Saturday, February 3, 2007

Uh...OK-I Think ~

I'm never quite sure how to "take" these little items, but - OK, I'll go along ...LOL ... Normal, eh? Well, that's somewhat nice to hear on a Saturday afternoon when I'm not exactly feeling very well!!! But ... "unique..not frightening so...? What's frighteningly unique? Any ideas?

You Are 60% Normal

Otherwise known as the normal amount of normal
You're like most people most of the time
But you've got those quirks that make you endearing
You're unique, yes... but not frighteningly so!

Integrity-Grace-Truth ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Integrity is telling myself the truth.
And honesty is telling the truth to other people.
-- Spencer Johnson

When I start writing a series of postings I like to have some idea where it is going to go - or end up. I have to admit when I did the posting on integrity and care I was not sure if there was more that I was going to add. Then the thoughts and statements and feelings simply wouldn’t let me go. I began to look at my own life and realized that much of what I’ve been posting about has also to do with integrity.

It’s a great thing to be who we are. When, as I did with ZZ, I give up my own purpose/identity to please someone else - I have placed huge walls around myself. I will begin to lose my own self, my own identity and my own joy. I guess it comes down to if we are going to please others, we need to please ourselves.

This may seem as selfish - or worse - a stance of not caring, but nothing could be further from the truth. Living who we are is not selfish. It is what we are to do, the reason for our being. To be asked to give any of that up for someone’s “pleasure” is selfish.

It also can require a great deal of courage, after all - there are so many around who know more about what it “best” for us or think that where we are headed is a great error. While they mean well, we know what we are to do - although the way we are to do it might be somewhat difficult to see at times.

And it takes a sense of purpose and courage to be able to say to those around - “I can appreciate what you are telling me, I can respect how you feel - but I can not accept it.”

But integrity also means living in truth - with others, and with myself. It’s a willingness to acknowledge who I am, what I have done (taking responsibility) and what needs to be done to get where I want to go.
This article says it much better than I could (please forgive the long quote):
The opposite of integrity, etymologically, is privation, deprivation, depravity, perversion, rupture, destruction, corruption. That which takes away from the whole entity or system or organ, from wholeness, wholesomeness, holism, soundness, sanity, ecology, cohesion, idealism, interconnectedness. In other words, breakdown.

The term can be applied in the moral, rational, or physical domains of human endeavor. Moral integrity refers to a cohesive set of principles, rational integrity to a cohesive logic, and physical integrity to a cohesive physical structure. In each sense integrity means wholeness, soundness, consistency, coherence.

So when we say something lacks integrity we mean, literally, it is falling apart. It has lost the critical elements, balance, connectedness that kept it together. It has come unglued.

When we say our government lacks integrity we mean they say one thing and do another. They lie. They use the ends to justify any means. They corrupt terms like 'freedom' and 'patriotism', and the entire moral framework under which they presume to operate crumbles.

When we say our electoral system lacks integrity we mean it has been so perverted by political partisanship, gerrymandering, unreliable and insecure voting systems and ad hominem attacks designed to confuse and mislead a dumbed-down electorate, that it is no longer capable of reliably reflecting the will of the people.

When we say big business lacks integrity we mean they use pursuit of profit and the 'maximization of shareholder value' as an excuse to distort the facts, lie to their customers, cheat and gouge their customers, sue their customers, screw and extort concessions from their front-line employees, wreck the environment, cripple the holistic economies of the communities and countries in which they operate, pervert constitutions to obtain 'rights' that trump the rights and freedoms of individuals, bribe public officials for favours, fraudulently obtain concessions and subsidies -- all in contravention of critical but forgotten clauses of the corporate charters that we the people granted them as a privilege.

When we say the legal system lacks integrity we mean it allows millionaires to commit murder and fraud with impunity but condemns the poor to death even on falsified or inadequate evidence, it substitutes the rule of man for the rule of law, it allows judges to make laws instead of upholding them, it metes out wildly different sentences for the same crime, or for no crime at all, just the mere suspicion of some bureaucrat, and it allows and even encourages abrogation of fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms out of extremist political zeal or expediency.

When we say the media lack integrity we mean they slough off their responsibility to inform, sacrifice balance and fairness for ratings, dumb down and pander to their audience because it's cheap and profitable, pass off propaganda and unsubstantiated information from governments and corporate sponsors as fact out of laziness and greed, and buy up and shut down smaller competitors that were doing the job they're supposed to be doing.

