Monday, March 31, 2014


I don’t like to think of myself as an ingrate, but my entire life points to the fact that I am. And, lest you think I’m being characteristically too hard on myself, I hasten to point out that I most definitely am not alone, nor am I the worst-case example.

Being an ingrate is often directly related to being greedy. If I have something, I want to keep it. If I do not have something I want, I feel deprived and am envious of those who have it. I do not like endings. If there is something I enjoy doing or have enjoyed doing in the past, I want and fully expect to keep on enjoying it forever. I do not let go of the past, because to do so is to sever my connection to whatever I am clinging to.

I cannot stand the thought of loss of anything or anyone I do not want to lose. I can understand and appreciate the wisdom of the saying, “Do not grieve over those you have lost, but rejoice that you had them as long as you did.” But I cannot. I still grieve the loss—and as time passes there are more and more losses—of family, friends, lovers, pets, physical abilities. The pain is, like the scab on a wound covered over by passing time, but all it takes is a conscious thought to reopen it. Knowing that I am the only one who can change this, who can let go, is far easier acknowledged than done.

It all stems, I know, from my absolute inability/refusal to accept reality. Reality is the flesh and bone prison in which the mind and soul are held captive. It may be a comfortable prison, but it is a prison nonetheless. Part of my ingratitude is based on the fact that while my own personal prison has been very good to me and served me exceptionally well, I have even so always resented that others have prisons far younger and more beautiful than mine.

I like to think I still have many childlike—as opposed to childish—qualities, even while realizing that they come with a price not conducive to life in the real world. One of these childlike qualities, unfortunately, is the child’s concept of “mine!” If I have something I want, or have had it, I expect to have it forever. Period.

In truth, I am blessed in so very many ways, and I do appreciate those things I have. I just want more, and seem incapable of simply accepting what I have. There have been so many truly wonderful times in my life—memories I treasure and hold within my heart, things I have done, places I’ve been, people who have graced my life with their presence—why can I not simply accept that and appreciate it, and let it go? I can’t. I want to be able to relive every pleasurable moment of my life over and over, like re-reading a favorite book or listening again and again to a favorite piece of music.

I am not so far removed from reality that I do not know full well that there are countless numbers of people whose lives are infinitely and incomprehensibly more difficult than mine; whose courage and bravery in just getting through another day shames me for being the ingrate I am. But the often-vast gaps between who we should and want to be and who we in fact are is part of human existence. 

In the final analysis, Popeye is once again right when he says “I yam what I yam,” and there are things we cannot change no matter how hard we try.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Thursday, March 27, 2014


The roots of who we become as adults are put down when we are children. As a child who never felt comfortable in the real world, I turned to the worlds I found in books and within my own mind. Always a great believer in happily-ever-after, fairy tales, and worlds that should be but aren't, I was fascinated by Walt Disney's "Pinocchio," and I suspect I subconsciously patterned much of my life after the song, "Hi-diddle-dee-dee":

An actor's life for me
A high silk hat and a silver cane
A watch of gold with a diamond chain

An actor's life is gay
It's great to be a celebrity
An actor's life for me

Though I was much too shy to be an actor, I substituted "writer" for "actor." And while I have yet to buy a high silk hat or a silver chain, or find the "celebrity," I did get the "gay" part down right.

To say that I am a writer is a statement of fact no more remarkable than is the fact I have brown eyes. I am a writer simply because I cannot conceive of being or ever having been anything else. 

I can't presume to tell you why other writers write, but I can tell you why I do: to tell stories that assure both the reader and myself that those things which unite us as human beings are far more important than those which separate us, and that none of us is, despite our sometimes unavoidable belief otherwise, truly alone. 

Of course it helps that my mind is one gigantic version of Lawrence Welk's bubble machine, constantly sending out thousands of thoughts and ideas which appear and disappear in an instant. I'm forever reaching for them and every now and then one will alight on my palm long enough for me to see the elements of a story reflected on its surface.

I've often said that I do not write my books, I read them as the words appear on the computer screen. I am incapable of plotting in advance, because new thoughts and ideas keep sending me off in new directions. I am constantly editing and changing, going back several pages or chapters to lay the groundwork for the appearance of a character or plot element that came along as I wrote. I primarily write mysteries—probably because, to me, life is one large mystery—and while I start off with the basics of the plot and know generally where I'm going, the route I take to get there is not laid out in advance. I often don't know who the killer really is until well into the story, or I'll begin intending for one person to be the killer and end up with someone completely different...occasionally a character I hadn't even created when I began.

Writing is, to me, a far more effective way of communicating than are spoken words. Once out of the mouth, a spoken word cannot be changed. But in writing affords me the luxury, if I don't like the way I've said something, to go back and change it, and to go over and over it until I'm satisfied that it says what I want it to say.

My characters and plot elements are often based (generally very loosely) on my personal experiences, on places I've lived or been, and on people I've known or encountered. I enjoy naming my characters (either first or last name, but almost never both) after my friends and acquaintances. I am frequently amazed to find, in my writing, elements of myself I'd never known were there. It only struck me after several books, for example, that I have an apparent fondness for names beginning with the letter "J"...Jonathan, Joshua, Jared, Jake, John, etc. Why this should be I haven't a clue, which is fine with me. That there are many things in writing which have no explanation is part of its wonder.

But I do think that whatever success I have had in writing comes not only from my ability to tell stories people seem to enjoy reading and can relate to on some level, but from the fact that I am always acutely aware of the reader as I write. I look on every book as a conversation...albeit one-sided...with the reader. And I am delighted when that conversation is reciprocated in the form of a note from a reader.

There is no greater catharsis than putting thoughts in writing. Writing for publication is not nearly as simple as it may seem, but it is only one aspect of writing. I encourage everyone to write, whether for others to read or just as a way of putting into written words aspects of themselves they may not have been aware existed. Whether or not you intend for anyone else to read it is really important: seeing yourself through your words is. You may well be surprised to learn, or at the very least to gain insights into who you really are and what you really think. 

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Monday, March 24, 2014


Though I can’t remember the source, I’ve admire whoever it was who asked, “how is it that people who long for immortality are so easily bored on a rainy Sunday afternoon?”

I do think that individual immortality would be more of a curse than a blessing. (Can you imagine watching those you love grow old and die while you stay young…time after time after time?) Were I God (a somewhat unlikely possibility) I would grant to every human the ability to live in good health until they were willing to let go of life—until life, in effect, became for him or her one long rainy Sunday afternoon.

One of the fascinations of life is the number of unanswered questions it holds. Were we to live for 1,000 years, we would/could never know all the answers. But when it comes to the experiences and potential experiences any human can have in the course of life, there are practical limits. Time inevitably changes everyone. Goals are reached, views, needs, and wants change. As one speaking from the vantage point of having lived 80 years (to me, having lived 80 years and being 80 are two very different things), I am very well aware that my own priorities and the emphases I place upon them have shifted. 

Were I to know I could live as long as I wanted to, I would undoubtedly rush to set ambitious new goals, to explore and pursue new long-term interests. Of course I still currently have a number of unreached goals and unfulfilled interests and hopes. But—often despite myself—I must acknowledge the practical fact that I have many more years behind me than I have ahead (I don’t know of anyone who has lived to be 160, Methuselah notwithstanding), and that is a source of great regret for me. 

Among the changes that the passage of time have made in me are what I consider important. I see ads on TV for new cars and fancy luxury apartments and furniture—things the younger me would ache to possess, and realize that my interest in accumulating things just to accumulate them has pretty much passed. I still want things, of course, but many of those things after which I…lusted?…no longer hold the same importance they once did, partly because I have at one time or another attained then. 

Again, were I to know that I had unlimited time, I’d undoubtedly develop a list of new objectives and wants, but it is unlikely they would be the same as those I’ve already dealt with in one form or another. And therein lies another basic fact of life: the learning curve. Old people walk very carefully on ice…partly out of awareness that they could break a bone should they fall, but mainly because, over the course of their lives, they have fallen on ice often enough to be extremely wary of doing it again. They have learned that particular lesson.

Things that are exciting to us when we are children, or teenagers, or young adults, become less so the more they are repeated…a classic example of the “been there, done that” principle. The older one gets, the more things fall under this heading. It’s yet another rather perverse fact of life that if we enjoy something, we want to repeat the experience, and the more we repeat the experience, the more commonplace it becomes.

Of course age does not dampen or lessen one’s basic interests—in my case, writing. And no matter what one’s age may be, the world is full of wonderful new things to do and explore, if we make the effort.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Humans are a strange lot. (...That's okay. I'll wait while you go get a pencil to write that down. Just be sure you credit me when you use it.) Ever since our species stopped dragging its knuckles on the ground as it made its way to becoming bipedal, we've been inventing and playing innumerable little games and telling ourselves all sorts of stories to try to distract us from the fact that we, by and large, don't have a clue as to where we came from, how we fit into the scheme of things, why we're really here, or where we're going.

The avoidance-at-all-costs of the subject of death and dying goes back almost as far as the knuckle-dragging. I'd not be surprised if it were discovered that fear of the unknown is built into our genes, and there is nothing more unknown, and therefore terrifying, than death. We invented religion and the concept of heaven and hell not only to curb our wilder and more violent traits with the promise of either reward or punishment, but to assuage our fear of the ultimate unknown. 

Death really isn't all that complicated. It is simply "the permanent ending of vital processes in a cell or tissue." It is a natural and inevitable process for every living thing. Yet because we have religion and the promise that there is...well, something...after our cells and tissues not only cease functioning but disappear, we believe that our the ability to think and reason somehow puts us above every other living thing. Yet the fact that we are not superior to a housefly or a rutabaga...just very impossible to fully comprehend. It's nice to feel superior.

Some would argue that without the assurance of...something...after death, we would have no reason not to do whatever we wanted to while we're alive: rape, pillage, burn, steal. I would counter that there is enough of that going on even with visions of heaven and hell, like sugar-plum fairies, dancing in our heads. The fact is that we are a social species. We have set up a system of written and unwritten laws and rules by which the vast majority of us abide and are relatively comfortable with.

Because death and religion have become so intertwined over the millennia, it's hard to talk about one without the assumption that one is also talking about the other. This particular blog isn't intended as a diatribe against religion. But I firmly believe that while spirituality is also a part of every human being, the sins and excesses of organized religion have accounted for more wars, cruelty, and pain than any other social institution.

It's really odd that I, who wear my heart on my sleeve, who love happily-ever-after stories and beauty and romance, do not believe in the concept of heaven and hell. I'd like to believe in heaven. I really, truly, with all my heart would. But there simply is no logic to it. I go back to the question I asked my evangelical Sunday School teacher when he was extolling the wonders of heaven: "If my best friend does something terrible and is sent to hell, and I go to heaven, won't I be sad and miss him? But you said no one is sad in heaven." Organized religion and I parted ways shortly thereafter, with mutual relief.

I have never feared death...which is not at all to say I do not fear dying. To me, it is infinitely logical that death is exactly the same as the time before we were born. No one ever speculates on that, or is the least fearful of it. Nor should they be. Death is merely a return to that same "state of nonexistence" from which we were born. Absolutely no awareness, absolutely no fear or concern. Just the nothing of the deepest sleep. How can that conceivably be bad?

Because we did not exist before we were born, and will not exist after we die, being alive, for however long, is all there is and all that matters. And if we are concerned that the cessation of life is the cessation of our meaningfulness, or our worth, then we should do all we can while we are alive to make a positive difference to the world for all those who will be emerging from nonexistence after we have returned to it.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Father's Sun

I’ve been thinking of my dad recently. As impossible as it is for me to really comprehend, he’s been dead 45 years now. And as I think of him, I am able to see him, and my relationship with him, with an objectivity I never quite had while he was alive.

He was born in 1909, into a dysfunctional family. His parents divorced when he was quite young and he spent some time in an orphanage. I’ve just this moment realized that to this day, I do not know whether it was his mother or his father who retrieved and raised him, but his life could not have been easy. His mother remarried several times, his father once.

He met and married my mother when he was 22…mom was 24…and I came along a few years later. Neither he nor Mom finished high school, and both worked very hard all their lives. Given their backgrounds and temperaments, they should probably never have married; but of course if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here. They probably should have divorced when I was in grade school, but they didn’t. My mom was totally devoted to him, despite his string of extramarital relationships, one lasting until about four years before his death.

Many fathers and sons have a rocky relationship, the father wanting the son to be and do so many things the son either did not want to be or do, with the result of the son’s feeling like he did not live up to the father’s expectations. This was definitely the case with me. Dad loved sports and so wanted me to share that love. I was awkward and clumsy and terrible at team sports, as a partial result of which I grew to hate organized sports of any kind.

Because he and Mom argued endlessly, I—definitely a momma’s boy—sided with her, which I know caused him a great deal of pain. I’m sure I hurt him terribly far too many times. (An incident just popped into my head: he and I were somewhere shopping for something and he bought me a bag of candy. I had finished it before he reminded me, not out of anger but what I realize now was hurt, that I had not offered him a single piece. I still remember and deeply regret my thoughtlessness.)

It was not until he died, of a second heart attack within six months, at the age of 57, that I began to realize just how unfair I had been to him most of my life. Of course he was flawed…who isn’t? But I could have made more of an effort to understand him while he was still alive. He had known I was gay long before I finally “officially” came out to him and my mom, and in a way, he handled the knowledge better than Mom did.

In the few years between my declaring my homosexuality—thus ending decades of foolish game playing and avoidance—and Dad’s death, we finally reached an accommodation, and I began my journey on the long road to understanding.

Dad wasn’t a physically demonstrative type of person. Men didn’t do that sort of thing. The one way he demonstrated his affection was, when we were sitting side by side on the couch, he would reach over and squeeze my knee, hard, which always evoked a loud yelp of protest from me. It wasn’t until long after his death that I realized what he meant by it.

I would, with all my heart, truly like to believe that, in the moments before he died, he thought of me and knew that I loved him. For the one thing in my life of which I am absolutely sure is that he truly, truly loved me with all his heart and soul. I know that when I joined the Naval Aviation Cadet program, he was extremely proud of me, and that when I washed out of the program, it hurt him, but it did not diminish his pride in me. No matter how much I angered or frustrated or hurt him, he was proud of me. 

It may be immodest of me to say, but I am not talking of myself when I say that I was, truly, his sun.

I hope it is not too late to say, yet again, “Thank you, Dad. I love you.”

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Worst Enemies

Beat me! Beat me!" cried the masochist. "No," replied the sadist.

The concepts of sadism or physical masochism are utterly beyond my comprehension. To take pleasure from inflicting or seeking out physical pain is inconceivable to me. However, when it comes to mental masochist—to the constant and merciless berating of one's self—I have been a lifelong practitioner, and I simply cannot break myself of it.

The origins of my mental masochism, I'm convinced, lie in my compulsion to be so very much more than I am or could ever possibly be. I began pointing out my flaws at an early age, as a rather warped means of beating other people to the punch. Rather than wait for someone else to say, as they inevitably would: "Jeezus, Margason, you suck!" I step right in and say it before they get the chance. I won't give them the satisfaction of thinking I am not already aware of my shortcomings.

And over time this self-deprecation became a way of life.  Unfortunately, running myself down as a form of preemptive strike has, not surprisingly, been counterproductive. I've often told the story (and why wouldn't I? It's self-deprecatory) of seeing a letter one of my best friends in college had written another. In it, in mentioning me, he said, "You know, Roger keeps on telling everyone how worthless he is until eventually you begin to believe him." That should have been a wake-up call. It wasn't. More than 50 years later, I'm still doing it. How I have managed to get this far in life without an ulcer is a miracle.

