I recently encountered a post on Medium bemoaning America, seemingly seeing us as hopelessly divided along racial, cultural or tribal lines. People like this often place a lot of emphasis on skin color in analyzing America. President Trump has created an hysteria, or at least a real worry, among some of my fellow liberals about the rise of racism in America. Here is my response to that line of thinking.
Dear Hopeless in America: I’m sorry you are feeling bad, but I think you’re part of the problem. You are declaring war on everyone that looks different than you, or who doesn’t fit your cultural type or however you define yourself. The people holding the whip are not a racial group, they are not the majority, they are an economic group and are a tiny minority but dangerously powerful.
Yes, there are people like you that judge everything by race, and that’s a shame and works to the detriment of racial minorities for obvious reasons. As long as race is the focus, there is nothing you can do to help yourself if you happen to have the wrong skin color. There are plenty of disenfranchised whites, that’s what got Trump elected you might say. But I am guessing probably you see them as jerks and have no compassion for them. That’s why you just might be a racist. Skin color is just sooo important to you.
I’m sure it sucks to be called racial epithets, and knuckle dragging white racists are horrible, but my lack of concern for the exact right phrasing and sensitivity levels to make you happy is not the problem. The real problem is class class class. It’s Jeff Bezos and Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton and seemingly every Republican ever elected. It’s the concentration of political, economic, military and police power in a smaller and smaller set of hands, regardless of their ethnicity or culture. That would be bad even if they were not mostly white people, believe it or not.
I believe that if we change our lens to focus on the real issue which is that insiders and corporations run our government, and that education, infrastructure and health care have taken a distant back seat to endless wars and stock market profits and real estate bubbles, we can make real progress.
Emie S. (supposedly a manager or higher level) on July 8
Thakur. Rawat on July 8
Ravinder S. on July 8
Prakash on July 3
Kaviya T. on July 3
Richa S on July 3
and numerous others that I have not documented here on phone and chat.
Each one has apologized repeatedly for my inconvenience and made empty promises to follow up.
End result? It’s two weeks after the latest empty promise and guess what? Zero response.
Amazingly awful support you have there, amazon! The one good thing I can say about all this is that if I were training a company on what to avoid and mistakes that can be made, I’d find this to be a useful case study.
So what I’ve done personally is stopped using Amazon for books. I used Calibre to convert my Kindle copyright protection to an open source format and am now using iBooks to read them. iBooks works better than the Kindle app anyhow.
So, I’ve been meditating on and off for a few years now. Had a 90 day streak going in 2014, experimented with binaural beats to enhance my brain waves, studied some Buddhism, have noticed some benefits from meditation, but never was really wowed with it. I just tried to keep with it because so many people swear by it and more importantly there is really good science that shows that it has a host of mental, emotional and physical benefits.
Most of my meditations have been in the category of “insight meditation.” Instead of focusing on a single object as in focus meditation, with insight meditation, you simply sit with a broad awareness and notice things. This technique has really built an understanding of my mind for me, and that has been beneficial in seeing how my mind works and so helps me indirectly. But I really never got wowed myself by it. Until this week.
Even though I’ve read from sources that you really should build your insight meditation on top of an already good focus practice, I kind of skipped that step. Now I can see I made a mistake. But this week I made a shift to focus meditation in a way I never have before. I committed to it. This came from noticing for the thousand millionth time how unfocused my life and mind are in general. I had never really succeeded at focus meditation. My mind always wandered, I couldn’t keep with it.
But this past Monday, I went to a local Sangha in Bangkok and the monk as he was preparing us for a half hour meditation mentioned something I had never heard before and it struck me with force. He said, when you sit and watch the breath, don’t sit with the idea of the breath, but rather notice and experience the physical sensation of the breath. That seemed interesting, so I decided to try it out.
As I sat that night, I had a fantastically focused experience for a half hour. I stayed watching my physical experience, and that almost completely divorced my mind from thought. I was able to simply sit and watch my breath with my entire mind most of the time, fascinated by the nuances of each moment of every breath. The translation from thinking about focusing on my breath as a mental exercise to actually focusing on my breath as a complete experience, crucially including the feeling of the air moving through my body in each moment, brought me incredibly present.
This was a huge breakthrough. Not only am I able to “succeed” at staying focused throughout the meditation, but I am now actually seeing the much vaunted benefits of meditation appear in my life firsthand. My mind is incredibly more focused and clear after meditating in this way. It feels rested and sharp. And by developing this insane focus for 20 minutes each day in the morning, the rest of the day I stay on task much easier. The ability to leave my thoughts and go into my body even makes sex better, I noticed today. Way better.
