Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at the New York ColdFusion User Group (Jun. 2010) with: Andy Matthews and Clark Valberg

The School Of Practical Philosophy: Philosophy Works - Week One

By Ben Nadel on
Tags: Life

A couple of months ago, I was riding the subway in NYC and looked up to see an advertisement for the "Philosophy Works" course at the local School of Practical Philosophy. I had seen this advertisement before - anyone who's lived in NYC has probably seen it a number of times (that and adverts for Dr. Zizmor); but, I had never given it a second thought. At the time, however, I had recently been engaged in a number of challenging yet rewarding conversations. As such, I thought a class like this - Philosophy Works - would be worth at least looking into.


 
 
 

 
Ben Nadel Starts The Philosophy Works Class At The School Of Practical Philosophy.  
 
 
 

Later, when I found out that the course was an extremely reasonable $90 for ten weeks (once a week), I figured that I couldn't afford not to try it out. At the very least, I assumed it would lend well to some thought-provoking conversation and let me work on my social skills.

Going into the class, I really had no expectations at all. Other than the general theme of "practicality," I had no idea what kind of agenda might be presented. Even after the first class (which I had last night), I am not sure I could really tell you what we'll be doing over the remaining 9 weeks.

The first half of last night's class consisted of people talking about why they were there - what was it that drew them to a class on philosophy. I naively expected to hear people talk about how they felt lost in life and how they just wanted to "make sense of it all." But, the list of reasons turned out to be much more enlightened. Among the many reasons, people said:

  • To gain a better sense of rationality.
  • To learn more self-control.
  • To be able to live more in the moment.
  • To learn how to love more.
  • To gain wisdom.
  • To be happier.
  • To find more balance and harmony.
  • To get better at learning from others.
  • To learn from the past.
  • To better myself.
  • To learn more about self-exploration.
  • To understand justice.

The sentiment of the crowd was not that of suffering and desperation, but rather that of curiosity and a thirst for truth. The whole conversation reminded me of a wonderful perspective given on Talk of the Nation's, Science Friday a few weeks ago. I shall paraphrase:

The concept of "Scientist" as a an occupation is relatively new. Coined in 1833 by William Whewell, much of what we now consider to be science was previously put under the category of philosophy. Philosophers, like scientists, are seekers of truth.

And that's what our class last night was - we weren't lost souls looking for meaning; we were scientists embarking on a journey. Our goals: truth and wisdom.

After that discussion, the teacher asked us to think about the people that we hold as being "wise" and to talk about what they are like. The first person that came to my mind was my business partner, Clark Valberg. And, while I can't cleanly articulate my thoughts, I can sum it up as the ability to view emotions as nothing more than "starting points" for self-exploration. Rather then allowing me to simply accept a "feeling," Clark constantly challenges me to examine why I have a given feeling and then to figure out how to leverage that feeling for self-improvement.

Many times, Clark has quoted to me:

The longest journey a man can take is the eighteen inches between his brain and his heart.

The idea being that as we gain wisdom, we learn to lead with our minds rather than being subjugated by our hearts.

At the end of the day, the teacher gave us two activities to try before next class. One was a sort of guided meditation - trying to clear the mind and become aware of the moment. The other activity was to stop before acting and ask ourselves, "What would a 'wise' person do in this case?"

After the activities were explained, a fellow classmate sort of blew my mind by asking: "What if I know what a wise person would do but I cannot summon the courage to follow through?" The teacher responded that we would definitely be talking about such things in the coming weeks; but, I think more than anything, this type of question offers a wonderful insight into the caliber of people taking the class.

I rather enjoyed the class and am looking forward to next week. But, one thing that I did notice was that I had trouble listening. And by that, I mean that my mind was racing with what I wanted to say next. One of the things that I clearly need to work on, as far as self-improvement goes, is the ability to listen to others; to learn from others; and, then only afterwards, to think about what I want to say.

As a closing thought, I got into an interesting conversation with a woman on the way back to the subway. She asked me if "I found it hard to forgive." This question took me back a bit because it represented a sort of complete opposite to how I experience the world. I have always had trouble with empathy and am usually surprised when I find (or suspect) that other people see the world in a way that is much different than mine.

