Archive for September, 2009

more marriage musings

It is time for another personal observation about life, the universe and everything, or at least a look at how marriage can go awry. The other day I was at my wife’s house to pick up my mail. As I was going into the kitchen to throw something away, I looked out the back window and noticed that the garden hose had been pulled out into the yard. It appeared to go out into the middle of the yard and then disappear. I stopped to look to figure out where the hose was going when my wife asked me what I was looking at. I told her what I just told you. She said that she thought I was looking at something of which I disapproved. And that, my friends, is why my wife and I are no longer together.

At face value, my wife’s comment was just an observation. In reality it was a conditioned response formed during our many years of marriage. Unfortunately, I “inherited” my father’s belief that he knew the best way to do something and if you weren’t doing it his way then he would either let you know about it or, when I was a kid, take over the job and finish it himself. This was not done in an overt, smack-you-around kind of way. There was no verbal or physical abuse at all. It was much more subtle than that, but in the end, you still felt like an idiot because you couldn’t do whatever it was correctly.

My wife suffered my expression of that attitude through what I would say was the first two-thirds of our marriage. Her own head was not in a place where she was able to tell me to go screw myself when I stepped over the line, so instead she internalized her resentment of being treated that way. Of course, she couldn’t keep that bottled up her whole life, so her resentment came out in other ways. Eventually she reached her limit and let me know, in no uncertain terms, that my attitude of knowing the best way to do something was really pissing her off. Good for her. It was about time, but I think the time was too late.

When you treat someone in a way that you did not like when you were being treated that way, you generally know, deep down inside yourself, that you are not acting the way you want to act. In addition to my wife’s unhappiness with me, I could see the undesired behavior in myself in my relationship with my son. I worked very hard to squash that attitude. I did not want my son to feel the same way I did when my father treated me that way. I know that I was not entirely successful, much to my chagrin, but I also know that I did the best that I could.

At this point in my life – just like every other person in the world – I can look at someone else’s situation and say to myself, “What the hell is that person doing? Can’t they see that they are wrong?” I know that I am not unique in that. However, the years have taught me that I am very often wrong and that I have no special status when it comes to doing things correctly. I now do my best to keep my mouth shut when I think that I know better. Every person has to live his or her own life and learn from his or her own mistakes. I know that I am no authority on anyone’s life except my own (and even then I have my doubts).

Therein lies the rub. Even if I succeeded (and I think I did) to change my attitude, I could not change my wife’s expectations. No matter what I did, based on past experience, she continued to interpret my words and actions as criticisms. It got to a point where I could not make any kind of suggestion at all without her taking offense at it, regardless of the value or appropriateness of the suggestion.

This is just one example of what can happen in a marriage. Over the years each person in the relationship comes to expect certain behavior from the other person. If this is good behavior, it works out well. Unfortunately, anything that has bugged you during a marriage becomes something you also come to expect. Even if the other person changes, it is difficult to accept that the person has changed and to act in accordance with the new attitude rather than as though he or she is still acting same old way. Eventually, you get tired of your efforts to change being treated that way and either you close yourself off in your marriage and don’t let it touch you, or you decide you’ve had enough.

That one comment from my wife told me that her assessment of my actions continues to be in accordance with the man I used to be. Too many years living that way has taken a toll. Such expectations have worked their way deep into our relationship and have made it impossible to deal with each other objectively. I don’t think that a marriage can work that way.

Then again, I may be misinterpreting her words entirely, giving them meaning that she never intended. Ironic, eh?

the speaker waves a red flag

Some of the pundits are snickering over Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s minor display of emotion during a press conference where she discusses the possibility of anti-government rhetoric leading to violence. She claims that “I saw this myself in the late ’70s in San Francisco, this kind of, of rhetoric was very frightening and it gave, it created a climate in which we, violence took place.” I assume she is speaking of the murder of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk by whack-a-doodle Dan White, or perhaps I am wrong? Anyways, I could not care less about her choking up in her press conference. People get emotional, so what? However, we should pay very close attention to her words.

“I think we all have to take responsibility for our actions and our words,” she began. Amazing enough, I find myself in complete agreement with the Speaker. Actions and words do not exist in a vacuum. If I, personally, physically violate the law then I should be prepared to accept the consequences of my actions. If I speak words that can be prosecuted as libel or slander, then I should also be ready to accept whatever verdict results from such prosecution.

But is this what Speaker Pelosi means? I suspect not. She goes on, “The, uh, we are a free country and this balance between freedom and, uh, uh, safety, is one we have to carefully balance.” Hmm, so we have to balance the balance. How perspicacious.

Furthermore, “I am concerned about some of the language that is being used because I saw, I saw this myself in the late ’70s in San Francisco, this kind of, of rhetoric was very frightening and it gave, it created a climate in which we, violence took place. And, uh, so I, I wish that we would all again curb our enthusiasm in some of the statements that are made, so understanding that, uh, that some of the people, that the ears that it is falling on are not as balanced as the person making the statement might assume.”

No surprises here. Coming from the mouth of a person that believes that we should all be responsible for the other person’s welfare, there is no inconsistency in espousing the view that someone else’s actions in response to our words or actions is our responsibility and not theirs.

She finishes up, rather quickly, “But again, uh, our country is great because people can say what they think and they believe, uh, but I also think that they have to take responsibility for any incitement they may cause.”

