Thinking Out Loud

Shifting winds bring sea change...

At the turn of the last century, around this time, the powers of the world were pretty content with themselves and the balance of power they had set up. They were pleased with the old order of things, monarchy, aristocracy, merchant, peasant or translated into more modern terms of the day, dynasty, privileged class, merchant-industrialists, labor. This was particularly true in Europe, Great Britain, Russia and the Ottoman Empire which dominated the world for the most part, with the outstanding exception of the United States of America.

Great Britain, France and Italy, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and the Turks had struck a balance of power that was tenuous based on an old order of the previous century that had been meant to preserve the past into the future. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had contributed to this by their nine children and 42 grandchildren married across Europe to bind the empires by family ties.

What no one counted on was the technological change brought on by the railroad, telegraph and telephone, electricity, automobiles and industry. These were the tools of disruption that changed everything and in a sense ultimately World War I.

In August of 1914, waiting for the Guns of August (apologies to Barbara Tuchman), knowledgeable people waited on the beach after the assassination of the Grand Duke Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, to see what would happen. Their world was not just at the brink of a calamitous war all over Europe and it's empires, but on the edge of the world as they knew it.

It occurs to me that we are the frontier of such a time one hundred years later. The old order is no longer effective although scrambling to still piece it all together while perceptive and discerning people are waiting for the bubbles to burst. This time the main technological event is the science, technology and the internet from which most of our innovation now emanates. That's not to suggest we are heading towards a traditional world war but that we are at a boundary of time when the world is changed forever due to a change in the balance of international powers. It is precipitated by technological change born out by history and the world in an ever-repeating cycle of necessary change.

Although no guns may be fired, although that is quite possible with recent militaristic rumblings across the sphere, we are at a minimum on the front of an economic world war. The economic ties of the European Union are collapsing, China and Asia are struggling with the balance of capitalism and socialism, Mexico is crumbling in a full-scale drug war and the economic tensions of the Middle East are legion. The entire world is mired in debt and insolvency and it would be wise to reflect on history and recognize what any upset in balance of power usually brings globally.

Arizona Landscape

Translucent Self Reflection...


Geography of the Mind

Five Thoughts...

Sustaining is building character, physical and mental health and solid values and not obtaining material things of little intrinsic value. Do the right thing and what you need materially will follow.

Thinking creatively about solutions to negative situations is positively coping.

If you choose your friends and who you associate with carefully, they will be aware when you need them there for healing and when you don't, allow you to mend on your own.

We are not the sum of products we consume but our choices about products we consume do sum us up.

It is far better to have your voice heard by a small group of good people with character than a thundering herd.

Arizona Landscape

Azure and Crimson au naturel...


No Fear


You can't make sense out of a nonsensical situation.

When everything is no longer normal in the sense of what we once knew in our world, the usual responses no longer apply. If the world around us, whether locally, nationally or globally is topsy turvy, the tools we once used to make sense of it all no longer work the same. The stock market, retirement fund depletions, currency wars, inflation fears, foreclosures, bailouts, political turmoil, unemployment...all of these terms are floating around us and for many of us, some have a very personal and unpleasant meaning.

One thing is certain, the world is changing around us and our coping mechanisms are driving on roads that require a different engine with unfamiliar gears. The best we can do is recognize that we're no longer on that nice boulevard we're used to and on unknown road, use all the skills we learned from our previous driving experience, steering and changing gears as best we can. My bet is that everything we learned in the past can be applied in new and strange circumstances, with just a little aptitude, attitude, machinations and luck, to our best advantage. One things is certain, we won't know if we don't try.

Arizona Landscape

November Sunrise Full Moon in Phoenix...


Thinking Out Loud

Politicians are bullfighters in an arena that is a divisive sport of hate...

