Monday, April 28, 2014

Bill's Theory of Color

When you are an analytical / strategic / ideation / intellection / learner personality (thanx, Strengthsfinder), you (meaning I) spend a lot of time thinking about things that probably are meaningless to anyone else.
Long, long ago I came up with a theory on color. I know it was at least 36 years ago, because that was when I tried to explain it to the Treasury Department agents who came to see me at my then place of employment, to interrogate me about… well, that’s a story for another time.
(It’s almost reassuring to know that somewhere in my permanent record there’s proof of this, and someone with the right security clearance might be able to find it. It’s another sort of immortality.)
Now, about color:
Color doesn’t really exist as you’re used to thinking of it. Yes, there are wavelengths that can be seen, but the wavelength comes into our eye, is plastered on the retina, transmitted through the optic nerve, and into our brain (I know that’s not the whole exact way it happens, but give me some slack here.) Our brain takes those wavelengths and translates them into what we think of as color. If I look at a green barn, it will appear green to me unless something happens to change the frequency (years of weathering, or a new paint job, or different lighting, or tinted lenses.)
All in all, green is still green. If you and I both look at the same green barn and we’re asked what color it is, we’ll say “Green!” (and depending on how we were in school, we might raise our hands and squirm in our seats shouting “Me! Me! Me!”, but that’s another matter.) We perceive the wavelengths, and because they translate to what we’ve called green all our lives, the barn is green.
Now to my theory on color:
What if something happened to make it possible for you to see things from inside my body.
“How?” you ask? It doesn’t really matter how, but maybe mind transference, or possession, a Vulcan Mind Meld, or implants like the AugMonitor™, or some odd out of body experience (I’m sure some of us have experienced at least one of these, right?) – the point is, your “mind” or “soul”, or whatever it is that makes you YOU would be hooked up to a different set of interpreters – a different eye and optical nerve and brain – than what you have been using all your life.
What would the world look like? Would that green barn still look green to you, or would it seem more like what you’ve always thought of as orange? It isn’t just the wavelength that determines the color – it’s how you perceive it.
Maybe this is why people have different favorite colors – maybe there’s a universal perceived color that looks the same when we do the Vulcan Mind Meld.
(If this was all too bizarre for you to make sense of, you’re in good company – the guys from Treasury didn’t know what to make of it, either.)
We spend our lives seeing things a certain way, and a lot of times don’t consider what goes into that perception. Years of observation. The experiences of a lifetime spent in different places, working different kinds of jobs. Sometimes, it includes having things drummed into you that may not even be true.
Each of us brings a unique set of modifications to our perception of the world. So, the next time someone says something that doesn’t quite jive with what you think you see – do have a conversation, but first, take some time to wonder what’s going on inside their head, and let them know what’s going on inside yours. If both of you can do this, maybe you can get past the differences in perception to the firm reality of the situation.
Just saying….

William Mangieri’s writing can be found in many places, including:
·         His Amazon Author page:

