Philosophy Tuesday

This is a philosophical statement.  It is intended to spark thinking and examining.

We often look for silver bullets.

We look for those perfect, single, solutions that we can use to take out and solve an issue or problem.

Or, we look backwards to see what was that thing, the one thing, that caused something to happen.

Unfortunately, that silver is rarely so shiny.   There exist few actual silver bullets.

It’s easy to get caught in the trap, though:

“If I push a ball, the ball rolls.  Cause and effect.  Hit thumb with hammer equals ow.  No surprise.  Ergo, it’s usually one thing (or one main thing) causes another thing.”

It seems silly when spelled out like that, but yet… we do it, don’t we?  Off we go, looking for silver bullets.

Thing is, even the ball rolling isn’t so straightforward.  We may not even pause to wonder, “What had me push the ball in the first place?”  Or,”If I chose to push the ball, how did I get my body to do that?”

We can play with an example that yesterday, we lost a dollar on the street, and it didn’t faze us one bit.  Today, we dropped our pen on the floor at work, and we fall to pieces.  Huh.

Turns out there are a lot of variables there, a lot of things acting in concert, making their influence felt, from why we are dropping things, to why pens upset us more than dollars, or to just why being at work puts us in a different frame of mind than being on the street.

And the larger the effect or result or incidence, the more likely it is that multiple influences played a role in its development.

When we look at directions and outcomes and even just the “what’s so” of our lives, or in society, or about the world at large, often we can, just on our own, come up with a number of possibilities to “explain” the why and the how and the now.  If we ask others, we can probably get many more.

Consider that all of these are valid, and they may all have played a role.  And, conversely, had they not all been present in some fashion, the outcome would not have happened.

Knowing how to proceed, how to work towards what we all want in life, we need to get as broadly grounded as we can, and from there we can choose where to apply ourselves, what to transform.  We need to get the lay of the whole land, and the wind and the rivers and the trees, not just that which is directly in front of our feet.  We can imagine things complexly.

Likewise, we need to plan and work broadly.  Just as it is many things that led us to where we are, there are many things we can work in concert, each one supporting and amplifying the other, to drive towards the new possibility.  To only work on one – our supposed silver bullet – will leave gaps and soft spots that can make our progress tenuous and unstable.  We may not reach everyone, or every thing, and influences that created the situation can continue to flow unabated and undermine our work.  Difficulty may discourage us entirely.

As nice as silver bullets would be, there is a distinct lack thereof.  Be it in our personal lives, our society, or the world at large, influences and avenues are much broader.

Maybe it’s time for a new metaphor:  Let’s find the silver shotguns.

Architecture Monday

Here’s a couple of nifty little ideas created using standard shipping container technology.

The first is a drop-down cabin that uses a sweet slide-out section that doubles the space  without needing to truck in a whole second container, and creates a giant solarium of living space.  The interior could use some refinement; the built-in furniture that tucks away is nice but the overall layout and design could be rendered both more useful and elegant.  That said, an intriguing first start, and the fact it arrives with solar panels is a plus.

Alternately, plug a few containers together, like this office.  With the outer frame taking up the structural load, there’s a lot of room for flexibility.  The front deck on this is pretty sweet, and would look great as the front bit of a house;  imagine having this deck as the entryway,  a container unit for the middle, and then having the slide-out solarium unit in back for a gloriously light-filled and open small house.

And you could always throw another container up top for an additional retreat or media room or library or…

With their ubiquity and standardization, shipping containers could offer up some nice design and building opportunities (like this train station).  Something to explore.

Cabin and office by CubeDepot.

Winter Fu

There’s only one thing I don’t like about practicing in the cooler months:  when I begin to sweat.

Not because of the sweat per se, rather, it’s that, given the cool temperatures, my body hasn’t sweat all day.

So when I warm up enough that I need to begin to sweat, every pore on my body opens at once…

… and it feels like a million cockroaches are crawling all over me.

A whole body tingly itching sensation.  That comes on nearly instantaneously.  While I’m doing some drill or exercise.


It is a great test of my mindfulness and ability to be with things!  Still not comfortable at all though.

Architecture Monday

Well this is interesting – a nicely designed prefab hut/home that takes flat packed (Ikea jokes anyone?) to a whole new level.  Slick and well kitted out, with the option for easy size adjustment and able to handle different terrain types.

Also designed with different interiors for both isolated and urban uses, though given the level of craft I think either could work in a mix and match kind of way no matter where the hut was placed.

Slick design, good use of prefab, lofty, and customizable.  Colour me interested.  The company is just starting out — I’ll have to keep my eyes on them and see how it develops.

The Backcountry and Frontcountry, by BHC

Soup from the Sky

Though I’ve lived in this area for 17.5 years now, I’m still not completely used to how variable the weather can be throughout the day.  From waking up to wind and rain, to it being seriously overcast at arrival to class, to the sun emerging in a sudden burst of radiance, to the sky becoming well-nigh clear, to the clouds and rain returning full force in the short 10km/6mi drive home.

So, to that end, I made a big pot of cabbage soup!  Comforting warmth for everyone.  Bring a bowl.

Action Wednesday

The time has come, if you live in the USA, to contact your senators and ask them to decline the nominations of both Ryan Zinke for Secretary of the Interior and of Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator.

If you have never contacted your senators before, it is easy.  Go to either to find your senator’s phone number, or simply call the  US Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 to be connected.  Once you’ve got a hold of their office, tell the staff person you are a constituent, you want your senator to oppose the nominations of Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt, and that if they do, you have your senator’s back.  If the staff member tells you that the senator does oppose Pruitt, pass along your thanks, and encourage them to hold the line!

It’s that simple.  Remember to call both of your state senators and ask the same from both of them.  Phone calls are the most effective means of communicating with your Senators, they are what garner the most attention.  And, with the clock ticking, it is the fastest means as well.

If you’d like to go more in depth, Hank Green has a great video introducing how to write  a letter, which can easily be translated into a phone call.

Why to oppose these two?

Ryan Zinke will preside over the Endangered Species Act, the access to public lands for exploitative resource extraction, offshore oil and gas drilling, and the relationships with first nations tribal governments and people.  Zinke’s record shows he does not lean towards stewardship, human or environmental health, or social growth.

Scott Pruitt is most known for suing the EPA to gut their provisions.  The EPA is literally a health and safety organization – it’s charge is to protect the very basic fundamental operating systems of our planet so that we can lead full, joyous, and fruitful lives.  This includes clean air, water, and soil.  It prevents companies from dumping toxins everywhere, be it in products or waste.  Pruitt has fought legal battles to undermine the EPA’s role in protecting human health and the legacy of the country, meaning the person being nominated to lead the EPA has actively worked to destroy the EPA.

Neither of these picks is what the USA needs, nor do they honor what the country for what it was and where we can go.

Please, take a moment to call and let your voice be heard.  The Senate is split 52-48, and a few extra “no”s can make all the difference.  It was calls to our representatives that put the brakes on the House’s plan to eliminate the ethics board that oversees them.  Calls work.

Please call.  Be the bulwark.


In great news, Earthjustice will be one of the recipients of donations from this year’s Project for Awesome!  Woooo!

Thank you all who viewed my video and voted, and equally large thank you to all those who donated to Earthjustice and to the NRDC.  Thank you for taking action and standing up for life.

Philosophy Tuesday

I was practicing Kung Fu with my friend Evan one day, working on one of the opening moves in our Xing Yi form.  He was testing my structure, and I was just not getting it.

He’d push, I’d collapse.

I’d reset, adjust my hips, and he’d push, I’d collapse.

Reset yet again, tweak the position of the arms, he’d push, no dice.

And so it went, over and over, for several minutes.

I was mostly calm about it, remaining present to the moment and letting go of frustration when it arose.  Yet that was not helping my structure at all.  No matter what I tried to correct, the same result would occur:  push, collapse.

Evan took a step back and looked at me as I held the pose once again.  After a moment, he said, “Your thumb is out of place.”

My left thumb, tucked under my right hand, was splayed outward by about an inch.

I chuckled, folded my thumb back into position, and said “Heh, so it was.  But it can’t be the thumb….”

Mid sentence, he pushed.  I held.

“It’s the thumb.  It’s the !@#$% thumb. I can’t believe it.  It’s the !@#$%  &*(@  *&@#$%) thumb!”

To which I proceeded to repeat “It’s the !@#$% thumb!” off and on for the next half hour as we continued to test and as my solidity continued to hold.

Sometimes, the smallest of fine-tuning can have the greatest of impacts.

In ways that are rarely or readily obvious.

We may ignore the little things in our lives, thinking they aren’t worth our attention or time.

We may avoid dealing with something that’s been hanging in our mental or spiritual space, thinking there are greater things we should deal with or work on first.

We may discount certain conversations or getting clarification or apologizing for something or seeking apology for something, thinking they are petty and minor.

We may distain from our little pleasures, or passions, or interests, thinking they are of secondary importance compared to the real, serious, bits of our lives like our jobs or our bank account.*

We may pass over assisting others and lending support, or participating in something, because what could we do, really?  Especially compared to others who have more time, money, knowledge, connections, education, etc…

We pass on, overlook, pooh-pooh, and pay attention to the big bits.

Yet – and this is a big yet – even that smallest bit can cause a profound shift in our lives and the lives of others, profound shifts that open up whole new realms of freedom, performance, and possibility.

Shifts we wouldn’t have seen or guessed before we took the seemingly small action.

In life we have many choices of where to aim ourselves and what to spend our precious time on, and it can become all too easy to become fixated on the large, shining, glamorous, prestigious, important, proper, worthy, momentous…

But there’s an opportunity in letting go of these rigid assessments to engage with all areas of our lives and the lives of those around us.  Within there we may find fourteen things that we can do, that we can take on, that we can transform, or that we can contribute towards, that will quickly lead us towards joy, relatedness, and peace of mind.  Little tweaks that will align our lives and give all of  us what we want.

It really pays to remember the thumb.


* Or worse, we pretend they are beneath us to fit in with everyone else…