Just a few random things about me, maybe a few thoughts? Okay.
Once I love a person, I never stop loving them. This is not by choice; it is a simple fact. They continue to have the qualities for which I love them, even if they later display undesirable or dangerous qualities.
I do not grieve for the dead; I grieve for the living. The living are the ones who must endure the pain of being separated from their loved ones.
Chopin rocks! The subtle complexity, the power, the grace and the intricacy of his music bespeak a great genius. (For those who care, his Waltz in E flat, or "Grande Valse Brillante," is my favorite.) I love playing his works on the piano, as well as those of K.P.E. Bach, Kabalevsky, Journey, and random other stuff, including music from computer games.
I am somewhat more into guitar, delighting in such fingerpicking as can be found in the works of Simon and Garfunkel. I also cover such performers as Aerosmith, Air Supply, The Association, J.S. Bach, Heywood Banks, The Beatles, David Bowie, Matteo Carcassi, Rodney Carrington, Tim Cavanagh, Eric Clapton, Counting Crows, Cream, Credence Clearwater Revival, Chris Deleo, The Eagles, Duke Ellington, Ellipsis, Extreme, The Grass Roots, Don Henley, Indigo Girls, Jewel, Billy Joel, Journey, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, Tom Lehrer, Sarah McLachlan, Don McLean, Metallica, The Monkees, Monty Python, Sean Morey, The Muppets, Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, The Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers, various Sierra games, Shel Silverstein, Jill Sobule, Stone Temple Pilots, Three Dog Knight, The Ventures, Gbob Waters, Tim Wilson, and "Weird Al" Yankovic. My own songs will not be published for a long time, if ever.
Love and hatred are not opposite ends of the same scale. They are on different scales, and may both apply at once to the same person. Similarly, a person can be right for you, by virtue of fulfilling your needs and desires, and simultaneously wrong for you, by virtue of causing you emotional (or even physical) harm. Such situations are among the worst to deal with, because of the conflict of needs, and can account for people staying in abusive relationships.
Just for the record, I have never hated anyone, even those deserving of hatred, nor have I yet experienced anger.
I like to dwell in the past, present, and future.
I greatly enjoy life; there is Beauty to be found everywhere.
I have a knack for picking the most extraordinary friends. The love I have for and from my friends has carried me through many a dark time, and enriched my life. Also, they provide endless diversion.
Ideally, actions should flow from the Tao, and thus not feel like "work" at all. Actions performed in the absence of Tao would include, among other things, "technological ugliness": Work without craftsmanship, enjoyment, care, and understanding. If you do not put your heart into what you do, is it worth doing? (Yes, sometimes one does not have a choice. That is why I say "ideally".) "Cooking with love" (as my friend Ghandi says I do) is an example.
I no longer consider myself a computer person. Coding is fun, but I pay no attention to modern technology until the time comes to assemble a new computer for myself. Most of the backgrounds in Yvelheim were generated using a QBasic program that I wrote in the tenth grade. I have done substantial coding in Quick Basic, Visual Basic, Turbo Pascal, C, DCL, and FoxPro, and dabbled in Assembler. Probably the coolest program that I ever wrote was The Forum, my Web-based BBS. (This was back before there were Web-based BBS's.) I also worked on CompuKID, a product of Pediatric Software Int'l, Inc.
Viewing people as four-dimensional objects, like eighty-year-long worms, is a very useful perspective when dealing with quandaries and confusion regarding quality of life, pain, existence and states thereof, and life itself. Not that this statement helps if you do not already know what I am talking about.
What is the use of having cognition if we may not be allowed to act in accordance with it? What good is the capacity to act upon what we know, if we are disallowed access to the most pertinent information? Our greatest duty as human beings, as I have mentioned before, is the making and carrying out of informed decisions. Without the ability to do so, we are crippled slaves. (Though, some people strive to be crippled slaves.) In this respect, the U.S. federal government is explicitly denying our humanity in each of its attempts to protect us from ourselves: The Clipper chip, the Digital Telephony Bill, the Communications Decency Act, and the outlawing of consensual acts, to start with. Not one person has the right to infringe upon our freedom to pursue happiness; why can our government do it? (Weren't they supposed to protect that freedom? Perhaps you see why I advocate reinstating the U.S. constitution.)
Revenge is a viciousness by which people give up their humanity in exchange for the satisfaction of cruelty. Justice is a viciousness by which people give up their godhood in exchange for the satisfaction of closure.1
In the battle of memes for young minds, people are forgetting that teaching children to think for themselves, while more difficult than teaching a particular specific idea, is also far harder to fight by poisoning the well, and can (perhaps, in time) eliminate the more dangerously malignant memes.
I experience no dichotomy between analysis and emotion. My heart and mind operate in harmony, although occasionally my mind has to catch up to what my heart already knows.
I strongly resist the idea of forgetting past pain. I will face it up front, suffer, learn from it, and fix it as best I can. To forget is to waste. However, my path is not suitable to most people. I make headway in figuring out the terrible things when I agonize over them for years. If you agonize thusly, but gain nothing from it, then you are better off forgetting.
