I just listened to and read President Dwight D. Eisenhower
's Farewell Address
. I'd wanted to do so for a while, ever since I'd heard it was a warning against the (and a coining of the term) 'military-industrial complex
' that he had seen grow under his watch as general and president.
It is a good speech. I like it. I pretty much only have positive associations and assessments of Eisenhower. Can anyone point to common criticisms of him? I'd like to have a well-rounded view rather than just sit with a sort of hero-worship picture if it's not accurate.
There was an interesting aspect of the speech, though, that surprised me. The military-industrial complex was just one of two potential 'threats' he warned of in the future. The other one might be termed the "scientific-technological elite" in parallel with the term the "military-industrial complex":"Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."
History seems to have shown that this was (or at least, has been) a non-issue, but it's interesting to think about. I suspect some conservatives (particularly those who deny the concept of global warming) might agree feel we should be more worried about it.
What's the difference between the two groups, though? Federal spending on arms and research were and are both vast. Why do we perceive (and I'm inclined to think it's true) problematic trends of influence in one but not the other? Maybe it's because there's not really an increased profit margin in getting more grants where there is in getting more contracts? There certain is an increased prestige margin, though. But if the money cannot be taken out by scientists or institutions as profits, it can't be as easily used to influence politics. Also, there's less of a traditional connection between politics and academics than politics and business.
The goal is to post every day. In this instance, I'm loosely defining 'day' resetting once I go to sleep, so despite it being 3:30am, it's still the same 'day'.
I thought I'd do an update on what's going on with me, at least in the simple, "What are you up to these days" sense.
I spent the last year or so basically being a bum with the vague goal of trying to figure out what I want to do with myself profession / direction in life / broadly-speaking -wise. I didn't come to any sharp answers, but the hazy script in the metaphorical 8-Ball read something about education
. So I'm working towards becoming a high school teacher. I'm currently taking some classes to fill out an 'endorsement' in social studies, because 1) social studies is a broader discipline and therefore, I'm told, more employable than history, which I've studied more, and 2) I majored in Medieval Studies, which is not
an endorsement recognized by the state of Washington (or, I suspect, any state) and, while both close to History and English, was not enough classes in either to qualify for an endorsement, so I was going to need to take some classes anyway. I'm taking classes this quarter, and am going to take a bunch more next quarter, at North Seattle Community College (and next quarter one at Seattle Central). I've applied to Seattle University's Master in Teaching program that starts in spring quarter. I'll know around mid-December whether they want me; if they don't, I'll apply to Seattle(-ish) area Master in Teaching programs at other local universities for their fall start programs. And I'll probably apply to Stanford too. I'd like to stay in the Seattle area, but I could stand to live in the Bay Area, particularly at or around Stanford, for another year or so.
I also was considering some form of involvement in outdoor education (which is a pretty vague field, at least compared to being a public school teacher). While I decided to focus on being a more tradition teacher, I'm keeping that in my peripheral vision. I keep drooling over NOLS
(the National Outdoor Leadership School) (wiki
) courses, particularly their Semester in Patagonia
So, that's the bare-bones, superficial 'what I'm doing' right now.
I'm out of the habit of written introspection. I find this unfortunate, and want to change it. (As I've often stated here.) So I'm setting myself a goal of posting in my journal daily for the next two weeks. I've even put a repeating reminder in my Google Calendar to that effect. Something, anything - posting. Get back in the habit.
I'm not very aware of my dreams. I rarely remember them. When I do, they're rarely very interesting. In fact, the most interesting aspect of my dreams that I've been able to notice in recently years is a subtly frightening mundane aspect - frightening in that sometimes it takes me a while to realize that it was a dream and not something that had happened, that I was simply recalling. I've nearly acted on the 'knowledge' that I sent someone an email, or written down a note of something, or borrowed something when in fact I'd, literally, only dreamt I had.
One of the other things that is lacking in my dreams, normally (and I can only say 'normally' in so far as I ever recall them), is people I know. I don't recall ever dreaming about people I actually know - the characters that inhabit my dreams are strangers. (I rather solidly recall thinking I emailed someone I knew in a dream once, as mentioned above - but I don't think they figured in my the dream, just the fact that I email their address with something pertaining to them.)
Recently, two nights in a row, I had dreams involving people I know, though. It was a little strange at first when I was remembering bits of them those mornings, but for some reason it's stuck with me. I don't really recall any of the rest of the dreams, other than that the first one (and quite possibly the second as well) was pretty uninteresting and mundane.
Both people are individuals I find attractive, whom I could say I have a 'crush' on. That's probably a factor. But I never remember dreaming about someone I was romantically interested in, or even romantically involved with, before. I also was sleeping next to (but, alas, not 'with' - no romantic involvement there) one of them when I had the dream.
