Sunday, March 31, 2019

Txt mssgs can stink

I keep unearthing alternative titles that would fit well with the previous post.

One Big Text Mess


Another puzzling text message
YYURYYUBICURYY4ME?

Ray Bradbury first predicted this common societal distastefulness and failure of hasty thought we’ve sunk into now in contemporary society. Friends and colleagues misconstrue our texts for lack of tone and intent. Indigestible digests, flashy buzzwords and top level tweets all have become our contagious disease filled with adverse effects.

One of my work colleagues surprised me when he faced a tight deadline for his monthly advice column. He waited until the last day before his persuasive and informative article was due and then fastidiously filled out a magnanimous 700 word stream of consciousness, in ninety minutes flat. And it worked! He’s put himself into a good place to accomplish such a splendid feat, while evolving into a better person. His chosen broad background helps large to augment the quality which he spills organically from his fine pen. Perhaps he’s studied Alvin Toffler tomes to prepare for the Future Shock we find in our presence.

It’s true that some folks work better under pressure and I admire my friend for this sharp writing skill he’s developed. So maybe it is I, this Luddite, who needs to hasten his pace and catch up with our reckless era. With speedy serenity and prayer to boot! Yet, something about my friend’s quick working formula strikes me as potential for overlooking key points of information. 

Citizen toolbox class teachers like to reinforce the fact that showing up in person is usually the most effective way for accomplishing whatever mission you might be pursuing. Next in descending order comes: video-phones, regular phones and letter writing. Then we have carrier pigeons, smoke signals and e-mails. Lagging last are text messages and birdy telegraph wires. Marathon runner notes fluctuate with conditions. So why would you ever want to send a text message again, when most of these healthier communication options are still so freely available for applying your vital messages with uppermost clarity? Call our friends while we can. And let's show up well for each other, too!

Average wordsmiths can develop our mediocre skills with bound determination and passionate interest. Polished messages shine with enough time invested to delicately mull over each phrase and word. Frequently a 400-worder like this requires a good seven hours of midnight ethanol invested into the wee hours. Not including enduring timeless walks, crowned with hypnogogic-reverie naps to help process and nudge these focused thoughts through to the surface before consideration of zealous sharing. 
Accomplishing this at a suitable beat even comes down to a matter of respect for loyal readers.  

So, I think it’s healthy for us to have a couple of three works perpetually in motion that we can add and subtract to. A fluctuating living organism, much like newspapers themselves. Not to be blind to specific advantages quantum computing brings from our future, but more a cautionary tale and how we might discuss euphoric openings in the expansive digital arena, and how we might best apply those…


Answer
Too wise you are, too wise you be, I see you are, too wise for me!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Immediate benefits of bus riding


350 word version

New to Centre County I was surprised by the limited scope that bus services offer around Penns Valley. After riding for a year aboard the efficient, but thinly spread system, fellow passengers shared some observations.
They said our commissioners have long sought to expand these ride services. But studying feasibility tests, the managers don’t believe this will work because commuters enjoy the freedom of driving their cars and have tight schedules. Driving one’s car may give a sense of independence, but I wonder how many commuters have conducted self-comparative travel studies?
For instance, how much do you think you spend on vehicle maintenance, tires, tolls, bodywork, upkeep, fuel, depreciation, insurance, violations, parking tickets and meter fees? What about folks who drive drunk and hurt someone? That decision can prove more costly than the value of a new car.
Besides these much unconsidered factors, folks who don’t ride buses miss out on other enhancements: Riding the bus helps ease road rage. Neighbors get to know each other better and discuss community issues. We listen to educational recordings and music. We conduct business and hold undistracted phone calls, while cloud watching transported-daydreamers contemplate curious mindbenders, concoct riddles and share fitting bus witticisms.
Spring brings photo ops with wildlife watching. Just last week two passengers shared stories about their smiling spring bear encounters. These options give riders broad opportunities to smooth out and balance our characters, with wholesome fun more apparent now then compared to when we drove home alone.
Bus services now even provide convenient aps, which indicate if they’re running on time. They discount seniors, children and the disabled. On rare breakdowns, fresh drivers soon appear with relief buses or vans. In a social experiment for their new rapid transit system Provo, Utah’s Transit Authority increased their ridership five-fold in the first month. Riders generally become comfortable with using buses after simply trying them out a few times. When more folks here decide to become part of the traffic-jam and pollution solutions, the higher bus demand will then open expanded routes with frequenter stops.
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Saturday, March 23, 2019

A seven year itch


Does the person with the worst crisis win?

I understand I have a choice with how I react to harsh criticism and being a frequent contributor of letters of public interest, I’ve developed some thick skin. Every seven years though that skin gets a bad itch, which compels me to scratch it with a formal response.
*
Most recently, I shared some observations of how a day of overwhelming events culminated in enough angst that I sought out a (800) 273-TALK (8255) crisis line. My hope was that by sharing this personal experience that others would follow suit in their own times of dire need, because those emergency dispatchers were so kind and understanding with me. 
*
Yet some readers said they couldn’t emphasize with me and tried to belittle me for my inconsequential stuck elevator story. I first wondered if they hadn’t read it thoroughly, because I referred to my event with a fitting disclaimer as an ‘oxymoronic minor emergency.’ Minor emergencies of course are those that happen to the other guy. Then I wondered if perhaps their cynical viewpoint was part of a societal failure, because after all even EckhartTolle says, “About 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful. Observe your mind and you will find this to be true.”
*
Perhaps if I share more of what led up to my panic, understanding trolls will hand out a mulligan: That summer, I lost three close friends, with another in the hospital for a month. Someone who owed me $1,000 left town. My work truck broke down 3 times with expensive repairs. I experienced a mini-stroke (another minor emergency?) and couldn’t afford treatment. And then a neighbor’s unsettled dog attacked me, busting my eyeglasses - all of which I carried into the elevator that hot day.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Immediate benefits of bus riding


Immediate benefits of bus riding
(And some hidden costs of not)
draft 2 




Being new to Centre County I was surprised by the limited scope that bus services offer between Penns Valley and the bustling State College community. But after riding to work for a year aboard the efficient, but thinly spread transport system that Centre County offers Centre Hall, I gathered a few observations about why this might be.
*
My fellow passengers pointed out that our county commissioners have long sought to expand Penns Valleys ride services. But our transport managers believe this won’t work when they’ve held discussions and conducted feasibility tests, because commuters quite enjoy the freedom of driving their own cars and have tight schedules to keep. Driving one’s own car may give a strong sense of independence, but I wonder how many of these commuters have conducted their own comparative studies?
*
For instance, how much do you think you’ve invested in your own vehicles maintenance, bodywork and upkeep over these last decades? What about fuel costs and insurance?  Moving violations, parking tickets and meter fees? Car depreciation costs? And what about folks who gamble driving home after some drinks? And what then if they crash into somebody and hurt them? That shaky decision can prove to be more costly than the value of a new car.
*
Besides these sometimes unconsidered price factors, people who choose mostly not to ride buses miss out on other enhancements: Riding the bus helps ease road rage. We create time to get to know each other better, and discuss community issues. We can take quick power naps. We listen to educational recordings and music playlists through earbuds. Without distraction, we conduct business and make personal phone calls. We experience freedoms of cloud watching and daydreaming. On the bus we make book annotations and concoct riddles with gag prizes. We playfully share go-to jokes, solve crosswords and contemplate mindbenders. 
*
Other frequent treats we share in this merry commute include creative poetry sessions, seasonal songs in unison, catchy limericks rehearsed, and bus Haiku’s spoken. Spring brings colorful natural photo ops and wildlife watching. Just yesterday two smiling passengers shared interesting stories about their recent spring bear encounters. Overall, this multitude of options gives riders broad ways to smooth out and balance our characters. And we find this wholesome fun more apparent now, when we compare it to most of the times when we drove alone.  
*
Many bus services provide convenient aps, which indicate if particular buses are running on schedule. Seniors, children and disabled folks frequently qualify for discounted or free rides. On rare occasions when a bus breaks down, fresh drivers soon appear with relief buses. If additional commuters decide they want to be part of the solution for traffic-jams and pollution by taking the bus, the higher demand will open the possibility for expanded bus routes with frequenter stops.
*
Provo, Utah’s Transit Authority encouraged more bus riders by making its service free for a while. This increased their ridership fivefold in the first month of their new rapid transit route between Provo and Orem. Most riders quickly become more comfortable with using buses after simply going through the ritual of trying them out for a few times.  We too, can make similar improvements here, around our cutting-edge college town, when more of us decide to become a viable part of the solution in this modern bus era.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Unconsidered benefits of riding the bus
(And hidden costs of not)


Being new to Centre County I was surprised by the limited scope that bus services offer between Penns Valley and the bustling State College community. But after riding to work for a year aboard the efficient, but thinly spread transport system Centre County offers Centre Hall, I gathered a few observations about why this must be.
*
My fellow passengers pointed out that our county commissioners have long sought to expand Penns Valley ride services. But our transport managers believe this won’t work when they’ve conducted feasibility tests and discussions, because commuters quite enjoy the freedom of driving their own cars and have tight schedules to keep. Driving one’s own car may lead to a strong feeling of independence, but I wonder how many of these commuters have conducted their own feasibility studies?
*
For instance, how much do you think you’ve invested in your own vehicle maintenance, bodywork and upkeep over these last decades? Fuel costs and insurance?  Moving violations, parking tickets and fees? Car depreciation costs? And what about folks who gamble driving home after some relaxing after-work drinks? And what then if they crash into some body? That shaky decision can prove to be more costly than the value of a new car.
*
Besides these often unconsidered price factors, people who choose mostly not to ride buses, miss out on other enhancements: It has erased our road rage. We create time to get to know each other better, and discuss community issues. We can take quick power naps. We listen to educational recordings and music playlists through earbuds. Without distraction, we conduct business and make personal phone calls. We daily riders experience freedoms of cloud watching & daydreaming. We make book annotations, puzzling riddles with gag prizes; share go-to jokes, solve crosswords and other mindbenders. 
*
Other frequent treats we share in our merry commute include, creative poetry writing, seasonal songs in unison, catchy limericks rehearsed and bus Haiku’s spoken. Spring brings colorful photo opportunities with wildlife watching. Just today two passengers smiled while sharing stories about their recent bear encounters. Overall, this multitude of options gives riders chances to develop our characters more fully; and more so doable when compared with traveling alone in a car. Moreover, many bus services provide convenient aps, which indicate if particular buses are running on schedule. On rare occasions when a bus breaks down, fresh drivers soon appear with relief buses. If additional commuters decide they want to be part of the traffic-jam and pollution solutions by taking the bus, the higher demand will create the possibility for expanded bus routes with frequenter stops.
*
Provo, Utah’s Transit Authority encouraged more riders by making its bus free for a while, which increased its ridership fivefold in its first month of the new rapid transit route between Provo and Orem. Most riders quickly become more comfortable with using buses after simply going through the ritual of trying it out a few times.  We, too, can make similar improvements here, around our cutting-edge college town, when more of us do decide to become part of the solution in this ongoing challenge. 

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Helpful crisis hotline people



I didn’t know that such good help was freely available

A recent elevator jolt followed by a moments flickering of lights triggered a panicky flashback of a time when I once got stuck inside for real. Back then we had transported a heavy metal desk inside a tiny dumbwaiter sized contraption, which when we shifted it, likely loosened one of the carrier chains. Our long day had already been a challenging one of excruciatingly heavy lifting and I sensed my blood pressure rise when the emergency button fizzled. Fortunately I had a pocket phone to dial 911, where the dispatcher immediately empathized, as she too, had once been stuck in a freight elevator for three hours on a Texas hot day and without water.
*
When we escaped 20 minutes later, I dashed straight for fresh air and started singing “♫Green Grass & High Tides Forever.♪” That mask aside, I was still upset and quite angry. The building manager said no one should be using that elevator because people keep getting stuck in it. Well, what are “Out of Order” signs for? And right then the other half of our crew managed to do just that. At the end the manager asked for us to deduct for the time we were stuck in her elevator! And naturally, she didn’t leave us a tip.
*
That evening my anger grew into rage over the stupid incident and I felt I was on the edge of doing something rash; like smashing the elevator door with a sledgehammer, so no one else could get stuck. Yeah, that’ll sure show ‘em! I told myself that this wasn’t the real me, but still couldn’t calm down for the life of me. So for the first time I dialed a crisis hotline. 
*
It was 4 a.m. and I hadn’t slept a wink. Eric, a well-trained crisis specialist answered on the first ring. I was almost embarrassed to start explaining my claustrophobic panic, but Eric coached me to breathe and slowly explain what I was experiencing. 
*
Just when I’d been thinking that nothing in the world could calm me down, Eric engaged me thoughtfully for an hour’s conversation. We talked about various aspects of the incident as well as some deeper personal feelings. Finally as I grew weary, Eric helped me calm down enough to get some good rest.
*
I was surprised how much a one hour heart-to-heart phone call helped when I was experiencing a panicky crisis. Some people must be well suited for difficult jobs like these and I imagine they source their excellence from rigorous training and broad emergency experiences. I’m thankful for empathetic people like this. I didn’t realize how helpful they can be. One certainly made a difference for me. And I would encourage anyone else experiencing an oxymoronically ‘minor emergency’ like mine not to hesitate to do the same and reach out to one of these this free helpful resources, whenever they might come across their own dire time of need. 
*
Here’s a start for those numbers of many resources:
Last updated:
From the website:
“Whether you’re in crisis or are just looking help for a friend or family member, there are dozens of organizations available to help you deal with a variety of immediate concerns, from crisis situations and domestic violence, to rape and substance abuse. Most of these hotlines are available 24 hours a day, and can help you with whatever level of assistance you need — from general information about the topic, to helping you find an immediate intervention. The hotlines below are listed in alphabetical order according to topic.”
“If you’re suicidal, we recommend contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255. Additional crisis and suicide hotlines are available in the category below, Crises and Suicide.”
Need help for domestic violence? Call toll-free: 800-799-7233 (SAFE).