Forgiveness is not hard at all. It takes no effort. What is hard is not forgiving. What takes effort is not letting go. When I was young, I used to hold grudges; in a weird way, I sort of romanticized the idea of a grudge. It became a game - something that I would indulge in. But, as I got older, the game became too exhausting. I had too many other activities to which I needed to devote energy and the idea of a grudge lost its appeal.

I believe that when Nelson Mandela said that "forgiveness liberates the soul," he was referring, at least in part, to the effort required to maintain hatred. It is exhausting and it goes against our nature. Forgiveness is easy. Forgiveness is natural.

Anyway, more to come after next week's class!




Reader Comments

What I'm struggling with is, what does "forgiveness" mean, exactly? It's not a concept that you can wrap a physical layer around. Such as you enjoy the taste of orange juice, you abhor the smell of volcanic sulfur.

And does one "forgive" just the same way as another person does? We're being constantly told to forgive, but exactly what does it mean to do this?

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"Our goals: truth and wisdom." If you even obtain one of these at the end of the ten weeks then $90 truly was a bargain!

Looking forward to more class summaries...

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The problem of listening is definitely related to our tendency to race ahead to solutions rather than allow a solution to percolate out in time. Programmers definitely have that tendency since it makes us more valuable in most cases. It is one reason we don't often make good managers of people.
Meditation is a great way to slow down the brain cells. Alcohol and drugs are another popular way, but can be destructive. It will be interesting to hear what happens in the class. That sort of stuff is fun.

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@Ben, why do you feel you have trouble with empathy? Just the simple fact you have these philosophical posts gave me the impression you are one of those guys who is the "You're such a great friend," friend to females.

The world makes a lot more sense to me after reading (Super) Freakonomics. In a nutshell, we're motivated by motivations. That is to say, the world moves based on whetever is most enticing. Money, love, fear, control... those tended to be the biggies.

Freakonomics isn't a religion or a philosophy, but, oddly, unexpectedly, and unintentionally, that's what I took away from it. The world seems to make a whole lot more sense with that in mind.

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@Lola,

You ask a good question; so often, when it comes to philosophical discussions (as I have found), there can be much heated contention that boils down to two people not thinking about a word in the way. In essence the problem in communication is not logical, but semantic.

I guess, when I think about forgiveness, I think about anger. To forgive is to stop being angry. I once heard a quote about it that went something like:

To forgive is to accept the fact that you cannot change the past.

I think this echoes my sentiment on the matter; I am not saying that I won't learn from my experience or forget to use it to shape my future. But, the effort of holding onto anger is exhausting.

@Matt,

Fingers crossed :)

@Roger,

I know what you mean. Every time someone would say something, I would start connecting dots in my head and formulating thoughts. Actually one of the worst things I find myself doing is immediately taking something that someone said and finding ways to dismiss it (internally). I really need to stop doing that, at least, in this kind of a setting where learning from others is a way to learn about myself.

@Randall,

I have my moments, but it's rather hit and miss. I like to think that I am good listener; but, I am better when I have no real stake in the conversation. Meaning, I think I'm good at listening to people about *their* problems since they don't pertain to me. As such, it's easier to be objective. However, once I have a stake in the conversation (outside of just being a good friend), I get much more subjective.

I've heard of Freakanomics, but have never read it. It's a pretty well known book - I'll have to give it a look.

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I'll give a nod to Freakonomics as well, it's an excellent read. Their analysis of the internal accounting of drug dealers was fascinating.

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I can relate (ironically) to having a difficult time empathizing with others. On numerous occasions I've been around people talking about things they think or feel, then saying something along the lines of "I think we all do this" and I think "I've never done that, I've never even considered it," then surprisingly notice that everyone else is nodding in agreement with the speaker. Times like this, along with many others, remind me that I don't think like most people. This can be quite good at times; some things that many people struggle with I see as straightforward and simple. But on the other side, I have a hard time recognizing how someone's going to interpret what I say or do, or whether it's going to make them uncomfortable.

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@Lola, @Ben,

'Forgiveness is the scent of the violet on the heal that crushes it.' - Mark Twain.

