Escaping Bad Luck: Friday the 13th

Today causes many people to worry.  It is the subject of much superstitious belief.  Today is Friday the thirteenth.  What many people don’t realize is how easy it is to avoid bad luck on such days as this.  Here are some practical suggestions as to how to increase your chances of having a good rest of today.

1:  Break your mirror so that you won’t have issues with bad hair days, not looking good in your outfit etc.

2:  Give every black cat you see a good rub down so they won’t follow you around, and get in your way.

3:  Try to shoot all the magpies in your yard because they make a mess and are incredibly obnoxious.

4:  Make sure you invite enough people at dinner to fill thirteen places at the table.  Thirteen is just he right number for good table discussion.

5:  Yawn without covering your mouth.  Contrary to popular opinion, ghosts are scared of nasty human teeth.

6:  Refuse to eat fish today.  All fish have an internal clock that tells them when Friday the thirteenth is and they release toxins onto their blood streams.

7:  Wash your sheets today.  I don’t know why.  It just seems like a good idea.

8:  Walk under as many ladders as possible.  The angled and slated design is excellent for shedding falling objects while still providing reasonable visibility.

The last and most important way to avoid having bad luck is to realize that “luck” doesn’t exist.  It is as impossible to not have something that doesn’t exist, as it is to have something that doesn’t exist.  (Or to have bad something that doesn’t exist, depending on how you look at it.)

Hope you find these helpful little tips to be useful and have a great rest of today, now that you’re safe from nothing.

 

~Wyatt FairleadBlack Cat and Broken Mirror

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Naturally Problematic

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I saw this picture the other day and I couldn’t help but start to think. I laughed, but my wheels just started to spin. Why is this funny? Because we as humans can’t help what we think about, or dream about. There is part of us that we simply can’t control. Our nature, our essence, what we are. This is the part of us that we never had a say in, and that we still don’t. I began to think about human nature, how often the decisions we make have unintended and unfortunate consequences. How often we are blinded by our own ambitions and desires, not even realizing that we are hurting others in the process. There is something about human nature that tends toward trouble. Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have said, “if a man could have half of his wishes, he would double his troubles.” That is because we don’t know what is good for us. We are so focused on what we desire, that we loose the big picture. I realize that this is somewhat of a ramble, but I have been musing on this, and it had to come out.

~Wyatt Fairlead

College Graduation: My Experience.

Any of my faithful followers will know that I have been earning my Bachelor’s degree online for the last 2 1/2 years.  Well, now I am done.  If I could sing (which I can’t), and if I could dance (which I am only proficient at a small number of Civil War dances, and that really don’t seem to fit the bill), and if I could throw a party (oh, I am going to throw a party, anyway…) all those near me would be deafened by the Hallelujah Chorus and would perceive me as floating over the ground, as I would be dancing as hard as I could.

With an introduction like that, you would think I didn’t like college.  In a way, you would be right.  On the other hand, I greatly enjoyed my college experience, atypical though it may have been.  This is a milestone post for me.  This is my description of what I did, why I did it, and what I got out of it.  This is my unique college story.

 

I earned my Bachelors Degree in a manner considered unusual by the vast majority of the population.  I accumulated all but nine of the credit hours necessary to complete my degree through testing.  For any who may not be aware, there are multiple services that offer online examinations, which if passed, may be transferred to colleges or institutions as potential credits for that course equivalent.  For example, way back in 2010, (I guess that isn’t actually that long ago) I took a CLEP test for College Mathematics.  It was the very first college testing that I attempted.  (Worst first has always been my motto.)  By the grace of God, I passed and did not have to take an online course for math at the college I eventually enrolled in.  So that is how it works.  Two and a half years of sitting on the couch studying for tests.  All right, so that isn’t all I did.  I worked with a good friend of mine doing remodeling off and on as well as some yard work for some other family friends, but basically, it was study. (Ironically, I hate studying, because you never know when you have studied enough.  I like projects or assignments.  You work until it is done, and then you don’t have to think about it again.  With studying, you are never done studying until you pass the test.  There is always something that you will not remember, so naturally, I find myself doing two years of it.)

 

Before I continue with my story, I must explain my mindset going into college.  This mindset plays a very important part of why I did what I did.  So here it is:  Going into college, I did not want to go into college.  This mindset stemmed from two fundamental facts about me.

Fact #1:  I have problems being motivated to learn things that seem to be irrelevant to me.  My classic example of this is algebra.  I had a very hard time with algebra.  It wasn’t because it was too difficult for me per say, but I saw no point to it; no practical outworking.  Despite myself I built a wall in my mind and said, “This is not worth my time, I will not learn it!”  (Which of course works out great for getting through high school, as we all know.)

Fact #2:  I don’t know what I want to do with my life.  The purpose of college, in my mind, was (and to a certain extent still is) to prepare you for what you are going to do with your life.  If you have wanted to be a carpenter for as long as you can remember and at sixteen you could basically build a house because you had been working with your Dad for your entire life, then getting a Bachelors degree is not just a waste of money, it is a waste of time.  Your goals can be met without it, so why bother?  Conversely, if you don’t know what you want to be, why not wait until you do know what you want to do so that you don’t waste your time and money getting a degree that won’t help you?   That was my mindset.

 

Now that we have my wonderful frame of mind established, we shall continue with the story.  So here comes this unmotivated, grouchy person, all set to spend the next few years of his life studying, which he doesn’t like, subjects, which he finds irrelevant and uninteresting.  The Dali Lama would say that my parents have “Acquired Much Merit”, but I will simply state that they gave me, and my bad attitude, grace out the wazoo.  The scuffles and altercations over whether a college degree was worth the trauma of learning Sigmund Freud’s ideas on child development, etc. were for a time dramatic and regular.

 

Eventually, I came to the realization that I was doing this thing and there was no way out.  I could put my best foot forward and take the terrible torture of higher education like a man, or make everyone else as miserable as I thought that I was.  While I cannot say that during the study period I was ever completely and totally content, I found, much to my chagrin, that once I had resigned myself to the fate of learning, my eyes were opened to pools of knowledge that I was only barely aware of and never really interested in.  I actually began to enjoy it, in some small degree.  Now I could understand what was generally being discussed when a successful businessman friend spoke about the Federal Reserve’s management of inflation.  When my family took it’s annual trip to the Book Fair the classics section had new meaning.  New names stood out.  I recognized others besides Shakespeare, Dickens, Austin, and Twain.  I knew Collins, Irving, Malory and Johnson. (Perhaps that shows my terrible ignorance of literature.)  I’m not saying I’m a “Renaissance Man”, or anything like it.  I simply now have a slight appreciation for much more than I ever had before.  As it turns out, this is exactly what my parents had been telling me all along. (Strange how often that happens.)  I wasn’t getting the education because it was relevant.  I was getting the education so that more things might become relevant.

 

It is a common misconception of mine that because I don’t know about it, it’s not there.  Now before you go making too much fun of me for such an egocentric perspective, I think everyone suffers from it.  For example, have you ever tried to do something and found yourself saying that you didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was?  This is what I am referring to.  You didn’t know what all was involved, so you assumed that everything you had thought of was all that was involved.  All this to say, broadening my horizons and perspectives showed me how much more there was, which I had no idea about, in a very concrete and real way.  Of course if you had asked me before college, I knew that I only grasped a tiny bit about anything, but now I KNOW that I only know a tiny bit.

 

So, I went through test after test, and book after book.  While I had gotten past disliking the study for it’s own sake, it did eventually start to wear on me.  It was right about the time that I had had about as much studying and test taking that I could stand that I finally enrolled in Thomas Edison Sate College, which is primarily a distance learning college.  After such a long time operating with very few guides or benchmarks, the online classes allowed me to operate on an assignment basis.  (Imagine that!  Doing school assignments.  Novel concept.)  While the interface was somewhat new to me, and it took me a little while to get all my “T’s” crossed and my “I’s” dotted, I really started to enjoy my classes.

 

I took two classes, and found them both thoroughly engaging, but they were completely different, right down to the fact that one required interaction with other students and the other didn’t.  These classes are only just now finished and I thought that I would explain them a little and what they were about.

 

War and American Society:  This was the class which required no interaction with the other students.  I must say that this class was more intrinsically enjoyable for me.  There are several reasons for this, but before I give them to you, I will give my brief description of what the class was about.  War and American Society is a study of United States history through the lens of the wars we were involved in.  (If you have been following my blog at all, you have read most of my work for this class already.)  Ironically, there aren’t very many significant gaps in the timeline in this kind of study.  The subject material of this class was enjoyable for me because its whole purpose was to learn about American War history, which anyone who took a brief look at my personal library would attest is a passion of mine.  In addition to enjoying the reading assignments, all I had to do was write one or two short essays a week.  What? Write about something I enjoy?  Twist my arm!  Because there was no student interaction, the time involved for this class was minimal, relatively speaking, and I learned a great deal, enjoying every step of the way.   (Who knew Henry David Thoreau was a post modernist?  Anyone who had read him before?  Oh well; it was new to me anyway.)

