Monday, June 24, 2013

The Right Way

Hi All!

Hope you had a great weekend.  I finally got to work on my trailer this weekend -- have it about half assembled (thanks mainly to my air ratchet!).  Only had to take it apart and reassemble about three times because I put parts in backwards or upside down -- that's way better than average for me.

Summer's in full swing in Houston -- the heat has arrived.  Hope things are bearable where you are!

Let's move on our reading this week.  We'll again pull two cards -- the first suggests a particular attribute or positive message; the second suggests ways we can best recognize this message.

We'll start with -- The Hierophant.
The Hierophant is a rule follower.  When he needs to do something, he checks "the book" to see how it's supposed to be done.  If "the book" says it, then he doesn't feel it needs changing.

This guy really bugs me because he always has an answer -- but I do have to admit ... he's correct most of the time!

The "book" got to be "the book" for a reason -- most always, it's going to give you the best chance of success.  Even if it's not the most exciting or interesting answer, it's just about always the best answer.

What this means is that we don't have to wrack our brains trying to devise new and innovative solutions to our issues -- we just need to look at what the established and accepted wisdom says about resolving our issues.

When someone says "Well, this is the accepted way of doing it", we always feel "Yeah, but that won't work for me -- my case is special."  If we're really honest about it, though, we might find out our circumstances really aren't that unique -- and we can likely take advantage of the accepted way of doing things.

Well, that's no fun -- but it'll almost always work for us.  How can we best realize this?

Let's look at our second card -- the Ten of Wands.
The Ten of Wands is a successful card -- and it's successful because of hard work.  This fellow is carrying a heavy load -- and he likely carried a heavy load yesterday and the day before.  The hard work isn't wearing him down -- because he knows he'll be succeed if he just keeps putting one foot in front of the other.  He knows his key to success is to just keep working at it.

And that's how we recognize the positive message of the Hierophant.  The Hierophant's not going to give us a quick solution, he's going to give us the best solution.  And that means we're going to have to be willing to dig in and put in the effort necessary to realize that solution.

Don't get discouraged if you don't have a quick fix -- if you can see the solution down the road waiting for you, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will arrive in the right place!

Maybe a good message for the start of a work week -- just keep doing the right thing and plugging away; you'll be okay if you do!

And that's about it for now -- hope your week goes well; I'll look forward to talking again later in the week.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Make The Call

Hi All,

Hope you've had a fine week so far -- it's been a little busy here, but I'm starting to feel caught up. 

Spent an enjoyable time with my grand-daughter last night.  She's 4 and I'm trying to transition her from standard little kid picture books to more advanced fairy tales with more writing and fewer pictures.  She wasn't crazy about the idea, but after I read her a couple of stories she began getting hooked.

The good thing (besides being more interesting for me) is that she doesn't get all wound up looking at pictures.  Instead, she sits back and listens -- and gets relaxed instead.  Starting to get the concept of sleepytime "bedtime stories" introduced!

Weekend's coming up -- so let's jump into the weekend reading!

Our first card is -- Judgement.
Judgement suggests all those things you'd like to have if you were to be judged.  You'd like honesty, fairness, impartialness, patience ... things like that.  You'd like to evaluate situations without any preconceptions or bias -- which is exactly what you would hope for in a fair judgement.

So -- our first card suggest implementing this sort of fairness and impartiality.  What sort of situation should we be looking for where this would best benefit us?

Our second card offers a suggestion -- the Two of Swords.
This is really a choice card -- where we have to make a choice between competing solutions.  It's probalby not an easy choice to make, too.

What we normally do when faced with a difficult choice is ... to stall!  We put off making the choice, we'll think about it later, we'll gather more information, etc, etc.  All of this is just playing word games -- we're really just avoiding having to make a choice!

When you think about it, not making a choice is the same as making a choice -- since it obligates you to a course of action.  It's just not a course of action that you've chosen, it's a path that defaults to you because you haven't made a choice!

I figure it's always better to control whatever you can -- go ahead and make the choice!

Why might we fear the choice -- well, I think it's generally because we're concerned about making the "wrong" choice.  If you ask me, I'd say there is no "wrong" choice -- there are just choices.  It's what you do after choosing that determines whether it's "right" or "wrong".

And this is where "Judgement" comes in to help us.  Be fair and be honest with yourself.  Don't worry about preconceptions .. about what others may think .. about whether the choice is hard or easy.  Be honest about deciding whether what choices can be best for you.  Once you've identified this, make the choice ... and then proceed to implement the work (maybe hard work!) to make that choice work for you!

If you've taken the time to honestly and fairly evaluate your options, then you can't fault yourself on your choice.  You've honestly made the best call you could have made at the time.  Don't look back on whether you could have done differently -- instead, look forward to identify what you can do to make things work!

And that's about it -- hope you have a great weekend!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Doesn't Mean You Shouldn't Try!

Hi There!

Back from a beach weekend -- had a great time, ate way too much, enjoyed some rain, some sunshine, and good company.

The Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area along the Gulf of Mexico at the Florida/Alabama state line is about 8 hours from Houston -- we and the in-laws try to go every summer.  We usually visit on July 4th week, but it's always really crowded.  Tried it on Father's Day this time and crowds were much more reasonable.  Had some traffic on I-10 so we routed along the Highwy 90 beach road through Bay Saint Louis -- some really beautiful beaches (and no crowds at all) there!

Back home again, though.  Time to try to get back into the weekday thing.

Including the readings!  Let's draw our first card -- the Five of Swords.
The Five of Swords at heart is a competition card.  In this case, the card has faced strong odds and has overcome them.  Nice story -- of course, it doesn't always happen ... but it does sometimes!  We might take the message that just because the odds seem against you doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

Our second card extends the message -- the Wheel of Fortune!
Interesting pull here -- especially after my "plagiarizing myself" issues a week or so ago!  Since I'm writing my own message here, I don't have to worry about that anyway!

The Wheel reminds us that sometimes you're on top -- and sometimes you're not.  Or -- you win some, you lose some.

When we put these two cards together, we get the very real message that there aren't many guarantees -- if you try, you might win ... but you might lose.  Losing is always a possibility -- so you should accept that up front.

Losing is not a terminal condition -- just because you might lose doesn't mean you have to stop right there.  It's just another step in the process -- just continue the competition until you arrive at the solution you desire.

That's it for this one -- will see you later in the week!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Voltage Drop

Hi All,

Heading off to the beach in a few hours (Orange Beach, Flori-Bama area)!

To many folks, going to the beach means sun and sand.  To me it means relaxing in the air conditioning inside and reading.  I am such a party pooper.

Finished up my Jazz Improvisation course.  I'm posting some links to two of my assignments if you want to hear me destroying some guitar solos. (that's "destroying" as in bad, not in good!)

First solo,  This one was part of my final exam.  Right when I began, my speakers in my laptop blew out.  I grabbed some headphones to hear the backing track, but that meant I couldn't hear my guitar!  So, I did the solo "blind" as it were.  You'll hear a couple of bum notes because of this! (That's my story and I'm sticking to it)

Second solo was from a couple of weeks ago --  I still hadn't figured out the recording balance level, so the sound quality's not the greatest,  but I think the playing was decent.

Got a surprisingly low score on this one (we're graded by fellow students) -- one guy gave me near perfect marks, the other gave me a zero so it averaged out low.  He said he gave me a zero because it sounded like I had practiced it!  Well, duh .. of course I did!  That's how you get better at anything -- practice!  Did he think we weren't supposed to practice the material???

Anyway, passed the class okay and am now taking another class in audio electronics.  While the subject matter is interesting, the class reminds me of everything I detest in some college level courses.

The instructor's purpose seems to be to demonstrate how smart they are rather than teaching students the subject matter.  You see, there are a handful of mathematical functions you need to know to accomplish the goals of this class -- they're very simple functions and require nothing more than simple multiplication or division.

Rather than teaching these, the instructors are spending 90% of the time showing how these functions were derived.   Much more advanced math (calculus, linear algebra, differential equations) and much more confusing.  For this class, all we need to know are the functions and how to use them -- not how they're derived.

Fortunately, I found a website that teaches all this.  After less than an hour on the website, I now understand everything the other course mucked up in two weeks!

Okay, rant mode off -- since I'm beaching it tomorrow, let's get the weekend reading going!

First card -- the Page of Swords.
I've mentioned before that I call this the "Who let the kids play with the power tools?" card (oops -- did I plagiarize myself again!)

It suggests those times when you become completely absorbed by a new idea, cause, or project.  You're excited, you're enthralled, you expect everyone else to be equally excited (and of course, they're not -- and they're tired of you talking about it all the time!)

This sort of excitement and energy is wonderful -- it can carry you quite a far ways towards implementing your project.  But -- you might need to temper the excitement and become a little more realistic in order to be successful (and in order not to drive everyone around you completely batty!)  Basically, you can do harm to those around you (like swinging around a power tool) if you're not careful.

Our second card helps us here -- Justice.
Justice suggests fairness, patience, and handling things with reason.  Becoming a little more mature and realistic, in other words!

