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2014 Year-End Review

Another year, another job, moving on, and beginning to begin again.

Preface

I graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1976. Two year later I applied for a faculty position there in the English department. I was accepted into a program whereby the Air Force would send me to school for my Master’s degree in 1983 with assignment to the Academy starting in 1984. In 1982, however, I decided it was time to move on and resigned my Air Force commission, foregoing the opportunity to work for my alma mater.

I completed my Master’s  degree in Educational Psychology at the University of New Mexico in 2012. Two years later I applied for a position at the UNM Health Sciences Center (the medical school). For reasons I still don’t understand, the position was classified as a faculty position. After a three-month application and interview process, I was offered the position. This time I accepted the offer and started the new job with my second alma mater on January 5, 2015, as the Deputy Director for Operations of the UNM Health Sciences Library & Informatics Center (HSLIC) in Albuquerque.

Funny how things work out. And wherever I go, irony seems to tag along – the lowest grade I earned at the Academy was a “D” in Life Sciences (i.e., Health Sciences).

January-April Recap

Because I was four months delinquent in producing my 2013 report, I included three significant items from early 2014 in that post, including:

  1. A surprise 60th birthday party planned, organized, and near-flawlessly executed by my lovely and loving daughter Stacy.
  2. With two colleagues (Mary Lahman from Manchester University in Indiana and Greg Thompson from BYU in Utah), collaborated to design and deliver a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on general semantics to over 1,300 students from 67 countries.
  3. A video clip I posted on my YouTube channel from a Real Time with Bill Maher interview with Mike Rowe really resonated with viewers. As of today it’s received over 250,000 views and generated over 800 viewer comments, while the full channel (youtube.com/slingingsteve) has received more than 320,000 views and has over 120 subscribers.

Stacy Stockdale Trotter

After being together for three years, and engaged for two, Stacy and Chris eloped in July. Deciding to forego a conventional/traditional wedding, they opted for a destination/travel wedding, or planned elopement. Because so much of Stacy’s life revolves around photography, she wanted to have her close friend and fellow photographer Allison Harp take her wedding photos. Allison was in Oregon for the summer, so they picked a picturesque spot overlooking Crater Lake in southern Oregon for the July 28th ceremony.

They hosted a reception for family and friends in Dallas on October 4th. I put together this 10-minute video of their wedding photos that ran throughout the evening.

Stacy asked me to make the first toast. Not trusting myself to extemporaneously do justice to the occasion, I wrote the following:

I’d like to offer the first toast to my daughter Stacy and son-in-law Chris by relating two personal stories.

In 1965, I was a 5th grader in Pampa, Texas. My dad was the high school band director and arranged for Doc Severinson to come to Pampa and give two concerts with his high school band. (If you don’t recognize the name Doc Severinson, think of him as to Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show as Questlove is to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show).

As a young record collector with two Beatles albums, I was very excited when my dad announced they were going to make an album of the concert recordings. “We’ll be rich!” I thought. Then the box of sample pressings arrived. The first album my dad pulled out of the box had a completely black cover with three words in big white letters:

“We’re not going to be rich,” I realized. As we finished listening to the recording, I heard the narrator explain: Unlike the commercial recordings on the market today, the memories of this night, the musical lessons it has taught, are … well like the cover on the album says … NOT FOR SALE.

Since then I’ve learned and experienced what that means. A NOT FOR SALE moment may be recorded and photographed and described, but it cannot be replicated or felt or experienced as it was in the moment of the experience.

The second story involved a dinner I had with Stacy when she was in the 6th or 7th grade. We were at Old Spaghetti Warehouse in Bedford. I don’t think either one of us was in a very good mood. She seemed kind of mopey and I was agitated with the slow service. I complained about it until she had had enough.

“Dad!” She forcefully put her right forearm out in front of her, vertical with her hand above, then slowly rotated at the elbow until her forearm was parallel to the table. The non-verbal message was clear: Bring it DOWN!

When our food arrived I was shocked and embarrassed to see Stacy eating her spaghetti with her fingers. With no patience at all I made it clear she was to use her fork. She kept eating with her fingers. “Stacy! Stop that! People are going to look at you. Nobody eats their spaghetti with their fingers – that’s not the way people eat spaghetti!”

She looked around and shrugged. “Well, that’s how I do it.”

I have to confess that response is not what I expected and not what I wanted to hear at the time. But in hindsight it did not completely disappoint me.

Now, over the past 38 months, Chris and Stacy’s life together, including their elopement and even this celebration, hasn’t exactly gone according to any relationship blueprint or wedding planner’s guide. But in their own ways and through their own love and caring for each they’ve already created three years of memories that are NOT FOR SALE.

So please join me in toasting the marriage of Chris and Stacy Trotter and wishing them many NOT FOR SALE moments in the future, which may include, if their own spirits so move, eating spaghetti with their fingers.

Our First MOOC

In June I attended my second InstructureCon conference hosted by the company that produces the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). This year I went as a presenter, delivering a 30-minute (planned) session titled, “Our First MOOC” that related the experiences that Mary, Greg and I had in designing and delivering our online course mentioned earlier, “General Semantics: An Approach to Effective Communication.”

If you’re interested you can watch the video, read the transcript, and/or view the Powerpoint slides on my ThisIsNotThat site, or watch the video as posted on YouTube:

In my 2013 report, I shared a video clip of surprise musical guest M.C. Hammer dancing on my table. Last summer, the great surprise musical guest was one of my favorite New Swing bands from the late ’90s, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. It’s a shame there was no advance promotion and the weather was cold and dreary, but they were consummate professional and gave a great show to the few dozen who stayed to listen. Here’s a clip.

Nobody promised you a guardrail

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Christmas 2014

Before moving to Albuquerque, I spent a week in the DFW area to spend Christmas with my sister and family, then met up with her family and my brother to visit my dad and his wife Juanise in east Texas, and finished with Stacy and Chris in Dallas.

The Year’s Etc.

With the help of my sister, I got into eBay trading in a medium-sized way. I primarily bought and sold Apple devices, after which I am perilously close to facing accusations of becoming a fan boy. Not every trade worked out, but I was able to significantly upgrade my personal Apple computers, phones, iPads, iPods, etc.

A friend in Albuquerque had given me an original photograph of J. Robert Oppenheimer that, according to her research, had never been published. She thought it might be worth something and gave it to me for safe keeping, in case it might come in handy if/when I get back to my historical novel about the Manhattan Project. The PBS “Antiques Roadshow” happened to come through Albuquerque last summer and I was able to procure a ticket. As I suspected, the photo was too damaged to be assessed due to a spilt liquid stain, unless/until I paid to have it professionally restored. But it was fun to be a part of the crowd and see what goes on behind the scenes of the show.

As the Bill Maher clip kept driving viewers to my YouTube channel, I put some effort toward developing a trailer for the channel.

The New Job

Last August I received an email through a listserv that goes to IT leaders throughout New Mexico higher education institutions and major school districts. I found it intriguing in that it described a position with experience requirements that seemed almost impossible. It was for a medical school library, but “the library” was more than just a library – it included an IT department and a biomedical informatics department. (What is biomedical informatics?) The job posting emphasized experience in project management, process improvement, cross-functional interdisciplinary organization, and several other competencies. After re-reading it, I thought … I don’t think anybody is qualified for this, but I can make a pretty good case for myself.

I submitted my application on Labor Day. The following week I received an invitation for a Skype interview on September 29th. Next came an onsite interview on October 21st. The second week of November there was a follow-up conference call and initial discussions about an offer. I didn’t receive the official offer until December 4th and signed a contract as I was leaving town for Christmas on December 23rd.

One of the first people I contacted was Helen Harkness, who I started with as a career advisor/coach back in 2000. I’ve kept in touch with her through all my moves and fits and starts, including a short visit last April. I wrote to her to explain why I was excited about this job:

One of the exciting things about this position for me is that it will take advantage of every one of my previous jobs/careers. I can’t tell you how validating that feels. This is a case that proves the aphorism that every step you’ve ever taken is on the path that led you where you are today. But for now I just want to share the news with you and tell you again how much you and your program have meant to me.

I returned from the DFW area on the 29th, rented a moving truck on the 30th and moved all of my big items, and started work on January 5th. The UNM Health Sciences Library & Informatics Center (HSLIC) has a staff of about 60 people. My job title is Deputy Director for Operations with responsibilities that span the organization. So far, it’s been challenging and invigorating.

Looking Ahead, Inspired

As 2014 neared its end, a friend wished me well and, knowing of my moves, wished me the “best year ever.” That stopped me in my tracks. With the exception of my senior year at the Academy, I can’t ever remember thinking in terms of anticipating a “best year ever.” As an adult, especially since I’ve been doing these past 21 annual reviews, I’m quite cognizant of impending change and uncertainty, but I’ve never really expected or anticipated the possibility of “the best” ahead. For 2015, though, I have to say … yeah, maybe.

A good part of my optimism comes from two sources of late-year inspiration. In the fall I watched “Sonic Highways,” the HBO series created by Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. Throughout the eight episodes, in which the band recorded a new song in eight American music recording meccas, Grohl related his own philosophies and ideas about music, musical history, and the creative process. His comments really resonated with me. One clip in particular, that concluded the episode in Nashville, I found inspiring enough to excerpt it here.

What struck me was how similar the sentiments expressed by these musicians – Dave Grohl, Dolly Parton, Zac Brown, Emmy Lou Harris, and Tony Joe White – are to the comments I noted in 2009 that were stated by Gloria Steinem: you need to do what only you can do.

Look for opportunities to do what only you can do. Break a senseless rule. Ask, “why?” Challenge authority. Take your own road. Sing your own song. Write your own verse. (Seriously, have you ever known anyone of consequence who was best known for following the rules? For just going along? For blindly conforming? “Yeah, that Harvey … he’s a terrific follower!”)

And if you should happen to one day feel an overpowering desire to ‘eat spaghetti with your fingers,’ what’s the worst that can happen? I’ll bet the world won’t end, nor will it probably even notice.

Looking ahead, I’m armed and fortified with some powerful sentiments to accompany me. As Dave Grohl sings in “In the Clear,” “there are times when I feel like givin’ in,” but looking ahead to 2015 I also know that “there are times I begin to begin again.” 2015 is one of those times. Again.

Here’s wishing you your best year ever!

@Nidividuate (Steve)

2013 Year-End Review

and the first quadrimester of 2014.

And now you know that a quadrimester is a 4-month period of time: “rare in the U.S., this unit is widely used elsewhere to describe an academic term of 4 months duration.” I have some excuses for why this year’s report is a quadrimester late, but no good reasons, so I’ll just note it and move on.
Previously, recall that in my 2012 report, I included this blurb about a place in western New Mexico called El Morro:

A national monument, El Morro (Inscription Rock) is a 90-minute 45-minute drive from Grants. I visited it one Saturday in October. It’s an imposing rock formation that has ancient markings from the Anasazis, the remnants of a pueblo atop the rock, and from 1605 to 1905, inscriptions from travelers. Literally, El Morro was the rock-hard precursor to a Facebook update: “Governor Don Juan de Onate checked in, 1605, +27 not counting slaves.”

Back to General Semantics, Part 1

In January 2014, I got the news that Mr. B.K. Parekh died in Mumbai, India. Mr. Parekh was responsible for my unforgettable 3-week trip to Mumbai in 2007, with Andrea the IGS Board President, to present a series of lectures and workshops on General Semantics in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Baroda. More about the 2007 trip.

A few weeks later I was invited by Dr. Deepa Mishra to contribute to a collection of articles about General Semantics to be published in Mr. Parekh’s honor. From February until the fall, I spent a great deal of time getting back into General Semantics to prepare something worthy of Mr. Parekh. Despite several attempts, however, I wasn’t able to adequately articulate what I wanted to say. Dr. Mishra was gracious enough to extend my submittal deadline several times, until I finally had to reluctantly and humbly admit that I wasn’t going to be able to complete it without delaying the publication schedule.

Months later, some of that ‘unproductive’ time and research would bear some fruit.

“The IT Guy”

In August 2012, I took a position at the community college in Grants, New Mexico, which is part of the New Mexico State University system. I was hired as “instructional technology manager,” with the primary responsibility of administering the online Learning Management System (LMS) known as Canvas, used by faculty to teach online courses.

After a few months, I accepted an additional duty of redesigning and maintaining the campus website. Fortunately for me, the entire NMSU system was in the process of moving their websites to the WordPress platform, which I had been working in for the previous three years. The redesigned NMSU Grants website went live in April 2013.

A month later, I became the IT Director with additional supervisory responsibilities. While I’ve always known a little more than average about computers and the Internet, I didn’t consider myself an “IT guy.” But fortunately we have two really good support guys who are most definitely “IT guys.” We spent a good portion of 2013 overseeing the installation of a dozen “smart classrooms” with the latest instructional technology, and an even better portion of 2013 trying to figure out: a) how it works; and b) how to make it work when it didn’t want to work.

In June 2013, I attended the annual user conference for Canvas held in Park City, Utah. I had a great time, learned a lot about how Canvas was being used by other institutions, and where the company behind Canvas (Instructure) was going with their new initiative to offer free online courses (known as MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses). Instructure was making a big push to develop a catalog of free online courses using their Canvas Network platform and actively seeking new courses to offer.

And I earned the dubious distinction of having MC Hammer dance on my table.

Family

My dad has experienced some health issues for the past couple of years. Approaching the big 8-0, he and my stepmother Juanise decided to sell their house in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and move into an assisted living apartment in Jefferson, Texas, where Juanise’s daughter Ann lives. Over Labor Day weekend, they made the move. My sister Lizann, brother-in-law Tom, and niece Britni and I went to Tulsa to help with some of the last-minute details and packing, then the three of them drove my dad and Juanise to Jefferson.
A couple of weeks later, I returned to Jefferson to spend five  days with my dad while Juanise and Ann attended Ann’s son’s wedding in Washington, D.C. We had planned a small family celebration for my dad’s 80th birthday over Thanksgiving weekend, but a few days earlier Ann’s husband Ron lost his long battle with Parkinson’s disease. We decided to forego celebrating my dad’s birthday, at least for awhile.

My daughter Stacy continued her extraordinary life with her fiance Chris, her high school students, her growing photography business (Just Breathe Photography), and her work on behalf of Toms shoes. In fact, based on her fundraising and promotion work she’s done over the years, she was selected by Toms in 2013 to travel overseas and personally deliver Toms shoes. However, due to some administrative and medical constraints, she wasn’t able to make the trip. She was profiled last month in a local magazine for her teaching and her work with Toms (online edition, starting on page 8).

Jim’s Wedding

In October, I received a special invitation. One of my two best friends from high school, Jim, was getting married to his partner of 20 years, also named Jim. I wrote about Jim in this Fort Worth Star-Telegram article in 2006. Unfortunately, they planned their wedding reception on the Saturday following Thanksgiving when we had planned my dad’s 80th birthday celebration. After we decided to postpone my dad’s thing after Ron died, Stacy pressed me to go to our first same-sex wedding. Thanks to her prodding, we made a quick two-night trip to New York to honor great friends.

And we saw Wicked on Broadway.

A Solstice Hike

On December 22nd, I took an off-the-trail hike with three guys from work. The destination was a set of seldom-seen petroglyphs which included a “sun dagger” that marked the annual stages of the sun. We were a day past the actual winter solstice, but we did observe the shadows approaching high noon and documented the moment when the shadow line bisected the center of the square spiral – the highest point of the sun on the shortest day of the year.

Back to General Semantics, Part 2

In July, I received an out-of-the-blue email from Mary Lahman, Ph.D., a professor at Manchester University in Indiana. I met Mary in 2002 when she attended a GS seminar at Alverno College in Milwaukee. She wrote seeking my permission to use some excerpts from my e-book, Here’s Something About General Semantics, in a course textbook she was preparing for a course she’s taught since the 1990s. We exchanged a few collegial emails about the course, then I asked if she would be interested in teaching an online course on General Semantics via the Canvas Network. (Recall the “big push” Canvas was making to establish an extensive catalog of online course offerings.)
She enthusiastically agreed. Then I contacted Greg Thompson, Ph.D. at BYU (with whom I had corresponded for a few years and only just met in person in June on my way to Park City). He was also game for collaborating on an online course.

Based on the course that Mary taught at Manchester called Language and Thought, we agreed on a course title (General Semantics: An Approach to Effective Language Behavior), a short catalog description, and submitted our proposal to Canvas in September. To my surprise, they immediately accepted it and we were off and running to develop the six-week course for a January 13, 2014, start date.

Speaking for myself, the course was an incredible experience that greatly exceeded whatever expectations I had. We put it an awful lot of hours, both in preparation and in execution. Here are some of the highlights:

  • We ended up with 1,325 total enrolled, with 575 enrolling after the course opened.
  • 407 completed a pre-course demographic survey prepared by Canvas that reflected:
  • Participation: only 43% expected to be “active participants”; the others described themselves as “passive participants, drop-ins, or observers”.
  • 74% expected to spend less than 4 hours per week on the course.
  • Education attained: short of a 4-year degree – 26%; 4-year degree – 24%; some graduate work – 8%; Masters – 26%; doctorate, JD, MD – 12%.
  • English as primary language – 64% yes, 35% no.
  • Location: North America – 49%; Western Europe – 22%; Eastern Europe (incl former Soviet Union) – 5%; South America and Australia/South Pacific – 4% each; Africa and East Asia – 2% each; Southeast Asia – 1%; Central America, Carribean, Middle East – each greater than 0 but less than 1%.
  • Gender: 61% female, 38 % male.
  • Age: 44% under 35; 33% between 35-54; 18% over 55

We had at least 120 individuals complete at least one of the six modules to earn a badge, and about 38 people from 14 countries earned the course badge.

  1. U.S.
  2. U.K. (incl Scotland)
  3. Spain
  4. France
  5. Belgium
  6. Australia
  7. Saudi Arabia
  8. India
  9. Greece
  10. Grenada
  11. Philippines
  12. Switzerland
  13. Ecuador
  14. Russia

It’s worth noting that completing each of the six modules required at least 2-3 hours per week of reading, watching, and participating in online discussions and assignments. So those who completed all six modules made a significant investment of time in the subject.

Mary, Greg, and I offered the course under a Creative Commons open license whereby our materials are available for anyone to use, provided they attribute the source of the material and offer it under the same open sharing license. The course remains available, without student content, on the Canvas Network site at https://learn.canvas.net/courses/191. I also have the entire course content posted on my thisisnotthat.com website.

Leaving Facebook

On the Ides of March of 2014, I terminated my Facebook account. Of course, Facebook being Facebook, I can’t say for sure that my account is indeed “terminated” and if all of my photos, comments, posts, etc., are actually deleted or just in some unavailable-to-me hard drive in the cloud somewhere.
I had three primary reasons to just say no to Facebook:

  1. The immediacy of searching items on Amazon and then immediately seeing those same searched items displayed in my Facebook ads was unnerving.
  2. The tangled web of associated and linked accounts with my Facebook account was beyond my willingness, if not ability, to understand.
  3. I’m sympathetic to the premise and argument espoused by Jaron Lanier in his Who Owns the Future? In a nutshell, why should I be contributing my content at no cost to enrich others? Why shouldn’t I be paid for the content I’m providing?

Of course, you always keep in touch with me here at stevestockdale.com, thisisnotthat.com, Twitter (@Ndividuate), LinkedIn, and my YouTube Channel.
(Speaking of my YouTube channel, last July I posted this clip from Mike Rowe’s appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher. Amazingly-to-me, that clip has received 170,000 views and over 800 comments. I guess it resonates.)

Leaving the ’50s (Surprise!)

At the end of March, I planned a week off to return to the DFW area, as requested by my daughter. Apparently her request was not arbitrary, as it coincided with my 60th birthday. She arranged a surprise party which, all things considered, was about as good of a time for the surprised (me) as is possible with a surprise party. Here are some of the pics, taken primarily by Stacy and Mark Gunderson.

One of the many reasons I’ll be forever grateful to Stacy is that she collected 60 notes of memories and remembrances contributed by my family and friends. No matter where I go in my life meanderings, I’ll take those notes and memories. Thanks, Stace, and everyone who took the time to write something about me.

Concluding Sentiment

A 2012 song by the group Incognito has been banging around my head for the past few months. I think it could’ve been one of my theme songs for most of my adult life. It means something to me. I hope you might ponder it and consider, in whatever ways make sense for you, to “say goodbye to yesterday.”

I keep dreaming ’bout where I could be
About the places and the faces I’d see
This is bigger than myself
I know that no one else
Can do what’s clearly up to me.
It’s never too late to change your fate
Right here and now, I’m gonna turn my world around.
Well, I used to think I was stuck on red
Now I know that it was all in my head
But I’m done making excuses
Can’t fool myself, it’s useless
I’ll follow my own lead instead.

2012 Year-End Review

Half-a-Life in 2012

For the fourth time in the last 30 years, I put all my (dwindling) household goods into storage not knowing when, where, or in what state (of mind and residence) I’d be removing them.

The short straw in 2012 went to Grants, New Mexico, where since August I’ve been gainfully employed (for the first time since 2007) as Manager for Instructional Technology at the Grants campus extension of New Mexico State University. This comes as a direct consequence of my May 2012 completion of the Masters degree in Educational Psychology at the University of New Mexico (as an outstanding graduate, I might add). To supplement my job-seeking summer activities I put together an online portfolio website, including a six-minute video resume.

In 2012, I turned 58 and my daughter turned 29. So I’ve lived, and will continue mathematically to live, more than half my life having a daughter. It also happens that 1983 marked the beginning of my own personal computing life with a TI-branded IBM compatible at work and a Commodore 64 at home. So from now on, I’ll also have lived more than half my life with computers.

By no means am I comparing my daughter to a computer. But it’s just an observation that she and computers (for me) came along about the same time. And coincidentally, we both now make our living by extending what we know about computing to others; she at the high school level with students and me at the community college level with faculty.

I guess you could say we’re engaged in the same business of managing electrons in order to influence neurons.

Missing K.C. and O.T.

Last February 23rd, while killing time waiting for a class at UNM, I checked email on my phone. I saw the always-dreaded Subject line from the Air Force Academy Association of Graduates: “Gone But Not Forgotten.” In this case, I immediately rushed into a computer lab to read the message full screen, because this time the Subject line included “Steinbaugh – 1976.”

