Fitness Update: Viral Reboot

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For those of you who.  are regular follwers of “Be Swift Be Precise” you will have notice a real oddity this past “long” weekend: The blog has gone postless for three days.

This breaks a string of unbroken posts for at least two years or longer. The reason, quite simply, relates to my physical fitness, yet also to many of the more subtle pieces of the fitness balance.

Wednesday evening I had an idea for the Thursday post, shot up a headline on my draft board, and didn’t get any farther. Tiredness and a slight chill sent me to bed early. Thursday, I got online, for work only, but didn’t hit anything personal. By the end of the day I was in a bout with a full viral assault that the doctor on Friday morning assured me wasn’t the flu, but the distinction didn’t really matter to me that much. I didn’t personally complete the Thursday post you saw — I dictated and my “stenographer” did the actual web access. Thus from Wednesday night until I came back up finally on Sunday afternoon, I was entirely devoid of web presence, given or received.

It might be a slight use of hyperbole to claim that I approached a sometimes hallucinatory state during times Thursday evening and Friday, but I did have very curious dreams, that brought up interesting correlations of data and personal history. Being disengaged from the net was probably a wise thing during this time, if I could have even thought enough to make the attempt to engage.

All this, of course, has occurred during a time when I am very busy with several new demanding projects happening all at the same time. So now that I have, practically speaking, lost almost an entire week’s forward progress of my life that I need to reacquire, I have to come to some triage decisions of how to make that happen.

For health, I cannot start out to fast. I said I came up on Sunday afternoon, but that doesn’t mean I emerged completely whole and hale. Until I have my full energy, I need to use only the energy that I currently have.

So, while I get some of the other pieces in place, it may be a week or two before I get back to the daily posting schedule. I don’t know whether the weekly feature days or the special topic days will emerge first — it may be mixture of the two depending on where the space and energy emerge — but the daily posting schedule will arise again.

For the other parts of my life: work obviously will slide right back into its regular slot; school will have to be fit in along the cracks, and found a way to get completed and caught up, since I started a week late and am now practically two weeks behind.

Church will be there, to attend, and to immerse in.

Somewhere I need to get my “personal” reading time in — which has almost exclusively been the book club book for the past couple years. Since I was offline, I tried reading the hard-copy book during my down time. My brain power could manage a measly 20-30 pages a day.

Everything done, in its time, with a buffer planned somewhere for more of the unexpected. The ride for the next couple of weeks and months could be interesting.

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The Thesis

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Since I began my Master’s degree in January 2014, I have spent a significant amount of time blogging about various classes and reading for my degree.

But I’ve taken a break from the program for almost a year, due to work considerations. Yet today, I am suddenly back in gear. Starting the class late, but aiming to finish it up by spring.

This is the capstone course: writing the Thesis. Despite all my preparations, I feel like I have no idea how to get it done, yet also feel confident that it can and will get done.

My catch-phrase I started at work is going to hold me in good standing here: “Let’s Pool Our Ignorance”.

So this weekend I will be writing up my 1 page initial proposal and see where that goes.

New Year’s Cleaning

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They Say New Year’s is a time for resolutions. And Monday is supposed to be my fitness update. Both of which might get some mention today.  Both of which, from the Fitness perspective, will get more detail next Monday.

But today, I’m going to talk about New Year’s as a time for cleaning.

There are more posts coming this month detailing the house remodel/recover from our tree/storm damage. But without the pictures and the step-by-step chronology of those, today’s post reflects a major side-effect of that process.  We are moving houses — but within the same house.

Which involves a lot of cleaning, and getting rid of stuff that has accumulated throughout the years.

We have a 2,000 square foot house, and were probably actively living in 1,200 to 1,500 feet of.  When we get done we will have rearranged our patterns and be living in 1,500 to 1,800 square  feet of our 2,000 square feet. And the remaining 200 to 500 square feet will be within our sites with ideas for how to utilize them as well.

A couple years ago I did a reorganization of our kitchen. It is interesting how patterns change over the years, and we had so many things not being used just cluttering up space. So we cleaned a lot of stuff up and started utilizing more of what we had.

The same thing happened to the house in general. We had spaces we stopped using, and items began piling up in them. Now we are decluttering and reorganizing the spaces for more use and less clutter.

It is interesting in our culture how much stuff we tend to accumulate. We are in a culture of affluence.  Even the poorest ends up overflowing in the detritus of the stuff that forms our affluence. This is a good thing, our affluence, as long as we are aware of the detritus that is its side effect and cycle it back into the process of affluence and living.

That isn’t a carte blanche statement for recycling, as much as that seems on the surface. But it points to the side effects of our affluence, and the opportunities it provides us. We need to keep learning and growing, and recreating our way of living to use and clear and reuse what is available to us. Nothing is ever waste, everything is always potential for the new and better.

Choose to be angry

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( Note: All the date references in the below post are done present tense; i.e. from the frame of when they were originally written, and not when I finally published them. This article was drafted in bits and spurts, so no date reference can be deemed to help one figure out the exact day or time of any event being referred to.)

One day this past fall I chose to be angry. I tried to concentrate my thoughts on an unfairness that had been done to me, for the whole day. I tried to demonstrate that one chooses one’s attitude. And I kept it up until about 3 p.m., one hour before the end of the work day.

Someone needed assistance, and in doing so I couldn’t help get infected by her attitude. I never realized how hard it would be for me to choose to be angry.

