Poll of a Billion Monkeys

Friday, August 31, 2007

On the Efficiency, Efficacy, and Edification of Being Alone

Humours of Idleness - On the Efficiency, Efficacy, and Edification of Being Alone

This past week has been the last vacation for the family and I this summer. My wife wanted to take my kids and go visit an old friend of hers (who is kinda like an aunt to my children) and so I told them to go. By all means go ahead and have fun. Which means that for a good part of this week I have been home alone (without anybody but my dogs and pups) and so I decided to use the time as productively as I could, getting a bunch of old catch-up work finished up, or at least making progress on it. At first it seemed like I was working as normal but as the time went by and I realized that I had no-one asking me to do anything other than what I wished, my attitude, and the feel of what I was doing totally changed. I became a kid again, setting my own hours, deciding what I would work on, or not work on, for how long, when, and in what way.

No one was making any request of me; there were no deadline or timeline demands, nothing to really control either my work schedule or my entertainment or recreation. I was completely in command of my own time, alone, and steeped in solitude. It had been so long since I had really been by myself that I had almost entirely forgotten what it was like to be in solitude, how different it is than having others around you, and how utterly beneficial it is from time to time to be alone. Completely alone and without the company of other people.

It took me awhile to adjust, but once I began to remember what solitude was like, and how much I could do (or not do as the case might be) I took as much advantage out of the situation as I possibly could. I think the best thing about solitude, in my case anyway, is that since I live so far out in the country, and since so much open land surrounds my home and estate, that aside from the occasional dog-bark, I could by simply killing the power to any form of distraction make it entirely silent. With children, clients calling me, the television, stereo, computer and video games running constantly, the piano being played - although I’m sure it is much more quiet and pleasant here than living in any city - my home can still be filled with noise and activity, despite the relative geographic isolation. But with everyone gone I could reduce my home to complete silence, could surround myself in silence. Could suppress the din until I could hear nothing but the wind, nothing but my own breathing and heartbeat, nothing but the crickets at night, or the thunder on the approaching storm. It is almost indescribable how good it is to be able to enforce silence whenever you wish.

But because I was alone I also got to do all kinds of other things, and I got to do them undisturbed and uninterrupted.

I made some scientific observations, worked on an experiment, I drew in my sketchbook, I took photographs, took a hike in the woods, played with my dogs, tended to my puppies, lifted weights, threw the discus, did some repair work and maintenance to the home, cleaned the gutters, went to the Home Depot and got some tools, saw a couple of movies, read a couple of books, listened to a lecture, worked a case and did some night surveillance, practiced the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, read in the Yoga Sutras, took care of a legal matter, meditated, prayed, wrote some new prayers, worked on a Mission’s Project, played my new piano, composed some music, worked on an invention, worked on my writing and art portfolios, went to the comic book store and got some comic books (Justice League and New Avengers), went to the airport and hung around the pilots, went to the new park, went to the book store and read some magazines, did some target shooting with my pistols and shotguns, went to the library and the art museum, went up to the Science Center and the old Naval telescope (but it was rainy and so got to view nothing), went out to eat and ate whatever I wanted, drank coffee and beer a’ lot, did some research for some books I’m writing, outlined part of a novel, got a story out to a publisher, listened to music, played some video and computer games, updated some computer and paper files, wrote some poetry, worked in my notebooks, worked on my newsletters, worked on my websites, reworked and redrew part of an old architectural sketch, cruised the internet, washed my car, cleaned my tackle box and went fishing for a few hours, read some intelligence reports and papers, thought about a business plan/venture I’m considering, worked on a series of essays I intend to write, watched Who Wants to be a Superhero, washed clothes, slept, and rested.

About the only thing I haven’t done is go Vadding, and camping, and if I could have found a new place to explore, and didn’t have to tend my litter of pups I certainly would have.

