What must we pre-adapt to now? What are safe occupations?

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Darwin wrote, “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.” The change that he must be referring to is occurring in the environment in which the species is immersed. At a species level that means not getting killed by new emerging threats. At a personal human-level in our present society, it means avoiding becoming involved in dangerous situations. That means to cultivate the ability to foresee problems and to have the wisdom and ability to make the needed adjustments to avoid the potential dangers.

Darwin was writing about prehuman life, the millions, perhaps billions, of species that predate human speech-driven, socially enhanced precognition based on collective experience. With easy access via the internet and the resources of actual experience derived from such organizations as the Pew Research Center and government statistics, we can predict with reasonable accuracy our mortal dangers. The dangerous occupations for US men are …

  • Logging workers – 132 deaths per 100,000 per year
  • Fishers and fishing workers 55
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers 40
  • Roofers 40
  • Refuse and recyclable material collectors 39
  • Structural iron and steel workers 30
  • Truck drivers 24
  • Farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers 22

A separate list for the least dangerous occupations based on life expectancy.

  • College teachers – 84 years life expectancy
  • Teachers 84
  • Civil servants 83
  • Accountants 83
  • Shop assistants 82
  • Post Office employees  82
  • Shopkeepers 82
  • Business executives 82

I guess that my moving from a USAF pilot to a college teacher in my twenties made sense.

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I reprinted Love Your Life in the new Being Kind format.

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This last month was spent working on restoring the Leonardo da Vinci painting called Salvador Mundi. That took so much time that I hadn’t worked much on the Being Kind book but it was discussed quite a bit in my conversations. The ideas are subtlely different than other diet and self-help books, but the difference makes all the difference. I know these ideas work because they have clearly worked for me. Yes, I know everyone says that, but it is like pain and my pain is different because it hurts. On that subject, I did print out my pain chart and gave one to the podiatrist who is treating my Morton’s neuroma in the balls of my feet. I hadn’t realized that so much time had gone by since I published that chart. I should send it to the CDC because their standard pain chart is far too vague to be of much value.

Click on the detailed chart below or click PDF below to attain readability.

Pain Scale Intensity Measurement – click for a larger .GIF chart.

Probaway Pain Scale - PAINS

Pain Scale – For measuring the intensity of human pain and suffering

Pain Scale Intensity Measurement Chart – click here for a printable .PDF.
Print that chart and then you can track some specific injury over time and note the various treatments as time progresses.

Tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in its petty pace and time flies bye bye.

Ideas must move in our mind to be perceived.

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My old friend from Berkeley, Charles M. (I must leave his name out until he approves of this post) sent me an email about how frogs can’t see a fly unless the fly moves. The corollary that interests both of us is that we humans can’t perceive static thoughts, that thoughts must be moving in some perceptible mental dimension for us to perceive them.

I have several posts on similar ideas on camouflageunknownsperceptions, searching, but I don’t think I explored the idea that movement is necessary for perception to take place. In those posts, there are examples using cuttlefish, who can mimic the surfaces they are lying upon to the point of near invisibility, when still. I don’t know if when they move slowly how nearly they can maintain their invisibility, and perhaps there is a video of one moving over a varied surface. They do become visible when they are moving quickly.

That idea has potential human relevance for looking at paintings and at static but visually complex symmetrical patterns. It may be that when we stare at a complex pattern without moving our eyes, the pattern disappears. I did some similar cross-eye experiments and blog posts on that subject. Some things do disappear in a few seconds when patterns that are identical, but colored in complementary colors, are presented to the opposite eyes. In those examples, my vision can flow thru many different renditions to my brain’s perception of the same static images, including some having complex patterns, simply vanishing. If I shift my eyes a small amount, the images reappear, only to develop a halo of iridescent coloring for a few seconds before they disappear again. It is a fun thing to do, but fatiguing to the brain.

The idea needs some critical experiments, something that is similar to what meditators attempt to do, such as remove all thoughts from the consciousness, or to think about a single thing for a couple of minutes. The mind rebels at those kinds of activities, but some people claim they can do it, and even enjoy it.

Let us watch for examples of static versus moving thoughts disappearing.

I restore Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi

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This last month I have had absolutely nothing to do … except restore Leonardo da Vinci’s painting named Salvator Mundi. Many things happened that I had to respond to but my main goal was to make a perfect print of that painting for a little event I hope to present at the Old Stone Church on Christmas Eve. That building was the home of the Unitarian Universalist church for several years before I moved to Bend, Oregon, the spring of 2011. I became a member shortly after moving all of my belongings from Berkeley, California. Our church had the good fortune to have enough money donated by our members to build a new structure on a lovely piece of property and that congregation has grown remarkably since moving there January 2015.

I was aware that the Spiritual Awareness Community (SAC) was meeting in the Old Stone Church at a separate time but I never attended a service until the UU’s had moved to their new site. As it happened I attended a service the very next week and have never missed a meeting since that date at either venue. Thus, I attend two religious services on Sunday, and an Atheist breakfast every Saturday, where we discuss similar issues but from a different starting point, and a couple of philosophical discussions weekly. Last month the SAC sold their rights to meet in the Old Stone Church and we will be having our last meetings on December 24 and the 31st. As the building may be worth more as property and after it is sold may be torn down and used for other purposes, I wanted to do something meaningful for the possible last Christmas Eve and thought that reading the Sermon on the Mount would be appropriate. I don’t believe I have a great reading voice so I have asked a friend to do the reading, and he agreed. The way this may work out is to put the Salvator de Mundi on an easel, covered until the time for the reading, and then as I read the introduction to the sermon remove the covering and as the appropriate time comes to speak have the reading begin. With the right lighting and other setups it could be a profound experience. Most people I have talked to have never heard the sermon spoken out and many admit to having never read it. Thus I wanted to make a really good life-size portrait of Jesus to be on the stage as the sermon was read.

Painting da Vinci's Salvator Mundi

da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi

The picture above is available from me in much, much better quality.

The Sermon on the Mount will be the King James Version, which has the word phrase “…should do unto you, do you even so unto them”

A typical Sunday for me.

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I go the UU church about 9:45 am and do some nonessential chores. The essential chores that I was doing when we first opened this new building have now been routinized and other people are doing my old jobs. That was in part my intent all along because I wanted people to get involved and become permanent members. Most churches are shrinking these days here in the US, and even most of the UU’s are reported to be coasting along, but not us Bend, Oregon UUs. I don’t know the exact point where it becomes necessary, but I do know we have to open the rollaway wall so we can expand our seating capacity.

Back when I was on the design committee, that was a consideration for maximizing flexibility. At that time I was reading Antifragile, by Nassim Taleb. That book is based on the idea of thinking about the possible futures for a given investment of time and money, and pre-designing one’s relationship to potential change in such a way that you can easily adapt. It isn’t the same as toughness, where you resist change, or even flexibility, where you have a structure that can adapt to change; it is more like building in the ability to respond to the new situations as if they are part of normal operating procedures. This rollaway wall is an example of having a sanctuary that can be instantly changed from an intimate close-in feeling sanctuary to an open one with more people but still intimate.

My job greeting people at the door has been routinized with various subgroups rotating who does that task. I now open the doors for people, and before people start coming I clean up the doors and benches by wiping them down so they are clean. I then fill the dog bowl with fresh water, although today it was frozen into a 14-inch spaceship which made a cool decoration on the sidewalk, which only the kids noticed. I carried a couple of rocks down to the labyrinth and walked it and placed them nicely. My meditation while walking was about my current life goals, including writing the newly titled book Being Kind. The sermon was wonderful, and nearly everyone stayed for the after-service conversations. I was meeting Debbie for lunch an hour after the end of the service and was one of the first to leave, as the meeting hall was still filled with conversations.

That’s what was happening up until noon, and the day was just beginning, but it’s now time for me to take a bath.

My daily intermittent fasting diet – update.

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I don’t remember the exact day Debbie and I began our present diet but it was mid-December a year ago. At the beginning, it was just a casual idea and an alternative diet to the many we have done over the years. We used to play a game of doing a new diet the first week of every month, doing it strictly the second week, mildly the third week and just coasting the last week. It was fun and we discovered that for us at least the low carb and low glycemic index seemed to be the easiest. A couple of years rolled by and we both slowly gained weight. I graduated from high school weighing 155 pounds and the years I spent running was generally in the 160s but even with that I slowly gained weight and was stable at 183 in the 1980s. My knees and feet were starting to feel the miles and in 2004 after moving into a new home, where there wasn’t a good running possibility, I quit running. But, I did walk a swift mile to my coffee shop, the Med in Berkeley, and a couple of hours later back to BART and home. Then I gained a few more pounds and a year ago was about 189. No one ever said I looked overweight, and I didn’t feel overweight at a BMI of 27, but since the official number is BMI 25 I decided to do a diet again. I read several serious diet books, and thought about the subject some and decided to do a daily intermittent fasting diet. Our strategy wasn’t all that much different from the way I ate as a youth. Breakfast about 7:30, lunch at noon, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I got home from school, and supper about 6:30. I don’t remember our family ever eating anything in the evening, and I remember being shocked when visiting my granddad and he ate a small bowl of ice cream later in the evening. The reason I mention that is because I still remember that event and it must have been back in the mid-1960s. It was that unusual.

Anyway, Debbie and I began our intermittent daily fast by not eating anything after 7PM or before 8AM. After a week that diet was so easy we moved the hours to 7PM to 10AM, and a week later from 7PM to noon. That finally began to feel like a diet, but our stomach had gotten used to the routine and didn’t complain. When we did eat we ate our usual meals and ate until we were full. For a while, we narrowed the eating time from noon to 6PM, and are still on that six-hour eating window. It is easy to do because we are totally in sync with that habit. We almost always take a fifteen-minute walk around our neighborhood before eating lunch. This diet has been so easy it is difficult to refer to it as a diet.

The results are that we both lost about two pounds per month since last December. I have lost, according to my Weight Gurus iPhone app, which links to my electronic scale, exactly 21.0 pounds. Debbie says she has lost 19.8 pounds. Some weight losers on TV can lose that much poundage in a week but the people who do that suffer and the statistics say almost all of them gain it back quickly. I doubt that I or Debbie will gain any weight back unless we choose to do so. I have regained some of my stair climbing ability and routinely go up three flights of stairs at the car parking structure two steps at a time. I take two deep breaths as I approach the stairs and then don’t even get short of breath at the top. Not bad for an 82-year-old who sits at a coffee shop or a computer quite a lot.

For me and Debbie the intermittent daily diet is easy and effective.

Moving on from the title Love Your Life

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The book I have been working on has taken on a more refined direction because of the conversations I have been having with my friends. They have been helpful with the concepts, the wording, the artwork and everything else, but of course, as the one who actually types up the working texts and does the artwork, I must take responsibility for all of the errors.

The grocery store walkthrough seems to be workable, and I have been using that technique in several different situations. It has an easy applicability to many other problems. The 147 sayings of the Ancient Sages of Greece has gone from being two-word descriptors of proper behavior to English representations of what I thought those Classic Greeks were trying to say in that first application of that first fully phonetic language readable by the public.

My version of those ideas developed from a set of prescriptions to a more gentle set of suggestions, but even that felt too directive. The tone of these statements moved from resembling the harsh laws of Hammurabi, on through the lordly phrasing of the Laws of Moses to the somewhat milder statements of Zarathustra. The Seven Sages’ ideas struck me as more like suggestions, but even that mild form of directive seemed too manipulative, and I wanted them to be even milder and within the willful control of the person using them.

Through that developmental state, we came to the feeling that the ideas should be better stated as operational tips given to fully self-conscious beings. The word tips carries the connotation of being an idea that might be applicable to a given person in a given unique situation, but tips are not to be considered anything approaching a Kantian Categorical Imperative. The tips are general rules, and it will be easy to construct mental situations where they are not the best form of action. However, in most situations, they are a good place to begin one’s approach to a problem.

With that formulation developing in the text of the book it became apparent that the title Love Your Life no longer carried the right tone. It has the mild undertone of telling the reader what to do. It tells you, even compels you to “Love” your life, and that forceful command is no longer sought for as a goal of this book. Furthermore, the word love implies a wholly inward complex of actions, and that has a selfish quality that tends to have negative habitual consequences for the person pursuing loving one’s self as a goal.

Those problems with the title are easily avoided by changing it to words that carry an implication closer to the developing life strategy. Since the goal is to develop techniques for creating habits of being kind to other people, and thus learning how to also be kind to one’s self a new title emphasizing that idea was sought. We quickly came to the title of Being Kind. The possible titles How to be kind, or On Being Kind had the tone of telling people what to do. We wanted to avoid all implications that we were telling people anything, even suggesting anything; instead, we were only giving tips on some ideas that we thought had some merit.

The new working title is …

Being Kind – A Way to Approach Health and Happiness.

A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger – book review

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The Bend, Oregon Big Picture Book Club chose A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger as our book of the month for discussion. It was a great choice because it prompted our group of fifteen to do what the book recommended, that is to do recycling questions going deeper into the first question. There was a tendency for people to start answering the questions that were posed, but Steve, our facilitator, kept us on track and we got several questions deep into the recycling. One time it may have gotten thirty questions deeper into one about-to-retire professional woman’s question, “Do I want to work more or less?” That was a seemingly simple question, but it had some ramifications that were obvious and others that were obscure.

Other first questions that were explored were basically evolutionary in origin, such as “What caused humans to evolve from the Great Apes?” “Why are we intelligent?” “Does intelligence really help us get by in our modern world?” “Is social intelligence more important than mental intelligence?” “Is the fact that higher IQ people are having few children degrading the general gene pool of intelligence?” “Does a higher IQ result in more intelligent children, and does it matter?” “What part of the present environment should we be attempting to adapt to?” “Shouldn’t we be trying to prepare ourselves for the coming age of Machine Intelligence taking over?” “What are the hidden questions beneath these questions?” “What would be the questions that would be asked by us if we were speaking a foreign language, or living in a different place, or were at a bar instead of a coffeeshop-bookstore?” “What are you going to do next?” “What happened this year that will be remembered in 500 years?” “How can we know what will be significant to people in the future?” “What question will asking a question stimulate?” “Where do I want to live?” “Is fear of change the driving force for innovation?” “What decision that I make today will I regret when I’m 80?”

Those were the kinds of questions that came up, but the value of the book is to stimulate the process of asking lots of questions and then probing into the sub-questions of those questions. We did that too.

The book itself gave suggestions such as, work on finding a question that is important to you and then pursue it vigorously for quite a while. It’s like climbing a mountain, in that first you must decide what mountain to climb. Find your question and its problems such that they are hard enough to be interesting, challenging enough to keep you engaged, but realistic enough and solvable enough that you can probably be successful at accomplishing something that you will value.

My take on this is to actually do something worthwhile to others as well as yourself.

Sage tip #58, Always finish in some way what you begin.

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These tips from the 147 given by the Seven Sages of Ancient Greece have been rephrased to make them into actionable activities instead of recommended deeds to be completed. By phrasing them as actions it makes it possible to practice them in your mind and in preplanned practice situations. The goal is to form a habit that is automatic when the appropriate situation presents itself.

In our daily lives we are doing many different things and Sage tip #58, “Always finish in some way what you begin,” has value because if we have the habit of completing tasks then there won’t be half-finished things lying around that occupy space and attention. These things can not be put to the use for which they were intended when first working on the item. They must either be worked around, tossed aside or abandoned. That means they are cluttering up your mind and space and it is better to finish them to begin with.

For example, when doing yard work, which is a good example because it can never be finished, do whatever it is that can be done and put the tools away when it’s time to quit. The next opportunity you have to do some more yard work the previous task will be finished and you can begin the next bit of work that then needs doing. The same idea can be applied to studying school homework. Do a specific task to completion, and put a marker there. It could be at the end of a chapter, or a page, or a sentence, but the idea is to know exactly what has been completed so you know what you know and can move on to what is new and needs to be coped with.

When writing a book, or doing other creative projects, it is sometimes impossible to know when you are finished. Every time you come back to a job it seems possible to find new things that can be done to make an improvement, but it is a never-ending process. In the writing group which meets for two hours per week we have a specific process for choosing a verbal writers’ prompt and then we start a timer for forty-five minutes. I always watch the clock so I can do a bit of proofreading before the alarm goes off and I make a point of hitting SAVE when it does. I then go play ball with the house dog while the others struggle with finishing. Their task is more difficult because they don’t know when to quit and even fifteen minutes later they will still be struggling when I come back with a happy dog. You can see my results, which I post under the title Clockwork Purple.

At one time I wrote some standard sonnets such as – The Goal of Marriage. Sonnets are quite fixed in their structure, and like all writing, there are infinite possibilities for improvements, and yet with sonnets, because of the strict limitations, one gets locked into the simple fact that only some words will fit into the plan. Those limitations are actually helpful. Shakespeare was really good at writing sonnets early in his career and it no doubt made it easier for him to write his plays. The point of this post is that …

Putting voluntary limits on tasks will help you to complete them.

Sage tip # 85, Walk away from arrogance and insolence.

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With the world as it is and the multitudes of people who exist, you will encounter people who are, let us say, less than paragons of virtue and good sense. It is appropriate to help everyone, even those who appear to have everything, and those who are like yourself, and those who are lacking in all life support. Tip # 56 is to Start off with friendly greetings with everyone. That means everyone, even people who consider themselves to be your enemies and who will soon be contending with you in hostile ways. If you knew them well you would find that nearly all of their goals and aspirations are very similar to yours and thus you have many things which you value in common. If you begin your encounter thinking about these mutual relationships, there is a good chance that you can reach a mutually beneficial agreement and become friends and compatriots. When you both realize that a conflict will result in one of you losing a great deal and the so-called winner also losing quite a lot, it makes sense to find something that will be beneficial to both of you.

That being said, it is obvious that there will arise situations where that mutually beneficial strategy won’t work. As a general rule, those people with whom a common ground cannot be found will be easy to identify. They can be identified from afar as being unkind. They are unkind to everyone, even their associates. They will leave a trail of broken promises and failed relationships, and possibly even a history of legal problems based on failure to keep their promises. When that is the kind of person you will be encountering it is best not to arouse those tendencies in their behavior and to quietly follow Sage tip # 85,

Walk away from arrogance and insolence.