SciFi Fandom Pride: Where’d You Go? “He tends to say whatever comes into his circuits.” – Cassian Andor, Rogue One

The Force Awakens

To think about pride, like for me familiarity with popular science fiction, it is true that in 2015, enthusiasm for the Star Wars films, Star Wars fandom, soared nearly beyond measure when Lucasfilm presented the Star Wars film The Force Awakens.

The realization was great that appreciation for the popular trilogy of films of the nineteen seventies and eighties was “striking back,” an achievement again like the success of Star Wars in the spring of 1977.  George Lucas nearly didn’t get his 1977 film made, according to accounts of what happened, and even though it is true that most film projects whether original in scope or not fail to get made, it is an endearing success story that Lucas made the movie.  The phrase “success story” lacks the weight behind what Star Wars actually did to Hollywood cinema, which was as expansive as what became of the Star Wars galaxy a long time ago and far away.


Photographer:
One Idea LLC

The fervor for Star Wars returning in 2015, helmed by J. J. Abrams, was awe-inspiring.  In fact, Star Wars’ ability to create awe is what gives it such a punch.  For The Force Awakens, original cast members from 1977 joined a new cast for a continuation of Return of the Jedi.

The Force Awakens was a giant success and seemed to bring with it the promise that Star Wars would be once more returning with aplomb and dedication.  Despite unravelling the plot of the original Star Wars films by undoing the Rebel Alliance’s success destroying Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, and failing to bring Harrison Ford, the late Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill together in The Force Awakens, it was implied that untied ends and more importantly the reunion between the actors from the original movies would appear in Star Wars Episode VIII in 2017, directed by Rian Johnson.

Discouragingly, Johnson’s film about Star Wars horrified and divided the Star Wars fandom, by dismantling thoughtlessly a trove of Star Wars lore, failing to shoot what would have been an extremely important reunion of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo, and, also front and centre, bringing identity politics into the movie.

There has always been a deep-felt pride in Star Wars and while I’m a Canadian, I felt pride when Star Wars returned loud and strong in 2015 with The Force Awakens.  Then I felt that pride evaporate when I realized that The Last Jedi is potentially ruining Star Wars, which sounds catastrophic and yet is indeed a possibility.  There is every chance that the best science fiction, at least science fiction on film, the best of the entire twentieth century, will be undone if Episode IX fails at the box office.

The rest of Star Wars will be history.

There are voices on the Internet, the fandom, divided by The Last Jedi, that organized and presented a call to Disney to save the glory of Star Wars by insisting CEO Bob Iger and Kathleen Kennedy do the work to successfully market Episode IX, for which we have not yet heard a title or seen a trailer.  Star Wars Celebration is in a few days, helping Star Wars on its way.  Youtuber and filmmaker Star Wars Theory has promised to upload video he’ll shoot at Celebration.  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8CbFnDTYkiVweaz8y9wd_Q

In the event that Episode IX is good, the Star Wars fandom will unite, and pride will spread throughout.

If the film flops, Star Wars will go to that great “clearance bin” in the sky.  I hope very much for pride but chances are it is through.

You are welcome to click “like,” to follow the blog, and/or to comment.

Every #spring a St. Patrick’s Day

2018-032-15

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m a Canadian every other day of the year.

When I was a boy, my godmother bought me a coffee table book celebrating Ireland.  It followed that in grade school, I thought to turn a work assignment about other countries into homework on the subject of Ireland.   I flipped through the book to do the research (that I could do at that age) for the teacher.

2018-032-15
St. Patrick

The photos in the book illustrating Irish women helped shape my attitudes to the fairer gender, as well.  I briefly visited the UK in the fall of 1999, but I didn’t go to Ireland.

There is a friend I know whose parents are Irish.  This friend is not fond of the English, despite what I know from grade school about the role the English played shaping Canada.

At the same time, this person has a different understanding of how the Irish fared in history than I have got.  That said, when my mother asked me the other day whether I am prouder of Dublin or Belfast, I found myself answering Belfast.  Until then I didn’t know I felt that way.

I was born in 1977, two days before St. Patrick’s Day.  My mom and dad named me Patrick, after my father’s late brother Patrick.  This uncle died when he was a young man, in a motorcycle accident (he was riding).  My name remembers this Uncle Patrick of mine, and of my brother and sister.

My mom and my father’s mother had a bond.  When my mother was young, the two women would speak to each other privately having a coffee or Coca-Cola together or the like.

Another time In grade school I was instructed to ask questions about the family line. I brought to my paternal grandmother the question of the origin of our name.

I never knew my paternal grandfather.  He’d died before I was born.  I suppose I assumed we are an Irish family.

My grandmother let me know that the surname she took when she married is Welsh, of all matters.  At that age, I was not aware that Wales is a principality of Britain, or otherwise knew anything about it.

Many years later my brother took a strong interest in the Irish.  He went backpacking there with one or two of his friends.

He later researched our family line, and he learned of many of our living relatives in Ireland.  I am sure it is an Irish family, whether the surname is Welsh.

I work for my father as a cemetery groundskeeper.  When we were at the cemetery yesterday, handling a funeral, for which we were responsible, to my surprise, as we wrapped up our clean-up, we saw a hailstorm!

Louth United Church and Maple Lawn Cemetery

The spring solstice ahead:  it doesn’t feel like it.  Last week my father reminded me of the old expression, “In like a lamb, out like a lion.”  That’s what my father was predicting for the month of March here.

About Ireland, I know it is hard when times are tough, and I am empathetic of others experiencing suffering.  If you are Irish or love the Irish, God bless you.  It’s your chance this day, as it is every year, to be Irish.