This evening as usual, at around 7:30pm, my brain was tired and I felt like tuning out and going into the downward “going to bed” mentality that usually eclipses my evenings. So I tried an experiment. I sat down with my little Buddha candle in front of me and did another 20 minute session. When I came out of it and sat down in front of my computer to finish watching Bill Maher, I realized I would rather study Thai. I did so for a half hour, and then I stopped and poured a glass of bourbon.
Then I remembered I was going to blog about meditation. So I just banged this post out too. This is remarkable for me, these two small bits of productivity, because they both involved concentration at some level and focus, something that normally at this time of night, just aren’t there for me. And the motivation, forget about it normally. But after round 2 of meditation, bang, there it is. Hmm.
Remarkable! I recommend you add this trick to your meditations if you are not already experiencing success in focus meditation or find your mind wandering excessively. Just watch the breath as a full experience, and stop thinking about watching the breath. Get fascinated by it. I’m excited! I feel like meditating more and more… quite interesting.
I recently started having a mysterious problem with my Kindle app on Mac OS X. It will not log me in.
The first thing that happens is this. I have nothing in my library. This is because my Kindle.app is disconnected from Amazon.
Very reasonable to expect that I next need to log in:
I type in my username and password and get another prompt to log in, but this time with a CAPTCHA added. Why am I being asked to log in again? If a captcha is necessary, why not ask me in the first dialog? I’m already annoyed. Stupid but hey, not unbearable yet.
After passing the captcha test, the weirdness begins. Kindle decides I need to be sent a 6 digit code by email and then enter it. Seems reasonable, well, except that it’s totally annoying. However, what happens is I am transferred to my browser, Chrome, to enter the code. Kindle.app goes into the background and Chrome comes up in front with the following “Verifying it’s you” demand.
I’m sent an email with the code:
OK, so I go back and enter it into Chrome and I get this dialog saying my session has timed out. I know what’s happening. Technically speaking, Kindle.app holds the session ID and Chrome does not. So amazon assumes my session has timed out. Again, why is Chrome involved at all?
OK so anyhow I enter my sign in information and I’m admitted to amazon.com where I can go shopping… except of course that’s not what I want to do.
I want to use my Kindle.app! So I bring it to the front. It is waiting patiently for sign in:
If I do sign in however, the loop repeats. I’m asked for a captcha, then sent to Chrome for a 6 digit code, then timed out, then logged in, then asked for a login on Kindle….
So I call amazon support. I have spoken to them numerous times and they just don’t understand their own software. On June 30, I chatted with them for 40 excruciating minutes. For some reason amazon teaches their technicians to constantly apologize and that is sooo annoying.
Initial Question: I cannot register my kindle reader on my mac
06:58 PM PDTRyley Rose(Amazon): Hello Wealthychef, my name is Ryley Rose. Thank you for being a Prime member! We really appreciate it.
I’m sorry to hear you aren’t able to register your Kindle Application for Mac. I’d be happy to check and do my best to help you. 06:59 PM PDTwealthychef: OK. 07:00 PM PDTRyley Rose: May I ask, have you already tried to use the Amazon verification code sent to your email? 07:00 PM PDTwealthychef: yes yes 07:01 PM PDTwealthychef: What happens is I get a dialog asking to sign in with username and password.
After completing that, I get another dialog asking for username, password, and a captcha. That’s already annoying. Why not just use the captcha right away?
Anyhow, after completing that, it opens my browser and asks for a 6 digit code sent to my email. I enter that and my browser takes me to my amazon.com account but the kindle app does not allow me to synchronize and continues to think I’m not registered.
