Thursday, February 28, 2019

Tidying Adventure

Fads never attracted me much.  I never owned a betamax or an 8-track player.  My clothing, other than a few skinny ties along the way, never goes out of style.  My hashkafa of independence, honesty, accountability, and innovation, imported from Mayor Bloomberg's address at my son's college commencement, has a measure of eternity, one that is being challenged in current public discourse but I remain steadfast, as apparently does Hizzoner the Mayor.  It remains to be seen whether social media is also a fad, one that I latched onto, but I gave up Sermo with limited rationing and am in the process of ditto with Facebook.

Keeping neat and tidy is not a fad, one that has posed a chronic struggle.  It is unclear if my mind is organized but even if not, I can retrieve what I need from it easily.  Not quite so with the rooms of my house.  I designated one as my retreat, a six month project to create, one well under way.  Doing this requires the assistance of our bi-weekly recycling pickup and monthly state shredding service.  I am still committed to doing this, with real progress.  I can now sit at my desk, turn on lights, walk to the window and see space in the two closets.  Missing brackets to hold the variable position bookshelves have been replaced, allowing more books on the shelves and fewer in boxes on the floor.

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I brought in an organizer who took one look, told me I am not ready for an organizer but could be a contestant on one of those Clean House TV reality shows.  The latest craze in organizing has been Marie Kondo, popularized by a Netflix TV series to which I do not have access and by books that I assume she wrote herself.  She takes a different hashkafa.  Instead of doing one room at a time, which invites relocation of clutter, she organizes by type of unneeded possessions.  It is her strong recommendation to do clothing first, all rooms that have clothing, which for me would be bedroom, daughter's room, study, kitchen, the two halls, living room, and if there is stuff in the washer/dryer then laundry room too.  Agree with her that I am not attached to most of my clothing.  However the barrier to my goal of having a retreat is paper and space in that room.  Relocating the paper fulfills the goal even if it adds clutter someplace else.

What to keep makes this a fad.  She advises keep stuff that speaks favorably to you.  Stuff does not have emotional content.  I have emotional content.  Stuff is utility and convenience.  Occasionally it is value, but unless you are important enough to warrant a museum in your honor, your high school term papers still in their cover with red marks from an equally obscure teacher just won't bring a lot at auction or estate sale.  The value if any is emotional, the work that went into creating that object, writing that paper, the memory of a special time which a tangible acquisition would be intended to preserve.  I find it much harder to let go of that.  A lot of memories and work accrue by the time you reach your 60's.  However, if I really want My Space, the number of surfaces and cubic feet of the room is finite.  It needs to be a place that I will seek out. 

Marie Kondo method, no.  Biweekly recycling bin, big time.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Tackling Projects

Some initiatives are little with no excuse for not doing them.  Each Monday I measure my waist with a tape measure and my weight with an electronic scale, then later in the week record the results and a comment on diet and exercise progress in a bound notebook.  My waist has been static within one-half inch for a few years but I measure it anyway.  My weight varies within a kg for a few years but failure to reduce it and those paragraphs of where I fell short probably helps keep it static when the natural history might be rising.

Some projects are big and have deadlines.  Each month I am contractually committed to present an essay on Endocrinology, submitted the final days of each month without fail.  Approaching the end of the month.  I've chosen a topic and an approach to it, could use some minor research, then write it on time.  I have a deadline for submitting medical expenses for reimbursement.  The process can be tedious but I have the data.  And taxes come due once a year.  My wife has more attention to detail than me.  Once these are done, I have a respite, monthly for my article, annually for taxes and this time forever for health set-asides which disappeared with my retirement last summer. 
Some projects are big and have no deadline.  Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits of Highly Successful People called these Quadrant II initiatives, things that are important, or at least have been assigned importance, but have no deadline, and sometimes no end point.  So my weight reduction goal drags on for each six month interval.  It is important, never achieved, but its pursuit has kept my exercise schedule afloat with some benefits other that weight.  I want to review my finances each month but never have, as I pay an expert to keep up with this.  I will this week now that I have ready access to the data, one of the intermediate steps to this ongoing project.  Each six months I create an initiative for my house.  Remodeling my kitchen got done.  Now I am making a dormant room, intended as our study and later computer room into my retreat.  It has a deadline, self-imposed with no consequences for failure to meet it, meaning it really has no deadline.  Is it important?  Having my dedicated space probably is more want than need.  Pride of accomplishing something may be what is most important about this project.  It is those Quadrant II's, things that have no deadline like health maintenance, retirement planning, periodic vacations, gratifying hobbies that pay off the most but become subordinate to the urgent. 

