Monday, August 13, 2012


All banter aside, one topic comes up that needs to be stressed.  There is an assumption that those who work in and are familiar with investments are the ones who deserve rewards for their risk-taking.  I don't disagree with that, but then there is a fundamental failure by many to understand other kinds of risk and other kinds of risk-takers who "invest" with a different kind of capital. There are artists who often forgo more profitable lines of income for what they believe enhances, informs and enlightens--they are not poor schnooks who couldn't get it together, but people who have a vision and risk their own financial security for what they believe contributes not only to their own enlightenment but to the richness of life for others.  There are teachers who are highly-functioning, well-educated people who work with the underprivileged or the challenged or simply with students exposed to the lowest common denominator "business plan" version of education out there today in order to bring them into the world with some sense of purpose, hope, initiative, dreams.  None of these artists, teachers, and dreamers expects that their efforts will garner a financial windfall, and indeed, not all of their efforts are monetary or artistic successes, but the reward of contribution to the society is the primary goal, and the occasional success of these social goals is gratifying.  Still, many of the rules created by the business class and the PAC-bought politicians not only penalize these kinds of contributors but seeks to nullify the growth of opportunities both for artists and the future leaders of America they teach or help to shape.  They lump artists and teachers into some kind of "loser" category, and penalize their visions by keeping affordable healthcare out of reach, driving the cost of dwellings up, and reducing the availability of societal services down.  When faced with accusations of inequity, the conservatives immediately point to the handfuls who abuse the system parasitically, without any real examination of whom they seek to penalize.  The "have-nots" are easier to disregard when they are faceless and dismissed--less guilt involved.  When one is condescendingly lectured by a fiscal conservative about the splendors of financial risk deserving all the rewards or told by the politicians who court them that all "waste" will be eliminated so their constituents can make more and more money, there is something vitally wrong, since our leaders need to represent the interests of all--THAT is what our founders sought, not the greatest control and power in the hands of the few, and those who hide behind this flag-waving falsehood are merely trying to divert attention--this is the land of opportunity for all who participate in all ways, not just for the privileged few.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Things I learned from Solitaire

When struggling to find meaning in meaningless things—or when trying to procrastinate from doing things you’re afraid to tackle--one sometimes wanders into the good old modern American pastime of computer Solitaire.  If you’re like me, you feel incredibly guilty, even as you sit like an addict, playing “just one more game” because you just know that this time, you’ll get it right, the cards will come crashing to bits (on the computer, that is!) and you’ll feel some sense of justification having allowed far too much time to go by that you could have been “productive.”  It is then, and only then, that you stumble away from the computer like a drunken sailor, dazed by the endless flashes of cards and the even more endless range of choices made semi-rapid fire.  A diversion has attempted to become therapy, but ultimately, it has been just a guilty distraction.

Under these circumstances, I tell myself that the game is actually both a training and a discipline and that I do strengthen and teach myself through constant practice.  If that which does not kill us makes us stronger, then multiple games of Solitaire (logically) will teach many life lessons that will be useful later on.  Here, then, is a list of things I learned from far too many games of Solitaire.
  1. There are no foolproof strategies.
  2. Even the best choices don't necessarily end in a win.
  3. Cheating at Solitaire feels very unsatisfying—because every player at the table knows you did it, so you didn’t really get away with anything!
  4. It helps to observe everything and to take every opportunity that comes along--you never know where it will lead.
  5. You can't always predict what's coming next, so best to play the hand you're dealt as best you can.
  6. Eventually, you will win one, so you have to remain patient.
  7. Sometimes you have to go through a lot of possibilities in order to get to the right one--it's not a waste, it's the process of discovery.
  8. Sometimes it is better to go with your gut and just keep the momentum going versus trying to get it right.
  9. Celebrate the surprises, and don't leave before the celebration is done.
  10. Losing is just one more experience to strengthen you, because you do survive it.
  11. Sometimes it takes only one card to change the tide.
  12. Sometimes, the healthiest thing you can do is walk away.
  13. Winning feels good, so enjoy it, knowing full well that you will be starting all over again in just a few moments.