Sep 232013

from the book: Life Will Get You in the End: Short stories by David Satterlee

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The title is sung to the tune of: I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” – a 1935 popular song with music by Fred E. Ahlert and lyrics by Joe Young. It has been recorded many times, and has become a standard of the Great American Songbook. It is one of several songs from theHarlem Renaissance featured in the Broadway musical Ain’t Misbehavin’. – Wikipedia

I’m gonna sit right down and write my love a letter…

My Dearest,

I love you – Simple – Direct – Plain
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. It just is; as it was meant to be. Timeless and absolute. I own your welfare. Your happiness, peace, comfort, security, and joy are all mine. If they weaken, I am anxious to restore them; when they soar, I rejoice.

I love you – Complex – Veiled – Intricate

How unfathomable you are! Lover of sunsets – Mother of girls – Teacher of children – Maker of bread – Singer of weddings – Grower of gardens – Sorter of buttons. So much more. So much deeper. So loveable and beloved. I begrudge time for slowing my knowledge of you.

I love you – I hold you close. 
I cherish the time we share together; the mundane and the stirring. Your presence is a comfort and a light. Your touch is a thrill and a craving. I eagerly give you my being and my aspirations. I gratefully accept your gifts of life and time.

I love you – I watch you fly.
Nothing grows when held too tightly. I treasure the experience of your individuality and change. Your achievements are my triumphs. Your commitments are my gifts. Your freedom to act independently increases what we can share.

I love you – I need your attention.
I am sustained and strengthened by all that we share. Your love builds up my power while giving to you strengthens my foundation. I am an indomitable force when directed; I am a child when lost. Working, living, and loving together creates a wondrous synergy.

 I love you – I trust your absence.

I cannot be your everything and should never aspire to that. But, we are linked at the highest levels of relationship. This trust endures time and trouble; it smoothes our time together and it eases our time apart. Go; do what needs doing and return to me when you’re done.

I love you!

Dec 292011

Source: Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy by Bill Clinton
Abstracted from pages 27, 28

Contrary to the current antigovernment movement’s claim to represent the intent of the framers [of the U.S. constitution], our founding fathers clearly intended to give us a government both limited and accountable enough to protect our liberties and strong and flexible enough to adapt to the challenge of each new era.

In other words, our constitution was designed by people who work idealistic but not ideological. There’s a big difference. You can have a philosophy that tends to be liberal or conservative but still be open to evidence, experience, and argument. That enables people with honest differences to find practical, principled compromise.

On the other hand, fervent insistence on an ideology makes evidence, experience, and argument irrelevant: if you posess the absolute truth, those who disagree are by definition wrong, and evidence of success or failure is irrelevant. There’s nothing to learn from the experience of other countries. Respectful arguments are a waste of time. compromise is weakness. And if your policies fail, you don’t abandon them; instead, you double down, asserting that they would have worked if only they had been carried it to their logical extreme.

[amz-related-products search_index=’Books’ keywords=’tea party ideology’ unit=’grid’]

Sep 302010

Solving the Afghanistan Puzzle | Hoover Institution

“A new research program is using the Hoover Archives to study the original Russian-language records of the Soviet Union’s long involvement in Afghanistan, including the ten years of intense military conflict there. Dubbed Mining Afghan Lessons from Soviet Era (MALSE), the program explores ways in which the United States and coalition forces serving in Afghanistan might benefit from the Soviet experience, as reflected in primary sources.”

Feb 152010

Source: “Authentic Happiness,” Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., Chapter 7

Bodily Pleasures

Pleasures are transient raw feelings that spring from sensory satisfactions along with positive emotional responses. These may be rudimentary sensations or the product of complex activities that require mental interpretations. Pleasures fade quickly when the stimulus is removed, and one may become habituated to them.

Higher Pleasures

Higher pleasures are likewise, raw, transient, and habituable. The distinction is that although sensual, they require rational cognitive processing to assign meaning.


Gratifications are engaging activities that may be reflected upon with satisfaction. These activities are the products of our human strengths and virtues.

Enhancing the Pleasures

The key to enhancing pleasure is to repeat sparingly, sample widely, and savor mindfully.

  • Habituation and worse
    The transient pleasures of sensation cannot produce lasting happiness. Increasing the intensity or frequency of the sensation only reduces the satisfaction with each event; this is a simple matter of the design of our neurological systems. Addictive responses to habituation can become not only unsatisfying, but damaging.
  • Savoring
    [Ref: Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff, Loyola University] “The awareness of pleasure and of the deliberate conscious attention to the experience of pleasure.”
    To promote savoring:
    • Share with others
    • Memory-building
    • Self-congratulation
    • Sharpening perceptions
    • Absorption
  • Mindfulness
    We usually fail to take notice of most of our experience, acting without much thought. Classically, this is due to allowing our mental activities to be flooded with unregulated stimulation and unsupervised thoughts. Mindfulness is a product of the maturity necessary to give deliberate attention to only the events at hand.
  • “Have a beautiful day”
    A student is assigned to “have a beautiful day.” This is not as easy as it sounds. Use the techniques mentioned above. Don’t let yourself become any more than momentarily distracted.
The Gratifications

Happiness can be obtained from both pleasures and gratifications. [See top of article.] Pleasures are associated with “the pleasant life.” Gratifications are associated with “the good life.” Gratifications are available abundantly to even those disadvantaged who are deprived of many potential pleasures. – “What is the good life?” Aristotle

The reader is recommended to Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Feb 102010

Do you ever get involved in something so deeply that nothing else seems to matter and you lose track of time?

Yes, frequently.

Throughout life, I have been prone to be introspective, voraciously curious, and a creative problem solver. I enjoy “disappearing into the problem.” I am more of a craftsman then an artist. Nonetheless, my explorations and projects easily consume my full attention. By the early 1990s I had discovered and read Csikszentmihalyi’s book on “Flow” and quickly recognized the altered state of mind that I cherished. Armed with a theoretical foundation, I have been able to more deliberately produce flow experiences.

I read and study more slowly than most. I often experience flow while working to understand, organize, and incorporate new knowledge into my belief system. This can be more difficult because I have a historically poor retention for details and I take the time to acknowledge and consider levels of ambiguity. I usually experience the deep-involvement of flow during this type of independent self-study; classroom instruction generally requires the opposite: waiting, diffusion, and disassociation.

Technical work has frequently produced flow experiences. These include designing electronic circuits, programming, analyzing systems, troubleshooting, computer programming, database design, and many others. In one programming project, I arranged with my supervisor to work for three weeks in an unmarked locked room outside of my departmental area, with no telephone or meetings. I brought a bag lunch and was usually able to stay in focus while walking to the restroom head-down and refusing to interact with anyone. I consider the result to be some of my best work. I tend to advance into a new technology or field of interest every two years or so. Early on, in an attempt to stay focused, I specifically excluded brain surgery from my potential career path.

I often find myself tackling new projects that challenge my existing knowledge and skills. At work, I have advanced and receive promotions, including directing the work of and teaching technical classes to engineers, by mastering new technologies almost exclusively through self-study. In one case, I was given full responsibility for designing and installing a new generation of plant-wide process data acquisition system at Amoco’s largest refinery. I frequently lobbied for and successfully introduced innovations.

I have replacing a diesel engine in my Oldsmobile station wagon with a computer-controlled later-model gasoline engine. I have undertaken home additions, outbuildings, and complex remodeling projects. At one point, I set and achieved the goal of becoming “a nationally recognized natural health educator.”

These are just a few examples. Essentially, I thrive on, and continually seek-out flow experiences. My current quest is to move beyond mastering technologies to building a better intellectual framework for understanding complex systems, especially the many strands and stages of human development. I find flow more and more often while writing to explain and interpret specialist-level material for interested laymen.

Addendum: I was recently delighted to discover a fictional model for my own life experience while impulsively reading a 1950s middle-school novel set in the period of the American Revolution.

Feb 092010

1. The weather report warned of snow and it looked like we were going to be locked in for the weekend. Dianna decided to pick up vegetables on the way home from teaching 3rd Grade and make a batch of soup. She has owned a restaurant, a catering business, and raised a family; she is a master cook. Although I have never thought that I could like turnip or rutabaga, her soup makes your mouth water as it cooks down. The spices permeate all of the vegetables and make every bite a delight. All three cats wait patiently for their turn at the empty bowls. We know they will turn their noses up at our broth so we open a real people can of tuna and sit, holding hands while we watch them enjoying their favorite meal too.

2. The new snow started falling in the late afternoon, approaching dusk. The huge round flakes drifted slowly down, hanging in the trees and carpeting the leaves on the forest floor. The work of the day was past and there was time to draw breath and pause. The snow clouds had been building all afternoon and it was Friday. Dianna and I stood on the back porch silently watching and listening. Everything was silent except for the subdued burbling of the spring-fed cascade falling down the hill to make its was past our cabin on its way to join John’s Creek.

3. The snow had accumulated deeply at 3,200 feet and, anticipating a slick gravel drive, we had put both cars about 50 yards above the parking area at our cabin. Trying to get Dianna’s car out to the top of the rise, I had, with repeated runs through the snow and slush, managed to get within 200 feet of the rise and had spent the last hours of the afternoon using a 12’ come-along to winch her car another 100 feet closer. I had given up and would call for a tow truck tomorrow. Sweating profusely I returned to the house, removed my coats and fell onto the couch.
Our bowling ball cat, Miss Skitty, has the prettiest pink nose and is a lover. Crawling to the back of the couch behind my head, she proceeded to give me a thorough cat bath. Starting at the hairline around one ear, she cleaned my sweat, including most of my bald head. Rolling my neck to help her find the next spot that needed attention from the sharp rasp of her tongue, I didn’t just allow her attention, but intensely enjoyed the service. When she was done, I leaned back so that she could rest on my chest while I cradled her with my arms.

4. The full moon was up, transforming the darkness of our hole-in-the-woods into a wonderland of shadows. On an impulse, we moved bedding to the pull-out couch in the windowed family room. It sags a little in the middle, but that just snuggles us closer and keeps us warmer. I know that Dianna goes to sleep better before a school day when she has me against her. We called the cats, who sometimes like to camp out on top of us at night, and dropped off to the flickering shadows of moonlight through the trees, the singing of the stream, and the purring of the cats.

5. The wood pellet stove has been shutting itself down. Using the schematic on the back cover and a voltmeter, I dive in and start troubleshooting. It is a tedious and difficult process. There are some errands that need doing in town and I include a trip to Radio Shack where I buy some small indicator lamps and splicing clips. Back home, I install them at vital points in the control wiring, plug the stove in, and press start. I quickly discover that several minutes into the start-up cycle, a forced-air discharge over-pressure switch is opening. It has to be an obstruction in the chimney. Raising a ladder to the roof, I knock old creosote loose from the mesh grating around the chimney cover. Besides enjoying the satisfaction of the trouble-shooting work itself, I treat myself to the pleasure of reading a good book, my feet propped up in front of the warmth and dancing flames of a balky appliance that has fully and readily submitted to me.

6. I attend two classes (Positive Psychology and Creative Writing) on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are both electives and both centered on student participation. Only those students who are sufficiently interested in the subject end up in class, and most all of them are comfortable opening up and contributing. The environment is upbuilding, intensely satisfying, and usually over much too soon. I enjoy being there and feel especially fond of the people with whom I share that time.

7. Last night was popcorn night. A light supper lets us indulge the extra carbohydrates. We chose the movie “Saint Ralph,” which turned out to be better than expected. The plot featured coming-of-age, triumph-over-adversity, and rightness-over-authority themes; it doesn’t get any better. Our routine works like this: It is my job to pick a popcorn moment—that unexpected twist or really quirky event that happens about thirty minutes into the show. That’s when I hit pause, get up, bring back two glasses of water, and make two bowls of fresh (not microwave) popcorn with extra real butter. Dianna always gets effusive about the smell and the taste. We snuggle into our places, restart the movie, start munching, and throw little pieces of corn to the cat that we refer to as Gretta Carbo for the occasion.



Brian Johnson of PhilosophersNotes has compiled an outstanding collection of quotations on topics of human potential, development, and performance. Use the links below to go to specific pages.  Then consider opening up your wallet and subscribing to his PDF and MP3 comments on important books.
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Effortless effort
Common opinion
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Dreams (sleep)
Emotional Intelligence
Million Dollars
Self concept
Time Management



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