It's been bugging me a bit. So writing about it is a good way to get it to bug me less. And it sort of bugs me that it bugs me as much as it does - which is only moderately, but still more than it 'should'. However, it's motivation to write thoughts and reflections down.
If one wanted to learn about Buddhism, where should one start? I know vaguely about it, enough to know there are various branches, etc. and the basic-basic core philosophy (life is suffering, etc.), but don't know where to go from there to get a better sense of the philosophy/discipline/religion/outlook. Can someone suggest books, either secondary (i.e. about Buddhism) or primary (i.e. scriptures / sutras / whatever), or other resources I might pursue?
"Nothing can make water better."
"More than is needed is life."Always Coming Home
) (1985), by Ursula K. Le Guin , pg. 331
Life is good. I'm still unsettled and uncertain about the future and I've just had a series of emotionally trying events swirl together, but good. I feel like my life tends to work in process of alternating waves of massive stimulus and activity followed by a retreat inward for introspection, recovery, and processing. The rhythm of my life for the past few years has been very much one of sprint-rest, sprint-rest. I've never figured out this whole 'pace yourself' thing either in the literal realm of a footrace, or in the metaphorical race of life (which, of course, is ultimately just with yourself). I still hold out hope that someday I'll figure out how to abandon the race and treat life like a hike, which I'm good at. I like the steady trop-trop swift walking of a good hike, and the uncertain and changing ground, steepness, and scenery. But it seems like the models of life I see around me are all about marathons and hectic dashes. I don't want a life that's a long-distance race. I'm a little tired of the adrenaline rush of short sprints with disappointing results - disappointing not they're bad results, just because they don't live up to the inherent hype implied by a sprint.
I find bookstores to be calming places: quiet, comforting, softly exciting with the possibilities of words and worlds. The experience is refreshing, but can also be somewhat painful with over-abundant expectations. I want to read so many things, engage with so many ideas, pursue so many thoughts, experience so many worlds, that dense accumulation of those threads of possibility can be a frustrating reminder.
I've recently been returning to one of my favorite books, Kerouac's Dharma Bums
. It resonants, inspires, and excites me in a myriad of different ways every time I read it, presenting possibilities. It's become my solo road trip book - I take it with me when I set off on a road trip alone. A lot of my affinity for it, my connection, is geographic. It takes place predominantly on the West Coast: the Bay Area, the Sierra Nevadas, briefly in Seattle and more extendedly the Cascades, but also in transition along from Mexico to Canada. A feeling of connection of place is something that can cause me to more strongly connect with a book. In general I seem to connect strongly with things I can connect to other things I already connect strongly with - if I can place something in a 'place' that is already mine (whether that be a physical geography, or more abstractly) I can make it in some way 'mine'.Dharma Bums
is a work I've claimed as mine. It's also a mine of possibilities, a mine of metaphors and ideas and connections and compassion. It leads me to places I wouldn't go otherwise, due to fear, prejudice, lack of familiarity, associations with things I dislike, of simple lack of sufficient interest to devote precious resources to the pursuit. I'm finding myself more interested in learning about strands of environmentalist thought, back-to-the-earth and sustainability, and learning about Buddhism. The latter is a reluctant, late-coming appeal. I've long felt I was a late bloomer, blessed in disguise with a life of 'slow but steady' manifested, winning races I thought long lost. But part of the point is the very fact that there is no race. It's more like having dusk arrive before one had arrived, being later than one had hoped, but thereby unexpectedly getting to see the sky blazened with the colors of sunset from the last hill before town - and knowing that one hadn't missed a thing and that the warm lights of the inn will still be there when one finally arrives at the door, footworn but happy.
I think one thing that helps me have that grounding that makes me intrigued and willing to investigate Buddhism is the fact that the Kerouac character (Ray Smith; all his protagonists are basically vaguely fictionalized selfs) is ardently trying to engage with Buddhism, but also has a strong connection to and vaguely conflates it with his early Catholicism. Now, Catholism isn't something I emphasized with - if anything, somewhere along the lines I gathered a slight flavoring of the vague middle-America Protestant contempt for Catholicism - but I do have an attachment to Christianity. It's a strange beast, though. I don't believe. But I feel culturally and emotionally connected to Christianity, in a vague 'faith of my fathers' sort of way. It is an undeniable aspect of so many of the threads of culture I grasp at in my floundering desire for a cultural grounding, for 'roots' that I can claim as mine and mine for a foundation, a place.
The other major character, Japhy Ryder (again, an only-slightly fictionalized Gary Synder
), connects me to this thread of Buddhism in his own way, too. The connection with the mountains and forests, the exultant self-sufficiency and boundless energy, the workingman dependability, the engagement with the land appeal to me. Some of that I have to some degree, are things I can call mine; the others I want, I lack, I desire. Also, before I even knew he - the character or the man - existed, a friend compared me to him, creating a connection of a sort, and then told me of the story and loaned me the book, giving me the story in a way that grounded it, placed it, made it in that small way mine.