Immediate Online Assistance

Try one of these free crisis chat services:
Crisis Chat
Crisis Text Line (on your smartphone)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
IMAlive

Sunday, March 03, 2019


Small Miracle on Library Place?
draft 2
While riding our commuter bus, Jackie, one of the handicapped students suddenly dropped her library book, Michael Talbot’s groundbreaking Holographic Universe onto some molecules in the wheelchair aisle.

Notably, the book spilled open to a page that touched on both miracles and time. This unlocked a discussion where Jackie mentioned the curious book was long overdue, and she hesitates to check out any more books, because she often loses track of time.

A couple of us told Jackie that a lot of librarians like to forgive. They might waive the late fee if she mentions the fact that she was snowbound the day it was due and the roads were closed. Not only that, but we found out that Jackie was unaware she could have easily extended her borrowing time over her phone or even online – that is, so long as somebody else hadn’t already reserved the insightful holographic reading for their borrowed time, and if Jackie had her library card number ready.

I disliked seeing humble Jackie hesitating over this small change issue while still indecisive about checking out another book. 

Conspicuously, the next day I read that some libraries have developed innovative amnesty programs for encouraging poor people to comply with late fees. Following that, even waste-transfer and dump stations often give mulligans and occasionally designate specific drop-off dates for unwanted items and hazardous materials. 

Besides what I unearthed about libraries providing occasional forgiveness days (which doesn’t address the issue of existing overdue fees) some libraries have initiated a popular food-for-fines program, which helps by having a particular day where patrons bring food items in for local homeless shelter donations, giving one dollar credit of waived library fee per item. Sometimes they’ve found they need to apply a cap on the total amount they allow waived. 

I hope this refreshing news helps Jackie some with her decision. Her fellow bus riders wouldn’t like seeing her allow a few dollars to subtract from her important investment in our far-reaching and wide-reading universe.

Saturday, March 02, 2019


A Miracle on Library Place?

While riding our bus Jackie, one of our handicapped handi-capable students suddenly dropped Michael Talbot’s groundbreaking Holographic Universe book onto some molecules in the wheelchair aisle.
 *
Notably, the book spilled to a page that covered both miracles and time. This opened a discussion where Jackie mentioned the curious book was overdue, and she hesitates to check out any more books, because she often loses track of time.
 *
A couple of us told Jackie that a lot of librarians like to forgive. They might waive the late fee if she mentions the fact that she was snowbound the day it was due and the roads were closed. Not only that, but we found out that Jackie was unaware she could easily extend her borrowing time over her phone or even online – that is, so long as somebody else hasn’t already reserved the insightful holographic book for their borrowed time, and if Jackie has her library card number ready.
 *
I disliked seeing humble Jackie still hesitate over this small change issue, when considering checking out another book. 
 *
Conspicuously, the next day I read that some libraries have developed innovative methods for encouraging poor people to comply with late fees. Following that, even waste-transfer and dump stations often give mulligans and occasionally designate specific drop-off dates for unwanted items and hazardous materials. 
 *
Besides what I unearthed about libraries providing occasional amnesty days (which doesn’t address the issue of existing overdue fees) some libraries have initiated a popular food-for-fines program, which helps by having a particular day where patrons bring food items in for local homeless shelter donations, giving one dollar credit of waived library fee per item. Sometimes they’ve found they need to apply a cap on the total amount they allow waived. 
 *
I hope this good news helps Jackie some with her decision. Her fellow bus riders wouldn’t like seeing her allow a few dollars to subtract from her important investment in our wide-reaching reading universe.
*

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