The Human Condition of Living on Your Own (or something like that)

My co-worker went to the hospital yesterday. She is an independent working- woman living on her own. So am I. Her health failed, she called her own ambulance and we are all hoping she comes back healthy soon. This is what it means to many of us that we live on our own. We can find support in our churches and in social circles, and in friends we make as adults…but these are not the same people and family we knew in high school. Our world has changed and we are responsible for the emergencies and the headaches. I know it is not a good, solid, established world if we do not have other people in our lives…but we are no longer children and we have to face our hardships alone at times.

If we lived in the colonial days, most of us would be more self-sufficient. We would grow and hunt our own food, make our own candles to light and spin and sew our own cloth for clothes. In today’s world, we make the money to pay for others to provide what we need. I could not sew a button on a shirt without knowing that I would never place it properly for the hole and attach it securely. While I know that I fail at complete self-sufficiency, the episode of my co-worker yesterday brings home to me that there are times, on our own, that we cannot afford to fail, for ourselves or for others.

Teammates have sent their prayers, their wishes, flowers, and phone calls…but my co-worker has no one to help her with the decisions but her doctors. I cannot begin to say how much the human connection matters. In an adult world, we expect our lives to be our own. When we are on our own, those who care and show us kindnesses become important as validity that we are not disconnected in a self-sufficient mode that will fail in crucial moments.

I have never known how to live in fear. Some who have known me would call me, at times, too brave for my own good. It takes courage and strength to live on your own. Wisdom needs others as well. My co-worker, at this point in time- as far as we know, is going to successfully recover. I often wonder if these sorts of situations are different for women and men, perhaps not.

We can hope; we can care; and we can reach for others…but there will always be those adult moments when it is our own decisions with our own responsibilities that critically determine the answers. There are just more of those moments when we live alone. I hope my co-worker recovers soon. I know she has more strength to have found what she needed in crisis than most. This is not a reason to be afraid. It is a reason to consider that we all need others, in some way, and those of us on our own value that need.

 

 

 

Old School vs. New School (FORTRAN style)

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Slide1I remember the Commodore 64. Too cool for school and WAY ahead of its time because no one had ever heard of computers in the home. The classes I took in computer programming when I was in eighth grade and high school included BASIC, COBAL, and FORTRAN. Today the modern programming languages have awesome names like Java and Python. New software today is a common marketplace entrepreneur’s invention, not a highly scientific endeavor brought about by a team of lab techs. Backdoors used to be sacrosanct to programmers fixing issues and now they are convenient utility features built in for people who have forgotten their passwords. Computer games used to be words on the screen that a user made choices about, not interactive video reality simulations. If we wanted video interaction we went to a video arcade or played on the (also new) Atari home system where a joystick was the only real interface.

In today’s world where computers are more common than television sets and new apps can be downloaded for a few dollars, we have distanced ourselves from the beginnings of the Mobility Age that started thirty years ago. The dangers of computing progress include forgetting the preceding knowledge base of original programming practices.

Designer viruses and spyware have risen in droves over the last ten years, as have the software packages to protect home computers and “clean up” programming that can debug and fix many common program networking issues. While the IT world has rapidly advanced, the “Old school” contingent of programmers still remains. Large companies and software start-ups have invested quite a bit in designing their own systems and, at times, system languages. It matters a bit more these days which environments an IT person has worked in, (aka. “Whose programming are you familiar with?”), than that an IT person knows a certain set of computer languages common across units. The scary part of this scenario is that while “Old school” computer languages may be almost dead, the “New School” IT people may not be aware of the damage that old programming languages and scripting could incur on systems too far removed from where computing started to become part of everyday life. History cannot afford to repeat itself, but history cannot be forgotten or we endanger our progress.

My generation spans the gap. We remember where today came from and we live in the present with an eye toward the future. In fifty more years, there may not be anything left of “Old school” programming knowledge other than moldy records kept in academic archives. I find it is sad to think that only thirty years have passed, and BASIC, COBALT, and FORTRAN are already ancient historical artifacts. “Old school” is still around and “New school” is the cool school, but our future keeps moving forward. In the world of IT and computing the dinosaurs are fossilizing and the planet may have lost precious information that could create a deficiency in knowledge regrettable to maintaining our evolutions.

 

 

Follow The Leader

When we were children, there was a game we played called “Follow The Leader”.  I remember that “walk behind me, do what I do and say what I say,” were the rules I was taught in this game.  The childhood rules of “Follow the Leader” no longer apply. As adults we all make decisions day in and day out on many levels. We are both leaders and followers. To cry the start of “Follow The Leader” is an abdication of adult choice.

“Do as I say, not as I do,” is an old parental adage. The Urban Dictionary states that this phrase is “An expression used to call out hypocrites…” I see this as a definitive of the difference in “Follow the Leader” and being “taught”.  Neither idea sits too well in the adult world unless we have agreed to be tutored in certain ways to learn certain things that we wish to understand for our own purposes.