I could go on and talk about the education system, the health system, drugs and bribery in the amateur sports system, and many other examples, but I think you get the idea.

It is not surprising that when our public institutions, the very fabric of our democracy and constitutional liberalism, lack integrity, and corporations also lack integrity, we as individuals start to do the same. If the government lies to achieve its own ends, why shouldn't we? If Enron execs steal millions and defraud the government, why shouldn't we? If the legal system allows immigration officers and security forces total discretion to take the law into their own hands, why shouldn't we? If corporations can use their oligopoly power to fix prices at exorbitant levels, why shouldn't we use whatever means are at our disposal to get their stuff free? If the voting system is rigged, why bother to vote or even learn about the issues?

This is third world logic, the logic that says 'trust no one', the insane logic that only applies when rights, freedoms, justice, the rule of law, and democracy are all pipe dreams, perpetually subverted to money and power. Alas, integrity, like the democracy and constitutional liberalism it underpins, takes time and struggle to build, but is fragile and easy to destroy. We have taken for granted all the structures that are built on integrity, and we are losing them. The lack of integrity of our leaders -- of all major political parties, and in entertainment, sports, business, every field where there is fame, power and money to be had -- is causing us to give up hope, faith and trust in the institutions they represent.

There is an answer, but it's not an easy one. We need first to understand that the way we choose to live as individuals is a reflection of our self-respect, and that personal integrity is all about taking personal responsibility for our future, our actions, our decisions, the way we live and, to the extent we can, for the whole world in which we live. It is all about not leaving this up to god, or the fates, or the government, not 'buying off' that responsibility with whatever money or power we might have, and not blaming others in order to shrug off that responsibility...
--David Pollard 12/5/2003

more on this tomorrow morning

Friday, February 2, 2007

For The Fun Of It ~ An Early Evening Timewaster

This game based on Boggle is still somewhat in developement, but is quite fun to play.

WordHunter Xtreme was created for the Google Gadget University Awards, and won for Most Addictive. It was made during the numerous Google Gadgets workshops that I held for UPE in the fall. I'm proud to say that USC won for top university submission in the awards, and that another USC student, Ryan Brown, won Most Useful gadget with his WebClip gadget that lets you turn any webpage into a gadget.

Anyway, WordHunter Xtreme is inspired by the classic word game, Boggle, where you scramble up a bunch of letters in a grid and try to find words in connected chains of letters. It's got a twist though-- it uses the WordNet and UrbanDictionary APIs, so it lets you guess slang/acronyms/etc., and shows you the definitions for each. Seeing the definitions is the best part for me-- the UrbanDictionary definitions are hilarious. There's a user preference for showing the WordNet or the UrbanDictionary definition first, and I recommend choosing UrbanDictionary for a good time.
When you start the game - there are two games one allows you to use the urban dictionary, and the other has a regular dictionary focus ... although "urbanisims" are still allowed.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

Integrity Moments ~ Early Morning Thoughts

During a series of postings, I enjoy putting up what other people think about the subject. I find these challenging and thought provoking. Hopefully, you do as well. Tonight's menu contains differing (or not so differing) views on integrity which I touched on the other night.

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.
--W. Clement Stone

Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching

There can be no friendship without confidence; and no confidence, without integrity

It's not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.
--Francis Bacon, Sr.

Integrity is what we do, what we say, and what we say we do
--Don Galer

It is easier to cope with a bad conscience than with a bad reputation.
--Friedrich Nietzsche

Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.
-- Spencer Johnson

Integrity is the essence of everything successful.
--Richard Buckminster Fuller

One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.
-- Chinua Achebe

Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn't blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won't cheat, then you know he never will.
--John D. MacDonald

In times like these men should utter nothing for which they would not be willingly responsible through time and in eternity.
--Abraham Lincoln

Integrity has no need of rules.
-- Albert Camus

No man can purchase his virtue too dear, for it is the only thing whose value must ever increase with the price it has cost us. Our integrity is never worth so much as when we have parted with our all to keep it.”

A little integrity is better than any career
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

He who closes his ears to the views of others shows little confidence in the integrity of his own views
-- William Congreve

I am for integrity, if only because life is very short and truth is hard to come by.

