Monthly Archives: November 2013


The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Consider this:

      In life, one comes into contact with a great variety of people. Many of these people can have a degree of influence on how we grow up, learn, cope and become distinct individuals.

      When looking at the agents for change and development, different processes, distinct apologists and those matters that resonate with an individual’s inherent belief systems are of paramount importance to consider when doing this exercise.

      I have created a list of 25 categories of people that could have had an influence or significant impact on your life. I invite you to download it and use it to identify and discuss those compelling persons that you have come across so far in your life. If you wish, send your results back to me and I will post it on my blog.

Click Here to download the list in Microsoft Word .docx format or
Click Here to download it as an Adobe .pdf file.
There are instructions and suggestions included with the list.

Here is my completed list for your entertainment.

  1) Those that one wishes to emulate: there is no person I wish to emulate so I will have to put my own name down: Paul
  2) Those that one feels an affinity for: all veterans because the world is scary unpredictable place and the entire population of some countries are devoted to and commanded to bring about the destruction of America and death to all infidels (non-Muslims). The only thing that stands between our annihilation and survival is the military. They deserve great respect and gratitude. In my opinion, any negative actions or wrongdoing of the military is not a fault with the military but with America’s defective political system. 
  3) Those whose work ethic appeals to us: Brian Geenbaur because of his diligence in performing his work and his respect for all people. Also, his selfless acts of kindness. Richard Feynman for his stick-to-it-ness, his sense of humor and his ability to come up with many different ways to solve any one problem. 
  4)  Parents: My parent’s provided me with the basic necessities when I was a child.
  5) Children: I enjoy an excellent quality relationship with my children. Our relationship is miles above the average person’s experience. I am very connected to my kids and enjoy their company and look forward to seeing them often. I have unconditional love for them and am I happy that I have them in my life. Anyone who says they don’t want children would change their mind if they had kids like mine.   
  6)  Siblings: My siblings are all so different from each other yet they are all on the periphery of my social circle. I see them only on the occasional Sunday when I visit my parent’s house at those times that they also there visiting. There is cordial interaction when we see each other but nothing more significant than superficial conversation can be expected. 
  7) Mentors: I have not ever had a person in my life that would call a mentor. Since I have to come up with an answer, I would have to say that my mentor has been my own sense of self.  
  8) Teachers: I had a social studies teacher in the 11th grade named Lorraine Berlin. She was quite remarkable and she is the only teacher that ever impressed to any degree. She was fascinating to listen to and her demeanor was that of a person with great self-confidence. Her knowledge went far beyond the one discipline of social studies. She had an amazing grasp of the country’s political system and had worked with some very prominent politicians in the past. Her “serious sanguine” attitude was inspiring and I always paid attention to everything she taught. Interestingly, she was the wife of the base commander of the Air Station in Karamursel Turkey. She had a daughter in the same grade as me and her daughter shared many of her best qualities.
  9) Coaches: I have never played any type of sport and have never had any kind of coach. Since I am supposed to have an answer in every category, I will say that my coach was my personal trainer (I don’t remember his name) when I was weight training in the late eighties and early nineties. Actually, I guess he was very much like a couch, I just never thought of it that way. 
  10) Instructors: Instructors seem like teachers but I guess they could be different. To me, an instructor is someone who shows you how to do something only once or perhaps on an ongoing basis but without any schedule or organization. In this category, I would name Richard Huberdault. He taught me a lot about wood working, the basics of electrical work, and plumbing. His can-do attitude made him a natural instructor. He introduced me to the practice of being a handyman. He was the impetus that sparked my willingness to attempt to repair or take on any kind of project whether I had past experience with it or not. As a result, after many years I developed my own attitude in regard to being a jack-of-all-trades with the motto:  “how hard can it be”?
  11) Moral guidance: this is tricky one. I didn’t receive any useful moral guidance from my parents beyond the general concepts associated with the golden rule. Neither did I glean moral guidance from the Catholic Catechism I attended until the age 14. Throughout life, I have been exposed to teachings and precepts designed to provide me with morals but I haven’t found any extrinsic influence to be of any value. Uh, does anyone know what the word catechism means?
  12) Consultants: The only people I can associate with this category are business consultants. I have had a few QuickBooks experts come to the office to help me with problems and/or to learn new skills. Unfortunately, those experiences weren’t as helpful as I’d hoped and certainly not worth the cost involved.
  13) Religious persons or organizations: Obviously, Jesus of Nazareth tops this list. Well, no – not really. Just kidding. In this category, only one experience comes to mind and that is the many years I was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Grafton and Upton.  I was very involved in the church and its activities, as well as the social aspects of belonging to a group. I was involved in almost every aspect of the church including religious education, adult discussion groups, fundraising, community involvement, the selection of a new minister and I was a trustee on the Board of trustees.  I derived a lot of satisfaction and social skills from my ten or so years as a member of the church.
 14) Philosophers: There are too many philosophers that I have admired at some point in my life that naming one or more is difficult. Any that comes to mind would simply be those that can I thought of on the spur of the moment and would not be in any order or represent any greater significance than any other. Right now, Bertrand Russell and Niels Bohr come to mind.
  15) Authority figures: Another difficult category. I’m not so keen on authority figures. I will, however, name Eric (the Chief of Police in Barre, MA) and Hillary Clinton.
  16) Political figures: I may have jumped the gun a little because Hillary Clinton is definitely in this category. Also: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clintonand Michelle Obama.
  17) Scientists: This is a very easy category and I could list dozens, but here are some of my favorites: Sam Harris, Lawrence Kraus, Stephen Hawking, Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Brian Greene, Brian Cox and Edwin Hubble
  18) Authors: Brian Christian, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer, Michio Kaku and Bill Bryson.
  19) Artists: I don’t know why but I don’t have any favorite artists.  Marcel Mouly and Jacques-Louis David are the only two that come to mind.
  20) Musicians (composers): Cher, Yoko Ono, Madonna, Allen, me
  21) Explorers: I don’t care much for the explorers of the past. They pretty much just brought God and disease with them wherever they “discovered” something. But since I have to answer, I’ll say the Voyager Satellites.
  22) Inventors: Well, I’d like to thank all the inventors that make life comfortable and interesting, however, I don’t know their names. I will have to list Nikola Tesla 
  23) Intellectuals: I think the philosophersand scientists I listed earlier would also double as my intellectuals. Otherwise I might list my daughter Sarah.
  24) Those in service (to community or country): All veterans, policeand firefighters. Especially the veterans who serve their country and return to find that they’re no longer of any use to society.  
  25) Successful business persons: Bill Gates (Microsoft), Jeff Bezos(Amazon), Tim Cook (Apple), Allen Dion,  and many others.

   26)   I’m adding Dreamers to my list. Not the kind that waste their lives dreaming of foolishness or unobtainable things. But rather, the kind that have dreams and strive to make them come true. I name Allen Dion.

The Cake Bully

In August of 1990, I got a new job working as a social worker for an agency that provided services to people with developmental disabilities. There came a day during my first week on the job that a ‘group birthday’ event occurred. Each month, anyone with a birthday in that month was given a birthday shout-out and the staff would have cake at the end of the staff meeting. As it turned out, my birthday was only a few days after being hired, so I was included in that month’s birthday celebration. I don’t know how they knew my birthday was in August, but they did.

I didn’t know about the cake.

The staff meeting was held in the central office area; it was quite a large space. Everyone sat along the perimeter of the room and there were a lot of people, I’m guessing about 40. At that time, I was in a super-duper fitness-crazed frenzy and I didn’t eat sugar or white flour. 

At the end of the meeting, the birthday cake was cut and pieces were handed out to each person by a staff member. Her name isn’t important, so there’s no reason to single her out now by name. (Sheila Camfry)

When she got around to handing me a piece of cake, I said, “No, thank you.” She then said, “It’s your birthday, have a piece of cake.” But I said, “No, I don’t eat cake but thanks anyway.” Not to be deterred, she then says, “Take the cake, it’s your birthday,” and she says this without a smile. She’s visibly annoyed with me and still has her arm stretched out in front of me with the cake on a paper plate. Apparently, this agency takes their cake very seriously, and now I’m in an awkward situation. Everyone in the room sees and hears the interaction and I feel their eyes on me, awaiting my next move.

Eat the fucking cake, bitch.
(Oddly enough, this picture looks remarkably like cake-Sheila)

It’s my first week on the job. I’m getting a lot of unwanted attention. I’m feeling uncomfortable and I don’t know what else to do so I take the cake. I now have to decide what to DO with the cake. I don’t want to eat it, so I sit there with a piece of cake in hand for the duration of birthday situation. At some point, I mechanically walk over to the trash can and throw the cake away.

As the cake confrontation is occurring, I happen to look straight across the room and see a woman with dark hair and she’s watching the scene, a slight smile on her face. For some reason, I make a somewhat playful grimace. She starts to laugh. I felt like laughing too but the cake bully is still standing over me with the CAKE waiting for me to acquiesce.

After the meeting, and I am free of the cake, the smiling woman comes over and says something funny about the drama, and I knew right away that we were going to be friends. Her name was also Sheila, but she was a good Sheila, not a wicked Sheila. 

We did, in fact, become very good friends. During our first conversation she said, “I was waiting to see what was going to happen with that cake”! And she offers a couple of possibilities, one being the wicked Sheila throwing the cake into my lap. Another being me refusing the cake again and wondering what would then happen. Of course another refusal might have made bad-Sheila lose her cake attack, therefore be humiliated in front of everyone for failing at cake distribution.

Looking back, I now know that cake-Sheila was known for being a little odd. Apparently, if I’d refused the cake again, a lot of the people in the room would have been entertained watching her reactions and see her frustrations grow. It turns out that many of them were disappointed with the lack of fireworks as the cake situation was in play. 

Of course, I didn’t know any of this at the time. I knew that between me and strange-Sheila, one of us would be considered in line with the established group dynamic. But I only had a few days to become acquainted with the people there and I didn’t know about cake etiquette.

In hindsight, I think it would have been better to take the cake when offered. After all, I didn’t have to eat it. (Although cake-bully-Sheila might have had an accomplice sitting near me who would have noticed that I wasn’t eating it) 

But I think there was some part of me that wanted everyone to know that I didn’t eat empty calories. I may have thought that it gave me some bragging rights. But in the end, it just made my first impression on many of the staff an awkward one. I will try to be more gracious the next time I am offered something trivial that I really don’t want. That is, unless it’s cake.

My Preferred Timetable

2:00 a.m. through 4:00 a.m.  I’m always asleep between these hours no matter what else may be going on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the clock showing any time between these hours unless there was an extreme event occurring.
5:00 a.m. is too early to get up. If I get up before 5:30 a.m. my circadian rhythm will be disrupted and the effects of that interruption can last for days.
5:30 a.m. is too early to get up in the morning but if awake at this time it’s OK to get up.
6:00 a.m. is not too early to get up in the morning and is the time I am most likely to naturally awake.
7:00 a.m. wouldn’t be too late to get up in the morning.
7:30 a.m. is the latest time I can wake up in the morning without adverse effects on my circadian rhythm and is the earliest time of day that I can eat food, but usually don’t.
8:30 a.m. is time to take morning medications.
8:30 a.m. (on Sundays only) is the time for pancakes.
8:35 a.m. is the time to allow the routines of the day to start and the earliest time I will normally open my office door (where I have been avoiding the start of the day).
8:35 a.m. is when I hope that the day’s routines don’t start without having to avoid them, and/or time to avoid beginning the day’s usual routines.
8:45 a.m. would be a good time to eat food if hungry, but I’m not usually hungry.
9:00 a.m. is the earliest time of day that I am somewhat comfortable being asked a question.
9:30 a.m. is a good time to start a project or leave the house for appointments or errands/chores.
10:00 a.m. is the latest time in the morning that I would be comfortable with beginning a project or leaving the house.
10:30 a.m. (on intermittent Sundays) is the time to leave to visit my parents.
11:00 a.m. is the time to take mid-day medications.
12:00 p.m. is generally a very nice time of day.
3:00 p.m. is the time to take afternoon medications.
4:00 p.m. would be the best time to end work, projects, or be out of the house.
4:45 p.m. is the latest time to be working or be out of the house.
5:00 p.m. is my preferred time to eat supper and watch TV.
5:15 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. is when I consume the bulk of my day’s calories.
8:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. is when I like to stop watching TV.
8:15 p.m. is usually the time that I use the computer for writing, research, entertainment and/or work or play the keyboard.
9:30 p.m. is the time to take evening medications.
10:00 p.m. is bedtime.
10:30 p.m. is already too late to go to bed, and possible circadian rhythm problems can occur if I am not asleep by this time.
10:45 p.m. If I’m still awake at this time it means I’m not going to fall asleep anytime soon and that my circadian rhythm has been disrupted. The effects can last days.

10 Things I Believe

(or at least have an opinion about…)
Jesus is sad to die.

1) I believe religion is an outdated phenomenon and that human beings will inevitably stop trying to connect to something beyond a physical presence. 

God pulls the strings

2) I believe that it isn’t necessary to have a supernatural intentional agent to have a moral society.

post-apocalyptic world

3) I believe that the world will not become completely uninhabitable or damaged beyond all hope of repair. I believe that the human race will learn to undo enough of the major damage done before the situation gets totally out of hand and/or learn to adapt to a world on the edge of habitability. 

4) However, I believe that things will be completely different after human beings stop the complete destruction of the planet. I believe that it will be a world without many, if not most, of the current species of animals that we now know. 

No more animals...?

4 a) I believe that resources will be very low and the population will diminish to a level in balance with the resources that will still be available. I believe that life will be much more difficult during this transition and that it will present unimaginable hardships for those who will have to live through this time of change. Also, I believe it is more difficult to kill a planet that one might imagine. If it possible to actually kill a planet, I believe it would take longer than the current thinking suggests. 

terrestrial life

5) I believe that life will be found to be very common throughout the galaxy and that the universe is teeming with all manner of living entities. I believe that human beings are incapable of knowing all forms of life and that there are living beings that are completely beyond human understanding. I also believe that there are other universes where the laws of physics that govern this universe do not apply.

quantum physics

6) I believe that human beings will come to understand dark matter and dark energy and that there will be immense practical value in the knowledge gained. I believe the understanding of dark matter and dark energy will provide the “theory of everything” that will join the theory of relativity with quantum physics. I believe that this new understanding will bring great benefit to the human race. 


7) I believe that travel at speeds greater than the speed of light will become possible because of the fact that space itself is able to travel faster than the speed of light.


7 a) I believe human beings will piggyback on the edge of the expansion of the universe and even be able to travel though the multiverse and explore other universes.

The sun becomes a red giant and envelops earth!

8) I believe that human beings will explore and eventually settle on many other inhabitable planets throughout the galaxy and eventually beyond. I also believe that when the sun becomes a red giant and expands enough to envelop the planet earth, human beings will return to the solar system to witness the end of the planet from which the race began. 

Money's not relevant anymore

9) I believe that there will come a time when money will become unnecessary.

10) I believe that I cannot, at this time, come up with a tenth belief. However, I will post more beliefs in the future.

Time Travel is possible if you want it.

11) No wait, I have the tenth belief: I believe that time travel will become possible after the “theory of everything” is discovered. I believe that quantum mechanics will meld with the physics of the observable and time travel will be one of the outcomes. I also believe that time travel will then become the most controversial issue to ever exist and that its resolution will take a very, very, very, very long time.

(Of course, I could be wrong about all ten of these things)

Why Winter Weather Wins

It's almost Christmas 2013

Winter is good because it’s a change from summer. Winter is cold and summer is hot. At least that’s the way God planned it originally. It can snow in winter but it cannot snow in summer (yet), so winter is better for getting snow. Winter is also the only time of year in which you can have a blizzard without going to Dairy Queen. (If you do go to Dairy Queen, get me a large chocolate blizzard with health bar).

You know what they say... where's there's sand...

Winter inspires poetry and song and it kills poison ivy but I don’t think you should touch dead poison ivy as it is insidious and it’s resin can remain on the dead plants for at least 5 years. The active ingredient in poison ivy is urushiol and it is so potent that 1/4 ounce of urushiol is enough to cause a rash in every single person on the planet. This is true.

Winter is when the hemisphere on which you find yourself is tilted away from the sun. I suppose that means that you might then be further from the sun than you are in summer, but I’m not sure if could be accurately measured.
There is a war named after winter. It is called, unceremoniously, the Winter War. Pretty catchy name, huh? Anyway, it was a war between the Soviet Union and Finland. This sounds really funny to me because Finland is where trolls come from.
Winter is good because there are no wasps trying to sting you but it’s a terrible time of year for you if you have chionophobia. This is taking it to an extreme, I think. I can see not liking winter or even hating it, but I can’t see fearing it.


 Winter is not always the best time of year to hang clothes out to dry. Not so much for the cold temperatures (although that does come into play) but the wind that sometimes accompanies the cold. Even though clothes freezes on the line when it’s below 32 degrees, it will still dry. The process by which it dries is called sublimation. Look it up.

too cold
Back in August, the Farmer’s Almanac predicted a “bitterly cold” winter for this year. I think the Farmer’s Almanac was written by the same people who brought us the bible. Does it make sense to believe that someone can predict the weather months in advance when modern day technology can’t? I’m not saying that today’s technology works better or is even more accurate than the Farmer’s Almanac. I’m just saying it’s stupid. A few years ago the forecast once said “100% chance of rain,” and it didn’t rain. This is funny for two reasons:
1)      It didn’t rain
2)      How can there be a 100% CHANCE of something happening? Doesn’t 100% mean something will definitely happen or not happen?

Winter is good time to wear lots of clothes. You can even wear strange things and no one will look at you funny (for the most part). You can wear all sorts of crazy hats or ear muffs, you can wrap a long piece of material around your neck (I think this is called “wearing a scarf) you can wear winter coat with a sweater underneath it with a shirt underneath that and a t-shirt under the shirt. You could even throw a raincoat over all of that. You can wear gloves that allow you to use a touch screen smart phone. And how about those gloves that don’t cover your fingers and socks that cover individual toes? Both of those are stupid, but no one will tell you so.

dressed for winter weather
There are some funny things you’ll see in winter like dogs wearing sweaters, that’s always amusing

  ho ho ho ho

People falling down are always funny and there’s a better chance of that happening in the winter. Related to that is seeing a cat or dog trying to run on ice and only managing to slip & slide around like a road runner cartoon character. That’s funny too.

Magic Wishing Well Wish of the Day: “I want to lose 25 pounds a week.” REPLY: I’m not sure how long you can continue to lose 25 pounds a week. I doubt you could go more than 6 0r 7 weeks. But good luck with that. Visit the Magic Wishing Well

On Lists:

10) Lists are cool and easy to make and they are very useful.
9) They’re entertaining much like the “rule of  3” used in music, speeches and joke telling.  
8) People have ten toes and fingers (usually) and there’s something about that fact that has something to do with Top Ten lists. I just don’t know how to fit it in.
7) I always learn something new when reading a Top Ten list.
6) I can usually find a reason to disagree with the list’s number one item. I always think I know better than the person who wrote the list. It makes me feel superior and that’s not a bad feeling.
5) Top Ten lists make you want to read them and find out what the list contains, so they work well when you want to draw attention to a blog, website, speech, etc. (see, it works, you’re reading this list!)
4)  Top Ten lists can double as jokes.
3)  They can also double as a warning or as instructions or a packing list.
2)  If you can rattle off ten things that you’d put into a list, you have a fairly good idea about what you’re talking about. So maybe it’s worth reading the list.
1) Coming up with ten things to list in a Top Ten list proves that you can count to ten.