I have never tried Yoga. My first frivolous reason was that it sounded weird. Yogi and Yogini were the practitioners. It seemed like a secret society because Yogi Berra and Yogi Bear were famous talkers but they never mentioned Yoga. And Yogi Joshi’s portrayal of David Berkowitz in the 2008 Son of Sam film was not very inviting. As far as I knew, these Yoga people ate yogurt and used words like “yogh” which has something to do with palatal fricatives, whatever they are. All of this was off-putting; but then I accidentally tried yogurt corrupted with sugar which even made curdled milk taste good. And I was intrigued by the possible health benefits of deep breathing techniques, so I wondered if Yoga references to mindful breathing in asana practice was something similar. My investigation led me to the Seattle Yoga News which featured an interview with Yoga teacher Carina Terra. She was asked who she would practice Yoga with if she could do so with anyone living or dead. Her answer was “No one” because the “actual practice is personal.” Her reply to the “How lucky are you?” question: “I don’t believe in luck.” The interviewer persisted with her fun questions, asking which animal, plant, or ingredient Terra would choose to be. Terra finally cooperated and chose “mycelium or underground network of filaments that connect fungi and even trees to each other.” My own answers follow for the record. Who I would want to practice Yoga with depends on whether I am married in the hypothetical but it would not be with anyone connecting funghi. I do consider myself lucky for avoiding Yoga. And I would choose to be an ape because I figure that would be my best shot to get back to being human.
Stephen Hawkins in his book “Black Holes and Baby Universes” says, “I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” I presume those who believe in pre-determination would argue that they were pre-destined to look before crossing. So we get into a semantic riddle about whether the chicken or the egg looked first before crossing the road and why they even crossed. The answer is that unsuccessful and unhappy people believe in predetermination. The question is: Are we predestined to be unsuccessful and unhappy?
John Adams was famously quoted in 1780, saying that he had to study politics and war so that his children could study mathematics, liberal arts, commerce, and agriculture which in turn would allow his grandchildren the opportunity to study the arts. He was perceptive but his optimism was a little misplaced because he could not see more than a few generations into the future. His 20th century descendants could not escape the politics of war. Samuel A. Adams graduated from Harvard in 1955 and was a CIA Analyst who discovered that American military intelligence had underestimated the number of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army soldiers. He resigned the CIA in 1973 after testifying for the defense in the Daniel Ellsburg Pentagon Papers case. Eventually the Addams clan added an extra “d” to their name and did get into the arts with a television show and movie that featured their macabre and eccentric family members. Alternate facts are circulating that many Addams descendants are living off royalties and residuals and have dropped out of school altogether to play video games and read Blogs.
Some say fourth place is the worst position to finish in the Olympics, just off the medal stand. Worse than that would be the first person to miss the cut for heaven. You might have done some bad stuff but you are stuck in hell with Judas, Dracula, and Hitler. Not that I have any specific knowledge that those three are actually hanging out in the Netherworld. But you get the idea. The luckiest person ever is the last one to make the cut for heaven. Although that person would likely develop an inferiority complex, hanging out with saints and angels and knowing he or she lucked out by being the Good Thief or a deathbed conversion. Such a person might not be able to relax, thinking someone in the heaven hierarchy might decide to make heaven great again and target those on the fringe for deportation. Purgatory is the answer to this disparity where little would seem to separate the people on the bubble while the consequences are as vast as anything in the universe. You experience a taste of hell before you are purified for heaven. But can we count on Purgatory? Look what happened to Limbo. It just disappeared one day. I do want to emphasize that this posting is written with due reverence in case a dispute erupts over the interpretation of my intentions when Perry Mason is pleading my case in the Court of Last Judgment.
My review of Thomas Hora’s book Beyond the Dream is late because it has taken me decades to get through some really boring chapters. I do not feel that bad because my signed copy says Merry Christmas and is dated July ’86. Hora divides his book into Sessions instead of Chapters which did not start a trend. Session 5 is Shouldlessness which has not caught on big either. And we are writing about it on a Blog site that is not exactly on fire. I should consider stopping now but Hora says: “The habit of thinking in terms of what should be or what should not be tends to make us willful and tyrannical.” I assume “us” means that he is including himself in the tyranny. After all, he spends 58 Sessions basically telling us what we should be doing and thinking. His example of shouldlessness is when a mother had an epiphany that she was tyrannical because she was fighting her four year old’s resistance to feeding herself. Shouldlessness can only be attained when one understands that “Yes is good but no is also good.” The author does not tell us what happened to the mother and four year old, so I figure nothing good came of them or he would have taken credit for it. I am guessing one of them is in jail and the other one is being treated for an addiction problem. I used to think I should not be so snarky but I feel like I have permission now.