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Monday, April 21, 2014

The Words We Choose

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet. Are we sure about that? Think of the most repugnant thing you can imagine; if you changed the name of a rose to that, would you still want to plant them in your garden?
Word choices are important. There’s an old ad by Verbal Advantage that started “People judge you by the words you use.” They were selling a product to help improve your vocabulary, the thinking being that, the more expansive and educated your word choices, the more highly people will regard you, and your status will rise.
They were right to a point, but there’s more judging going on than they were talking about. Words don’t just have meanings – they have connotations as well. By your choice of words, people can tell something about your beliefs that you may not have meant to tell them.
At this moment, those of you who are on the politically incorrect side of a given argument probably became concerned. “Wait – you mean no matter how hard I try to not become an issue, I still am? But I’m trying so hard to fit in…” Isn’t it a shame that we live in a world where you can’t be truthful without risking your peace of mind? Where your friendships or employment can be adversely impacted for what may even be a majority belief?
We live in a world where the war is over vocabulary – we no longer share the same glossary. That’s why the two sides seem to live in alternate realities – the words they use to define the real world alter the perception. Too many people think that Perception is Reality, but it’s not; REALITY IS REALITY. As I’ve heard said often – you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
Why do we persist in fooling ourselves about what we’re talking about? Calling something what it is brings clarity. How can you solve a problem if you can’t say what it is?
Sometimes it’s helpful to set the mood or an image: Complaint Department vs Customer Service. This type of use can actually make conversation and problem resolution more likely.
But there are often times when people change the vocabulary they use to make it easier to accept (or even promote) objectionable circumstances. You can decide to tie a happy bow around it while going through a bad situation, and this may help make it easier to endure, BUT IT’S STILL A BAD SITUATION. Denial of the uncomfortable bits doesn’t make them go away.
This is dangerous. Science, rational thought, survival, all count on accurate understanding of our environment. If we warp this by altering or even banning the language, we have crippled our ability to come to agreement and solve problems.
It also enables us to make decisions with a downside by eliminating bad connotations. A Productivity Initiative sounds very positive, and helps to secure buy-in, but doesn’t calling it that warp the playing field and make it easier to engage in the layoffs that it includes? Saying you are Enhancing Revenue may make it easier to Raise Taxes, but it’s still just as painful.
A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet – AND would still have its thorns.
We need to always be mindful of what we’re REALLY talking about - what’s REALLY happening. Don’t try to prevent the argument by twisting and weakening the language. The “negatives”, no matter how uncomfortable they make us, DO have a place in the conversation.
Just saying….

William Mangieri’s writing can be found in many places, including:
·         His Amazon Author page:
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Exposing Myself

In my last post, I mentioned my coffee mug that says “I’m a Writer... Everything You Say or Do May End Up in My Novel” (okay – it doesn’t SAY it – the message is printed on the mug.) I hold it left-handed because if I hold it in my right-hand, the message is directed toward me, and I don’t want to be threatened with that kind of exposure.
According to all the Writer self-help books, this is really what I’m supposed to be doing if I want to be successful. Mind you, these self-help books aren’t there to help me solve the problems that way be writhing around under the surface of my gray matter. The idea is pretty much “hey, that psychological make-up is already established in there – let’s see if we can take advantage of it.”
We are all flawed in some way, and like an emerald, those flaws are what make us stand out, how we sparkle in our own unique way – what gives us value.
I have to write something that connects with others, and to find those deep connections, I have to write about something that FEELS real to me, and that I have a DEEP PASSION about.
This isn’t just in writing – it really applies to more of ALL of our lives and jobs than you might think. Your best road to success and distinction is to bring ALL OF YOURSELF to what you do. Don’t leave your PASSIONS at the door.
 On “The Voice” and “American Idol”, the coaches / judges advise the people on stage to put their hearts into it, to connect with something in the song, and pull that connection out of their own experience. When a girl of sixteen can make you FEEL the emotions of the story of a man of fifty, she may not have done the things she’s singing about, but there’s something inside her that connects to it, and she brings that out in front of everyone.
When it comes down to it as a writer, I am constantly exposing my most private life, my thoughts, opinions, what’s sitting in that dark room inside my skull, and dragging the good and the bad out into the open for all to see (or at least all that are paying attention.)
“Oh, come on, Bill!” you say (go ahead – try it; OUT LOUD.) “I don’t think you’ve time-travelled and fathered yourself. Or tortured an intergalactic food critic. Or nearly been drowned by a ghost. Or committed murder under the influence of an AugMentor ™.”
Read up. How else would you know?
Just saying….