07:01 PM PDTRyley Rose: I’m sorry to hear that the Amazon verification code didn’t worked. 07:01 PM PDTwealthychef: The problem seems to be that that 6 digit code is being asked for in my browser, not the kindle app I’m sorry you’re sorry 07:02 PM PDTRyley Rose: I see. I appreciate the information, Wealthychef. Thank you. Have you already tried to uninstall and reinstall the Kindle for Mac application, still same issue persist? 07:02 PM PDTwealthychef: yes 07:03 PM PDTRyley Rose: I’m sorry for that. Checking on it now. 07:06 PM PDTwealthychef: ok 07:06 PM PDTRyley Rose: Thank you for waiting on me. Upon checking here, I need to transfer you to the higher level which is our Kindle Tech Specialist trained to give an appropriate action. No worries, you don’t have to repeat your concern. Please stay on the line while I transfer you. 07:07 PM PDTRicha(Amazon): Hello, my name is Richa. Please give me a moment to review the previous correspondence. 07:07 PM PDTwealthychef: roger that 07:12 PM PDTRicha: Thank you for waiting. 07:13 PM PDTRicha: Lets go ahead and first disable two step verification. https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201962430 07:13 PM PDTwealthychef: good idea! 07:13 PM PDTRicha: Please click on this link to disable the verification. 07:14 PM PDTwealthychef: I don’t see a way to disable it. It took me to Advanced Security Settings but there is no “disable” 07:15 PM PDTwealthychef: Just a button that says “Get Started” 07:15 PM PDTRicha: Alright. 07:16 PM PDTRicha: Please go ahead and first uninstall the kindle app from your mac. 07:16 PM PDTwealthychef: I’ve already done that… but I guess I can do again Hmm, actually I just installed again, not uninstalled. Let’s see what happens. I will just delete the app. Is that what you mean? 07:17 PM PDTwealthychef: Or is there a special uninstaller? 07:17 PM PDTRicha: To download Kindle for Mac, go to:https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-pageHave you trashed the app ? 07:17 PM PDTwealthychef: Yes 07:18 PM PDTRicha: Please use above link to install app. 07:19 PM PDTwealthychef: ok it’s installed 07:20 PM PDTwealthychef: should I try to use it? 07:20 PM PDTRicha: Yes. 07:21 PM PDTwealthychef: Same thing. It says “For your security, we need to verify your identity. We’ve sent a code to the email email@example.com. Please enter it below.” Then when I enter it it says “There was a problem
Your session has timed out. For security reasons, please sign in again.” Presumably because it’s asking on Chrome and the app is not involved. 07:22 PM PDTRicha: You received code at 7:20. Did you used it? 07:22 PM PDTwealthychef: Yes I used the code 07:23 PM PDTRicha: Have you enable firewall to restrict downloads ? 07:23 PM PDTwealthychef: No 07:24 PM PDTwealthychef: There is no firewall that I know of. 07:24 PM PDTRicha: Alright. Is Mac running OS X 10.9.5 or higher? 07:24 PM PDTwealthychef: Yes 10.12.6 07:25 PM PDTwealthychef: It worked a few days ago in America, although it is constantly asking me for my password, which is incredibly annoying. It gets unregistered all the time I’ve used it in Thailand and Korea successfully. 07:26 PM PDTwealthychef: I have tried going through a VPN just in case Amazon hates Japan As I have said multiple times, the kindle app does not ask me for the code. It opens Chrome for that. I think that’s the problem. 07:27 PM PDTwealthychef: I enter my 6 digit code into Chrome, not the Kindle app. So the kindle app does not get the code. Don’t know how to say it any clearer 07:27 PM PDTRicha: Please check if web debugging proxies are enable for safari. 07:27 PM PDTwealthychef: I’m not using Safari 07:27 PM PDTRicha: Alright. Please check for chrome them. *the *then 07:28 PM PDTwealthychef: I don’t know what that is. 07:29 PM PDTwealthychef: What is a web debugging proxy? There is no Chrome setting for that that I can see. Why is Chrome involved at all? 07:30 PM PDTRicha: May I know if date and time is correct according to the location? 07:30 PM PDTwealthychef: As far as I know it is. 07:32 PM PDTRicha: The following instructions will show you how to disable the proxy settings for Wi-Fi on your Mac computer. Click the Apple icon then select the System Preferences… option.
From the left pane, select the network service you wish to disable the proxy settings on, then click the Advanced… button. 07:33 PM PDTwealthychef: There are no proxies enabled for my wifi connection 07:34 PM PDTRicha: Please check for chrome as well. 1. Open Chrome and click the wrench icon in the screen’s upper left corner.2. Click “Settings” to open your Settings page.
3. Click “Show advanced settings” and click “Change proxy
07:34 PM PDTwealthychef: My iPhone is using the same wifi router and the iphone kindle reader works fine 07:34 PM PDTRicha: settings” to open the Windows Internet Properties dialog box.4. Click “Settings” to open your connection’s settings.
5. Click the check box labeled “Use a proxy server for this connection” to clear it.
6. Click “OK” in both open dialog boxes to close them.
07:35 PM PDTwealthychef: I do not use Windows. There is no proxy enabled. I found the proxy setting in Chrome and it just uses what the system uses, which is nothing. 07:37 PM PDTwealthychef: I tried using Safari as my default browser and get the same problem. Why is kindle asking for this code? It never did this before. 07:38 PM PDTRicha: As we have tried troubleshooting to resolve it, in this case, I will go ahead and forward it to our technical team to check for the problem, you will receive email for resolution from our team with in 24 hours Here is a ticket ID: 0117323517 07:38 PM PDTwealthychef: OK
Crickets. OK, so July 3, I check back. More apologies for my inconvenience and the trouble I’m having. Apparently they are waiting for me to provide more information, only I never was asked for any information.
I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve received any information from us. I can certainly help you with this.
I’ll surely forward your message to the appropriate team. We have a dedicated team working relentlessly to implement the feedback we receive.
I’ve immediately checked the ticket and see that our technical team requested some information to resolve your issue so please contact us via phone or chat so that we can gather the required information and help you to resolve this issue immediately.