 

Liberal Arts Capstone:  This class is a required course for all Thomas Edison State College graduates.  It was designed to be the culmination of your area of study.  Essentially, the course is simply a step-by-step process that takes you through writing a bachelor level (mini as I always called it) thesis paper.  You were supposed to select a topic that was relevant to your current occupation or area of study.  Mine, being history in general, with no specialization, was rather a large subject area.  Almost anything I wanted.  This class was much more of a challenge.  While I would not say that I necessarily enjoyed it, it gave me satisfaction.  I enjoyed certain aspects of it, and the challenge of doing something completely new and foreign to me was certainly a rewarding experience on many levels. The main feeling I have coming away from that particular class, however, is one of satisfaction with having completed, with significant help from a patient professor (AKA mentor, in Thomas Edison lingo), a project that would have been (or in reality was) very overwhelming to me.  Special thanks to Dr. Haydel for working with me, and to my fellow students, whose discussion posts and conversations I often greatly enjoyed, and whose feedback I found most interesting and helpful. (Particularly Miss… Hmm, perhaps she should remain anonymous… with whom I somehow managed to discuss such wide and varying topics as religion’s role in the founding of the U.S., the pro’s and con’s of our family business model, and the basis of laws in morality vs. individual persons beliefs.) (I think we strayed off topic the most.  Interesting conversations though.)

 

So, now it is all over.  I’m done and off to work.  In conclusion, I have decided that it was well worth the time and effort that was put into it.  I do not necessarily think that my approach is the best for everyone (clearly not in many cases such as doctors, etc.), and I am not even sure that college in general is the best course for everyone.  What I do know is that for me, it was the correct choice and that God drug me kicking and screaming, because it was the right thing to do.  I am only done today because he wasn’t going to let me quit, stall, or fail.  I can’t count the number of times I wasn’t sure if I was going to pass one of those infernal online tests; but somehow, God passed me on all but one.  (And I’m not sure I deserved to fail that one, but that is a whole other story.)  Finally, before I close, I want to thank my parents and my sister for all their support, understanding, and cattle prodding to get me to move along.  It has been a wonderful, if trial filled, experience for me.  I dare say it will help me in the future, even if I never have to worry about the law of diminishing returns, or what it was about Tintoretto that made him an important painter.

~Wyatt Fairlead

1st Anniversary

Well, this is (roughly) the one-year anniversary of my blog.  As I considered the various and sundry things that I could do for an anniversary post, I had a couple ideas, but then I thought that nothing is better for an anniversary than to look back on goals you had and see if they have been accomplished.  For this reason I am reposting the very first post that I ever did.  This post outlines my reasons for starting the blog to begin with and to remind myself as well as my followers what this whole bit is about.  So without further ado, here’s to the future goals by looking at what has been done!

 

 

     Since the idea to start a blog came into my head, I have been asking myself whether I should start one, what its purpose would be, and what it should encompass.  I am of the opinion that if I can’t answer these questions for myself, I can hardly expect anyone else to understand what I’m putting out there in the ‘Quasi World.”  (Namely the Internet and my blog.)  That being so, and consequently my first posted opinion; I will set about to answer those questions for myself and for you.

As to the first question, I have had a difficult time figuring out the answer.  If I am going to start something along the lines of a blog, it is a real time commitment.  I would want to spend time thinking about topics and researching topics and then writing about them.  I would want to spend time responding to any comments or other thoughts.  This not to mention time it takes for initial setup and then small changes here and there just to keep things interesting.  That could add up really quickly if you let it, and time is a precious commodity.  I am studying for collage classes right now and if I’m not careful I can become easily distracted. (Don’t judge me to harshly however.  After all, it’s not exactly pleasant to study what Freud believed about child growth and development!!)  So I must ask myself, is the time necessary to keep a regular blog something I can commit to.  I have decided that, yes, I believe I can.  As to why I have come to that conclusion, you will find the answer in my purpose for the site.

