thinking about being productive.

The trouble is, I’m not used to NOT having a schedule — at leas not while school is in session.  Sure, I adjusted to teaching online over the summer, but it was SUMMER… now it’s Fall and I need to figure out how I work best.

It helps that Andy is in school again, so I have some kind of schedule — if only by proxy.  The thing is, I’ve never had this kind of unstructured time to do research… and it’s a little daunting.

Like anything, I’ll probably get it done… by “it” I mean my dissertation project of developing two new courses…

I have a plan for the first part — namely, to develop the Ethical Theory section I’ll use in both classes… and I’m participating in a faculty group on Tuesday to get some ideas for my new classes…

But, still — the time between NOW and May (when summer classes start) is pretty daunting — wish me luck.


Too Late for Labor Day…

… but funny anyway…

We can choose to learn… or not…

…  and learning from the crappy crap that has happened to us.  The graphic above reminds me of when my sister, cousin Em and I were dancing in the rain when we were kids.  We were young and thought it would be fun to get goofy by the side of the road I grew up on… and it was.  Finally our Moms made us stop..

Sometimes the lessons aren’t what we think the will be — and I suppose I’m kind of a slow learner, as sometimes the lessons take longer to sink in than they should.

In my life I’ve had three people die who were very close to me — a parent, a sibling and a friend who was like a sibiling.. I’ve also considered my own mortality thanks to the boobie that was trying to kill me.

As I grow, I find that those four events have marked “before” and “after” times in my mind.  They were difficult to deal with and I learned a variety of things from each one.

Most recently, I’ve come to realize that what I thought would be my life’s path simply wasn’t what I wanted.  I thought I’d be a dean, maybe teach someplace with more prestige than my CC — I was pretty sure the rest of my life wouldn’t be spent in and around Minnesota.  Turns out, that’s not what I want.

How this is connected to the crappy crap I’ve lived with is that it’s shown me that life is too freaking short to be spent waiting until ________ happens.  Nope — life is now, it’s what you do every day and while making plans is important, living a good life while those plans are in the works is important too.

So — what do I want?  I want to travel.. I want to teach philosophy to students who may not want to learn it at first but come to see my course as important in their development.  I want to have close friends and be close to my family.  I want to spend my time with people who appreciate me, who support my current projects and help me see that there is more to life than academia and socially-rewarded successes.

I want to be with people who challenge me to be the best at whatever I want to do — and whose dreams, hopes and fears are both similar and different than my own.

I want to be independent.  I want to be able to pay my own bills and feel good about what I need to do to make that happen.

I think the first real, tangible purchase under this new way of looking at life was my new computer last may — perhaps the second will be an old conversion van… hmmmm…

Important qualities in a person…

As those of you who know me in person already know — I’ve had some life changes in the past few months..

So many of them have been the result of previous (and very difficult) life experiences we don’t need to get into now — suffice it to say that I see life, my life and the world in a very different way now than I did 5 years ago.

As Andy so rightly pointed out to me, I’m a philosopher at heart, so I over-think things — I try to categorize things, remember, recall and analyze things.  I think I’ve always been that way, but my perspective has shifted and I now find some things more or less important than I have in the past.  This may be disturbing to some, but it’s just the way things have ended up.

Part of that change is that I’m not so quick to judge people on past actions.  Strong and continuing patterns are another story, but when someone has done something wrong, realized it as wrong and avoids doing it in the future, I consider it old news.  I suppose it’s a bit of wisdom to realize that some good people can do bad things and it’s not my place to judge them on their prior bad choices.  period.

Much more important is how they are now and what they want to do in the future.  A good person treats others with kindness, caring and respect — even when they don’t want something.  A great person accepts the flaws of others and realizes they themselves aren’t perfect, so why should perfection be expected.  A wonderful person accepts the whole person and their friends and family with open arms — realizing that a person doesn’t come to be who they are in some kind of weird vacuum.  Rather, their past and those close to them shape them in many ways… to really love someone is to accept the whole package not just parts.

So — this is a bit of a change from how I used to see the world and it’s an aspirational post at best — I still get judgy, snotty and mean sometimes, but now I feel bad when I do so.

The founding fathers…


The conservatives, tea party people and all the other right-wing wackos seem to be all about the founding fathers’ intentions for the country…

For them, it’s mostly the case that they want their guns and they don’t want women to have abortions — because those are the conditions that the Founding Fathers had for themselves…

Andy got me thinking (in a post he hasn’t published yet) about the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” — from the Declaration of Independence.  Some folks would argue the the Declaration isn’t the Constitution — but, I think it’s a good indication of what the founding fathers were thinking.

The context for the statement is important (yep, I’m a philosopher… get over it..)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

There’s a lot in this paragraph… for my purposes, the idea of unalienable rights stands out.  This means that simply by being a human being you have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Just by being born human — to put it simply ALL human beings have a right to these things…in Venn diagram speak, this is an A claim… see below…

If every S (person) is P (a thing that has these rights) — then, there are no people who don’t have these rights…
The tricky part is that our system seems set up to be that only folks with cash have access to the means to continued life..
If you are in the lower-middle class economically, your healthcare is quite precarious.  You probably have a job that pays your small bills, but you have no savings.  You have no real safety net in case you miss a week or two of work for something like a mastectomy or chemo.  You’re faced with the prospect of being evicted because you can’t pay your rent, or death…
Not exactly a decent choice in a country with plenty of resources.
I’d also like to note that the Declaration indicates that the justification for government is to secure these rights for ALL persons… not just the wealthy.  If it’s the case that the government acts counter to this purpose, changing the government is justified.
hmmm…. revolution anybody?

Wanting —

A close friend asked me just now if wanting was wrong?

It’s a good question — because wanting something, in and of itself isn’t right or wrong — until action is taken… or, is it?

Maybe the answer is much more complex, because wanting something you are unlikely to get causes angst — and that angst causes a person to feel things like envy, jealousy and other negative feelings.

If you are willing to hurt others to achieve what you want — then those actions are wrong… but the wanting itself is not wrong.

As it is, my friend is young and doesn’t understand what I’ve come to see recently — that material things aren’t the key to happiness.  Instead, you need to surround yourself with good people, who inspire you and who support you.  You need to engage in activities that challenge you and that you find enjoyable.  Finally, you need to find a way to be happy with yourself who you are right now and where you are right now.

It took me a long time to come to this realization — and along the way I collected a lot of stuff that was purchased out of boredom or unhappiness — anybody want all my old cosmic junk?



Some folks get all excited  or nervous when a computer beats a human at some “intellectual” feat…

I don’t – anymore — once I became convinced that machines as we know them now cannot actually “think”.

The fear is that the machines will take over the world and humans will be subject to their whims… no longer will the coffee maker make your coffee, you’ll make coffee for it…

The thing is, machines aren’t actually creative — they can only assemble what we tell them.  This is a problem facing military folks, as they’d like to have robots firing guns and making decisions between friend and foe– but, that just isn’t happening anytime soon.