Sunday, December 31, 2017

ARDUOUS कठिन beschwerlich ardu 艱鉅 つらい и взрывоопасных مشکل



WHO AM I?
     I hope that this is an arduous time for you.  Arduous, or “tough” times mean you are being challenged and tested by life.
     How much “grit” do you have? Grit is comprised of determination, willingness to withstand the pain. To call forth determination, or grit means that you are willing to sacrifice for your goal.
     Big goals call forth big challenges.
That means you are rising to the challenges by growing, learning, gaining experiences. The more difficult the experience, the harder you have to work.  The harder you work, the greater the capacities you develop. The greater capacities, the more you can accomplish and achieve. That means your life can become more abundant. The more abundant your outer life becomes, the more inner strength you have.
    
WHY AM I HERE?
     The challenges we receive lead us to the fate we have for our life. That fate and those experiences are directed by the star our spirit self has chosen to follow.
     Is it you who is finding your fate, or is your fate finding you?
     Is it your star which you are following? Or, is the star leading you, drawing you forward into the future you know nothing about?
As you move forward on your path, you may begin to realize that it is absolutely necessary for us to have challenges, a path, fate and a star, otherwise, our struggles seem random and meaningless.

WHAT DO I WANT?
     What is the gift we receive? We receive the giver.
     Who is the giver?

“I feel my star,
My star finds me,
I feel my fate,
My fate finds me.

My life and the wide world are one.

Life grows more abundant for me.
Life grows more radiant within me.
Life grows more arduous for me.”
-   Rudolf Steiner

     This is a time of testing.
     Why in the world would anyone want their lives to be more arduous?

© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager
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Saturday, December 23, 2017

IT WAS MARLEY, ALL RIGHT



I was visited by Jackob Marley, the late partner of Ebeneezer Scrooge. It was Marley all right, he was dead all right. He had that kerchief tied around his head so his jaw wouldn’t fall open. (If his jaw hyper-extended and dropped open then he had this surprised, astonished expression in his eyes and could only stand there speechless, gaping at you and the world with his tongue flopped around like a naked mouse but that tongue could never reach a lip to make a sound. That’s why he tied his jaw closed.)

     It was damn sure Marley all right. He wore that same old 1800s night cap and night shirt but now with a lot more rips and tears where as he wandered about, it apparently had got caught on bushes and stuff. Worse, he was pretty well along with rotting. You could tell by the smell. And the oozing stains. It was a wonder that his arm didn’t fall off or something.

Scrooge told us Marley had been condemned to walk the earth for eternity never to find rest or peace, rather “incessant torture or remorse”. I wonder if Dickens, who made that  condemnation, ever thought about what ol’ Jakob would look like now, 180 years after his death. A ghastly reminder of the fate that awaits us all if we take up the lifestyle of Jackob Marley – namely greed – and don’t change like Scrooge did.

     Maybe you’ve forgotten who Marley was?

Marley and Scrooge were teenage friends. They had been apprenticed together. They set up one of those nineteenth-century “counting houses” which we today would call an investment “bank”, though bank was just s loosely used designation then as it is today when describing hedge funds and the current money machines. Marley himself called it “our money changing hole” a description as appropriate for the 1830s as it is today.

     Scrooge & Marley had seats on the London Stock Exchange and were brokers in the 1800s like Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney or others were on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). They paid themselves handsomely – more than handsomely. Like executives today, their salaries were comparatively in the millions which today add up to billions.

Marley and Scrooge parted ways seven years before Marley showed up at Scrooge’s that Christmas Eve long ago. Apparently, after he left Scrooge and Marley, Marley had gone on an “acquisition amble” around the world which had accelerated his greed nature and rocketed his income. Marley’s greed always becomes visible and evident in his chain of penance which he wore that night when he first haunted Scrooge.

Oh yeah, this is never just a visit, and a chat; it is a fearsome haunting.