I hope you’re having a great day.  Naturally, you are welcome to “like” this post, to follow my blog and/or to comment.  Thank you for having an interest.

The cemetery where I work with my father is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LouthUnited  My duties for the work I do are nominally tied to the posts I publish in this blog.

#spring dst and its usual sleep deprivation

The Monday after the change to DST

The Saturday 3/9 edition of the National Post, one of the papers that my parents get, carried a big story by a Sharon Kirkey on A3.  The paper included the rather off-putting headline “Heart attacks and other risks of daylight savings” https://t.co/hU0Wp67UVx

I don’t worry about sleep-deprivation, but my father said last night after I read the Sharon Kirkey story that I could point out what she wrote about DST safely.  Kirkey’s conclusion to her story in the National Post is the wonderful words LOST SLEEP ALSO MAKES US SLACKERS

Before the ninth of March, my mother was already pointing out to me that Daylight Savings Time was here Sunday at 2 a.m.  I got a normal night’s sleep the Saturday, the ninth, and in the morning I changed my alarm clock, my answering machine and my microwave oven to DST.

The computer adjusted automatically.  I was fine.

My mother and father

I was pleased my mother thought to remind me of such business, as this pragmatic reality might have gone right by me and caused inadvertent confusion.  I see the effects of sleep deprivation everywhere, but many perspectives we take are a matter of our consensus about what’s true.  In any case, there is presently no option except to join in Daylight Savings.

I subscribe to the email newsletter Publishous, which just moved into the top four hundred publications of writers on Medium.

In the month of March, Publishous readers are writing about #spring.  The intention is that writers reading Publishous should pass on their work to the Publishous editors for consideration, but I am doing no such thing.

I am only glancing at Publishous to see if there is anything I find splendid and want to read.  I do draw inspiration from it independent of the need to participate in writing for their eyes, although any are welcome to read me as I am putting the ideas together in this blog.  I just don’t want to bat out of my league.

Sharon Kirkey’s story is grim, but I am pleased that my parents thought to provide me with advice, when I explained to them what I had in mind to blog.  My dad is also my boss–we operate a tiny cemetery http://www.maplelawncemetery.org

You’re welcome to click like, to follow my blog, and to leave a comment.

Good luck recovering from any impact you yourself felt from the change to DST.

11 Perfect (And True) Loves Found and Lost

It’s Valentine’s Day, and in the spirit of the occasion, a spot of research has led me to Well-known and Famous Couples in History, by Madhura Pandit.  It’s an expository piece from which I chose ten of the most dynamic romantic figures ever known, in Madhura’s estimation.  I added an obvious eleventh, with thanks to scholaradvisor.com for the example.


Photographer:
Clem Onojeghuo

Nine of these people are based in history, and the last two are the stuff of legend.

Historical Couples

Julius Caesar and Cleopatra and Mark Antony

Cleopatra and Mark Antony are both associated with Julius Caesar.  Mark Antony discovered beguilement with Cleopatra’s greatness.  Cleopatra, in turn, might have discovered a feeling of strength with him, since he was getting to be a standout in Rome.

She found in him the chance to reestablish old wonder.  Mark Antony had attributes not the same as that of Julius Caesar, yet the equivalent political stature.

The gathering after Julius Caesar’s demise demonstrated scented blooms in Cleopatra’s boat, where she dressed like the Roman goddess Venus when they met in 41 BCE.  The dinner awed Mark Antony in that he needed to outperform such marvelous planning; however, he hopelessly fizzled.

With extraordinary cleverness, he figured out how to keep considerate about it.

Cleopatra, on the other hand, could engage Mark Antony by being next to him constantly.

https://www.scholaradvisor.com/essay-examples/cleopatra-relationships/

Napoleon and Josephine

Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine were hitched when he was a general in the military, and she a rich widow.  They went separate ways as Josephine couldn’t deliver a beneficiary, and Napoleon remarried.

Despite enormous ambition, Napoleon’s life ended in exile.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

As the music career of The Beatles gave way to solo careers for the four musicians who were members, no one knew that John Lennon had scant little time left alive.

That being said, John Lennon and Yoko Ono arranged a seven-day “Bed-In for Peace,” in the Presidential Suite of the Hilton lodging in Amsterdam, as a challenge against war and savagery on the planet, March 1969.

Lennon’s life ended when he was shot in the street outside his home in New York City.

https://www.vogue.com/article/john-lennon-yoko-ono-relationship

Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley

Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley had set their sights on enjoying a weekend writing competition, to see who could write the more impressive story, when Mary dreamed of events she would novelize as what ultimately became the book, Frankenstein.  Mary Shelley’s novel would be instrumental in science fiction.  In future years, many times various filmmakers would adapt it for the silver screen.

Frankenstein probably exceeded the talents of her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Percy Bysshe Shelley later succumbed to madness.

Legendary Couples

Lancelot and Guinevere

Sir Lancelot was a knight in King Arthur’s Round Table, who went gaga for Queen Guinevere.  Their mystery prompted terrible capital punishments for the two, divided the Knights, and debilitated Arthur’s kingdom.

It is not known whether Arthur’s kingdom ever existed, but it has been written about for centuries.

Adam and Eve

In the book of Genesis in The Bible, there is an account of The Lord creating our world and making Adam and Eve the first people who would live here.  The lives of Adam and Eve were idyllic, until Satan, in the guise of a snake, led Eve to eat an apple from The Lord’s Tree of Knowledge, filling her consciousness with all manner of realizations.  Eve quickly had Adam do the same.

Enraged by the betrayal, The Lord declared that all of man would from then on endure untold hardship.

