Gnosis

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Archive for March 2011

The American Way

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democracy-now-100 In the United States we lack a coherent method for doing things consistently, other then consistently wrong. We stumble upon ourselves from childbirth to old age living in a world we created that lacks a stable foundation. The only rules we truly respect are: that change is constant and good, that democracy and freedom are everything so long as they agree with our version of freedom and idea of democracy, and that people should always have the most of everything and anything, so long as it is better then yesterday’s thing and better then their neighbor’s stuff. This is the American way of life as far as I can understand it and I think it has no future with a nation that desires to continue existing.

the-world-according-to-americans In democracies and republics, from Ancient Athens, to Rome, to the Pax Americana of today we see the same patterns playing out: a people come up with a great idea to make government flexible and responsive to its’ citizens needs. Those citizens start building upon a very minimalist and liberating framework a set of laws to govern each other in the event something goes wrong. The democratic-republic prospers and the people grow wealthy and forget their roots. They start enacting laws and changing cultural norms to suit the modern times under the premise that : “this time its’ different” or “freedom and tolerance in all forms is needed in the extreme”. They abandon the original ideas of hard work, minimalism, citizen agreement and coherence, and defense of culture.  Inevitably they become a state that adopts the norms of other societies as their own, ridicule themselves and collapse into degenerate hedonism and oppression. Eventually they are overthrown and the few remaining who clung to the old beliefs are relieved of the yoke of the monster their forefathers created.

sdan152l If it is the nature of this type of governance to grow in cycles like this and then destroy itself after 200-400 years then I say let us find a way to do what other cultures around the world have done to preserve their traditions and heritage across millennia. Why should nations like Egypt, China and Japan, with their history replete with wars, new governments, new wars and changing borders be able to cling to things like Kata, Shinto, Taoism, and many respectable cultural rules and we can not? How is it that those nations are allowed the luxury of cultural stability over thousands of years while we, the young and nimble democracies must cast away every great method and superior way of existing in favor of some new, untested procedure? Are we the test tubes of culture and the rest of the world learns the lessons from our hubris and mistakes?

nambla_ouchy_n_evil I remember one rule that was supposed to keep our fledgling republic afloat: the idea of a melting pot culture. The type of society that has a stable baseline to operate: a common language, a common set of values and core principles that are enforced and upheld as the highest good. We would take civics classes and teach these. We would mock those who refused to learn the common tongue, essential for any culture or nation who wishes to remain united and relevant. Those who fell outside of the norm and did not have a good explanation for why, or those who couldn’t demonstrate that their idea was superior were driven from our ranks in order to protect the whole. We scoffed at the idea of tolerance. Ours was a world of intolerance and everyone accepted it because it secured for us some stability and normalcy in our day to day lives. Sure it was sad that you’d appear ignorant and uncultured for yelling at the immigrant next door to learn the language and bathe, but they were told that so that we don’t end up with the need for millions of interpreters and hundreds of copies of government forms, all in different languages and no one able to read them except the immigrants!

images Our way; the American Way, is reaching the end of her teenage years. As a kid we did what our parents expected of us: we followed the rules that worked and we benefitted greatly from it. As we became teens, we did what everyone does in their youth: we rebelled and broke every tradition we could find that we were taught. Eventually the teenager reaches the age where they have to make a tough decision: continue to party and ignore good, solid, time tested advice with the inevitable implication of winding up in a dumpster overdosed on smack, or dust ourselves off and act like adults by reacquainting ourselves with those guides and traditions we shredded and made fun of.

Our way needs to change. Our way should be one that lasts, like those of the most successful human cultures over hundreds of generations instead of ten. America needs to define who she is so that she will know how to act with the rest of the world and in return how she expects to be perceived globally.