A Call To Action

The political arena, specifically Democrats and Republicans, this Administration and the outgoing and incoming Congress, has become the province of divisive mongers of collective hate, incapable of providing any real solutions to problems. They are perpetuated by an old school media that is increasingly making itself irrelevant. Answers to the pressing issues of our times, the need for advances in social problems, economic conditions, science and technology, can now only be resolved outside of the toxic world of the self-absorbed political class. How we, as a people, withdraw from their dominion, has become increasingly difficult but must be undertaken.

It is the leaders outside of politics, from the worlds of business, education, creative endeavors, other affiliations and individual citizens, who now must be the artisans at bringing people and organizations together in new ways, crafting solutions to today's dilemmas. The political world has rendered itself moot but not harmless.

The United States has solid underpinnings laid by the Founding Fathers, that are still relevant and can carry us into the future but must be disconnected from current political figures, who are not connected to those roots. Therefore they must made useless by creatively neutering them, since they will not go quietly or be ignored. Using the sound principles our country was originally built upon, the machinery of government can carry on without the current rascals, as much as they self-importantly insist they are the arbitrers of the affairs of the people and commerce of the United States. We need to rid ourselves of them as surely as our forefathers did of the British overlords and replace them with people whose ideals of government are minimalist and non-interfering in our the lives. It is a revolutionary idea whose time has come.

It will not be easy making these people understand their services are no longer needed nor wanted since they are convinced they are the government, rather than the people of the country are the government. Yet, it can be and must be done. Skillful leaders from outside the political arena must artfully maneuver around them, to advance science, technology, education, commerce and creative endeavors and move our country and economy forward into this century, rendering the present poisonous political parties and mainstream media moot and useless. Simultaneously the real American people, those that have been uninvolved in the nonsense and silent too long, need to rise above the din, go into action and work to elect and reconstruct a real government based on Constitutional principles we all deserve.

Arizona Landscape

Stacy's Smokehouse BBQ, dress casual...


You Can Quote Me On That

In the future...

Actually starting right now.

To be known as having an enduring voice of goodwill, strong character and ethical values, will be worth much more in this decade, than fifteen minutes of fame ever was in the preceding ones.

Arizona Landscape

Dusky Winter...


Geography of the Mind

People can be depended on to act consistently...

Consistency is a good quality to have in your personal behavior, particularly if it is acting consistently decent with your interactions with other people. Communication and interacting well with other people is an art and requires a certain effort and being true to your own self. Consistency though doesn't mean always acting the same and that everyone acts well consistently.

We all have moments when we act in ways that we wish we didn't. I can think of a recent incident where I was scathingly rude to someone who consistently never follows up or does what he is asked to do. My actions were uncalled for however but even more so, a waste of time and negative energy. Why? Because I know that he is consistently lazy and will never do the job he is paid to do in any reasonable sense of timeliness or completeness.

When I was thinking about this later, reasoning why I flared up at him when I know he's never going to do anything he's supposed to do on time or completely, I recognized that both of us were acting consistently in our own behavior. Also I realized that acting consistently doesn't always mean acting consistently good but can also mean acting consistently bad.

In my case anyone who knows and works with me knows that generally I am usually calm and even-handed, if anything some people consider me too calm since I rarely get frantic over problems, because in my mind that does no good. What they also know is likewise I can be counted on when someone repeatedly does the same thing over and over again that irritates me, no matter how much I've tried to correct the situation, if they continue to do it, I'll finally lose it. It's never pretty or done lightly either when I do.

"God deliver you from a man with a very long patience, when he finally loses it."

In this instance I think most people would say that I consistently act as a decent guy who does what he says he's going to do. The person I was dealing with consistently acts as if every day at work is an inconvenience and his actions at work reflect his entire character, at or away from work, and he can be counted on to not care about doing anything fully or well. It's irrelevant to me his personal life is a wreck due to it, I just expect him to be inconsistent with his character at work and do everything correctly, which I've finally concluded is unrealistic.

The key is that people can be depended on to act consistently the same, whether it's reliably or unreliably. People are pretty persistent in their character and actions. There are always exceptions to their behavior, for example my habit of losing my patience after a long period, although I'm generally considered very patient. Occasionally that lazy person just actually may do some things energetically and on time.