In short for the past few days I’ve been enjoying the hell outta myself.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my family, more than mere words can express, and enjoy their company; again more than speaking will tell. I have important obligations as both a husband and a father that I take very seriously and I would not exchange those obligations, that company, or that part of my life for any other gain. My family is important, in a way that other things wouldn’t be, not nearly so much, if I didn’t have my family to enhance them. My work is my legacy, but my family is my Living Legacy. They will carry on into the future long after this body is dust, and I am far away and the cares, concerns, and duties of this world mean nothing to me anymore.

That being said however it has been so many years since I was completely separated from them, that is, when no member of my family has been around me, and so many years since I have been in total solitude that I had almost forgotten what it was to be entirely by myself. Alone. And I had forgotten how good it is to be alone, how refreshing, how much one can achieve with no one else around and no distractions of any kind to interfere with whatever one wishes to do. I have remembered over the past few days why so many monks and hermits have sought solitude like a treasure-hoard and have spoken of it as a rare and precious gift of God, which is to be pursued when possible. It makes one efficient, relaxed, calm, and peaceful. It makes one unhurried and appreciative of life, it allows one to recreate, to organize one’s thoughts, to master the mind, attend the body, and to physic the soul. It reminds you that today is today, that hours can be long and fulfilling when not consumed with countless diversionary tasks and pointless distractions, that solitude helps to unmeasure the measure which compresses and shortens our lives by flooding them with minutiae.

Now next week I shall return to my normal schedule of activities and work, my family shall return from their trip and their absence will be remedied. And I shall be glad for that, for by that time I shall be missing their presence. It shall be good to have them home.

But this vacation, with them away and me here alone has reminded me of many valuable things which I had forgotten over the course of my marriage and my experiences as a father. God has made me remember, by arranging this time for me to be alone, truly alone, that time alone is good for a man, and for the first time in many, many years, that time alone is time very well spent. That there is much value, and much weal, in solitude well spent and in isolation well employed.

Solitude is a kind of leisure for the soul, and adds a peculiar and yet very wealthy kind of benefit to the man who can and does enjoy it, when he can. When I was young I could be alone whenever I wished, and often sought to be so, but as I aged and became consumed in so many worldly affairs I forgot that dream of dreamless deep which comes when men are best alone, and best at peace.

So in the future I intend to re-devote a certain period of my life, a certain time each year maybe, or even each month if it is possible - to solitude, to real and true and absolute solitude, and in that time alone to enjoy those timeless and eternal things of forgotten worth which make human life so much the better in all other ages and in all other circumstances.

This is my 300th post to this blog by the way. So I guess it’s some kinda marker or something.

Anyway, Happy Labor Day everyone.
Enjoy it peacefully.

© JWG, Jr. 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Three Days Ago

Allele - Three Days Ago

Three days ago I was visited by a Wanderer in the desert, who being asked his name replied, "What is spoken is not what is known, and what is known is not the question that you would know of me.

Nevertheless if you answer me what I would not ask of you then I will tell you who I am."S

So I asked him how he might best be known when all he is as nothing.

"Now I will tell you who I am, and after that, we will sit together and stare into the sky."

So I listened, and hearing nothing, sat down to wait.

The watch was long, and quiet...

But I am patient.
And I can wait...

Experimentis Multiplicitus

Part the First: The Globe

“Post equitem sedet atra Cura”

Upon the table where I lay the object of desire
I came upon an ancient thing, a thing I could admire

A telescope of ages past, a compass lost to read
An experiment alone by which forsaken I accede

A glass that mirrored back my soul
A branching from the bole,
A secret whispered back from God
That guile could not enroll,

Upon the table where I lay the object of desire
I came upon an arcane thing, a thing I could acquire

A ruler steep, an astrolabe
For shooting at the sun
A promise long that I did crave
No matter when begun

And machinations, they did turn
Where assemblies did adjourn
Along the casement of facade
For by this did I learn,

No man has ever grown so tall
He ever stooped the sky,
Then when he topples, what a fall
That cracks the globe nearby

Upon the table where I lay the object of desire
I came upon an obscure thing, a thing which did conspire

For reaching up upon the mast, as tall as masts will grow
I found what I was searching for, then lost it down below,

The moral of this versive tale, this song of last repent
Is that desire never sleeps, and never does relent

So if you come upon that thing which lingers in your heart
Be very careful what you take before you do depart…

For gaining we have caught it all, and grasping we will hold
Seceding we cannot let off, our end is thus foretold.

© JG 2007


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Times they are A'Changing

The Exchange - The Times they are A'Changin

I've made a few upgrades and changes to the site.

I've also updated my Favored and Approved lists along the bottom of the side-bar, and put up a new poll on Global Warming.

I've also updated my Recommendations links. I'm recommending both Likelihood of Success, and Rome Reborn as worth taking a gander.

I'll be making a few other improvements and updates as time goes along. I'm in no hurry and I'm in no way back to everyday blogging as to be honest, I don't really think of blogging as that important in the big scheme of things, or very important at all, and truth be told I've got a helluvah lot more important things to do with my time. Especially right now.

But I'm gonna get things done here as quick as I can and I'm also revising many of my other sites as well, my blogs, my portfolios, and my webpages. My newsletters will probably come last.

When I got something big coming up to post then I'll probably let you know ahead of time.

Well, I got other stuff to keep me busy tonight so I'll see ya later.
Hope you're all well.


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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wednesday Religious Assessment 8/8/07

Wednesday Religious Assessment

Coming and Going

The Illusion of Jihad?

The Adult Stem cell - What most everyone keeps missing is that if you take adult stem cells directly from the host (the person to be treated) and employ those then you have none of the potential problems of tissue or cellular rejection (not to mention either acute or chronic immune reactions) you would find by employing cells from any other donor. More than a century of basic understanding about tissue rejection and when stem cell research first develops it's right back to the drawing board (as if nothing were previously known about bio-medicine), ignoring the most basic ideas and understanding regarding the most fundamental aspects of biology. To be so capable in so many ways modern science is so ridiculous and juvenile in so many other ways. Modern science often makes me laugh.

The Pope and the Patriarch - Interesting after his recent visit to Turkey and the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Suffer the Children

A bit of Commentary and Analysis

The Orthodox Chrisitian Network

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tuesday Science and Technology Abstract 8/7/07

Tuesday Science and Technology Abstract

Casimir Effect

The Balsa Planet


The Evil Vomit Light - I have always enjoyed working on, with, and developing new non-lethal weaponry. I like where this is going because combined with other types of wave-based NLWs, including sub-sonic I believe this could lead to something very like a phaser (not as a stunning weapon, but as a sensory and orientation incapacitator). The trick now will be to adapt the same basic principles to sonic and tactile weapons so that this type of weapon can incapacitate almost instantly and by use of light, sound, and by producing feeling within the body of the target. You would want it to be multi functional and be able to incapacitate in a number of different ways in order to be most effective and so it could not be easily defended against.

Advanced Concept Nuclear Shield - But I like Bruce Willis

Global Bugging

Going Under to Go Off - when I was younger and contemplated becoming an astronaut I have to admit that at the same time I was simultaneously captivated by the thought of deep sea exploration. Best of both worlds here.

What the Ruskies Have

Good Luck - Hope you do better with this than you do with your food industry.


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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Games and Other Things

The Exchange - Games and Other Things

I homeschool my kids. My kids are involved in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities.
I found this article in the Epistula newsletter I receive from Marlin Detweiler so interesting I reproduced the entire article on my blog.

Games Matter

"An interesting and problematic phenomenon has arisen in classical Christian educational circles, schools and homeschools, and I fear I may have contributed to the problem. It’s the idea that curricular endeavors are more important than extra-curriculars.

There have been many instances where I have been asked to speak or consult and was asked about the role of these extra curriculars—sports, musical performance, drama, etc. Until recently, I have responded by suggesting that “we must gain substantial ground and stability in the curricular realm of educational recovery before thoroughly addressing the less important extra-curricular.” At the same time I was critical of parents who removed their kids from these classical schools with already dwindling school population in upper grades. Many times these parents would indicate that the schools lack of extra-curriculars was the reason for leaving. It seemed a misplaced sense of priorities.

After all, of my four boys I have one who will start at North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem this fall with an interest in drama and musical theater and another who played golf at Old Dominion on a golf scholarship last year and is transferring to North Carolina State University where he also will play golf. Yet another son, my 11th grader, hopes to play basketball into his college years. We’ve been able to make it work. Others certainly could, too. But that’s not really the whole story.

Difficulties and weaknesses still remain. Team sports are the biggest challenge. Small schools, let alone homeschools, will always have great difficulty fielding a championship football team. Then, throw in basketball, football, orchestra, band and soccer and there will never be enough participants or resources. My boys would have loved to have more options.

How many homeschooled or classically schooled student-athletes can you name that are or have played Division 1 College sports on a scholarship, let alone professionally? Not many. Initially, we might be inclined to say, “So what?”. Well, here’s what. Sports (and the arts) are a big part of life in America, in fact the world. Taking back culture will certainly involve having sports operate under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, there are things we learn from functioning as a team in athletics and the arts. Look at Congress. How many senators and representatives do you expect were athletes, even stand-out athletes earlier in life? Remember Jack Kemp? Bill Bradley? Jim Bunning? The list is quite long. The things we learn from competing are both hard to learn elsewhere and very important in leadership.

Let me concede that sports are not for everyone. Neither is drama or music (except singing, but that’s another subject). Leadership isn’t for everyone either. However, Christian community is. What I failed to see, when previously downplaying the importance of these activities, is what they do to the building of Christian community. Debate teams and mock-trial teams are wonderful. They challenge the student to apply what he has learned in important ways. They create a sense of camaraderie and connection. But nothing brings a group together like a football or basketball game. And nothing builds character like the tense moments of the games we play for the players and fans.

As we observe the marketplace we see some trends—some good, some not. The first is the one already mentioned—we underestimate the value of these activities and suffer the consequences of not keeping our schools filled and not developing the whole of our children. The second is our culture can be quite separatist. We don’t want our kids associating with bad kids and being influenced by them so we avoid contact at all cost—even the sports teams. My observation of folks in this extreme is that they produce effeminate men who are hardly ready to be like David or Daniel for the kingdom.

There’s another trend. Homeschool organizations and organizers bring kids together in highly competitive teams. I was thrilled to learn of some of them. Still in early stages, yet making great strides, these organizations stand ready, willing and able to make a difference. Schools are getting to it, as well. Some are realizing that planning for graduating classes of 30 may not cut it and are putting strategies in place for 200 instead.

We should also mention the trend on the other side of the ditch. It’s the one that thinks too much of sports and other extra-curriculars. Golf, football and the like are far more likely to be our idols of the day than a wooden Baal kept on the mantel. We need to stay away from that one, as well.

This is an enormous subject and much can be said. Suffice it for now that you should be aware of opportunities and avoid the ditches. Your children will thank you for it. And our God will be pleased to see His people called after His name ready, willing and able to do that which they are called to do."

Marlin Detweiler

My Bitch Delivered

Pesharim - My Bitch Delivered

This morning, probably between 0100 and 0200 from the looks of it, my bitch littered.

We found her and the pups in a deep hole she had dug underneath the south deck of the house. Thirteen pups in all, a black and white one who was apparently still born from an examination of the body and a golden one apparently that she had crushed by accident later on were dead, before we found her and the litter. It’s a real shame that any of them died, they are all such beautiful looking pups and the golden one was the only one of the litter that color, and I had hoped to replace Maximius (who we lost from the last litter and was also golden) with this golden boy. But alas, things happen you cannot control or don’t see coming. That golden pup would have been a real monster too from the looks of him. He was the biggest of the lot, but I guess some things are just not meant to be. I buried the two dead ones with their brother Max.

