Rich Hill

This documentary made Winter’s Bone look like a romantic comedy. The film’s website calls it “An examination of challenges, hopes and dreams of the young residents of a rural American town.” That doesn’t begin to capture the bleak hopelessness and despair I came away with. Be very surprised if the Missouri Department of Tourism includes this documentary in its promotional material.

Let me pause a moment to encourage you to see this film. It’s such a powerful story. Three stories, actually. As I watched I kept thinking, you can’t write dialogue like this. And if you could, no actor could could express this depth of (fill in emotion).

I was born in a small town in Missouri and have spent most of my life here. I’ve been to the places shown in this film. But I don’t think I have ever really seen the people. This film grabs your head and forces you to take a good, long look. Unflinching might be the word I’m looking for.

How green was my valley, how long were my pants

I don’t worry too much about my levi’s being the right length but I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority on this fashion point. I rarely (almost never!) see pants that are too short (“high waters” Barb calls ‘em) but frequently see pants all chewed up and frayed from dragging the ground. Women seem very prone to this, even nice slacks… all worn and dirty from dragging the sidewalk.


Serious motorcycle dudes give careful attention to this fashion aspect and many — I suspect — have their Levi’s tailored to ride one-quarter inch above the ground.


Baseball players peg the goofy-meter. You couldn’t pay me to watch a baseball game so I don’t lose any sleep over this but would imagine players sometimes fall down because their pants are 18 inches too long. That would be fun to watch.

So can someone explain this fashion mystery?

Must be worn with pants

Twenty-five years ago I bought a chain saw to clear scrub cedar trees from our property. I used every year or two and finally replaced it a couple of days ago. I should mention I never got any training on how to properly use a chain saw, I just read the manual and jumped in.

Reading through the manual, I kept seeing the phrase “serious or fatal injury.” What, I wondered, is the least serious injury I could sustain using a chain saw. All I could imagine was “bad!”

Now that I’m older I only use the beast when Barb is watching. And I wear a belt that can be quickly converted to a tourniquet.

Some of you might be wondering, as I have, why not just pay someone to do this. Fact is, I kind of enjoy using the chainsaw and suspect I’m being overly cautious. I turned to YouTube for some answers and found the video below.

I’m pretty sure I’ll look really good in bright orange chaps. Photos to follow.

The biggest obstacle to happiness

“Marriage is probably a great solution for 20% of the public. The rest of us need better systems. […] I don’t think traditional marriage is going away anytime soon. But it probably isn’t a coincidence that there are more single and divorced people than ever. Traditional marriage is the biggest obstacle to happiness in the United States. I give it twenty years before society acknowledges it to be a bad fit for modern times.”

Scott Adams on traditional marriage »

Waking Up

waking-upJust finished Waking Up – A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris. Amazon reviews here; more about Mr. Harris here. Ideas I found highlighter-worthy below.

Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others. Every experience you have ever had has been shaped by your mind.

It is your mind, rather than circumstances themselves, that determine the quality of your life.

Everything we want to accomplish is something that promises, if done, it would allow us to finally relax and enjoy our lives in the present. [...] Each of us is looking for a path back to the present: We are trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now.

Twenty percent of Americans describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.”

Is it possible to be happy before anything happens, before one’s desires are gratified, in spite of life’s difficulties, in the very midst of physical pain, old age, disease, and death?

One one level, wisdom is nothing more profound than an ability to follow one’s own advice.

A true spiritual practitioner is someone who has discovered that it is possible to be at east in the world for no reason, if only for a few moments at a time.

It is impossible for any faith, no matter how elastic, to fully honor the truth claims of another.

We manage to avoid being happy while struggling to become happy.

(Mindfulness is ) a state of clear, nonjudgmental, and undistracted attention to the contents of consciousness. [...] Being mindful is not a matter of thinking more clearly about experience; it is the act of experiencing more clearly, including the arising of thoughts themselves.

The problem is not thoughts themselves but the state of thinking without knowing we are thinking.

Most people who believe they are meditating are merely thinking with their eyes closed.

Most of us spend every waking moment lost in the movie of our lives.

Meditation is a technique for waking up.

Investigating the nature of consciousness is the basis of spiritual life.

Consciousness is the one thing in this universe that cannot be an illusion.

If you shut your eyes at this moment, the contents of your consciousness change quite drastically, but your consciousness (arguably) does not.

Are we unconsciousness during sleep or merely unable to remember what sleep is like?

We are not aware of all the information that influences our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

I’ve forgotten most of what has happened to me over the course of my life.

Subjectively speaking, the only thing that actually exists is consciousness and its contents. [...] Reality vastly exceeds our awareness of it.

(I am) a continuum of experience.

The feeling of “I” is a product of thought. [...] Having an ego is what it feels like to be thinking without knowing that you are thinking.

(Thoughts are) transient appearances in consciousness.

We tell ourselves the story of the present, as though some blind person were inside our heads who required continuous narration to know what is happening.

Even if your life depended on it, you could not spend a full minute free of thought. [...] We spend our lives lost in thought. [...] Taking oneself to be the thinking of one’s thoughts is a delusion.

One must be able to pay attention closely enough to glimpse what consciousness is like between thoughts — that is, prior to the arising of the next one.

We imagine that we are conscious of our selves within our bodies. We seem to be riding around inside our bodies.

(The self) is the feeling that there is an inner subject, behind our eyes, thinking our thoughts and experiencing our experience.

It may be that an awareness of other minds is a necessary condition for an awareness of one’s own.

Consciousness is the prior condition of every experience; the self or ego is an illusory appearance within it; look closely for what you are calling “I,” and the feeling of being a separate self will disappear; what remains, as a matter of experience, is a field of consciousness — uncontaminated by its ever-changing contents.

Consciousness is intrinsically free of self.

That which is aware of sadness is not sad. That which is aware of fear is not fearful. Notice thoughts as they emerge and recognize them to be transitory appearances in consciousness. In subjective terms, you are consciousness itself — you are not the next, evanescent image or string of words that appears in your mind.

Consciousness is intrinsically undivided.

Nothing is intrinsically boring — boredom is simply a lack of attention.

We need not come to the end of the path to experience the benefits of walking it.

We read for the pleasure of thinking another person’s thoughts.

It is by ceasing to cling to the contents of consciousness — to our thought, moods, and desires — that we make progress.

There is experience, and then there are the stories we tell about it.

Consciousness is never improved or harmed by what it knows.

My Synoptic Gospels

trumanshow“We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented.” While watching The Truman Show (again) last night, I found myself wondering how I could be certain I’m not living in an elaborate TV show. Not sure I can.

It also occurred to me that I’m more comfortable getting my metaphysical/cosmic truths from movies than from books cobbled together during the Iron Age. If you’re willing to believe god spoke to Paul, Muḥammad, Joseph Smith and George W. Bush… why not Ridley Scott, Harold Ramis and Peter Weir.

My Synoptic Gospels are Blade Runner, Groundhog Day and The Truman Show. I might add to that list, much in the same way the early church tweaked the scriptures when necessary. Shoot, two of my guys are still alive. With a bit of luck and some persistence, I could probably meet them face to face.

At war for the rest of our lives

“The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.” — Hunter S. Thompson

Autumn Leaves

IMG_2265I’m enjoying the flood of articles bashing the new iPhones/Apple Watch/Apple Pay in the same way I enjoy the autumn leaves. In a week or two, they’re all gone (until the next product launch). Because it’s really hard to write these when most of the people sitting around you in Starbucks has an Apple device in their hands.

Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, predicts Apple will sell 92 million new iPhones by the end of the year.

Oh, sure, you can get a little mileage from the “Apple people are sheep” trope but that wears quickly. No, this is the sweet spot when the parody videos can go a little bit viral and the tech pundits can gather in basements to make fun of the guys who got dates to the prom.