Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Frightening thoughts

My friend T has a custom mousetrap that works, she swears. You suspend a peanut butter covered spoon above a bucket of water, The target mouse is unable to cling to the swinging spoon, falls into the water, and poof! It’s all over. After some agitation about how exactly one goes about suspending a spoon, I discovered that an open drawer does the trick admirably. Then the question of how to keep the dogs from eating the peanut butter bait arose, and I concluded that if I used enough peanut butter, it would probably be fine.

Sure enough, I get up in the morning and there is still peanut butter….but there are no little carcasses floating in the bucket. It’s okay. We can wait out the mice.

Tonight’s full moon has me up in the wee hours paying bills. But as I walked downstairs to yet another bout of hysterical barking, it occurred to me: what if the trap is working? Just because I don’t see any mouse bodies doesn’t really tell me it’s not working. They could be doggie snacks. Eeeeeyooooouck. I hate mice.

On a more cheerful, still unexpected note, I made lime pickles over the weekend. More Indian food. I though I read the recipe wrong, but no, it really did call for a quarter cup of cayenne. I really can’t wait for this one. If the pickles turn out inedible, maybe they will be useful for eradicating mice.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Finding the right perspective is like asking the right question. When you have the right question, the answer seems simple.

This insight comes from my friend Jon. He reports talking with friends who have used dowsing to find, not just water, but answers to questions. One talked about getting answers that didn't feel right, or that changed from day to day, and finally realizing that the wands were not answering the question, they were signaling that "there is a better question you should be asking."

It’s the old problem of agonizing over A versus B, only to wake up in the middle of the night, or in the shower, or on a long bike ride to a totally different answer that never before occurred to you. Generating the right list of options is the most critical step in those knotty problems that require creative, loving solutions.

Worse than than, if it is a problem that involves other people, then you probably need their input into the options, possibly even the decision. I work very hard to get to robust solutions that just involve myself. Becoming one part of a supercomputer network made up of human brains networked together only by conversation—well, the complexity is overwhelming. Mismatched operating systems, mislaid communications, the odd hardware failure. Except for the occasional exercise of choosing a place to have dinner, I can’t manage the network. All I can do is try to operate my little piece of it in a fair and loving way.

In that effort, I need all the communications cues that I can get. I ask lots of questions. I read my horoscope every morning, not because I believe in the stars influence, but for that little “ping” to my breastbone that says, “Yes, this is what is going on in your life.” I don’t do dowsing for answers to questions, since that seems more like the old Ouija board to me, a technique that allows a person to create an answer then validate it.

But I believe in dowsing. Do it in bookstores. Walk in, take a couple of deep breaths and walk to a section that looks nice. By the time you look at three or four books, you will have found what you need, though not necessarily what you were looking for. Don't bother to spend any more than ten minutes at this--more time is wasted. You don't get more, better books by spending more time. This works for me about 98% of the times I go into bookstores. Spooky.

It’s all part of trying to be as open as possible to the world.

Do you get some bad ideas this way? Sure. But they are easily disposed of in the decision making process. The hard part is getting more and more and more ideas, so that you can be more likely to have the best solutions given the time and other resources available. If you think you have a good solution, you can rest knowing you did your best.

The cynics and victims say fine, but. Real life, hard decisions are the ones where you run into physical laws of time and space, or into some opposing force. I say those occasions are more rare than we make them.