So now I have some explaining to do.  How do I justify this use of time? (Not that it is necessarily a bad use of time; I am simply referring to me specifically.)  I justify it based on my hope for its purpose.  I hope and intend my blog to be of educational value.  Doing a blog can present many learning possibilities.  It will give me the incentive to research and study new topics as well as discuss different ideas, and that is where I will depend on anyone who happens to see this blog to comment, object, question, or ask questions.  That is really what I am hoping for.  There is nothing more eye opening or educational than to have one’s ideas challenged.  I have found that often times people are so caught up in there own little social bubbles (myself very much included) that they don’t even realize that there are other views and opinions on certain topics.  Having challenges brought up against your position is a great way to force you to think about what you believe and why you believe it.  That is a major reason why I am beginning this blog.  I want to be forced to think about what I say and my opinions. (So there you have it; an open invitation to be contrary and argumentative.  Well not exactly.  Rational reasonable conversation might be better.)

Lest you begin to think that this is all thought and no fun however, I will now answer the last question.  I am viewing this blog as a creative outlet.  If I do a little video project or take some nice pictures, etc. don’t be surprised to find them here.  Neither am I limiting written content to serious topics only.  I like to think I have a sense of humor. (Usually bordering on sarcastic or satirical.)  “While I myself don’t call it great, my friends have said…” (For all you Jane Austin fans.  Anyway, if I have a funny thought to share, then I will definitely do so being a firm believer in the benefits of laughter.  Well, there you have it.  I have explained in my own terms what I hope for this blog.  If you are willing and able to assist me in my educational endeavor, please do so!!  The success of this experiment depends on you!!  I sincerely hope you will find the material enjoyable and/or thought provoking.

Welcome to What Happens In My Head.

-Wyatt Fairlead

Le Marquise de Lafayette

Well this is the second installment of my school essays that I am going to share.  You probably already have an idea on what it is going to be about.

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Le Marquise de Lafayette

It is extremely difficult to decide on a single person or event on which to write an essay from a time period that was so full of interesting and important characters and innumerable crucial moments.  Among the many possibilities, a friend suggested the Marquise de Lafayette.  The more I thought about it the more appealing it sounded, (although I only thought about it for a few seconds.)  Lafayette stands out among the other prominent characters of the Revolution.  This is because he had everything to loose and nothing to gain.

In order to understand why he would be willing to take this great risk, it is necessary to get a little background information.  The Marquise de Lafayette was born in September 6, 1757, at Chavaniac, France.  He went to Collège du Plessis and the Versailles Academy, and after gaining military training became a second lieutenant in the Musketeers of the Guard on April 9, 1771.  After his marriage he was promoted to captain in the Noailles Dragoons Regiment, where he became acquainted with the commander of the Army of the East, the Comte de Broglie.  They became friends and Broglie introduced Lafayette to the Freemasons.  It was through his affiliation with the Freemasons and other groups of thinkers throughout Paris that Lafayette learned to appreciate the concepts of human rights and even came to believe in the abolition of slavery.  He heard about the struggle of the American colonies and their struggle with Great Britain.  With his newfound convictions and a relationship with American agent Silas Deane to encourage him, he decided to accept an offer to join the American army as a major general. His family however did not approve and had him transferred to a post in London, but on his return to Paris, he was still resolved to go to America.  With the help of Broglie and another friend, he left for America against the express command of King Louis XVI, and avoiding multiple efforts to detain him, he set sail in a ship he bought at his own expense.

When he finally reached America, Congress grudgingly granted him a commission only after he offered to serve without pay and even then he still did not receive a unit.  It was not until Washington took him as an aide-de-camp that he saw any action. This action was at the Battle of Brandywine, where he was wounded in the leg, but acquitted himself well and was noticed by Washington who recommended him for a divisional command.  He was given Major General Adam Stephens division and fought under Major General Nathanael Green in New Jersey.  He safeguarded Washington’s command, alerting him to Brigadier General Thomas Conway’s attempts to have him removed.  He made an alliance with the Oneida Indians, and then returned to Valley Forge in time to lead a reconnaissance in force to ascertain British intentions around Philadelphia.  During this operation he proved his military prowess by successfully extracting his force in the face of 2:1 odds at the Battle of Barren Hill.

