Monday, April 4, 2016

Of Cults and Crazies and the People of Walgreens

I went on my bicycle yesterday to run a few errands. Went down to the old shopping center down the street from where I used to live, which despite being somewhat of a more affluent area, has a much more noticeable transient population, with panhandlers at all the major intersections. Remember those People of Walgreen's posts, like the old Mexican bandito who after asking me for the time in slurred broken English, ended up urinating on the sidewalk in front of the main entrance after I went in. Well that's the same shopping center.

Anyway, I pull into this shopping center, which I've only been to about three times in the past five years, after being a regular there for most of the years I've lived in this city. It's a little public square with outdoor seating for the variety of restaurants which share its space. I lock my bike up at the only bike rack in the shopping center, which is right outside a bagel shop.

There are several people sitting around chatting, but one man sitting alone caught my attention, because he had a long gray Moses beard, dressed somewhat shabbily, and looked to be in his sixties and homeless, but also sending off somewhat of a Plato philosopher vibe. That's what I thought when I saw him, I thought of Plato. Though be careful with that, as appearances are not always what they seem, a long beard and few possessions is no accurate indication of wisdom, but usually is just some dude that is too lazy to shave, or who maybe enjoys the quasi guru vibe, leveraging that to his advantage against less discerning minds who equate beards with wisdom.

Anyway, I lock up my bike and do my shopping without event, but it's when I return to my bike, packing up, getting ready to go, is when he makes contact.

"Do you know what time it is?" he says.

I tell him.

He then says, "You from out East?" Apparently detecting the accent in my voice simply from me telling him the time.

"I'm from Wisconsin" I say, like an idiot, realizing I already gave out too much information.

"Oh, you sound like you're from New York."

"Nope, Wisconsin".

And this is where it gets weird.

He then proceeds to say, "You've got to be careful around here, out in New Mexico and here in Arizona, pretty much the entire western United States, they've got a lot of cults out here. Do you know what a cult is?"

I reply, "Of course I do. You mean like Charles Manson?"

He says, "No, not not like Charles Manson or Jim Jones. I mean Christian cults. The end times. I used to belong to a cult, wasted my life in it. Now look at me. Now, I am a Christian. I believe in the Bible. It's the oldest book in the world, but these cults manipulate the teachings and exploit the gullibility of their members for their own personal gain."

Okay, I'm thinking to myself, this is kind of interesting, but why is this guy talking to a complete stranger about this? Why does he feel compelled to approach a complete stranger who is getting ready to leave, to warn them about a major cult presence in the Southwest, as if I would ever join a Christian cult, or any cult for that matter, someone who isn't a Christian, isn't even religious, and isn't even much of a joiner, but more of a lone wolf, independent to the core.

Does this guy think I'm a sucker? An easy mark? Do I look like a tourist? I've been here for almost twenty years. At this point I'm realizing that I've got to get out of here, actually I have a legitimate reason to make a quick exit, as I have a quart of ice creme in my pack, and it's eighty degrees outside.

So, I quickly hop on my bike, thank the man for his warning, wish him the best of luck, and get the hell out of there.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Power of Myth

It never fails, I post about having some problem, for instance, being unable to concentrate on reading, and like magic, soon after the fact, I'm finding I'm able to read again. That's one verifiably repeatable instance of this blogs therapeutic value to myself. I'm starting slow. Not reading my once-upon-a-time goal of 100 pages a day, but just a few, but I'm sticking with it, and that's what counts. And even more importantly, it's not about how many pages or books you read, but the quality of the read that matters most.

I found this book randomly, the one I'm reading now, browsing the shelves at the library. I usually browse the same area fairly regularly, the philosophy, psychology, sociology, technology areas of the library, so I'm pretty quick to notice anything new almost immediately. I'm pretty sure I read it many years ago, in the teenage years, when I used to read many complex books that I didn't entirely understand, absorbing just bits and pieces here and there, but I was inspired intuitively I think, like an inner mantra.

The book is The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell.

I think this is my favorite format for a book, the question and answer format, being a dialogue between two or more people. In this case, it's a dialogue between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers on the meaning and relevancy of mythology in modern times.

I want to share a quote, I really liked. Here it is:

"Heaven and hell are within us, and all the gods are within us. This is the great realization of the Upanishads of India in the ninth century B.C. All the gods, all the heavens, all the worlds, are within us. They are magnified dreams, and dreams are manifestations in image form of the energies of the body in conflict with each other. That is what myth is. Myth is a manifestation in symbolic images, in metaphorical images, of the energies of the organs of the body in conflict with each other."

It's like as above, so below, as within, so without.

At some level, everything that happens, from a thought, to a deed, on all levels of life, individually, socially, human, plant, animal, mineral, earth, sun, outer space, everything occurs and is mirrored on multiple levels, both the inner and the outer, the physical and the non-physical. It's parallel realities on a cosmic, possibly infinite scale, never ending. And mythology offers a glimpse of those parallel realities in terms that human beings can understand.

Anyway, really enjoying this book. Need to read more mythology, more Joseph Campbell, and more dialogues between great thinkers, people who are not just highly educated and intelligent, but supremely wise.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My First Chromebook


Image: The old Netbook is on the left, and new Chromebook is on the right.


Yep, after talking about it on and off for over a year now, I finally bought myself a Chromebook. I went with the Dell Chromebook 11, the new 2015 model with dual core 2.16 gigahertz Celeron Processor and 4 gigs of ram.

I originally intended to get the one with the faster Pentium i3 processor, and although you can still find them online from different vendors, Dell itself no longer sells it. Yeah, apparently the 2015 model ships with a slower processor than the 2014, but with improvements in other areas such as greater durability. So, considering I intended to order from Dell directly, it was somewhat of a disappointment, and was at first reluctant to buy the new model, but because of a huge price reduction a couple weeks ago of nearly a hundred dollars cheaper than what it was a few months ago, I decided to go for it, thinking that they are probably going to sell out, and even if they release a new and improved model for 2016, it's probably going to be much more expensive.

Well anyway, I've had it now for four days, and it is surprisingly much faster than I was lead to believe. Maybe it will seem slow to you if you're coming from a super fast high end model, but for me, compared to my old computer, a six year old Dell mini Inspiron Netbook, with 10 inch screen, one gig of ram and single core 1.6 GHz processor, it is lightning fast. And the screen quality is good too, despite many reviews stating otherwise. The only negative thing about it, so far, I would say is the track pad is a bit weird, and takes some getting used to, mostly with there being no traditional right click, but instead you click with two fingers on the lower center region of the pad. It's a bit tricky, and am finding that for simple copy pasting, I prefer the keyboard shortcut of control c and control v, it's much faster.

Anyway, other than that minor annoyance, which also could easily be solved by plugging in a mouse, I pretty much love everything about it, and am little by little learning the tricks of the Chrome universe.

Basically the biggest gamble of buying a Chromebook without trying it out first, was whether or not I would still be able to use it to make money online.

I do supplemental freelance work online, pretty much surveys and micro tasks, some of which requires Windows, Internet Explorer, and Firefox, things that Chromebooks don't have, but I found myself a workaround which has enabled my Chromebook to be able to do everything I need it to, at a much faster and more productive level than my old computer.

If you have a Chromebook or are planning on getting one, I would call this the most essential can't live without it browser extension you absolutely must install as soon as possible:

User-Agent Switcher for Google Chrome

What it does is make your web browser or operating system appear as if it were a different web browser or operating system, and can also make it appear as if it were a different type of device, such as a smartphone or tablet, whichever you select. In other words, I can make my Chromebook appear as if it were a Windows computer running Firefox or Internet explorer, which is what I needed.

Basically if you have problems accessing a site or running an application using Chrome operating system, just use the user agent switcher, and there is a good chance that your problem will be solved.

Two other workarounds that I can think of, but which I haven't tried yet, would be to remotely connect your Chromebook to a Windows computer, where you do all your work on the other computer remotely via your Chromebook. Or you install Linux operating system, which will not only allow you to run additional web browsers, but will give you greater freedom in downloading a more extensive array of software applications not available to Chrome.

Anyway, I'm very happy with my purchase, it's a really nice little computer, at a very affordable price, and I will hopefully get many years of use out of it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Constipation

This is a spontaneous insight I had last night, didn't post it then, because it was already really late, and didn't want to dilute the waters, having already posted my post for the night.

Okay, so apparently there currently is an epidemic of heroin addiction in the U.S. I thought of this because I saw something on the news about it yesterday, saying just that, but also mentioning the fact that heroin causes major constipation, where the addicts may go weeks without a bowel movement.

I myself have never tried heroin, and based on what I know about it, probably wouldn't if given the opportunity, but I've known a couple addicts in my life, and I remember them saying that that first hit of heroin was the best moment of their lives. We're talking religious ecstasy, in their words better than sexual orgasm, the most blissful moment ever, but never again reproduced. They get the best high of their life, but it's only a one time thing, each time they use they try to reproduce that original moment, but to no avail, and from this point forward the more physically dependent they become on the drug, they need it just to feel normal, but never again feeling super normal.

My spontaneous insight is that perhaps the reason why heroin causes constipation is because at some level it is a mental/emotional laxative, which fools the body into thinking that it has already let go of the biggest BM of their lives, but in actuality it was only in their own mind.

They are constipated because the drug fools them into thinking that they already emptied their bowels, when in actuality they merely descended into the bowels of hell, masquerading as heaven. They let go mentally and emotionally, but physically, not so much, making the letting go no more real than an illusory dream. Which is why in this sense most drugs, perhaps all drugs, don't have the power to make you enlightened, when the enlightenment gained is at a dream level, which rarely, if ever carries over to actual physical space.

That's deep, huh? Do you follow, or am I too drunk to make sense?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Trepidation

Six months ago I thought maybe I'd buy a Chromebook. The pros are: it's lightweight, durable, and has a superior battery life. The cons, well, not having Windows operating system, if Windows you need. Which apparently I do, as I'm working on making a living online, and unfortunately having a Windows operating system is part of that picture.

Anyway, another reason I can think of being a con against buying a Chromebook, is based on my recent experience of buying my first Android Smartphone. 

Okay, it's my first smartphone ever, and it happens be an Android, which is a Google based operating system.

To use the phone, you must have a Google account, which, among other things, includes a Gmail account. You've got a Gmail account, which becomes your user identity, your log-in info, so that every time you turn on your phone,  you're basically logging into your Google account. Therefore, everything you do on your phone is logged, tracked, and recorded onto your account. Unless you create a fake profile, meaning, using a fake identity, everything you do on your phone, including, where you live, and where you travel, is being recorded. Yes the fake accounts are recorded too, but being fake, perhaps you have less to lose, Anyway, even if you don't have a data plan, through a combination of WiFi and GPS tracking, everything you do on your phone, as long as the phone is turned on, is being tracked. 

So apparently the same is true of Chromebooks. The fact that you have to log into a Google account just to use, it makes you entirely part of that system of everything you do being tracked. 

I'm not entirely ruling it out, the merits of buying a Chromebook, as the one thing that keeps me motivated to give it a chance is the fact that I can install Linux on it. But just wanted to point out a potential con, being the mandatory Google log-in just to use it, which people who don't already own Chromebooks may not already be aware of.