I have been exploring the concept of forgiveness a lot recently, and have found one of the best sources of understanding of forgiveness is Wayne Dyer. He believes forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the person you are forgiving.

After a prolonged period of self-exploration, I have found the hardest person to forgive is myself - for past sins, for sinful thoughts, for lack of caring and empathy for other people.

Forgiveness (of whomever) is a truly powerful thing.

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@Justin,

Hmm, sounds interesting.

@Jason,

I know exactly what you are saying. One place where this comes up for me is when people don't want to drink in front of me. I don't drink so I have no idea what that "experience" is like; but apparently, drinking is not something people want to do in front of people that don't drink. I can't tell you how many times I've heard something like:

"Well, if you're not gonna drink, I'm not gonna drink."

This completely boggles my mind. To me (the unempathatic) that's like saying, "Well, if you're not gonna have a steak, I'm not gonnna have a steak." It seems like a complete non-sequitur. I am not sure what one has to do with the other.

@Cathy,

I'll wholeheartedly agree that the hardest person to forgive is yourself. In the Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about how humans like to punish themselves every time we even remember something that they feel bad about; most of us seem incapable of taking responsibility for our actions and then just moving on with our lives.

What's crazy is that I find that I will continue to feel bad about things that never even happened! For example, once, when I was a kid, I *almost* hurt a friend of mine very badly. Almost. Was he hurt at all. Nope. But, the idea that it *could* have happened still makes me feel guilty to this day. How crazy is that? Feeling guilty over something that didn't happen. It's insane, really.

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I read this blog as I'm a Flash/Flex dev, but felt compelled to comment as I have a fair deal of knowledge of the "School of Practical Science", or "School of Economic Science" to give it its original name (still used in the UK). I won't say anything too negative as it sounds like you are having a very positive experience, but you might want to research the background a bit - from its creation by Leonardo Da Vinci MacLaren in 1937, through various controversies - many of which are documented here http://reference.ses-forums.org/ (including a book that was written by a couple of journalists in the 1980s you can download... )anyway, obviously the organisation has changed and it really comes down to the different personalities involved in your local group. But it is still a quasi-religious organisation with a definite power-hierarchy (and some very rich men at the top) and as we are all human, the usual effects of power apply here.

But hey, hope it works out for you!

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@Ben,

"I don't drink so I have no idea what that "experience" is like;"

I learn something surprising about you everyday, Ben! I don't /really/ drink either (I would've been A-OK had I been living through prohibition), but can't remember a time when I had that response.

We have some vegan friends and have had a couple of get-togethers with them involving food. If we took that stance ("You don't eat animal products thus we won't"), we would be hungry.

So, I'm now to the point where I would like to oblige, but if a Jewish person came over during the month of Dec, I wouldn't hide the Christmas tree and put up a Menorah (sp?). I don't hide the eggs, milk, and beef simply because they choose not to consume those products.

That's not being unempathetic; that's being you and letting your friends be themselves.

If you're /truly/ unempathetic, you're probably a bully. I don't gathter that from you. So I'd say you're simply not /OVERLY/ caring which is to say you're probably not a complete pushover.

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Ben,
Thanks for writing this up. I was wondering what those classes were like. Are you coming to opencfsummit? I don't have a problem drinking beer around you. :)

@Simon,
Good to know. I was considering their online class. I'll wait and see what Ben's impression is.

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@Ben- The quote was, "Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past." I think it applies as well to the self as to others. :)

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@Simon,

To be honest, while I will try my best so suspend judgment, any religious aspect to the class really holds no appeal to me personally. And, honestly, if it veered too far in that direction, it would be a disappointment. But, I don't get the vibe, at least not yet, that that's where this class is going. And, I didn't get the vibe from the students. Nor do I see anything about it in the pamphlet me got (see above photo). The closest thing to it was something like "Philosophy helps us to ask the big questions."

Of course, only time will tell :)

@Randall,

It's funny that you bring of vegans. I dated a vegan for a good while and food was actually a huge issue for us... and by, "us", I mean, "her." We'd go to restaurants and she would be bothered that we couldn't share dishes. This distressed her to the point of tears from time to time. The desire to share dishes is not something that I can relate to in any way. When I go to a restaurant, I order the dish that I like. I cannot understand why other wouldn't do the same. At the very least, I cannot empathize at all with the idea that sharing dishes would be crucial to an enjoyable meal.