Please be informed that troubleshooting steps can only be handled via phone or chat since we’re unable to gather information via email.
I’m really sorry if this additional step might cause you any inconvenience. I hope you’ll understand that this will help us in assisting you more precisely.
While contacting us via phone or chat, we can check and help you to provide the updated ticket information and assist you with real-time assistance.
For your convenience, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Simply drop your number in the link given below, and we will call you right back.
Once you visited that Contact Us page, click on the “Chat” option.
For Phone: When you visit our website and select Contact Us, click on the “Phone” tab, enter your number, and we’ll call you right back. Contacting us through the website allows you to verify security before a call is placed and ensures we have your account information ready when we call you.
Thanks for your patience and understanding. We hope you can contact us soon so we can help solve this problem quickly.
We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.
Out of politeness, I do not vote about my experience. Each time I send them an email, they send me two back, one to say thanks for emailing, and another to tell me it would be better if I call them. So I chat with them and finally make them understand that i have not received any correspondence asking for additional information. That chat takes 30 minutes of my time.
Initial Question: I was told to contact you to chat regarding my problems with my kindle reader software on my mac. Hopefully you have my history
03:22 AM PDTAswathy(Amazon): Hello, my name is Aswathy. I’m here to help you today. No worries, please let me check this for you. 03:23 AM PDTAswathy: Thanks for waiting. Just to confirm, are you referring to “wealthychef’s Kindle”? 03:24 AM PDTwealthychef: I’m referring to the kindle app on my Mac. I don’t know what nickname it is but it probably has the work “Mac” in it 03:24 AM PDTAswathy: I’m sorry for the misunderstanding caused. 03:25 AM PDTAswathy: I see no Kindle for Mac app is registered in your account. 03:26 AM PDTAswathy: I see you’ve already deregistered Kindle for Mac from your account. Are you now chatting from your Mac? 03:26 AM PDTwealthychef: I was trying to get it to work. Nothing helps Yes I’m on my mac now. 03:26 AM PDTAswathy: Okay. 03:27 AM PDTAswathy: No worries, I’ll surely help you in this. 03:27 AM PDTwealthychef: I was told your technical team needed more information from me in order to help. I’ve already gone around with one person on a lengthy chat. Let’s not do that again. 03:27 AM PDTAswathy: Do you have the Kindle app on your Mac? 03:27 AM PDTwealthychef: I was told by email “‘ve immediately checked the ticket and see that our technical team requested some information to resolve your issue so please contact us via phone or chat so that we can gather the required information and help you to resolve this issue immediately.”
03:28 AM PDTwealthychef: Yes I have the kindle app on my mac. 03:28 AM PDTAswathy: Please uninstall the Kindle app and let me know. 03:28 AM PDTwealthychef: I have already done all that. Do you have the history for my case? I don’t want to start over. 03:29 AM PDTwealthychef: I’ve been waiting for a followup and it has not come. Do you understand? I’ve already spoken at length to someone about this. 03:29 AM PDTAswathy: Yes, I do understand. 03:30 AM PDTwealthychef: Do you know who requested some information to resolve my issue? 03:30 AM PDTAswathy: I see a ticket has been created to resolve your issue. 03:30 AM PDTwealthychef: What information do they need? 03:30 AM PDTAswathy: Please allow me a moment. 03:31 AM PDTAswathy: Thanks for waiting. Let me connect you to a member of our Kindle specialist team. It will only take a moment.
