Friday, January 25

Gettin Busy

"To make one pound of honey, workers in a hive fly 55,000 miles and tap two million flowers."
- "The Buzz About Bees" - PBS Nova Series

Last Wednesday, I visited Brand Park Library and art center. The weather was cold and windy and I kept an eye on the overcast sky which threatened to pour rain. I am exploring the local area hoping to find a lookout point with decent views of downtown Los Angeles. After a short hike up the hillside, I did find something to look at - nothing spectacular, but interesting and while I was there I observed bees. Apparently, they were from a hive inside a tree down the hillside. Watching them work was more enjoyable that anything I'd done in a long time.

Their energy and simple beauty reaffirmed my belief in the rightness of the natural world. I observed no conflict or stress. In fact, I felt a great deal of peace while watching them work. They are models of survival - no complaining, wondering, deciding, worrying, judging. The birds, bees, insects, animals, and plants live or die and don't seem to attach anything glorious or sinister to this existence. *sigh* There I go again, seeing nature through the lens of human emotion.

I have gained a greater appreciation for nature worshippers or pagans. They see that the natural world is a model of organized chaos, resiliance, renewal and life and strive to be worthy of this life. Modern man devises complicated theories, philosophies, and religions to justify domination of nature and holds up the "intelligence" of humankind as the reason to disconnect from nature.

The New Thought, New Age, and ecology movements seem to be a drop of sanity in this conflict with nature. Movements of any kind, though, try to explain, diminish and complicate life's survival mechanisms. Modern humans are so disconnected from nature, that the specter of massive bee die-offs is barely a blip on the survival radar. The radar is jammed with anti-survival issues such as wars, politics, money, gratuitous sex, status, and smirkage.

A simple stroll in the local park, a vacation at the seashore, a hike up a hillside, a run along a country road, any contact with nature instantly re-establishes that link. Turning off the television, Ipod, internet, and car engine as often as humanly possible, keeps the link strong. More nature, more often will make me a happier, healthier person and allow me to learn from the real teachers in our lives, the weather, birds, bees, insects and trees.

Friday, January 18

American Yard Sale

"The corporate scandals of 2001-2003 did impact the working class and their retirement plans. However, the Bush tax cuts put a lot more money into the coffers of wealthy families who did not reinvest these amounts into VC funds or businesses. These wealthy institutional investors needed to park their money into something that would earn more than the secure fixed income securities. But, they were not going to take any more risk in the tech heavy VC funds. This time, the investment banking community had an opportunity to come up with an idea that they perceived to be less risky. And that idea was to create funds that focused on the growing mortgage industry. Just as was the case in the 90's, these funds had too much money searching for too few deals." - by Sheldon Drobny "Bush Tax Cuts Made Sub-Prime Fiasco Possible"

GWB is and has always been poison for the middle class. His new "stimulus plan" is vague and filled with the rhetoric of the unconvinced and uncommitted. There is no one in his inner circle that has a clue. The rich-get-richer economic philosophy is at the heart of the GWB plan and who better to buy up city blocks worth of foreclosed property than the rich. This is bonanza time for the wealthy.

Monday, January 7

Changing My Mind

On the internet, one idea often leads to another and another..... until a few hours have gone by and I wonder if I've missed any appointments or neglected to take care of urgent business. Whew! Time flies when you're exploring the mysteries of life. Today's mystery is brought to us by "Edge Third Culture" and the annual question for 2008: "What have you changed your mind about and why?" Deep.

My mind is shallow though, and I find myself wondering about customer services, specifically the services I'm supposed to be getting from earthlink. Last night, I was getting download speeds of 500 kbps vs. 1500 kbps almost a third of the speed for which I pay. As far as I could tell, the modem and router were working fine, so I accessed the support area - only two options, call them or "chat" with them. I chatted with them and went through their standard check list which eliminates the problem areas. We determined that the modem and router work fine - tedious, but had to be done to prove to them that the problem is on their end. The tech chatting with me said he/she/it would email a copy of a trouble ticket and take care of the problem. I am still waiting for the email, but - download speeds are now around 1300 kpbs. In the virtual world, confirming a chat or repair or just about anything is pretty sloppy and the problem with this lack of communication is that I still don't believe it's fixed. Without an earthlink explanation, I'm not sure why the problem existed or how they fixed it. The service works better, however, so I will not complain until it fails.

Am I satisfied? Yes - no one has time to "chat" with ISP techs on a consistent basis and with earthlink, problems are rare and are resolved quickly. Am I happy with earthlink? No. I want that email.

All of this satisfaction/happiness thinking led me to the short commentary by Daniel Kahneman, "The Sad Tale of the Aspiration Treadmill" published by "Edge." He is a renowned psychologist, best know for his research on decision making and risk and he talks about his difficulty in proving that experienced happiness is a greater measure of overall well being than the quality of a person's living circumstances.

"Conditions that make people satisfied with their life do not necessarily make them happy." Kahneman concluded, and his research further dispelled the prevailing notion that people adapt to their economic circumstances making these circumstances less important in the "well-being" equation. Recent results of Gallup's World Poll and its conclusions on global "well-being" places emphasis on the circumstances of people's lives (e.g., wealth and living standards) and on their experiences which made them feel good or bad. A universal benchmark of well being is the availability of work - something basic, not always a source of happiness, but essential.

...One thing leads to another, and here I am blogging about it. As the new year begins, it is good to think about our economic and lifestyle circumstances and about those experiences that make us feel good. There is always the desire for more money and higher social status, tempered with the desire to stop and smell the roses - I may be changing my mind about one or the other this year. It's all good, imho.

Friday, January 4

Waiting for Rain

The new year is starting off with rumors of rain. The Southland is waiting for a drenching, soaking downpour and an easing of our ferocious drought. It's been big news here for days.

Other parts of the nation are discussing the Iowa caucus results with Obama as the Democratic winner and Huckabee winning the Republican nomination. What a huge difference in political and social philosophies. A refreshing progressive downpour of political change is imminent. Will this democratic drenching ease America's economic, foreign policy and constitutional drought. I'm praying.