Today's to-do list, always far in excess of what I can realistically do, has a lot of Quadrant II's, noted with green highlighter.  It has some urgencies which I do not note with highlighter but don't need to be.  Avoiding the negative consequences of missed deadlines usually does not need a reminder.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Rationing Social Media

In retirement, I have minimal must do now impositions on each day.  In one respect, it is freedom, control over my time, in another work has been replaced by other things that control my time, mostly by allure.  There are days when I can never get enough Facebook, even though most of my Friends, who are really more contacts, have either become less present, gotten snoozed for annoying me, or haven't yet gotten snoozed because my fondness for them overrides the endless political postings.  And no doubt I've done the same to others, which may be in part why their participation has waned.  Is it an addiction?  A Psychology Today essay by an addiction specialists suggests not.

But the allure is such that I become a clock watcher in its absence.  No electronics on shabbos, but I have become more aware of Havdalah time and what I plan to do shortly thereafter.  No screens from 11PM to 5:30AM, more to promote sleep, but from about 4:30AM onward, the red digits on the behind bed clock may as well count down instead of up.  Dr. Griffiths, author of the article, recognizes the sense of deprivation, what might be happening to the world when I am not part of it?

Rationing as in shabbos and overnight has helped, but I gave myself a two day more comprehensive trial this week.  So far so good, but I still have the urge.  It may be like choosing Kosher.  People give up pork, then lobster, then cheeseburgers.  Eventually they look for hechshers and one day they no longer miss the clam chowder or even think about it.  I suppose FB can go that route, Sermo largely has, but access to cyberspace is a lot more beneficial than access to shrimp scampi so it may not be all that realistic to promote electronic celibacy.  Time constraints and participatory limitations may have to suffice.  I'll have a better sense of this tomorrow when I am looking forward to posting again after 48 hours avoidance.  Enrolling in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy seems premature.

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Monday, February 18, 2019


Never been willing to pay the $12 for my profile from the Myers-Briggs organization itself so I've subjected myself to the free versions which always calculate to INTJ, with the J near the border but the others solid in their determination.  It's a pretty good summary.  And it makes me fairly unique, falling withing about 2% of test takers, if not 2% of people.  Characteristics have always been there.  I prefer working and studying by myself.  As a medical consultant, I am thorough and I am independent.  I like doing hospital consultations where there are specific problems at hand to be solved than office work where solutions are often more nuanced and control over what the patient will actually do far more uncertain.  Should INTJ's be doctors at all?  We seem to come more on the list of science and legal occupations than medical ones, but some specialties like endocrinology are highly dependent on collecting data and solving a problem.

I am not on any committees, haven't been for some time.  I don't like committees where people have no real expertise.  I've been a little critical of my high school reunion committee for not thinking it important enough to use the available resources to find everyone but important enough to include an optional golf outing and deep sea fishing excursion.  That's not how INTJ's reason.  Being critical of anyone and anything might be.

Of course, in all likelihood I have had an INTJ underpinning irrespective of anyone, including myself, realized that.  Most important adaptations come naturally:  failed team participation, gratifying time with myself in any number of libraries, making fairly ornate dinners with little help, generally regarding our current President as a pendejo but not really all that opposed to enacting something I think is stupid to see if it really is as inane as my intellect would predict.  If anything INTJ's include the right to be dumber than them among the inalienable rights. 

There aren't all that many of us, but we seem to be pretty satisfied people when given the chance to excel.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine's Day

Our half anniversary falls on Valentine's Day which makes it noteworthy despite its origins.  I'm sure he was saintly, and setting aside a special day for a special person has its merit too.  Card, some candy, nice dinner.  We have togetherness regularly but don't take note of it regularly.  Worth a day for that purpose alone.