Anyways the good thing is that about half of the others are Tiger Stripe the extremely unusual in appearance and unique brand of Great Bernard produced by my male Great Bernard and my female Great Dane. Pictures of previous litter here.

So we’re gonna keep the biggest male Tiger Stripe of this litter and probably call him Maximius Saint George after his two uncles, or just Max for short.

I’m extremely proud of my bitch. Thirteen pups in a single litter, and eleven survivors. She’s strong, there’s no doubt about it. Never even heard a whimper out of her, just like with the last litter. She’s the best bitch I’ve ever had and I’ve had some good bitches. Kara was a good bitch, after all Bart (the sire of this litter) was her brood and he and his brother are/were the best dogs I’ve ever had. Kara was a very good bitch but Noal is even better. She’s black as midnight, tough as pig iron, beautiful as a long-legged quarter horse, fast as the wind, and sweet as a Southern lady. Damn good guard dog too. And smart as a whip. Maybe the smartest dog I've ever owned next to George.

Apparently all of the vitamins, supplements, and metaergogenic enhancements I had been feeding her and Bart had acted like fertility drugs too. Last litter she put out ten and nine survived (one being still born). This time thirteen of eleven survived though if we had found her early enough this morning then it might have been an even dozen to live, including the golden boy. She had been huge of course, and her tits were enormous, but even I never expected her to deliver thirteen rounders in a single litter.

If our male tiger stripe lives to six months or so then were gonna have her spayed. The others we will sell for between 400 and 500 like last time. I sure am looking forward to seeing how this litter develops. They look like they are gonna be incredible dogs, just like the last litter. I’m not making the same mistakes I made last time though, this time I’m taking lots of pictures and they will be fed Raw Food (not canned food) like their parents and given even more supplements than the previous litter. Plus, since there are so many of them we'll bottle feed em as they start to develop, like last time.

Bart will also like having another big boy around to play with to take the place of his brother George (who was killed by cottonmouths). Even better it will be his own son.

Well, I gotta lot a work to do today, including laying down a den for them in the basement. I’ll get pictures up as soon as I can.

© JWG, Jr. 2007


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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Exchange - Alternative Reality Gaming

The Exchange - Alternative Reality Gaming

I'm kinda torn by this.

On the one hand I see it as just another way to kill time in a useless and frivolous "entertainment pursuit" as if the world, and America especially, is not already full of such silly, distracting, and pointless endeavors.

On the other hand it doesn't take much foresight to realize the enormous potential that something like this might have in using gaming and a real world platform to practice and master Real World Skills if the proper Transferable Skills Simulations could be developed.

This could be a practical method of teaching Real World Skills in the real world through a gaming system and scenario.

At the very least amateur skills could be learned, practiced, and developed, or the gaming scenario at the very least designed in such a way as to require or encourage players to learn or make use of some real world skill in order to compete successfully in the game.

As for Wargaming of various kinds this would be a perfect model, under controlled circumstances, for Real World military training scenarios (without the need for separate and expensive training centers - interacting with civilians in civilian areas while simultaneously trying to guard against mock terror attacks and also trying to avoid accidental or saboteur gamejacking), SWAT training, medical service training, manhunting, security, espionage, and practically anything of a civil service nature. But it could also be easily extended to practically any profession, as a form of Interactive Training Role-play. It could also easily be employed to develop scenarios to teach hobbies or to train someone for personal avocations, like Vadding.

It is filled with interesting and practically unlimited potential and if combined with Virtual Reality and incorporated into Real World Training scenarios certainly would be an interesting way to learn new skills. It might even be successfully employed as a general primary and secondary Educational Technique.

I'm gonna think more on the matter and how I might use this, as well as how it might be best interwoven into more ordinary Electronic Video and Computer games and who it might be best combined with Virtual Reality projects.

Alternative Reality Gaming Network

Alternative Reality Gaming

ARG Tutorial

Dark Time-Killer, or Bright Road to the Future?


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