William Mangieri’s writing, including his most recent story “Reconcilable Differences”, can be found in many places, including:
·         His Amazon Author page:

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Think About Why You’re Doing

In Gulliver’s Travels, we get to see two nations at war with each other about which end should be used to crack an egg. No one knows why, it’s just always been that way. It’s a HABIT, and leaving it unchallenged has made the lives of both nations more difficult.
How do we develop habits? We PRACTICE them into being.
I’m right-handed (and no, I do not feel I was oppressed into it by the right-handed majority.) This Christmas my son gave me a coffee mug with a special, writing-oriented message on it (“I’m a Writer... Everything You Say or Do May End Up in My Novel”.) If I hold the mug with my right hand, as I have 99.9% of my life, I’m the only one who can read the message, which means I am the one being threatened with my life becoming an expose. So I have taken to holding the mug with my left hand in order to threaten (and amuse) others instead.
The decision to hold this particular mug in my left hand is a conscious one, to achieve a specific objective in the best way possible. However, I now find that I hold mugs in my left hand MOST of the time. This is NOT a conscious decision – sometime over the last three months it has become a HABIT.
I’m lucky to have this example – most of the time we go through life developing habits, and don’t give why a second thought. We can’t remember what started it, but we let it persist of its own force, JUST BECAUSE IT IS WHAT IT IS.
In the past, this sort of acceptance of habitual behavior was beneficial more often than not (there IS such a thing as a GOOD HABIT, and if you want to get rid of a bad one, the easiest way is to replace it with one of those.) But things moved far more slowly WAY BACK THEN. The tools you used, the activities you were involved in, most of those things wouldn’t change much over 40 years. You might even work for the same company that long, and they weren’t likely to change their habits, either.
That isn’t the world we live in now. New technologies spring up daily, and it isn’t JUST technology – the way we do things becomes outmoded before we realize it. We’re more mobile in where we live, how we function, where we work - in any number of ways.
In this world of rapid change, can you really afford to keep your old habits as they are? Maybe there are things you’ve been carrying from your past that are making your life more difficult now. When was the last time you examined your behavior inventory?
Take the time to question everything you do once in a while. MAKE THAT YOUR NEW HABIT.
Just saying….

William Mangieri’s writing can be found in many places, including:
·         His Amazon Author page:

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Illusion of Permanence

We spend a lot of time trying to preserve the illusion of permanence.
I haven’t given it a lot of thought over the years – a luxury of youth and a culture of denial, I’m sure. But let’s face it, I’m getting on in years, and the evidence of our transience is poking its head out at me more and more.
This feeling isn’t particularly new. Over the years, I’ve seen buildings come down and be replaced. Sections of Europe, Africa and Asia have changed names and borders drastically since I used to draw maps for fun in my teens. People I’ve known are gone from my life, either because they’ve moved, or gone through some more permanent change of status.
And to think – this has all been brought front of mind because our dog Katy is dead.
I know nothing in our world is permanent, but you can’t go through life without assuming that SOMETHING that’s here now is going to be here tomorrow. I’ve known for over a year that Katy was going to be gone “soon”, but how soon, no one could actually KNOW. I trust our vet enough that it’s not TOO farfetched to consider trusting him with MY OWN LIFE (you may not realize this, but veterinarians have to go through more schooling than your usual doctor), but we asked him when Katy was 12 how much longer she had, and he thought maybe a year of 2. She made it 4 more.
I had to approach those 4 years as though Katy was going to be around “forever” to all intents and purposes. When it was time to buy her food, I went with the usual 6 month supply – I didn’t say “You know, she might be dead in a month – let’s just buy 1 week at a time.” Same with her medications.
Part of the bio I have included in my various postings, ePublications, and even my physical POD books on Createspace, mention our “nine-pound westie who…” keeps us all in line, or some such thing. I did this without considering that all these things would be out there with information that was no longer valid. The evidence that neither Katy, nor anything else lasts forever is everywhere.
So, even by trying to pretend that nothing will pass, our efforts to ignore mortality just help to bring it home even more. But then, how else could we achieve anything as human beings, or leave a legacy, if we didn’t persist in this illusion that somehow, what we leave behind will last forever. What would be the point?
Just saying….

William Mangieri’s writing can be found in many places, including:
·         His Amazon Author page:

Connect with him on Facebook at: