Category: Personal

NYT Columnist Bruni on the Vitality of Solitude

Frank Bruni published an excellent column today on the importance of solitude — and its virtual absence from public life in the modern era.

solitudeHis piece was a great reminder for me. Even though I generally reflect, contemplate and meditate for at least 15 minutes a day — and even though I spend the vast majority of my waking hours working alone — I often do so with a vague, uneasy feeling that I’m somehow wasting my time. I’ve never been one for meetings; people who worked with me Back in the Day when I ran companies and managed departments will tell you that. I was in fact notoriously anti-meeting. But I do enjoy discourse, the dynamic of bouncing ideas off others who are smarter, more insightful or have more experience than I. Some of the most exhilarating and enjoyable times of my life have come in conversations with people with whom I surrounded myself.

But solitude has become more and more my lot and much of the time I’m not only grateful for it, I revel in it.

So, thanks, Mr. Bruni, for the reminder. When I can find time for myself, away from the social intercourse that can occupy too much of one’s share of mind, I will remember to be grateful for it rather than question whether I’m doing the right thing.

(And thanks to my good friend Tony Seton for sharing that Bruni piece and for being one of the people with whom I enjoy sharing ideas.)

Happy New Year! (Otherwise known as “Opening Day”)

Happy New Year, everybody! Yippee! Wahoo! Awwwwwwwwright!

That is to say, “Happy Opening Day of Baseball Season!”

I am really stoked about the 2014 Major League Baseball season because:

  1. San Francisco Giants LogoMy San Francisco Giants will almost certainly contend for and could well win the National League West despite a very strong balance in the division and a powerful LA Dodgers’ presence.
  2. Since I’ve now all but retired from business, I’ll have time to watch nearly as many of the 162 games this season as I can get on my cable service (or at a local sports bar, comes to that).
  3. I have a new baseball buddy to watch with, which makes it like four times as much fun.
  4. The pace of baseball suits my new semi-retired lifestyle.
  5. Did I mention my Giants will be hot?


Read Me on Daily Kos

I’m experimenting with the question of whether I can draw a larger crowd of readers and followers by posting my comments on things socio-political not on this blog but on a popular, aggregated site with a national reputation. So I just posted my first “diary” (as they call it) over at Daily Kos.

I’d appreciate it if you’d go there and comment on my post or follow me or like me on Facebook or Twitter or some other way give me feedback and support.


I AM Pawn

pawnI AM a proud pawn, the most important and powerful piece on this playing field. I am the least valued. There are more of me than any other piece, of which there are only one or two. We are eight.

But look at me!

I am the only piece in this game who can move more than one way. Think about it. I have choices. Everyone else lives by a single rule of movement. I can only move forward, it’s true, but I can move one or two spaces my first time. I can move diagonally to capture other pieces, which makes me a stealthy fighter. I even have a sneaky move many players don’t know (and I despair in their ignorance) in which I can capture an enemy pawn who thinks he’s slid past me by moving into the empty space behind him. Nobody else can do that!

Because I cannot retreat, I cannot give up. Nor can I turn on my own fellows and become an impediment to their successful attack or defense.

But in the end, I AM the most important and powerful player in the world of the game because I alone can transform myself into any other piece. Knights are and always will be Knights. But if I can reach my enemy’s home rank, I can choose to become a devious Knight, or a dominant Bishop or even an imperious Rook. Or even the King’s consort, the Queen.

Don’t overlook me. Don’t dismiss me. Learn me. Watch me. Use me.

I AM Pawn.

(Editor’s Note: Inspired by this powerful video.)

I’m an Escape Artist…in Chess!

chess_geezerI love chess. I don’t take the time to play it as often as I did when I was much younger, when I was a pretty good amateur player with a couple of tourney wins under my belt and Number 1 Board on a couple of chess club teams. Periodically, I get the bug, jump online, play two or three real-time games, do a few puzzles and then bail out. Between those sessions, I can go weeks without even thinking about it even though I used to be obsessed. I’m a contemporary of Bobby Fischer and I worshiped that guy for years before his mental break.

Today my email offered a chance to determine my chess personality. I’ve always thought personality was an important part of chess strategy so I figured I’d take a few minutes I couldn’t afford and take the 20-question quiz. (It’s here if you want to try it but it’s not for beginners.)

Turns out I’m an Escape Artist. Here’s how the site describes me (it matches me well in most respects):

Escape Artists like quiet, positional play, but somehow seem to end up in tense, nerve-wracking, and sharp struggles. Why does this happen? Because the Escape Artist, by threatening to grind his opponent down in quiet, positional ways, forces his opponent to counterattack, sacrifice, and take risks. The Escape Artist often doesn’t prevent his opponent’s attack, but actually welcomes it and entices it. Then the complications and danger begin, and the Escape Artist’s phenomenal calculating power comes to the forefront.

The world class player I’m most like? Victor Korchnoi, dubbed the greatest player never to be world champion. (Color me dismayed.)

Interestingly, the result also says my recommended openings are the English on white and the French on black and those are exactly my long-time favorites.

So, interesting side trip. If you’re a player and a follower here, drop me a line at dan at danshafer dot com and let’s see if we can spark a game some time.


My 1,001st Blog Post on This Incarnation

I’ve been blogging since the very early days of the Web. I was one of the first customers of Dave Winer’s Userland Radio in 2000. Over the years, I’ve had four incarnations of my blog and each time I’ve switched platforms I’ve chosen to leave most of my old blog posts behind.

This is the 1,001st post on this blog. I figure I’ve probably posted in the neighborhood of 3,000 posts over the 13 or so years I’ve been at this. When people ask me why I blog, I tell them that I can’t not blog. I’m a writer and this is a medium over which I have total control. Even if I were my only reader, I’d blog. I’m not, but even if I were….

I know I have some following. I hope you are one of those. Even if you’re not, I hope you enjoy what you read here. If you’re more interested in following my spiritual life and blogging, you can visit my One Mind Fellowship site.

Thanks for listening.

JFK 50 Years Later: The Wound That Changed So Much

Can it really be? Has it actually been 50 years since that wound was inflicted, since that sharp turn toward despair was taken, since the hope of a generation was snuffed out? Has it really?

President John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy

Like everyone else, I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing and how I learned of the assassination of our young President 50 years ago today in the city of Dallas. I was too young to have voted for him but I worked for him, I supported him, I followed him, I prayed for and with him, and some of me died with him that horrible day.

Over the past five decades — has it really been so long!? — I have frequently revisited the stories of his life and death. I read much of the Warren Commission Report and dozens and dozens of commentaries and essays about that weighty document. (I just this morning downloaded the digital version of the 888-page testament to fear of the truth so I can reread it and search it.)

There has never been a shred of doubt in my mind that Lee Harvey Oswald was a hapless patsy of some larger agent that hoped to benefit by the death (I’m always tempted to characterize it as an untimely event, but then all death seems so to someone). I’ve never seen convincing evidence to prove who or what was behind that conspiracy but I’ve never doubted for a second that it existed. I’m not much a fan of or believer in conspiracy theories as a rule; I think they generally take far too much secrecy among far too large a number of people to work as believers are prone to think.


The Warren Commission Report. (Click to download a free PDF of the 888-page report just released by the Government Printing Office)

But this is one where conspiracy is the only thing that makes any sense. And there were too many tantalizing details of the case that screamed out for explanation, that seemed somehow linked, that the Warren Commission ignored or glossed over, for this man’s mind to accept the idea that Oswald planned and executed the killing alone.

So I will take the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the most tragic day in American history since April 1865 to begin yet another personal investigation into the case. Not because I expect to find anything new or prove anything, but because I just can’t bring myself to mark the case “Closed”.

After all. It’s only been 50 years.

Sorry About the Radio Silence

I apologize for the radio silence the past few days. I spent the Labor Day weekend in the hospital dealing with an infection.

But in the course of this weekend, I’ve come to so appreciate my Acer Chromebook that I wanted to jot a quick note about it before I shut down for my last night before returning home.

Instant on, instant on network, faster than a speeding bullet. I can open my Chromebook, log into my WordPress blog, write and post an update and close the lid to shut down faster than I can boot my fast OS X desktop, open the browser and log in.

If it had a real keyboard — gone are those days, I guess — I’d be hard-pressed to find a single flaw.

Thanks, Google and Acer! Goodnight. Expect lots of updates this week.

Sinking…er…Synching With iTunes

I’m having quite an adventure today trying to get my iPad and iPhone to synch correctly with my relocated iMac. Apple’s DRM seems to be a bit of a hindrance in some situations.

Part of the problem I encountered today had to do with a USB cable that was the slightest bit wonky. My iPhone synched just fine with it but my iPad wasn’t even recognized by my iTunes until I swapped the cable. Then things went fine.

Still trying to sort out some of the App synching stuff, but given my prior experience with synch in iTunes, it’s gone much more smoothly than I expected.

It still bewilders me why such a ludicrous decision to put so much system-level functionality in a music program hasn’t long since been undone, but I guess that’s the Apple Way. 🙂