Journal Entries

Why can't he change???

Why can't you?

He did. You did.

It wasn't enough. It never will be.

Don't expect change. Work for understanding, compassion, and empathy -- then try for compromise and accommodation.

If that isn't enough, then it isn't enough.

Kiss and say goodbye. Form new expectations with new people. Don't place blame. There is none that isn't shared.

If someone else want's to blame either of you, understand that they don't understand.

Life is love letters, punctuated with homicides. It's hard to be sure that either situation is appropriate -- then,, now, or tomorrow.


Discuss this Journal entry [2]

Latest reply: Sep 17, 2004

Gee, I'm sorry.

I just thought I'd apologize for not having solved all the world's problems. They're all on my list of 'things to do' but I just don't seem to have come up with satisfactory solutions that please everyone involved. I'll keep trying but I'm not making any promises.

It seems that part of my problem, at least, is that I keep failing to post my subjective 'take' on things as if I were presenting the absolute truth without any editorializing or any bias in my own direction. I just can't seem to find a way to forget that other people tend to see things the way they choose to see them rather than to question whether any particular problem might have more than one viewpoint or that the people involved in it might be causing some of their own suffering by refusing to consider that they might have misunderstood what was actually said or, more often, what was intended by what was actually said.

After all, if I use the word 'love', why should anyone care if I'm talking tennis scores, emotional committment, slang for 'money', or deliberatly misusing it as Chef Emeril consistently does when confusing sybaretic potential in menu modification for something that has more permanent effect than can be cured by a roll of Tums. There is certainly no chance of confusion with 'lust' any more than with desire or affinity. After all, everyone knows what 'love' is, don't they? Everyone knows that everyone knows what 'love' is, don't they? No one has to worry about having misunderstood, do they?

In the case of my wife, there's no confusion when she accuses me of abusing her as a means of getting me to react because she knows I love her and can be abused that way. Is there? This is particularly non-confusing when she then demands that I tell her what to do.

Of course, my wife, whom I dearly love (there's that word), after telling me how she has noticed how far and rapidly I have sunk in recent times in the vast, roilling seas of mental wholeness and personal capability to the point that I am begging the world to permit me the use of a hollow reed that is not blocked and does not leak, still comes home exhausted from work and anxiety over the seeming pointlessness of her efforts to help us both at least float with our noses above the flood and appears to blame me for not having saved us all as I had done, admitedly poorly, over all our years together.

Note the word, 'appears'. At this point, I have to recognize that my net bouyancy is determedly negative and I may be seeing everything through a lens of the rippling liquid that neither of us wants to fill either of our lungs.

I have to recognize that we are both damaged, she undeniably more easily seen so than I. I have to recognize that we both approach the unapproachable in vastly different ways. I have to recognize that our terror produces very different behavior in each of us.

But, why must *I* be doing this alone or, at least, more than she?

Why must I be trapped by her inviting friends over to help me, whom she refuses to allow to help her, and then blames me for having been helped at her expense?

Why must she post her screams of pain and terror, after having insured that I would not have charged her in the same way, and then be accused by our mutual friends for having done her such terrible harm without them ever, first, asking me for my side of the story?

Why can't I just sit here and type out my outraged and moderately cathartic outpourings of rath and semi-fiction without admitting that I might be equally to blame for the failures that led to the conflicts, percieved or actual? Why can't I just forget that my ways aren't the 'right' ways but merely 'my' ways? Why would I be ashamed of being so selfish if I had done as she had? Why is she not?

All these questions have the same singular answer, "Because." And, if it were not so, none of it would have happened, none of it would have mattered, and neither of us would have cared.

As it is, it did happen, it does matter, and we do care.

My thanks to my friends and hers who have been understanding and caring, though not necessarily both at the same time, for both of us. The care, the understanding, the help, the prayers, the good thoughts, the suggestions, the offers, and efforts to postpone what seems inevitable are all appreciated and gratefully acknowledged.

I don't think there was any need for me to have said any more than this, but in this, as in many other things, I may be wrong.

Thank you all. You have my gratitude and you have my love. For the first you may rest easy, for the last, who can say?


Discuss this Journal entry [2]

Latest reply: Feb 18, 2004

Aggressive Passion

Passive aggression has been described as the hallmark of the British experience, accurately or not. So, I present this observation of why those of us raised in the United States are so difficult to deal with.