I certainly hope that I am not a bully :) I've been called a lot of things, but bully has not yet been one of them.

@Jeff,

My pleasure - I'm always up for good conversation. I'm not sure about OpenCF right now. I already have two conferences set up in the near future and the cost of travel really adds up fast. We shall see.

@Wendy,

Agreed. Though I wonder why forgiving one's self is harder. I also find spending money on myself harder than spending money on others. I'm sure it all ties back to self-esteem.

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> I'm sure it all ties back to self-esteem.

@Ben,

You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggonit people like you.

I dated a vegetarian (also a smoker) for a short time and I concur. It's not that we couldn't make it work had we had enough attraction, but it did get in the way.

The wife and I share dishes all the time usually 'cuz we want to try two different dishes on the same menu. Thus, it's almost habit that I take my first bite from her plate & vice versa. A couple of weeks ago we even swapped plates after being disappointed with the dishes we ordered, but liking the other one's better.

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@Ben,

You're probably right re. the self-esteem thing. You need to get over that. ;)

@Randall and Ben,

I got shot down mercilessly by a guy on a dating site for mildly stating that I thought it would be hard for a foodie like me, who loves to cook, to date a vegan like him. I would have reminded him of the Vegan Evil Ex in Scott Pilgrim, but I doubted he would have seen the humor in my reference. I think eating meat must be what gives one a sense of humor. Tee hee...

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Sure thing Ben... just watch out for "The School" gradually making more demands on your time once the introductory course is over - residential weekends, voluntary work, summer schools, etc. And when they claim their teachings are the One Truth its up to you whether you accept that or not I guess. Good luck with it. There are a lot of very nice people in it, which means a there's a ready-made social circle of intelligent folk to talk to. But being the pessimist I am that's just another part of the honey trap!

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@Randall,

I would not be able to date a smoker. I am super sensitive to that. It hurts my eyes and my throat :) I guess I'm also just not much of a food sharer; but then again, I don't like that many kinds of food, so my tastes don't lend well to exploration.

@Simon,

It's funny you mention demands on time. Right before class started, I was talking to the teacher and she mentioned something about how the previous week a bunch of volunteers came to clean the school. I joking said, "Sorry, I missed that," being of course facetious - I'm never ever sorry to miss cleaning :)

I'm definitely not one with an abundant amount of free time. This is a class for which I am *paying*. Should I be asked to do things beyond the scope of this agreement, I am sure I would lose interest.

But again, I don't want to try to and form any preconceived notions. I'll just cross (or not cross) that bridge when I get to it.

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I believe that the definition of forgiveness relies on the the definition of justice.

If you believe that justice is equaled out (karma, etc.) then forgiveness would be the act of NOT taking out that justice yourself.

The person who "owes" you would still be "in debt" and you still have "a credit". The final "reconciliation" may not be between the two of you or even at the same time. Each of your "values" may originate from some other situation and time.

This would help with the emotional part of forgiveness because you would know that the value is coming back from either that person or somewhere else.

If you don't believe justice is equaled out, then forgiveness is probably not in your best interest as you would simply be losing something.

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Cleaning, that sounds familiar. The School reasoning behind getting up at 5:30 am to spend a couple of hours cleaning or some other menial task at some big country mansion is that it is a good opportunity to practice "selflessness". I guess that's one way of looking at it. Added to a day that is ordered around such cleaning sessions, study of "The Teaching", meditation (of the transcendental, mantra repeating kind), and the rest, it starts to look like something else. But please ignore my cynicism, I genuinely hope you take something positive from it.

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apologies, one last post - there's a comprehensive web forum on the SES/SoPP here: http://www.ses-forums.org - I haven't visited it for several years and have no idea of the tone now, but a few years ago it was pretty balanced. Some posters have clearly put a lot of thought into what they write, its not just a place to knock The School, for instance (and this expands on the Sanskrit comment earlier) http://www.ses-forums.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=716
Right, back to the things that matter in life, Actionscript and web apps!