I spent about 10 minutes writing the above two paragraphs, and 10  minutes before deciding that I was going to write on this subject. And it took me all of that 20 minutes to even remember what item I had been so royally screwed over by certain powers that be in my life that I decided it was worth devoting an entire day of my life being angry about it.

And that was after yesterday someone brought it back up to me and rubbed my face into it along with another equally ridiculous slap down I was given over a perceived slight that was entirely incongruous to the actual intent and tone of event that occurred.

I discovered that I can be intensely angry, but holding onto it is a hard thing to do. I don’t like living there, although in certain ways it felt really good to be able to hold onto my sense of injustice and being mistreated. It also has warned me how easy it is to let someone do something to  me over and over again, my ability to forget and thus forgive by forgetfulness, along with my rare ability to actually hold a grudge.

 

Communication: Understanding or Power

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(Note: Those reading this post will hopefully note that it reflects an attitude generally in opposition to my normal one. Not that I think it untrue, or not worth saying, but that it is difficult and painful to paint in these colors for very long. Nor do I think it constructive to do it for long, though often essential to remember now and again.)

One of the things the students in my Master’s in Communication class dislike the most is the comparison of Communication as an exercise in power. We like to think of it as a practice in understanding. Yet recently I have been rubbed in the face with the power aspects of communication.  Those with the power get to decide what your communication means. They even have the power of Humpty Dumpty to pay YOUR words to make  them mean what they want them to mean in their favor.

One of the problems in trying to communicate a subject like this, is you cannot directly refer to any of your examples.  Either a direct reference risks your exposure to those in power and their reinterpretation of your words, since they will doubtless find them reflecting unfavorably upon them, or it is someone or a relationship you care something about and the person will misunderstand the use of your communication with them as trying to be mean instead of being a didactic and teachable moment that increases understanding. In either case, the potential for your words to be effective in communicating empathy and understanding are severely weakened. And it doesn’t matter how close or how far you actually are to those organizations and circles of power, they will mark your words and see what they can do to make you suffer for your attempt at truth and understanding.

This again removes the POWER of the teachable moment, and reduces the situation to the lessons learned by the less powerful about how power uses communication for power instead of understanding.

One of the chief weapons against understanding and in favor of power by those in power is the deconstruction of language, and the obliteration of linguistic and literary tools. I observed a recent example where the use of hyperbole by someone near me — a tool reflecting one’s positive expectations on the intellectual capabilities of the recipient — was painted as the use of extreme and demeaning sarcasm. Never mind how difficult it is to use hyperbole as sarcasm, I saw the inversion of literary definitions achieved and the reprimand painted.

It is dangerous to use hyperbole, irony, simile, metaphors, allusions,  because they connect people’s thoughts to larger themes, and make them explore and question the items around them. None of these are good for those who see communication as power.

An expansive vocabulary is not safe either. I interact inter-culturally every day, and never dumb down my vocabulary to the people I am talking to. A lot of them like the way it expands their own comprehension of English, as well as stimulates them into a greater understanding of both American language and culture. But within organizations it looks like this might be dangerous too — as the use of big words could be considered condescending, no doubt.

I was commenting to a leader in one organization that they had created one team and given them a great project to work on — one really to be proud of — but had misled them on their final intent for the group and the project. The leader tried explaining to me how it was in the best interest of the organization that the team be mislead. If people knew the truth too soon they might choose to bail instead of be committed to the project. My response was that this point of view robbed those team members of the pride they should have had in the work accomplished, and left them with fear in its place. It also telegraphed to them that their leadership did not trust them. Past experience, the leader said, showed the leadership that this lack of trust on the leader’s part was justified. I don’t think either of us was convincing the other one of which lack of trust started this downward spiral of distrust. Yet, my assertion still, is that, no matter where it starts, the important communication fact is that it is a downward spiral, and that stopping it should be more important than finding which point on the circle started it. Yet that would require a relinquishment of power in communication that those in power are not willing to give up.

The interactions are complex, and it is easy to justify keeping people in the dark. Yet I still contend that using the communication to inform and create understanding, and allowing people to make informed decisions, is eminently preferrable, on the whole, to controlling communication to the point that its primary use is that of power.

 

You don’t want me to focus

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I’ve come to the conclusion that, exterior veneer aside, I am not an easy-going sort of person. I can be very focused and intense. I can also obsess. Fortunately I can usually snap out of it.  But my melancholy temperament, welded to an overwhelming positive outlook, leads to something far from Pollyanna-ish, occasionally very overwhelming and undeterrable.

And while I have an innate sense of the fallen nature and potential for evil in each of us, when my overwhelming trust in the general good intent of the people and organizations around me is shattered by some overwhelming act of stupidity and selfishness, the whiplash within my intensity can be a very dangerous and scary place for me (and oft-times the people around me). Fortunately, while staying intense, the dark moments of  my intensity are overwhelmed, in a perhaps sadder-but-wiser rebloom of my positive outlook.

I can be very intense in very positive situations, or negative. Relaxing isn’t an easy exercise for me. Relaxed for me isn’t always relaxed for those around me.

If you classify people like horses, I am a thoroughbred, high strung, not a draft horse, calm and plodding with deep strength. Which isn’t to say I don’t have deep strength. And usually draft horses, with their relaxed strength, live longer.

 

 

In Defense of Freedom

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This is a very interesting video, discussing the dangers to freedom, and the true exercise of freedom, in a place far removed from the borders of the United States.  And yet, in a way, this land, and in example of freedom, owes much to what it learned from the American experience. We might consider it one of our foster children. Let us listen closely, and not be deceived by those who would wrongly paint freedom as tyranny.