Saturday, February 21, 2015

Accomplish in the Future

This month's Round Robin is about things you want to accomplish. Do you have a bucket list? 

I don't, not exactly, although there are some places I'd still like to visit like the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the Louvre in Paris; but I would hate the plane ride over and back, so the journeys are unlikely. I'd like to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Field Museum in Chicago again. They are both close enough to drive and perhaps share with grandkids. We'd visit in the spring or fall because I hate leaving my garden in summer. The growing season is much too short here in Northern Michigan. One of the main reasons I don’t like traveling is I am most comfortable in my own house and surroundings. I do, however, have things I want to accomplish. I like creating 'things.'

About thirty plots and character lists are sitting in a file on my computer. I was going great guns until writing helped me get a great part-time job and slowed down my production. I've been working on two books for the last six months, one of which every time I write a few paragraphs I have to recheck my research or do more research. I'd really like to finish those two stories and move on to the ones waiting in that file. There is a problem there, too, as new stories and different characters keep invading my mind, and while writing this and other blog posts provide good promotion and allow me personal expression, it takes time away from fiction writing.

I also have a quilt and some other needlework pieces that if I don't finish soon, the fabric and threads will start disintegrating from age. That is just one of my hobbies, although after the break I have had from picking up a needle, I don’t know if it falls into the ‘hobby’ category any longer. I also like to draw, paint, do calligraphy, make pin dolls, and bake bread. (I finally found a Russian Black Bread recipe that tastes like I remember from the defunct Pretzel Bell Restaurant!) I do a lot of Zen doodling (Pinterest)  when I don’t have a book to read at night. Painted faux finishes in marble, leather, water, adobe, and other murals cover the walls of my house. The photo below shows one of my pastimes (see pin dolls for other designs). Reading falls in here, too, but I’ve covered that topic in a recent post. Yet, I often feel guilty devoting time to these activities, and I am not sure why. Maybe because I consider them just putzing around.
Angel Pin

My writing and my hobbies are my bucket list I guess. These things I want to finish and then continue with more new writing and craft projects. That said there are a few important events I want to witness: the graduation of my three grandchildren, and I'd like to share more time with my family, although they claim my visits too short. I suppose they are but feel that no one wants to outwear their welcome, especially me.

So there it is, not quite a bucket list — just a continuation. What objectives are on your bucket or still to-do list?

Be sure to check the blogs of the following authors who are also blogging on bucket lists and future accomplishments:

Skye Taylor 
Fiona McGier
Marci Baun 
Diane Bator
Victoria Chatham
Anne Stenhouse 
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire 
Rachael Kosnski
Geeta Kakade
Kay Sisk
Connie Vines
Judith Copek

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

All Things Nine

Nine is the last of the digits exclusive of zero, which usually comes first as in before you have anything, you have nothing. One through nine plus zero makes the basics of math, nine seemingly the penultimate.

Cardinal: NINE
Hindu-Arabic: 9
Ordinate: Ninth
Roman: IX
Greek: Theta
Pythagorean number: the ennead
1+8, 2+7, 3+6, 4+5, 3x3

The Roman words of nine are novem, and nonus, from which we get November or the Roman ninth month, and the word noveni meaning nine each. The Greeks used ennea or ennead for nine.

September is our ninth month now, but November was ninth month of Roman Calendar. The Roman Emperor Augustus had two months inserted, one in recognition of Julius Caesar and one to immortalize himself. This turned November into the eleventh month. Nones was the Roman ninth day before the ides, which included the seventh day of March, May, July & October but the fifth of the other months. None is also the day's ninth hour, and a liturgical hour of prayer for Catholics.

In science Fluorine, represented by F, is the ninth element on the periodic table. Nine is the cube of three. Humans have a nine-month gestation period.

In math, the product of any number multiplied by 9, if the numbers are added together until one digit is left, it will always be nine. 9x9=81=9; 657x9=5913=18=9; 22483x9=202347=18=9

Bowling has nine pins to knock down with the bowling ball. Tic-tack-toe has nine squares, and craps has a 'niner from Carolina.' Every baseball team has nine players on a team and a game consists of nine innings.

In the Christian religion nine choirs of angels: the Seraphim, Cherubim, Aeons, Hosts, Powers, Authorities, Principalities, Thrones, Archangels, Angels, and Dominions, although they are also known by different names. The Ninth Commandment is Thou shalt not bear false witness. None is the ninth hour after daylight set aside for prayer or around 3:00 PM, while a Novena is a period of prayer lasting nine days. Christ is believed to have expired in the ninth hour nailed to the cross.

A few associations with nine include the claim that nine is a holy number as it is the cube of the trinity. Nine has been associated with the descent of divine power to the world. In the U.S. Great Seal, the eagle's tail consists of nine feathers.

The ninth house in astrology is the House of Sagittarius, symbolized by the archer. It is the house of intelligence, philosophy, and education including travel and interaction with others to achieve those goals.

In mythology and folklore, the Egyptians had nine deities in the Ennead, including the god Atum and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Shu and Tefnut, their children Geb and Nut, and their children Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. Greek and Roman religion had the nine muses, Calliope who encouraged epic poetry, Clio who encouraged history, Euterpe whose domain was song, Erato who fostered lyric poetry, Melpomene who covered tragedy, Polyhymnia of hymns, Terpsichore of dance, Thalia of comedy, and Urania of astronomy. The Greeks believed in a nine-headed water monster called the Hydra.

In prophecy, nine is the last and greatest of the series of digits 1 through 9, which comprise the root of all things. Numerology assigns nine to the letters i and r. Nine is considered the greatest of all primary numbers because it contains the qualities of all the others. It reduplicates the creative power of three and stands for completeness. When multiplied by any other number, the sum of the digits making up the final number is always nine, which signifies a tendency towards egotism. Nine represents the pinnacle of mental and spiritual attainment, so it becomes the number of consciousness. It is the Trinity of Trinities and the first square of an odd number. Because it fell short of the perfect number 10, nine can be associated with failure. Because of the nine-month gestation period, it is the number of man. Nine represents a limitless number because there is nothing beyond it but the infinite combinations of it, the previous digits, and zero; therefore, it was associated with the ocean and a boundless horizon. Nine is sometimes regarded as evil because it is an inverted six.

In Tarot divination, the Hermit card is the ninth card and indicates pure intellect. Nine is the number of initiation and includes silent counsel, prudence, and discretion. It represents receiving wisdom from above, instruction from an expert or a meeting with a guide who sets the seeker on a path to material and spiritual attainment. It indicates the means to attain goals, but a journey may be necessary to gain knowledge.

Nine, because of human gestation, represents life, creation, and the fulfillment of humanity.

Mars, because it has always been connected with war, indicates the inability to accept and work with the prevailing circumstances.

Nine in mythology and lore:
The nine white winged horses of Helios
The Greek Sun God
Sign: the scepter and the orb.

Common usage includes sayings like: 'As nice as a ninepence'; 'nine days wonder'; 'dressed to the nines'; 'nine lives of a cat'; 'on cloud nine'; and 'the whole nine yards.'

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ethical or Moral?

Words and meanings interest me, and as a writer, often become important. Some words have vague meanings, others several different meanings, like a minute of time and in minute detail, and the exact definition needs clarification of the meaning desired in the writing. Every term I talk to my students about plagiarism, ethics, and morals. Many have a very imprecise concept of any of these terms, so I decided to explore it on my own. Perhaps then, I can help clarify it for myself and for them.

Ethics comes from the Greek word ethos, used by Aristotelian in his philosophical approach of ethos, logos, and pathos, which when used in arguments led to understanding and solutions of issues. Ethos is the behavioral guidelines set up by society, logos the logic involved, and pathos the appeal to the audiences’ compassion. Ethics became the rules for right and wrong within a society, the group’s law or code of conduct. If the Greeks were using ethos, logos, and pathos to discover the nuances of right and wrong, then these three properties must have become involved in human development long before then.

The French word etiquette, or the standard for polite interaction, also comes from this principle. What is interesting with the French word is the standards were vastly different for genders and classes within the society. An aristocratic man acted one way within the restrictions of his class for public deportment, but almost the opposite with the other class. This discrepancy in behavior has proven true within codified laws and the accepted behavior norms for other societies, too. Not so long ago the United States codified who was a citizen by race and gender. So, ethics can be a somewhat nebulous thing, but if someone breaks societal ethics, harsh punishment is often meted out to the guilty by society such as shunning, loss of reputation, name-calling, and worse. Ethical standards can also change. Science, medicine, differing interpretations of wording, and social change can affect ethics.

Have humans always used some ethical standards? I do not know, but I know every group that lives together must have some standard or endure constant chaos. No matter how unprincipled or brutal the society or what tyrannical rules the group’s leadership follows, it follows some kind of ethical standard. As mentioned above, understanding of right and wrong can change, and certain former ‘ethics’ can now be seen as evil. My guess is that even prehistoric societies had these rules, perhaps even the Neanderthals, who recent research has shown we're not so different from the Homo sapiens. After all, humans are known to act irresponsibly, spiteful, and hateful, and also known to steal, injure others, lie, and cheat. Sometimes this is an aberration in a person’s behavior due to stress or situational events; then again, some humans are just reprehensible individuals whether from the effects of nature or nurture. Societies need protection from such people, which ethical standards supposedly establish.

Today we have volumes of law codes and philosophical and religious principles guiding our ethical standards, which still change from country to country and society to society. While the general American population follows the law codes of the nation and state, some subgroups like gangs live by their own code. Individuals develop their own codes too, sometimes in opposition to society’s accepted norms. Media often subtly supports this undermining of known standards, which might have evolved from America’s myth for rugged individualism (big supposition). Yet, for instance, how often in a fictional crime or investigation procedural show has a main character broken the legal or ethical standards of his profession to deal out a supposedly more appropriate punishment? In NCIS, the main character Gibbs has his own ‘rules,’ even when those rules counter those of his job.

Morals, on the other hand, while often used interchangeably with ethics, have a different meaning. The word comes from the Latin moralis, or proper manners. Morals are more about personal choices, each individual deciding what ethics they believe and follow. I suspect family often influences morals, but so could personal psychological issues, or a person's social dynamics within their society, or someone's personal situation.

Can a sociopath be a moral person? Yes: They may have no empathy (pathos) for anyone, but they are capable of following an ethical standard, and choosing to follow those standards would make them moral. Can a moral person be unethical? Yes: When their morals in a situation oppose the ethical standards of their society. Can a person’s morals change? Yes: If a person moves into an ethically different society, or if their morals lead them to an emotional or intellectual conflict they must resolve, morals can transform. Morals can also be very situational, such as the white lie given to prevent a friend’s suffering.

That means that in the end, ethics are guidelines, morals are choices. So, in another example from NCIS, the character Ducky tells his assistant Jimmy, “The difference between morals and ethics is the ethical man knows he shouldn't cheat on his wife, whereas the moral man doesn't cheat on his wife.” Most of us, luckily, choose to follow our society’s ethical standards, our morals, however, are often challenged. As mentioned above, moral choices can also lead to societal punishment. In many instances, though, a more personal punishment of guilt affects the transgressor, which can be lifelong and every bit as prosecutorial as any other form of punishment. After all, aren't we often our own worst judge and jury?