We suffer from what I choose to call aggressive passion. That is we become so caught up in our passions that we tend to attack people with them. This seems to be an artifact of living in a representative democratic republic. We have no tradition of being ruled by those more educated and hereditarily 'more qualified' to rule. Therefore, we are not accustomed or trained to think of other people being the ones to make the decision while we wait to be told what is the new reality.

Thus we don't know that it is 'proper' to respect others ways because they aren't permitted to change them. We believe that if we have a new idea, it must be the greatest idea since the door hinge and everyone should be grateful to be shown the light. It just seems so much more 'right' to do it *this* way.

Societies developed along the European (and, yes, this is a grotesque generalization) model are only now beginning to recognize the freedom that has been offensively present in the US mindset almost from the beginning (if we can believe the various observations of us from before our revolutionary separation from England.)

We are so brash as to be boorish. We have no sense of listening to others. We force our ways on those we deal with. We have no respect for local customs. And so on.

We are, in short, aggressively passionate. This sort of behavior is charming and entertaining in young lovers, but they are expected to grow out of it and settle down into the community. It is laughed at in children who have yet to learn the 'proper' way to do things. It is excoriated in spoiled children who ruin the lives of those forced to associate with them and their parents. And, it is the American way of life.

Why aren't we liked, as a nation of comparatively wealthy travelers trampling on local customs to get a better snap shot? Partially, I suspect because traditionally, travelers would have been members of the upper class from their respective countries. They would have both the respect for local customs in countries (charming though wrong as they might be) and would have the absolute sense of superiority that placed them away from those they were forced to mix with. Thus the locals were not forced to deal with such travelers except in a formal commercial or regal relationship.

We, on the other hand, expect each and every person we meet to acknowledge our presence as an equal yet privileged (or superior -- aint paradox fun) person who really wants to share our freedoms (particularly of expression) with everyone in sight.

Some of us are more open than others and will be anxious to debate even in situations where debate is precisely what is not permitted., We react with contempt while they react with terror or simple shock. Why would anyone like us?

Well, we're friendly. We're loud. We're seemingly wealthy and eager to spend. We ignorant and easily gulled. And, we're natural clowns.

All I can suggest for those of you who find us unpleasant and offensive is that you sit back and pretend you are at the circus. View us as you would any clown show. Later, perhaps, you will reflect on what your laughter says about your culture, you will take away the message of the performance, and you will have had the chance that all comedic art gives you to evaluate your own life.

Of course, what we do is not art because it has no intent in that direction. We are the clowns. The real performers are those who attempt to deal with the affront we present. Do not be distracted by your laughter. Embrace the entire performance for its artistic content and *then* form your opinion of Americans.

Of course, we are different. Of course, we accuse you of that crime. Of course, we are short sighted and limited in our outlook. Of course, you are so filled with protocols and practices that you are confounded by our clowns' failure to even admit that such things exist, let alone that they are 'proper'.

I am the first to admit that we do not live in a classless society here, but the meaning and significance of 'class' is entirely different here and has a different function in our society.

So, beware! We do not consider aggressive passion to be a symptom of anything other than the 'right' way to do things. Shun us or laugh, take us in hand and arduously train us, use us to discomfort your friends and enemies without having to incur a great deal of blame. It really doesn't matter. If your culture demands accommodation then don't expect us to understand that or to even desire it. We are not hopeless but we are more self-assured in viewing ourselves as suitable judges of what 'should be.' We know how to accommodate but we do it in ways that are not going to be familiar or even respectful. Educate us kindly and we will behave as if we were initiates into a secret society, flattered to be show the mysteries of your culture though we will never fail to ask, why, at the least appropriate moment.

Why should you take the time and effort? I sure don't have a good reason. Unless you have a real reason to associate with us blind clowns, then it might be best to leave us alone. We will pass. We always will pass. We haven't the patience to stay and there's always something else for us to disrespect just down the road.

Think of us as a swarm of locusts who don't consume as much as might be expected and often seem to leave extra useful things behind them. You can't fight the swarm, you can only be certain to preserve what you cannot stand to have touched or modified.

Why should you even begin to put up with us? Why is the flooding of the Nile of benefit to Egypt? Why not build dikes to contain the spring waters?

I do not claim that we are in any way necessary to you, but we can be beneficial and we are nearly inevitable, at this time. Please try to cope just as we try to cope with those who do the same to us.

On the other hand, please don't hesitate to tell us we are treading on holy ground and should remove our shoes, at the very least. While we may seem condescending, most of us are also very compliant on an individual basis.

That's my first pass. More later.


Discuss this Journal entry [4]

Latest reply: Oct 24, 2003

There's something under every rock

I've said that in my article on serendipity and I've taken that statement as an embodiment of a significant portion of my philosophy of exploration.

Here's a little story from my past -- for whatever worth it might have:

My family used to have a chocolate miniature poodle called Pumpernickel. Like most such scaled down dogs, he had a lot of 'cute' and a relatively small amount of 'smart'. But, he was a very curious dog and spend a lot of time investigating everything.

One of his most 'bizarre' behaviors was his presumed curiosity about what was under rocks. He was a bit larger than a loaf of the bread we named him after and any rocks that approached his size were a challenge to him.

He would find such a rock in our yard and attempt to flip it over with his nose. Then he would investigate the newly revealed ground. His technique was very business-like.

He would attempt to flip it over then if he could not, he would run to the other side and begin to dig a hole next to the rock and undercutting it. Then, he would run back around the rock and try to flip it over. He would repeat this procedure until he had succeeded.

All this is well and good except that Pumpernickel having succeeded would discover that he could not check the ground under where the rock currently was. His obvious obligation was start the entire endeavor over again.

So it was that our rocks moved about our yard with a clear dotted trail of where they had been.

It would have been annoying if it were not so amusing to watch him wrestle with rocks that weighed, at least twice as much as he did.

I'm sure you can imagine the sheer ecstasy of frustration he experienced the year my mother decided that she wanted a rock garden and that all of us, my father and my four siblings, were to be her construction crew.

My father is a landscape architect, so this was no haphazard rock garden, but complicated if compact fountain, pool, and garden.

The rock people came and dropped off a load of interesting rocks most of which were Pumpernickel sized. His challenge however turned out to be the large rocks weighing in at a quarter ton or so.

The size did not daunt our little dog, but we were seriously concerned that during his excavations he might succeed in dropping one of these large stones on top of himself. This never happened, though, and we were able to laugh at his antics.

Strangely enough, once we placed the rocks for the fountain area he seemed to know that they were no longer available for his efforts.

There was one holiday season when we wrapped a five pound rock for him and laughed heartily as he gleefully tore the paper from the rock in the manner of a two year old child and then rolled the rock around the living room making only token efforts at excavation in the carpet.

When you spend that much time watching a pet do something otherwise inexplicable and so amusing, you cannot help but find yourself speculating about why some much effort, excitement, and obvious glee was involving he dog so much shear frantic effort.

What is under the rock?

Why is he so willing to keep checking where the rock had been and for evidence of what?

Can this be anything other than a clearly unintelligent dog finding a curious way to fill his time?

What would it mean to me to be in that same position?

What is wrong with looking under rocks?

The answers I cam up with seemed to indicate that there is great virtue in uncovering the hidden and examining it closely, not so much in the sense of the expectation of finding wonders as in the reasonable expectation that those who have gone before quite likely have ignored the significant for the obvious.

Having looked under the rock and found the expected or the banal, that is not a reason to simply move on without checking under the rock again and again with the understanding that this method constitutes a sound algorithm for ensuring that everything is examined and considered over and over again.

Obviously, whatever we learn increases our understanding so that whatever we have rejected in the past may well hold secrets that we were too ignorant or to profligate to have considered before.

This is why I have chosen to say that there is *something* under *every* rock, with the understanding that that something may not yet be something I have use for, yet which might prove useful the next time it is examined.

Of course, there are things under rocks that might not be desirable or which might even be dangerous. So, don't be stupid, use a stick.

Go ahead, look under that rock. You can't know what you'll find till you do.


Discuss this Journal entry [11]

Latest reply: Jun 30, 2003

Truth, Reality, Honesty

This is a copy of my original page, which I referred to elsewhere and thought I could still retrieve.

Here it is for those of you who wonder where it is I'm coming from.

This is the statement that preceeds anything you see written by me on h2g2.



Insignificant but Pertinent Data

Name: Barton Lynn Rolsky
Sects: Several
Height: 6'5" (shortly after rising)
Weight: 250-300 (It's always somewhere in there.)
Eyes: 2, brown
Married: Happily
Voice: Deep Baritone
Degrees: 96.8
Profession: Computer Professional/Wizard/Guru/Geek(20 years)
Calling: Theatre (36 years)
Avocation: Smart ass (50 years)
Age: 53
E-Mail:[email protected]

If you're really curious, ask for more.

Impertinent Data

Perhaps the single most significant point to consider when endeavoring to understand why I have any place in this universe is that *I* am a specialist in understanding. While I do not claim to be proficient at more than a few thousand things, I have discovered that I can understand almost anything.

Why, you might ask, should I care if you (which is to say, me) understand anything at all?

The only reason you would ask such a question is a clear indication that you don't understand what understanding is all about.

Don't panic!

I can explain. (That is one of the key aspects of understanding.) The whole issue of understanding is central to explaining. There are any number of people who are very good at explaining. However, many of these people don't understand what they are explaining and therefore confuse the people who are attempting to understand what is being explained. (For people who explain without understanding please see the entries for Newscaster, Politician and Teacher.)

To explain why I have such exceptional powers of explanation, you will need to understand the function of three concepts which shape our universe and which are most often confused and intermixed.

I categorize these concepts under the heading of

Truth, Reality, and Honesty
(Trumpet flourish)

Truth, Reality, and Honesty are all used to explain some aspect of the universe in an attempt to provide understanding and to shape the nature of our responses to events as we encounter them. Unfortunately, most of the universe doesn't seem to understand the distinctions between these concepts. This, of course, is not my failing. As I have already warned you, I understand.

Truth is that area of explanation which totally abandons any attempt to truly understand a topic. Instead, Truth provides an explanation by postulating a correct answer. The act of postulation (which may be performed in public and in mixed company) is a process whereby the person making an explanation asserts a fact or condition based upon an assumption which must be accepted without proof. That is to say, Truth does not exist without Faith.

There is no point in questioning any issue which involves Truth. You either have faith or you don't. As far as I can determine, everything is based on, at least, one Truth. We could discuss this further, but I'm afraid that, for now, I'm going to have to ask you take this on faith.

Reality refers to those Facts which are established by reference to Things which can be measured with various devices which have been calibrated in various ways to standards which are completely arbitrary. The reason for Reality grows out of the common observation that some things are bigger than other things and, its corollary, that some things are smaller than other things. Reality is the basis for Science.

Science is a Religion which believes that by putting things in labeled boxes it can find an explanation for Life, the Universe, and Everything. (Please don't laugh. Many scientists understand that they don't understand, unfortunately none of them are teachers.)

Please note: Labels are a fundamental tool for locating things. For instance, you would not be able to find your socks if someone had not advised you to look in one of the boxes that pull out of that big thing in your bed room. That is, your socks are in THE DRAWER. (We'll investigate that very important and poorly understood word, 'the,' in my article on articles called "A The and The A -- Definitely Indefinite") But, please don't forget that labels are only labels, they don't explain anything. Otherwise stated, the map is not the territory.

Honesty is that behavior whereby a person states what he experiences with the assumption (faith) that what he experiences has some Reality and Truth. Now, most people are willing to admit that what they have Honestly experienced may not have been Real or True by someone else's standards, but they Honestly believe it was Really True to them.

Honesty then asserts that the universe is both individual and universal. It further asserts that the universe may be consensual or even occasional. What it doesn't assert is that any personal reality necessarily has any connection with any other. However, it does suggest that what is spoken honestly may have bearing on other individuals by virtue of similar organs of perception AND by similar shared symbols of expression (i.e. language and temporary loss of control of bodily functions.)

If you can accept that these three areas of explanation encompass most if not all items having or requiring understanding and, if you have read this far down the page, if you are willing to accept that I might be able to understand how all these things relate to issues such as "Napkins: Men, Women, and Table Manners" or "Cannibals: Vegetarian Diets and Table Manners" or even "Ghengis Kahn: His Architecture and Table Manors," then you might be willing to forgive even the tortured syntax of this sentence and consider the understanding I can provide.

If you can't . . . well . . . would you like to buy a flower?


"Would you like to buy a flower?" was the plaintive plea of robed Hari Krishna practitioners in the late sixties as they accosted travelers in airports and train stations in an attempt to get a contribution and a chance to explain their personal interpretation of the belief structure they tried to follow in a country unfamiliar with the social background in which it originated.

I have adopted this phrase as my signal and warning to those who take time to read what I write here and elsewhere that I am both pathetic and assertive. That I present a different way of looking at things and that I am detaining you in your rush from here to there.

The fact that you stopped to read is, in itself, a sort of validation of my efforts. Thank you.


Undoubtedly there will be more from me. I just don't know when to quit.


Discuss this Journal entry [9]

Latest reply: Jun 28, 2003

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