Many of the devout feel that these events occurred roughly four thousand years ago, in the Garden of Eden.

Prince of Peace

With thanks to Madhura Pandit, vogue.com, and http://www.scholaradvisor

An Exhaustive List of Well-known and Famous Couples in History can be found at https://historyplex.com/famous-couples-in-history

You’re welcome to “like,” follow, and/or comment if you feel me.

15 Ways the Most Youthful Adherent to Video Research is Totally Overrated. Part I

November 22, 2018

By video research, I mean watching video content to gain information about a topic.  To render the inscrutable meaningful, I am trying to re-envision specific ideas I have about video research.  To try to make this fun, I am re-envisioning 15 ways that the progress I try to make utilizing video research actually makes an impact (for me).

This will include examples of why it is I am conjecturing the phrase video research isn’t dropped onto the page constantly.

  1. The first thing that I am focusing on is when I actively became aware of the possibility of video research.  You might say the stars aligned (nearly) and I think it was when I was compelled by my younger friend B. pointing out that I could listen to youths crying out with the Internet.  This is so sensitive.
    In my defense, I both saw I could get into hard-to-tackle specifics with a computer, and also I discarded the idea to pursue B.’s style of research, which is a misnomer, as it wasn’t video being researched, it was more like gamer hack-and-slash.  In B.’s defense, he became a teacher for a living.
    [I hope he is still doing that.  He dropped off Facebook a long time ago (without an explanation).]
  2. With an awareness like that, it has to be tempered with the recognition that humans require respect.  Interesting uses of Internet video express things which are unfathomable and also perhaps too sensitive to extrapolate.  The very most interesting experiences with the Internet, I think, and when outside elements of the world beyond the Internet enter and, I suppose, reflect the viewer experiencing the video, which is hard to concisely explain.
    If there is a simple explanation for this, perhaps from lecture halls or elsewhere, and you know of such a thing, forgive me.  Leave me a comment if you like.  On the simplest level, people can leave user comments for a creator who responds.
    I am pretty sure I have a few variations of that straightforward element of the Internet.
  3. I think in 2018 WordPress turned 15 years old, didn’t it?  A technique for growing your blog readership, if you’re on WordPress, is to leave user comments on other bloggers’ work.  The point is that if you do this respectfully and consistently, eventually sympathetic or otherwise interested bloggers who you have contacted will reciprocate by interacting with you.
    Now you may ask me, and I am prepared for this in the eventuality it happens, “How do you know that?  You don’t seem to have much readership of note.”
    “Yes,” I will reply, not impudently, “but I simply have not devoted the focus to constantly read blogs and interact with them.  My blog, as yet, is an amateur effort.”  At that point, I hope you do not disappear abruptly, although if this is the case, that is fine, as I hope to better strategize in 2019 than I have in the past.
  4. I hope to pursue this as long as it is a possibility.  What I’ve observed is that WordPress techniques are not the same as those on a more characteristically “social” platform.  I would argue that during what I’ve learned, I’ve enjoyed the process.
    I am tempted to leave this point there and then, but even with confirmation bias indicating that if I am predisposed to a set of beliefs that highly values an “art for art’s sake” attitude, the argument I want to make is that this specific confirmation bias is perfectly fine and I want to run with it in 2019.
    How then, what can you, you might ask, do to make your blog more readable?  Well, you can take it on Facebook and ask people you’ve met to read it.  That’s a tactic that can help you start a blog and potentially get results that are interesting for you.
  5. We’re beginning to talk about video research, but the first thing I think of trying to approach something that’s sensitive is some obvious problems coming up right away.  These fifteen points are geared to getting your attention away from what you should do with the video you watch, and what you are already doing with your blog, or how it is you could start a blog.  The conclusion that can be drawn, and it’s not science, but a method, is that you can draw on video research to formulate something that you’d like people to read and you can put it on WordPress.

    I had quite a bit to say just to introduce this, so I am ending this post shortly below and picking up in the next blog post.

This first part of the 15 ways has been about a few generalities that have worked for me and a few tips that could apply to what you are doing.

These first five points are trying to get to the point, saying you can take video, turn it into blog content, get a running start with your blog, and go from there.  I am going to return with what shall be two more posts, aiming to illustrate ten more ways that you can do something more with video than just watch it.

Thanks for reading.

When I last asked my niece to let me have a photo, she was in high gear to play a frivolous game of Candy Land.  She suggested I show her in the midst of unpacking the enduring board game.  My niece is in the third grade.

10 Reasons Radical Success is the Weakest Link Part II

The White Album puzzle

Updated November 9, 2018

December 2017 my brother and his wife and kids gave me an unusual gift for Christmas, a puzzle game celebrating The Beatles’ music The White AlbumIt is unusual mainly for the fact that the cover of The White Album is entirely the color white, which makes the puzzle an exercise in assembling puzzle pieces all the color white.  It is as if the wrong end of a game of chess game came down on you.

September 24, 2018, the Stereogum music history website posted to Facebook about the fiftieth-anniversary release of The White Album.  The Beatles Announce 50th Anniversary “White Album” Reissue With Previously Unreleased Tracks

The White Album puzzle
The Beatles

I think of The Beatles being a radical success in music history, given the enormity of their popularity, even decades later.  However, how does that view of The Beatles relate to contemporary ideas about success, and how it is won?

I have ten reasons I’m suggesting that success like what The Beatles enjoyed is actually a weak link in terms of what it means for the individual to pursue preconceived notions of success and how it is misleading.  The first four were presented in a previous blog post.  The remaining six are presented here.