I love hugs. Physical contact as an expression of affection is, to me, emotionally therapeutic, reassuring, and gladdening. I would like at least sixteen hugs per day, but generally get by on one. Cuddling is better still.
Once, when beset by a multitude of problems of several types, several magnitudes, and several durations, I embarked upon a walkabout. I did not recognize that I was doing this; I simply left my home and walked by day, taking advantage of the hospitality of friends by night, with no plan. On the seventh day, while watching the scenery from the twenty-first floor of Colonial Heights, something clicked into place, and I resolved all of the problems within a matter of hours. Only then did I return home.
An important premise of most philosophies that completely prohibit evil actions toward good ends is that people are fallible; that they are not sufficiently astute students of human nature and butterfly effects to predict with any certainty that they will achieve their desired result with no unexpected ill effects. This is not always true.2
If it becomes impossible for you to fulfill a promise, then your failure to fulfill it is not a breach of honor. However, the making of a promise that you couldn't carry out was a moral failure or a grievous error. Faithfully keeping promises is only half of their moral obligation; soundly making them is the other half.
Being very open, I will only keep secrets for three reasons: To defend myself or someone else from force or fraud, to protect another's secret, and to preserve the value of a "psychology experiment" secret3.
We who truly love Truth strive to not protect our conceptions/illusions, for they should be able to stand firm, when laid bare and stripped to the core.
Trust is a summary of expectations, and is therefore less useful as a general concept than it appears. That is, you cannot claim "I trust him," nor disclaim it, if you expect him to keep your secrets but not to act with your well-being in mind. Also, it is entirely possible for someone to be worthy of love but not of trust, a fact which many people miss when they cease to love (or try to cease to love) after a betrayal.
I believe in perfect love4 and infinite happiness. I care not whether one couple in a century has that chance, for I have shaped all other aspects of my life with no regard for the limits that other people cling to as their realities, and see little reason to change that philosophy here.
I am a founding member of the Albany State Denny's Appreciation Club. Anything more I could say would only increase the pathos of this dubious honor.
Many people do not understand that blame is not proportional to the ugliness suffered. If one person's minor negligence sets off a chain of events that results in a great tragedy, that person need not accept blame for the entire event. Sometimes, there isn't anybody to sue. Likewise, seven people who cooperate to murder one person are each fully guilty of murder, not of one seventh of a murder.
I finally figured out why I am not an activist, despite my loathing for the fascism and ignorance that run rampant in the country. My specialty is creating Beauty, not fighting evil. It's what I am best at. I shall let others work at guiding people away from the established villainy, while I help establish the alternatives to work toward.
Many of the people I've seen who tend toward giving rather than receiving are surprisingly naive about interacting with other givers. They refuse to allow others to give to them, even when it is clear that the other wishes to do so. To be a more effective giver, one should recognize and satisfy the desires of other givers, by receiving gracefully. Doing so does not imply "giving in" to the other's wishes; it is merely the product of a higher-level regard for the system, in which the act of enabling someone to satisfy their giving nature is a return gift. (Example 1: Yes, annoying people on the checkout line, this means you too. Let the other person pay if they want to. It'll save the cashier a headache. Example 2: I try to be a good host and a good guest, taking on more than my expected share of responsibilities in either case. This is incompatible with any host or guest of mine who acts the same way. Therefore, I will suppress my inclinations and allow my guests (for example) to wash their own dishes if they wish, graciously accepting the gift of their labor rather than fighting them for the privilege of giving.)
You cannot have every freedom at once. With every moment that goes by, and with every decision that you make or fail to make, your options change. Exercising the freedom to sleep through the afternoon eliminates the options of playing tennis and reading during that time. (This is the "opportunity cost" of the nap.) Many people, especially including but not limited to Harriers, seek freedom from all responsibility, as they feel that this will create the least uncomfortable life for them, and because "responsibility" implies "obligation," which feels like a limitation of freedom. Ironically, this leaves them without the greatest of all freedoms, that of being able to shape one's own life as one sees fit. For to take control over your own life involves taking responsibility for your own actions. It involves behaving responsibly with regard to those things that you wish to have in your life. The freedom to avoid responsibility is no greater than the same freedom possessed of a rock lying on the ground. It will never be called upon to do anything that it would feel uncomfortable doing. And it will never have any power over its destiny, will never experience happiness. It still amazes me that people choose the life of the rock.
I have never been the one to end a relationship or friendship, nor do I expect to ever do so. I used to chalk this up to "of course the nice guy is the one to get dumped upon; it's just how things work." But I have realized that there is a more specific cause: My body odor. (Just kidding; I haven't missed my monthly shower since last June.) It is that I know what I want5. I am sufficiently self-aware and emotionally developed that my needs are unchanging. To stop loving someone is completely outside of my paradigm, and it seems strange and alien to me when other people do it. (See the first paragraph above for the other half of the equation, as love is about both the lover and the loved.)
