Blog Post #349:  Choosing to be happy

Blog Post #349:  Choosing to be happy

Over a year ago I attended a workshop on “Living Well Aware” (see: http://www.livingwellaware.com/)

This week’s on Livingwellaware.com article is about being happy.

Quoting from the author:  Dr. Patricia Sulak

Happiness comes from the inside not the outside.  Life will never be perfect.  People will never do exactly what we want them to.  To me, happiness is a state of peace, joy, and love:  PEACE with unwanted past events and current situations that are not going as we would wish.   Finding JOY even in the mundane tasks and the many blessings we have. The ability to LOVE our family, friends and others, even in difficult times.  For me personally, happiness is a connection with a higher power as I strive to be the best version I am capable of being – no matter what life circumstances.  It’s knowing that I am not in control of most of life events, life is transient, and, importantly, I am not perfect and neither are others.

Choose to be happy!  Start and end each day in a state of GRATITUDE.  Look for the good in everyone and everything, rather than focusing on the negative.  Search for peace, joy, and love in the present moment, dumping depressive thoughts of the past and anxious thoughts of the future.   Let’s make a conscious decision to personally take full ownership of our emotional state and lead a life of happiness that is ours for the taking.

We get to choose how life goes – we can choose to be happy.  

This week we got a letter from the IRS informing us that they had audited last year’s return and we owe money.  That was not happy news, but we can choose our happiness.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “ in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Wow – what a concept – give thanks even for an audit from the IRS? Give thanks for a flat tire?  Give thanks for the unexpected death of a loved one? Give thanks for when I burned my hand cooking?  Give thanks when I hit my thumb with the hammer when I was doing some minor construction? Give thanks for my surgeries last year?  YES.  

That is tough –  but doable. We need to CHOOSE happiness; we need to CHOOSE to give thanks – in EVERYTHING.  

How about you?  Can you choose happiness?  Can you give thanks for EVERYTHING?

Thinks about it!!

Bruce

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Blog Post #348 Uncensored Internet Access (or Not)?

Blog Post #348:  Uncensored Internet access (or not?) – A Chinese view

Today we look at this article:

https://www.ozy.com/acumen/are-chinese-youth-desperate-for-uncensored-internet-access/87020?utm_source=dd&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=06042018&variable=8e233d577055ce202c56c4a28f1e4dc7

Americans are generally able to see almost anything on the internet – although some may not be good and some may be.  While I haven’t tried (and I’m not going to), we can Google “how to build a bomb” and I’m guessing get directions. I’m not sure “How to have a School Massacre” is findable, but probably something similar (and again, I’m not going to try – even for research sake).

On the other hand, China restricts internet access to Chinese viewers.  In particular this might be for things like rebellion, descent, international news and views.  

But, in a recent study, ways to get around the restricted internet access was given to 1,800 undergraduates in Peking for 18 months (compliments of Peking University and Stanford University).  Aha – now these students could look at ANYTHING. What freedom – (and what little use).

The article states: “Half Of Chinese Youth Wouldn’t Use Uncensored Internet, Even If You Gave It To Them For Free.”

A quote from the article says: “Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a historian at the University of California, Irvine, says it’s not that the Chinese aren’t aware of censorship, but rather they might not care because most of the things they do on the internet — like people the whole world over — aren’t about finding edgy news stories.

So, (my interpretation), even though they could have access to international news – most said in other words: “I don’t care”.  I thought about that. Do I look at international news? Do I look at what (say) the Chinese press says about our government? Do I look at Belarusian news? (I have in the past before visiting Belarus).  In most cases, no. Yes, I get American news – and that runs enough of the variety that I want. Some Americans do even less – such as only watching Brand F or Brand M for news – and accepting just what they want to hear.  

One Chinese student studying in America said: “people seem to prefer browsing content that’s relatively close to them geographically, despite censorship. ‘The Great Firewall, on the macro level, has likely little coercive impact,’”

So, while Americans and western Europe may decry the censorship in China, even when access was given and students were able to bypass the censorship easily, the majority didn’t take advantage.  (Some did though – check the article).

So, the censorship topic was, if you will, a big “ho hum”.  

What do you think?  Do you read international news?  Do you read opinions about the United States from another country?  Why or why not?

Bruce

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Blog Post #347: Technology for Education – AI, AR and VR

Blog Post #347: Technology for Education – AI, AR and VR

As we have seen AI (artificial Intelligence), AR (augmented reality)  and VR (virtual reality) are expanding

Today’s article is from:  https://www.prometheanworld.com/blog/5-education-technology-trends-2018/

Some years ago now (like 6 or 7), I heard of research into AI for the classroom.  The educational learning experts have determined that we learn in seven ways: visual (seeing), aural (hearing), verbal (words), physical (movement), logical, social (interpersonal), and solitary (intrapersonal – learning by oneself).  These learning styles can cross over – such as in a history class, we learn by hearing the teacher lecture (aural and verbal); or in team assignments by hearing the ideas of others on our team and aggregating the ideas (social).

So, wouldn’t it be great if in our learning environments, we could find a particular style that worked will for a particular person.  Say, I’m learning math and having an equation on the blackboard (visual) helps me, but maybe another student learns with a physical style – so having that person stand when they answer or discuss a question might make their learning stronger.  

But, finding out each person’s learning style (and … even if they have different learning styles for different subjects – or combination of learning styles for a particular lesson) is not a simple thing to do.  And, it may be that over time our learning styles change.

Then through in artificial intelligence and augmented reality – to determine and enhance the way one learns; and put virtual reality (visual and auditory) on top of it – education CAN become very real to each and every student.

This article talks about AI / and VR.  In particular it says:

“New technology will provide teachers with tools for delivering enhanced learning experiences through augmented and virtual reality (VR) in 2018. After the success of Pokemon Go, we witnessed the emergence of augmented reality (AR) in education in 2017. Teachers are increasingly using AR to layer virtual content on printed materials to enhance understanding and inspiration.

“With the release of increasingly affordable and accessible VR accessories, we can expect more from this technology in 2018.  The number of free apps and teaching platforms designed specifically for virtual education is growing. VR and AR will move from experimental to ubiquitous in learning. “

(Now, ubiquitous is one of my favorite words – meaning ‘present, appearing or found everywhere’).

Certain educational experts have said that if a child doesn’t learn to read by third grade, then life will definitely be against them.  They may drop out, be unsuccessful in learning, join gangs, etc. If these concepts could be used in kindergarten, first and second grades to find the most appropriate learning style for teaching a youngster to read – many of society’s ills might be avoided.  

But, it is going to take a lot of time, lots of experimenting and patience – but (in my opinion) we do need to be working in this direction!!!

What do you think?

Bruce

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Blog Post #346 Inclusion

Blog Post #346:  Inclusion

Today, a bit off topic – but thinking of love and inclusion.

I’ve been remembering bits and pieces of an old poem and found it today.

Edwin Markham wrote:

“He drew a circle that shut me out- Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him In!”

As I write this, recently a TV actress had a racial slur and got her (new) show cancelled very quickly.  We have had other prominent people that (still) have shared racial, gender, ethnic and other negative statements.

I like the quote from Markham.  “BUT LOVE AND I” – we need to LOVE.

I frequently write from a Judeo-Christian perspective.  I see Biblical comments like “Love one-another”; “Love is patient, love is kind,  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”

I see other concepts like forgiveness (How many times must I forgive?  Seven times? Answer: No, 70 times 7 times).We have the perspective that we are ‘made in the image of God’.  So, if you will, the homeless person on the street; the black person, the Muslim person, the greedy businessman, the governor who has slept with a woman while married, even those that have chosen alternative lifestyles – are also ‘made in the image of God’.

Mother Teresa cared for some of the ‘poorest of the poor’.  She said “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.  Are we doing that? She also said “Peace begins with a smile”.

So, if somebody is drawing a circle that shuts you out – you need to be the ‘bigger person’ and draw a circle that lets them in!!   Let everyone in – don’t exclude any – love conquers all!  (And even if they still exclude YOU – be the ‘bigger person’!!)

Even just a smile and a friendly nod can help lift another person’s spirit.

Let me finish with part of a song made famous in the musical / movie Bye-Bye Birdie:

Gray skies are gonna clear up
Put on a happy face.
Brush off the clouds and cheer up
Put on a happy face

And spread sunshine all over the place
And put on a happy face!!

So, are you putting on a happy face today?

Bruce

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Blog Post #345:  HELP I CUT OFF MY FINGERS

Blog Post #345:  HELP I CUT OFF MY FINGERS

From:https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/28/this-sensor-stops-your-quadcopter-before-it-can-cut-you/

While this first reminds me of an old joke:  I was rocking in my favorite rocking chair and didn’t notice the cat was sleeping under one of the rockers.  As I rocked back, the cat woke up and jumped – and its tail was snapped off. Being an intelligent person, I immediately went to Walmart to get it fixed.  Because Walmart is the world’s largest re-tailer!!! (Boo!!)

It seems like the Quadcopter drone has blades that rotate very quickly – and can cut a finger off (or at least make a nasty cut).  But, now the company has added a sensor to detect if an object is present.

The article states: “The folks at Spectrum have found a truly cool project for quadcopter pilots. It’s a spinning sensor that will stop the rotors if your finger gets too close to the blades, thereby preventing you – or your kids – from getting cut.

“Researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia created so-called Safety Rotor to help prevent accidents with more powerful quadrotor drones. The system constantly senses for a “finger” – in this case a hot dog – and then slams the rotor to a stop within 0.077 seconds. A cage around the propellers spins more slowly than the propellers and is constantly on the lookout for biological material approaching the blades.”

What a nice idea.  It seems as though these quadcopters are gaining acceptance with teenages (and younger) – and the chance of a cut is there.  But by stopping the blades in less that 1/10th of a second should be a great preventative measure.

I’m not what other applications might fit this concept – anytime there is a device with blades.  I turn off my ceiling fans when we change the setting from winter to summer. But, I doubt that I would get a cut on those bigger – but duller blades (might get a nice bruise though).

With new technologies and high speed analysis, we can have autonomous cars making split second decisions – as well as quadcopters!!

What do you think?

Bruce

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Blog Post #344 Have you lost your car?

Blog Post #344 Have you lost your car?

From: https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/30/skydios-self-flying-drone-can-now-track-down-cars/

Skydio is a maker of drones.  Now it is looking at self-flying drones that can follow a car.  

The article states:

“Skydio‘s first major update to their crazy cool self-flying drone fixes its 13 eyes on a new object to follow at high speeds: cars.

“The Bay Area startup has expanded following capabilities of its R1 drone beyond just humans, with cars now firmly within their sights. Now, you’ll still be limited by the devices 25mph so this won’t be shooting any Nascar races, but the self-flying drone will be able to track and follow vehicles as they move through challenging terrain that would be impossible to film previously without a skilled drone pilot.

“Just don’t send this thing following after a self-driving car — unless you want the two to probably run away together and come back with a vengeance at a later date.”

So, they are limited to 25 miles per hour.  My first thought might be to follow bikes in the Tour de France (one of my favorite summer sports).  Although the bikes and riders do go faster than 25 MPH, a drone might be able to follow and catch up on an uphill leg.  (In my research I found that the maximum speed on a time trial in the Tour was 34 MPH).

Maybe such a drone could watch marathons and other races (by humans) as even the fastest humans are maybe 11 to 12 miles per hour.  Or fly over parades.

Not sure if it could follow a fugitive on the run, or a elk in the mountains.  Maybe with a heat-seeking device it could follow a live person.

The article indicated the technology was still on the expensive side, but as time goes on, the price should drop.  

What do you think?  Could all our moves be tracked by a self-piloting drone?  Can OJ Simpson be followed not by helicopter, but by drone these days?

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #343 – Memorial Day

Blog Post #343 Memorial Day

From: https://www.cnn.com/2013/05/23/us/memorial-day-fast-facts/index.html

Although yesterday was Memorial Day, here are some interesting facts about Memorial Day from CNN:

“Memorial Day originally honored military personnel who died in the Civil War (1861-1865). The holiday now honors those who died in any war while serving with the United States.

Timeline:

May 5, 1866 – Residents of Waterloo, New York, observe a Memorial Day in honor of all who died during the Civil War. Businesses are closed and soldiers’ graves are decorated.

1868 – General John Alexander Logan officially proclaims May 30, 1868, as Memorial Day in honor of the Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. Until after World War I, southern states celebrated a separate Memorial Day in honor of the Confederate dead.

1971 – Congress declares Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.  (I remember a WWII veteran who insisted that May 30th was the correct day, not the last Monday in May.  He said a long weekend meant more barbeques and less remembrances – he probably was right!!)

US War Casualties:

Civil War – Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half of these deaths were caused by disease.

World War I116,516 Americans died, more than half from disease.

World War II405,399 Americans died.

Korean War 36,574 Americans died.

Vietnam Conflict58,220 Americans died.”

Christians have a concept of a “Just War”:

The just war theory is a largely Christian philosophy that attempts to reconcile three things:

  • taking human life is seriously wrong
  • states have a duty to defend their citizens, and defend justice
  • protecting innocent human life and defending important moral values sometimes requires willingness to use force and violence

So for Memorial day, I too remember those who fought to end slavery, who fought to end tyranny, and fought to keep the world safe.  THANK YOU VETERANS and all who gave their life for our freedom!

Bruce

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Blog Post #342 – Defining Happiness

Defining Happiness

From: https://www.success.com/article/what-you-can-learn-from-the-happiest-people-in-the-world/

As I read this article (part of a series on living a Simple, Happy Life, I liked the three components of happiness:  Pleasure, Purpose, and Pride

Pleasure:  The article talks of pleasure – like getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night; of good eating – including vegetables; of volunteering (daily); of attending church; and of having food, shelter, schools, basic health.  I might use the word “contentment’/

Purpose: This time the article mentions ‘deeply fulfilling lives’.  The example is a lady from Denmark – who has government health care, government retirement, a ‘village’ helping to raise her children.  She loves her job, and although she and her husband pay high taxes, it affords them a happy lifestyle

Pride: The example in the article is about a man from Singapore, who with dedication has risen to upper income levels, and a demanding yet rewarding job.  It mentions that Singapore people has among the lowest stress, anger and worry as compared to others.

As I read the article, I asked myself – “Am I happy?”.  Maybe not as happy as the three people in the article, but pretty close I decided in my analysis.  As a retired person, I have low stress, anger and worry; I do volunteer and make a difference in my family and in my neighborhood; I do get reasonable exercise and eat reasonable (most of the time anyway) – some of the food I even grow myself in my garden.  I am a little lower on the ‘purpose’ side of the equation. With retirement, some of my purpose that used to be in my job (as a professor) has gone again. I am trying to find a good balance between a parttime job and volunteering and helping my wife at home.  I like mowing the lawn, make the bed, do the laundry, and have chores in and around the house. The idea of contentment is important to me – yes, I could have more money, a bigger house, a newer car – but what I/we have is very good. We have watched our money and are retiring with a nice nest egg.  Not all can do that.

So, are you happy?  How can you be happy?

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #341 “We bought the election” (or … maybe not)

Blog Post #341 “We bought the election” (or … maybe not)

From:  https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-and-twitter-have-new-rules-for-political-ads-heres-how-they-work/

Today’s article is about Facebook and Twitter changing how political ads work.  

Seemingly in the last Presidential election there was a lot of interference – especially from Russia (I used ‘seemingly’ as ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is still the law of the land – or so I think).

“The article says:  “How do you solve a problem like Russian propagandists? How do you keep them from meddling in elections?  Well, at Facebook and Twitter, the answer is more transparency about political ads.
“Starting Thursday [May 24, 2018], both companies said, they’re following through on  promises from late last year to add verification, disclosures and additional information to all political ads.

“The way it’ll work is that when you come across a political ad on Twitter, you’ll see “Promoted (political)” on the bottom and whether the ad was authorized by a candidate.

“On Facebook, there’ll be a “Paid for by” disclosure at its top. Additionally, if you click on the label, you’ll be taken to a page where you can learn how much money was spent and how many people saw the ad, as well as a breakdown of their age, gender and location.

“While Twitter will include a “learn more” button so people can identify and contact the ad buyer, Facebook is going a step further by making its data publicly accessible at facebook.com/politicalcontentads for seven years from the day an ad runs.

“But, as Facebook is quick to point out, these moves are just the latest in a series of efforts to strengthen its service against  further abuse. It’s not a guarantee this all won’t happen again.

“As long as there are people sitting in Russia whose job it is to interfere with elections around the world, this is going to be an ongoing conflict,” Mark Zuckerberg said when speaking to Congress. “This is an ongoing arms race.”

So … do you think this will work?  Can friends like my friend Bob who copied political statements verbatim still do so?  (I think so, unless Bob is getting paid!!)

At least the effort is being made.  Let’s see what happens!!!

Bruce

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Blog Post #340 Chasing Tesla!!

Blog Post #340 Chasing Tesla!!

From: https://techcrunch.com/…/upstarts-emerge-to-chase-teslas-l…/

You know (if you have read this with some frequency), that I love the concept of self-driving / autonomous cars. As people get older (and I am 70) I see the need to help our senior friends keep their vehicles and be able to “out-and-about”. When all cars are electric / self-driving vehicles, the number of accidents will decrease, traffic will flow better, insurance rates will go down (about all you would need insurance for is if a tree falls on your car in the driveway).

I picture my parents living longer with a self-driving car “Take us to the grocery store; take us to Church”. Likewise our daughter-in-law’s grandmother is losing some of her eyesight and that might impact her ability to drive.

Yes, we aren’t there now, but this article suggests that lots of upstarts are chasing Tesla.

The article states:

“A slew of well-funded new entrants backed by massive amounts of capital are chasing Tesla’s lead in an effort to power the next generation of the electric vehicle industry.

“Electric vehicle startups have raised more than $2 billion in the U.S. over the first months of 2018 alone, a huge increase over the $650 million raised in 2017, according to data from Pitchbook. And the investment trends point to more competition for Tesla from established car companies and upstart manufacturers alike in the next few years.

“All of this activity is thanks to the size of the industry that’s in play. The market for electric passenger vehicles is expected to reach $356.5 billion by 2023 led by $205.9 billion in sales coming from the Asia-Pacific region, according to predictions from the market intelligence firm, Absolute Reports.

“Given those numbers, it’s no wonder that investments into electric vehicle companies and the enabling technologies for them keep climbing — and most of the cash commitments are being made in newly formed companies. PitchBook data indicates that early-stage deals are on the rise, with 15 investments into startup electric vehicle companies in 2017. (It’s important to note that PitchBook data, and the work of other market intelligence firms, is somewhat fuzzy and imprecise.)

I view that information as GREAT!!!! Investments are up over 300%, the estimated market is growing as more people sense what could be the value of electric vehicles. And … competition is generally a great motivator. I would assume that Tesla is looking back over its shoulder and seeing what innovations are happening, what features and enhancements that others are doing might be good for their company.

But, Tesla is having its own problems. The article goes on:

“By any measure, Tesla has had a very bad year. Consumer Reports just issued a report saying it could not recommend the company’s latest offering, the Model 3. And production for that new car, the company’s first effort to manufacture a low-cost electric vehicle, has caused innumerable problems for Musk and his staff.”

So, what do you think?

Is competition good for Tesla? Will they get production back on schedule? Will the startups succeed? We shall see!!!

Bruce

 

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