I'm not sure whether it could be called ironic, or perverse, or perversely ironic, but I see my self-loathing, as indicated above, as a form of reverse narcissism. I demand far, far more of myself than I expect of anyone else because...well, because I'm me! I am fascinated by—and take what, despite all my vehement protests to the contrary, has to be a...well, masochistic...delight in—my own flaws and failings. I am not fishing for denials whenever I say that I am incompetent; I truly and completely believe it, and past experience offers solid proof. Given 10,000 opportunities to do something right or to do it wrong—especially if the task involves anything with moving parts, electricity, or the internet—the odds are that I will do it wrong 9,955 times out of the 10,000. And that is a conservative figure. It is also irrefutable fact. I don't like it, but that's the way it is.

We live in an increasingly technological world. Yet when, after countless failed attempts to do something technological, someone (usually a long-suffering friend) takes me by the hand and baby-steps me to the point where I finally do it right, the chances are 9,999 to 1 that the next time I need to do exactly the same thing, I will have forgotten how to do it or, doing it exactly the way I did it before, it will not work. In fact, it is quite common for me to do even a simple task I have done without problem innumerable times before—press key A and then key B to get result C, for example. Suddenly, with absolutely no change in the way I have always done it, I will press key A and then key B and get result Z, H, R, or K...sometimes in combination. Despite the kindness of people who assure me I exaggerate my inability to comprehend the simplest of instructions, the fact is that they know not whereof they speak simply because they are not me.

While it is sometimes difficult for most people to separate hyperbole from fact, I like to believe that I have raised incompetence to a new level...a statement perfectly demonstrating what I mean by reverse narcissism. "Nonsense," my friends will tell me. "Everyone makes mistakes." Yes, but the entire point of this blog is that other people are allowed—even expected—to make mistakes. I am not. What I readily accept in them, I refuse to allow in myself.  They are mere mortals, whereas I, while not sufficiently narcissistic to deny being mortal, am somehow....more. And if one's value can be measured by the number of one's flaws, I am "more," indeed.

So go ahead, take a look at your own flaws and failings, but don't even try to compare them to mine: you haven't the chance of a snowball in hell of winning.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Monday, March 10, 2014

Little Boy Lost

I have never grown up—a combination of circumstances and deliberate effort. When I was five I had no desire whatsoever to be six. I even now pay only lip service to the fact of being an adult. 
I’ve always been acutely aware that life is a precious gift I could not have forever, and I suppose I’ve believed that if I stayed a child, I could indefinitely put off having to give it back. Yet even while I refer to life as a party, I’ve never felt that I was particularly welcome guest; I’ve always been the one standing awkwardly in the corner, watching everyone else enjoy themselves.

Reality and I have never cared for one another. Even as a child, while my parents and close relatives served as my anchors and made me feel loved and physically comfortable, I felt somehow detached. Thanks in large part to my mother, who read to me constantly before I learned to read for myself and fostered my fantasies, I was able to build a fortress against reality Its walls and battlements were made of materials I found in books and movies and stories and games. I developed the ability to view myself with an odd detachment, as though I were a character in a book I was reading. I slowly became my own book, my own movie. This is still the case today. I sit in the armchair of my mind and watch/read in fascination as my story—and my books—unfold.

And though there are advantages to holding tightly to a child’s mind, eyes, and heart beyond physical childhood, it becomes more and more difficult as the body ages and reality’s armies march relentlessly forward to besiege my fortress.

So many factors make each of us who we are as individuals, and we are all different because no two people have identical life-shaping experiences. My personal unwillingness to “grow up” has been neither easy nor, often, pleasant. It is based, again, on the my acute awareness of not “belonging,” of never really having been or being totally sure of how to respond to “grown-up” situations. It has left me eternally confused and frustrated, and. I cannot remember a time when I have not felt like a lost little boy.