Streaming services

  1. Netflix is the leader of the pack, I believer, for video streaming.  They devote an enormous budget to original content and their selection of existing content is good.
    That being said, Disney is entering the streaming video service market soon, as is AT&T, I understand.  Netflix in my region is compatible with my TiVo, as is another video streaming service, the free video streaming site Tubi.  The selection on Tubi is big, but they don’t offer original video.
    Both Netflix and Tubi are compatible with my TiVo, but the selection of videos on Netflix is good and for Tubi, not so much.  I want to step out of the chain of logic to ask if that implies that Tubi is a weak link.  Netflix is a completely enjoyable experience if you watch video and Tubi is an extra addition to the TiVo I watch TV with.
    It isn’t too hard to say which could be better assessed to be a radical success in the future.  That being said, while Netflix needs to make a lot of important decisions before the day is done to remain ahead of the curve, Tubi is probably under far less pressure.
    Does Tubi’s relative weak link status mean that it isn’t a success?  It is free.

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    Photographer: Rawpixel.com
  2. Going forward with the theory that radical success means enormous difficulty, consider the contender that could grab much of Netflix’ market share, Disney.  Disney is certain, given its weight as an entertainment brand, to include great films and shows, being known for its films, television, toys and theme parks.

Which of the two, Netflix or Disney, will be more of the radical success–that a good streaming service can be?  Or will they both amount to great success?  Disney has built in family-appeal given its products for both adults and kids alike; Netflix has been building that kind of appeal from scratch.  Will either Netflix or Disney be a weak link?  It seems important to me that entertainment be good when it is accessed or experienced.

It would be a shame, I think, for the bottom to fall out of Netflix if it were to become a weak link given competition.  Netflix has a reputation for spending extravagant amounts of money on shows and films while not necessarily having a concrete plan in place to recoup its expenditures.  As I said, Disney already has an enormous built-in capacity for success in the future, in addition to plans for its new streaming service

I would ask if streaming video is right for Disney, given all they’ve done to pack movie houses with so many great family films.  Will Netflix Ever Actually Make Any Money?

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Photographer: Jakob Owens

3. I started this post by saying there is a fiftieth-anniversary release of The White Album coming 11/9.  From what I understand about music streaming services, Spotify has a great conversion rate bringing customers from free use of Spotify to the premium version.  I would ask if taken to task whether Spotify will be a “weak link.”

From what I can tell, the selection of music with Spotify is wonderful.  I’ve never actually searched for The Beatles, but I am sure they are there.  The selection is good.  I have fewer specifics on hand, but I wouldn’t appreciate seeing Spotify become relegated to “weak link” status, as it seems to be an awesome service.

It is understood that The Beatles essentially recorded The White Album live to 8-track tape, and for everything they’d done in the name of their music they were in fact recording music that would be a bit of a farewell to their fans.  If less scrutiny was being given to the music emerging on The White Album, would The Beatles have lasted longer and recorded songs for longer than they did?  I think it is possible, for when something is intended to be “perfect,” it is often a departure the way a pinnacle climbed must then be descended.

US Politics 

4. If you are following this argument, you can guess that the weak link I’m referring to is the President of the United States.  I don’t like to posit criticism of the United States or its politics, but an example of someone about who there is much to decry that could be a weak link is the President.

As he is someone who was a TV star, I think it is worth mentioning here the radical success that he is known for enjoying and how at the same time the President has mounting problems that he is both a radical success, being wealthy and commanding power, but also a “weak link” in that he could bring down the whole show if he is not effective.  President Trump has a knack for appearing with ferocious emphasis again and again in the news, and yet he faces so much criticism and real-life repercussions and consequences that I think he makes a great example of a “weak link” who is at the same time a radical success.

The President brings to mind so many components and elements of radical success gone wrong that it is becoming clearer all the time that the President of the United States is an extremely divisive man. Donald Trump Says China Remix

 

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Photographer: Diego Jimenez

Motivated to Entrepreneurship

5. The ninth reason I want to assert that a weak link can be very much undermining is the idea that if you begin to succeed as an entrepreneur you can find yourself under more pressure than you ever anticipated facing.  Making money is many people’s idea of success, but you have to put in years of work to make dreams come true.  And in this scenario, ironically, you yourself could be the weakest link if you don’t meet obstacles well.


Unless you keep improving, day in and day out, you could end up being the weak link in your organization simply owing to the fact that your luck could change.  If you have found a strategy that makes you King Midas, turning everything you touch to gold, if all of a sudden your luck changes, you may now be suddenly in a seat of weakness.  The Secret to Self-Motivation | Gary Vaynerchuk’s GREATEST Motivational Speech Ever! 

Photographer: Rawpixel.com
Aerial view of computer laptop on wooden table

You need to keep improving and being good.  Everything that took you somewhere is behind you; you have to continue to make great decisions.  I suspect you’ll see for yourself if you falter.

6. The final reason I want to take back to Geeks + Gamers.  If you have someone, like Jeremy, who has more than one channel on YouTube, who is comfortable discussing games, films, and sports, a very articulate individual, who sees success coming from YouTube, from a Facebook group, from Twitch I suppose, who challenges who is at the top, as with The Last Jedi remaining a highly successful film, however vocal its detractors, I think it is a philosophical note to say that if you are at that pinnacle I referenced above, there is any number of reasons your descent will be hastened by those who come after you.  You have to reach that pinnacle in excellent form; and you have to leave it in such a way that it endures, that there could be a fifty-anniversary, that there could be another billion-dollar blockbuster, that there could be a second term.  This is all vital, from a philosophical standpoint, what must be done if radical success, like the kind that spreads all around the globe, is to be achieved and then preserved. CLICKBAIT : A YOUTUBE STORY

I was amused by the Christmas gift last year of The White Album puzzle game I got from my brother and his family.  If you have read this, please feel free to “like,” “follow,” and/or comment.

How Literature Can Keep You Out of Trouble #LiteracyDay

Blog author with positive contrast

Today, September 8, is International Literacy Day.  It was celebrated for the first time in 1967.  Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities, and societies.  Celebrations take place in various countries.

From Wikipedia, Retrieved 7 August 2012.

 

If you are intellectually-minded, you will probably find yourself reading a number of works of literature, the best-regarded and the most-often cited.

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Photographer: Jess Watters

I completed two semesters of literature in college, the second part of 1996 and the first of 1997.  The curriculum included a lot of assigned reading material.  It required devoting a good distribution of time outside of lectures and seminars to turning the pages of important writing, historical in the sense it is enduring.

No one disputes that a lot of partying goes on in college.  I’m a mortal, however.  I wasn’t going to the bar environs with my friends much at all, as many peers were doing.  I didn’t see any way around reading in my room, at least some of the time.

I’d been in eleventh grade between 1993 and 1994.  I had elected to take, as one of my high school courses, the subject of ancient history.

When the summer of 1994 arrived, Mr. Simpson, the gentleman who was teaching an ancient history class, signed my 1994 school yearbook with a note that he predicted I’d spend my life doing a lot of reading.  I think he felt I was a smart student.

Ancient history explained what human life was like, as best we could calculate in the day, life in ancient times when other civilizations than the present existed around the planet.  It reminded me a little of the game Dungeons & Dragons.

Mr. Simpson taught us about nations such as the Roman Empire.  I’ve inferred that the historical Roman Empire inspired some of the gameplay of nineteen seventies’ Dungeons & Dragons.

In the school board governing my high school, in the first part of the year 1996, the teachers went on a work-to-rule.  It was my “grade 13,” the year that tried to most closely prepare students if they stayed in schooling.

Blog author with positive contrast
WordPress with positive contrast

“Work-to-rule” meant that high school teachers would only work the hours specifically matched to the student timetable and that teachers wouldn’t support any outside activity or assign homework.  It was worrisome because I needed to get a jump on the skills I’d need for college.  The teachers I had on hand to me simply weren’t working other than carrying out the minimum effort possible.

 

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise”

 

 

Rudyard Kipling

 

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/346219-if-you-can-keep-your-head-when-all-about-you

 

I might not have got into so much bother at that time.  I feel I wasted time partying with friends, as there was no homework to be done and I was characteristically young, an early student.  I wasn’t a self-starter, I would say, as I wasn’t challenging myself to learn all the essential skills to start college.

I didn’t have much help from our teachers–none of the students did–and when it came time to start college, I had a disadvantage.

It was a bad break.  My college grades dipped more than I would have liked, more than they might have had I taken the initiative to develop study skills necessary to deliver the goods in college.

I mentioned the game Dungeons & Dragons.  In various editions of Dungeons & Dragons “initiative” is a rule that game players help decide strategy combat by dice rolls which inform which game character has the first choice to act in the rounds of battle, an advantage in being first.

I should have tried to win the initiative roll.  I plainly didn’t.  I regret it to this day.

I certainly ask for you to “like,” comment, and/or follow.  I wish you well in your own “game.”  Good luck to you, however you decide to play your hand.

How Struggles Can Make You Sick

Abandoned supermarket cart

Too much stress, “bad” stress, can weaken you, deplete your resources and waste scarce time if you are not dealing with your lifestyle well.  Everybody endures stress.

 

Getting older, I believe that lifestyles of Generation Z are significantly common, but I am from a small town.  It is important to obey the Biblical commandment, to honor thy mother and father.  As the father did before you, if you are of a certain age, you too need to heed that you are following appropriately in his steps.

 

That being said, there is lightness.  I think with a touch of envy of the comparative ease of the generation of young people often collectively referred to as Generation Z.  That doesn’t mean that I can compete with the energy of the young and of the attitudes which characterize them, different than for someone my age.

 

Someone like me, I feel, is part of a culture that values stress, that putting a great deal of work into a lifetime is a necessity.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

 

Abandoned supermarket cart
Shopping cart

However, it means fulltime people endure an enormous amount of stress.  The more hours of work we take on, to make ends meet, the more stress we cope with.

 

I believe stress can easily bend one to its will rather than the other way round.  It is all very hard to manage.

 

In the film sequence preceding the climax of the 1978 feature film Superman, Lex Luthor conquers Superman with a chain of Kryptonite, until Superman makes a personal promise to Luthor’s beautiful assistant in order that she remove the powerful amulet–but a promise that puts at risk the woman who has his heart, Lois Lane.  All in all, it is an excellent film.

 

What I did, in my life, is an irregular passage through the years.  In 2008 when my employer closed its doors, I went on to work a part-time job while reflecting on what to do with my future  Then I went full time on government disability, as it was felt that I’d been “compromised” enough to give up on making a living through the avenue of work.

 

I had been reading some books on self-management and I didn’t think the stress of a new workplace was going to benefit me enough to do it.

 

A few years later, my father, perhaps frustrated by my reluctance, had an idea.  He was retiring from many years with a municipal cemetery, where he’d helped manage it from its offices.

 

A small cemetery in our town was searching for new operators.  It attracted him, and the trustees of that property were pleased to turn it over to him, so that he could direct it, pleased to have a focus in his retirement.

 

To my surprise, my dad invited me to help handle the operation of the cemetery.  We commenced in 2011.  The church at the cemetery, formerly of the United Church of Canada, had disbanded in 2006.