If our Page of Swords asks himself questions like these -- Am I carrying things a little too far?  Why should other people share my level of interest? Am I bothering or boring people? -- and can answer them fairly and honestly, he'll become much more even-mannered, easier to live with, and can still retain his interest and energy in a particular project.

Kind of like using series resistors to drop down the voltage in part of a circuit for an audio electronics project.  (Sorry, couldn't resist that!)

Y'all have a great weekend -- see you next week (I'm still out on Monday, so will probably be on Tuesday)


Monday, June 10, 2013

Do Good, Feel Good

Hi All...

Hope you had a great weekend.  I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped (it rained a lot), but did make some progress.

Had an interesting thing happen to me last week -- was accused of plagiarizing ... MYSELF!

I've been writing some Tarot articles for an internet directory.  One of my articles was rejected -- the editors claimed I had copied part of the article (my description of the "Wheel of Fortune") from someone's website pretty much word-for-word and provided a URL to prove it.

This threw me -- I've developed my particular original descriptions over 20-plus years and had never seen the particular URL they provided.  I checked it -- and yes, the description was pretty much word-for-word the same.

I then checked the publication date of the site -- January, 2012.  I checked the earliest I had used my particular Wheel-of-Fortune description on my blog site -- and it was February, 2007!  Five years earlier!  Turns out the other site had copied from me.  (And ... if you've been receiving these readings for a while, you know that I published weekly readings on my website for about 6 or 7 years before I started the blog.  So I'm sure I did it before 2007, but 2007 is the earliest I could prove.)

I sent this information to the editor -- they wrote back and said that while this instance was true, they had also found dozens of other sites using the same description, so obviously we were all using a common "purchased" description.

I checked the dates of all the sites -- and every single one was written after my February 2007 article -- and had all copied my text word-for-word!

Again showed the editor -- and he replied that it didn't matter.  Since so much plagiarizing was going on, they couldn't use any of the material -- even though I was proved to be the first and original author.  Basically, I was accused of plagiarizing myself!?!

Oh well -- I think I wrote a while back that one benefit of getting older is that you learn when you're not going to win an argument -- even though you're in the right.

So -- found a different publisher.  No more articles for these guys!

Let's jump into this week's reading (with original descriptions!)  Our first card is -- the Knight of Cups.
This is probably the one card that frustrates me the most -- mainly because it's so opposite of what I think people should do.

The Knight of Cups is a seriously emotional card.  He honestly is driven by his massive empathy for others.  When other people suffer, this Knight suffers even more because he feels so deeply for them.

Nothing wrong so far -- in fact, it's admirable that this Knight cares so much for others.  My problem with him is that this is about as far as he goes.  He cares about others -- but never gets around to doing anything about it!  He is basically paralyzed by -- and controlled by -- his emotions.  If he sees something as a problem, he likely thinks someone else should solve it.

(Note:  Look at the card.  Notice how his horse is just standing still and not moving?)

I see this attitude as a problem -- it started off okay ... the Knight took responsibility in recognizing an issue.  BUT -- he doesn't take responsibility in seeking out a solution.

I think that's the message we should receive from this Knight.  We want to feel for others -- but then we should do something about the problem.  Maybe it's reaching out to help someone who needs it, maybe it's just an encouraging word.  Maybe it's donating some time or resources to a needy cause.  Maybe it's replying to an article in a news journal -- or volunteering -- or joining a club.  Whatever we choose -- we're positioning ourselves better if we try to become part of the solution rather than just recognizing the problem.

And what happens if we do?  Let's look at our second card -- The World!
I mentioned on Friday that there are three "Happy Ending" cards in the deck -- and this is the best one of all!

And it fits perfectly right here!  How are you going to feel if you observe an injustice -- but don't do anything about it?  Probably pretty gloomy.  But -- how are you going to feel if you help someone who needs a hand -- you'll likely feel really good about yourself!

And that's "The World" -- we can best feel great about ourselves if we help others.  Doesn't mean we should quit our jobs and walk the world looking for people to help.  We need to be realistic about things -- but we can likely maintain our normal lives and still fit in places where we can use our skills, time, or resources to do good for other folks.  Volunteer at a library and read "story time" -- sew some cancer caps or fleece blankets for a children's hospital -- donate some teddy bears or toys to a women's shelter -- you don't have to seriously disrupt your normal life to make a difference for others.

And doing good makes you feel good!

More later -- off to the beach this weekend!


Friday, June 07, 2013

Change -- For the Better!


Had a lot of stuff going on this week -- but have cleared pretty much all of it away.  Hoping for a quiet Friday.

I'm planning on expanding my site at Sherwood Forest Renaissance Festival for next year.  Right now, I have a single bowtop gypsy vardo set up with a couple of outside tables for readings.

I'm planning on adding two more vardos -- one will be a French Roulotte style, not sure about the other yet.  Both will be built on small trailers.

Here's an example of the roulotte styling -- kind of like a pavillion on wheels.  My goal is to have at least two vardo's where my partners and I can perform reading "indoors".

Anyway, I've collected the two trailers (Harbor Freight had them on sale), but need to start assembling them this weekend.  So ... that's my weekend plans.

Hope your weekend will be more fun than mine!

Let's move on to the reading -- we'll again draw two cards.  One will suggest some concept we might consider.  The second will suggest a way we might best utilitze that concept.

Our first card is ... the Eight of Wands.
 This card is about movement -- about change.  It suggests moving from one place to another -- not necessarily a physical move, but perhaps an attitude adjustment or a change in the way you evaluate things.

Most people aren't too crazy about change.  I think that's because they're concerned things might be difficult ... or even worse ... after a change.  Well, it's true, they might.  BUT -- they also might be much improved -- so why not consider it?   If it comes with difficulties, then address and resolve those difficulties.  That's not anything different from what you have to do every day.  Once the dust settles, you may find yourself in a much improved place.

What does our second card say about this -- the Ten of Cups?
I tell folks there are three really "Happy Ending" cards in the deck -- and this is one of them.  I call this the "Happy Family Card".  It suggests that we'll find contentment in our relationships with our circle of friends and family -- with the people we most care about (and who most care about us).

Sometimes, a change makes it easier to recognize, appreciate and value those around us.  Sometimes it makes it easier for those around us to appreciate ourselves!  A change in perception can help us realize the things that are really most important.

Do you feel your personal relationships are kind of in a rut?  If so, shake things up a bit -- look for ways you can change both yourself and your interactions with those around you.  This might just clear away the clutter to help you best enjoy yourself and your family/friends.

Have a great weekend!


Monday, June 03, 2013

"Doggie Made Me Drop S'getti!"

Hello there!

Hope you had a fine weekend -- we had a little rain Saturday (was much welcome!), but the rest of the weekend was nice and bright.  Not as hot as you'd expect in Houston this time of year, either.

Didn't get out and do much -- spent most of the time cleaning up around the house.  Heading to the beach in a couple of weeks, so trying to get ahead of the mess curve. 

Made a major boo-boo last weekend.  Was spreading some lawn fertilizer -- had some left over, so I sprinkled it in the vegetable garden.  Bad move!  All my tomato plants died!  Oh well, you learn ...

BTW -- someone had mentioned I should put a Facebook "like" button on this page -- I already had one, but I think it was hidden because of it's location.  I just moved it to the top part of the right-hand column.  I'd be grateful if you'd give it a "like" or a "share"!

Let's take a look at our reading this week.  We'll start with the Two of Pentacles.

I love the Robin Wood version of this card -- it not only has the young man juggling ... he's standing on a tightrope while he's doing it!

Want to know how he feels?  Well, suppose you've got something in the microwave -- you're watching it because you know it's going to boil over in the next 10 seconds or so.  Suddenly the phone rings -- you grab it and it's your sister who starts off on a long story.  While this is going on, the dogs start barking and chasing the cat around the table; they knock over the garbage can.  You notice the dishwasher is leaking sudsy water about this time.  Your three-year old walks into the kitchen and announces "Doggie make me drop spaghetti on floor!"   Oh yeah, the doorbell starts ringing, too.

That's pretty much a Two of Pentacles experience -- it's those times where you're pulled in many directions ... or when you're trying to juggle and tightrope walk at the same time!

Happens to all of us -- although it does sometimes feel like the universe has decided you're going to get a double dose!

It's natural -- don't take it personal!  Don't get discouraged when your productivity suffers -- of course it's going to suffer!  All you can do is hold tight and try and weather the storm -- it will get better.  Prioritize -- deal with the important things, delegate what you can, stall on the rest and handle them later.

Whew!  I'm tired thinking about it -- what can we keep in mind to help us through these patches?

How about The Chariot?

I always think of Julius Caesar when I pull The Chariot in a reading.  Caesar was laser-focused on his goals -- he had the will to make them happen.  I'm sure he had Two of Pentacles moments like the rest of us -- but he didn't let them distract him from what he wanted to achieve.  He used his will-power to stay on course.

And that's what we should do -- don't let the Two of Pentacles become bigger than it really is.  Remember your goals -- and keep your focus directed on achieving those goals.

That's about it -- hope you have a great week!  Talk to you again in a few days ...