Interestingly, however, though I have always felt alone, I very seldom feel lonely. I have also fairly well developed the ability to avoid feeling overwhelmed by simply refusing to think about things which I know might well cause those feelings. I’m very well aware that the possibility for physical and romantic love—sharing my life with someone whom I can love with all my being, and who could love me equally in return—have long been lost to me, and this could be a source of true sorrow and regret were I allow it to. So I simply do not let myself think about it. But it is clear notice that I have been at the party a very long time and cannot expect to stay forever.

Having retained a child’s romanticism and firm belief in a happily-ever-after, I’m even now constantly trying to accommodate what I want and expect life to be with what it is. My fortress is surrounded, and even my lost little boy knows it.

While the mind may be able to resist reality, the body cannot. My little boy’s body has long, long ago vanished, to be replaced by one I simply do not recognize and which could horrify me if I were to allow myself too much access to reflexive surfaces. I am slowly losing control over it and I fear it has made a pact with reality which I would never allow it to even consider.

And as I view, with truly detached objectivity, the fact that I am closer to the end of my journey than to the beginning, I fool myself by thinking of it a “logic” rather than “reality.” And you can be sure I will remain in my fortress, thumbing my nose at Reality’s armies as long as I possibly can. And then, hopefully, my mother may come and read me a story.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Spider's Belch

Okay, I admit it: I have what even I consider to be an unnatural obsession with internet spam, and though I had been fighting with considerable success of late to resist, the temptations are just too great. Internet spam is, metaphorically, an intricately woven spider's web, at the center of which a deadly predator awaits. My fascination with it stems from the fact that while I can understand a fly or insect getting caught in a spider’s web, I simply cannot comprehend how human beings can become ensnared by spam. Those who do so because of their own greed deserve to get caught, and I have no pity for them. But far too many innocent people…the decent though incredibly naive and gullible…are also ensnared, and this infuriates me.

While spiders and their webs are a part of the balance of nature—the the predator takes the victim’s life in order to survive itself—internet spammers have no such logical reason to exist. Their only motive is greed, and like the spider stalking the fly, they do so without conscience, morals, or compassion.

The creators of spam are, all evidence to the contrary, not totally stupid. But they don't have to be smart. They are predators. They may have about the same I.Q. as a black widow spider, but they spin their webs with the same determination and for the same purpose. And they know if they make their webs large enough (something the vast size of the internet makes relatively easy to do) they’re bound to catch something. 

Let us take one single, all-too-typical spam message/web and lay it out upon the examining table to dissect it, piece by piece. First, here is the message in its entirety:

Order Request
Thanks for your continous response to our email and your diligent work in getting our order supplied, we have three other suppliers and at  we have to select only one. Register your company profile on our supplier Portal and fill  the datasheet after logging in.           
 Click to download
Thanks for your cooperation
  Hussein Safwan
Purchase Manager

The first thing we observe is a “Second Coming”-size boldface “Order Request,” a much smaller font used here, implying that what follows is of vital importance. That it not only not important but makes absolutely no sense is irrelevant. (Does “order request” mean they asking you to place an order, or are they referring to an order that has, supposedly, already been placed? No matter.)  

“Company profile”? What company? Do you have a company? They hope the fact that they apparently assume you do will let you make one up. “Supplier Portal”? “Log in”?

How the recipient…any recipient…can so totally set aside everything they have ever known or felt about logic and the fact that not one single thing in the entire message makes even an iota of sense is totally beyond my comprehension. 

“Thanks for your continous  [sic.] response to our email…” One might wonder, if one were the wondering kind, which the spammer counts on the recipient’s not being, how one can “continuously” respond to a single email which the recipient knows full well was  never sent in the first place? They either feel safe in assuming the recipient is not smart enough to remember that he/she has never in fact heard from these people before, or that they will find the dangled carrot irresistible.

Of course the spammer depends heavily on the recipient’s duplicity in blatantly obvious illegal schemes…spiriting large sums of money out of the spammer’s supposed country, for example, or claiming to be related to someone the recipient has never heard of in order to “claim the deceased’s inheritance,” etc. It is the (intended) impression that the recipient is somehow getting away with something even the slightest degree of conscience would declare unethical that makes the prospect exciting.