 

Headstones under repair
Important headstones of family generations in Maple Lawn Cemetery

We maintain the property ourselves, and work in the interior of the church in dire weather, setting our sights on attending to the cemetery once a week.  We made a not-for-profit out of it.  While I am junior, and there is no certainty how matters will proceed, in the seven years or so, lucky seven, that we’ve handled the cemetery, it has been a luxury of time and experience for me and an opportunity to enjoy the company of my father in his golden years.

 

We have had outside help from brothers of my father, my uncles.   On a few brief occasions we have talked about growth, but I don’t know if I can turn this venture into something in which I can continue in the long-term.  This post is intended to be expository writing, but working for a not-for-profit, when financial gains are generally hard-won, can lead to burnout, and to a minor degree that is what I am experiencing.

 

You see, I contribute several hours a week of work to the cemetery, and as my dad has spoken reassuringly of the flexibility to set our own hours, I have lately started to reduce my workload to a four-day week rather than a five-day.

 

I can’t help, for example, but want to relax on Saturday.  I think the decision to work less on Fridays is somewhat deleterious in that if you want to get ahead, you should probably be hustling with the same energy on a Friday that you do on a Monday.

 

I couldn’t help, in the past several weeks, to admit that the stress of putting nonprofit work at the center of my life, was making me feel a touch sick, by which I mean I was experiencing burnout.  I am sure this is common.

 

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Photographer: Ylanite Koppens

Whether this transition, to four days of focus on the cemetery rather than on each and every business day, will contribute to a soul-searching decision by my dad to relieve me of my work, I don’t know.  I think what will determine my chances of staying on are the quality of work I can produce in the time I devote to the not-for-profit.

 

How this has me feeling, perhaps, “sick,” is that I do care about working and I do feel some prestige enjoying the privilege of doing work that is shaped by our own efforts.  This is in contrast to working for a firm that is structured in predictable ways, with employee equity and positions and demands which could easily contribute to a high-stress load.

 

I am taking this risk because I believe I can do better work if I make strategies to cope with the burnout before there are related consequences.  I am counting on my own experience and abilities to do the same quality of work in a four-day structure than I would be getting done by committing the entirety of the work week to headway and progress.

 

I am sick to think of losing what I have worked for, and I am sick to think of bringing shame onto my father if the quality of my work does suffer because I am having trouble being afield of all that we do.  I feel like I should write something about feeling troubled by what I have to do to manage my role as operator, and maybe even think on how I could express an appropriate apology for how I am feeling.

 

Writing is the act of discovery. – Natalie Goldberg

 

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Photographer: Freestocks.org

If my father does finally decide, which I know he won’t do lightly, that I should be dismissed, it will be a sad day and for that, I will pay a price, of having the failure on my shoulders.  If that scenario comes to pass I will take time to mend.  It may be a self-centered attitude, but the best that can be done in the face of failure is to learn from what happened.

 

Everyone has experienced failure, and usually many, many times, sometimes with adverse consequences.

 

If you have never failed, you have stayed well inside your comfort zone.  Life needs to change and grow.

 

If my role in the not-for-profit does end in failure, I will at least have work experience.  I think I can draw on the time spent at this to draw conclusions that will inform my life in the future.  The situation that I think could result, however, is not going to be completely ideal.

 

It will be back to being “sick,” resorting to making ends meet with the help of a pension for disability, and with the support of my mom and dad.  Ain’t no one got time for that.  I will have then have the opportunity to look for a job if I feel I can weather the stress, or return to freelancing and try to find my niche doing that.

 

Dimensions: 2500 x 1995
Photographer: Rawpixel.com

Many members of Generation Z work as freelancers in the digital economy, and I would be competing with all of those people, which is daunting.  That being said, there are a few paths ahead for me to take and I will have to ask for guidance from fate and the intentions of The Lord.  I know I shouldn’t emphasize feeling sick about all this and I know I shouldn’t take on a job post that gives me more additional stress than I can handle.

 

For now, I will bide my time–for as much clarity as I can muster.

 

You are welcome to like, follow, and/or comment if you have feedback.  Lately, the blog has been fairly quiet, in terms of visits it receives, but you never know when some I’ve published here will pique the interest of a reader.

 

I appreciate the time of those who are visitors.  I have been tying my blog to the not-for-profit, and also trying to be jovial as I know it is as yet an amateur effort.  I feel blogging will continue to play a role in the time I have to write, as it is a splendid little spot of fun that has a pragmatic purpose.

Mermaid’s August 2018 WordPress Tea Party

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (pixelated)

A blogger on WordPress had a great idea for a splendid blog post and I want to indulge it–WordPress blogger The Little Mermaid is having her second-ever “tea party.”

 

The Little Mermaid, on one hand, is a Disney film character, who you have probably seen in the animated feature if you have an interest in Disney.  My own family has the videotape of the film because I have a younger sister.  In Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Ariel, seeks her escape from the sea, but, furthermore, The Little Mermaid is the name of a blogger who has had a delightful idea, that being to host WordPress “tea parties.”

 

The Little Mermaid writes that her first tea party, last month, was open-ended in terms of what content she wanted to read, but for August, The Little Mermaid has invited participants to post about books they enjoy, about which I thought I could circuitously add something to the conversation.

 

https://findingenvirons1.blog/2018/08/22/join-in-the-fun-join-in-the-august-2018-tea-party/

 

I am late in any case, but I’ve joined in by enjoying some of the tea party guests’ blog responses and by weblogging the August invite to the tea party and tweeting it.