In both characters there is the idea of the "rucksack wanderer" - that calls to me, a beckoning of wanderlust.
These thoughts are transitioning toward another major thread, settled around the word 'freedom', but it will have to wait for another time.
Hmmm. This whole 'post regularly!' project has no been very successful, no?
Life has been full and hectic recently. I'm hoping to remedy the 'hectic' but still keep the 'full'.
Bah. Want to write more, but seem unable to express extended thoughts these days. Thought topics: honesty as a broad life-approach (inspired by insight from Emily), home / community / place / connection, Romanticism, life-place, the future, marking time, blargh. Probably more there too that just isn't coming to the top of my head.
I slept for fourteen hours last night and this morning. I didn't think I needed it, but I think it did me a lot of good.
Faith and religion have been on the mind recently. I saw Doubt yesterday. I'm tempted to say it was 'awesome', but that really isn't the right word. The level of quality and overall value is right, but the tone is wrong. Regardless, it is a very good story and movie. I would love to see it staged. I have various thoughts related to it, but not sure if I have the motivation to really pursue them.
Just now I went to the first part of a 'new members' class for the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church. It's the church I was sort of nominally part of growing up, although my only real participation was going on their Mexico mission trips, which was a very good experience every spring break I did it (the only time I didn't was because I was in New Zealand). It was a surprisingly good experience. I don't think I'll join, for a number of reasons, but it was very encouraging. It continues tomorrow morning.
Now, for my anti-religion friends out there, don't panic. I do not believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord (or even just my lord) and savior. I don't disbelieve it either, though. I do find there be something appealing about the credo. For a long time I've wanted to, for lack of a better way of phrasing it, 'deal with this whole religion thing'. A bit ago I realized that probably the best way to do that was to start going to a church for a while, to engage with it. So when I learned of this new members class, I thought it was a good opportunity to make a start in an environment I was already somewhat familiar with. Likely I'll try a church, probably Presbyterian for lack of any reason to try any other denomination, near where I'm living now. MIPC is very suburbany, and rather much not really my generation - it's mostly people in their late 30s or older, or kids. There's not really a 20s crowd. I might try a couple churches. We'll see. I might also be lazy or not sufficiently committed and this whole idea might die on the vine. Again, we'll see.
I've already managed to fail at my daily-posting project. Doh.
In explanation, if not excuse, I was snowshoeing most of yesterday. Then I was hanging out at Tsub, where we watched Invader Zim. It was awesome. Also, I was exhausted. So when I did get home, it was almost immediately to sleep with me. (And the internet was done, too.)
Snowshoeing was awesome. Also, I took lots of pictures
For months now, I've been sort of spinning my wheels, trying to mull over what I want to do with myself. It's been pretty good, actually - I've been sorting out a lot of stuff (although less than I would have liked) in terms of self-organization, small projects, etc. I'm in no hurry, either personally or financially. Although the job prospects seem less and less good. My reaction is mostly just to shrug. However, it has been something of a burden on me. While it isn't that important to me, I do feel some pressure from the conventional idea (particularly as I invest it in how I think my parents feel) that one should be 'doing' something, that you should immediately get a job ("Get a job, you dirty hippie!") after college.
Recently I've come to a tentative conclusion, though. My current plan is to apply in the fall for a couple local teaching masters programs which start in the spring. I'll probably apply to the UW and Seattle University, maybe some other schools too. Those two each have 3 or 4 quarter programs. I think I could be a good teacher and find satisfaction in it. In the mean time the plan is to take some steps to investigate a career in outdoor education. I'm hopefully going to help lead a few outdoor school trips in the late spring, and I'm considering applying to be a 'Field Instructor' for Sagewalk
. In a couple weeks I'm going to be taking a Wilderness First Responder course. I've been thinking about taking a NOLS
course. I've been thinking maybe I'll try to be a SPOT leader
(reminder to self: look into that).
So, that's the vague plan for now. We'll see if I stick with it, or if something else comes up, or I change my mind.
Anyone have any of good opportunities along these lines?
DDR is fun! I feel I could be pretty good at it if I did it a bit more. I think the last time I played DDR was probably at least three years ago.
I've been pretty satisfied with general social gatherings and occasions recently. I've been less satisfied with the more specific and one-on-one social interaction, although it's been much better than usual lately. I 'caught up' with qazwsxmko
today and that was good. I want to have more good conversations that allow me to be introspective and bounce my perceptions of myself and broader reality against others' perceptions. I really like that whole 'Me too!' and 'Well, I think of it more this way.' back and forth, and it's helps motivate me and give me some direction and focus in times when I'm a bit in the flailing mode - as I am now. Honestly, though, I usually am in that mode.
I'm going snowshoeing tomorrow, which should be good.
Bah, a little disappointed I'm not having more interesting / specific / intellectual / useful things to write about. But writing anything is an improvement.