The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.
-- Confucius

The man who cannot endure to have his errors and shortcomings brought to the surface and made known, but tries to hide them, is unfit to walk the highway of truth
-- James Allen

Integrity can be neither lost nor concealed nor faked nor quenched nor artificially come by nor outlived, nor, I believe, in the long run, denied
-- Eudora Welty

Tension is the great integrity.
--Richard Buckminster Fuller

If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-night useless, since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience the injustice of our fellows.

All "electronic paintings" by Sabin Corneliu Buraga

What Would You Ask~

I admit it ~ I did it all by myself. I have a blog that I follow almost daily. I find him funny, biting and quite honest about himself and his world.

Last week, he offered a question to his readers. It was simply titled "truth or dare."
His simple question was to ask his readers to say which one. I posted truth, as being the most interesting. Little did I know ..... (cue theme from Jaws) ~

He then issued this challenge after we had posted our choice of the word truth or dare. We were to post our truth question or dare challenge with the understanding that he, in turn, would post something for us that we had to we posted a dare - he would accomplish the dare and then dare us.

I've been tossing ideas around ... but I wanted to ask ~ what would you ask someone if the opportunity presented itself? Would you ask them a dare? Truth? ... Just wondering.

Yes, I have posted a truth for him, and yes - you'll see his truth to me here. I promise (NO my fingers are NOT crossed!!!)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Meoarf! ~ Early Morning Humor ....

Diaries of a Dog and Cat


Day number 180

Day number 181

Day number 182
1:30 pm - ooooooo. bath. bummer.


DAY 752 - My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.

DAY 761 - Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair...must try this on their bed.

DAY 765 - Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was...Hmmm. Not working according to plan.

DAY 768 - I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo." What sick minds could invent such a liquid. My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.

DAY 771 - There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odor of the glass tubes they call "beer". More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

DAY 774 - I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got to be an informant, and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety is assured.

But I can wait, it is only a matter of time...

Integrity - Grace ~ Early Morning Thoughts

I interrupt the regularly scheduled posting to bring you something that I have been struggling with for several weeks. It began with the election-timed fall of Ted Haggard in a drugs-and-gay-sex scandal. And hopefully what I'm saying will not be misunderstood as something it is not....I do try to tie it up at the end of the article.

Early in November, the Rev. Paul Barnes of Grace Chapel in Douglas County preached to his 2,100-member congregation about integrity and grace in the aftermath of the Ted Haggard drugs-and-gay-sex scandal.

Here is a parts of the sermon Rev. Paul Barnes gave as the Haggard scandal was still unfolding ... his comments are powerful and ring with truth. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t his original sermon - but one he composed shortly before delivering it.

The title of his new sermon: "Integrity, Sin and Grace."

During the sermon Rev. Barnes defined integrity as "being the same on the outside as you are on the inside."

All people come to God broken, he said. Maybe it's alcoholism, he said. Or a bad temper. Or pornography. Some people overcome their problems; others continue to live with them, he said.
Most of us, if the truth were known, we wear masks," Barnes said. "... Sometimes, we wear masks because we want to be appear more perfect than we are. But the reality of it is, all of us are so very imperfect.
Some people view homosexuality second only to pedophilia on a list of "disgusting things a person can do," he said.
But why, he asked, do so many Christians gloss over the sins of adultery or idolatry?

What causes more damage to a society? The 2 to 3 percent of the people in a society that are gay or the 50 percent of people in society who have been married and divorced and remarried? (remember he was speaking to a congregation, not the public at large which explains his narrow few of what damages society.)
He urged grace and mercy for all.

Later in December, in a tearful videotaped message Sunday to his congregation, he confessed to homosexuality and announced he had voluntarily resigned his pulpit.

Now, the 54-year-old Barnes has joined Haggard as a fallen evangelical minister who preached that homosexuality was a sin but grappled with a hidden life.

I have struggled with homosexuality since I was a 5-year-old boy," Barnes said in the 32- minute video,... I can't tell you the number of nights I have cried myself to sleep ..."

Unlike Haggard, who had the ear of the White House, Barnes is not a household name. He is a self-described introvert who avoids politics. Barnes and Grace Chapel stayed out of the debate over Amendment 43, a measure approved by Colorado voters defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

"I can't think of a single sermon where he ever had a political agenda," said Dave Palmer, an associate pastor.

So, unlike Haggard - this was not a pastor that entered the political realm or sought personal gain by his sermons, books or speaking engagements. He seems as a man trying as Paul described in Philippians 2:12: Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always done -- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling...

