Fun With Form …Floral Friday

I’ve had to deal with an extended case of cabin fever this Spring in Northeast Nebraska, because actual Spring weather has been spotty, at best.  This is a blessing in disguise, in that I spend more time on indoor projects, as I find more ways to constructively amuse myself.
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This week, I decided to play around with form.  Light or airy shapes were what I wanted to try.  In the process, it was also my intention to utilize various containers.

A lighted, hanging planter was the first to happen.  A standard, boring planting of Swedish Ivy had occupied this large container for a few years.  It was time for a radical update.  A tropical approach struck my fancy.  The elements of design areFF041814b not restrained by the restrictive style of the 1960s era pottery.  Here there’s a sensation of the jungle.

An antique Northwood Carnival Glass swung vase provides a more civilized base for the second project.  Three red-orange blooms seemingly float among the Air Fern garnish.  The very simple design does not distract attention from the rare container.

2004 was the Chinese Year of the Wood Monkey.  I celebrated by buying several monkey themed accessories, including this kitschy vase.  When the year had passed, the accessories went into storage.  I rediscovered the vase as a result of spring cleaning.  So, after its ten-year hiatus, I monkeyed around with an airy mix of blossoms scattered amongst greenery. The result is just civilized enough to use in the living room.
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Playing around with these three projects not only made the wintery Spring day more pleasant, I now have something to show for it, too.  (Images are clickable.)

Ciao
mini-moi

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Scott Adams.  “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

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The Second Longest War In History

A realignment of alliances and piracy are at the heart of a clash that pitted the tiny Scilly Islands against the Netherlands in a war about which we were not taught in our history classes.  This peculiar war was named the Three Hundred Thirty Five Year War.  British and Dutch sources claim that it was also the longest war in 335War-IslesOfScillyhistory.

War was declared on April 17, 1651 by the Dutch against the Islands of Scilly off the tip of Great Britain near Cornwall.  A peace treaty was finally signed on April 17, 1986.  While the 335 Year War was certainly a long one, I disagree with the assessment that it was the longest war in history.

In my opinion, the third Punic War or War between Rome and Carthage was considerably longer. The war that began in 218 BCE after Carthagian forces invaded the Iberian Peninsula.  A formal peace treaty between the cities of Rome and Carthage wasn’t signed until February of 1985 CE to officially end the Punic Wars. A total of 2,131 years.

Regarding the 335 Year War, the Dutch had a bone to pick with the English because of raids on Dutch shipping lanes in the English Channel.  England was also involved in their own Civil War.  By 1651, King Charles and his Royalist army was suffering several losses at the hands of Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentary forces.  The Royal Navy had been forced to retreat to the Isles of Scilly. The United Provinces of the Netherlands’ Navy was allied with the Parliamentarians.

335-FluitschipThe low point of the Royal Navy was seen as a prime opportunity by Holland to recoup some of their losses from the raids and piracy of England.  The Netherlands sailed a fleet of twelve warships to the Isles of Scilly to demand reparations.  The English failed to issue a satisfactory reply.  So, on April 17, 1651, Dutch Admiral Maarten Tromp declared war, specifically on the Isles of Scilly.

According to Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke’s memoirs, “Tromp came to Pendennis and related that he had been to Scilly to demand reparation for the Dutch ships and goods taken by them; and receiving no satisfactory answer, he had, according to his Comission, declared war on them.”

While Admiral Tromp awaited approval from Amsterdam about his war declaration, he carried out a blockade of the Isles of Scilly.  Three months later, in June, the Parliamentarians forced the surrender of the English Royal Navy.  The Isles of Scilly then came under control of Cromwell’s interests.  With that, Admiral Tromp and his ships sailed back to the Netherlands.

The Heart of the War Zone

The Heart of the War Zone

During the height of the war, not a single shot was fired, so only feelings were hurt.  Because of the war’s obscurity, in that the Netherlands had declared war on a tiny part of Britain, the Dutch forgot to officially declare peace.

Finally, in 1985, a Scillian Councillor and local historian, Roy Duncan became curious about a myth that the Netherlands was still at war with his home islands.  Duncan fired off a letter to the Netherlands’ Embassy in London to inquire about the matter of no peace treaty between the Dutch and the Isles of Scilly.

The story turned out to be true.  Even though there had been a peace treaty between England and the Dutch at the end of the First Dutch War in 1654, the Scillian affair was apparently not specifically addressed.  At last, the Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Council, Roy Duncan along with the Dutch Ambassador in London, Jonkheer Huydecoper inked the official peace documents on April 17, 1986.  335 years, to the day, after War had been declared.