Adults learn because they decide to learn, not because they are “taught”. This is a major difference in adults and children. If a child follows another child into a bad or dangerous situation, they were mislead and innocent of understandings. If adults allow a leader to place them in a difficult situation, they chose the wrong leader or they have agreed to the difficulties. There is a tacit agreement that adults are responsible to some degree of their own.  Our legal system has laws based on this basic understanding.

We need leaders and, more often, we choose to follow those leaders whom will listen to us, agree with us, and serve our own purposes by taking care of the positions that will carry the responsibility required to support our endeavors. However, I think we have forgotten the lessons of childhood that made us willing to play “Follow The Leader” in the first place. Those who have something to teach us cannot leave instruction behind for others without people willing to learn. Those who wish us to trust them at times need us to remember what “Follow The Leader” used to mean.

As an adult, I choose to understand to learn what others are willing to teach insofar as the knowledge is beneficial in some way to my own endeavors. I also choose that 100% trust in someone else is foolish and never trusting someone else is to lose the capability of learning and living with others.  I choose when I will follow and when I will not.

If we are to have a future as adults, we must admit to our own responsibility and to what we have learned from childhood.  Each of us has our own answers about these things. There will always be times to lead and times to follow. Choices remain. In a day and time when leaders are difficult to find or believe in, perhaps we should not “Follow The Leader” but remember what we have been “taught”.  As long as freedoms remain, choices will be our responsibility.

The Resistance of Change

The definition of resistance is the act or power of opposing or withstanding. Resistance is measured in the electrical world as the ratio of voltage across an object to current through the object. Conductivity is the ratio of current across an object to voltage through the object. Taking into account Newton’s Laws of motion there is a certain probability that force applied to create a new direction, or to stop or start a motion, will influence an object permanently into a desired new pattern of movement. This probability includes the F = ma equation factors (Force, mass, and acceleration) and the exponential decay constant. A decisive new pattern of movement will have a certain probability of achieving permanency and retaining the new pattern against acting forces of further change, decaying change, or loss of conductivity.

In establishing permanent change, dramatic movement has less of a resistance to change than smaller increments of pattern shifts. Resistance of change may not always differ according to varying scale, differentiation, or suddenness of changes.

The Theory of Evolution demands that our species be adaptable. Adaptations only persevere if they are effective in the uses required to maintain them. Resistance to change loses the possibility of evolving to survive when other factors change independently of our own.

The resistance of change is a further question than the evidence of an adaptation’s perseverance. To determine resistance of change several factors need to be considered:

  • Mutability
  • Resiliency
  • Endurance
  • Constancy

We question the resistance to change in many ways. More important is the resistance of change. This affects the permanency of everything we do. A sculptor creates his images in stone. These images last longer than a sculptor’s images created in wet clay.

A preoccupation of modern man is preservation. We have found ways to preserve our art forms, our decaying materials, and our changes. Mankind is looking hard at change and seeking ways to keep what was before, even after change is affected.

Imagine a conscious will, capable of changing, evaluating changes, and reassembling the percentage of change acceptable- with the capability of re-establishing pre-change conditions when change is found non-conducive to existing conditions. The resistance of change would have to be one hundred percent. The resistance to change would have to be close to zero. The preservation of change would become an at-will function.

When discussing change in a social body of peoples, I believe it is valid to expect there will be a certain resistance of change. According to Newton’s Laws of motion, one motion is only achieved by uniformity. Social change must be a willful change. We must not be afraid to try the things that mean adaptations that may be useful. I believe we must also not find ourselves devoid of resistance of change so that all that was before is not lost and we retain or regain the answers that adaptations prove less useful in achieving. New ideas are not as frightening when old ones are not lost.

-Kimberly A. McKenzie

Black and White, Gay or Straight?

The world is not color blind and ignorant of choice. I have neighbors who are an African American and white mixed couple. I have worked for a company that promoted a club for bi-sexual and gay people in the workplace so that we could all “understand” ourselves. To understand my point of view, there are three things to know:

1) I believe people are allowed to choose according to their sexual orientation and preferences their own partners. I am not gay or bi-sexual; I am heterosexual. I do not participate in most cross-cultural or intra-cultural dating, although I have tried it once or twice (why I found it does not work too well for me). I find my soft spot has always been most weak in the knees for blue eyed blonde men….this is not a sin. In a world where “embracing our differences” is supposed to be enlightened, I am not judgmental of the preferences of others, but I am not quite okay with the condemnation of my own.

2) People that do not find compatibility in their life-styles and levels of social involvement do not work out well together. I am divorced. My ex-husband was a high school teacher and an athletic director. I put my writing behind me to try the social etiquette of wife, working for the children’s events and social functions while holding down jobs of my own to help our own income. I found both of us miserable in part because I gave up on my own life and writing for two years to do this correctly. I do need people. I do not need to abandon my own answers to have people. I married a man not so well off, I dated a man very well off. I find that the money in the wallet is not as important as the need to value the things in our lives that are important to us that we have in common. For example: I value my home, not my freedom to travel around without one. Someone that would like to live in a RV and journey all around the United States is not a good fit for me.

3) Differences are as crucial as similarities. Dating sites try to “match up” like with like profiles. E-harmony kicked off my profile as one of the “20% that could not correctly be matched up”. None of us are exactly alike. In my last serious relationship, I would always buy two tickets to wine tastings and my boyfriend would not usually ever show up. He hated the events. I still went on my own. People do not always enjoy the same things, they do not always have the same religions even though they are together (my ex-husband was Presbyterian and I was not), they do not always agree on their politics. Differences do not mean that we have nothing in common or that we cannot be together. We do need to enjoy one another.

Life-partners find better together.

Mercy Killings

A decade and a half ago, Euthanasia was a controversial subject in the news. Today, we do not hear much about it. There is a fine line between a mercy killing and the psychopathic mindset of the decision best stated “I love you so I will kill you”. This fine line is upheld by the medical and legal definition of “mercy” as applied to terminal and suffering patients.

My grandmother was taken off her feeding tube and allowed to “die naturally” and a family controversy ensued. I did not consider this the wrong thing to do, but other members of my family did not quite agree. When a loved one is at the end of beneficial medical assistance and treatments, I do not believe it is correct to continue to administer measures that strain the wallet and the emotions of the family. There comes a time to make our peace.

Suicides can also be labeled self-mercy killings to end pain. I left that thought behind me many years ago. The moral and ethical question over “mercy” by death is a strange morass of definitions and condemnations. We do not deal well with the question of determining life and death.

I had a college class when I was a teenager where a professor posed the following question: “Ten people are stranded on a desert island with no food. In order to survive they are going to have to eat each other. How do they determine who will die to feed the others and who will live?” I had a simple answer. They all wait. Sooner or later someone will naturally die first. Then everyone can eat and starve less. The hardest possible concept to understand is waiting on death when death is near.

The problem in our modern day and time is that waiting on death is not something we do. We can cause the heart to continue beating without any other life functions. We can administer a feeding tube to an unconscious dying person and keep lungs breathing that cannot breathe on their own any longer. We can sustain life when the body is no longer useful. No medical attention administered to those we can help is considered legally and morally negligent. Overt medical attention in the pursuit of hanging on indefinitely is costly and strenuous on both the dying and their loved ones whom are ready to let go for the next answers.

In a world of aging baby boomers and an increased elderly population, the “mercy killing” factor raises crucial questions about the near future. There are no clear-cut answers that fit every situation, but there are legal and medical definitions that can be sustained. In the end, to sustain our own mental health we do not cross the lines drawn in the name of love. We risk our own sanity and the right to maintain the sanctity of non-determination in the realm of the living and the dead if we choose instead of accepting the boundaries drawn.

 

 

Apocalyptic Futures

We have all heard of the end of the world. There are many who believe this will happen in God’s time. I believe that mankind is responsible for the planet and that it is entirely possible to cause our own end. Choices have been ours, given since the beginning of time. Not every factor is within human control. One of the greatest worries we are facing concerns changes that happen to atmosphere and climate every few centuries. In the last few years, our Nation has been through devastating storms, wildfires deforesting many regions, and several natural disasters.

Futurists would paint us a picture of solar radiation, de-oxygenation, and rising oceans. Perhaps these scenarios are not just fools’ games chasing tail. Thomas J. Crowley in “Science 14 July 2000” states: “Comparisons of observations with simulations from an energy balance climate model indicate that as much as 41 to 64% of preanthropogenic (pre-1850) decadal-scale temperature variations was due to changes in solar irradiance and volcanism.” We cannot change the solar surface and its variations, but we can prepare our civilized world for the effects of the sun’s changeable, volatile nature. I do not believe that we are meant to ignore our knowledge basis in favor of Heaven’s decisions instead.

The wildfires of Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington have left terrible consequences in their path. There are many advocates of a deteriorating ozone layer, but the devastation of significantly reduced vegetation is of more concern to the proper return of oxygen into our environments.

Ocean measurements indicate that the waters are rising, albeit slowly. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration “NASA currently has two satellite missions that measure ocean surface topography. Jason-1, launched in 2001 continues the measurements begun by TOPEX/Poseidon, which operated from 1992 through 2006. The follow on mission to Jason-1, the Ocean Surface Topography Mission on Jason-2 (OSTM/Jason-2), was launched in 2008 and will take this important data record into a second decade.” We are not a people unaware of what is happening in our world.

I believe that we can be concerned about actual problems, cyclical to our planet and crucial to our civilizations, without panic over extinction. This does not mean that we can ignore the significance of future events by denying the need to plan for better resources to equip our needs as they arise.

I can imagine a future where there are land bulwarks created for deepening oceans and dry reservoirs created to contain and use processed overflowing seawater for irrigation and energy facilities. I can dream of photosynthesis machines to replace, with man made cells, the re-introduction into our atmosphere the precious atoms we lose in our forestation when vegetation dies. I can see a future where businesses operate at night and people do not enter the sun so freely to adapt to the sun’s radiation increases.

These scenarios may sound like nightmares, but when we worry we plan against our worries and this is not always ridiculous in our nature.