As recently as 1995, Florence Isaacs wrote a book “Just a Note to Say” that promised the perfect words for every occasion. Reading it really emphasized the societal sea change that has occurred in a mere two decades. No mention is made of email or social media in the book. While writing notes and sending cards is not obsolete, those formal devices are a mere fraction of the communications commemorating special occasions. For example, Facebook has a huge market share in the world of Happy Birthday greetings because they are free, easy (you are given prompts), and instantaneous. The language conventions of electronic communications are also very different. Isaacs suggested a Graduation note: “Dear X, I’m busting my buttons! You made it and made it big. Honor roll, winner of the French Club award, member of the tennis team- you’ve certainly achieved your goals. You can’t imagine the pride we feel in you.” Even back in the time of my graduation, that template was not very useful. You would have to drop the “busting buttons” unless you were trying to be funny. And you would have to personalize the accomplishments listed: “Dear Geoff, You made it. Intramural bench warmer and resident in the AFP House for pledge rejects- you’ve certainly disappointed your parents. You can’t imagine the sympathy we feel for them.”
Patricia Roberts Harris participated in one of the first lunch counter sit-ins, was elected Phi Beta Kappa, earned summa cum laude undergraduate honors, and was Assistant Director of a Human Rights organization. She graduated first in her class from George Washington Law School in 1960, worked in the Department of Justice under Kennedy, and served as Ambassador to Luxenbourg for Lyndon Johnson. She worked at a prominent law firm in Washington D.C. and served on Boards of IBM, Scott Paper, and Chase Manhattan Bank. She became the first African American woman to hold a Cabinet position when Jimmy Carter appointed her HUD Secretary in 1977. At her confirmation hearing, Senator Proxmire of Wisconsin questioned whether she could understand the views of low income Americans, considering her prestigious education and apparent affluence. She answered, “Senator, I am one of them. You do not seem to understand who I am. I’m a black woman, the daughter of a dining car waiter. I’m a black woman who even eight years ago could not buy a house in some parts of the District of Columbia.” Senator Proxmire accused her of claiming she was qualified just because she was a black woman. She outlined her origins and told him several times that he was wrong if he thought she had forgotten. She assured her detractors that while others may “forget what it meant to be excluded from the dining rooms of this very building, I shall never forget it.” I was oblivious to this hearing while dancing on thirdbase. Michelle Robinson was a teenage batgirl with a far different view of the ballfield. But I am gaining perspective about the controversy Michelle triggered during her husband Barack’s 2008 Presidential campaign when she said she was proud of the United States for the first time.
Immersed in capriccio, I was going to learn Italian today because I inherited an Italian dictionary from my Mom. But I discovered why Italians use their hands to speak. They seem to be missing the letters J, K, W, X, and Y except when they have borrowed a word from another language. And the dedication in the dictionary used the word “hanno” but the dictionary had no hanno in it or even any “h” words at all. I tried to get answers from my amici Italiani but they kept saying “idiota” which seems to be Italian for “I don’t know.” So I did what I always do when faced with adversity. I drank a glass of Chianti and took an infingardo pisolino. When I awoke I was speaking Italian fluently. But that turned out to be a dream. So I plan to drop the dictionary off at the Goodwill collection station and hope they do not reject it because of all the missing letters.
Lady Gaga has a Netflix documentary movie out that highlights her “struggles with celebrity, chronic pain, and her evolution as an artist.” Entertainment Weekly asked her what fans will see in the film. She replied, “I decided what they could and couldn’t film. It really and truly is my life.” If it were me, I would also control what could be filmed. But I wonder how she can follow the sentence on controlling filming with one that says we will be seeing her real and true life. I probably will not be watching either way, primarily because Netflix is outside my expertise. I presume people will be seeing Lady G’s life as she wants it to look even if that is very close to what it is. All of us are likely less objective than others about our own selves. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and I all tend to see ourselves more favorably than others do. It allows us to keep going without shrinking into a quivering lump of self loathing. For example, I just elevated myself into the same sentence as Trump and Clinton as if I belong there. I have a real Blog, Trump only tweets, and Clinton is a woman. If Lady Gaga had invited me to contribute to her documentary movie, I would have told the story about my granddaughter Noemi when she was two years old. A Lady Gaga song started playing in an ice cream shop. I did not recognize the song or the artist but Noemi loudly shouted out, “Lady Gaga!” Everyone in the store turned to look at my granddaughter, seemingly in amazement that this toddler recognized Lady G. Her mother sheepishly answered the gazes with the words, “Well, I guess everyone knows Lady Gaga.”
A first born daughter-in-law sent me an Atlantic magazine article titled, “First Children are Smarter- but Why?” It seems like we are obsessed with studying the effects of birth order. Even though I am a first born and always enjoy forwarding information to my younger siblings that is favorable to my status, I wonder why it matters. I expect I am not the only first born rubbing in our documented superiority. So you would think data would also exist establishing that first borns are bigger jerks. But if there were such studies, surely I would have received copies from my sibs. The first born advantage is debunked by some and minimized by others. Theories abound about what causes said advantage. But in the end, what are we to do with the information if it becomes irrefutable? Only have first born babies? Create programs designed to make first borns dumber? Give tax breaks to younger siblings on some sliding scale? If we accept the theory that parents get lax on discipline with later children, I expect younger siblings would not be thrilled with a new correction strategy requiring parents to be tougher on them. I guess I am saying that we all know first borns are better but we should be polite enough not to keep dwelling on it.