Tranquility is easy, if . . .


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Everyone claims to desire to be happy, but that is so momentary, and what most people call happiness vanishes when the ride is over. Tranquility is a more desirable emotional condition because it is just as pleasant and can be held for a longer time. Each of these two conditions is dependent on something desirable being enjoyed in the moment.

Tranquility is more under conscious control; at least it can be controlled by people who are in a mature frame of mind, because when in that state they can choose to be tranquil. They can look at reality clearly, to participate in the world around them at their discretion. With that level of self-control they can choose to be in nearly any emotional state they desire, and as tranquility is pleasant, and also pleasant for the people around them, it is a desirable emotion to choose.

One of the chief characteristics of a person capable of tranquility is a clear understanding of their limitations. As a person inhabiting this moment in time and this place in space, they are not responsible for the many problems of the world. The media sprays a constant mist of fear and lack of control upon the public, but a person who realizes they have no control over these events, and thus no responsibility, need not give those events anything more than cursory attention. The advantage of this form of ignorance is that the worries associated with those kinds of public problems vanish, and it becomes easier to be tranquil. I can be comfortable with the functioning of the Universe, and let it take care of itself.

There are horrible things that can and will happen in the world, and eventually we ourselves will die. That is inevitable, and being inevitable it can be accepted as outside of one’s control, and being of that category of things one can’t do anything about, it may be safely ignored. Once that reality is accepted, which is easy once you realize it is inevitable, then you can go back to a comfortable state of tranquility. Even the horrible things that happen can be accepted because of the remoteness of their occurrence, and we can put our energies into being as kind as possible to the people we encounter. Of course we can participate as much as other people in easing the problems of the world, but once you become aware of the level of input that is expected of you and give that amount, you can relax and go back into your tranquil frame of mind.

The way we influence things is by controlling the precursors to events, but responding to problems after they become obvious to the public and the media will leave you as stressed as they are. With a little foresight about the way things are trending, it is usually easy to pre-adapt to the coming problems. In addition to foresight, that pre-adaptation requires a little buffer, sometimes called slack, so you can make the needed adjustments early when it is easy and cheap.

Tranquility is as easy as creating habits to see and react properly to the precursors.




One more blank and I’ll blank.


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I’ve been attending writing workshops lately. It’s fun hearing what people come up with after a prompt. Most of the people involved get deeper into their own mind than when we are talking directly to one another. Perhaps it’s because they aren’t being interrupted, or because one is just talking to oneself. The others usually get into people things, but today I got into abstractions, and that was no exception.

It appears to be a law of the Universe that “There is never enough!” Of course it all began with the Big Bang and the Universe has been expanding ever since, getting bigger and bigger. Apparently even out at the very edge of it all even space and time are being created … but where is that expanding into? Or what? Or does that question even make sense?

This whole thing is something beyond our usual concepts of empty! Beyond mere void! Beyond blank. Perhaps we could call it the void of voids, or infinite void, but that is just multiplying zero by infinity, and people don’t like that! I don’t like it!

Probably we should create a new word for this new concept … a short simple word like “blank”. That is easy to pronounce in all languages that I’m aware of, … but it would be a word that is defined as reaching beyond an emptiness, beyond a mere hole in a board. The patent people refuse to permit calling a hole a hole, and require that you define the material around the hole.

But the emptiness I’m thinking about is way out beyond the galaxies, a location so far out into deep space there is not a single atom in a cubic mile of space. No, not even that emptiness is enough because there is still time and space and gravity, and the potential for something to be there. And if there is the potential then there might soon be something, and the something evolving into stars, and the planets, and life, and people, and us … sitting here wondering if Charles has finally stepped on the banana, fallen and knocked the last driblet of sense out of his obviously empty head.

Just missing one more bit of blankness and we’ll all be free of this senseless blank!

Perhaps it’s appropriate to quote the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior, the grandmaster of stretching his name out into the void. Perhaps not.

“Free at last, free at last, Oh, Thank God, we are free at last!

The Tao Teh Ching – #26 – Revealed by Lao Tzu – Rendered by Charles Scamahorn



The weighty is the foundation of the light, and
The quiet are the touchstone of the active.

Although you travel all day,
You need never leave your weighty quietness;
The greater the turbulence around you,
The more leisurely and undisturbed you appear.

When you lead people,
Can you afford to make frivolous actions before them?
If you are light, their foundation is lost, and
If you are changeable, their activities become goal-less.


A psychedelic day.


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It hasn’t been since my fifty years back in Berkeley, that I have heard such an impassioned talk on psychedelics. I attended as a sober person the very first LSD party back in Berkeley, in 1962, before the Free Speech Movement, anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, the Berkeley Barb newspaper, and the People’s Park conflicts.

A close friend of mine, Charlie Brown Artman, had purchased a large bag of Heavenly Blue morning-glory seeds, and it was said that eating two rounded tablespoonfuls of these seeds would get the famous hallucinations. The party was attended by about twenty Cal Berkeley students at someone’s private home, after a folk-dance event on campus. I don’t know for sure if anyone got high, but they were acting strange for a couple of hours, and most of them got sick to the stomach and barfed the seeds about a half hour after eating them. Not long after this event real LSD in the form of blue sugar cubes came on the scene, and by about 1964 pot was becoming common. My dates may be a little soft, because I wasn’t really into drugs of any sort, even beer, but I was and still am addicted to cigarettes, although I quit for over a month many times. I finally admitted I was an addict and had to totally avoid smoking for thirty years, because after a single cigarette my experience was that I was back up to a pack a day in a month. I do drink alcohol, but only a single drink at an event, and never more than two per day. The science is in that one or two drinks a day of alcohol is associated with longer life expectancy than no drinks or more than three.

It is with that background experience that I listened to an hour lecture today about the virtues of psychedelics. Quite frankly I tried hard to be open-minded, but my mind automatically quibbled at many fine points. There were about thirty people at the lecture and most appeared to be receptive, and the after-lecture questions were reasonable and polite. There were two individuals who had had deadly events associated with psychedelics, when their high friends did incredibly stupid things and got killed. I spoke briefly to the speaker after the lecture and supported and encouraged her quest for higher truths.

I support people in their life quests, but personally I know that I am an outlier psychologically, so I do my best to keep my brain straight. One of my guiding principles in life is:

“Not to be smart, but to avoid being stupid.”

A quiet day with friends, reading, hiking up Pilot Butte.


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I never thought much about posting today and just hung out with friends at one of my favorite coffee shops. We discussed the usual things, politics, religion, the purpose of life, and mostly travel. Everyone had stories about Alaska, Canada, and trips down the Oregon coast.

One comment was made which requires some corroboration, “It’s the most outspoken ecologists that are most often encountered in the distant wilderness treks.” Several of my friends have been up to Mt. Everest, but none said they summited, and they probably would have had they done so. They said Everest Base Camp is like a city, with lots of people milling about, and the trail up to it was like walking around downtown Manhattan during lunch hour.

I climbed a few local mountains when in high school, and remember being on top of Mt Hood three days before graduation. It was memorable because I didn’t wear any sun screen and got a terrible sun burn, and looked like a freshly boiled lobster when picking up my diploma. Mountain climbing for the view never made sense to me, because beauty was to be found everywhere, and the aesthetic experience depended more on one’s personal aesthetic involvement with oneself than the environment. The more important thing for enjoyment was one’s personal mental and emotional processes at the time, and the effort of climbing took away energy that could have been expended on the effort of observing one’s present thoughts.

At age 80¾ I’ve become a bit sluggish when it comes to climbing mountains. And the five-hundred-foot ascent during a four-mile walk up Pilot Butte and back, here in Bend, Oregon, seems just fine, and the view of the half-dozen snow-splotched volcanic peaks satisfies my need to look at distant rock and snow. Furthermore, I don’t need to waste the fuel needed to go halfway around the world to see some mountains; I just walk out my front door and an hour’s walk later there I am looking at a gorgeous view, from on top of one of three “volcanoes” within a city in the USA. One in Portland, Oregon, and one in Honolulu, Hawaii, and this one here in Bend, Oregon. All of them are more or less extinct.

Oh, yes, having fine companions in all of these simple pleasures helps a lot.

The Longevity Project by Friedman and Martin – book review


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What gives people a long and happy life?

That idea is at the core of this blog—Probaway – Life Hacks ~ Many helpful hints on living your life more successfully. Eight and a half years after beginning this blog, I am reviewing this new take on the Lewis Terman study of people born about the year 1910. All of those people are now dead, and this new study is based on the date of their deaths and comparing their observed and documented patterns of life with their longevity. The book ends with a few simple suggestions for improving your life even if you are now old, young, or in between. This book reminded me of longitudinal strategies for life that I have discussed earlier, The Grant Study of the Harvard class of 1939 by George Vaillant, business strategy by Jim Collins, The English 1946 study The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of 70,000 Ordinary Lives, and The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) test,

In a strange way this book validates the value of the scientific method, because by modern standards Terman would have many negative epithets like racist attached to his memory, because of his early 20th-century biases. However, he collected data in an objective scientific way that permitted later scientists to interpret those subjects’ behaviors using more modern and more objective mathematical techniques. Thus, the data has been modernized and useful nearly a hundred years later.

In the epilogue of this book the authors complain that emphasizing direct approaches to health, happiness and longevity hasn’t worked. “Oversimplified recommendations may have made things worse.” … “Even when the recommendations are well-founded, lists of recommendations often fail to have their intended effect.” p. 220

“It was not good cheer or being popular and outgoing that made the difference. It was also not those who took life easy, played it safe, or avoided stress who lived the longest. Rather, it was those who—through an often-complex pattern of persistence, prudence, hard work, and close involvement with friends and communities—headed down meaningful, interesting life paths and, as we have illustrated, found their way back to these healthy paths each time they were pushed off the road.”

The essence of this book was right, and it is well written, but it won’t enter the public consciousness, because there are too many people making a monetary profit selling things that are counter to the arguments presented in this book. It’s the same complaint I have of Vaillant’s book. Remember the massive efforts it took to slow down tobacco consumption, and the simple reason was that vast fortunes were being made selling the poisonous stuff. People who quit smoking added some dozen years to their lives, and similar life expectancies could be added on top of those years or improved health if the ideas shown in the The Longevity Project by Howard S. Friedman Ph.D., Leslie R. Martin Ph.D. were practiced.

Isn’t it obvious that living your life helping others live meaningful lives will bring longer and happier lives to both you and your companions?

A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Adaptation


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Dictionary of New Epigrams


Nearly all of reality is forever unknowable to us, thus we must choose to be comfortable with the unknowns.

Living things are living because they and all their ancestors successfully adapted to the realities they existed within.

The present moment is now as fixed as is the past, and only the future moments can be modified.

Live with what has happened; you have no choice, and any changes you make will be in the future.

To exist is to adapt, but if one will not adapt, they will soon die and make room for others who will adapt.

To refuse to adapt is willingly choosing to ossify and die.

Adapt or die—it’s the law.

Reality is our friend.

We should love reality, and train ourselves to obey, and adapt to it.

To choose to accept things as things are and look at them carefully, reveals the options of what may and may not be done.

You may command nature, but only in those ways it is able to obey.

Life is inevitably risky, but if the reward is worth the risk and you can survive even if you lose, then take the risk, and work to make it happen.

Position yourself so all the necessities of all adaptations support you.


UU 10 minute prompt – Motion


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I’m stuck — stuck again — I always get stuck when I come here.

How stupid can I be?

Why don’t I just avoid this place?

Why doesn’t my college degree help? Or my hundred-dollar pen? … or the promise of a reward if I get to … where was it?

Where was I supposed to go? … I don’t know! … I can’t remember …

I am too anxious to think! … to think clearly at least … no, no, it’s worse than that … I’m too depressed, even to think at all … I am stuck … stuck … stuck again …  stuck forever! … motionless…

Totally stuck … stuck … I have no motion whatsoever!

This is what it’s like to be stuck …

TOTALLY STUCK! — motionless

A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Happiness


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Dictionary of New Epigrams


Don’t bother to travel to distant tropical paradises searching for happiness; it’s mostly to be found within you when you find a worthwhile goal you can approach.

If you can’t find happiness within yourself, help others find it within themselves; it’s a learning experience with a karmic feedback.

You help others to be happy by helping them feel good about themselves and what they are doing.

A fool seeks happiness in his mouth, but the wise one finds it in the productive acts of his hands.

Happiness is not a remembered thing, but an ongoing living experience.

Tranquility is a state of continuing happiness.

At every moment of life we can choose paths that will bring us to happiness or other states, and it’s our choice which paths we choose.

Possessions do not bring happiness, it is our relationship with them.

More possessions are not happiness if they are just an unused pile of unneeded stuff.

Living out your childhood goals is wonderful, if you were a very wise child. A mature person may create more mature goals for themselves.

Struggling to get to your goal always has a tinge of happiness, even when painful.

Happiness is found in doing things you believe are worthwhile.

We must be doing something we know to be important to be happy.

The quality of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts, and happiness or suffering are a result of your earlier thoughts.

Avoid unhappiness by not struggling to get something that is impossible to possess.

The person who has all of the good things that life has to offer has only one option left to increase his happiness, and that is to help all the people of the world to be happier.

You can be happy if you are healthy, own what you use, are not in debt to anyone, and have a little slack and flexibility in all things.

Participation in adaptation to one’s environment is the short-term struggle for life, and DNA is adaptation to the long-term processes of life. In that view survival is happiness, or at a minimum it is a chance for happiness.

It is when a man is in his expansive moods that he is really living, because it’s then that he can explore his options.

Every person seeks their own happiness in their own way and by their own methods.

Don’t mistake physical pleasure for emotional happiness and mental maturity.

You must choose what it is that makes your life more meaningful than just existing and having a good time.

Create happiness for others and enjoy the karmic feedback.

Practice accepting happiness when it comes your way.

If you have a worthwhile goal and enough time and money to pursue it well, you have an opportunity to improve the world and make more people happy.

Without a worthwhile goal and appreciation of others a man will sink into an adolescent neurosis.

When you have the necessities help the rest of humanity to have these things too.

You have as much right to be happy as the stars have the right to shine.

You are happiest when you are growing toward greater maturity.

As a living human being you may believe in perfect happiness in heaven.

The happiest people are those who know they are helping humanity to be happier.

Each one of a multitude of small tasks well done will bring as much happiness as a big one well done. There are lots of little tasks and they are easy to find, but big ones are difficult in every way.

The easiest way to soften our troubles is to help any of the multitudes of others cope with their troubles.

Having nothing to do is a form of suffering and of punishment.

Happiness is in the pursuit of a worthwhile goal, and contentment is in achieving it.

Most people need only be moderate in their behavior to be happy and find tranquility.

Enthusiasm in the pursuit of something is a certain sign of a happy person.

Enthusiasm and happiness are felt during the pursuit of a worthwhile goal, and contentment is to be had when about to fall asleep.

Enthusiasm is the fireworks, happiness is the sparkle, contentment is the glow.

When a person is happy they can pursue their options; when depressed they have no options.

The continual happiness of a sage is made possible by his habit of relishing everything.


Squamous cell carcinoma electrodessication, curettage removal 2 months later.


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The top portion of this post is a repost of May 21, 2016, and the lower portion is new material

The squamous cell carcinoma on my right shin looked like this before the surgery. [The photos were added to the original post on the dates noted.]

Diagnosis of possible squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma February 10, 2016 , when I first showed it to the VA doctors.

This first photo was taken of my right shin 20 hours after the surgery.

Electrodessication and curettage

May 8, 2016 20 hours after electrodessication and curettage.

The curettage cut marks are clearly visible as strips across the wound area. Around the wound are needle marks were the numbing agents were injected. These pinpricks were the only pain felt before, during and for the weeks after the operation.

Squamous Cell Carcinoam surgery

Squamous Cell Carcinoma May 12, 2016 , 5 days after the surgery.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma on May 18, 12 days after the surgery.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma 14 days after operation

Squamous Cell Carcinoma May 20, 2016, 2 weeks after surgery.

Squamous cell carcinoma 3 weeks after surgery.

Squamous cell carcinoma May 27, 2016, 3 weeks after surgery.

These photos make this procedure look a lot worse than it felt. The only discomfort I have felt is in bed when my legs get crossed over the wound. The wound is slow to heal, but the doctors were confident that there would be no trouble, because this type of carcinoma is confined to the surface of the skin, and all of that has been removed.

I have been cleaning the wound every day as instructed. Immediately after removing the old bandage I get into the shower, which has been preheated to mouth temperature, and soap the wound and rub it gently with my palm for a few seconds, and then rinse and repeat three times. Within seconds, even before drying anywhere I smoothly smear a pea size gob of petroleum jelly over the whole wound, and immediately put a bandage over the mess. Then I towel dry the rest of my body.

That procedure is intended to prevent infection because everything is kept very clean, and the natural body-moisture beneath the jelly is ideal for healing. When using this procedure a scab doesn’t form because the healing skin is kept moist, and they told me the new flesh forms more smoothly.

The doctors say that squamous cell carcinoma is the least dangerous form of cancer; all the same it is probably best to have it removed before it grows larger.

Here below is new material, two 1/2 months later.

Squamous cell carcinoma July 12, 2016, 2 1/2 months after surgery.

Squamous cell carcinoma July 12, 2016, 2 1/2 months after surgery.

The surgery site still looks discolored, but the skin is now smooth with only a small lump where the flesh was removed. That lump seems to be receding each day. I have been bathing the site every day and instantly covering it with Vaseline mineral oil and then bandaging it with non-stick bandages.

Today, for the first time I didn’t put the non-stick bandage on, but after smearing the petroleum jelly on I put an adhesive bandage directly over the wound.  It has never become infected, and there has never been any pain. There has developed some swollen red streaks outside of the bandage which haven’t gone away. I put various things on these streaks for several days, antibiotic ointment, Tinactin anti-fungal cream, A+D anti-inflammation cream, but nothing seemed to make any difference. However, they seem to be going away.

A friend of mine had major facial surgery two weeks after my surgery, but they used modern micro-stitching techniques for putting his face back together. The next few days he was very bruised looking but a week later looked normal and now it is impossible to see anything abnormal. He says he still has some tight feeling in the skin and some pain, but those problems are soothed with pills.

I wouldn’t hesitate to go through this electrodessication, curettage procedure again to remove even a benign carcinoma, but one must be ready for about ten minutes of fussing around every day for a couple of months with the clean up and re-bandaging of the wound.

With medical problems just get good advice and do the right things.


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