Marley’s original chain was, as Dickins tells us, was “long and wound around him like a tail; it was made of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, deeds, ledgers, and heavy purses wrought in steel.” And that was only the chain of the first seven years Marley had walked before he haunted Scrooge. His chain when he haunted me now included what he gained from his walks about the earth and on his acquisition ambles during the last 180 years!

     A miniature tall, diamond encrusted building represented Corporate Empires, all of them. Like glittering diamonds strewn all over the world. The industrial era of the 1800s made forming corporations and collecting corporate capital easy, especially when linked with technology. When railroads came along, now there was a real “engine” of capitalism!

     His original chain had miniature railroad cars, for J. Gould’s railroads of course, Marley inspired all the the Robber Barons of 1865 – 1890 who habitually cheated and robbed investors and consumers. One of those cars was labeled “14th Amendment – Equal Protection for Corporations.” That was the first step toward corporations as persons.

There was a Silver Dollar representing the corrupted the U.S. government. And, a gold snake symbolic ruthless, predatory activities they carried on with each other comparable to those of the robber barons of medieval Europe.

     Marley’s chain had a sack of sugar, a bottle of whiskey rope, beef jerky and a pack of cigarettes representing the most notorious of the trusts were the Sugar Trust, the Whisky Trust, the Cordage Trust, the Beef Trust, the Tobacco Trust, John D. Rockefeller's Oil Trust (Standard Oil of New Jersey), and J. P. Morgan's Steel Trust (U.S. Steel Corporation).

     An empty cup which he twirled  symbolized the best law which, in Marley’s opinion, he had helped pass in all those years, bankruptcy. Bankruptcy! What a concept!  Great, greedy giants take risks and if they fail, they off load employees and expenses for pennies on the dollar with no consequence for the management, other than financial rewards! Small people lose everything, executives get bonuses. Mentioning it brought the glint of a little tear to Marley’s eyes. (A tear of joy? Probably.)

Today all corporations who feel they are not making as much profit as possible can get protection by bankruptcy. Auto companies, their suppliers, airlines, coal companies, steel companies, casinos, President elects, manufacturers of all sorts, go bankrupt to shed labor contracts, environmental protection costs and so forth. Hundreds of examples dangled like multi-colored braids on Marley’s Chain: Delphi Automotive, owned by GM until 1999, declared bankruptcy in 2000 to cut union wages from $30 an hour to $10. Hardly uncommon. But, CEOs salaries go up! Jakob Marley, oracle of misery to some, lined the pockets of the wealthy and guided them to increased profits.

He lifted his chain and pointed at Monopoly houses and hotels.

Of course! Mortgage debt, another Marley favorite! And there was a small bobble-head figure, clothed in black, representing NINJA loans – No Income No Job No Assets – nodding, nodding. A player in the 2008 stock market crash – jaw dropping for everyone but Jakob Marley (whose jaw is tied into place.)

     Marley now has a globe on his chain.  On it are tiny pins for the country economies where he depressed wages and increased profits until they approach the rate of the 1960s! Fie on workers rights! What minimum wages? Child workers, you bet! The ratio of debt to disposable income for the super wealthy in the U.S. alone, went from 60% to 140% in 2007 – unprecedented in economic history! Consider how much the rate has accelerated in third world countries or China where American industry fled to boost profits.

     Why not? This is the era of science and technology which gave us the internet! So a Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellite whirled like a drone about Jakob. Silicone Valley has new, special place on Marley’s Chain. Europe struggled with the EU; New York had its day, the District of Columbia was Obamaized, Hollywood now battles the internet companies for content. Technology is still the easiest way to get into a new “money hole” as Jakob would say and grin, of he could grin without unfortunate consequences.

     But then I noticed the pill bottles, hundreds – hundreds? Thousands! - of tiny bottles, the most profitable part of Health Care. Here you could see Big Pharma, big profits from pain, cancer research and opoids. They represent the latest result of Jakob’s ambles, shifting the thinking from science for advancing human health to science for advancing corporate health. Nice!

