Friday, September 19, 2014

Mis-taught Learning

Mis-taught learning is the the worst of all.

I like knowledge - in fact, I may quality as a collector of knowledge.  I love knowledge - but I love to be able to apply the knowledge in ways that benefit myself and others.  And in this sort of world, the worst thing of all is knowledge which is presented as useful and productive but is presented in such a way that it is not applicable at all.

The knowledge may be wonderful.  The examples may be useful.  But they way the knowledge is presented is such that it is not at all relevant - or will be relevant - to the sorts of work one is doing.

It leaves a bad taste in one's mouth - not just for presentation of the material, but for the very material itself.  That leaves the sort of taste in one's mouth that one finds disappointing, especially if one had high hopes for the knowledge and the application of it. Given a long enough run, it creates issues for the very nature of the knowledge itself.

I wonder (on a higher level) if this is a problem with much of learning as well - not just that it is taught poorly but that it is taught in such a way that the relevance of the material is not presented as something which is valuable but rather something which must be suffered through.

Latin is useful.  Chemistry is useful.  But only if it is presented in such a way that individuals can make the connection of the value (and trust me, the value of knowledge goes far beyond coding and the ability to play games) with life as it actually is.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hating Crossroads

I hate crossroads.

I hate crossroads because one has to commit. One  has to make a decision and go with it.

And I am terrible at making decisions.

Well, maybe terrible at making decisions.  Maybe a better word is terrible at committing.

Why?  Because commitment means choosing one thing above another thing - even if the thing you choose is wrong.  Which is sort of odd, because if you ask me of decisions I have made which I regret, the list is probably a great deal less than what I would consider it to be.  But even in those decisions, I suppose there is seldom I feeling I have that I really committed.

My sensei reminds me of this constantly.  It happened again last night - practicing ukimi (rolls)  he said "You have to commit.  If you do not commit, you find yourself rolling off to the side instead of rolling straight."  Iaijutsu is a great deal about commitment - when you put your hand to the hilt, you are committing to drawing.  Putting your hand up and pulling it away makes you less of a threat and in fact brings into question whether you will use your sword at all.

"What is the symbolic meaning of drawing the sword quickly?  When you have made a decision, act immediately without hesitation."  How many times have I repeated these words to myself in the car driving to work in the morning - and yet how seldom it seems I am willing to do them.

Here is the reality, of course:  crossroads come.  And in that decision of three roads (less the one you have come on, of course)  a definite commitment not to follow one become s a passive decision to follow whichever one becomes most convenient.  Hardly a way to get to a destination - or live a life.

When, coming to a crossroads, choose.

Commit.  And see what happens next.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cleaning a Garden

I am terrible about cleaning up gardens.

I struggle with the idea of removing plants before they have completely died.  It is as if I feel this psychic connection with the plants in my garden.  They have survived the initial planting.  They have survived the rains of summer and the crazy  heat.  And so I hold on to them until the very last, dry leaf falls to the ground or it gets far past the season.

In point of fact, gardens are to be managed just like any other resource, especially if you want to get the most benefit out of them. True gardeners are regularly swapping plants in and out as soon as they have completed their prime production season or if they are simply not working out  in terms of production.  When the garden is a matter of survival, it significantly changes the view of it and how it should be managed.  It is no longer a hobby but something which needs to be carefully monitored and the waste removed from the system.

And then in a moment of shock, I realized that my life is no different.

I tend to keep things - hobbies, relationships, even just simply things - long past the date of their usefulness.  They integrate themselves into my life of course, and then they feel like they have always been there and need to be there - in fact, to remove them sometimes feels like a betrayal.  But the reality, much like my garden, it that they simply do not serve the purpose they were originally brought in for.  In fact, they may become so overgrown that they bury the opportunity for anything new to take bloom as they choke out the attention and resources that could be deployed to them.

I am better than I was, of course.  I am more likely than not to remove things, possibly before the end of the season.  But I have yet to truly reach the point where I am viewing it as a battlefield and my plants as soldiers, needing deployment (and perhaps removal) to help my reach my ultimate tactical goal.

Would that I could bring the same level of management to other parts of my life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September Winter

Moisture from the sky?
Cool winds and clouds?  Has winter
come in September?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thanks Bruce

So it turns out Bruce Lee was my height.

This is actually pretty significant.  No-one ever confused him with being less than a top-notch athlete, yet his stature was no more significant than mine.

He worked for it of course (as I am finding out).  Worked very hard for it.  Became a fanatic about exercise and nutrition and training.  But that still means that such a thing is achievable, if only one will spend the time and energy to do it.

I also found a quote of his, a quote which I like very much and may move to the pantheon of quotes that I try to live my life by:

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” 

I sometimes wilt in the face of my friends - not so much that they ever say anything (because of course being gallant and kind-hearted they never would) - but that simple fact is that I am far removed from their levels of athletic ability.

But Bruce gives me hope - not that I will ever reach his level or that of my friends, but simply that even for someone with my height, much more is possible than I can imagine if I will only pay the price.

There are no limits.  There are only plateaus.

Thanks Bruce.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Midnight and Snowball

Black, white, and dry brown:Rabbits hop through the twilight,
yin and yang and heat.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Post audit days are mostly days of recovery.

That strikes some people as sort of amusing or even as something which does not seem possible - after all, is it not true that during audits all you really do is sit there, pull documents, and answer questions?  That is true of course - but the reality is hardly apparent to the eye that does not know better.

To be in an audit is to constantly be in a state of preparedness.  It is to constantly be trying to out think the auditor, to be ready for every potential outcome of the question they are asking, to listen to them in silence or perhaps when my head is nodding while in my mind I am racing ahead to find the solution to what they say, to avoid the potential observation or nonconformity.  And above all, to live in constant dread of finding the chink in the armor, the one thing that had been missed during preparation, the one failure that will bring the observation or nonconformity.

It is exhausting beyond all measure.

When it is done, one almost just collapses into one's chair.  One collects the various documents that were brought out for the audit and piles them up for filing or disposal later - doing it the day of is simply beyond the realm of rational thought.

And then comes the next day.  Today.

My aspirations are low indeed:  file and assess documents, close out the audit from our books, perhaps catch up on the work that I needed to do but did not because of the audit.  That might be all.  I cannot fully describe the feeling that body has now:  drained, tired, a little slow.  The thought of initiating an actual new project sounds so remote from where I am that I can scarcely must the energy for the thought.

Most people would never think that just sitting there could be so mentally exhausting.