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@Ben,

I just want to say thank you for posting about topics like this on your site. Don't get me wrong -- I love web development and CF and such but I think ultimately, there is more to life than code. These kinds of conversations really help us to see the humanity behind the people that we virtually "work with" on a daily basis.

I applaud your humility in admitting that you have trouble with empathy -- it takes a secure person to admit that they have flaws in certain areas -- and even taking a class like the one you describe shows that you have things to learn in the areas of wisdom and truth. My hope is that you gain insight into both.

I do want to voice my disagreement, however, regarding the area of forgiveness; I think it can be very hard -- and holding grudges in some situations is much easier than forgiving. I agree with Mandela about the liberating aspects of forgiveness, but I think that many people are imprisoned and find it very hard to forgive for past wrongs. Some people have had to live through some very unjust situations -- rape, betrayal, murder, and the like. Fortunately, I have never had to deal with a situation like any of these, but I can imagine that it would be immensely difficult to stand before someone who had wronged me in such a way and say, "I forgive you for what you have done to me. I absorb the consequence for the wrong you have done and will no longer count this action against you." As a Christian (like Mandela), I believe that there is really only one way I could ever truly forgive so completely. People much wiser than I have written extensively on this topic -- Corrie ten Boom is one of them. She writes in her book, "The Hiding Place," about having to face one of her Nazi guards from the Ravensbruck concentration camp many years after her release. Here is a brief synopsis: http://www.humiliationstudies.org/documents/DanaherCorrieTenBoomsStory.pdf

Sometimes it can be fearful to post on such topics because they can easily lead to anger and discord but I think so long as people are kind and charitable towards one another, they can really prove to be fruitful conversations. So, I applaud you for being willing to put yourself out there a host a conversation like this. Ultimately, I think these topics are best discussed over the course of a 3 hour long steak and ale dinner (apologies to the vegans and teetotalers among us ;) -- I'm sure we can find some good substitutes. )

Apologies to all for being so long winded! :)

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@Ben: You don't drink? wow...that's amazing. I never knew that about you. I don't drink either, but I don't have the same experience with people drinking or not drinking in front of me...people have NO PROBLEM drinking in front of me. And in fact, I did drink twice, because I was tricked into it. A guy handed me a drink that had alcohol in it. I asked him SEVERAL times if it did, and he said no. Finally, I drank it, and it was NASTY. I was so aggravated and mad at him for that. Also, many, many times people, espeically guys, have tried to get me to drink, and when I would say no, they would try begging again and again to get me to drink. So aggravating! I would much rather them not drink around me than try to pressure me to drink. Apparently, it really, really bothers some people that I do not drink. I also can identify with you on the smoking thing. I hate it, and it bothers me so much. I am so allergic to cigarette smoke. It is just awful. So that's great.

On the other hand, HUGE carnivore here. LOVE my meat!!! :-)

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@Tom,

If you believe that the negative feelings associated with a grudges can weigh you down, then I don't think that forgiveness can ever be considered losing something.

@Mike,

First of all, *everything* is better over a steak dinner :) But, seriously, I really appreciate you saying what you said. I used to get a lot of negative feedback about posting non-technical stuff; but, I am happy that has stopped and it seems to now be more appreciated. I think part of what I (we) love about computer programming is the solving of problems; and, I think that talks like this - and self-reflection and evaluation - hold many of the same exact pleasures. We're still solving problems, just in a different context.

And, thankfully, I can't say that I have ever had to live through anything that is truly devastating. I won't begin to tell people that it is easy to overcome brutal problems as you mentioned.

@Anna,

Heck yeah Meat! Delicious. I have also had friends that try to get me to drink; but, I pretty much brush it off.

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@Ben MEAT....YUM!!!! Now you are making my mouth water thinking about a juicy steak dinner...mmmmmm...

yeah, a lot of the times, it has been guys getting me to drink. And I think part of that was so that I would lose my inhibitions if I were to drink, and they would have a better chance getting out of me what they wanted. And that only made them more unattractive to me and almost guaranteed I would never see them as anything more than friends, if even that, at that point. And what they don't seem to understand is that I don't really have that many inhibitions anyway when it comes to someone I really like and am serious about, and the ones that I do have wouldn't just go away because someone was successful in getting me to drink. And they are inhibitions that I don't WANT to lose...they are there for a reason! So trying to get me to drink just irritated me. I guess that is what I get for being mostly an easy-going person, which I usually pretty much am, unless someone is trying to get something out of me I don't want to give them.

But yeah, I have had friends do that to me as well. Just not for the same reason.

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@Anna, this reminds me of my college days, when I was young and stupid. There was a party on my dorm floor, with beer that wasn't supposed to be there. I'd never drunk beer before, and some guy kept urging me to drink some beer. So, I obliged him by drinking as much as I could, considering my small stomach. Bleeeeccchh - almost felt like throwing up and just found the taste of beer really nasty. Since then, I've never really liked to drink beer. It tastes all the same to me, and I just can't see what's the appeal and difference between German and Czech beer, light or dark, or whatever.

Now, wine - THAT I find much more appealing and I can perceive the taste differences better. Even then, I can go for months without feeling like I need to take a sip. And then just in the evening, with dinner, or to relax and unwind before going to bed. Honestly, I've just never seen the need to get drunk for the pure sake of getting drunk. I also don't smoke, nor do I see the need to inject myself with drugs (needles . . . ugggghhh).

You've got to taste a thimbleful of icewine, though. Now, that's the nectar of the gods . . .

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and, btw, I meant to say also that I love the discussions about non-technical stuff, including the input that everyone else has about it. I love learning things from other people, people who have gone through things that I have not and have a viewpoint from those things they have experienced. Sometimes, unfortunately, they have gone through things I would not want to go through, but they have drawn from those things wisdom that I can gain simply by learning from their experiences and the impact those experiences had on them personally and their lives. Let me also say that, even if these discussions may not be technical per se in actual content, I can not tell you how many times I have had a problem with something technical and I needed to just take a step away from it and let it process in the background while I distracted my mind with something else, and ended up solving it while distracting myself with the "non-technical" activity. So, thanks! Even if you don't think you're helping us in those post in a strictly technical sense, you may STILL be helping our technical skills in ways you don't realize. :-) Furthermore, unless there is someone out there who truly is a robot, then they have other things bouncing around their heads than 1's & 0's. It's great to see the humanity even in our work. :-) Not to mention the way these posts foster community, or a sense of it amongst us ColdFusion junkies. :-)

Finally, I am very sorry that I am so long-winded and sometimes my responses could probably take days to read. I really try to keep it brief, but quite frankly, the course in law school I had the most trouble with was the one that was supposed to teach us how to write with brevity as the main goal.

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@Lola,

I have heard that icewine is great, and that it is very sweet. I can identify with you about the tasting of alcoholic beverages and YUCK!!!! AWFUL!!! Anyone who is reading this, if you have never had anything to drink, you are not missing anything TRUST ME!!! As mentioned previously, I had a drink when I was tricked into it. I have alcohol a total of 3 times in my life, and NEVER by choice. The time that I mentioned previously, when I had something to drink because I was tricked into it, I actually tasted "2" beverages that night. And they were both NASTY. YUCK! The guy tricked me into the first one, saying it had no alcohol in it, and that it was a desert beverage, and I took a sip of it and I told him, "I don't care if this doesn't have alcohol in it, it tastes NASTY, and I don't care for it at all." At the time, I still did not know it had alcohol in it. Later the same night, he gave me another beverage that had alcohol in it, and it was the same thing...he told me no alcohol, and I, trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe the best, took the drink. It was awful, too. The third time was actually last year. I wasn't tricked there, it was just an innocent mistake. A girl and I had drinks. I had a non-alcoholic version of it, because I do like some of the non-alcoholic versions of the drinks. She asked me to hold her drink, and I did, and I accidentally took a drink of the wrong one, her drink, which had alcohol in it. Again, nasty. I don't see why anyone thinks those things taste good. What's ironic to me, is that I have more the attitude of to each his own...I don't care or pass judgment on people who drink, but they sure do on me! But oh well.

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@Anna, it could be that your body chemicals just don't mesh in very well with alcohol. For me, cilantro tastes like a funky type of metal and I can always, always, always taste it even if it's been totally blended in with other green ingredients or subsumed in other colored ingredients. Apparently, I'm in the percentage of the population that perceives cilantro as being metallic in taste.

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@Lola...GOOD POINT!!! You are very perceptive! I didn't think of that, but I bet that is a pretty good possibility, especially since some people describe alcohol as an "acquired" taste, but I consider other things to be "acquired" tastes, for instance, milk and grapefruit. You always have really good posts, I always enjoy reading them. :-) I have heard that about cilantro and have known people who hate the taste of it, but I have grown to realize that I LOVE the taste of it. To me, it has a very fresh taste, but I could certainly see how it would be very distasteful to someone who could taste metal when tasting it...I wouldn't like that either!

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@Ben,

What if the the thing that you are forgiving the person for was that they took $100 from you? I agree that forgiving them may take the weight off your shoulders but you would still be out the cash.

Tom

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@Tom, that's a very fair question to ask. The way to look at this is . . . forgiveness and accountability are two different concepts. Forgiving the person who took $100 from you is one thing, holding the person accountable for the $100 that was taken from you is another thing. Sometimes you can hold the person accountable through court, or some other legal avenues. Or putting social pressure on the person to return it to you. But sometimes, you just won't be able to get accountability in the immediate future. Maybe never (look at all those cold cases - my namesake's case being one of these). But one way or the other, the person will be held accountable; just not the way you'd envision it.

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@Lola,

I agree, I believe that justice will be equaled out one way or another. My original point was that if someone didn't belive that justice is always equaled out, then they ought not to forgive and take justice out themselves.

Tom

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@Anna,

I agree with you completely. All "thinking" has cross-domain application is as much as it gets the brain to be active. I know that I have a lot of technical insight randomly when I'm walking down the street or showering or what not.

@Tom, @Lola,

Great point regarding the difference between forgiveness and accountability! I couldn't have said it better myself.

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@Tom & Lola, I can give a personal example from my life about justice being evened out. I was working out with a group of guys, and one of them got a chip on his shoulder about me. So he waited for just the right time, and then caused me a great deal of physical pain. The area that was most involved was my back. It was in front of a group of guys, and none of them even offered to help in the least...I was pretty much powerless in that situation. In fact, pretty much all of them approved of this guy's actions. I was finally able to let go of this and the resentment I felt. Months later, after I had let go, he suffered a fracture to his back. Although I wasn't thrilled or overjoyed about this, because it would take an awful lot for me to be thrilled or overjoyed about that happening to my fellow man(kind), I couldn't help but feel like a kind of poetic justice had been served. Also, before all of this transpired, this guy caused another woman over me, but the way he did it was so sleazy. Well, I found out later that this woman cheated on him with his best friend. Again, wasn't thrilled, but I could still not help bit think maybe a little poetic justice had been done. The thing is, our timing is SO different, and we may want justice done immediately, while it may take awhile for justice to be served if we wait and not take it into our own hands...

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@Lola...I know, lol! It's much better than I would've done, because I don't think I would break someone's back, even if they hurt me really bad physically. Like I said, I wasn't overjoyed or thrilled about it, but I did feel like it was the perfect justice. And the beauty of it, really, is that I didn't have to lift a finger. :-)

And btw, for the record, I don't get bitter if something simply doesn't work out. As an adult, I acknowledge that in life, sometimes you try relationships and they may or may not work. But I think it's important that whether the relationship works or not, you should treat the other person with the utmost dignity...even if it does not work. And I don't think a part of that dignity is pretending like you are into the person and acting like they are your only one while you shop around with others, and not telling the person until you have another one secured. If that person isn't what you are looking for, you should just be upfront with them and tell them. When I'm involved with someone, I have NO problem with them saying, "hey, look...I like you and all, and we have a good time hanging out, but I know this isn't 'IT', so I'm going to be dating around right now, but I still want to hang out with you in the meantime unless/until I find that one". I have no problem with that AT ALL. What I have a problem with is when the guy says you are the only one, and then months later, he tells you he has found "the one" and has been going out with her all this time. That's what really gets me. But anyway...enough soapbox for now. :-)

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