     Marley’s chain came to an end. He twirled it. He delivered his message.

If you remember, Scrooge was shocked by the haunting of Jakob Marley, by the sight of Marley, by the weight of the chain and the fact that Marley was required to haunt the earth dragging this chain of sins forever.

We Bohemian Bourgeois (BOBOs) of today smile and won’t let Jakob penetrate our smug, gold-plated hearts. We doubt he’s even real at all. That’s how it was for Scrooge until he realized he was Marley. He had the same ambitions, goals, and loves. His heart was the same, cold and hard.

     Scrooge came to be convinced that if he did not change his ways, he – we - would have the same fate as Marley. If there was no generosity in Scrooge’s soul – in our souls – if we did not help the most desperate amongst us, then the Ghost of Christmas Present (as in this Christmas, as in Now), will also appear and show us our Fate – this Fate for the world:

“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from under your skirts. Is it a foot or claw?”

“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it.” Was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”

“From the foldings of its robe, it brought forth two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

“Oh, Man, look here. Look, look down here,” exclaimed the Ghost.

“They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have fulfilled their features out, and touched them with it s freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled the into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.”

“Scrooge startled back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.”

“Spirit, are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it,” cried the Spirit, stretching out his hand towards the city.”

“Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end.”

“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.

“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ...

The bell struck twelve - Midnight”(1)


(1)    A CHRISTMAS CAROL, an  1843 Novella by Charles Dickins

(C) Copyright 2017, Jean W. Yeager All Rights Reserved

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

"WIGGLE ROOM AND FISCUS" - A FAMILY LEGEND REPUBLISHED ON MY 45TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY


REVISED 9/10/2016 - My wife, Marietta, a Master Gardener, told me I was misspelling "Ficus" when I first showed her a draft of this post. I explained that Microsoft Word, with which this was written, did not accept the spelling "f-i-c-u-s", and kept substituting "f-i-c-h-u-s". She said that was "unfortunate".  I also told her that the Microsoft vocabulary did not have the Texas word "thang" and kept substituting "thong". She said that was probably "fortunate". My friend, Ira Lipson, also tried to save me from embarrassment by correcting the “fichus” / “ficus” situation by informing me, as my wife had attempted, that the correct spelling of the plant name was “ficus” not “fichus”.  So, now I have corrected the spelling, okay!

Brainz version- September 25, 2016

I have a “gift”. Okay, I actually have several “gifts”, but I do have a “gift” of spatial perception. For example, I can look at a jumble of stuff and tell if I can pack it all into an assigned fixed space or not, right down to the tiniest item in the littlest place.  Like, loading boxes, trunks, appliances, packages, and so forth into the back of a truck. Or a trailer. Or the trunk of a car or a self-storage unit. I discovered I had this gift, when as a young man quit a newspaper job and got a job loading trailers at United Freight Service (UFS) on the “Midnight Sort”. I was a “Loader” and that was my official UFS / Teamster job title.

   Some think that people who load trucks are desperate immigrants or unskilled half-wits. We had those, but we also had people who had fallen on hard times, like myself  (who pushed himself into hard times), a Summa Cum Laude attorney whose firm had lost a major client, a former MD who apparently specialized in malpractice, and Gary who laughed out loud at the movies he made in his mind. We did not “bond” because we hardly saw one another and we each had one or more trailers to load during our shift. But, we did go out after work to a strip club once or twice.

     This capacity for spatial perception has been a great gift to have because we have moved a lot over the years. One of my favorite moves which has now gone down into family legend has been the move from Pennsylvania to Michigan, or as we call it, “The Ficus Move.”