After the Battle of Monmouth Lafayette rushed to Boston to smooth things over after public rioting broke out when the French fleet left off supporting operations in Rhode Island to return to Boston to refit.  The Americans viewed the Admiral’s actions as not fulfilling the alliance, and so Lafayette asked for permission to return to France.  After returning to France he was briefly imprisoned for his earlier disobedience to the King, but afterwards was able to successfully lobby with Benjamin Franklin for an additional 6000 French troops.  After returning to America in 1781 he was engaged in operations against the traitor Benedict Arnold and was also observing the army lead by Major General Cornwallis.  He operated in this theater until the Siege of Yorktown in and the surrender of Cornwallis.  After the war he returned to France.

There is no doubt Lafayette contributed significantly to the American war effort in many ways.  His many military successes aided Washington in his campaigns and on multiple occasions his ingenuity as a tactician shone forth.  His forces were nearly trapped by superior forces on several occasions and only by his quick and brilliant intervention was he able to extract them. (The battles of Brandywine, Barren Hill, and Green Spring.)  His loyalty to Washington was able to head off the infamous attempts to undermine the best commander available for the American forces.  His contributions to the revolution were both significant and varied.   Among the most notable, was his influence on France’s renewed support of the war with men and supplies together with his assistance in coordinating the fleet and land forces at the siege of Yorktown.

During the war, Lafayette did much to further the cause of the Revolution both in France and in the colonies.  The question remains, why?  As mentioned before, he had everything to loose and nothing to gain.  He used his own personal fortune and abilities to aide in an endeavor that was at best unlikely to succeed, or at worst, nearly impossible.  He committed himself totally to the war effort with no real chance of gain and before there were any appreciable signs of events turning in the favor of the continentals.  He came to America, at his own expense and peril, deliberately disobeying the King.  Why?  The answer is because he was a visionary.  Like the Founding Fathers, he believed there was a better way of life.  He believed in ideals and was willing to lay down everything for them, even without reward.  All of Lafayette’s successes on the field of battle; all his influence in the working alliance with France; and all of the personal funds he devoted to the revolution affected the outcome of the war strongly and in many ways, but the thing that the Marquise de Lafayette shared with the founders that made the most profound effect upon the Revolution was vision.  He believed in an ideal, and he was willing to lay down everything to gain it, and that, to gain it for others even if not for himself.  That is the legacy of the Marquise de Lafayette.

Wyatt Fairlead


The Quasi Return

The Quasi Return

 

            As any of you who have previously been following my blog are aware, there has been absolutely nothing to follow for a solid two months, and it was pretty sparse long before that.  For this, I do apologize, though with the express knowledge that it is not a very sincere apology, as there is very little likelihood of real change for another few months.  This not because I don’t want it to change, but because I greatly suspect that it won’t.  I have had very little choice in the matter.  College calls, if you know what I mean.  I therefore suggest a compromise.  I was bemoaning the other day that I am so busy writing essays for school that I never felt like doing any other writing when I finally got done; and then it struck me.  I could always regale my online audience such as it is, and if in fact I even have such a thing, (this not to denigrate those who perhaps do qualify in any way, but more to point out the fact that there is very little worthy of an audience contained in this blog.) with those very same essays in question. 

            This blog is after all named “What My Mind Does,” and school seems to be about all that my mind is doing at the moment.  All that being said, I am about to commence my “quasi” return to blogging.  Hope you all will not think this compromise to ridiculous.  Here goes.

 

Wyatt Fairlead     

The Nail

I have a rusty and slightly bent nail in my possession.  It should probably be thrown away.  It serves no purpose and will never be used for anything; it just sits there being useless.  Somehow, though, that nail holds a strange fascination for me.  What could possibly be fascinating about a nail? I will tell you.  It is square.  For any of you that may not be aware, that means that my fascinating nail is relatively old.  It was probably handmade in the mid-1800’s.  It came out of a cabinet a friend of mine was refurbishing because it and several of its counterparts had worked themselves loose over the years.  They were replaced by the far superior and much more practical screws, which were discretely placed so as to leave the piece looking as original as possible.  All the other nails that we removed were disposed of, but I couldn’t help rescuing one of them, and there it sits on my bookshelf.  So I ask myself again, what is so fascinating about this nail?  It has nothing going for it.  It is merely old, and because of that fact, it is now cluttering up my room.

There is some quality about old things that intrigues me.  They are tangible links to the past that just seem to call me to pause and reflect.  What was it like to have to make nails?  That is something that I dare say 90% of people never think about in their entire lives.  We may not even think about how things are made now, to say nothing of how they used to be made.  To make every single nail by hand: what must that have been like?  It is a strange reverie, but a worthwhile one I think.

Wyatt Fairlead