 

As to what books I might read, most often I enjoy nonfiction, on such a subject as the business behind Google, for example, or of the blockchain.  Another kind of book I enjoy is the type that references techniques and strategies for personal change and success.  I like both physical volumes and books on my Kindle.

 

As I’m sure you’re aware, the accessibility of books in 2018 is completely staggering.  If you are a full-ahead author on the Internet I think you know that Twitter has seen a gold rush of self-published titles.

 

  • DIGITAL GOLD

 

The last book I got to read is not of this kind, however, not an eBook.  It is, in fact, a book that is near-academic, but interesting all the same.  The title is DIGITAL GOLD, written by Nathaniel Popper.  It is the story of the development of Blockchain and Bitcoin.

 

The blockchain is, I understand, a mega-trend.  I wanted to come to an understanding of what blockchain is about.  The blockchain is the process of cryptocurrency mining that could dramatically affect the long-term value of data currencies like bitcoin.

Dimensions: 1884 x 1152
Photographer: Icons8 team

All about bitcoin’s origins and its eventual emergence and success, Popper’s book interested me quite a bit.  I found it very satisfactory.

 

  • The Stranger

 

Reflecting in a different light, my favorite book isn’t nonfiction; it’s instead a famous novel.  Its appeal is legendary.  I have read it a couple of times, the perennial favorite The Stranger by the late Albert Camus.

 

This novel of Camus’ is an existential novel, in terms of its thematic elements, with the plot about a man who grieves his late mother in a markedly strange way, which you might characterize as embittered and perhaps confused, too.

 

Existentialist fiction usually tackles questions of the meaning of life, such as in The Stranger, looking at why the main character’s grief is necessary and how it is that it’s enacted in the character’s specific manner after his mother’s death.

 

  • Casino Royale

 

Reflecting again more on what makes a good novel, I think I’d argue that the most overrated book I ever read is Casino Royale, by the late Brit Ian Fleming.  Casino Royale, Fleming’s first novel about MI6 agent James Bond, 007, is the spy appearing in the film adaptation of the Fleming novel starring Daniel Craig as 007.  While Casino Royale is certainly an agreeable read, to think that with its publication one of the most successful film franchises ever would result, including film roles by several actors playing the character James Bond, leads me to characterize Casino Royale as perhaps indeed overrated.

 

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Photographer: Lukas

Casino Royale is about the spy 007 targeting an enemy’s gambling habits in order to complicate the enemy’s financial resources at the casino tables, thus rendering him less effective an enemy.  That Ian Fleming wrote the enemy as a Russian, I believe, is prescient of today’s turbulent world scene.

 

Fleming was drawing inspiration from the historical Cold War, and that is why the sign is there, that Le Chiffre, the name of the villain who 007 challenges at the card tables in Casino Royale, is Russian.  Even the other day, August 21, the Trump administration’s Paul Manafort was demolished for his thieving and his conspiring with Russian political agents.

 

What You Feel, You Can Heal

 

To go on, The Little Mermaid tactfully asks in her August tea party blog post the question of which book most distinctly impacted your life.  It is of a personal nature, to name a book that positively impacted you, but I think of What You Feel, You Can Heal, John Gray’s first book, published in the nineteen-nineties.  When I was a twenty-something I sat in at a conference to hear a speaker give his thoughts on wellbeing.  The gentleman gave advice on dealing with personal difficulties–he recommended John Gray.

 

What You Feel You Can Heal blog post
Opening paragraph for my What You Feel You Can Heal eBook

Gray’s best-known book (and there are a series of them) is Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, a book about relationships.  You know the speaker at the conference referred to social relationships suggesting something like that.  It isn’t Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus that interested me, although I subsequently read that one a couple of times.  Gray’s first book, What You Feel, You Can Heal, is about goalsetting through one’s lifetime and other matters of positive productivity, impacting me much more substantially than Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

 

John Gray, though young when he wrote What You Feel, You Can Heal, is recounting what he learned before emerging as an author.  He fleshes out his view of several stages of life that Gray observes in many other people, all at once in What You Feel, You Can Heal, bringing these ideas together to form this book.

 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

 

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (pixelated)
Science fictions novels (the photo has been pixelated)

One last note:  although it may seem juvenile, while not expressly for young adults, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by the late Douglas Adams, and the four novels Adams wrote to follow his success, are the books I would most earnestly recommend to someone new.  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is funny and strange, a blend of science fiction and humor.

 

Both in the novel and in the film adaptation, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the story of hapless Brit Arthur Dent, who hitchhikes to the stars the day that the Vogons, who are dimwitted, horrible monsters, demolish the Earth.  From there it is up to Arthur to get by in travels through the skies.

 

“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is a resource Arthur has to comprehend his troubles:  the Guide is an encyclopedia describing everything in the universe.  It is as if Douglas Adams, though writing for comic purposes, foresaw the development of the world wide web.

 

I have enjoyed The Little Mermaid’s tea party and I wish her well, as I do everybody else who thought to join in.  I appreciate every opportunity I have to contribute, and when there is some response to something I have written, I am always flattered.  You are welcome to “like,” follow, and/or comment as you see fit.  See you in September!

August 17, 2018 #NationalNonprofitDay

Louth United, disbanded in 2006
  • Yesterday the website ZDNet reported that researcher Sam Thomas speaking at the Bsides technical security conference in Manchester alerted attendees that WordPress has been rendered vulnerable to a bug for the entire duration of the last year.  While the situation hasn’t been exploited by attackers, Thomas sounded a concern with WordPress that will require a patch.  This is the first, I believe, that it has been reported, which is a fact, I suspect, that lends itself to the possibility that there could be an upset connected to this WordPress bug and the suggestion of vulnerability

 

https://www.zdnet.com/article/wordpress-vulnerability-affects-a-third-of-most-popular-websites-online/

 

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Photographer: Negative Space

 

In a different light on what’s happening in the blogosphere, I would like to say here that I think of myself as a reasonably well-informed individual.  I have an interest in being active with a blog, with Facebook, and with Twitter.