This, to me is what Rev. Barnes was attempting to do. And, this admonition continues to haunt even or straight we are to work out our OWN reality with fear and trembling.

Now the part of the article that really troubled me:

Palmer said the church got an anonymous call last week from a person "concerned" for the welfare of Barnes and the church. The caller had overheard a conversation in which someone mentioned "blowing the whistle" on evangelical preachers engaged in homosexuality, including Barnes.
Why is this troubling? These people profess to be something they are not - and encourage discriminatory behavior. So, it does seem logical that their secrets need to be brought to light. Where I have a problem, is when we take on ourselves to make what is in the dark public without caring about the result. This may get me into trouble however: To me, private is private ~ however, as far as secret evil is concerned an ancient admonition is crystal clear:

Things that are done in darkness (hidden/masked/hypocritical)
WILL be exposed to the light

It might not be my timetable or the way I would wish it to be - but I have seen it time and time again.
The biggest noisemakers or their so-called truth end up in ashes
We can name them and it takes more than the fingers of our hands.

So here is where my quandary begins. Their speech harmed people, caused discrimination and in some cases, deep hurt (which sometimes is physical). So the exposing of the hypocrisy seems to do a good thing. But, is it? I don't have an easy answer. As far as their speaking out against gays, but living the gay lifestyle the answers seems clear-cut. Again I ask in all honesty...Is it?

Where I'm at for now, is looking at the result. What has it changed? Has it brought reasonable dialogue or even more posturing from all sides of the damaging kind. I do know that I can not cheer and relish the downfall of someone, anyone -- unless I would want the same kind of downfall on myself. I also know that I can have relief that they are no longer doing damage to others in the way they were - but also, that I need to work toward reconciliation of people of all kinds and types to the greater good of all.

Remember the title of Rev. Barnes sermon included the word integrity?

The opposite of integrity, etymologically, is privation, deprivation, depravity, perversion, rupture, destruction, corruption. That which takes away from the whole entity or system or organ, from wholeness, wholesomeness, holism, soundness, sanity, ecology, cohesion, idealism, interconnectedness. In other words, breakdown.

The term can be applied in the moral, rational, or physical domains of human endeavor. Moral integrity refers to a cohesive set of principles, rational integrity to a cohesive logic, and physical integrity to a cohesive physical structure. In each sense integrity means wholeness, soundness, consistency, coherence.

So when we say something lacks integrity we mean, literally, it is falling apart. It has lost the critical elements, balance, connectedness that kept it together. It has come unglued.
--Dave Pollard 12/5/2003

Thus endeth the posting for this morning - your regularly scheduled posting will resume tomorrow.

2nd picture Soul Struggle by Frank Picini
6th picture The Reconciliation by Gwen Raverat

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Even A Seat Belt Won't Help ~

We've all seen some "extreme" sports, but these pictures capture The Hans Ray Adventure Team at one of their finest moments ... All pictures were taken by Victor Lucas *- and they are incredibly beautiful ... and if you suffer from problems with ledges (I have a friend with that) or a fear of heights, they may be a little disconcerting!

*edited 4:32pm to correct link

Monday, January 29, 2007

"But They Made Me..."(continued) ~ Early Morning Thoughts

Little did I know when I posted early Sunday morning that I would have a couple of personal experiences to use for this post. I was to spend the day with D&D - a simple brunch, visiting an (overpriced) antique shop, and perhaps a not-so-gentle libation to complete the day.

D&D provided a delightful brunch and we headed off to window shop the antiques. The shop was packed with much to see - and a few things to try and avoid. My knees are not in the greatest shape, so the ability to sit down occasionally is regarded as a blessing. The chairs that were NOT for sitting had delightful piles of "stuff" on them. After having been wandering around (and suppressing gasps at some of the prices), I noticed two chairs of the fairly sturdy kind along a division. As I lowered myself into the chair, the arm literally snapped off in my hand. There is nothing like sitting in an antique chair with the antique arm off the chair and now in my antique hand.

No one made any derogatory comments concerning the incident - but it roiled inside me. I walked outside and thought about what had occurred and my reaction to it. Of course there was the embarrassment and no small amount to shame - but what really surprised me were the old "tapes" that began to instantly play in my head. Reminders of what had occurred before, and what words had been ingrained in me...that I thought I had replaced over time.