Arizona Landscape

An Irrigation Canal Runs Through It...



You need to know something...

Charm only works for the duration of brief exchanges with people, after that you should know and offer something of value in anything you are working on or talking about. This is especially true, in this new economic environment, at work. Pure knowledge alone is no longer enough if you are to be of real value, no matter what you do, in any organization. Doing the minimum required or going by the book is not working either, for you or any employer, whether you or they realize it or not.

It's up to us to make work more interesting and become more valuable in the job we're in or for the one we want. Others can't do that for us and neither can the amount, large or small, that we're paid. These days we need to know more than just our field of expertise, whether it's bending steel or programming bits or interacting with the public or managing people. We also need to make good decisions with our knowledge when we apply it and add value to the people we work with by quality interactions with them. That quality enriches everyone. Knowing the mechanics of what we do, whether it's machining a part, answering calls, guiding tours or directing the work of others, is only the ground level of what we do.

If you're doing something, even if it isn't your ideal situation, it always benefits you to make it worthwhile by going the extra step and adding quality. Otherwise minutes and hours are pure drudgery and you gain nothing and lose a lot. If you put a little creative thought into even the most rote task, doing more than following the policies and procedures to the letter, overcomes just being a piece part in the business. Even if it's not immediately apparent and only a small amount, you learn something by making it more challenging, adding to the job, totaling up to making your unique addition more valuable to yourself and who you work with.

It also keeps every day interesting. If you invest in what you're doing, it is returned to you in positive reactions by co-workers, a reciprocal beneficial reward.

Arizona Landscape

Waterfall in the Desert...

photo by Cheuvront


Music Break: 3Js

Never Going Back Again...


Agents Of Change

On leadership...

Everyone is a leader in their own way. You may be leading your co-workers by simply being there, creating new ways to do simple tasks, soon you notice they're doing it the same way. To a nephew or your small child you're an example they follow. Perhaps your friends look to you for what is the right thing to do in an awkward situation.

Conversely there are people that you follow, people whose decisions you respect and you look to for guidance. They are in all walks of your life. To be a leader you don't necessarily have to hold an important job, be wealthy, high on a corporate ladder or famous. You don't have to be a titled leader, such as a manager, a music producer or state representative to be a leader. Very often they may be the last people for you to follow.

Arizona Landscape

Greekfaux architecture...


Music Break: 3Js

Linda Paloma...

tijdens instore de Jan Cas, Voldendam 2010


Only In America

The relevance of learning irrelevant things...

Just about everything I've ever done in life, no matter how seemingly irrelevant or unconnected at the time, later on has played a part in something I did afterwards or what I'm doing now.

Who knew when I started showing people, when there was no capable supervisor or a trainer around, how to do a technical support job that was growing exponentially at the time, that it would lead to my becoming a certified instructor? I wasn't asked to do it, there was a need and I did it to stop being asked questions in the middle of my work, to make my life easier. Years later, when I had gone as far as I thought I could as a technical instructor, I applied for a job for which I had no experience, running a vault and money processing center. They hired me out of the blue because they needed a leader who could teach and figured I could learn the specifics on the job. Little did I realize a few years after I had left and was working as a technical writer and was laid off, that my experience in a money processing vault would get me hired at a credit card processing company. The work I currently do I can trace back to at least six different apparently unrelated things I learned at a time they didn't seem pertinent. I know better now how what once seemed like odd things can fit together...everything to it's own purpose.

Never turn down the chance to learn something new, even if it doesn't seem applicable to what you're doing now. Always learn from others who are willing to show you something that may not seem important at the time and also teach others as you go along in return. One day it will pay off, because time has proven it usually does.

Arizona Landscape

Oh, the urbanality of it all...

[I gotta get out of this place and go back outstate]


Music Break: 3Js

Een met de bomen...

One of the Trees



Teach the children well...

