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Miscellaneous Monday evening musings

Sign of the times: that the FBI can create a new secret police to spy on the Internet and the big reaction is a nationwide yawn.

Is it information overload? Outrage fatigue? Or just acknowledging the reality that “our” government is so out of control, so committed to secrecy, and so determined to rule us no matter what we do that our activist energies are better directed elsewhere?

Is the building anger against government so big that it blows right past new secret police agencies?


Why would this be okay — really, seriously, why would this be judged entirely differently had a cop done it? I don’t get it. Not at all. It’s a distinction without a difference.


The joys of getting old. It’s too bad our society so devalues oldness. Because getting old is one of the best things that can happen — and not just because it so famously “beats the alternative.”

Oh, not the gray hair and wrinkles part. That’s sort of a pit. But the great, vast, glorious, underrated ability not to give a damn any more.

For a lot of women I know, the biggest, bestest “don’t give a damn” is about relationships. We spend our youth thinking “love” is the Holy Grail. We spend our young adulthood focusing on the welfare of spouse, partner, kids, whatever. Then comes freedom.

Late last year one of my girlfriends, long divorced with grown kids, thought she might be falling in love again. I tried to be happy for her, but it worried me. She’s one of these people who’s too nice for her own good and can be easily taken advantage of.

The first few months, she talked about how much she enjoyed the guy’s company and all the things they did together. More recently she got very quiet about him. A week ago she whispered to me in passing as we worked on a project with some other people, “He broke up with me yesterday and I’m so glad!” She’d been trying to figure out the best way to do it.

Turns out that, aside from having a surly side, he expected to spend every evening with her. He’d get upset if she committed to activities without him. But she’s got a busy life, lots of friends, and a huge volunteer workload.

When you’re young and dumb, you think, “Oh, how wonderful that he wants to be with me so much.” And before you understand what’s really going on, you end up in a baaaaad relationship. Old and smart, you realize, “Wait a minute. I have a life and I enjoy it. Why doesn’t he have one? I don’t need this.”

Today she told me, “I’m glad it happened because I thought I wanted a relationship. This taught me what I really want — my life just the way it is.”

This is not a female vs male thing (though I do know more men than women who remain hopeful about relationships despite their own bad experiences). This is about age and experience and what we gain from it.

Wrinkles are a very small price to pay.


My life just the way it is. We sometimes fail to notice just how good that is.


Except for the monkey brain. I’ve been talking with a freelance-writer friend about meditation. He practices — or tries to practice — transcendental meditation to help him stay calm, focused, and healthy. I practice — or try to practice — a simplified version of Vipassana meditation for the same purpose.

He’s probably better at it than I. I always end up in the middle of meditation sessions suddenly obsessed with the need to look up St. Teresa of Avila or Audrey Hepburn on Wikipedia.

What do you do to stay focused and keep your life in balance?


  1. water lily
    water lily May 29, 2012 3:43 am

    Regarding the FBI spying on the internet, some folks may think that it’s okay as they have nothing to hide and it’s keeping them safe. (!!!???) My reaction was, “Haven’t they been doing this all along?” It feels like totalitarianism has been here for a while now and there’s nothing new under the sun.

    Regarding relationships, I’m blessed to have a hubby who has his own interests and doesn’t expect me to be with him all the time. We’re both very independent and don’t encroach on each others time/pursuits. That’s probably why this relationship has worked so well.

  2. Pat
    Pat May 29, 2012 4:35 am

    To stay focused, I’ve learned to say No – most of the time.

    “The world is too much with me”, and the only thing that unfocuses me is 1) answering phones, 2) acquiescing to other people’s wishes over my own, and 3) allowing the world’s problems to overwhelm me. I’ve developed a “que sera, sera” attitude about many things, including asteroids, climate change, and government activity.

    “Is it information overload? Outrage fatigue? Or just acknowledging the reality that “our” government is so out of control, so committed to secrecy, and so determined to rule us no matter what we do that our activist energies are better directed elsewhere?”

    Yes… all of the above.

    This entire blog is SO VERY inter-related. Part of my attitude is due to age. It’s not that I don’t care, but rather that caring in itself doesn’t get me anywhere, so it’s more satisfying to live positively as I wish than worry about my previous concerns. As I can change something, I will; but if I can’t then so be it. I guess I’ve _finally_ accepted the Serenity Prayer (at least the first four lines)

    (BTW, is anybody else having trouble with Firefox? They can’t seem to find anything this a.m., even Start Page. I’ve had to try several times to connect to the links I want, and to BHM to send this comment.)