So what’s the bottom line? Well, my oh my, we are getting so close to mindless violence that we are going to have to shut down the people who are speaking out against the government’s policies. Any violence of any sort that happens is to be placed in blame at the feet of those voicing concerns over the state of our country.

Where was the good Speaker when the citizens were ranting on and on in near lunacy about President Bush and Vice-President Cheney? Where was her concern at that time? Would she have felt the same way about the riots that occurred in Chicago in 1968 during the Democratic Convention? Methinks there are two sides to the Speaker’s mouth, and she adroitly speaks out of both.

Of course, this begs the question of the Speaker’s responsibility for her actions and words. It seems rather apparent to me that a whole lot of the uproar in which our country finds itself can be traced directly to her actions and words about health care reform and other governmental intrusions into our lives. So if people protesting an expanding government speak and act in such a way that causes other people to act violently, it is obvious that the blame will have to redound all the way back to the Speaker. How’s that for logic?

The is a shot across the bow by Ms. Pelosi. It is a warning to all who oppose her that the Democrat controlled congress – or at least Speaker Pelosi – is more than willing to stifle our freedom of speech to achieve her ends. I believe that this includes trying to reintroduce the old “Fairness Doctrine.” I think that you would have the country screaming bloody murder if she were to attempt it, but I also don’t think that would stop her, nor that it would stop such laws from passing, at least for now.

The citizens of this country better see the red flag that the Speaker is waving. This is a direct threat to our freedom of speech. Couple this with all the bullshit being shoveled around about any criticism of President Obama being racist and you can see where political correctness is taking people who don’t agree with our governmental aristocrats – right to jail! Damn, this is scary stuff!

google image search scroll bars?

Well, that’s a weird one. I was doing a Google image search using Firefox (my usual browser) and scroll bars appeared on the left and right side of the window. Hmm, very odd – never were there before. So I try to find out more about them. Oddly enough, I can’t find a thing! What’s going on here?

I tried other browsers, including Google’s own Chrome, but the side scroll bars only seem to appear in Firefox. It is kind of handy not having to go to the bottom of the page to click on the next page, but the left scroll bar on my monitor covers up just a little bit of the left edge of the images on the left, as well as a bit of the text for the images. I think this idea may need a little work.

So, again, what the heck? How come I’m the only one seeing this? Or maybe I’m just seeing things, period?

another loss

Mary Travers has left the stage. Only seventy-two years old – way too young to leave us. As well as mourning Mary’s passing, I mourn the passing of my youth. Peter, Paul and Mary’s album, In the Wind, was one of the first two LP’s that I bought. I even remember where I bought it, though the place has long since disappeared.

Forty-five years ago. Damn. Forty-five years. Once upon a time I could not have conceived of being able to say that something happened forty-five years ago in my life.

skinny magazines

Today I read an entire magazine in less than half an hour. It’s a free trade magazine that covers information technology (IT). Today I received another free trade magazine which covers an entirely different industry. I think that it may take me almost an hour to read.

Free trade magazines have been getting thinner and thinner. It’s really no surprise, as the costs of physical publication – paper, ink, printing and postage – keep going up. Most of these magazines are moving more and more to the Internet. Indeed, it’s not just the free trade magazines doing this. Even the magazines that you pay for refer you to the magazine’s web site for more information and even for features not available in the print version.

I think that I am glad I am not in the printing industry anymore and, at this point, I don’t think I would recommend printing as a career for anyone. I suppose that there will always be a need for printed material, but I foresee a day when all your usual reading matter will only be available on-line, and that day isn’t that far off.

Perhaps I’m being atavistic, but I, for one, will hate to see that happen. I like having a book or magazine in hand, able to take it anywhere without concern for power or an internet connection. Sure, you can have something like Amazon’s Kindle, but when your batteries go, so does your ability to read what you have downloaded.

There are other concerns, too. Our sun gives our electronic systems fits all the time. An extended period of deleterious solar activity could really play hell with our electronic systems. Terrorist and war efforts could create the same loss of communication ability. Losing our paper printing capacity to electronic publishing could result in the inability to compensate for any major loss of electronic communications.

Media that exists only in an electronic form also has a greater risk of loss. It is unlikely that you will be able to put it on a shelf and come back fifty years later and still be able to read it. No problem doing that with a book, depending on how it was printed, of course.

Also, electronic copy can be changed at will. Sure, someone might have printed out a copy of something, but good luck proving that someone hadn’t modified the electronic copy before it was printed out. At least with a book or magazine there are usually thousands of identical copies which cannot be altered after publication. You can claim that I lied in print and be able to prove it, but claim that I lied in electronic publishing and you will find that my lie has mysteriously disappeared since you last read it.

Oh well, I guess you can’t fight progress, but you sure can be leery of it.

bookmark: atlas shrugged

Atlas Shrugged – by Ayn Rand

I am not sure if this was the second or the third time I have read this book. The first time I read it was when I was eighteen or nineteen and it felt as fresh in my mind now as if I had read it only a year ago. This book is the expression of my most deeply held beliefs. I will grant that the action occasionally slows down due to the exposition, but sticking with it to the end is more than worth it.

There are those who will not be able to stand to read this book. If you are one of those people, you will know it early on. You will quit reading it, which is a shame because it is someone like you who needs to be exposed to these ideas. It may take a while to finish this book, but that’s okay. Read a little every day and let it all sink in. It could change your life.

(Finished 9/12/09)