All leading you to the spider in the center of the web. “Click to download data sheet” in big, bold letters. Click and they have you. You are doomed.

The note is signed by “Hussein Safwan,” an exotic-sounding name that is sure to instill confidence. And we learn that Mr. Safwan is a “Purchase Manager.” Did it occur to the recipient—you—to wonder  what he purchases, or for whom he works? Who cares? You...and you can be sure your money...are toast. 

Now all you have to do is to sit back and wait for the spider to belch. But you won’t be around to hear it.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (

Monday, March 03, 2014

On Thinking

I do an awful lot of thinking. ... No, let me rephrase that: my mind is like a car with the engine turned on, the gas pedal pushed to the floor, and the gearshift in neutral. This is to “thought” what a table full of baking ingredients is to a pie.  Actually grabbing one single thought and holding onto it long enough to do anything of value with it is nearly impossible for me.

I’d actually finished this blog before it dawned on me that it probably made little or no sense. I’d originally intended to address the various aspects of thinking. I was planning to delve into the subject at some depth...or what passes for depth with me.

We think from the day we are born. Even before we engage in what might be considered rational thought, we as babies begin thinking as a way of learning how to use our bodies, familiarizing ourselves first with the purpose of our various appendages, then with the voices and faces of our parents, and exploring our senses—taste being the first. Having established the basic knowledge of the our physicality, rationality and logic then slowly enter the equation.

To return to the car analogy, the mind is the driver, the body the car. They generally work flawlessly as a team throughout childhood, youth, and well into adulthood. But there inevitably comes a point where the two begin to part ways. It seldom if ever occurs to the mind that while it has no major physical components to wear out, the body is constructed totally of components that do. We’re at first confused by the physical slowing down of the body—it’s unwillingness and eventually inability to do what it had always done before. 

Life has been compared to a highway, and while the mind assumes it should always be able to maintain the speed limit, all the thinking in the world can’t change the fact that the body/car is being increasingly overtaken and passed by sleek, newer models with shinier paint and more highly polished chrome. The mind may still be in the race, but the body is inexorably forced into the slow lane. As the situation becomes more and more apparent, it’s not uncommon for the mind to experience a mixture of anger at the body and fear for itself.

But for all the benefits of thinking in the body-and-mind union, I’ve always wondered why, since thinking is one of the greatest of all the unique gifts bestowed upon Mankind, so many people don't seem to bother with using it, and are content to let other people do their thinking for them.

I just had the mental image of a nest of baby birds, mouths agape, waiting for their parents to regurgitate nourishment, and the thought that when it comes to thinking, too many humans never get beyond the baby-bird stage. They willingly swallow anything they're fed and accept as gospel anything they're told. Why bother to chew on a thought when you can just swallow someone else’s whole?

A terrifyingly large number of people one might assume to be rational human beings have been somberly telling us that our President is an usurper to the office he holds; the fact that he was elected  to the office…twice…means absolutely nothing. He is, to those who never met a conspiracy theory they didn’t like,  a Kenyan-Socialist-Marxist-Muslim-terrorist Antichrist who drinks the blood of Christian babies for breakfast. He is E-vil incarnate. Really? Gee, that sounds terrible. But I'm not going to spend any time thinking about it for myself. If people say it, it must be true, right? So that's proof enough for me. I'll just go along with it with no question.

I can't help but wonder how much of the anger and hostility sweeping the world today is based on independent thought and how much on our willingness to be carried along on the sheer, unreasoning tsunami engendered by accepting what we’re told without question.

And I have just realized, upon rereading all of the above for the fourth or fifth time and trying to smooth out the lumps, that at the rate I’m going, this particular blog has the potential to be only a few pages shorter than The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. So I think I should just call it a day. Maybe I'll try to talk about thinking again sometime. You know, come up with a bunch of analogies between cars and drivers and minds and bodies and…. Well, we’ll see.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (