On Morality – 2

The human plight of fragmented reality is the same circumstance as a severely tangled 100 foot extension cord. ”Is this really just one cord?” and “Finally, I found both ends but the cord reaches only 11 feet.” To solve fragmented reality, the entanglement must be addressed one tangle at a time and starting at the beginning of the extension cord.

In his book Mark Boyle forces himself to abandon money and industrial inventions. He was looking for the beginning of the cord – just him and Mother Nature. Mariner repeats Boyle’s description of a shift in his reality:

“. . . surprisingly, over time I found my reasons slowly change. They now have less to do with saving the world, and much more to do with savoring the world. The world needs savoring.”

An event that triggered his angst about reality today was a change in the Oxford Junior Dictionary, 2007 edition. The current publication deleted the following list of words:

Acorn, alder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow.

In their place the dictionary added:

Attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voicemail.

This action by the dictionary seemed contemporary and pragmatic but also troubled Boyle. Part of his preparation for living without the Internet was to stop googling modern dictionaries. Instead he obtained an ‘every word ever spoken’ dictionary published in 1785. He claims his understanding of words and the size of his vocabulary has improved. The speed of communication was dictating the speed of change rather than the existential experiences that normally modify reality. All the words deleted from the junior dictionary still exist and have contemporary meaning.

The ‘hurry up do it this way’ impact of machines, computers and communications is well documented. Mark Boyle’s key to successfully adjusting reality/morality is to slow down – really, really slow down; slow down more! To this purpose Boyle committed himself to writing his book longhand with a pencil. He discovered that his bad handwriting improved when he made himself write slowly – writing fast (like a computer) was the cause of his terrible handwriting. Citing mariner’s metaphor, Mark was untangling his extension cord, one tangle at a time.

Very few people have the opportunity or the motivation to live Boyle’s three-year adjustment to improve his perception of reality. There must be another way to examine and adjust one’s own reality.

Giving thought to untangling tangles, a suggestion from a psychologist’s treatise about the self [sorry but the name is long forgotten] suggested that there are four zones of emotional awareness: (1) within one and a half feet around the body is called the ‘intimate’ zone. (2) within ten feet is the ‘interactive’ zone. (3) within 30 feet is the ‘recognition’ zone and (4) beyond 30 feet to infinity is the ‘inactive’ zone. These distances aren’t for detailed mapping but suggest a change in emotional expectation. For example, three situations mariner used in the last post, McDonalds, supermarket and smartphone all occur in the interactive zone. Boyle’s three-year experiment was an attempt to reorder his intimate and interactive realities.

At the time he read the treatise, mariner would test it by seeing a co-worker or friend coming toward him. When they were beyond the recognition zone, say 40 feet, mariner would shout out a greeting by name. It was amazing how many were caught off guard and did not know how to respond until they were closer. Another test was when, in a normal conversation, he stood within the intimate zone of the person. It was obvious that the person was uncomfortable.

Society’s tangles are caused when one is expected to respond within various zones with information or actions that don’t belong in those zones. A classic example is when an individual is exposed to a situation that alters the reality of their recognition zone but should remain in their inactive zone – perhaps Donald saying the election was rigged without proving it. Being in the wrong zone disturbs the subconscious which has license to adjust reality even under false pretenses – hence the formation of a tangle.

Confusing emotional awareness for ulterior, unrecognized motives is the great sin of the Internet. The subconscious doesn’t need actual facts to adjust reality. Therefore not wearing masks in a pandemic because irrelevant information about government takeover and personalized inferences like voter fraud are combined and target the interactive mind– that is, information that belongs in one zone pops up in the wrong zone. If new information causes alarm, verify it based on the reality and morality of more intimate zones.

Repair does indeed require slowing down. Slow down to the point that the first zone, intimacy, is in order. Use the morality of the intimate zone to measure the morality of experiences in the interactive zone. Use the reality of intimacy and interactive morality to measure the value of the recognition zone. Finally use the proven morality of the first three zones to consider the importance and verity of the inactive zone. Much slower than letting Google give you the answer in one second. Being exposed to hate mail when your interactive reality says there’s no reason to hate is just one example.

There is another expression that fits this process: Lead with your heart.


Ancient Mariner

5G and Me

This post is written by a professional, published writer – mariner’s wife. The post is a true tale. Enjoy the quality.

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Where to begin?  I suppose I should begin with the letter I got from Verizon stating that due to new 5G technology that would be sweeping the nation, my old flip phone would not work after December 31st, 2022.  It behooved me to get a new cell phone that would be able to keep up with the pace of technology or I would be left stranded in the 21st century.  Or more accurately I would be stranded  in the 20th century– that ancient time when phones were plugged into the wall and phone booths  were on every other corner.

I don’t remember any problems with phones in the 20th century.  You either had one or you didn’t.   If it didn’t work Ma Bell would replace it.  Long distance calls were expensive, but that didn’t matter because you didn’t make them except for emergencies.  It was an easier time to live, but we didn’t know that then.

I was in no hurry to replace my phone, because I was on the fence about getting a smart phone since I had to upgrade anyway.  My husband, on the other hand, knew that he did not want a smart phone, and his old flip phone had died.  So together we went to the Verizon store to see what his options were.  They were two:  an $80 flip phone, or a rugged, heavy duty $260 flip phone.  He chose the $80 model.  I asked if this would affect our Verizon plan.  “No.”  The phone will be $80 and nothing else will change?  “That is correct, nothing else will change.”   Will we be charged a set up fee?  “We do not charge a set up fee, but Verizon charges $35 which will be a one time fee on your next bill.”   This seemed to be a straightforward transaction but it took some time to complete because my husband had 260 contacts on his old phone.  He paid the $80 and I signed the receipt as the Verizon bill was in my name.  I did not read the fine print.  I don’t think there was any fine print.

We were pleased with the service and the new phone.  However, the next day–the very next day–the phone did not work.  The screen was white.  I googled ‘white screen’ to see if we could troubleshoot the phone and what came up was “White Screen of Death.”   That did not sound promising.   Then we got an email from Verizon.  “Thank you for your recent order.  Here is your receipt.”  On the receipt I saw that we had paid $70 for the phone and were financing the final $10 at .23 cents a month for 36 months.   In addition there was a $14.99 a month charge for phone protection.   Phone protection?  At that price for a phone that was only $80 to replace?  It sounded like mafia protection to me.  Suddenly that pleasant straightforward transaction seemed kind of sleazy and we just wanted out of the deal.  Especially since the phone did not work.

I took the phone back to the store.  We wanted our money back.  We wanted the $14.99 a month removed from our bill.  All of that was fine with the store, but there would be a $35 restocking fee since it was our choice to return the phone.  “But it doesn’t work..”  Never mind about that, they would replace the phone for free, but if we wanted to return it, there was that restocking fee.  I decided it made more sense to get the new phone and hope it worked longer than one day.

They removed the $14.99 a month but when I got home with the new phone, Verizon thanked me again and $14.99 a month was on the new receipt.   What I don’t know is if Verizon will charge me for the set up fee twice–once for the phone that worked one day, and once for the new phone.  I called the store and asked to remove the new $14.99 a month protection and a possible second set up fee and of course they agreed to do that.  By the time I get the bill,  no one will remember any of this and Verizon probably hopes that it will just slip through the very deep cracks in my senior brain.

This should be the end of the story.  But there is a part two.  I called my friend, who I will call Mary to protect her identity, to talk about my frustration with Verizon.  She uses U.S. Cellular and had a similar experience of things being added to her bill, although in her case she knew what she was signing for.  There just seemed to be no end to the add on charges.

Her husband, however, had a tracfone and he had just bought $100 worth of new minutes–only to find out through me that 3G technology would not work after the end of 2022.  He called tracfone and they sent him a new 4G tracfone for FREE.  However, the new phone would not accept the minutes he had just bought.   So now he had two phones and 100 minutes that he could not use.  He could not go to the tracfone store because there wasn’t one.  The only customer service was online or by phone and he couldn’t get through for two days.

The next time I heard from Mary it was with this email:

“So now we have two phones, the old 3G and the new 4G, both with the SAME phone number and both with the SAME tracfone minutes!  Verizon service can’t decide which one to make a call or receive calls from.  Sometimes one rings or answers and sometimes the other.  Or nothing rings and the call goes to voice mail but you can answer during the voice mail and talk.  It is madness!!   He’s going to call tracfone again tomorrow but I say just forget them both and go to U.S. Cellular and get a new flip 4G with a NEW number.  I have a gun and I am ready to use it–twice!  Ha!”

I replied wishing her good luck, and as I sent my email–I got a pop up ad that took up the whole of my computer screen.  It was offering me a great deal on a new tracfone.

In the midst of all this, I haven’t even mentioned that we don’t get cell service in our house.  We have to go out on the porch to get or send calls.   Verizon’s nationwide service does not cover our living room,  but due to supply chain issues in the cellphone industry and rising costs due to inflation, our bill will be going up $12.99 a month starting in October, even without a protection plan.

I have decided to wait as long as I can before replacing my old 3G flip phone.  When the time comes that I have to hang up my old phone, I plan to get another plain black flip phone that will take me into the future as far as I can see.   I have decided not to get a smart phone.  They are too smart for me.

I am beginning to miss those phone booths on every other corner.

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Mariner here again. Did you notice that she received an ad for a tracfone – a term she had used only in her email? Mind your private affairs, readers; a bunch of folks are eavesdropping your email.

Ancient Mariner

Mother Earth is calling in the big gun

Has the reader ever heard of CMEs? CME stands for Coronal Mass Ejections. This is an event that occurs on the Sun. Most folks are familiar with sunspots as a phenomenon. Sorry to mix metaphors but sunspots are like big blisters that eventually pop and spray massive amounts of energy. Each sunspot is larger than planet Earth and can be as big as Jupiter.

When a sunspot bursts, the radiation escapes the Sun’s gravity and travels across the Solar System. The reader may recall a small CME disturbance last March when the northern skies were alive with an impressive display of Aurora Borealis; the display was caused by a CME that had minor interference with Earth’s magnetosphere – although southern Africa did have a momentary blackout of its electric utility grid.

Statistically speaking, a major hit by a CME occurs every 150 years or so. The last one occurred 150 years ago . . . The only electric grid back then was the telegraph. It took a few weeks to repair the grid.

Today, the entire world is wrapped in electrical grids. Consider local utility grids, corporate network grids, telephone grids, satellite grids and Internet grids. Where it took only weeks to restore the old telegraph grid, it may take several months to repair today’s grid laden world.

This statistic has not gone unnoticed by Mother Earth so add CME to climate change.

Have a fun Labor Day!

Ancient Mariner

The new law firm takes over

In a recent post, mariner used a metaphor suggesting that Mother Nature was taking over the issue of disarray in the human world. Here is an example of Mother Nature taking charge of economy, agriculture and civilian priorities:

AXIOS – “The heat wave roasting China is setting records for its reach, with an area equivalent to California, Texas and Colorado experiencing high temperatures exceeding 104°F.

Why it matters: At 71 straight days, the heat wave and drought have no parallel in modern record-keeping in China or around the world, Axios Generate co-author Andrew Freedman reports.

More than 260 weather stations saw their highest-ever temperatures during the long-running heat wave, according to state media reports.

The severe drought has throttled back China’s hydropower production, leading the government to cut power to key industrial hubs.”

So it isn’t only Europe, the United States and the Middle East having their toes put to the fire, it includes China and Southern Asian nations as well. The use of heat, storms, flooding, shifting weather patterns and drought are Mother Earth’s legal documents ordering humans to cease and desist. Fresh water is increasingly scarce; worldwide, industry and agriculture are suffering economically.

We have only begun to see disruptions to housing markets and other fiscal practices. It won’t be long before nations of the world have to stop profiteering and fighting wars in order to commit resources to Mother Nature’s style of reform.

Ancient Mariner


The Big Weekend

It is fortunate that society still is stable enough for most of us to have a life experience that is not based on daily news. Mariner and his family had a respite from global reality over Memorial Day weekend when he and his wife were visited by their son’s family replete with babies, dog and cat and also visiting were two of his wife’s nephews.

The rosebushes perked up for the event and were in full bloom; two colors of hydrangea were in bloom. Spiderwort, a permitted wildflower, too, was showing off. Miracle of miracles it didn’t rain the whole weekend!

Needless to say, the cuisine was upgraded with special (and expensive) foods, the grill was turned on and meals were served al fresco. Table dialogue was unusually diverse. Fortunately no one cared to be reminded of the outside world.

Mariner’s household usually is a quiet, two-person home but for the weekend, it was raucous, noisy, and a joy to actually be face-to-face with loved ones. Facetalk can do only so much.

In face-to-face contact, both conversation and behavior reveal the three-dimensional reality of each person, revealing how they’ve changed or how their lives have been modified. A large amount of subconscious processing takes place. A family that comes together stays together.

As instantaneously as it went from an old people’s home to a zoo, it has become hushed, quiet and mariner and his wife linger in the memories of the weekend.

Ancient Mariner


Birth events have shifted

The AP news service published an article today that is fascinating to think about. AP pointed to statistics that show women in their twenties have put off having children. Instead the average time for having children has crept into the late thirties and forties. In the grand scheme of things, why is this happening?

Wouldn’t our evolutionary processes prevail, that is, becoming pregnant as hormones and independence from parents become active? Mariner’s mother, certainly poor by any comparison, gave birth to him at the age of sixteen and his brother at age twenty. What has caused this move to not have children until the thirties and forties?

The statistics from AP: Fertility rates declined by almost 43% for women between ages 20 and 24 and by more than 22% for women between 25 and 29. At the same time, they increased by more than 67% for women between 35 and 39, and by more than 132% for women between 40 and 44, according to the Census Bureau analysis based on National Center for Health Statistics data.

Direct influences are related to finances. The importance of careers for women as security against uncertain times is obvious. In a related statistic, there is pressure for a financially stable household to be a two-income family. Who pays for childcare and related overhead for children while both parents work? Young families are forced to be practical and wait for more secure times before having a family. Yet, in mariner’s mind, his mother had no financial security but was not influenced to wait for better times; he wonders what is different today?

Another direct influence is pharmaceutical advances in birth control, something that was not available to his mother. Even with the advantage of birth control, why has the shift been so absolute? The statistics suggest that birth control made it easier to pursue a general conclusion to have children later.

Is the shift because Homo sapiens has become a four generation creature? Does this extra generation, largely not financially self-sufficient, add to the intuitive burden of their children?

Is this shift because Homo sapiens no longer has direct habitat-dependent requirements that lend themselves to tribal (extended family) society?

Is it because farming economy no longer is a slow, multi-generational experience that launches the process of gross domestic product?

Is it because modern technology has expanded the awareness of young people to a larger, more complex world?

How is this delay in building families related to falling populations in every industrialized nation? Is industrialized life too rapid and short-funded to allow for a society based on family-centric value?

From a broader perspective, do the planet’s rapidly shrinking resources cause an unconscious awareness that there isn’t enough to go around anymore?

Give this subject some thought. It’s certainly better than the general angst provided by cable news.

Ancient Mariner

If you’re past 50, pay attention

As regular readers know, mariner has been an advocate of maintaining strength in the quadriceps, the leg muscles that lift us every day. The primary enemy is the chair. One must, must, must, must do a few reps of squats every day to maintain a confident balance and dexterity with their limbs. The exercise also extends a lifestyle that is physically competent if even to getting in and out of a car.

See the link for an example.


Just as important, if not more so, is to walk at least a mile every day. The older the reader is, the more important this exercise is. Mariner often has referenced a part of the brain that doesn’t wake up until the body is in a continued pace. One must walk at one’s best sustainable gait. The brain exercises all the critical components including lungs, heart, circulation and caloric consumption. Drink some water before the reader leaves for the walk.

Ancient Mariner


Happy Easter

Even if the weather isn’t cooperating, Spring is leaping forward. Mariner’s seed trays are full of little plants eager to be put in the garden. Just today he received red onion plants; they must go directly into the garden bed. Also just today, the weather was mild enough for him to prepare the garden bed for those onions. Mariner is grossly out of shape.

Mariner truly can’t handle his entire garden anymore. Each year he makes a deal with Mother Nature to take care of an increasing part of the garden he can’t manage. He has mentioned in past posts about his partnership with moles to control Japanese Beetles. That worked out well.

He discovered a fine looking weed (perhaps a Speedwell variety) that covers the ground as completely as grass and has a tiny white flower. Mariner plans to use it in some beds and places where grass just doesn’t want to grow – and the ground cover doesn’t need to be mowed!

Given the advantage of living in retirement and thereby protected from chimpanzian aggression to survive, mariner’s need to compete with nature has subsided. Mother Nature has been running the evolution show for 3.2 billion years since the first microbial sludge pumped oxygen into a methane atmosphere. If one can pause for a moment while suppressing the anxieties of modern human life, one realizes that Mother Nature is the real, educated, experienced boss of the biosphere AND humans – who are a troublesome creation to be sure.

While the human version of a natural biosphere involves everything from lawn Nazis to massive open pit mining complete with poisonous waste, in fact Mother Nature knows what really works in the long run, human evolution notwithstanding.

So mariner lets Mother Nature manage what he cannot manage. It actually is entertaining to watch how she meters out the advantages and disadvantages to all living things as they take their place in the biosphere and in mariner’s yard. True, the yard is no French castle garden, but such presentation is not of value to Mother Nature.

One annoying element that is out of control (from mariner’s point of view) is rabbits. They are highly destructive to vegetables and flowers alike. Humans are to blame because they decided to live in large, crowded towns where rabbit predators choose not to go. Subject to the sins of his own kind, mariner must play the role of rabbit predator.

The world of life is fascinating when human judgments are set aside. Take a long moment to visit a naturalized park to see what reality really looks like.

Ancient Mariner

It is about the times

Mariner’s wife has a desktop Zen calendar. Most of the time mariner struggles to grasp the point of the quote but today it couldn’t be clearer or more apropos to these times:

“The dignity of man lies in his ability to face reality in all its meaninglessness.”

We must find our dignity within ourselves – in the world today the reader won’t find it anywhere else. There is no news outlet broadcasting good times. Even marginal advances in humanism and technology are fraught with negatives and controversy. There is the Putin war, the totalitarian legislatures, the republican autocracy, the uncontrolled metaverse, the age of misinformation, global warming, pandemics, housing shortages, inflation, skyrocketing medical expense, China, North Korea, societal disintegration, the age of mass murders, the destructive influence of venture capital, uncontrolled private equity, growing plutocracy, Christian-based Trumpism, abusive tax structures that protect the wealthy, ignorance about the disappearing biosphere, disrespecting the very immigrants who will bolster the national population and its GDP.

Okay, mariner will stop. Oddly, it seemed almost like good news when the news outlets broadcast the passing of Madeline Albright; it wasn’t, of course, but it seemed better because it carried no angst. Bless her; she helped run a more civil nation in a different time.

Within ourselves we must find stability, sameness, a reason we exist. We must use behaviors that show responsibility for others, by doing what we can to help victims of our age.

We must separate our emotions from our thinking. Pure, educated thinking is in short supply today. We must act with vision and wisdom.

As the Zen quote implies, we must search for a world with meaning.

Ancient Mariner


Gumption Again

Ambition: An ardent desire for rank, fame or power; a desire to achieve a particular end.

Gumption: Having a sense of enterprise, initiative; colloquially, common sense.

Virtually all mariner’s friends and most relatives are, graciously said, elders. Mariner has no friends in public school, no friends in college, no friends achieving their life’s ambitions, no close friends who are Zs, millennials or Xs.

Although still pretending to have youthful ambition, all his elected government leaders are in their 70s, 80s and (shudder) 90s. But this post is not about them. It is about all elders in general.

Mariner has selected the word gumption not only to represent its generic definition but to represent a generational definition specific to elders. It is the emerging lack of gumption as one ages that exacerbates the reduction of mental function, physical capacity and usefulness. Failing gumption has four causes: evolution, society, mentality and physicality. Each is discussed below.


Recognizing all the medical advances humans have discovered (except the invention just recently of CRISPR), we have lived by the rules of one million years of evolution. Until just 11,000 years ago, homo species lived within their environment, did not have overly expensive medical care, did not have transportation beyond their own feet, and were incapable of abusing economic philosophy. If we look at our recent predecessors like Erectus and Neanderthal, it was unusual to live to be forty. Our bodies are designed to be finished when several body chemicals and cells cease to reproduce.

Longer lifespans, regardless of how beneficial the medical industry is today, are unnatural. We are warned by our bodies that something is amiss when we experience ‘midlife crisis’, menopause and mental shifts involving ambition – starting in our forties!

It is common for folks in their forties to ponder a second, more interesting career (AKA less ambition, more self rewarding). Gumption wants to take a break, too. There should be no guilt at this point; the body simply has said, “Are you still around?”  From this point forward, however, managing gumption becomes critically important.


Society is a deep psychological phenomenon that evolved as part of the survival kit of herd living. Staying close to the herd reduced the odds of being captured by predators. Society is the herd pattern that evolves during our growing years – the things we learn subconsciously from Mom and Dad, the leaders of the tribe and personal experiences in the context of our daily environment. Interestingly, sociologists and historians have discovered that today a human herd pattern roughly has a sixty-year cycle, about the same as the life span of ambition, including another fifteen years for transition to the next generation.

Similar to the evolution constraint, our societal lifespan has an ending as well, perhaps somewhere between forty and sixty-five. Hmm, doesn’t retirement begin today at sixty-five? (Why are politicians exempted? sorry, political comment).

What this generational phenomenon has to do with gumption is that what we learned from Mom and Dad, our peers and life experiences has become largely irrelevant to the new herd pattern so we do not feel the urgency to ambitiously pursue what to elders seems less important. Unconsciously, we let our gumption slide, too. A simple example for men is not feeling the need to shave and dress neatly every day (adjusted for compulsive personalities). Still, we obey our herd pattern by visiting others in our generation. Sadly, often what is missing is a plan to create a personal ambition commensurate with our interests that will at least force us to act as if we were still the dominant generation. This requires gumption; gumption will delay other aging factors in this list.


Overall, there isn’t much we can do about degradation of the mind. It, too, is subject to evolution. Elders know intimately about forgetfulness, absentmindedness, struggling with bills and arithmetic, lip-slurring and general memory loss. Still, to one degree or another, having gumption frequently can delay the social ramifications of brain dysfunction.

Gumption to force one’s focus on personal ambition will slow the brain’s demise. An example is a serious desire to sustain a hobby at quality levels, doing all the chores and activity required for that ambition, along with continued engagement with the generational herd will sustain rationality if even a little bit for a few years – or for an extended life cycle. Many elders adopt the well being of other elders as an ambition.

Of course, the older we are, the more inevitable our evolutionary commitment will prevail but having the gumption to stay connected to an ambition makes the path more enjoyable.


Nowhere is the effect of aging more visible than in the physical condition of the body. Contrarily, it is the physical condition that can be altered and improved most by gumption. The most celebrated effort to use gumption for physical improvement is the annual New Year’s Eve resolution. If nothing else, the failure rate demonstrates the hard core commitment gumption requires. One can imagine a primitive era 35 year-old Homo habilis saying, “Must we hike back four miles to our camp? Why can’t we just camp here tonight and go back in the morning.”

Unlike any other enterprise, physical condition requires had-to-start-will-never-end ambition. It is extremely difficult to sustain today because of automobiles, hover boards, delivery services, food sellers and the insidious chair. Simply sitting in a full squat while eating will do wonders for balance.

An evolutionary function we inherited from the African Veldt days is a part of the brain that takes over body functions whenever we are running or walking for a sustained time at a sustained rate. This function controls and appropriately exercises all the circulatory, skeletal and muscular functions as well as lungs and heart. If there were one exercise that elders must do under any circumstance, it is sustained daily walking at an aggressive pace – and squatting or sitting on the floor without using chairs. If you must use chairs, use only your legs and do not let the arms help. How many elders can’t get up off the floor? If you did it many times a day, it would be easy. Damned chairs!

However, the intent of this post was not to promote physical therapy per se but to urge elders to take control of gumption. Make yourself walk back to camp tonight.

Ancient mariner