The outcry about public schools, all schools for that matter, is wrong on all accounts. Those who bemoan public school cuts by making children out to be victims deprived of a mediocre education system are as misguided as proponents of cutting school funding. The claims of those who want to cut school funding are uninformed that schools need to get back to more rigid "three R's" and regimented schoolroom structures for a good quality education.

Neither of these views is well thought out and doesn't take into account the real need that all schools, public, charter or private, must provide for the future. The current public system does waste money and doesn't teach basic reading, writing and math skills, nor does it level the playing field for all kids to get a good job, advance in the ranks of employment, business and so on.

That is actually the real problem. Our school systems are modeled on turning children into commodities for the corporate society to make them low cost, high production cogs in the wheels of commerce, spend money as consumers to distract them and then be put on the shelf in hypnotic retirement to consume some more. If some schools do teach subjects on a high functioning level, it is at great cost to creative thinking, unfettered ways of approaching things differently and stifling free association and individualism. They are conforming obedience factories to churn employees out for the corporate and financial complex.

Our society is no longer going in that direction, a throw back to the Industrial Age, in the short or long term.

We need kids to learn how to read, write and do math creatively with a depth of thinking that allows them to imagine using these skills in unique ways. Who also learn other subjects in the categories of science, history, the arts and much more, so they envisage how to apply them with uncommon methods. Above all else real education means allowing children to grow as individuals in their own inimitable right and not as grinding gears for some mass market employer.

Arizona Landscape

Analog Antlers...


Music Break: Jan Dulles

Green Green Grass of Home...

De Beste Zangers van Nederlands 2010 


Geography of the Mind

Achromatic with blurs of color...

The year of transition into the decade of a new era.

This year has been a battle conquering the twin evils of my reptilian brain: rage and fear, counterbalancing them with the better parts of my cerebral cortex brain: awareness and consciousness.

The tech/telecom/dotcom crash brought the economic crisis to me in 2000, a full Biblically epic seven years before it broke tide over everyone else in 2007. At the time it seemed as if I was wandering alone without a compass in a cultural wilderness I didn't understand. The rest of the country was awash in money and spending it like crazy while I was busy shoring up expenses, saving as much as I could and working harder at earning a smaller paycheck than I had in a long time. Inflation was killing me and I couldn't understand where everyone was getting their seemingly endless abundant flow of money. Clarity often occurs after the event.

In July 2007 I lost my employment (but interestingly, not all my income) and watched as markets tumbled and studied them to figure things out. As all the leading economic indicators were falling apart during these past three years, I was prepared financially and actively decided I was going to remain personally optimistic, since the other choice was not a viable option.

"One foot in front of the other" is still my mantra. Because if you stop, the bigger risk is the chance of never starting again.

Mentally I was doing well until the beginning of this year, as I was looking forward to the start of a new decade, more than ready to leave the last decade far behind me. It turned out not to be so easy. I recognized that the rest of the world was still crashing around me, more noticeable since I live in a state among the hardest hit by the housing boom and bust, and that others were not so prepared. Financially or mentally.

It also hit home to me that the local, national and global economic situation was more than theoretical and was a long term affair, a new institution of its own accord. I could not ignore or be unaffected that this is going to be a long global recovery, a historical change in societal way of life and that everyone was going to have to adjust to different circumstances, whether they recognized or acknowledged it or not.

Many still have not and will take a long time to come around, if ever, to understanding what hit them. I have no control over that.

My perception dissolved into varying shades of gray with blurs of color as I tried to adjust my vision to the new era dawning before us. As good things were personally happening to me, unexpected groundbreaking, life-changing positive events actually, I couldn't fully appreciate them because I was also fending off anger and being afraid of the unknown universe before me. I fought it off with reason and logic using experiences from my past, often to no avail it seemed and it is still a mighty struggle at times.

It is the blurs of color that are saving me. They represent things that are bright and full of light to reach for and keep me from disappearing into smoky ashen clouds. As things come sharper into focus they become objects that are important to me. They represent creativity, intellect and energy. This is becoming a watershed year that occurs in life and it's not over yet.

From my own beginning I was never meant for a regulation ordinary life. I've always struggled with being expected to fit into the same shoes as everyone else and go along with the crowd. There are many of us like that and I'm beginning to realize that this is probably the beginning of our time, a period when what was "normal" is no longer the rule. As I begin to understand that, although unsure of how it will play out, I see I don't need to know more specifically how things will unfold, only that they will and I have the tools to figure it out as it all happens.

The gray is beginning to fade and become something of color. What objects the color forms will become apparent as time makes life less opaque.

Arizona Landscape

Self-Impressionism Portrait...


Music Break: 3Js


Kom gespeeld backstage en de Brabenthallen 2007


The 3 J's are Jan Dulles, Jaap Kwakman and Jaap de Witte

You Can Quote Me On That

Financial debt kills the soul and spirit...

The American people faithfully need to financially deleverage: as individuals, in the private sector and our government. We also need to rethink our way of life.

The idea of reviving our economy by continuing to be cogs in a wheel at a job to mindlessly consume manufactured goods is dead, because the culture of the last 150 years is bankrupt. The American Soul needs to quit borrowing, because it's endangering the solvency of the American Spirit.

Arizona Landscape

Freeway Pollution Pink At Sunset...


Music Break: Jamey Johnson

In Color...

Live 2009 with Keith Urban


Excerpt of the Day: Bob Dylan

I'm younger than that now...

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rolling high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
"We'll meet on edges soon," said I
Proud 'neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that now

"My Back Pages"
Bob Dylan  

Geography of the Mind

There are no road maps...

Navigating the challenging new culture that lies before us is a new adventure because the old roads don't guide us to the best possible places since they are not yet mapped. The maps laid out by the cartographers that planned the social path people were once supposed to take, are not highways and byways or planes, trains and automobiles, that curve nor head straight on, into the directions society is now going.

Whether with machetes or bulldozers, we're blazing new trails and creating new highways "using ideas as our maps" [apologies to Dylan] in a new economy and culture in ways that could not have been anticipated. All around us are gold mines of thoughts alongside poisonous gasses for the mind. If there were traffic lights on these paths, they'd be flashing cautious yellow, which is not a "stop" but a "go" after looking in all directions.

The most difficult, yet most important thing to keep in mind, is to view the Chinese proverb "May you live in interesting times," as an exciting challenge and not a curse.

Arizona Landscape

A bridge over the Colorado River...

Yuma running water

photo by Gregory A.Z. Nelson


Music Break: Marty Robbins

Cool Water...


(for Joe Sr. RIP)

Word of the Day: technorealist

Technically speaking...

technorealist n. a person who has a balanced and realistic view of technology.

Example Citation: "In response to these views, the dissidents wrote a manifesto calling for "techno-realism" and calling themselves techno-realists. This manifesto, instantly given it's own website at http://www.technorealism.org - rejects the 'louder voices at the extremes' in favor of a more balanced consensus, a 'fertile middle ground between techno-utopianism and neo-Luddism.'"
-Edward Rothstein, "A rather benign declaration on the internet is treated as a revolutionary manifesto." New York Times

Paul McFedries
Word Spy


All the technology in the world...

doesn't always make routine tasks simpler.

Sometimes the best way to operate a process is classically understated by leaving digital technology out. They are best handled by pen or pencil, quad paper and printouts, clipboards and checkmarks, looking at a clock to monitor the time.

They are usually the most basic duties that need to be done, in an environment that heavily relies on computers and technology. Although surrounded by technology, these small tasks are unnecessarily complicated by technology and much more easily tracked by office practices used since the beginning of the Industrial Age.

An example is running a computer based lab with 35 people taking various courses or tests with different starting and ending times. It's more efficient to keep a list, with columns and check boxes, aided by a printout, neatly held together on a clipboard .

Arizona Landscape

Gray Grids and Black Bars...