What’s come up is that the seventeenth of August, 2018, is a celebratory day for nonprofit businesses.  Despite the caveat at the start of the post, it can be said that if you’re unaware of the significance of August 17, 2018, it is that this is National Nonprofit Day.

I thought I would write something to mark the occasion.  I personally am part of a business that has a not-for-profit status.

About nonprofits, National Nonprofit Day recognizes people who contribute to organizations who generally rely on charitable funding to keep going.  There are a lot of needs that would be underserved if it weren’t for nonprofits.  Funding for not-for-profits helps with needs that otherwise would go unmet, which is great because it helps deal with active problems.

I help care for a not-for-profit cemetery that is small but pretty, named Maple Lawn.

Here is a recent photo.  Me, my dad Peter and his brother, my uncle, Dave, run the cemetery.

Louth United, disbanded in 2006
Formerly Louth United Church, St. Catharines

We don’t specifically receive funding for what we do.  We got involved a few years ago when Peter opted to take responsibility for a cemetery whose trustees no longer wished to care for it.  Since then we have opted to care for the grounds and to handle burials.

My dad worked for many years at the municipal cemetery in the city.  We generally attend to the cemetery grounds once a week, on Wednesdays, and we do additional work as needed.

There’s a church on the cemetery grounds.  The United Church of Canada congregation which filled it disbanded from this church of ours in 2006.  It may sound like we’re carrying out a selfless endeavor, but there are a few advantages, in addition, that I can think of.

Running the cemetery doesn’t require a huge amount of input or direction.  I am on hand to do some of the grounds keeping, and I also put it in time doing research and the like as the cemetery SMM.  My dad does a lot of the work that requires expertise tied to the particulars of operating a cemetery.

While many not-for-profits would operate on a fulltime basis, we write our own hours and we mostly look in our own pockets for what we need to spend.  I recently returned to the popular 4 Hour Work Week book by entrepreneur Timothy Ferriss for the third time now and you can view, if you like, my thoughts on it as the following blog post I wrote

https://findingenvirons1.blog/2018/07/24/pausing-to-read-the-4-hour-work-week/

 

We cover our costs and contribute to the cemetery if someone wants a grave here, or if a funeral needs to be conducted and we do this out of a sense of goodwill.

We have a Facebook page–https://www.facebook.com/LouthUnited–and a website–http://maplelawncemeteryorg.ipage.com/oldchurchcemetery/

I remain partial to the notion that if I write a blog there will be a little additional interest in what I say.

I look at Twitter, https://twitter.com/findingenvirons …because of Twitter’s use as an information tool.  I don’t limit my interests on Twitter to what we do at the cemetery.  I explore a variety of interests outside what would otherwise be confined to a very limited niche.

Cemetery operation is too specialized, I think, to confine a Twitter account to that sole purpose.

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Photographer: Rawpixel.com

I don’t feel that time is lost carrying out service at the cemetery.  The time that’s devoted to being part of a small not-for-profit rather than working in a career in sales or the like is meaningful and, even better, enjoyable.  I feel that limiting one’s energy to a volunteer position is time invested in oneself.

With the trade-off of what might be a better living secondary to time invested in the cemetery, I feel like I have something personal to me that I do, although I know a lifestyle like this is certainly not for everyone.  I continue to look at the work from the standpoint that it is a lucky opportunity.  There are drawbacks but I don’t want to emphasize them here in this post.

Furthermore, I appreciate that National Nonprofit Day celebrates nonprofits, people who work hard to make a difference.  When Maple Lawn highlights for people what we’re doing, such as on our Facebook page for the cemetery, we often get positive responses for the care we take to keep the cemetery looking nice.  Visitors to our Facebook page reward us that way.

https://www.facebook.com/LouthUnited
Photographer: Wilfred Iven

People who work in not-for-profits may not always feel that benefactors give them the credit that they deserve, but it doesn’t mean not-for-profit employees don’t find satisfaction in what they do.  I am sure that among not-for-profit personnel, many of them welcome August 17 and celebrate their work accordingly, and that’s what I’m writing about in this post.  I usually represent what we’re doing at the cemetery in positive terms, which is how I try to frame it.

That is to say, I think of myself as an optimist rather than as a pessimist, despite the solemnity of the atmosphere of a cemetery.  If you relate, you’re welcome to “like,” to “follow,” and/or to “comment.”  In November, I will try to respond specifically to the occurrence of Giving Tuesday, the day that charities work especially hard to raise funds.

I realize there may not be such a sense of urgency that a cemetery like ours needs additional assistance, but you never know unless you ask if there is some unknown avenue to improve the standard of work in our hands.  It is probably the right idea to look into getting additional help at the same time that similar organizations are delving into the same.  Autumn is the time of year for it.

I hope to continue working at the cemetery while playing the additional role of nurturing Facebook and Twitter, writing here on WordPress, and otherwise keeping a hand in at our not-for-profit.  Thank you for visiting my blog.

 

  • Please do not be alarmed by the idea that there is a bug in WordPress that could, in theory, render you in jeopardy if you maintain a blog with WordPress.  Actually, it has been kept under wraps for an entire year.
  • There have been no specific problems made aware of that ZDNet reported and there is no indication that the bug will actually be exploited in the name of enemy action, however so easy a target exists.  I know with this attention to the issue WordPress will respond with a patch.