Written by Josecito

March 31, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Insomnia

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I am reminded this morning of the risks and costs associated with my perpetual inability to get a good night’s sleep. Not that this is anything new or unusual, merely the resurgence of a problem that I have dealt with for most of my life. I have no issues once I fall asleep in getting a solid 6-9 hours of rest and peace, provided that nothing interrupts that time slot. It happened last night, has it has been for these past few months. Which brings me to the crux of the situation:

insomnia As many of you know my house has a few pets and over time, they tend to take on personalities and attitudes that are amusing and show a penchant for socialization. The problem occurs when those pets become bossy and want to invade my bed at that critical time when I begin to fall asleep. I wouldn’t mind this if I could fall asleep easily or ignore it completely. The problem is that my mind is very noise and light sensitive when trying to rest and the moment any movement, sound, or change in light is detected (before sleep) my mind immediately puts effort into waking itself up (my only thought is that it must be a fight/flight response…that it is trying to protect me from the predator). Thus timing is everything and usually by the time I fall asleep, it is dawn and the day is wasted.

9-Unfortunately-Still-Suffering-From-Symptoms-Of-Insomnia Case in point are most nights. I walk Bella for her last walk at around 1130pm-1200am and then put her in her cage for her sleep. I prepare for sleep and get ready to rest, setting up the alarm and doing all those things that everyone says works for them (but never for me). I get into bed and sit there wide awake for hours (2-3hours)  until the sandman finally puts me to sleep. If I do not feel drowsy, I have also tried not going to bed until I feel tired (so that I do not associate my bed with being awake). This usually starts working by about 1am-2am (sometimes 4am) and I usually fall asleep faster and deeper then the former method of sleep preparation.

Sleeping at 2am and waking up at 9am sounds like heaven for me. The problem is that I’ve never had a single night of uninterrupted sleep. For you see, my cat Midnight has taken it upon himself to come to my room each night, randomly between the hours of 1am and 5am to scratch the door, play with stuff in my room, run around, jump on my bed, purr in my ear, massage my arms with his paws, and do all those cat things you’d expect a cat to do. If I close the door, he scratches harder, meows, and makes his presence known. If the door is open, he still comes up to play with me, because that is his reason for coming up. If I cover my head in blankets and ignore him, he moves the blankets and stands on top of me. Once he leaves an hour has passed (usually by about 4am-6am) my brain and body calm down and prep to sleep.Faithless---Insomnia-The-Best-Of-Front-Cover-7556

Then my sister wakes up to go to work. Colombia, who isn’t the quietest person in the world waking up, nor the most considerate. Doesn’t understand why I try to keep my door closed in the mornings. She wakes up, and talks to the F%^king animals when she’s getting ready in the morning. Personally I don’t give a sh%t what she does or says to them. The problem is that the bathroom is right outside my door, the upstairs hallway is really small and she doesn’t think for a moment to understand that someone might be asleep or not want to hear her talking to the dog and cat (at full volume or even yelling at them right outside my door). So by about 7am, my door is swung open because Bella was let out.

DSC01024 Bella, being the type of dog that has to glue itself to you, runs upstairs and immediately starts smelling at my door, whimpering and scratching to be let in. Since the dog sees it is morning and has been in the cage all night, she thinks it is play time and jumps on my bed, tries to hump my arm, play bite, wrestle, etc. Finally she calms down and take as a spot right between my legs (cause it is more secure/safe) and tries to fall asleep (by about 730am). Thirty minutes pass and my sister, who now thinks it is a good time, decides to enter my room to retrieve the sleeping dog, or more often then not yells to get the dogs attention and to walk her/put her in her cage before she leaves for work.  It is now 8am and I haven’t entered REM Sleep. After that you can imagine that people are calling me, texting me, visiting, knocking at the door, etc.

I am not happy and feel it may be time to sleep elsewhere or leave entirely. Not sleeping makes me want to punch someone in their face.

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Update:

Twitter_button After posting this I realized just how annoying Twitter is and how frustrating the idea of a micro blog can be to society. To Illustrate my point, I rewrote my blog entry as a Tweet (or twit, twat whatever). Notice how short it is, which is great as a headline summary but sucks as a useful method of conveying complex thought. Perhaps they want us to be brain dead and unable to carry on useful conversation.

Tweet Worthy Version:

“I can’t get no sleep. Brain racing, cat scratches, dog nuzzles. Sister too noisy. Might hit someone,  relocate to nicer rest area. Upsetting”

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Written by Josecito

March 30, 2011 at 10:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Wallet

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So this post will be short and sweet.

After a long walk in the sunny and warm air today, I went to Citizen’s Bank (Frankford Ave) and returned the wallet that I found on the street near my house.

It has been about one week since I found the wallet. I attempted to contact the owner via an insurance card, his home address, and even a notice was sent to the police asking for assistance. Naturally the police were the least helpful in that I never got a callback.

So I went in and told them the story, gave them my info (you know so that no good deed can go unpunished), and left.

And there you have it. The not so exciting conclusion of the wallet story.

See, I told you this would be a short post, possibly my shortest post yet!

Unless I go Haiku on all of you!

Written by Josecito

March 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

An Interesting Start for the Week

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Yesterday I set up a wonderful list of things I wanted to accomplish today, many to be completed before noon. Sadly fate chooses to step in and require that I take it easy on this brisk yet sunny Monday morning. Thus I am writing about why my wonderful plan has gone awry.

It all started this morning at the wee break of day when my sister opens my door and in walks my little pup Bella who summarily jumps on my bed, curls up and huddles close to me. According to my sister this little puppy isn’t feeling too well and has a fever and the craps, massive massive craps and might end up vomiting. In her wisdom she thought that rather then putting her back in the cage, that my bed should be the nicest spot for Bella to get sick on, defecate, or what have you. Well luck to me was that this canine companion of mine did not get sick while she was with me. Instead I opted to call her into my covers and snuggle up next to her and keep her warm and cozy. The reason: she was shivering, felt very bloated and had no energy or spring in her step.

So I fall back asleep and wake up at noon. My dog is red hot and snoring loudly, the bloating had passed and she was happy to be under the covers and smack up against me in all my flannel goodness. I ;however, felt like garbage. I noticed that my stomach was turning, I felt very ill and ran to the bathroom.  **deleted scene for the benefit of my readers** After a good 30 minutes I finished up, weighing at least 15 pounds less then before, and stumbled back to my bed, fever in tow. And there I slept for another two hours, occasionally drinking water and checking on Bella.

My mom and sister check up on Bella to see what is going on and I tell them the story and how she is improving whereas I am getting hit with it. My guess: an easily transferable virus got us both. I describe the symptoms to my family and then they proceed to tell me that my dad, who left for New York early in the morning, suffered the same thing last night. The best part: Bella was with him and fell asleep next to him yesterday downstairs! So I can now trace the path of sickness:

1. The hospital where my dad was staying obviously has a lot of sick people and one of them likely had this virus.

2. My dad, having stayed at the hospital, was picked up and brought here.

3. My dog, who stayed near my dad to keep him company when he was sick, got a strain of the virus and in turn, got sick.

4. I having a desire to care for my dog and keep her warm, snuggled up to her, and got sick.

5. My cat Midnight, who was unusually meowy today, can now be seen asleep on my bed (and warmer then normal) in the same spot Bella and I slept.

 

So all in all a great start to the week (sic)! I am still waiting to hear if my mom, my aunt, and my two sisters will catch anything as they were in the house. Hopefully my self incubation period will allow the virus to pass and not be spread to anyone else. Heck at least I can try to do something around the house, certainly it is a little to cold for gardening, but that doesn’t mean I can’t plan for the warmer days!

Written by Josecito

March 28, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Are Friends Worth the Effort?

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This is the first attempt at a point-counterpoint blog that I am doing with my friend Adrienne, who also hosts a blog and writes on a variety of topics. Recently I was thinking of coming up with a bilateral blog style on varying topics that might add to the flavor of my ‘one post every weekday’ site. That was when it came to be that I was chatting it up with her and thought about having some form of post/counterpost blog, akin to a debate, or a detente between the two of us as we are starting to write on a variety of likeminded issues. When people write on the same things they end up doing one of two things: cloning each other’s blogs (think of how identical the news is on tv) or they enter into something resembling Crossfire. This is our attempt at not becoming like a bland tv station. Wish us luck and don’t be too harsh.

We all hear about how a good friend is more valuable then a lottery ticket. People tell us that they have ‘best friends’, ‘good friends’ and some even talk of ‘mere acquaintances’. Yet more and more since the advent of social networking I have noticed a lack of what many of us took for granted: a coherent meaning of the word ‘friend’. Facebook, Myspace, Messenger, AIM, and even our cell phones have been in the act of labeling people what they really are not: friends. We get these sites and are forced to use a title on them that few, if any, have earned. We call so-and-so a friend from work (really a coworker), a exercise buddy becomes the ‘friend from the gym’ and many other people slowly creep into the realm (friendship) once reserved for the special few in our lives. The lowering of the standard of friendship without nary a thought to what the word even means has left a bad taste in my mouth that only grows nastier as I get older.

So who is a friend? What does a friend do that grants them friendship? According to www.thefreedictionary.com we get a very broad spectrum of answers:

friend (frnd)

n.

1. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.

2. A person whom one knows; an acquaintance.

3. A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.

4. One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement: friends of the clean air movement.

5. Friend A member of the Society of Friends; a Quaker.

Of these five simple definitions, we can clearly see that the last three are very poor definitions of a friend and really are inappropriate measures of what a friend is. For instance in number three we have : “A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade.” This is clearly not a friend but rather an ally. In number four we have the definition best left for an ‘associate’ or ‘person with a mutual interest’. I will not even discuss what the second definition is, as the whole concept of acquaintance is that you know them well enough to say you know them but that they are NOT a friend. The last definition is the reason why social networking and religions, and non profit groups destroy the use of the term friend. They call you a friend in the hopes that you feel lonely and want to call someone, or something (anything really) a friend in exchange for some type of service or fiduciary reimbursement. They are not your friends unless you pay them or serve them blindly and obey them. The best definition for number five would be “member”, “servant” or even “rent-a-life”.

With that said we can see that the definition of a friend can be rewritten as the following (from here on out to be known as common use ‘friend’): is someone you know and like and trust and that someone thinks equally of you. I had to add the last part, as no one can really consider someone a friend unless that person accepts the title and feels the same way about it (otherwise one is deluded into thinking that they have friends while those people really just think of them as less then a friend) Thus anyone who fits these three criteria would be included in the friend category. If you think about your phone contacts list, your coworkers and your social networking lists you will start to see that very few people on those lists (depending on the levels of trust, likeability and level of knowledge about each other).

So after gleaming through those lists I am hoping that you start to wonder about that title “friend”. Sure you may think of them as friends and they fit your inclusion of what it means to be a friend. They might even call you a friend as well and say they agree totally with your assessment. The problem is that you won’t really know if they are your friend until your ‘friendship’ is tested. This might come about as you two slowly reveal secrets to one another. It might come about after you find out that one of you is in favor of something you totally abhor or find revolting (lifestyle choices, abortion, political party). It might even come about after the faith and trust you or the other party had invested into the friendship becomes destroyed via a deliberate action or conversation. If your friendship survives those tests and you two see the worst of each other and can still claim honestly that you two are friends, then congratulations. If you are like 99.9% of humanity and hold grudges and resentment and start hiding things or avoiding this person yet still claim ‘friendship’ then you my friend are mistaken in your beliefs.