The words we live with can become something quite serious - The word CAN become the "thing." When I would hear the word "clumsy" I allowed that word to become the thing (me) and therefore I was clumsy. When the joke used to be made that I could trip on the seam of linoleum, I allowed those words to become the thing (me) and began to feel that everything I did had to live up to that label. By allowing the word to become the thing, I unconsciously began to look to incidents that backed up my feeling. Of course, the word was NOT the thing, but to me it was. By attaching power to words, I gave that word control. That control drove what I did, felt and created.

Words are not the thing they represent. What they are ~ representations of something. When I was growing up I became clumsy because I felt that word was what I WAS. What was happening; I had mapped out a territory and I was following the map.

Here's a fun party game (especially after a couple of drinks!). Hand your guests a piece of paper and have them map out in detail how to get from where they are sitting to their cars. They have to map out direction, the number of steps, the doors to open (and how those doors open), etc.. They give their map to someone else to follow exactly as written. (it helps to have a prize, by the way.) So if the map says "6 steps to the 1st door" and the steps actually require 10 steps, the map is invalid.

When I took on the "map of clumsiness" as my personal territory, I kept running into parts of the map that were completely inaccurate. Of course, it was easier to blame the territory rather than the map. It became easy to place the blame externally rather than looking inwardly to see what needed to be changed.

After posting Sunday night, I decided that I needed to fix my browser bookmarks. I'm not even going to admit how many there were/are. As I was moving and eliminating, with one keystroke, I completely eliminated a valuable (to me) collection of places. While my reaction included some very unprintable and in a couple of cases physically impossible reactions - it also included some chuckling. In the past, an incident such as this would have completed the map I had of my territory. I would have used words such as "idiot," "dummy," and others. They would not have been just an indication of irritation (!?), but would have been an indication of just how I felt about myself. It would not have been an unfortunate "goof," it would have settled to me what I was, and how I felt about myself. My innacurate map would have matched the territory - and to me the territory would have been safe and complete.

more on this tomorrow

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Choose your words, for they become actions.
Understand your actions, for they become habits.
Study your habits, for they will become your character.
Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.

But I Did Wash - I Promise!!

We all were told to wash up - before dinner, before going out and especially after using the bathroom. Of course, we all promised that we did...even if we didn't! However, someone with a lot more time on their hands did a survey and found out that even though 92% said they washed their hands after using the bathroom 34% were lying. (and I thought the government was spying on other things!!!) So, the JWT agency in Toronto decided to come up with a more direct campaign to encourage ablutions of the right sort.

I'm not sure how effective it will be, but it would be interesting to see people's reactions on turning the knob!!

picture from Houtlist covering non-profit advertising campaigns -

Sunday, January 28, 2007

An Intermezzo List ~ Early Morning Thoughts

When I was teaching in India, my speech students were required to start what I called an Idea File. Basically, it was a collection of their speeches, quotes, stories,pictures and such. Ostensibly, it was for later speeches, but the hidden agenda was that later on, they would be able to look back and perhaps find something they needed to make a choice or find/offer comfort.
Before going further with my thoughts on choice, I'm posting a morning intermezzo list. I've included a number of quotes from Denis Waitley, one of the most sought-after keynote speakers and productivity consultants in the world today. And he believes very strongly in personal choice and the responsiblity for those choices.

As near as I can tell, he's also discovered as Linus told Charlie Brown (one of my favorite moments): Life is more than a bumper sticker.

There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.
--Denis Waitley

If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won't, you most assuredly won't. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.
--Denis Waitley

Our limitations and success will be based, most often, on your own expectations for ourselves. What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon.
--Denis Waitley

Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.
--Denis Waitley

Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.
--Denis Waitley

Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it. That is what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy.
--Denis Waitley

Forget about the consequences of failure. Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success.
--Denis Waitley

Change is the essence of life.Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.
--Denis Waitley

Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the 'someday I'll' philosophy.
--Denis Waitley

Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable.
--Denis Waitley

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.
--Charles R. Swindoll
Remember you've got a choice. When you feel you can't handle something, you can either choose to feel miserable and helpless, or maybe put your life in someone else's hands to sort out - if they can be bothered. Or you can decide to take charge , take full responsibility for whatever's happening, even if none of it seems to be your fault, and decide to turn poison into medicine
-- Geoff from the book, The Buddha, Geoff and Me

tomorrow: choice, maps and territories

1st picture by Eric Lindgren