03:32 AM PDTJahnavi(Amazon): Hello, my name is Jahnavi. Please give me a moment to review the previous correspondence. 03:33 AM PDTwealthychef: ok 03:36 AM PDTJahnavi: Thanks for staying connected I checked and found that your concern was escalated to the technical team of engineers and they had requested you for manual logs May I know if you had sent them please? 03:36 AM PDTwealthychef: I have not received any communications 03:37 AM PDTwealthychef: What form was this request? By email? 03:37 AM PDTJahnavi: I’m sorry to hear that. The team was waiting for the logs so that they could help with a fix , I can help you with the steps 03:38 AM PDTwealthychef: How was this request made? By email? 03:38 AM PDTJahnavi: It was made on the escalation request that the previous agent created 03:38 AM PDTwealthychef: I don’t understand what that means. 03:38 AM PDTJahnavi: However, I see that you were not informed about it 03:39 AM PDTwealthychef: I just received an email requesting logs 03:39 AM PDTJahnavi: I understand that you have not received any information regarding the logs I’ve sent the logs to you as directed by the technical team of engineers Please follow the steps to pull the logs 03:40 AM PDTwealthychef: I will send the logs and noted the advice to use cloud reader; i hadn’t htought of that 03:40 AM PDTJahnavi: and then please attach the log files on your Kindle for PC 03:40 AM PDTwealthychef: I will do so. 03:40 AM PDTJahnavi: Sure 03:40 AM PDTwealthychef: OK anything more? 03:41 AM PDTJahnavi: You can meanwhile access the cloud reader to access the books https://read.amazon.com 03:41 AM PDTwealthychef: I will try that. 03:41 AM PDTJahnavi: I would just need the logs from you, Once I get it, I will update the ticket 03:42 AM PDTJahnavi: I would need to upload them to the concerned team so that they can analyze and find out the root cause of the issue and help with a fix Sure please do 03:43 AM PDTwealthychef: I just sent you the logs 03:43 AM PDTJahnavi: Thankyou 03:43 AM PDTwealthychef: Please confirm that you have them 03:43 AM PDTJahnavi: Sure I’m checking 03:44 AM PDTJahnavi: may I know if you had sent it from your registered email address? I have not yet received the logs , I’ll give it a minute 03:44 AM PDTwealthychef: Yes. From firstname.lastname@example.org 03:45 AM PDTwealthychef: They are small 03:45 AM PDTJahnavi: I’ve just received the files, thankyou 03:45 AM PDTwealthychef: OK good 03:46 AM PDTJahnavi: I’ll right away upload them to the ticket and assign myself to this and once I get an update from the concerned team , I’ll write back to you via email 03:46 AM PDTwealthychef: So when will I be receiving further communication from you? It would be nice if this could be resolved in a timely fashion 03:47 AM PDTJahnavi: I’ve requested them to resolve it asap as I already explained the cause of delay, please be assured, this issue would be resolved on very high priority 03:47 AM PDTwealthychef: So tomorrow? This week? 03:47 AM PDTJahnavi: Give me 24 hours, I’ll keep you in loop 03:48 AM PDTwealthychef: OK. Thank you 03:48 AM PDTJahnavi: It should be resolved within 1-2 business days or perhaps much earlier but I’ll keep you in loop once I get any sort of update from them You are most welcome. It was my pleasure to assist you. Would there be anything else I can do for you today? 03:49 AM PDTwealthychef: That would be nice. Yes, I have a question about the cloud reader. How do I adjust the font size? 03:49 AM PDTJahnavi: please give me a moment while I help you with this 03:49 AM PDTwealthychef: Never mind I found it 03:50 AM PDTJahnavi: I’m glad to hear that, I was just opening it to walk you through the steps 03:50 AM PDTwealthychef: OK, I think we’re good for now. Thank you 03:51 AM PDTJahnavi: Thank you so much for choosing Amazon!
Have a great day ahead! 🙂 03:51 AM PDTwealthychef: You too, thank you. It’s night here, so I’m going to have dinner and enjoy Kyoto Good night 03:51 AM PDTJahnavi: Good night 🙂
It results in the following email, which apologizes for my trouble. I feel so warm inside knowing they are concerned about my trouble.
Message From Customer Service
I’m sorry for the trouble you’ve experienced while registering the Kindle for MAC app. We’ll have to research the registration issue further before finding the solution. In order to troubleshoot your issue, please send us the log files on your Kindle for Mac application. You can send us the log files by doing the following
1. Close the Kindle for Mac application.
2. From the menu bar at the top of the screen, click Go and then Computer.
3. Open the Macintosh hard drive.
4. Select Users and open the current user’s name (the icon is a house).
5. Follow the folder path: Library > Application Support > Kindle > Cache > Logs
If the Library folder does not appear in step 5, follow these steps:
OK, now I know how to send the logs. I do so.
Message From Customer Service
Thanks for providing us the log files of your device.
As per your instructions we have forwarded these files to my fellow representative so that he can do the required troubleshooting with the help of these log flies and will write back to you when this issue is resolved. In this case I request you to wait for 1 – 2 days as within this period this issue will be resolved.
I understand that waiting for additional days can be frustrating but I hope you will give my fellow representative the time to fix this issue. Your patience is really appreciated in this case.
If you have any other query then feel free to write back to us by clicking on the link below:
Five days later, on July 8, I receive the following idiotic reply:
Message From Customer Service
I wanted to let you know that I’ve received a response from our technical team, and they have requested you to please check if you are able to load other amazon websites like amazon.com , read.amazon.com or kindle.amazon.com on same device. Check for the network proxy settings on device.
Obviously they don’t understand my problem. So I send them a MOVIE to show them what’s up.
You can see I’m getting a bit testy after a week of the runaround. Trying to be patient and polite, as there is no point in being a jerk. I call and speak to a specialist, who starts asking me the basics of my problem. I talk to a manager. The call goes on at least 40 minutes, with a good chunk of it being me just flabbergasted that they don’t understand my question yet. Finally she understands what I’m talking about. I get this followup from her:
Message From Customer Service
I need to look into the problem with kindle app for mac, i also file a ticket, and it’ll take a bit more time than usual.
I just wanted to let you know I’ll write back in 1-2 business days with more information.
On July 10, two days later, I get this message:
Message From Customer Service
I’m Jahnavi from Kindle Specialist team
I’m personally following up with your issue which has been escalated to our technical team of engineers.
They’re working on taking care of it. However, In order to investigate with our concerned team regarding this issue, I humbly request you to please extend your patience for this issue to be resolved. usually when we escalate the issue, the issue is worked on and fixed within 1-2 working days or perhaps much before. If possible, please do send us the screenshots of the error message to us.
Remember that I have already sent them a movie showing the problem in detail. Sigh. I send it again. I ask did you get it?
Message From Customer Service
I’ve previewed your previous correspondence and found there is a follow up created for the issue. I’m sorry for the inconvenience which you’ve experienced.
We have received your attachment and I’ll update it in your followup case so that they will resolve the issue at the earliest.
So that’s where I’m at right now. Any bets on whether they ever fix this? As a programmer myself, if I had the source code I think I could fix this pretty quickly. The holdup here is amazon’s ridiculous support system. It’s just horrible…
Note: This morning, I sent them an email with a link to this post.
I got this reply:
Thank you for writing to us. It would be easier to help you over the phone or via chat.
You can reach Kindle Customer Support via phone or chat by clicking one of the links below:
A few days ago, I decided to try an experiment. I’ve been sort of dragging around the streets of Bangkok, trapped inside my stories about how my life is going, and my vague uncertain plans for how to proceed. I’m always analyzing, what’s the right way forward?
Now it’s good to plan, but it’s important to act, and planning takes mental energy. Mental energy spent on analyzing reduces energy available to get stuff done. It slows down every action by prefacing it with a “should I do this?” moment. It empowers the Inner Critic, and makes the Actor play second fiddle. The Actor is too dangerous to be trusted. The Critic must be watching everything to make sure no Mistakes are made.
This dismal dance is not a healthy way forward. So what’s the answer? Haha, nice try Mr. Analysis. The answer is to act. I started with a simple exercise, which if I recall correctly I first learned from Tony Robbins, or maybe it was a book on happiness I read a few years ago. It goes as follows:
Act extremely happy for 10 seconds!
This will make you feel happy and give you energy. The way I do this is by raising my arms over my head, and saying “yes yes yes yes yes yes yes” (that’s seven of them in case you are counting) in an enthusiastic voice, while smiling and laughing.
Now this is not a pretense or a lie to myself or an attempt to forget my problems. It is not delusion. It is simply a technique, like stretching your hamstrings. Research has shown that smiling releases endorphins even when the smile is induced by simply holding a pencil in your mouth and forcing the corners of your lips up. I’m using physiology to my advantage.
By doing this each day, I have found an incredible surge in happiness and productivity and a decrease in the need to plan everything out.
Admittedly, I have many systems in place to support me in my happiness, and I have no idea if this would be as effective for others as it has been for me. And of course, astute readers will notice it’s only been in place for a few days. But for me, there is no denying it is working. I have put it into place in my personal reminders and am curious to see how long it takes to get stale.
Give it a shot and share below how you feel after doing it even one time. 🙂
I just ran across an article called “If it Ain’t Woke, Don’t Fuck It” by Megan Ford. It seems to be a great example of what’s wrong with left-wing thought in some corners of America. The article focuses on style and advocates for PC speech standards. The author claims that a good way to push women’s rights forward is to withhold sex from men in order to manipulate them into saying what she wants. Wow, that’s so insightful. What a powerful statement and tool for change!
Meanwhile powerful “successful role model” women in corporate suits like Hillary Clinton continue to advocate for bombing brown babies and increased surveillance to protect us from terrorism, and for trickle-down style tax breaks for the wealthy in order to “create jobs.” But I’m a sexist if I criticize her, because I don’t have a vagina so I am not allowed to comment on people who do.
And meanwhile, the real misogyny is happening in countries where women have to wear burkhas by law and aren’t allowed to go to libraries without their husband or another “guardian” present. But it’s racist to call that out, right, even though Islam is not a race? Especially because I’m white, and my privilege makes me completely unable to understand the unique plights of wealthy minority kids attending exclusive universities.
It’s true that I’m a white male. If your argument against mine includes my race and gender as an argument, then consider that you might just be a racist sexist bigot yourself.
A few days ago I got the unsurprising news that my Dad has died. He has been struggling with many health problems, which when you are past 80 years old is always a precarious situation. Finally, he succumbed to some sort of internal bleeding and the end has come for him. I hope it was mercifully quick. He was in pain.
When I heard the news, I realized, I’m not sad about the loss. Partly because it was quite expected, but also, because my father and I were never really that close and there was really mot much left to lose between us. In fact, I had to debate whether to go to his funeral or not. You might think wow, Rich, you’re kind of a dick, aren’t you? Or maybe, wow, what kind of monster was your father that you would not go to his funeral? I hope the reason for my indecision is not the former, and I know it’s not the latter.
He was definitely not a bad guy, in fact, he had lots of good qualities. But being a good father to me was not one of them. My parents were divorced when I was seven. Before then, my childhood seemed pretty normal. I was a shy kid, I liked soccer, my Dad seemed to take an interest in me and support me.
My experience of him, after my parents got divorced and he remarried, was that he just disappeared and never made much effort to be involved. That effort lessened over the years to the point where he was just basically gone from my life. He seemed more interested in my life once I joined the same Church as him, but it was always pretty shallow and I felt like I was putting way more into it than he was.
I think every relationship between parent and child is unique, and the distance between father and child was not the same for my other siblings. It seems to me that my oldest brother and sister both understood the divorce, saw it coming, and went mostly unscathed by it, maintaining an already established connection to their father. But the three younger kids had worse experiences, because he basically just completely ignored his “old family” and started focusing on his “new family.” In particularly my next older brother Bob and I really got the short end of the stick, but I believe that Don suffered too a lot at times. Looking back, I see that he was very stingy with his time, his money and all forms of his attention toward us.
I could see he was deeply involved in his “new family” with his new wife, and honestly yes, it hurt to see him ignore his own kids that needed him and turn all his attention on this other set of kids. I attribute this not to any maliciousness on his part toward us, his reasons were complicated I think. Nor do I harbor the slightest ill will towards his new family; they are awesome people who live great lives. I really admire them. But for my dad, the bottom line, I think he was weak, afraid and powerless most of his life where it mattered most to me. His character was deeply flawed.
My character is flawed too, we all are imperfect. But as a man, I cannot respect someone that says they love someone or something but takes zero actions based on that love. That’s either laziness or weakness or fear. I forgive him his weaknesses, but since he never seemed to see that it mattered or act like it did, I could never really respect him as a father.
He had a stroke, and I tried to be there for him, to encourage and support him, and to support others who were helping him. I was by no means making a heroic effort there, but I showed up to some extent and did what I felt I could. In that time, I saw how strong he could be, and how everyone around him loved him. Again, the shadow side for me was, if this was because he was such a great guy, why not pick up the phone and call his “other kids” once in a while?
Over the years, I heard many stories about how he continued to neglect and damage his relationship my brothers, my sister, and my nephews and nieces, and saw how he continued to neglect them in his thoughts and actions right to the end of life, all the while making excuses like “I’m just not a good communicator.” By the time of his death, it had become difficult for me to visit him because of a sense of emotional dissonance, and started getting a sense that I was wasting my time. I felt deep compassion for him as a suffering human being, in pain and unable to move half of his body. But I just didn’t feel like I owed him any of my time or resources and it was too painful to continue just so he could keep up some illusion of something special between us.
So now he has died and his funeral is this Friday. I have decided to go and participate. Am I going because I feel like I should go, because I would be judged for not going, or to make my siblings happy? These seem like bad reasons, because even though I do want my family to be happy and don’t want to cause negativity at this important event, I don’t think they would want me to go if I’m only going for them or for appearance’s sake, and those things aren’t going to make the funeral meaningful for me either.
I try not to act out of anger or fear, and want all my actions in the world to be positive if possible, so I would not want to avoid it as some sort of angry statement against him or his memory as a person or even as a father. Those just do not seem like good reasons to NOT go.
In the end I decided to go because regardless of how I feel about our relationship, he was an important person to me, and I want to mark his passing with dignity, support my family and honor the good I could see in him, then close the book for myself and move on. I saw how strong he could be when he wanted to be and admire that from afar. He was funny and smart and kind and stoic. He passed on some good genes and I’m grateful for the things he gave me, such as the ability to think linearly and logically and a quirky sense of humor. It’s worth the 26 hour flight from Thailand to me, the money, the awkwardness, the religious sermonizing, and whatever other inconveniences might come. I will get a lot from this and my presence there is going to be meaningful, supportive and full of love. That’s my commitment and that’s the way it’s going to be.
I feel like this funeral is not for him, the dead, but for us, the living, to remember and to let go, to mark his passing each in our own way. He’s gone, hopefully to a better place, Heaven, the Borg, whatever. I will cry at his funeral, not because I miss him, because you can’t miss someone you never spent much time with, but because I lost him a long time ago, and for me this is a final letting go of everything that means, the anger, the disappointment, the hope, the jealousy.
This is not a complete statement of everything I think on this matter, but it’s what’s swirling through my head at the moment. I might revise it in the future, I might come to feel differently if new information comes to light, but right now, this is how it is. And I think I’m doing all right.
Since I came to Thailand 6 weeks ago, iPhoto on my Macbook pro has been scanning for faces. On my Mac Pro desktop, this process took about 2 days as I recall. My iPhone 7 Plus, which I bought a week ago is almost finished. This time it’s incredibly slow. I am so sick of seeing this screen:
I’ve started tracking my progress:
2016-12-22 21:59: 9521 photos left to scan when I quit
2016-12-24 19:04: 16232 photos scanned, 8771 photos left when I quit
2016-12-24 22:14: 16,350 photos scanned, 8653 photos left when I quit
2016-12-26 00:49: 16,352 photos scanned, 8663 photos left when I quit
2016-12-26 19:46: 16,372 photos scanned, 8642 photos left when I quit
2016-12-27 18:29: 16,475 photos scanned, 8574 photos left when I quit
2016-12-28 23:43: 16,707 photos scanned, 8356 photos left when I quit
2016-12-28 23:43: 16,910 photos scanned, 8156 photos left when I quit
2016-12-29 23:51: 17,736 photos scanned, 7332 photos left when I quit
2016-12-30 ??:??: 17,933 photos scanned, 7141 photos left when I quit
2016-12-31 17:34: 18,025 photos scanned, 7064 photos left when I quit
2017-01-01 15:02: 18,307 photos scanned, 6782 photos left when I quit
So there was a burst of speed where it was doing 3,000 photos per day (still not fast, but eventually will finish at that rate), then it slowed to a crawl.
I’ve tried rebooting. I’ve tried leaving Photos running, and I’ve tried quitting. Nothing seems to make much difference. Anybody have this problem and solve it?
Sam Harris is one of my favorite public personas. He has written several books that have changed the way I think about myself, about God, about morality and about spirituality. This includes The Moral Landscape, Letter to a Christian Nation, and Waking Up. His podcast is usually entertaining and informative. But on the subject of politics, I’m finding Sam Harris to be just as obtuse and dogmatic with regards to the Trump and Sanders populist phenomenon as Ben Affleck was when he attacked Harris on the Bill Maher show a while back.
In his recent podcast, he does it again, and my blood has begun to boil. I just wanted to post my outrage and reasons for it. Sam continued to argue in the months running up to the election that anyone who supported Bernie Sanders did not see what a bad person Donald Trump was, and even though Hillary was a soulless and crafty liar, a vote for Bernie is after all a vote for Trump, so any person supporting Bernie over Hillary was basically voting for Trump.
Both Trump and Sanders amassed large crowds of enthusiastic people by talking to them about this message. Hillary is a corporate shill, a Goldwaterwarmonger, who threw women’s rights and gay rights under the bus publicly when it really counted. She is unlikeable and has no connection to anything that I value at all that I can detect. But as a progressive, I’m supposed to support her because Trump is what? A warmonger? So is she. Anti-women? So is she. A corporate liar? Ditto for her.
I had the audacity to support a candidate that I believed in, first Bernie, then when he lost, Jill Stein. This is something Sam Harris considers a childish and selfish reaction to a lack of choice. How dare I actually vote for who I want in America? Don’t I know that I’m supposed to vote for whom I’m told to by the media and the insiders in Washington? Anything else is a wasted vote! The mature approach, he would say, is to swallow my desire for a good candidate and vote for Hillary, because otherwise we get Trump, and Trump is Hitler. The name for that argument is “demagoguery.” Ironically, it’s exactly how Hitler was elected. That’s right, Hitler was elected by demonizing his opponents. Exactly the way Hillary tried to get elected. Is Hillary Hitler? No, but they have similar names, so I’ll let you decide on that.
Anyhow, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to sell out my conscience to a bunch of bullshit propaganda, selfishness, and demagoguery. Hillary said nothing I believed and supported. Obama is starting a new conflict in Somalia even as we speak, bombing another poor black country as part of a plan laid out more than 10 years ago under President Bush, which he has executed in perfect lockstep apparently. Hillary would have continued and escalated those wars. Obama continues to imprison people for drug offenses that he himself committed in the past.
I’m just so angry at all the self-righteous supposed liberals that have looked the other way for our warmongering Nobel Peace Price winning President, who looked the other way for Hillary and attacked Bernie Sanders, and now will not admit their mistake when Trump is President because of the failed strategy of grabbing votes from the right instead of playing to populism on the left. Sam Harris is such a man. Where was his concern for all this before Trump? Just completely absent.
Go back to your neuroscience and spiritual inquiry, Sam, I’ve learned a lot from them. But get off your high horse when it comes to politics. If you want to find out what Trump supporters think why not get one on your program? And if you want to be honest about Sanders, maybe ask one of his supporters? Maybe you’ll learn that you really don’t care much about the common man, don’t really understand working people in America or across the world. It’s OK, understanding this is a move forward to acting on it.