  3. Karen
    Karen May 29, 2012 4:55 am

    Like water lily, I’ve just assumed this internet monitoring was already going on. A year or two ago there was a big dust up when some NGO(ADL or SPLC or ?) gave a report on internet activities they deemed terrorist or at least anti-something. The report took lots of sentences from some forums I visit routinely and published them as examples of bad behavior, using the screen names of the purported culprits. Everything from everyone that I recognized was taken completely out of context of the discussions and made to appear shocking and deviant. I just assume that someone somewhere is watching for some reason or other. I guess that my lackluster degree of outrage is one of those ageing things it’s harder to get worked up about. It’ll be different if they start rounding up people.

    Except for a small group of friends, you’re the first person I’ve ever heard mention Vipassana meditation. When I do start getting a lot of internet(or not) rage or frustration, that mindful breathing can really make a difference in the level of agitation. A friend who’s a psychologist modifies it a bit with visualization. Slowly breathe in shimmering blue/white good air, then slowly exhale dark emotionally charged mucky air. In a while, all the dark muck of anger or other bad emotion is gone or so diluted that it’s no longer a problem. Cool.

  4. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal May 29, 2012 7:47 am

    I’m not focused or in balance. Although, when things get too stressful a little Serenity does help restore my serenity.

  5. Pat
    Pat May 29, 2012 8:28 am

    Wow – Thanks, Kent! That’s a BIG photo of Serenity that I’ve been wanting to put on my desktop.

  6. Scott
    Scott May 29, 2012 9:09 am

    I just took it for granted that any electronic communication at least had the potential to be monitored.
    My grandparents had the “To Hell With It” attitude towards many things-which is why I think they lived so long and enjoyed it more. The overwhelming majority of “important” things aren’t,and that many “important” people are little more than real-world cartoon characters.
    Visit friends. Ride a bike.Read a book(that you got from the cool little bookstore that’s fun to visit). Build/draw/modify something-there are many ways to keep in mind the Universe is a wonderful place.

  7. Matt, another
    Matt, another May 29, 2012 10:48 am

    The difference in the man shooting the dog and a cop shooting the dog? 1) the dog was loose and presumably dangerous, cops seem to prefer shooting dogs that are harmless and leashed or penned. 2) Only one magazine was used and the kids were not hurt. The story seems to come from the People’s Republic of Oregon, so I am not terribly suprised as to the outcome. In my locale if it had happened in a rural area there probably would be no charges, if in the city at least charges of disarming a firearm within the city.

    Having spent my life with German Sheperds and other large dogs he might of been able to handle the dog without shooting. Would of still hurt the dog though.

  8. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty May 29, 2012 11:42 am

    I’ve been using PGP encryption with everyone who will stand for it… for nearly 20 years. The more we guard our privacy, the less we have to fear from the goons…

    As for living my own life… I very much agree. Doesn’t take getting old, really. I’ve been a widow now for 26 years, and though I have many friends of the male persuasion, I’ve not found one that gives me any urge to bend my very satisfactory live around to suit or even blend with his. Not even close.

    I’ve done a fair amount of meditation, and usually fall asleep almost immediately these days. I guess I’m too relaxed to start with. 🙂 But for all around stress management, I’ve found nothing better than EFT. Emotional Freedom Technique.

    Here is my own personal story of healing and ongoing wellness.

  9. BusyPoorDad
    BusyPoorDad May 29, 2012 11:47 am

    Sadly when the population says “I’ve got nothing to hide, so let them look” we have lost the argument. It is not that you have some dirty little secret it should be about privacy.

    A secret is something people don’t know. private is what is personal. Anyone who has kids has done something that is private. It is not a secret (exempt to extreme fundamentalist) what they did that resulted in a kid. But it is private. That is why we have stalls in bathrooms, what do you have to hide? we all know what is going on, if you have nothing to hide why do you care if people are watching?

    When put that way, the argument becomes “why do they need to look at my private/personal information/thoughts/goods?”

    As for growing old, I love that my love is going grey along with me. We are getting those grey hairs together.

  10. Hanza
    Hanza May 29, 2012 7:12 pm

    Great photo of Serenity! It is now my desktop photo.

  11. naturegirl
    naturegirl May 29, 2012 9:59 pm

    The nice thing about getting old is the Time Is Running Out Factor – when things you may have made an excuse not to do at any prior point in your life now ends up on the top ten list…..

    As for your friend, Claire…glad she realized her feelings so well…..I use to think I liked doing my own thing because I was an only child (use to being alone), then as the years went on I learned more about what Freedom really is….Every now and then I end up in relationships mostly due to the whole “everyone is doing it” reason; without thinking what it is that I want…..It’s actually easier to fly solo these days compared to 3-4 decades ago, so alot of the stigma is removed….

    Whether one raises children or career-a-holics or the million other things that is “work”, the older one gets the more having fun is the new priority…

  12. Tam
    Tam May 30, 2012 7:47 am

    You mean there were people who didn’t think that the government was watching the internets?


  13. LarryA
    LarryA May 30, 2012 4:08 pm

    [What do you do to stay focused and keep your life in balance?]

    I find a swinging steel target and a brick of .22s theraputic.

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