Friday, December 27, 2013

Spy Gear is Cool

Spy gear is cool. A six-year old boy with spy gear is really cool.

Battery-powered suction cups that can hear through walls. Dark sunglasses with mirror sides to spot bad guys trying to sneak up on you. A wrist watch that communicates by constantly beeping. Sylvan was showing me his spy gear he had gotten for Christmas.

I tried to think of something cool and spy-like I might have to impress him. My heavy-duty stainless steel bracelet given me by my friend John, symbolic of brotherhood and commitment, was on my wrist. I showed Sylvan how this powerful bracelet, if flashed in front me with Kung-Fu quickness, could stop a bullet headed straight for my heart. "Wow...", he whispered as his eyes grew bigger. My wife chuckled out loud--overhearing us in the kitchen. We both looked at her audaciously as Sylvan replied, "Oh, you laugh, huh?" with a mocking somber tone.

I told him about my secret spy cap (--given me by my wife and Millie, apparently for fishing at night.) It was an ordinary looking cap. but with a secret button that shot out two beams of powerful lights to be used for spy action. I gave him time to forget as he ran around the house doing spy stuff and placed the cap on my head.

We thought we heard something in the upstairs bedroom. You never know. It could be bad guys trying to infiltrate our mission. Sylvan and I quickly (with our gear) scampered upstairs. Opening the door it was dark inside. We bravely stepped in anyway. "It's dark in here. There could be bad guys," I alerted. With the quick wit of James Bond I hit the secret button on my cap. Lights flashed on. I was in control and quickly scanned the dark corners. "All clear," I announced. As Sylvan realized my spy cap and savvy spy skills at hand we exit. I hear him whisper to himself, "Nice."

I asked Sylvan where he got all this spy equipment, thinking surely an interesting story could be generated. "Target," was his terse response. In a tone of, like ... I should have already of known this. (Uh, duh!)

Sylvan suspected what might be a camera in the corner of the kitchen outside the window. Someone was probably trying to spy on us. I asked him who it could be. Possibly, the NAOBs (Nasty Association of Bad Guys)? Maybe the World-Wide Terrorists Against Kids group? The KGB? (I was thinking surely one of these witty organizations my mind came up with would be the culprits.)

He replied, "No. I think I know who though."

"Who, then?" I asked desperately.

"This kid I know at school," he told me.

"Oh," I said.

I later remembered one more item I had in the library. A normal "looking" book, that when opened to the right page revealed a secret compartment.

I offered to show where I keep my secret power bracelet, but we had to be careful the others didn't see us. (He was surprised I ever took it off. I told him I think it was pretty safe around here right now.) As we snuck upstairs (using our spy equipment as needed) we approached the hiding place. I got it down and dramatically placed my power bracelet within. His eyes were large with amazement and ponder. Such an ordinary looking book -- designed with such utter spy coolness!

Now we had to replace the book without anyone seeing us. He stood guard and announced to the other adults downstairs, "There's nothing going on here! No kind of spy stuff or anything going on up here!" They looked up at us in reply.

"They're watching us. We can't let them see us put the secret spy book back," I said.

"You guys don't look up here!" he shooed the other adults down below to not look.

We replaced the book in the library and went on about our spy business. He kept his eye on that spot in the library the rest of the night. The book blended in so well looking just like any other normal book. You never can tell what cool stuff might be hidden just beyond the covers of a normal looking book.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

She Wants To Do Something

Laing's book titled "Knots" explores double-bind types of people interactions and the psychological unconscious undertones that occur. Laing authored also, "The Divided Self" and was a psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia who proposed in the 60's that sometimes, as he put it -  "Insanity - [is] a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world."

In the spirit of R. D. Laing, one of the greatest explorers of the mind of our times, here is a scribbling I found of mine in one of my notebooks of a mysterious game exchange I find still occurring bewilderingly enough.


She wants to DO something. 
She pressures him "What do you want to do?"

He wants to DO nothing. 
The premise of the question seizes up His mind. 
He is unable to say He wants to do nothing.

She prepares Herself to do "something."

Under pressure, He tries to think of "something the He could maybe want to do. 
Or at least be willing to DO.

She wants him to be happy by doing something he wants to do.

He wants her to be happy by going along with something she wants to do.

They go do something.


She is temporarily happy "doing" something.

His is suppressing self-loathing and resentment for the loss of his own will-power and despairs into depression.

He snaps - gets angry, grumpy and ruins her fun "doing something".

She doesn't understand him... tries to appease him by hurrying home, but is hurt, angry, and her "fun" "doing something" is ruined.

He feels like a jerk and can't explain why.

She feels like She did everything possible to "do what he wanted to do" and get him out and have fun and is sad that nothing works.

He feels guilty He can't make her happy.

She feels guilty She can't make him happy.

They both go Home.

Her day is over and she is somewhat satisfied having done "something" but confused and frustrated some He isn't happy.

His day is spent and his despair deepens because time and opportunity of day are now lost and his time to "do nothing" is also lost. 

He despairs further.

In the morning, the same cycle starts again when She asks, "What do You want to do?"


I guess I might title it something like - I Don't Want to Do What You Want Me to Want to Do But I Love You and Want to Do What You Want Me to Do So I'll Try to Want What I Don't Want.for You


Happy landings in this game called life,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

If Time is of the Essence

If time is of the essence
And now is all we get
Then why can we not sit
And simply talk a bit

That poem from Josh Magnuson, my dear friend, is one that comes back to me over and over in my mind as a worthy question in life to be addressed to many people in life. Maybe the only poem I've actually memorized. I don't know if he ever published it or even actually wrote it down since he scratched it out somewhere back in the 80's. So, thought I'd pen it here at least once for the public. 

Here's another one of his I do know was published. I have a hand-written version in a letter written in August, 1989 re-written as I have it before me. I assume Josh won't mind me republishing it here. It's a bit darker perhaps, but I like it, and others recognized the power behind it also.


These figures in a bottle trying to hold my hand
"Come dance and sing and play with us
in a far-off wonderland."

But "No" I say with every breath
that issues from my mind
"The world is filled with short, sweet pleasure
of the most elusive kind.

So go and bother someone else
with your troublesome disguise
And leave me here alone
to seek solace from the skies."

Upon my speech they went away 
And not a word did speak.
But in the night, when my bed surrounds me
I wonder where they sneak

For life and all its drudgery
Are too easily undone
By a warm and easy atmosphere
And these figures in my rum.

*No, I'm not an alcoholic. I just see the different avenues of escaping from the "malaise" or "self as a vacuous hole" horrors.

Just thought I'd share a few treasures from my life from days gone by. Thanks, Josh. And a happy upcoming birthday.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

India Programmers in America

Working in the IT and Call Center worlds for the last 18 years I've worked with many people from India. It's been hard to sort out the subtle differences I've encountered. Partly because, being American I've been taught it's impolite to see differences. Americans tend to confuse equality with sameness.

In the corporate world it is almost taboo to even acknowledge cultural and ethnic differences, but obviously they exist and it's not immoral to try and understand differences. A friend put it to me this way paving the freedom for me to discuss the topic, "It's not racist to try to understand a culture." I've had many higher level college classes in Cultural Anthropology and World History so this should be self-evident. But somehow in the business world there is an unspoken rule of silence concerning even the most basic observations.

A good movie I saw awhile back addresses some of these differences in a light-hearted and funny manner. I'd recommend watching it to anyone involved in the multi-culture business world of today

Saying all that as an introduction, I'd like to note one key difference I find between Americans and Indians and hopefully more later.

Hierarchy Versus Flatness

Indians Assume Social Hierarchy.

There is an age-enduring almost biological basis for respect for hierarchies. It's very prevalent in the animal world and probably deeply embedded in human constructs too. Indian culture, from what little I know, has historically been a deep caste system with several distinct classes. This is understood by all Indians but Americans generally can't even conceive of it. With India's clash into the modern world, particularly through the modern influx of the Information Sciences to this sub-continent, this fundamental cultural bias clashes subtly but deeply with American egalitarianism. In itself, it has both a positive and a negative side.

Americans Assume Social Flatness.

The basis and cultural history that America prides itself in is equality of all men. It is written into our fundamental documents and has proven itself out historically to the point of a civil war between its own states to eliminate the long bane of slavery dominant in all civilizations from the beginning of time. "All Men Are Created Equal" is a rallying cry that goes deep to the heart of the American mythos. So deep, that Americas tend to be self-negating to the point of overcompensation with guilt and shame if even a hint of non-equality is shown. This is the emotional root power behind the PC movement and in fact creates a self-effacing downplaying of anything resembling the upper class. This self-degradation is a mystery to Indians. It is not a mystery to Europeans, who tend to jump on the anti-America bandwagon that Americans paradoxically support and encourage. Like the deep social hierarchical mindset, this cultural bias on its own also has both a negative and a positive side.

It is when these two cultural assumptions are not explicit or understood is when communications sometimes fail. This is only the most obvious of variations between these cultures. The more interesting ones are much more subtle and worth studying for discussion.

(note* this view was written in collaboration with an Indian friend of mine with good insights from living also in America. Thanks Padmaja.)

Who would you be if not you?

Alexander the Great --the great conqueror of the world, once told Diogenes -- a street-living philosopher who lived in a barrel surrounded by dogs, that if Alexander he had to be somebody besides himself, he would choose to be Diogenes.

Alexander the Great offered to fulfill any request Diogenes might ask of him. 
And Diogenes asked him to simply step aside from blocking his sunshine. 

If I had to be another person, it would might be Keith Richards, Winston Churchill, or Ayn Rand. The greatest of these being Ayn Rand of whom I think was possibly one of the most creative thinkers since Leonardo De Vinci.

Actually, I too think it would be most desirable to have been Diogenes the Cynic. I fear we may be much alike.


(Full version of the Diogenes and Alexander the Great encounter.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Isolate Yourself By Doing Data in the Hills - Like Me

Isolate Yourself By Doing Data in the Hills

... or, What I Do and Where I live

I am a Data Scientist

I've been a data-loving scientist most all of my life. Only now though is it a sexy career choice. Yeah for me!

I developed a model for data intelligence for the U.S. Army and other U.S. government military intelligence agencies about ten years ago when I was hired to organize and merge all their myriad Military Intel software programs into a unified Graphical User Interface (GUI) to be moved off big computers onto field laptops for easy field agent use.

The model I developed was a simple, intuitive and natural categorizing for all their existing software breaking down all intelligence steps into a three-fold process: Capture data, Analyze it into Information, and then Present it as Intelligence. I used the C.A.P. of these verbs to term it the CAP Model of Intelligence.

Bureaucracies Complicate Elegance  

As best I can tell, the U.S. Army intelligence model I developed morphed into something more to their suiting and less comprehensible. So, to this day the CAP Model, though really just the natural flow of phenomena belonging to nature itself - gather/digest/expend, is by copyright law (till they dispute otherwise) owned by me, as the original concept author.

I Work Today in Business Intelligence 

That means I write code, manage data warehouse infrastructures, supply and trouble-shoot data for reporting, and administer, use, or help others use various BI tools. These things mostly fall into the "C" side of the CAP Model.

Recently I did an objective survey of my job skills and found that though I make reasonable enough money to live how I live doing my present job, I despairingly fall into the bottom two percentile bracket of pay for who I am and what the market says I'm worth.

Up till now, I've been very happy doing what I've been doing over the last ten years of so since I worked doing military intelligence software stuff. It's a friendly environment with good people. I'm able to work from home 90% plus of the time. (The work is global and people are scattered so my physical location via remote computer is really irrelevant.) And it's a good company all in all to work for. Also, it's given me the freedom over the last two years to design and build my own own.


I Live in a Small Cabin 

My Small Cabin - Wife, I, and Her Father Built Also
...on five acres with my wife and two dogs on the Blanco River in the heart of Texas, known as The Hill Country. I am very isolated, bordering vast non-populated areas, and have lots of interesting wildlife to keep me constantly entertained.
The Narrows, five miles upriver - middle of nowhere

Eventually it became time to build a larger house to entice my own children to come visit me, provide larger space for friends and family, and to give us all a little elbow room. I've almost completed the new house.

Being a natural scientist (one who continually explores, postulates, discovers and synthesizes information - yes, the natural CAP model), I've been content with my head down enjoying the work of studying, managing, and trying to control, build and present data. With the latest evolution of things in this field, I think the simple job I've been doing and will likely continue doing is becoming much more recognized as a science that business is willing and anxious to utilize.

I think I will continue doing what I naturally do and expand my skills in this field into some of the latest technologies and hopefully find a good place to live.

It will probably be as a Data Scientist in that house on five acres out here among the wildlife in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. With my wife and two dogs. And anybody else that wants to come by.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Good Marriage Therapy: Read Atlas Shrugged Together

My wife and I for the first time are reading the same book. After 35 years of marriage and hundreds of books we've each read and read independently, we finally purchased a copy of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and are each reading it. I recommend it to all married couple to try at least once.

The problem is of course when she's reading it I can't. And visa-versa. So of course it's good that it's a 1,000 page plus classic.

That's all.

I recommend the book absolutely for all human beings. And I recommend reading a book at the same time as your spouse. It provides entertainment, thought, and conversation fodder. Not that we needed it really, but what the heck, I think it's good marriage therapy.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Be A Builder. Make A Home. Find Primal Satisfaction.

There's nothing cooler than building your home.

I've had two homes built for me - where I picked out the plans and details and had someone else build them for me. I've taken one old house where I and my father-in-law rebuilt the interior and attic and made a home. (I was 21 and getting a wife.) I've built one cabin on my own (with my wife's and her dad's help when I was poor) from dilapidated lumber of an abandoned cabin.

My present efforts are the first time I have designed from scratch, and then proceeded to find the money and either build a house myself or find and pay someone to do aspects for me - things like pouring a 2,000 square foot slab or working out the architectural details on paper. And with the help of my wife and friends who have lent me tractors and tool-pouches and ladders and labor, I have done most everything else. Everything from pulling stumps to installing the electrical wiring - to floors, paint, plumbing, appliances and ceilings. (Framing though was done by Juan Manual Ponce, a genius and an angel.)

Achieve doing this once in your life. It is a requirement for fundamental satisfaction. It can be done. And I've been doing it. No other satisfaction has come close to this. Nor maybe ever will.

Most animals build their own homes. Modern man tends to hire other men to build it for them. It has not always been that way in history. See what it's like to to build your home and live in it.

There is primal satisfaction in doing so. Man was meant to build. And to build a home is mysteriously fitting for a man's search for the pride of who he is meant to be. Try it and find out yourself.



I experiment all the time and nearly in all things: fishing, body movement, musical instruments--everything! That's what makes life interesting and full of possibilities. I am always assuming that the one great truth or break-through is simple and right before our eyes. I am convinced that we can't see it due to the blindness of culture, past events, and generally just being locked into "the way it's always done" illusion. The power to create is damned because we close our eyes and minds and take fruit handed to us.

Stretch your body in different ways; eat more, less, different; drive a different route; fish with different lures, make your own lure, or put it on backwards; think weird thoughts; walk backwards; invent things, if they don't' work - oh, well!

Stop assuming everything's been figured out already, or someone else already knows the best answer.

I am convinced that the simple fishhook (angles-bent, barbs, etc.) has yet to evolve to its highest form. And once it does, it will (only after the fact) seem intuitive, simple, and obvious. This same level of technical superiority has yet to be found in many, if not all aspects of living. And it can only be discovered by ordinary people experimenting.

Chinese medicine with acupuncture developed over centuries by experimentation. There was no knowledge of the Chi meridian paths till they were found by experimenting. Who would've thought? Needles!? Invisible energy!?

The weed-whacker, yoga, dog breeds, continents and worlds are all discovered by experimenting. Test the water. Don't look to someone else! Try something! Anything! There are no experts - only discoveries to be made!

Mitch Sanders
April 19th, 2002

Sunday, September 1, 2013

All of Life's Important Questions Can Be Asked Once You Know Your History

Without a sense of history, you don't even know how you got to where you are....


This provides context. Who are you? How did you get here? You can't start to answer until you have a sense of the flow of the people that came before, and the people that came before them and on and on.

Whether one's cosmology is creation or evolution, recorded history of man began in the Mesopotamia valley about 6,000 years ago. From there, civilization and recorded history began. Women begat children, and those children had children, and on , until you were born. Who were these people? What did they think? How did they feel? What circumstances did they endure? And what skills, attitudes, and faith did they carry in their genes that allowed them to survive to the point where you were born? You carry those same genes and heritage.

And what of the countless family lines that have died out? What mindsets, circumstances, and fate decided the doom of some over the perpetuation of another? You and I came from the survivors. Will these elements that carried people in history carry the future? And what affect will we have had once our lives are history and future people either survive or die?

Having a grasp of the flow of the causes and effects that have occurred up until your lifetime provides a context for understanding in which all life's important questions can them be asked and the answers pursued.

Mitch Sanders
March 14th, 2002

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Self-control and self-discipline are important. In this age filled with constant attention grabbers and distractions along with pop culture's constant commercial thrust to indulge our every passion, you have to be able to ...


If we slept whenever we felt, ate anything that tasted good at the moment, said whatever popped into our minds, indulged every sensual and sexual titillation, we waste our lives in trivial satisfactions that soon undermines our whole existence and the joy that can be found in being fully human.

If we turned our heads every time a TV in a room said, "Look at me!" or a billboard on a highway said, "Look here!" or the phone rings, or the clock says the time is.... (on and on)--then we are no more functioning human beings than Pavlov's dog that salivates at the ring of a bell.

If our lives are directed by the wants and the demands that thrust upon us either from our external environment or our internal passions, then in the irony of seeking the freedom to do what we want, we instead do what we are genetically or culturally TRAINED to do!



Mitch Sanders
April 16, 2002

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

From Paper to Reality

Amazing how you can design a house just on paper and then actually construct it based on that.