To generalize from my bits above about trust and about love and hatred, people have a hard time thinking well and poorly of someone at once. That sounds like it should never be an issue, due to inherent contradiction, but that impression is misleading. A person can have many wonderful qualities that make them worthy of admiration, love, respect, et cetera. That person may also possess degenerate qualities that make them worthy of contempt, hatred, a jihad, an icy stare, and so on. Those who come to know both sides of this person may experience a cognitive dissonance regarding the subject, and tend to resolve it by shutting out, for a time, one side or the other of their knowledge. This most commonly manifests in relationships with significant others ("I take back every good thing I said about Jerry. That man is a lying piece of-" "Sure, we have fights, and I wind up crying for the whole night, but he's perfect, really, and I'm happier than I've ever been.") and with parents, as the high degree of interaction subjects one to the full gamut of the other's temperament.
People seem too ready to ascribe to an unexplained event the single explanation, reason, and/or motive that occurs to them, on the premise that it is the only possible one. I know, from experience, that avoiding this mistake requires both effort and the willingness to indefinitely entertain uncertainty. To shrink for a moment from the abstract, I have seen people assume that: Their lover must have left them because of the sex; a simple experiment with a counterintuitive result must be a rural legend; a stranger being especially nice or interested must have lustful intent; enlightenment must be self-delusion; unusual events must point to some sinister, hidden motive or plot (this one is popular with the paranoid crowd). This is not about making assumptions or jumping to conclusions. It is about the specific error of thinking that, because you can only conceive one explanation, that explanation must be correct. Frequently enough in my life, especially where people's motives are concerned, "the only reason I can think of" eventually gets supplanted by a better and far more likely reason. Thus, I have learned to keep an open mind.
The concept that a religion, philosophy, or way of life can be "right" or "wrong" is (mostly) absurd to me. These things aren't statements, to be assigned a truth value (though their teachings may contain such). They are more usefully regarded as tools. You would not question the truth of a screwdriver: A screwdriver cannot be right or wrong by itself; it can only be the right tool or the wrong tool for a particular job. A way of life must fulfill a person's needs, and people have differing needs; therefore, varied paths, all "correct" for different circumstances, are called for. A person seeking comfort, security, and self-righteousness at no personal cost will be well served by a religion abhorrent to another who will take great risks for the personal creation of happiness and wisdom (and perhaps also self-righteousness). Either one may try to guide you upon the "right" path, and in the process, you will learn much about that person and their way, but next to nothing about you and yours.
To harp on the subject of life paths, what happens when you don't even know
you have options? Family, society, and peer groups can make your decisions
for you, without anybody noticing it. Consider, for example, these two
instances of forced decisions:
"You're going to college whether you like it or not. There are no good jobs out there for a lazy bum without an education, and if you plan on flipping hamburgers for your whole life, so help me, I'll disown you!"
"Have you figured out what you're going to major in when you go to college?"
If each of these students potentially has better options than continuing their formal education, which one do you think is more likely to figure that out? To act on it? [Pause] Okay, I'm speaking from personal experience, having been in the latter situation. For my entire student life, I was aware that school was wasting my time, but it never even occurred to me that I could do something else. Going through college was just a natural part of life, like learning to walk. There wasn't even a question of whether to do it, only how to do it. The necessary dedication of my time and energy to school was a great source of stress and inner conflict. I did the best I could, in the circumstances: I tried to waste as little of my life as possible while still getting by. In college, when skipping lots of classes became an option, I even managed to have a pretty good time this way. But finally having to leave school  was one of the great disguised blessings of my life.
I am frequently asked about my life of minimal work, minimal money, and great happiness. Most people claim the inability or unwillingness to get by on so little. All right, so maybe they couldn't bear to live without the money to have the things they want. But I couldn't bear to live without the time to do the things I want. My life is measured in time, not in money. I spend my life doing what makes me happy. To work more than is necessary would be to sacrifice a great deal of my life for things that benefit me far less than do those things which I would be giving up. I am no ascetic monk, believing that people should be without possessions; I have simply found that doing things makes me happy, and that having things does not. (This appears to be true of most people, ignorant of the fact though they may be.)
Speaking of work, you may have noticed that I do not take it very seriously. (This is not to say that I am an unreliable worker. Quite to the contrary, I honor my employment like I honor any other agreement.) Others place much greater emphasis on, and emotional investment in, their jobs, even going so far as to self-identify according to the nature of their work. Yet there exists no big discrepancy here. Most people (whom I know) spend more of their waking time performing or otherwise concerned with their job than with any other activity. Given that, the nature of one's job is of great relevance to one's happiness and even self-image. Similarly, given how little time I dedicate to my employment, when someone asks me what I do, I cannot justify an answer of "programmer," or "dishwasher," or "cashier," or whatever I happen to be doing for money. I spend my time living a quality life, and seeking truth, beauty, happiness, friendship, goodness, wisdom, joy, love, freedom, and pleasure (including good music and good food). So I call myself a "philosopher".
1. The Book of Answers:
2. The Book of Answers: Justified Violations?
3. Manual: Psychology Experiment Secret
5. Manual: Want
6. No, there is no juicy nor scandalous story involved.
7. You've seen my Smart-ass Cashier page by now, right?