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

Adaptation

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 and we should love it, train ourselves to obey it, 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 and which may be best to choose.

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

Position yourself so the necessities of adaptation always support you.

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.

 

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

Happiness

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.

A strange day for me, of disappearing rocks.

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The rocks I had been putting as a short-term decoration around the sidewalk at the entrance to the new UU church here in Bend, Oregon, disappeared.

The new Unitarian church on opening day.

The entrance to the new UU church in Bend, Oregon, photographed in February, 2015

We have been making a large decorative labyrinth about a hundred and fifty yards off to the left of this photo, and I had been collecting rocks for that structure for a year. I was pulling a large child’s wagon from its storage garage and placing it in front of the tree directly in front of the door during services. It had a sign asking for rock donations. About once a month, when there were quite a few rocks in the wagon, Bill and I would drag it down to the labyrinth and put the rocks into appropriate decorative places.

Unitarian Church, Bend, Oregon

The labyrinth 150 yards south of the UU church of Bend, Oregon

After a couple of months no one was bringing rocks any more, so I quit pulling the wagon out of storage, but I continued to bring a single rock every time I came to an event, and placed it in the curve in the dirt around the two trees. It made an attractive piping, and several people had said they liked it. I intended to take these rocks down to the labyrinth soon and distribute them around the circles.

Today all twenty-five of them were gone, and I asked several people what happened to them, but no one knew. Every one of these rocks was special. Each was the nicest one I had found that week while hiking. There are millions of rocks around here, but these were selected for their beauty or unusual qualities, and a couple of them had come from special ceremonial situations. I hope someone decided to take them to the labyrinth.

Other than their decorative interest these rocks have no value, except to me.
[Update July 18, 2016 – Unbeknownst to me there was a scheduled UU group to clean up our beautiful grounds, and they took the rocks to the labyrinth and put them into appropriate and attractive places. Bravo – Go team.]

A Dictionary of New Epigrams – Humility

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Dictionary of New Epigrams

Humility

When asked what humility is, it is easy to speak the truth … “I don’t know.”

Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is the existence of our universe and of our consciousness of it and ourselves.

Humility implies some other person we should be humble before, but the most important thing is the Universe and the most important person is ourselves, because we are foremost responsible to ourselves, within the Universe.

For the most part thanks be to the past me, for that former self’s multitudes of conscious decisions created the present me. If that is humility then we all have it in abundance.

Behaving appropriately to the moment we find ourselves immersed within requires flexibility of self, and that is humility to the world surrounding all of us.

Humility is the recognition that the sum of the seven billion people’s knowledge of the world is about seven billion times what you know. Everyone can instruct you about something.

Remember where you came from and where you are going … dust. And behave appropriately to your fellow creatures with the same built-in situation.

Humility is created by the unsolicited discovery by other people of your kind qualities.

Avoid copying the behavior of leaders who have arrogated power to themselves.

A humble person’s actions are simple and easily understood.

A humble person helps everyone, because they realize that everyone is needy.

“What have you done to act so humble?” asked Albert Einstein. I’ve tried hard to create The Earth Ark, to save the people of the earth from the weapons you have created.

A humble man blends with the events of the world, and is nearly invisible.

A humble person can be anyone you meet, and his chief feature is revealing his inmost self with equanimity.

It is said that if you really like who you are it is easy to be who you are, and it is easy to become someone you like by behaving like someone you would like.

Out of humble actions to others grows contentment with one’s self.

Pontificating about humility is a sure sign of arrogance.

Another category of people here in Bend.

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Several of my acquaintances are or, I should say, have been successful in their careers here in Bend, Oregon. Unfortunately, they are now in trouble because appropriate jobs don’t seem to be available anymore, and rental prices for apartments are rising rapidly. What seems to be happening is that people with plenty of money from outside communities are moving into our small city. I had been thinking that Bend has two kinds of people, those who own outright, that is without a mortgage, and those who rent or must earn mortgage payments by working locally. Even people who have outside money, but rent their residence, will soon be in trouble if the current trend on rentals continues.

My thoughts on that issue are that Bend is a wonderful place to retire, that is, if you have ready cash enough to purchase a home. There are vast numbers of retirement-age people from nearby California with money, and this is an ideal place for them to come to live.

Our local area is home to about one hundred thousand people, but there are presently 37,253,956 Californians, so that neighboring state’s population is 372 times bigger. Thus, if one person in 372 decided to move here, our city would double. That is impossible! At least in the short run, and besides, there isn’t employment even for those who are already here. Home builders of course are doing well at present, but when the houses are finished, they are out of a job. That creates a boom and bust cycle, and we are presently in a boom, but a slowdown and bust are certain to follow.

The big industries here are catering to recreation, retirement and construction, and each of these is dependent on outside money flowing in. Recreation visitors can end in a really bad day on the stock market, or in the news, so that source of income is at risk. In a bad situation retired people can instantly decide not to spend money and hunker down on what they have saved, so that money source is volatile, too. Construction can taper off in a few months if housing sales indicate that no one is moving in for recreation or retirement.

The most reliable income for our local people is catering to the geriatric needs of retired people, and who is that? Californians! And yet there is a bias against those people because they come in and buy stuff and run the prices of everything up, and thus squeeze the modest-living locals. I guess my advice to Bendites is to figure out ways to face the new realities and cater to the new people with their abundance of outside money.

Certainly I am growing worry warts! But, I can’t find any, so I think my analysis is right. 

A long overdue epiphany.

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Tonight’s Bend Socrates Cafe discussion topic was, “What is the economic value of honesty?” Okay, it’s attempting to compare two entirely different subjects, but as we kicked the question this way and that, it brought forth a great conversation. I won’t attempt to summarize what the others said, but for me it came to an epiphany.

This epiphany is so similar to what I’ve been talking about for years that it doesn’t seem like I will be saying anything new, but for me there is a difference. Part of this arose because many of my friends are getting into a tight economic situation because of housing rental prices rocketing up. People on various forms of fixed income are being forced out of their residences. Renters who were getting along just fine in this beautiful small city a year ago are now approaching homelessness. However, those of us lucky enough to have purchased a house a few years ago are in great shape and improving day by day, at least on Zillow.com.

I own an average American home, but what an advantage that suddenly became over renting, as I had done most of my eighty years. Functionally, by renting instead of owning, I paid for my residences three times over simply because I was renting. My feeling now is – never ever pay rent or be in economic debt to anyone! Buy an empty lot for cash, and live in a tent, then a trailer, then build a foundation for a tiny house, then put a house on it, then add a room. But  never ever go into debt; pay cash every penny of the way. It may be a year or two before you actually have a solid roof over your head, but it will be your roof, not the bank’s. The advantage is that you build on your earned money instead of dribbling it away, and you never get forced out by a landlord raising the rent … forever and ever higher.

I have written that sentiment before, but the same principle exists throughout our society. For example, working for wages means you have given away your completed labor forever. But, if you have ownership of your labor, you build upon what you have done. It’s like the little house you were building, and every tiny improvement, even a single nail driven, is an improvement in your personal wealth. Whereas a nail driven for an employer becomes his increased value forevermore. Okay, so you made some money, and lived for a month in an acceptable apartment, but that’s it, and that money is gone forever. But what if you lose your job? You are employed at your employer’s discretion. You might soon be on the street, but if you own your own place, even in the beginning of this process, you have some place to go, where you can’t be kicked out at some other person’s legal whim.

The point is to somehow own all of the productivity that you create. The proof comes in the form of fungible value, and you can’t own and sell honesty, as we decided in our conversation tonight. When I think in these terms, these three thousand Probaway blog posts were given away for free, and they never brought me a single penny. Therefore, my only payment was the pleasure of creating them, and my loss was roughly 12,000 hours of thoughtful creative effort, which at minimum wage of say $10 per hour would be $120,000. If I had spent my time the way I spoke of in the preceding paragraphs I could have built a fine home by now.

I would suggest that you ignore this blog, because obviously it has been written by an economic fool.

If you can’t sell something it’s not worth anything.

[Update 2016 July 18 – If I was an airline pilot (I do have a commercial pilots licence, and had been a USAF pilot) I would be making $200 per hour, and my time writing blogs would be $200 times 12,000 hours or $2,400,000. That is a measure of how foolish I am and why you shouldn’t pay any attention to what I write in this blog.

 

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