K.C. Steinbaugh was my roommate for most of my last three years at the Academy, and if I had a “best friend” at USAFA, it was K.C. Even though he and his wife Liz and his three sons lived in Plano the entire time I lived in the Metroplex, I hadn’t seen him in the last ten years. I didn’t know that he had within just the past few months contracted a one-in-a-million neurological disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (known as CJD). One neurologist compared CJD to Lou Gehrig’s disease on steroids – always fatal, almost always within a year of first symptoms.

I attended his memorial service, then came back and as a tribute to K.C. and Danny Sawyer, another of our squadron classmates who died in 2006, I put together a video to commemorate our time at the Academy. The video and the obituary I wrote for the alumni publication are also available on this page:

Then in November I heard that O.T. Ryan, the long-time band director at Plainview High School and one of my dad’s best friends, died. I had visited O.T. and his wife Pat in March 2011.

It’s hard to escape the parallels – my best friend from college and my dad’s best friend as an adult died in the same year. And they both went by their initials.

A third death touched my life when, just a week before I was to vacate my Santa Fe apartment, my landlord Dennis Leon died at his home in San Miguel, Mexico, after steadily failing health over the previous year. He and his partner Roger normally came to Santa Fe every year at the end of May to do maintenance on the property, take care of local business, and lease renewals. I delayed my departure a couple of days in order to visit with Roger. I consider them good friends after three years as their tenant and commend Roger for his yeoman efforts to nurse Dennis through a very difficult year.

Reflections

Disparate things on my mind … next month will be the 20th anniversary of “The One-Minute Poem.” I honestly can’t say if I’ve made much progress in stowing away my self-criticizing red pen.

During the summer, after graduating and before I accepted the offer from NMSU Grants, I stayed with my sister and brother-in-law. I had a lot of time to think about the paths I’ve taken and the choices I’ve made. I came to the conclusion that more than anything else, what I want to do is have quality time to think about the things I want to think about.

A national monument, El Morro (Inscription Rock) is a 45-minute drive from Grants. I visited it one Saturday in October. It’s an imposing rock formation that has ancient markings from the Anasazis, the remnants of a pueblo atop the rock, and from 1605 to 1905, inscriptions from travelers. Literally, El Morro was the rock-hard precursor to a Facebook update: “Governor Don Juan de Onate checked in, 1605, +27 not counting slaves.”

The first week I was in Grants, I ate at a local Chinese place. I got the obligatory fortune cookie when I finished. But far from the usual insipid and trite bromide that has come to pass as a digestible “fortune,” I kept this one.

I don’t presume this as a forecast or prediction. But I will admit it’s always been a motivator that I haven’t always lived up to.

More

Stacy is now engaged to Chris, who surprised her with an engagement party I was able to attend just before I left for Grants. In addition to her teaching job, she’s developing a real photography business for senior pictures, weddings, special events, boxing matches, and anything else that needs to be graphically captured for posterity.

Stacy and Chris took me to the new Perot Science Museum in downtown Dallas after Christmas. Here’s my version of “Roger and Me” (as in Roger Staubach) and why Slingr is, well, Slingr.

I had a great weekend visit with two dear friends, Andrea and Alta, in September. I needed it more than they.

For awhile I tried to maintain my interest in examining and scrutinizing what I believe are … suspicions … about the management of CHRISTUS St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe. I went so far as to request over 600 pages of county documents under the state’s public records act. But one can only fight so many battles and I’ve come to the realization that I can’t win this one.

Unexpected Pleasures of 2012

  • Downton Abbey (PBS)
  • Sherlock Holmes (BBCA)
  • The Hour (BBCA)
  • The Newsroom (HBO)

And for some reason I’ve been hooked on these classic Queen videos. Maybe I’ll need to come back to these later.

 A New Hope for 2013

Love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the light
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure.

There are a lot of people around the world and across the street who, for whatever reasons and causes and circumstances, exist “on the edge of the light.”

My hope for 2013 is that the Time Magazine will be justified to select as their collective Person of the Year, “The Other.”

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2011 Year-End Review

What to say about 2011?

Things didn’t quite work out as I expected a year ago.

I didn’t finish the novel I mentioned. But I did write nine pretty good chapters.

I didn’t finish the Educational Psychology Masters degree last spring as I intended. But I’m only two courses short and unless something unforeseen occurs, I should graduate in May. I didn’t anticipate that WordPress was going to preoccupy a good portion of the year. I started the fictional memoirs of Annie Armstrong as a blog (the aforementioned nine chapters). I re-designed my personal site (this one) and migrated it to the WordPress blogging/website platform. I also redesigned my DiscernThis! blog and gave my ThisIsNotThat.com a bit of a facelift. I did some other work in WordPress explained below.

I also didn’t anticipate knee surgery, or a 48-hour fear that I had suffered a retinal tear.  The knee has healed nicely and the eye is okay, if your “okay” is calibrated to include intermittent floaters moving in and out of your field of view. Mine is … now.

I anticipated, but didn’t fully appreciate, how much time I would devote to issues related to the union contract negotiations between the Santa Fe hospital, CHRISTUS St. Vincent, and the nurses and technicians union. Given my negative opinion of the hospital, I didn’t have any trouble finding reasons to criticize the hospital’s paternalistic, autocratic, and authoritarian handling of the union contract negotiations. Not that I didn’t also criticize the union, but they (the union) thought enough of what I was able to do through my blog that they thanked me in a special post-negotiations newspaper insert.

Stacy came out for a few days in August to coincide with the wedding of our mutual friends Marisa and Aaron. I went to Dallas in March to help her move into her first “on her own” apartment, a really cool loft conversion in an old downtown Santa Fe railroad terminal building.

And after a short trip to Tulsa to visit my dad and his wife Juanise, I returned to Dallas in November to take advantage of a gift certificate she won for two nights in the Aloft Hotel across the street from her place (also in a former Santa Fe railroad building). At which time I got to meet the new man in her life, Chris.

The second night I was there was the night of the 5.8 earthquake centered near Oklahoma City. I was on the hotel’s third floor and, in the words of Carole King, “I felt the earth move under my feet.” Seriously strange feeling.

I suppose a general theme of the year was learning. I guess my challenge for the coming year is to figure out how to take advantage of that learning and apply it to something productive … like a job.

Here’s a summary of some of the things I spent my time on in 2011.

Writing

The first nine chapters of Annie Armstrong’s fictional memoirs, written as her blog, are posted here. Thanks to my friend Lana for giving voice to Annie and recording these chapters for those who’d rather listen than read. I also made a video to accompany her reading of Chapter 1, The Cerro Grande Fire.

“8 Passages for Uncertain Career Journeys” was published in the Journal for Career Planning and Adult Development that was distributed last January. This journal issue was edited by my friend and mentor Helen Harkness.

I contributed an essay titled “Suspended in Stereotypes” for the Reader on Race, Gender and Other Minorities, compiled and edited by former colleagues at the Schieffer School of Journalism at TCU in Fort Worth, due for publication in early 2012.

Some academic attempts:

  • An evaluation of the Strong Interest Inventory, focusing on its reliability and validity.
  • The literature review of a proposed quantitative research project, Racial Color-Blindness and Context-Blindness.
  • A qualitative research prospectus related to the somewhat-controversial Kenneth Adams mural in the Zimmerman Library on the University of New Mexico main campus: Muraling Myths: A Research Prospectus.
  • A book review of Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions by Stephen L. Macknik and Susanna Martinez-Conde with Sandra Blakeslee.

During the summer I started blogging for a new website, SantaFe.com. For a variety of reasons, I wasn’t totally into this outlet, but I wrote a few things I’m proud of under my blog name, “From Here to Discernity.”

  • A Cashier and The Case
  • Karma Makes a Comeback
  • The Cross That Came Before
  • Changing Streams
  • Indian Market – why this and not that?
  • What a Marriage a Difference Makes
  • Adherence to Appearance
  • Learning is for Noobs
  • The Rolling Stones of Broken Beliefs
  • New and Old Takes on Education

Videos

  • I had a brain MRI in 2010. For reasons known only to that brain, I created two videos with different musical accompaniment choices to display the MRI images.
  • “What Difference Does it Make?” — Rather than give the expected Powerpoint for my final presentation in my Biological Bases of Behavior course, I made this video. It’s about brains.  Here’s the paper that accompanied the video.
  • Partially due to one of my UNM courses, I made this little video for “Visualizing America’s Manifest Destiny.”
  • “The Only Game in Town” — An attempt to summarize issues related to CHRISTUS St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe.
  • “The Local Community Hospital Game” — In the CHRISTUS Health system, there is no such thing as a “loal community hospital.”
  • “Different Shades of Cool” — Just because I felt like it one day when I woke up, this includes short clips of 20 different live performances that, to me, exemplify “different shades of cool.”
  • Last March I attended a press conference at the old Albuquerque Railyards at which grand new redevelopment plans were announced. I was inspired to create this video to commemorate it. So far as I know, nothing has progressed on the project in the last ten months.

Websites

For a couple of months last summer, I thought I was going to be working with a friend to do website design based on WordPress. That didn’t work out. But I’ve continued to work in WordPress as I’ve found it a useful framework for organizing information.

In addition to my SteveStockdale.com and DiscernThis! sites I’ve already mentioned, I created two others recently.

Ndividuate Yourself is a site that contains a well-written (natch!) endorsement of WordPress and a soup-to-nuts tutorial for how to setup  and use WordPress that’s targeted specifically (and exclusively) to beginners. My presumption is that if you have a Facebook page, know how to upload photos to a site, have ever bought anything online, and know how to use a word processor, you have the skills required to create and manage your own website with WordPress.

In addition to the well-written (natch!) tutorial, I’ve created more than 20 videos that supplement the written articles as an actual website is created through the lessons.

I also decided, after discussions with one of the Santa Fe County Commissioners, to create a new site for the community to exchange information CHRISTUS St. Vincent Hospital. I migrated “The CHRISTUS Files” from my Discern This! blog and created The Accountable to Santa Fe Network at www.A2SF.net. It’s intended to become a multisite network with online discussion forum. We’ll see how it evolves – I start promoting it tomorrow. The timing is good as the current scandal involves a $3M embezzlement by a former Chief Operating Officer whose named accomplice is the current “significant other” of former Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez, who happens to be running for one of the three New Mexico congressional seats.

So we’ll see what happens this year. There’s a good chance I’ll be moving again. Might as well get started … where’s that editable resume?

A Crop of Enlightened Perspectives

Seedsfrom David Fairchild’s Memoirs, The World Was My Garden (1938)

[on his own home garden]  “I was appalled by my abysmal ignorance of practical agriculture when I started to create my own home. I soon discovered that through all my years of association with professors of horticulture, agricultural colleges, and experiment stations, I had developed a blind spot towards the practical formulae of such an immensely simple thing as the making of a flower or vegetable garden. Marian, of course, depended upon me for all this knowledge which I had only theoretically, and in gardening you may as well not know anything at all as to know it in a theoretical way. If you are not actually sure exactly how to do a thing in gardening, you do not know how to do it, and that’s that!” (p. 316-317)
[in Panama, regarding the threat of malaria]  “In 1899, the French attempt to build the Canal had collapsed, but as yet the yellow fever mosquito had not been suspected of carrying the disease. The old French hospitals were still standing and, in the open space beneath them, on the ground lay great piles of iron crosses imported from France, each with a serial number on it ready to mark the grave of some patient. In fact, all the patients were measured for coffins immediately after they were admitted to the hospital. Practically none ever emerged alive.
“The Sisters of St. Vincent, who were in charge of the hospitals, kept potted plants on the window-sills to make the wards more cheerful. Under the pots were saucers and, as the plants were watered daily, water always stood in the saucers. In consequence, mosquitoes bred there, and fed on the yellow fever patients, thus becoming infected themselves with the parasite. In turn they infected nearby patients who might otherwise have escaped.”
in Spain, describing a driver: “I hired a driver who bore an unpleasant resemblance to my idea of a brigand [bandit or robber]. Although I did not like his looks, he was pleasant enough and during the drive up the mountainside regaled me with talk of the bull-ring… [after an afternoon of cutting and collecting specimens, returning after sunset] … As we approached the narrowest part of the defile where the cliffs shut out even the faint light of the rising moon, stories of the bandits in that region began to surge through my memory. At that moment, my driver reached behind him, pulled out a gun and flourished it in my face saying something in Spanish which I could not understand. It was a perfect spot for a hold-up, and I felt a nervous chill run down my spine. I never carried firearms, but flashed my heavy, nickel-plated tripod in the moonlight, hoping that he would think me armed also. Nothing further happened and before we reached town I decided that, far from his having any idea of robbing me, he had meant to reassure me and tell me that he would protect me if necessary.” (p. 201)
“The human mind prefers something which it can recognize to something for which it has no name, and, whereas thousands of persons carry field glasses to bring horses, ships, or steeples close to them, only a few carry even the simplest pocket microscope. Yet a small microscope will reveal wonders a thousand times more thrilling than anything which Alice saw behind the looking-glass.” (p. 11)
“The morning after my arrival (Muenster, Germany), I was unlimbering my microscope when the Professor’s “Diener”, a devoted servant and assistant, came marching in. In his hands, held as proudly as a flaming Christmas pudding, was a plate piled high with horse-dung. With a flourish, he placed it on my table, covered it with a bell jar, and assured me that it was completely fresh and absolutely perfect in every way. Incredible as it may seem, after my first feeling of revulsion had passed, I spent three of the most entertaining and instructive weeks of my life studying the fascinating molds which appeared one by one on the slowly disintegrating mass of horse-dung. Microscopic molds are both very beautiful and absorbingly interesting. The rapid growth of their spores, the way they live on each other, the manner in which the different forms come and go, is so amazing and varied that I believe a man could spend his life and not exhaust the forms or problems contained in one plate of manure.” (p. 55)
[circa 1909, in England]  “Of course I went out to Kew Gardens and renewed my acquaintance with Sir Thistelton Dyer and Sereno Watson, and filled a notebook with names and suggestions for new Chinese plants to introduce.
“A rose espaliered against a south wall greatly took my fancy as it was covered with great, single white blooms. It was Rosa brcteata, the Macartney rose from South China. Its thick, dark green leaves and densely tomentose stems form a striking background for the brilliant white flowers. I took a plant home with me and was delighted when it bloomed on a trellis at “In the Woods” [the Fairchild’s home in Maryland].
“After it had grown there for several years and I had proudly shown it to many of my friends, I happened to be in Louisiana visiting Ned McIlhenny. He was driving me across the low, flat delta region of the Mississippi when I saw in the distance a long, hedgelike mass of bushes, a quarter of a mile long and perhaps forty feet across. I could not imagine what it was.
“‘Oh, that,’ Mr. McIlhenny said, ‘is the worst weed we have down here. That’s the Chickasaw or Macartney rose, introduced by the early settlers some time in the seventies I believe. Since its introduction it has grown wild and covers large areas of land and has been impossible to eradicate.’
“I gasped, for I realized that I had been tenderly nursing the worst weed of Louisiana. This rose, introduced into England in 1753 and named after Lord Macartney, behaves in a ladylike manner in more northern climates.” (p. 360)
[in Mozambique]   “I wandered about the town until dark, and on the edge of the village came across a group of black men dancing in the moonlight on the dusty roadway. They were abandoning themselves to a kind of instinctive rhythm as they clapped their hands and stamped their big bare feet on the hard ground as naturally as the monkeys in the forest swing by their tails from the forest trees. I, with generations of Calvinism and Quaker creed behind me, stood fascinated, understanding for the first time that perhaps the instinct to dance is so deeply rooted in the makeup of the human animal that the puritanical idea of eliminating it is more unnatural than the dancing.” (pp. 272-273)
[circa 1899 in Peru]  “Mr. Lathrop told me that during a former trip to Peru he had visited the high Andes and had been much impressed by the way the natives carried heavy loads up the mountainsides, seemingly without exhaustion. He found that they all chewed the leaves of a plant called Coca (Erythroxylon Coca) which they used either fresh or dried, mixed with a small quantity of ashes. To the use of this leaf, they attributed their ability to carry loads for long distances in high altitudes. Since no one could tell him its chemical content, Mr. Lathrop sent a quantity of the leaves to the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco for analysis, with a description of its use. Much to Mr. Lathrop’s disgust, nothing was ever done in the matter. He was particularly annoyed later when a German chemist isolated the useful drug cocaine from coca leaves, a drug which soon became the best know alleviative of human suffering.
“It was a bitter disappointment to Mr. Lathrop that he had not had the satisfaction of bringing cocaine to public notice. Whenever I gather the red berries from my coca bush, I am reminded of Mr. Lathrop’s first introduction.” (p. 129)
[in China]
“These truck gardens of a city of 2,000,000 people did not contain a single vegetable with which we are familiar in America. The people, apparently well nourished, live on an entirely different diet from that which we consider necessary for health and happiness. Even their grains differ from ours. South of the Yangtse, the people consider their daily dish of rice more essential to their well-being than an American does his loaf of bread. In southern China, Indian corn is practically unknown, wheat a luxury, and, except on rare occasions, no one has either a beefsteak or a mutton-chop. Northern China is not a rice-producing country and there they have some corn and wheat. Throughout China they have pigs, of course, chickens and ducks; but even the pigs appear strange, because they have been bred to be sway-backed and have enormous bellies. This, I was told, was to increase the amount of bacon. Bacon is important as it is an ingredient of the chow mein, the most popular dish of the Chinese menu.
“Butter and cheese were unknown outside the foreign settlements, and the only milk sold, except to foreigners, was human milk. There were no beef cattle, and few work animals, buffaloes only, for human labor was cheaper. The sheep were prized for their wool, and seldom killed for meat.
“Professor King (Franklin H. King’s, in Farmers of Forty Centuries) has demonstrated that, according to recent Rothamsted experiments, whereas “only four pounds out of each hundred of the dry substances eaten by cattle are transformed into human food, and five pounds of the dry substances eaten by sheep, eleven pounds in each hundred are transformed into human food by swine.” In view of these figures, which have only recently been established as scientific facts, it is significant that the Chinese long ago discarded cattle as meat producers, used sheep more for their pelts and wool than for food, while retaining the swine as the one animal used in the role of middleman transforming coarse substances into human food.” (pp. 219-220)
“On my way up to San Francisco, I stopped in Fresno to see George C. Roeding, who had a large orchard of Smyrna figs. For many years the trees had refused to bear. Suddenly they began to produce good crops of fruit, due to the introduction of the blastophaga, a tiny wasp. The flowers of the fig are inside the fruit, with but a tiny aperture of the edible figs, thus carrying the pollen from one flower to another; without its services the Smyrna fig refuses to fruit. The romance of the introduction of this wasp, and its establishment in California, is one of the most entertaining stories in the annals of horticulture.” (p. 210)

Quotes

Quotes Pertaining to an Informed Perspective

Graphic


Learning

He who learns and learns and yet does not what he knows, is one who plows and plows yet never sows. — ancient Persian proverb, quoted by Alfred Korzybski in Science and Sanity 
If the world has nearly destroyed itself, it is not from lack of knowledge in the sense that we lack the knowledge to cure cancer or release atomic energy, but is due to the fact that the mass of men have not applied to public policy knowledge which they already possess, which is indeed of almost universal possession, deducible from the facts of everyday life. If this is true — and it seems inescapable — then no education which consists mainly in the dissemination of knowledge can save us. If men can disregard in their policies the facts they already know, they can just as easily disregard new facts which they do not at present know.
What is needed is the development in men of that particular type of skill which will enable them to make social use of knowledge already in their possession; enable them to apply simple, sometimes self-evident, truths to the guidance of their common life. — Sir Norman Angell, 1942
Children must be free to think in all directions irrespective of the peculiar ideas of parents who often seal their children’s minds with preconceived prejudices and false concepts of past generations. Unless we are very careful, very careful indeed, and very conscientious, there is still great danger that our children may turn out to be the same kind of people we are. — Maj Gen Brock Chisholm, first Director General of the World Health Organization
The aim of education is the condition of suspended judgment on everything. — George Santayana  
If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is no barking dog to be tethered on a 10-foot chain. — Adlai Stevenson
Teaching and learning that lead to no significant change in behavior are practically worthless. — Irving Lee
Learning to un-learn to learn, for me, best describes the process of learning the discipline theoretically (verbally) and organismically. —  M. Kendig
Learning is the gradual replacement of fantasy with fact. — Gifford Pinchot III
The trouble with people is not so much with their ignorance as it is with their knowing so many things that are not so. — attributed to William Alanson White by Alfred Korzybski in Science and Sanity; also attributed to Josh Billings
You can’t no more teach what you ain’t learned than you can come from where you ain’t been. — Mark Twain, as quoted by Helen Harkness
There are two ways to slide easily through life: Namely, to believe everything, or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking. — Alfred Korzybski 
A person does what he does because he sees the world as he sees it. — Alfred Korzybski
We see the world as ‘we’ are, not as ‘it’ is; because it is the I behind the ‘eye’ that does the seeing. — Anais Nin
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. — Marcel Proust
You can’t step into the same river twice. — Heraclitus
We see what we see because we miss all the finer details. — Alfred Korzybski
Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the ‘real world’ is to a large extent unconsciously built up on the language habits of the group … We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation. — Edward Sapir (1929)
Language plays a tremendous role in human affairs. It serves as a means of cooperation and as a weapon of conflict. With it, men can solve problems, erect the towering structures of science and poetry—and talk themselves into insanity and social confusion. — Irving J. Lee
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. — Albert Einstein 
The more you do what you’ve always done, the more you’ll get what you’ve always got. — paraphrased from Albert Einstein
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. — index card tacked to Einstein’s office wall
All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions. — Leonardo da Vinci 
To know and not to act is not to know. — attributed to Lao Tse
The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen. —  Lee Iaococca
We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it—and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again—and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore. — Mark Twain

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught

from South Pacific — Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein

You’ve got to be taught, to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught, from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade.
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught, before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

 
Being myself a remarkably stupid fellow, I have had to un-teach myself the difficult, and now beg to present to my fellow fools the parts that aren’t hard. Master these thoroughly and the rest will follow. What one fool can do, another can. — Sylvanus P. Thompson, Introduction to Calculus Made Easy
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. — Sir Isaac Newton
I know I cannot paint a flower. I know I cannot paint the sun on the desert on a bright summer morning, but maybe in terms of paint color I can convey my experience of the flower or the experience that makes the flower of significance to me at that particular time. — Georgia O’Keeffe
What is demanded is a change in our imaginative picture of the world — a picture which has been handed down from remote, perhaps pre-human ancestors, and has been learned by each one of us in early childhood. A change in our imagination is always difficult, especially when we are no longer young. The same sort of change was demanded by Copernicus, when he taught that the earth is not stationary and the heavens do not revolve about it once a day. To us now there is no difficulty in this idea, because we learned it before our mental habits had become fixed. Einstein’s ideas, similarly, will seem easy to a generation which has grown up with them, but for our generation a certain effort of imaginative reconstruction is unavoidable. — Bertrand Russell, ABC of Relativity
If we are ever to become what we might have been, we must cease being who we’ve become. — Wendell Johnson
False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science for they often endure long; but false hypotheses do little harm, as everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path toward error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened. — Charles Darwin
Those are the doubting reactions of impetuous youth. To-day, you learn something. To-morrow you think you can already be letter perfect in technique. But the ‘system’ is not a hand me down suit that you can put on and walk off in, or a cookbook where all you need to do is find the page and there is your recipe. No, it is a whole way of life, you have to grow up in it, educate yourself in it for years. You cannot cram it into yourselves, you can assimilate it, take it into your blood and flesh, until it becomes second na-ture, becomes so organic as part of your being that you are trans-formed by it for all time. It is a system that must be studied in parts and then merged into a whole so that it can be understood in all its fundamentals. When you can spread it all out before you like a fan you will have attained a true grasp of it. You cannot hope to do this all at once. — Constantine Stanislavski, Building a Character
I must stress that I give no panaceas, but experience shows that when the methods of general semantics are applied, the results are usually beneficial, whether in law, medicine, business, etc., educa-tion on all levels, or personal inter-relationships, be they in family, national, or international fields. If they are not applied, but merely talked about, no results can be expected. — Alfred Korzybski
Every word or concept, clear as it may seem to be, has only a limited range of applicability. —  Werner Heisenberg (Physics and Philosophy, 1963)
With every mistake, we must surely be learning. — George Harrison, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

Wit and Wisdom

If I’m who I am because I’m who I am and you’re who you are because you are who you are, then I’m who I am and you’re who you are. If, on the other hand, I’m who I am because you’re who you are, and if you’re who you are because I’m who I am, then I’m not who I am and you’re not who you are. —  from Art by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton
Do I love you because you’re beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you? — from Cinderella by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. — T.S. Eliot
Limitation of aims is the mother of wisdom and the secret of achievement. — Goethe
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. — Aristotle
Knowledge of the possible is the beginning of happiness. — Goethe
Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen. — John le Carre, from The Chancellor Who Agreed to Play Spy
Happiness is not something that happens … It does not depend on outside events, but, rather, on how we interpret them. —  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen. — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
How we feel about ourselves, the joy we get from living, ultimately depend directly on how the mind filters and interprets everyday experiences. — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered. — G.K. Chesterton
We are always getting to live, but never living. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, as quoted by Csikszentmihalyi
186,000 miles per second: It’s not just a good idea — it’s THE LAW! (Einstein t-shirt)
There is no coming to consciousness without pain. — Carl Jung
One test is worth a thousand expert opinions. — Anonymous
Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy. — The Eagles, “Take It Easy”
Who rules our symbols, rules us. — Alfred Korzybski
The pursuit of excellence is the proper vocation of man. — Cassius J. Keyser
The present is no more exempt from the sneer of the future than the past has been. — Cassius J. Keyser
The next-most difficult thing in the world is to get perspective. The most difficult is to keep it. — Cassius J. Keyser
It is commonly, but erroneously, believed that it is easy to ask questions. A fool, it is said, can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer. The fact is that a wise man can answer many questions that a fool cannot ask. — Cassius J. Keyser
If people would stop objectifying abstractions (which they probably never will), or if they would stop objectifying the abstractions they make consciously (which they might learn to do), at least half the pseudo-questions befuddling the world today — as they have befuddled it since time immemorial — would vanish. And that would be a very, very great gain. — Cassius J. Keyser
How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living? — Henry David Thoreau
To a mouse, cheese is cheese. That is why mouse traps are effective.(page 192 of People In Quandaries; often repeated as “That’s why mousetraps work.”) — Wendell Johnson
The true meaning of a term is to be found by observing what a man does with it, not by what he says about it. — P.W. Bridgman
If your language is confused, your intellect, if not your whole character, will almost certainly correspond. — Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch
God may forgive your sins. But your nervous system won’t. — Alfred Korzybski
It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed. — Albert Einstein
The world we have created today as a result of our thinking thus far has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them. — Albert Einstein
Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen. — Albert Einstein
Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits. — Mark Twain
There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. — Epictetus
The self explorer, whether he wants to or not, becomes an explorer of everything else. — Elias Canetti
You don’t get meaning, you respond with meaning. — Charles Sanders Peirce
Ultimately, we attach meaning to experience. — an instructor in a corporate training class offered by Gifford Pinchot III
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimation of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. — Marcus Aurelius
We cannot command the wind, but we can adjust our sails. — Anonymous
We tend to discriminate against people to the degree that we fail to distinguish between them. —  Irving Lee
You can’t make me what you call me! — Al Fleishman 
I lived with the terrible knowledge that one day I would be an old man, still waiting for my real life to start. — Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides 
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. — William James
Out of time we cut days and nights, summers and winters. We say what each part of the sensible continuum is, and all these abstract whats are concepts. The intellectual life of man consists almost wholly in his substitution of a conceptual order for the perceptual order in which his experience originally comes. — William James “The World We Live In”
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. — Elvis Costello
Time is but the stream I go fishing in. — Henry David Thoreau
It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and only lukewarm defenders among those who may do well under the new. — Machiavelli
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. — George Bernard Shaw
The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measure anew each time he sees me, whilst all the rest go on with their old measurements and expect them to fit me. — George Bernard Shaw
To progress, man must re-make himself, and he cannot re-make himself without suffering. For he is both the marble and the sculptor. — Alexis Carrel
Laughter is the only thing that’ll cut trouble down to a size where you can talk to it. — Dan Jenkins, Semi-Tough
There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion. Carl Jung
If the minimum wasn’t good enough, it wouldn’t be the minimum. (And if the minimum isn’t good enough, it shouldn’t be the minimum.) — Air Force Academy aphorism, c. 1972
A ship in the harbor is safe. But that is not what ships are for. — Anonymous, from a poster c.1972
You can’t sail on a still day. — Anonymous, from Shania Twain’s “If It Don’t Take Two”
If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas. — repeated by Dandy Don Meredith on Monday Night Football
Act as if the future of the universe depends on what you do, while laughing at yourself for thinking that your actions make any difference. — Buddhist saying
Keep company with those who make you better. — English Saying
If you aren’t getting flak, you aren’t over the target. — Gifford Pinchot III
If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly. — G.K. Chesterton
Your task it is, amid confusion, rush, and noise, to grasp the lasting, calm and meaningful, and finding it anew, to hold and treasure it. — Paul Hindemith
The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. — Steve Biko
The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything. — 19th century U.S. diplomat Edward John Phelps
The certainty of misery is better than the misery of uncertainty. — Pogo
He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. — former British prime minister Harold Wilson
Progress has not followed a straight, ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution. — Goethe
Life has a way of demanding that you live it. — Nora Percival, heard on NPR’s Storycorps series.
The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution. — Bertrand Russell
Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. — Sir Arthur S. Eddington
What can be shown, cannot be said. — Ludwig Wittgenstein
Nothing in human history that flowed from the decisions of governments has been inevitable. No historical event ever had to happen the way it happened. The counter-factual, the “could have been” in history is a unique and essential aspect of human intelligence. And it should always be recognized that options existed. Alternatives always have been available, and they always will be available. — Martin J. Sherwin
The opposite of a true statement is a false statement, but the opposite of a profound truth is usually another profound truth. — Niels Bohr
There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum. — Arthur C. Clarke
He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot reason is a fool; he who dares not reason is a slave. — William Drummond
Prejudice is belief left unchallenged. — Steve Stockdale

from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” [emphasis added]

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
The virtue most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It [Conformity] loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.
No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it.
What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own. But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loth to disappoint them.
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood. Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. For of one will, the actions will be harmonious, however unlike they seem. These varieties are lost sight of at a little distance, at a little height of thought. One tendency unites them all. The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.
At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friend, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door, and say, Come out unto us. But keep thy state; come not into their confusion. The power men possess to annoy me, I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act.
If our young men miscarry in their first enterprises, they lose all heart. If the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. If the finest genius studies at one of our colleges, and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of Boston or New York, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened, and in complaining the rest of his life. A sturdy lad from New Hampshire or Vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to Congress, buys a township, and so forth, in successive years, and always, like a cat, falls on his feet, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. He walks abreast with his days, and feels no shame in not studying a profession, for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. He has not one chance, but a hundred chances.
A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

Henry David Thoreau Walden

In most books, the I, or first person, is omitted; in this it will be retained; that, in respect to egotism, is the main difference. We commonly do not remember that it is, after all, always the first person that is speaking. I should not talk so much about myself if there were any body else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience.
But men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon ploughed into the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation…. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
But alert and healthy natures remember that the sun rose clear. It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however, ancient, can be trusted without proof. … Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new.
‘But,’ says one, ‘you do not mean that the students should go to work with their hands instead of their heads?’ I do not mean that exactly, but mean something which he might think a good deal like that; I mean that they should not play life, or study it merely, while the community supports them at this expensive game, but earnestly live it from beginning to end. How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?
There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. It is human, it is divine, carrion. If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life, as from that dry and parching wind of the African deserts called the simoom, which fills the mouth and nose and ears and eyes with dust till you are suffocated, for fear that I should get some of his good done to me,-some of its virus mingled with my blood.
I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
I perceive that we inhabitants of New England live this mean life that we do because our vision does not penetrate the surface of things. We think that that is which appears to be.

From Mahatma Gandhi


Compiled by C.D. Deshmukh:
I am conscious of my own limitations. That consciousness is my only strength.
My life is an indivisible whole, and all my activities run into one another; and they all have their rise in my insatiable love of mankind.
I have in my life never been guilty of saying things I did not mean – my nature is to go straight to the heart and if often I fail in doing so for the time being, I know that Truth ultimately makes itself heard and felt, as it has often done in my experience.
I believe in the absolute oneness of God and, therefore, also of humanity. I have always believed God to be without form. What I did hear was like a Voice from afar, and yet quite near.
Like every other faculty, this faculty for listening to the still small voice within requires previous effort and training, perhaps greater than what is required for the acquisition of any other faculty, and even if out of thousands of claimants only a few succeed in establishing their claim, it is well worth running the risk having and tolerating doubtful claimants.
from Gamtano Kariye Gulal, compiled by Balvant K. Parekh:
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
The most heinous and the most cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives.
from the movie Gandhi directed by Sir Richard Attenborough:
Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mighter than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment.
A nation that is capable of limitless sacrifice is capable of rising to limitless heights. The purer the sacrifice the quicker the progress.
Truth is God and God is truth.
Where there is love, there is life; hatred leads to destruction.
Truth, purity, self-control, firmness, fearlessness, humility, unity, peace, and renunciation – these are the inherent qualities of a civil resister.
Non-cooperation is a protest against an unwitting and unwilling participation in evil.
You will eat not to satisfy your palate but your hunger. A self-indulgent man lives to eat; a self-restrained man eats to live.
Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.
Love is the strongest force the world possesses, and yet is the humblest imaginable.
It does not require money to be neat, clean and dignified.
Cowards can never be moral.
To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.

Here's Something About General Semantics

Here's Something About General SemanticsA Primer for Making Sense of Your World, by Steve Stockdale

  • Available in eBook format (PDF) for immediate FREE download. FREE!
  • ISBN 978-0-9824645-0-2; 290 pages.
  • Accessible, well-written introduction to GS principles, plus more!
  • Written from 13 years teaching experience.
  • Filled with examples, demonstrations, and explanations; over 50 illustrations.
  • Includes articles from the GS journal (ETC) and newspaper columns.
  • Thirteen pages of Notes and Sources; Index of 270 names.
  • Links to over 150 online video clips.
  • Appropriate for all learners and teachers, middle grades through university.
  • Learn how language and other symbols influence how you perceive your world,
    how you respond to your perceptions, and how you think-and-talk about your responses.

The world in which we live is a world of differences. When we disregard differences, we generalize. When we generalize inappropriately, we stereotype, forming biases and prejudices. Troubles inevitably follow. We need to learn how to more critically differentiate, or discern, between what happens in our lives, how we respond, and how we think-and-talk. This book explains and applies the principles of General Semantics to promote an ongoing awareness of differences that make a difference. The book advocates an informed, open, and tolerant world view, deliberately derived from what we currently know from integrating the sciences, arts, and humanities … without deference to dogmas, traditions, or what passes for culturally-dependent “common sense.”


  • That’s right … Here’s Something About General Semantics costs you nothing. All you have to do is follow the directions, abide by a few restrictions, and it’s yours.
  • The book consists of a 4 MB PDF file. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software, Version 7 or later (as of November 2009, current version is 9.2).
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  • Right-click the link here to save the file on your computer, or left-click to open the file within your browser and then save to your computer.
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  • The “Find” search feature within the Acrobat Reader (or equivalent) performs a text-searchable function for the book.
  • Links within the eBook provide direct access to online videos on ThisIsNotThat that augment the text.

What’s in the Book?

PREFACE: Something About This Book

  • How I Learned About General Semantics
  • Why GS is “quest-worthy”
  • How GS is consistent with current neuroscience understanding
  • Benefits of GS as reported by university students

Part 1 Introductions to General Semantics

  • Introduction
  • A Structured System of Formulations
  • Some Questions and Answers About GS
  • A Tutorial
  • Two Video Reviews
  • Seven Stories to Illustrate Some GS Principles

Part 2 Explanations and Descriptions

  • Report from an 8-Day Seminar-Workshop
  • My ME Model
  • Report from a Weekend Seminar
  • About “Mindfulness” and GS
  • The Girl and the Match
  • Other Descriptions of General Semantics
  • An Explanation of the Structural Differential
  • 13 Symptoms of Language Misbehaviors
  • A GS Perspective

Part 3 Extensions and Applications

  • Toward an Informed World View
  • Eating Menus
  • Calling Out the Symbol Rulers
  • Words by Other Names
  • Response Side Semantics
  • Semantic Pollution Fouling the Airwaves
  • How Do You Play the Game?
  • But What If …?
  • A Fence Sieve Language
  • Why Make a Federal Case Out of Bad Words?
  • How to Size Your (Thinking) Box
  • The Bridge at Neverwas

Part 4 Some History

  • General Semantics Across the Curriculum
  • Snooping Around the Time-Binding Attic
  • Heinlein and Ellis: Converging Competencies

SUPPLEMENTARIES

  • Full Transcript, “Lay Off of My PERSUADE Shoes”
  • Bib-Vid-liography: Some Resources
  • An Essay on Levels of Abstractions

NOTES AND SOURCES
INDEX OF NAMES