     I had perfectly loaded, and I mean perfectly loaded a 26-foot Ryder rental truck, the one with a “Grandma’s Closet” (the little space over the cab) with our family’s belongings. That included bicycles, appliances, aquariums, books, boxes, wardrobes, tools, the lot. Now, when a loader says “perfectly loaded”, that means tight. Pardon me while I take a narrative side-road to explain the technical term “tight” for you lay-people, but I assure you it’s integral for your understanding of the Ficus Move story.

     “Tight” was a technical term which my loading colleagues and I researched because our boss commanded us to ‘”packed it tight”.  “Que?” said one. “Is there a case law definition of tight?” asked another. Gary giggled. We retired to the Spotlight Strip Club to conduct careful, scientific observations using spatial perception over many data gathering sessions and held lengthy debates. Given our weird constellation, and the Spotlight Strip Club as our research lab, it was not surprising we argued intensely over Catholic and Mexican cultural, legal, mathematic and physiological factors which Gary turned into a movie and giggled about.  Our research concluded scientifically that “tight” means there is less “wiggle room” (or free space for movement) between packed items in our loads compared to the space between the fanny-flesh and the thong of “Miss Easy Evil” at the Spotlight Strip Club. We are sure because the MD suggested we used the well-known “Three Bears” statistical methodology which he used in all his research. So, for control purposes, the MD helped us gather comparative anatomical data on “Miss Toothpick Annie” (‘She ain’t got no fanny!’) and “Miss Judy Booty” (‘That girl’s got a bonus booty!’). And then he said, “Come to Poppa, ‘Miss Easy Evil’ you is just right as the operational definition of tight!” If this scientific definition has been something you have been worrying about, I am glad to have helped.

     Now, back to the Ficus Move story. My Ryder rental truck load was “tight”, so tight I wanted to take a snapshot of the full load because the overhead trailer door would just barely clear the last few items. I mean it was a mover’s dream. Tight and perfect.

     Then I heard my wife, coming around the corner of the house calling out “Can you get in the Ficus?” And there she came with my eldest teenage son, a 6’3” lad who could probably press and easy 200#, dragging a 3-gallon terracotta pot with a 5-foot Ficus tree which had been sitting in the corner of our living room.

     A brief moment of panic. Was this something I forgot? Maybe. My gift is spatial perception, not house plant detection.

     Now, if the question had been, “Is there room for the Ficus?” The answer would have been “No!” because the load was perfect and tight. If the question had been “Am I too late to get the Ficus in?” The answer would have been “Yes!” because I had been loading all day, just pulled the door down.

     “Can you get in the Ficus?” she repeated, and here they come dragging that dang Ficus. I raised the overhead door and looked over at the Ficus. That thing was big! Did I mention this load was tight?

    My wife had worked in mental health, psychiatry specifically, for decades by this point in our marriage. So, the question “Can you get in the Ficus?” may have been a clever intra-spousal psycho-analytic challenge aimed at some deep-seated Freudian masculinity thingy. That would have pissed me off.  But since she’s a Jungian, I doubted it, so I didn’t get angry. My guess was that the question was a lucky, off-the-board, 3-seconds left in the game “Hail Mary” half-court shot by an indoor garden fanatic.  Can you? Can you?  It swished in.

     Can I? I looked at the perfectly packed, tight load. I looked at my wife. I looked at the Ficus again. I looked at my teenage son, he smirked. He knew daddy’s “spatial perception” was caught. I knew what sleeping on the couch meant. I looked at the Ficus and considered its 3-gallon pot, its broomstick shaped trunk, and its weird leaves. Then my spatial perception “gift” kicked in, and I began mentally re-arranging the load. 

     It was not easy. It was not pretty. Let’s just say I had to violate good loading protocol and exceed the laws of physics to get that Fichus loaded. It should not have been physically possible to cram in that 3-gallon pot and Fichus into that “tight” load any more than it was possible for “Miss Judy Booty” at the Spotlight Strip Club to load that much fanny-flesh around her thong. But, I was there for the foundational research: I saw her bonus booty and it was moving. I regretted seeing both. Such is the stuff of movers’ nightmares. I must admit that I used a few loader 4-letter incantations, and applied leverage, and I got the Ficus loaded.

     Since then I won’t attempt spatial perception or loading anything without looking over my shoulder and asking my wife well in advance, “Ficus?”

     She just laughs.

P.S. - The Ficus survived the legendary move and to this day sits in our living room in a 4-gallon pot. It now has two additional limbs. Those are weird leaves.

© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager / All Rights Reserved



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Friday, April 7, 2017

“JOAN OF ARC, GENE AUTRY & NITROGLYCERINE” – Tennessee Williams

“JOAN OF ARC, GENE AUTRY & NITROGLYCERINE” – Tennessee Williams
            This is a phrase which Tennessee Williams used to describe Margo Jones, the dynamic theatre visionary and producer who elsewhere was called “The Sweet Tornado.” Jones, indeed, made a lasting impact on theatre, but Williams’s  trilogy is so powerful, I thought move away from her as a person and take a shot at re-stating these three it in hopes they will be revived and offer as inspiration for us all. It does to me!
            Joan of Arc – A visionary who was led by her Angelic, spiritual inspirers to do battle with the forces seeking to dominate and control the free human being. We all need a vision for our lives and our communities and freedom. We need courage. To have courage means we, like Joan, need those imaginative sources and resources, those ideals backed by the good Angels to which we can reliably turn, without doubt, without worry, when life gets tough, because life will get tough. Probably tougher than it is when you start out. Anytime you try to change your world, or yourself, counter forces will arise to attempt to destroy your vision, cause doubt, fear, anger. The bigger your vision, the bigger the counter forces. You need Joan of Arc-sized spiritual inspiration.
            Gene Autry – The original “straight shooting” cowboy star of radio, television and film. Autry created “The Cowboy Code” for the “young” (or old) listeners of his radio program:
1.         The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
2.         He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
3.         He must always tell the truth.
4.         He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
5.         He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6.         He must help people in distress.
7.         He must be a good worker.
8.         He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
9.         He must respect women, parents, and his nation's laws.
10.       The Cowboy is a patriot.[1]
            The Cowboy Path is a path of self-directed moral behavior which we can use to guide our vision, our inspiration. This is the kind of thing Aristotle would have suggested to young Athenian “cowboys” with his admonition, to “Be Good, Do Good.” This also rolls along side the “12 Steps” program or other moral anti-addiction programs practiced today.
            Nitroglycerine -  Invented in 1847, nitroglycerine has been an active agent in the manufacture of explosives since that time. Highly unstable, it was terribly dangerous when first compounded and caused hundreds of deaths before controlled. For a while, it was banned in some parts of the world. When mixed with organic substances, it can be more easily handled and used in munitions as a propellant. This is one aspect of one form of nitroglycerine –explosive, unstable, needs to be handled with care.
But still, if required, nitroglycerine is what you need for blasting the fixed, the stuck, the things which are in the way and need to be removed. “Moralic Nitro” for destroying the large stoppers in life.
            Another aspect is that for over 130 years, nitroglycerine has been used as a vasodialator to treat heart conditions, angina pectoris and chronic cardiac failure.  It modulates the out of control rhythms of the heart.
            So what in one place is useful for blasting and destroying and may lead to tragedy and death if misused; in another place, in a smaller dose, may lead to strength and health.  We all need the capacity for maximum force, on occasion; and, on other occasions, we nee (dare I mention another cardiac function) the ability to be tender - to love?
            Joan of Arc, Gene Autry, nitroglycerine – thank you, Margo Jones for inspiring Tennessee Williams! Take these qualities to heart and we all will be inspired, straight shooting firecrackers!  Yee hah!

© Copyright 2017 – Jean W. Yeager – All Rights Reserved.


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[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Autry

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