Happy Valentine's Day to my special lady.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Finding Them

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As notes for preparation of the Fiftieth Reunion of my high school class appear from time to time, my initial enthusiasm has largely petered out.  The most recent note shows about two dozen confirmations, a couple I was reasonably close to then, about the same number that I've grown closer to now as electronic media has made distance largely irrelevant.  Instead of sharing classes, we share cyberspace.  While the organizers worked hard with attention to detail on making attendance memorable, I think they made a grievous error in their insistence on capturing everyone via world of mouth and email address, each far less reliable a means of contact than other opportunities that our electronic advances have brought upon us and the reasoning skills that our alma mater should have imprinted upon us.  From time to time a list arrives with missing people.  When I suggested that they look the people up and mail them, I got a rather snide reply from one of the principal committee members asking me to defer for ten years.  While I still considered attending until more recently, the Respect Meter deflected negatively, and the fairly schvok response that they have gotten probably reflects that in another form.

But while the Committee did not want to be bothered with a tedious but likely fruitful task, I recently challenged myself to see what this would actually entail.  Setting a timer for 55 minutes, which is what our library allows for each session in cyberspace, I divided the list by letters, starting with B/C then M/N.  I figured men would be easier to find than women, common names shared by thousands largely beyond my skill.   It turned out not to be that way.  Since whitepages gives address and telephone number, and I knew everyone's age within a year, and that they had once lived in our school district, that seemed like a good starting point.  It wasn't, especially for the women.  What worked a lot better was simply to type the name on Google with a comma and 67 as the age.  I got Facebook references, LinkedIn Profiles, a lot of whitepages and spokeo with a less useful mylife list.  Maiden names were largely crossed referenced or still shared by fathers and brothers.  I got a fair number of parent obituaries in the local paper or from Florida which would give me the daughter's current name as a survivor living in an identified place, which largely confirmed the identification and allowed me to search separately.  Some became licensed professionals, MD's, dentists, or attorneys with at least office address and phone numbers as well as biographies.  One fellow of very common name that I did not expect to find, had a military career that took him hither and yon, with our high school name and class among his educational achievements.  And that is all from a list that the committee which I would reasonably expect to do this didn't want to be bothered with the effort, which turned out less than I had anticipated.

Moreover, I think it changed my perspective of what is likely our final gathering.  Why reassemble?  Our preparation for adulthood came from there but our destinies did not.  We should be taking a measure of delight in everyone's achievements, the many places our otherwise obscure military classmate got to live, how somebody with a very common African-American name could migrate to Alabama, the businesses people started as the highlight of their LinkedIn Profile,  We had some 400 graduates which would make for 400 stories.  Getting those present and those from afar to donate $50 each to offer a meaningful remembrance of our class to those who maintain our school now in more difficult times than when we attended.  That's the output of 50 years of personal achievements multiplied and a single class achievement unified.  It doesn't seem to be the product being presented to me.

The communications seem devoid of this glory.  We seem to have more of a reception, a Bar Mitzvah perhaps with people you were once closer to than you are now, celebrating the schools 50th birthday, as we were the first class, with an elaborate catered affair and some post-Beatles era music replacing the hora.  For those nearby, be a sport and say hello.  For those not nearby, the cost seems to exceed a value that slipped away.  If  they want to give a gift to the school, I'm in.

I still have all those other alphebetized letters of unlocated people.  They have stories too.  Since I'm the only one interested in them, I'll see what cyberspace has to tell me about their destinies.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Back to School

Classes at the Osher Institute of the University of Delaware begin tomorrow.  All four requested courses came through.

  1. Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism
  2. Basic Woodcarving
  3. Advanced Writers Workshop
  4. Spin on events from a male mind
Three have contacted me, requiring a notebook, writing samples, safety equipment, wood carving tools, and a ruler.  I put a small first aid kit in the bag as well.  Tuesday courses take me through lunch.  I've not packed a lunch in a long time but think I'm up to the task.   And try to appear stylishly retired too.