Are You Sure You’ve Never Been Abducted by Aliens?

“Have you ever been abducted by Aliens?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Are you sure?”

A three or four year old boy plays in the back yard near the wood-line of his back yard. The house he lives in has no indoor plumbing. There is a kitchen sink, but the drain is plumbed through the wall, and into the ground, entering into a small trench about forty feet from the house which drains into the woods.

He plays here sometimes because it is easy for his mother to find him when he becomes too quiet. His other favorite spot is playing in a bowl like part of the yard on another side of the house to his left. He is playing with a big yellow toy dump truck, building roads or whatever it is little boys do when they play with toy trucks in the grass.

He hears a noise and looks up. It does not sound like a plane from the airport, this is a quiet sound, and he may not have noticed if they had a road or neighbors nearby. He looks up, and there in the air just above the trees over the ditch, is a silver disk floating in the air. It looks too small to hold even one  grown up, he wonders who in it.

Instantly he knows there are two of them inside, and they are is there to get dirt from the drainage ditch. It’s okay, he knows now. They are going to get some dirt. There is nothing special about it. The boy wonders why they want that dirt? All it is soggy yucky muck made with water from the kitchen sink drain. He does not even like playing in that stuff himself.

As he watches, he sees a silver bucket tied to a white rope descend from the back of the silver disk. In his mind, he thinks they rolled down the back window, and lowered the bucket out through it. He can’t see, but that is what he thinks. The bucket drops into the drainage disk, somehow scoops up some mud, and is pulled back into the disk.

Then the disk flies off. The little boy, who has never seen anything like this before, is so okay with the event, he never told his parents what he has seen. In fact he did not give it a another thought after it was over. He went back to the earth moving job he had to get done with his toy truck.

A twenty year old living in the mountains of California takes his six year old cousin camping one summer day. He knows which camp-site they will go too. There isn’t anything to do there though.  It is not a camp-ground, only a place where someone can spend the night. He also does not wonder why they would go there when there were better places to camp. They arrive at the camp-site in the afternoon, cook and eat dinner. They will sleep in the back of the Travel-all, cook breakfast in the morning, and head home.

He wakes up in the morning choking, out of breath. There is a small purple person standing on his chest. The two foot tall person is the color of beet skin. He is wearing a thick yellow suit which is so tight, it looks like it is part of his body. On the chest area of the suit is a large red Z. He wakes choking, and thinks the little purple person is trying to choke him, because he sees him standing on his chest and feels his hands at his neck.

In an instant, it is over, and he is awake. The only people present are himself and the cousin who is still asleep. He remembers eating dinner only because he forgot knives for the meal and they had to eat the meat with their fingers. Oddly that is the only memory of the night before.

This morning it felt so real as he was choking, he could almost feel purple hands on his throat as he lay there. He can not explain why he thought he was choking, that has never happened before.

He wakes the young boy. The young boy wakes wanting to get back home as soon as possible. He does not want to eat breakfast, but wants to go straight home. They pack up their few items, and head back home. Other than arriving, eating, and leaving in the morning, nothing of note about the trip is mentioned.

It becomes a forgotten memory like the disk with the bucket. Years later he remembers both instances, a few weeks after those two innocent questions were asked of him. Now he wonders if the purple person in the yellow suit was reviving him, and not choking him. He also wonders why the boy wanted to go straight home in the morning as soon as he woke, it was not his normal behavior.

Some years later he was at RAF Woodbridge, next to Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England when the UFO incident occurred. He went home after work that night, not mentioning anything about the incident to anyone. Just another night at work.

“Have you ever been abducted by Aliens?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Are you sure?”

Headlight Cleaning in Ten Easy Minutes

My vehicle headlights were so fogged over I may as well have had candles instead of headlights. They were so bad the only time I really noticed the colors of other vehicles at night was if another light source was shining in the other vehicle or it was a stop light.

It was so bad, it was getting to the time when I thought I shouldn’t be driving at night as the headlights were so bad. Not wanting to spend anywhere from $20.00 up to have them cleaned, after seeing how bad some of the cleaning jobs were, I decided I would clean my headlights myself.

I decided the headlights were suffering some form of oxidation. Oxidation with iron is rust, but other materials oxidise also. I knew it was severe oxidation as the vehicle is a 1998 model, and the headlights had never been cleaned.

Rummaging under the sink and laundry room, I came up with some possible solutions. Using a green scrubbing pad I tried the following which all failed: Ammonia and water, bleach and water, some glass cleaners, and other cleaning products. Don’t waste your time trying any of these, they do not work, and I am sure the finish on your vehicle would prefer they were not used.

When all else fails Google is your friend. I found the top three do it yourself recommendations were: Sand paper, tooth paste, and automotive mag aluminium cleaner. I looked at the sandpaper I had and it was all for wood, so that was a no go. I had some old tooth paste that had no additives such as whitener – whitener I read sometimes made it worse.

I tried the tooth paste and a green scrubbing pad for about ten minutes on one headlight. There was some improvement but nothing to write home about. The headlight now looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in at least ten years. Not the results I wanted.

I had an old, old jar of mag and aluminium cleaning paste I bought for another purpose several years ago. I dug it out, and it had a brown layer on top. Underneath though was the white cream I remembered. I cut off part of an old tee-shirt and started rubbing lightly as the directions said.

In less than five minutes I had an almost brand new looking headlight! It was a little cloudy, maybe from age, maybe from the toothpaste, but it looked almost brand new. I moved over to the other headlight, and five minutes later, same result!

I would expect you can have the same bright and shiny headlights if you are willing to spend a few minutes on each headlight. My results however may be different from yours, so remember you could end up ruining your headlight cover, and end up buying a brand new one. In my case the headlights were bad enough, it was a risk I was willing to take. Think about it before trying to clean those headlights yourself.

This was three weeks ago, and both headlights still look clean and shiny. Ten minutes work, and at least a twenty dollar savings. I am pretty happy with that!

Please Save Me From Small Minded Thinking

People with ongoing limited thinking are really painful for me to listen too. I find it hard to imagine there is still so much backwards thinking going on. This one really pushed some buttons for me. In a conversation I was part of, there was discussion about obituaries’ in small town newspaper.

The talk turned then turned to marriages in the paper. Here we go…. A comment was made about now that gay people are allowed to be legally married, a large number of Texas license plates are being seen in two small border towns towns since legislation was recently passed in the state allowing gay marriages.

One person stated they are surprised by the number of him/him and her/her marriages that are showing up in the paper.

This was followed by a comment with agreement on how wrong it is for those people to be allowed to be legally married. Of course I had to ask why it is wrong to allow two people that love each other and want to be a married couple to be legally married?

Why of course, I was told, the bible says it is wrong was the reply. It’s right there in Leviticus. This was followed by agreement of most present with a fairly close quote of the actual verse.

Wow, one line in the whole of the bible that doesn’t need apply any more as it is a part of the old testament and the old covenant? Not to mention of asked to quote to or three other verses from other parts of the bible, they would struggle. But they know this one well.

Well, I was told, two county clerks quit their jobs over this. It conflicts with their religion, was said in a tone that it was a horrible thing they had to quit their jobs because of gay people wanting to be legally married. Following was a quiet murmuring of agreement. After all it conflicted with their religion(?).

The book of Leviticus has over two-hundred laws in it, some of which we all break weekly without even thinking about it. We violate or break several of the laws in Leviticus every day, by eating pork, catfish, lobster, shrimp, clams, and oysters. Drinking strong alcohol by young people also is a no no. Not sacrificing the proper animals in response to named events are deal breakers in Leviticus.

Besides the fact that these laws were created and followed by a wandering desert people whose lives have little in common with todays’ world, some of these laws are founded on fact. Eating infected under cooked pork, and eating seafood without scales can kill you. Alcohol destroys more than brain cells so it is not good for younger people. On the other hand no one sacrifices animals any more, along with many other of the two-hundred plus laws we choose not to follow in Leviticus.

These prohibitions are what comes to mind immediately. Obviously, for some people, these laws are ignored, except for the one line law about men/men and woman/woman relationships. Unless the law fits their lifestyle, that is different.

These laws seem to be in fact, not important when in held in comparison to wanting to publicly acknowledge ones status as a married person. Everything written in Leviticus apparently else pales in comparison to gay marriage.

Why do we continue to be asleep. Are we happy being short sighted creatures?  Why do we not judge ourselves as quickly as we judge others? In these situations selective ignorance applies. These people have brain viruses and are a danger to a healthy, rational society.

Less than 100 years ago, women and children had no real rights, and were mostly confined to kitchen and bedrooms. Children were little more than animals, and held less rights than their mothers did. A woman’s opinion mattered little. A child better not be heard having an opinion.

Inter-racial marriage was banned. Being in an inter-racial marriage may have gotten you killed. Alcohol was illegal for a time. Cocaine, opium, and heroin were not illegal, and sold over the counter. Smoking was thought to be healthy. Drinking or otherwise ingesting radioactive substances was seen as a healthy life choice.

Theatres had balconies, and only white people were allowed downstairs. Cafes were white only in the main parts of any city. Water Fountains and Bathrooms were segregated by color. The government knew what was best. People of color rode in the back of the bus.

One of the small towns being discussed where the county clerks quit, less than fifty years ago proudly displayed a sign at each end of its city limits, “If you are Black, don’t let the sun set on you in this town”.

The above paragraphs are but a few examples of where we were one-hundred years ago. Today no-one would question the insanity of what was the law of the land. It was wrong then and it is wrong now.

The thing is, the minds of these people and those that think like them will never be changed, short of some life altering experience. All that can be done is wait for them to die off and hope the next generation will be less archaic in their thinking. In the meantime, let me help you with that log in your eye.

Your Friends Tell the World about You

Professor Jennifer Golbeck has a Talk on TED.com you should listen to if you are a user of social media or not. The subject of Professor Goldbrick’s talk is the act of a ‘like’ for a picture of curly fries. How that innocent like categorizes you into a special group. Generally liking curly fries, and other innocent ‘likes’ tells those who are interested, a lot more about you than your taste in food.

Social media is social, no surprise there. You generally are careful about what you say or write about in your own life, or what you comment on in other peoples live’s. It all appears harmless enough on the surface, but the amount of seriously personal information you are giving away is scary, both its width and breadth.

Pre-computer age, if a company wanted to learn if you were a good fit for the company, they would ask you if you would mind a taking a test, or four in my case. The company was upfront about it. These were personality tests designed to unravel who I was, what I thought, and where I drew my boundaries.

If you were asked to take tests such as these as a condition of employment what would you do? In my case I said, sure I would take the tests. How bad could it be? After all, if there were questions about subject I chose not to share, I would answer differently than I really thought.

After the eight or ninth question it hit me. If I am choosing to not answer honestly about a question, and answer differently, how does that reflect on me? Is everyone like me, and are they answering in the exact different way? Or am I answering the way a pathological criminal would answer?

This series of tests was quite a little mind game for me. After the fourth test, the company for whatever reason gave up on me. Somewhere in my answers, it became apparent that I was not the right person for the job. It may have differences to my answers of the same type of questions, or it may have been my answers led them to believe something else about me. It may have been there was no company hiring, and I was being lied too. I never heard from the company after the fourth test.

So what has that srtory to do with social media? A lot more than you think. You are I am sure very careful about what you say, and pictures you post in social media sites. Seems like a safe approach in itself. After all what information are you really giving away?

You are giving a lot more persoanl and private information away than you think when using social media. Starting with your on-line friends. Do you really know all your friends in person, or do you only know the persona they pretend to be? Do you know their friends, or just the friends they mention?

What are your friends generally posting about? If you are in college, and you never mention drinking, drugs, cheating, when writing about college, it does not matter. If your friends are doing something, odds are you are too. That’s the way life works.

From Tribal or villiage life of old to facebook of present, we haven’t changed. We are who we hang around with. There is an old saying I was told as a Teen that applies more now than ever. “You are your friends.” It may be a good idea to commit that line to memory. What your friends are so are you.

What this means, is if you socialize, or are linked up with certain groups of people who like or enjoy certain things, chances are you do those things too, even though you may not mention them yourself. What your friends, online or off talk about, is what you are probably doing too.

After all what is the point of having friends if you do not share interests? If your friends are talking about spending the fourth of July in a drunken stupor at some beach, it does not matter if you post about it or not. If you have no comments during the time they will be partying, it is pretty likely you were right there with them.

If some of your friends mention being in favor of one or more frowned upon behaviors, and you do not mention it anywhere in your posts or messages, guess what? You are connected to those behaviors by association, because of your friends. Even if your friends have little in common in your real life, inferences are being made about your life, every bit of it.

Social media is fun, Social media helps you feel connected, Social media is also stealing your life and selling it for profit. Social media is forming your world. Think about the amount of freely given information available to someone if you are a long time user of social media. Chances are good that you have already been categorized, binned, and classified in a hundred different ways, waiting for the buyer of your personal information.

Secret to Your Success

What is the reality of your life? Are you suffering from polar reality disorder? Are the things you want from you life working in harmony or conflict? Your success at life as you define it depends on knowing and acting upon your answer.

In the physical world, the world of animals, animal reality is simple. Animals live in earth based reality. Animals eat, sleep, feed, and occasionally play. Animals do not need language as we understand it.

Animals do not need a certain look, live in a certain place because its popular, or hold certain aspects of their lives as more important. Animals live in a simple reality. Be born, eat, sleep, procreate, hopefully grow old, and die.

For we humans, this is not enough. Early in our life, identify what we perceive to be our points of weakness. We spend our days trying to compensate for that weakness. We collect and attempt to control our perceived weak point and make them into strengths.

Just as a rich man and pious man cannot live in harmony, the secret to your success is to determine what is important in your life, and resolve conflicts of polar realities by removing conflicting wants and needs. Spend each and every day making your aligned realities more believable and stronger. It also helps to have other people envy your chosen reality, and want to be just like you.

Realities of money and Christian religion are polar opposites when it comes to creating and living a successful life. The reality of money means putting collecting money above all else. The reality of Christian religion means putting others above self, and money has little value.

Trying to meld polar realities is a study in extreme frustration.The best one can hope for from these two polar realities is to become Pope. The worst outcome, is becoming a transient street preacher living in or wandering from slum to slum. The mediocre outcome is becoming priest or minister of a struggling church in a town or city where no one really wants to live.

Diamonds are not rare, except we choose to pretend they are. Tons of diamonds are mined each year. If more diamonds were needed year to year, they may be manufactured. Diamonds are everywhere. However, we choose to make diamonds valuable in the reality of wealth. Money has no real value except the value we choose to give money. We don’t need money to live. We want money to live better in the reality of money.

Choosing realities which affirm each other rather than polarize, will create a successful life, happening almost as if by magic. Choose polarizing realities and the very best that can hoped for is mediocrity or less.

The summation of realities you choose for your life determine your life path, and the level of success you will enjoy. How well you harmoniously merge and focus on your chosen realities, determines your personal, or life success. The more affirming realities you hold, the more successful you will be.

This simple idea of eliminating polar realties from your life is the secret to your success. Simple on paper, or in the abstract, actually doing this is a monumental task in the day to day aspects of your life. What are you really willing to sacrifice to make your reality come true: family, friends, children, money, or leisure time? In most common realities people choose, in order to stand out, many parts of ones life is either ignored or not important.

Too be successful in the eyes of others choose a reality where the collection of something is important and is the benchmark of a reality. Being the owner of the worlds largest collection of dust bunnies does not garner the admiration of most people. Choose your reality to fit a definable end state of your choosing and which other people will value.

Now you know how to be successful. Examine the realities you are living your life by. Decide which realities are the most important and do not conflict. Spend each and every moment of your day only to further your realities. From time to time bechmark your progress. Start over.

Skin Color and Sports, Looking Back, Living Forward

I watched the movie, 42 today. I remember being a kid and watching Jackie Robinson playing ball. I was too young to know the story behind Jackie Robinson playing ball. All I knew was he was a quiet serious player, and he was darned good.

Jackie Robinson took care of business on the filed. I never heard, or understood the word professional at that age. I never heard the word racism either. All I knew by the time I was old enough to watch baseball was Jackie Robinson was one heck of a palyer, and he seldom spoke.

Growing up in rural Minnesota, I did not know much about baseball and race. In 1962 I knew we had a hot hitter on the Twins roster, named Tony Oliva. Tony Oliva struck fear when he moved to the major league on the Twins roster. Tony Oliva was one of the best batters in the league coming into the league.

Until the end of his first season he was a hot batter. By the end of his first season, Tony Oliva could not get within four feet of home plate. Pitchers would throw the ball at him. I thought as an ignorant to how the world works kid, there was a battle between Tony Oliva, and the Pitchers over who own the plate and the batters box.

When the Civil Rights movement started to make national news, I never made the connection between Civil Rights, Jackie Robinson, and Tony Oliva. I always believed Jackie Robinson was the consummate professional, and Tony Oliva was pressured away from the plate because he was too powerful a batter.

Today, after the movie 42, it becomes clear what the real issues were. Jackie Robinson was a professional, because he had to be. Tony Oliva shied away from the plate not because the pitchers of the day did not want him to hit off of them. They both were the way they were because of the people who did not believe they belonged on a professional baseball field with white players.

Sometimes we forget we are a little planet, with no place to move to. Every generation repeats some of the wrongs previous generations lived under. I know the day is coming when skin color and sexual preference will no longer be an important. I hope we do not lose ground as we walk down the road to get there.

It is up to you now. It is your responsibility to ensure that the path to equality is not lost. The cost has been to high for you and your generation to forget how it used to be, and not strive to make it better. Make yourself proud. When you see a wrong, do what you can to right it. Don’t settle for good enough. Remember too, hate and ignorance do not have boundaries.

To Mooc or not to Mooc, That is the Question

Not a lot of content here, but rather a note about worthwhile free education for you. I have been hearing a lot about an acronym ‘Mooc’ lately and wanted to share Mooc with you, as Mooc is something you can use.

Mooc stands for: Massive Open Online Course. Many classes in the Mooc system are free to take. Thousands of people take the same class at the same time. Some of them pass their course, and receive credit for their time work.I

looked at some of the Mooc offerings, and I have to admit, there were some classes involving math where I was lost at the course name, let alone understanding the course content. There are many other classes offered covering the basics of almost any subject you want or need to learn.

What’s the catch? As I understand the process, when you complete a course, you receive a certificate of completion or some type. You can if you are motivated enough, complete a four year college degree plan for free using the Mooc system. The catch is you will not have a piece of paper from a formal university showing what you accomplished.

This is probably the greatest educational opportunity to happen in a long time. If you have a job and want a career instead, this is a path for you to follow if finances get in the way of a more formal education. It is hard to beat free. All you need to provide is your brain power and time.

In the workforce, once you are established, employers are more motivated by what you can contribute, than they are about a piece of paper you can produce. If you learn enough to contribute to your employers profit margin at a higher level, generally your pay check reflects your contributions. If not you will have knowledge and experience to offer your next employer.

The downside of Mooc is if successful, and they remain free, our world view will shift even further to the undereducated have-nots verses the educated haves. The balance, is free learning is hard to pass up and the upside of learning is awesome.

If you are thinking about getting on the Mooc bandwagon, but are on the fence, I think giving Mooc a try is a good choice. Get a few classes under your belt, and you may find yourself earning enough to take traditional classes. From their the sky is the limit.

Here is a series of TED videos about MOOC if you wish to learn more.

When Life Sucks, When We Hurt

Sometimes life has a way of taking us by surprise. When something good goes bad for no reason, the bottom drops out of our world. No need to go through the list of emotions that course there way through us. We all have, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Yet, when it happens, is always takes us by surprise, we think we are the only person in the world who hurts. The only person in the world to feel this way. Generally we feel like the only person in the world.

Everyone else is going about their life, feeling good, and having fun. We on the other hand are sinking into a despair which if we stopped to think about, we would wonder if we will ever find our way back.

I came across this word a couple of times in the last week, and wanted to share it with you. I believe this word and its definition will help put things in perspective the next time we are caught by surprise and think we are the only person in the world who feels this bad.

From: The Dictionary of obscure sorrows comes the word Sonder.

sonder

n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

It is important to try and remember when our world is falling apart, we are not the first to go through this. In fact if we could step away from ourselves, we could see the word ‘sonder’ in action.

Hundreds, if not thousands, or even millions of people feel same way we feel in the moment our world falls apart. Most people put on a brave face, or wear their face in a mask to hide what is really going on inside, so others do not see our pain and frustration.

Sonder. No matter how hurt, frustrated, helpless, and impotent we feel in the moment, we are not the first to feel this. We won’t be the last person to ever feel this. Take a moment and look deeply at those who are walking by, and think, Sonder. Remind yourself, sonder and time heals all.

Note Taking for Linux With Encryption

If you use a Mac or Windows, you may have read my posts about what I feel are the best note taking applications for Windows and Mac. As I now use Linux, and have used Linux for many years on and off, I want to share with you what I feel is the best Linux based note taking and storing program.

My favorite Windows and Mac note taking applications do not run on Linux natively. The best known Linux note taking program I know of is Tomboy. Tomboy, is a cross platform application. Tomboy does have some limitations which keep it out of my favorites as my needs are different. Tomboy is included by default in many Linux distributions and worth checking out if your needs are simple for note taking and storage.

What for me is a better alternative to Tomboy for Linux is a program named Cherrytree.  Cherrytree per the home page is:

“A hierarchical note taking application, featuring rich text and syntax highlighting, storing data in a single xml or sqlite file.”

I enjoy using a a notes program with a tree like structure. If you ever used any version of Treepad for Windows, you will be right at home. Cherrytree’s tree like node structure lends itself to easily visually find any note. Cherrytree also contains a handy search function. The tree node structure allows for notes to be placed under notes. This means no folder to open and peruse, notes are visible unless you have condensed the node.

cherrytreeI enjoy the Cherrytree search function. When using the search function, Cherrytree lets me know every instance of the keyword, or phrase I search for. Cherrytree has options for keyword setting on each node of the tree. My notes are not that complex, but the option is there if you need it.

What makes Cherrytree special, is Cherrytree has an encryption option for storing note files. On top of an easy to use, and easily to modify tree structure, notes can be encrypted when the file is saved.

What I do is I have two files. The first Cherrytree file contains my ’43 folders’ type information (calender and to do system), and general notes. I leave this file unencrypted. I have a second file containing passwords and other personal private information which is encrypted. Swapping between the two files with Cherrytree is a breeze. When Cherrytree is in use you may open another file as easily as you can with a text editor.

For the password protection scheme, Cherrytree uses 7-zip. 7-zip uses Strong AES-256 encryption in 7z and ZIP formats. Strong enough encryption for me. If my computer turns up missing, as in stolen, I have plenty of time to make all the alerts I will need to make.

Another important Cherrytree option is the ability to make each node on the tree ‘read only’ with the press of a key. There is nothing to match the frustration of overwriting a password or phrase because I did a Shift + V (paste), instead of Shift + C (copy) and later saving the file and not noticing what I did.

One final and perhaps moot point is Cherrytree is aware of file modification. Some programs are written with the user in charge, no questions. A file may be saved in a changed state, no questions asked. Cherrytree however asks if I want to save the modified file. This simple question has saved my passwords from being overwritten by mistake because I am thinking of other things while closing programs.

Cherrytree is in the repository of many Linux distributions. If Cherrytree is not in the repository of your favorite Linux distribution, you can download Cherrytree (as I have) in the format you need from the authors web site. Install instructions are easily followed, and simple to do.

The odds of anyone trying to break an encrypted file saved on a stolen computer are so low it is not worth worrying about. Thieves are only interested in a quick buck, not personal secrets. Truth is, if a thief is smart enough to break password encrypted files, they are not physically stealing for a living.

If you use Linux, and want an easy to use program to store sensitive notes, Cherrytree is the best program I have found. Having read only ability by a key toggle, and strong encryption make Cherrytree stand out from the crowd.

For all this, Cherrytree is donation-ware. Try out Cherrytree, and if you like it, let the author know by making a donation to the program via Cherrytree home page. Donating helps keep Cherrytree and its author reamin alive and healthy.