Afscheid
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The Blue Jay of Happiness thinks that while the 335 Year War wasn’t really the longest war in history, it was the war with the least number of casualties. The 335 Year War must also rank as one of the most amusing wars in history.

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Lone Wolves And Privacy

While driving along a rural highway this week, my thoughts became centered on the topic of privacy.  This is something I think about frequently these days because of all the revelations about the lack of it we endure every day, lately.

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“Lone Wolf” by Alfred von Kowalski-Wierusz

I belong to a very small pack of lone wolves.  I don’t know what else to call the scattered, loose grouping of friends who do not interact, nor know one another as a a social collection or entity in the usual sense.  The “pack” is a convenient term I, alone, use when I think about the like-minded guys I keep in contact with.

 

In North America, there is an old schoolmate who lives in Toronto; another lone wolf is in Vancouver; a special one in Phoenix; two of them in San Francisco; an old roommate in western North Dakota; and one who lives on a mountain near Ciudad de Monterrey in Mexico. In Europe, I have a lone-wolf “buddy” near Amsterdam and one in Munich.  In Asia, there’s the expatriate friend who lives in the middle of Mumbai; and a family member, by marriage, who lives near the “Golden Triangle” in Thailand.

In my fantasies, someday all of us will meet together at a milestone birthday party for one of us. Maybe then, all of us will finally assemble as a group.  By definition, this party will likely never occur.  To a man, we are rather reserved and deeply treasure our solitude.

While we may be employed in a conventional job at a company or otherwise are a member of some group, we tend not to take part in many activities of that group unless those activities are mandatory.  We prefer to work alone because our privacy-01creativity is highest when we are able to enjoy solitary worktime apart from other “team members”.

As you can imagine, lone wolves rank privacy near the top of our list of priorities.  For whatever reason, privacy is as good as gold to us.  Even if we attain some measure of public celebrity, our personal lives are completely off-limits.  You might argue that privacy is very important to most everyone on Earth.  But to lone wolves, it’s very much more so.

There is a wide-spread stereotype about lone wolves being notorious criminals.  This unfortunate label became popular in the 1990s. Far-rightwing, white supremacist Tom Metzger became infamous for his ideological advocacy.  He founded the “White Aryan Resistance, WAR”, was a Neo-Nazi, and was a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Metzger advocated the radical conservative “leaderless resistance” or “lone wolf” style of extremism. He thought working outside of above-ground membership organizations was the best strategy.  But because of his KKK credentials, I disqualify him as a lone wolf.

Tom Metzger and his ilk are unrepresentative of lone wolves, as a whole.  Most of us carry no grudges and find no attraction to radical politics nor crime of any variety.  We find the type-casting of the lone wolf as criminal to be very troubling.  Basically, we are society’s free agents. We belong to society on our own terms.  I suppose this independence is a major reason we’ve been branded negatively. We need an advocacy group.  However, few of us would ever join one.

Most people believe that privacy is a meaningful, valuable concept.  A person might describe privacy as focusing control over information about oneself.  Other people expand that view into a universal human need that helps ensure human dignity.

Much has been written that defends privacy as necessary for the development of meaningful interpersonal relationships.  Furthermore, privacy is one of the building blocks of a democratic, free nation. privacy-BillOfRights

Recent disclosures by Edward Snowden have highlighted the huge challenges to privacy posed by the corporate state that are menacing most civilized people on Earth these days. The total disregard that corporations and governments have shown is not only troubling to average people but is even more so to lone wolves.

The future presents an anxious scenario, if we don’t soon place enforceable limits on the lack of privacy and the ability of interconnectivity to track our every move, society, as we know it, will not long exist.

For instance, refrigerators connected to the Internet will be common.  Our eating patterns will be known to companies.   We’ll be reminded to restock our staple foods.  We’ll also be subjected to the same type of “targeted” marketing that we endure when we surf the Web.  No matter where we go, there will be personalized advertising aimed at us from “smart” billboards that “read” our phones as we walk or drive nearby.

Already, our phones know where we are, thanks to GPS.  The same for many of our motor vehicles.  We may soon live in a world where it will be illegal to shut off or disable the tracking functions imbedded in them.  I can imagine a world where nobody can “get away from it all”.  Somebody or something will always know where we are and probably what we’re doing at all times. George Orwell would be absolutely horrified. I don’t see this trend reversing or halting anytime soon.