All of this brings me to my point: Why even bother with claiming people into the status of a friend? Are ‘friends’ even worth all that effort?  I think not and I’ll tell you why not. You can be a stronger and more resilient person by not stressing over the status of a friend or your apparent ‘time investment’ into that friendship. You can like whomever you want and if they are not considered a ‘friend’ then it would matter not if they felt the same way! You can trust people and still not call them friends (ie. a lawyer who is contractually bound keeps better secrets and any best friend I’ve ever known or heard about because they’re ass and life is at risk!) Finally if you need someone to think highly of you or to trust you or like you then you will forever remain the slave of their opinion and adulations. Why bother being so needy if that neediness (for ‘friends’) leaves you weak, vulnerable, and at a disadvantage? Wouldn’t your efforts be better spent not making friends and instead reflected back into self improvement or your own pursuit of happiness? Imagine all those conversations and emotional baggage that you had with all the people you considered a friend in the past (but not today). Think of all the fights, jealousy, bitterness and shallow actions committed by you and those people until the ‘friendship’ ended. Now tell me how is the learning experience from those horrible moments worth the moments themselves? Imagine all that energy and time investment used to create a friendship were redirected towards improving yourself. How many hours of pointless chit chat that transformed itself into another language or skill (like playing the piano). How many fights could have been dropped in exchange for the time to take a college class or go to the gym?

No. In my mind the idea of a friend and friendship itself are not worth the effort. In the world around me there are suitable substitutes for what one considers the valuable aspect of friendships. Instead of talking endlessly and undirected for hours on the phone, you could go to a therapist who has the training to help you with your problems (unlike the usually bad advice from your ‘friend’). Instead of waiting for your friends in order to do something you could just go out and meet new people and have adventures of your own, unencumbered by the social expectations that these people have placed on you or that you feel you need to follow. There are many other things that can be done when one limits the use of the word friend and for those who limit their need to have friends will certainly see an unlimited amount of opportunity. A friend will frequently limit your choices in who also gets the title : ‘friend’. They will not be a friend of yours or allow the use of the title (as punishment) until that apparent error is corrected. Thus by eliminating friends completely you can avail yourself of the company of whomever you wish without stress, punishment or risk of loss (of another friend).

Toss your friends, take back control over your life and your destiny.

You can read Dree’s counterpoint blog post here.

Written by Josecito

March 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

R.O.W.E.

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I was reading recently about a new phenomena that I think has arrived just at the right time to save America and American employment. It would involve a large transition to a new method of thinking and working but wouldn’t take too much effort to implement. Granted there are a few places that wouldn’t be able to institute this type of work practice, but I am referring to the majority of offices and jobs that can, should do it. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty:

ROWE – What does it mean?

Results Oriented Work Environment.

Who created it?

The idea was the brain child of Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler.

Can you just summarize what it means? Can you give me the jist of it so I can get on with my life?

In plain terms, ROWE means that you are paid based on your performance,  your outputs at work rather then the number of hours worked. You are basically given carte blanche to do what you please provided that your job gets done.

Wow that sounds like a load of wishful thinking, can you name some of the good and bad thingys??

Well obviously the idea that you’d set your own work hours, schedules and calendar should be very appealing and create an environment where employees do not want to leave but are happier and more productive because they are using their energy towards getting their job done at their most productive moments. Granted in some industries and job sectors (like a secretary or boss), the measurement of performance can be tough to prove. If you are a manager used to bothering people constantly you might find the hands off approach destroys your ability to micromanage your employees. Some people who are in sectors that require time dependant staffing (call centers) might not be able to implement 100% ROWE but could benefit by doing a 1 day a week rotation of ROWE to allow them time to get whatever they want done, provided you (as manager) do not interrupt that time.

What ROWE is not..

It is not some kind of work sharing, flextime, telecommuting crap. It is a basic, no barrier method of work-worker relationship and should not be modified into a haphazard mix of other ideas/plans.  It is not a method of forcing work, nor is it a way to better manage work. It is in effect the nullification of management and control for companies who want to create a higher level of self control and interest among its’ workforce.

Why is ROWE going to save American industry and work?

America is a nation stuck in a hierarchy for management. Ordered systems do not function well in industries of the future. Most new jobs that will be created here are those of the creative types. Be it in the sciences, research, engineering, art, literacy… all will involve the higher order process of creation rather then production. These will not be the jobs of the factory workers, these will be the jobs that create the factories and the machines to do the work. As America, and then later the rest of the world continues to industrialize, we will get better at creating the things to save us from doing more and more trivial things (like shoemaking) and we will look for other problems to solve (like medicines, robotics, logistics, increases in automation). To solve complex problems, we need time to think independently and reach in depth conclusions. That type of job can only be accomplished by giving someone the maximum amount of freedom to work when they work best. Since we don’t know when a person is in their creative stage, we can not plan their hours for it. The only way to get them to work in their best states is to allow them the liberty to self regulate and determine their periods of maximum output. Since output might vary from hour to hour or day to day, we can’t set their workday or even work moments, it is all them.

I encourage you to read up on ROWE, and if you think that a part of it is able to be started in your workplace, to try it out temporarily.

The people who came up with ROWE have their own website below, visit it and read more about it.

http://gorowe.com/

The link below is a 20 minute audio broadcast about ROWE and if you want more info and a great summary, listen to it:

http://www.redlasso.com/ClipPlayer.aspx?id=67aea89f-2bca-4afd-9239-788af9ad1059

Written by Josecito

March 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Emptiness and Soul

with 2 comments

rainfall_waterdrops_in_rainforest_scenery_wallpaper For some reason today I am happy to have my dog bothering me more then her usual amount. It has always been my belief that animals tend to notice when we are upset, depressed or lonely. Bella always seems to notice when it is time to cheer me up or distract me (and also times when she shouldn’t distract me but does it anyway!) It must be the massive amounts of rainfall that I see outside my window. Pounding down moment after moment into a sea of tranquility that drowns out all but its’ own being. Heavy rainfalls have always been one of my favorite events and today is no different despite the void that is inside of me that craves filling. Oftentimes when the weather is the wettest I feel an urgent desire to run out to a local park and take a long walk. You’d be amazed at what you can’t hear when you’re surrounded by nature in an ocean falling to the earth. The raindrops leave a slight chill to your skin that causes goose bumps; the body increases its heat to compensate, fogging the glasses and leaving me seeing the world through my eyes as God intended: naked and flawed. It is at that moment, when no one is around, when the sound of the earth and its’ living creatures is silenced that I truly feel alone and empty.

Runningintherain1 The moment happens in a split second. Your skin, cold to the touch sends shivers up your spine. Looking left, then right, you see no one. Your body, aware that the social web has been disconnected, begins to send out the alarms for adrenaline. You spin around suspecting that someone or something is about to pounce and destroy you (like some Rockwell song). The eyes open wide, pupils dilate; the lungs fill with air and yet nothing’s quite there. In that second you realize you are in that moment that so many people call the sweet spot. What has eluded people time after time has found you when you chose not to seek it: it is the state of being in the moment. All your senses are awakened, even the ones you pretended didn’t exist after you grew up. The sound of the rain is everywhere. The leaves, the floor and the very dirt echo the sounds of uncountable droplets hitting everything. The air becomes clean and you smell things as they were before we existed. Your electrified and your heart beats seemingly louder inside your head as if it were ready to burst. The world becomes magnificent, powerful, strange and frightful as you peer into the wilderness around you. The road could have been left generations ago, the place you were no longer is. You have come home.

running-in-the-rain Alone with my thoughts in this primordial forest I realize just how far we have moved from our true natures and reason for being. We are hunters, animals really and when nothing artificial is around us we will revert back to our ancient normal selves. There wasn’t a care in the world at that moment. No concept of time, place, age or social norm. My career and education didn’t matter, nor were even a speck of a thought. I gazed and marveled in astonishment at my surroundings and what to do next. My mind and body, not caring about modern history and my lack of physical exercise said: GO. So I went. Running through the woods, soaked and sloshing. The garments clung to me like a plastic bag over a child’s head. In the moment one doesn’t care for conventional wisdom, only that our souls tell us is right and good. I was encumbered by unimportant things. I was bulky. I was slow. My body did the only thing that made sense. It shed my second skin, it lightened the heavy and bulky load.

I continued to go, lighter and faster then before, the skin alive and the mind at one with its’ world.

The moment was I. I was the moment. The two are inseparable as no other can share in another’s experience.

For one brief instance, I was homosapien. Alone I stood amongst the trees, and lived as I should live.

Written by Josecito

March 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized