Big World, Big Dreams, Small Me

This is my current desktop background:

TBWDTW.jpg.jpeg I tend to change my desktop backgrounds on my computer along with my moods and this image perfectly captures the feeling of being a small boy in a big world. A feeling I’ve been having a lot lately, despite nearing the last year of my 30s. Looking at this image, I imagine I am behind this boy as he stands, overwhelmed the the immensity of both the journey ahead and his own audacity, and I whisper to him:

Pause. Breathe. Take it all in and just keep going forward, one step at a time.
Try to smile.
If you need to rest, then do so and allow yourself the knowledge that just because you are unable to run full tilt toward some imagined destiny, you are not failing. Destinies change, shift like mirages in the desert, so pay attention to the now, to the here, to the moment.
When you hurt, smile and be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
When you need to cry, don’t hide from those who love you.
Make the journey a work of art.
Everything is art if you appreciate it as such.
Pause. Breathe. Smile. Make something.

Tweenbots and Turning Away

Have you heard about Tweenbots? Created by Kacie Kinzer, Tweenbots are

human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.

Here is a video of a Tweenbot in Washington Square Park:

When I first came across this story, I was completely enchanted. That people, in this day and age, will engage in a unique and different kind of play makes me feel all sorts of good about the human race, and I was all set to link to the story and the video. Then I had a thought: how many of these people who helped a cardboard robot achieve its mission pass by, day in and day out, other human beings who need help? Why might it be easier to give assistance to inanimate objects than to other people who could use a kind word, a small amount of money, some hope, a smile, or even just an acknowledgment of their very humanity. Are these separate issues or can we learn something from the fact that innocuous, happy looking robots might garner more attention than the homeless and destitute?

Ultimately I think it boils down to fear. When we see a homeless man or woman, we strive to avoid their eyes in part because we do not want to see the possibility of our own reflection. If we really and truly think about how tenuous our lives are or how fragile our actual control over our own safety and security and stability actually is, we are forced to recognize that it would take very little for us to lose everything. So we turn away, ignore the outstretched hand, and avoid the eyes full of pain that are a little too close to the eyes that look back from the mirror.

Tweenbots have no eyes and only one fixed expression. To help an inanimate object requires no self-reflection and, in fact, reinforces our belief that we do indeed have a certain amount of control over the world. The largess we offer these cardboard mechanicals requires no psychic cost to ourselves, whereas helping other people necessarily requires us to face our own fears and prejudices, thereby exacting a greater emotional and psychic cost in the act.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea and the action of Tweenbots is fascinating and offers insight into modern urban psychology. The sense of play and engagement that the Tweenbots provoke is genuine and worthwhile. I’m sure that I would set one of these bots on its way if I saw one. However, I can’t help wonder about my own propensity to turn away from people in need when I would probably go out of my way to help a cardboard robot.

Push Ups

I am about to start my 3rd week in a training program called “One Hundred Push Ups.” I started off doing 15 push ups in a row and yesterday I did my first exhaustion test and reached 30. Looking at the next week’s goals is a little intimidating. Tomorrow I need to do the following sets:

14 / 18 / 14 / 14 / Max (at least 20)

What works about this program is the gradual increase of reps within the sets and, more importantly, getting someone not used to doing a lot of weight training to think in reps and sets. Moreover, I can definitely feel these workouts after each one. These won’t do much to help me lose weight, but I like the feeling of getting stronger and hope to take the commitment and discipline I’m practicing and add it to some other workouts in the near future. In addition to the push ups, I’m planning on doing the “200 Sit Ups” program” that is offered through the same site, and possible the “200 Squats” program” as well. As those continue, I will try to add some more aerobic exercise to my regimen, and will probably start off with “Couch to 5k” program.” Will let you know how that goes.

Anyone else starting some new workouts now that the weather is warmer and spring is upon us?

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

From Glenn Greenwald:

Ultimately, though, motives don’t matter.  Simply put, there is no excuse, justification or mitigation for advocating blatantly unconstitutional and tyrannical powers or claiming that secrecy shields the President from the rule of law.  Nor is the faith-based belief that Obama is a Good Person who therefore deserves trust even remotely rational or relevant.  As Professor Turley put it on Countdown:  “It doesn‘t matter if you are a good person doing bad things. You are doing bad things.”  These secrecy and detention powers are among the most dangerous and tyrannical powers a President can seize, and Obama’s attempt to cling to them is deplorable no matter his “motives.” (Link)

Nobody to blame but ourselves if we continue to allow the office of the President to gain power and allow our leaders to be above the law. This was as true of Bush as it is true of Obama.

Click through, read Greenwald’s piece, and contact your representatives and let them know you will hold them personally accountable if Congress continues to let un-Consititutional and illegal powers go into the hands of the President.

A Gnat’s Ass

From Devilstower:

Hoarding weapons because the outcome of an election didn’t go your way doesn’t make you tough. It only proves that your belief in America is no bigger than a gnat’s ass. That your faith in democracy is as transient as a mud puddle on a hot day. That your love for country goes about as far as you could throw your lifetime supply of AK-47 ammo. (Link)

From Hunter:

Fox treats both news and government as if it’s one of those daytime talk shows where the only goal is to get a bunch of no-good, paranoid morons together and then piss them all off until someone throws a chair. (Link)

Both of these are worth a read. Especially as the fever-pitch of paranoia, hatred, and violence spewed by the likes of Beck, Hannity, and Limbaugh is not going down any time soon.

I love the selective process of responsibility with these wingnut, violence spouting ideologues (and by “love” I mean find exceedingly irritating). Video games and rap music are bad for people, but a barrage of misinformation and lies about how the government is getting ready to throw conservatives into gulags is totally innocent and could never have any real effect on people. (Then why spout the crap in the first place?)

The hypocrisy of the Becks, Limbaughs and O’Reillys would be unbelievable if they were characters in a play or a movie. Of course, the moment anyone criticizes them, they whine and cry and raise the bogeyman of censorship, even when (especially when) nobody is urging censorship. Rather, most of us are urging these men to take responsibility for their words and their actions. If Beck really and truly believes that we are heading toward a totalitarian state and that we should start forming militias and fighting back, they why won’t he take responsibility for that message?

Of course, asking that Beck and Co. take responsibility for the bile they spew is like asking an infant to potty-train himself while doing differential calculus.