I do see that lone wolves will be valiantly continuing our efforts to maintain private space and privacy.  I’m guessing that it will be a lone wolf who finds a satisfactory détente between the overzealous connectivity demanded by corporate-governmental agencies and the human need for privacy.  Everyone’s privacy rights are on the chopping block, so the need for action is urgent.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to monitor and advocate in favor of privacy as a member of the loosely defined pack of lone wolves.

Ciao
1984a

The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes we remember the wisdom of  Fyodor Dostoevsky, who wrote:  “Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded.”

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Synchronicity?

I was in the market for a new car in late 1982.  After winnowing out the great many choices I could afford, I’d narrowed my options down to a small Ford, VW, and Datsun.  For a period of a couple of weeks, I kept seeing Datsun cars driving around town and on the highways.  It was uncanny, no matter where I went, a Datsun would soon appear on the street.  I eventually did purchase a Datsun 310 sedan.

A few months later, I purchased an LP record by the rock group “Police”. The title was “Synchronicity”. Around the same time, I read an article about the record in a broadcast trade magazine.  The album title and much of the material in it was inspired by Arthur Koestler’s The Roots of Coincidence. “Police” vocalist, Sting, said that Carl Jung’s hypothesis of Synchronicity is mentioned in that book.  Naturally, I was intrigued. I had been synchronicity-clockworknoticing a lot of coincidences during the past several months.  It was time for me to take a trip to the library to investigate Carl Jung.

The term, synchronicity, was coined by Jung to label his concept of “meaningful coincidences”.  His hypothesis was inspired by an incident during the interview of one of his patients.  The woman was describing her dream, in which, a golden scarab beetle was an important character.  Moments later, an actual golden scarab insect flew into his office.   The good doctor was amazed because golden scarabs are apparently quite rare in Switzerland.

Jung was also an afficianado of parapsychology. He was said to believe in astrology, clairvoyance, ESP, spiritualism, telekinesis, and telepathy.  So, through those paranormal filters, Jung assembled his thoughts around the interesting appearance of the insect at the same time of his patient’s psychotherapy session.

The doctor didn’t believe the incident was a simple coincidence.  Instead, he projected the appearance of the bug by the use of his “amplification method”. That is, dream elements are symbols.  They derive from cultural ideas that can best be interpreted by folklore, mythology, and religion.  Jung stated that only exceptional cases ought to be interpreted by this “amplification method”.  Apparently, the insect incident qualified.

Jung associated the golden scarab with the death and rebirth ideas of ancient Egypt.  He said the patient was experiencing a “block” in the renewal of her synchronicity-lunareclipsepersonality.  He believed this block was the cause of the patient’s neurosis.  Because the psychological phenomenon and the physical incident involved symbology from ancient Egyptian mythology,  Jung went on to tag the event as a “significant coincidence”.

Later, Carl Jung studied reports of other cases of significant coincidence and came up with his idea of “synchronicity”. He went on to co-author a book by the same name with Nobel laureate Wolfgang Pauli. Which is the book I ended up taking home from the public library in the Spring of 1983.

Whether or not you place much stock in the writings of Carl Jung or paranormal topics, coincidence and synchronicity remain as exciting, invigorating aspects of our mental environment. Coincidences happen.  Just how much meaning you place on them is entirely up to you.  Personally, I think they are times when I awaken from the day to day routine.  Whenever I have had synchronicity moments, I’ve thought of them as  winks from the universe. I make note of them in my diary and look for patterns that I need to pay attention to.

Ciao
moi1988b

The Blue Jay of Happiness has this Carl Jung quotation for your consideration:  “We often dream about people from whom we receive a letter by the next post. I have ascertained on several occasions that at the moment when the dream occurred the letter was already lying in the post-office of the addressee.”

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The World’s War Budget

For most of U.S. history, there was a Federal Department of War and a Department of the Navy. In 1947, The War Department was renamed the Department of the Army and a new Department of the Air Force was added. Then, in 1949, all the military branches were consolidated under a more euphemistic name, the Department of Defense. militaryspending-HagelAndGeneralDempsey

Many informed citizens wished the department had retained the previous moniker, but that was not to be.  Other nations have either retained the word “war” in their agencies’ names or have adopted the word “defense”. Others utilize the word “military”, as in the “European Union Military Staff”.

A “Global Day of Action on Military Spending” has been observed in many nations in order to focus attention on the vast amounts of spending for war preparation around the world.  Overt, above board global war expenditures in 2013 were $1,753,000,000,000 (USD).

militaryspending-ChinaThe day of action was conceived by the Nobel Prize-winning “International Peace Bureau”, the oldest peace studies organization, founded in 1891. The IPC world headquarters are in Washington D.C.  The day of action has been endorsed by several non-profit organizations, including:  FOR, Global Exchange, National Priorities Project, Nebraskans for Peace, Pax Christi, Peace Action, and several others.

The $1.753 trillion figure only includes overt, official spending dedicated to military branches and bureaus conventionally thought of as “the military”.  The grand total is much higher when all expenditures are taken into account.

Spending on such entities includes that for: the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons research program, NASA’s spy satellite surveillance, FBI “counter-terrorism”, CIA, NSA and the counterparts of these programs in other countries. A great deal of spending is unaccounted for because of the existance of “hidden budgets”. militaryspending-chart

What is also, often cited is the fact that the United States leads the world in military spending.  The U.S. accounts for nearly half of all global resources spent on warfare.

Proponants of such high spending levels claim that the vast amount, creates jobs, stimulates the economy, combats “terrorism”, and maintains peace.  These claims are promoted by the multinational corporations and governments that benefit from this infusion of money.

The criticisms offered by people who advocate smaller war budgets are many.  Even though nations, like the United States, are very “strong on defense”, terrorism is happening at record levels, joblessness is causing widespread suffering, the only parts of the economy to benefit are multinational corporate interests, and warfare around the globe has not subsided at all.

a portion of the USAF's bomber "graveyard" of obsolete aircraft near Tuscon, Arizona

a portion of the USAF’s bomber “graveyard” of obsolete aircraft near Tucson, Arizona

Peace advocates point out that national and international indebtedness would be reduced or even eliminated if war spending was slashed.  Investments in infrastructure and human resources could be made to provide long-term benefits.

Nebraskans For Peace states that the $3,000,000,000 that is spent on the U.S. military each day, is slightly more than the entire annual budget for the State government of Nebraska.  Federal officials say that 59% of all federal tax dollars fund the Pentagon’s projects or functions. By its own admission, the Pentagon cannot account for 25% of its expenditures.  In 2002, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted that $2,300,000,000,000 could not be accounted for.

United Nations’ studies have shown that total global war spending could be halved and not affect readiness nor effectiveness of military forces around the world.  That we spend so much money and harm so many people, are the points of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.

Ciao
1984a

The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that grassroots organizations and networks can work together to achieve global, common security for all people on Earth.

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No Yes

The commercial played ahead of my selected YouTube video.  An older, bearded man with a gravelly voice touts the virtues of some sort of device that supposedly alleviates depression and negative moods.  His testimonial trumpets the wonderful results that he has obtained.  During his speech of praise, his head strongly shakes “no”. It doesn’t slightly shake once or twice; his head swivels unmistakeably from side to side.

The commercial has a very negative effect on me.  I don’t believe what he has to say any more than he apparently doesn’t believe what he has to say either. I’m dumbfounded that the commercial’s director and producer allowed the spot to air. mixedmessages-02 There is another version of the commercial with a woman sending out a similar mixed message.  What she says is strongly contradicted by her actions.

I’ve noticed prior instances of this unsettling behavior in other social situations.  It happens in reverse, too.  Someone describing how she does not care for something but nods her head and smiles while saying so.  My mind does not interpret this as ambiguity.  My immediate impression is that the person is not being truthful. There is a clash between what someone believes and what they do.

It seems like there is a problem not only in synchronizing speech and action, but an inner, mental conflict, too. This shows up in ways other than gestures and facial expressions.

I cringe when I read that a celebrity spokesman for the environmental movement is travelling the world via jet airline to preach the gospel of conservation.  Then there are the sad cases of political activists who proclaim the glory of freedom and liberty while, at the same time, advocate that some of us should be denied freedom and liberty.

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I love ambiguity in personal expression, culture, and art.  But I’m not an advocate of ambiguity in public relations and mass communications.  When a person tells me something, I appreciate hearing the truth, including all the pertinant details.

I know that other people prefer internal consistency, too.  It seems that we need to ensure that what we say and hear are consistant with the behavior we exhibit and witness. Deep inside, we know that conflicting statements and behavior cause mental disharmony and confusion.  Most of us don’t care for this clash, so we avoid people and situations where this disharmony is displayed. We tend to label this conflict as lying or hypocricy.mixedmessages-noyes

The need for consistency between speech and action plays a role in our evaluations, value judgments, and decision making.  We seek accurate, precise data to help us make faster, more satisfying choices.  When we think a data provider is being less than honest, we feel frustrated.

Of course, the perception or awareness of the lack of consistency is highly subjective.  This awareness might be influenced by what sort of mood the observer is in.  Or, the observer might share the same conflict between speech and action that the observed person exhibits.

The conflict might have roots in the desire to please other people.  You can catch someone telling a diplomatic, “little white lie” if you use your knowledge about conflicting speech and actions.  On the other hand, there might be more sinister motives behind the clash between speaking and doing.

In the case of deliberate lying, the speaker tends to over-compensate by acting out an exaggerated coordination of speech and gestures.  However, a bluejayblog post about deliberate deception will have to wait until another time.

Ciao
mini-moi

The Blue Jay of Happiness looked into this phenomenon and discovered that there is a psychological theory about it called “Cognitive Dissonance”.

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Adjusting Course

I pondered the stacks of books I had just piled onto the floor of the room.  Most of them were philosophical tomes, Buddhist Dharma interpretations, how to, “…For Dummies” books, and a few old self-help titles.  The time had come to clean and rearrange the shelving unit and cull the contents of it.

A few of the books had been stashed onto the shelves out of guilt.  I’d bought them with hopeful, bright intentions, but I had lost interest after a few chapters.  They were set aside to be read at some unknowable, future date. The books had cost a fair amount of cash, too.  I finally realized that the purchases could be compared to casino wagers.  Sometimes I hit the jackpot, but much of the time, they were losing bets.  It was time to consolidate my losses and donate them to charity.   Someone else may find value in them.

I then placed the keepers back onto the shelves because they had provided solid, useful knowledge or wisdom that I continue to value.  The books I kept are there with the caution that I will have to cull them someday, too.

reevaluation-transitofvenus

We are admonished to live in the present.  This is excellent advice.  The problem is, that this reminder has become a worn -out cliche’.  We passively affirm the need to live in the present, but then revert to our old habits of weaving nostalgic notions about the past and worrying about the future.  That is, until we are finally jarred from our habitual thinking by some major life event.

This truth came to my mind late last year.  Dad slipped on some ice and fractured his hip in November.  After his hospitalization, he was transferred to a nursing home to recover and undergo therapy.  Now, it appears that he won’t be returning home.  The responsibility of caring for and maintaining his house is now mine.  So is the need to liquidate most of his belongings.

After 86 years, his accumulations are many.  There is the large basement full of collectables and antiques.  Some of them should go to a museum and the rest need to be sold.  He has two outbuildings and a garage, on his acreage, containing large, heavy stuff.  There is no way that he can personally utilize any of these things.  Also, neither my sister nor I want to deal with them.  All of these things have become burdens. They will have to be sold at auction.

So, this year, I realized that I didn’t want to leave a legacy of stuff behind for others to liquidate.  The time to lighten my own load has arrived.  I need the breathing room. There is much to give away and plenty to sell.reevaluation-02

Maybe you’ve noticed introversion and personal re-evaluation come about whenever you do a major spring cleaning.  I suppose this is a normal occurrance because the stuff we acquire is a manifestation of what we think and believe.  In other words, the material items we attach to, relate to our mental attachments.

The reluctance to let go of material things correlates to our reluctance to let go of beliefs, opinions, and worldviews, too.  We cling to our beliefs out of fear of lack of identity and perceived stability.  We love and cherish our beliefs and opinions.  We enmesh ourselves with a worldview.  It’s scary and possibly unthinkable to let go of these mental attachments.  At times, I need to remember about the ease with which I can adopt opinions and sets of beliefs. In turn, these color my worldview to conform to my comfort zone.  If you think about this observation, you might come to a similar  conclusion.

These opinions and beliefs differ from one person to another.   The mind that offers opinions about facts is a narrow, destructive mind.  You may have one perception or belief about a fact while I have a different perception or belief about that same fact.  These points of view are curses that prevent us from simply understanding the fact for what it really is.

If the fact is a problem, these differing beliefs and opinions prevent us from reaching a solution.  This is one reason why I need to be careful about what I choose to believe.  It’s also a reason for me to set aside some quality time to sort through and to re-evaluate my mental attachments.

So, while I sort through my personal belongings, and my dad’s stuff, I’ll be going through my mental attachments and how the course of my life’s journey has been influenced by all of these things.  During the sorting process, I’ll likely be adjusting course.

Ciao
moi1988b

Today, the Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Anatole France. “If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”

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