7 years since tinywords relaunched

Has it really been 7 years since I relaunched tinywords.com? Time flies. I am no longer editing the journal — that job has been ably taken over by Kathe Palka and Peter Newton — but I continue to maintain the technical side of the site, which is now about 16 years old. It is one of the things I’ve done in my adult life that I’m quite proud of, in a quiet way.


Don’t panic

This is what I was searching for about not panicking and not overdoing the outrage. (click through to see Quinn’s whole thread)


If language is not correct

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”



Specific gratitude

Keeping a gratitude diary, or less pretentiously, taking some time out of every day to write down the things you’re thankful for, is an effective way to increase happiness.

And I’d like to suggest one small addition.

In addition to writing down things you’re thankful for (rainbows, puppies, burritos) take some time each day to express your gratitude to a specific person.

Send a thank-you note or a postcard. Send an email or text to that person. Pick up the phone. Or simply say “thank you” face to face.

It could be a good friend or family member who you love and who loves you. It could be someone at work you think is overdue for some appreciation. Or it could be the barista serving you a coffee or the bus driver taking you home. Take a minute to let that person know you recognize them as another human, and that you’re grateful for what they’re bringing to you.

I think this will not only spread happiness, but also an understanding of the ways in which we’re all interconnected and interdependent.

As the Buddhist grace goes, “Seventy-two labors brought us this food. We should know how it comes to us.” This prayer is meant as a reminder of codependent origination, or what Thich Nhat Hanh calls the inter-being of all things: sunshine, air, water. In fact seventy-two is an understatement; I always remember this prayer as “10,000 things.” Whatever the number, some of those things are specific people: Those who grew the food, who harvested it, who sold it, who shopped for it, who cooked it, and who washed the dishes afterward.

We should know how things come to us.


Further reading:

Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded (the Dalai Lama and Arthur C. Brooks)

A 23-Minute Morning Ritual That Will Transform Your Whole Day (Marcel Schwantes)

Specific gratitude

How Facebook feeds conspiracies and bogus news

This article has inspired me to do a few things more consistently on Facebook:

1. I won’t share any articles I haven’t actually read
2. I won’t like or share memes/statement images unless there’s an article I’ve read attached to them
3. I won’t support stupid question-mark headlines (“Is Donald Trump a lizardman?”) by sharing or liking them.

The “They Had Their Minds Made Up Anyway” Excuse

crossposted from Facebook
November 21, 2016 at 08:06AM

How Facebook feeds conspiracies and bogus news


The radio tells me that calls to suicide hotlines are up 30 percent since the election. The news tells me that racists will be in the white house. Friends share stories with me about how bad things are about to get. A writer I respect says we have less than two months at best. People are saying farewell to American democracy. My daughter asks if she will be deported or enslaved.

Enough, I say. To all who have a stake in making you feel awful: Enough. It is time to huddle. It is time to take care of each other, and ourselves. It is time to plan and ready ourselves for resistance. But we know how to do this. We have been countercultural. We have been oppositional and defiant. We have gone to protests and put signs on lamp posts and worn slogans on our shirts and pinned statements to our jackets. We’ve talked to people, and sometimes shouted at them, and we’ve listened to them shout at us. We have grown our hair long as a signal to others, and we have cut it short as a signal to others. We have thrown parties. We have played our music. We have told our jokes, our many, many jokes, and those jokes have brought the bright air back into the rooms we were in, if even for a moment.

And we have sat quietly, breathing, watching how our world is created anew with each breath.

Perhaps it has been a long time–perhaps some of you are young enough that you don’t remember these times. But some of us do, and we’ll show you how it’s done.

We got this.


Something to lose

In the past few days I’ve been thinking about how much I have to lose.

I enjoy the evenings at my son’s soccer practice, overhearing snippets of English, Spanish, and Arabic. I love the Spanish-speaking soccer moms who bring way too much food to weekend soccer tournaments, plying us with sandwiches, endless fruit salad, macaroni salad, ceviche tostadas. And coffee, god bless the coffee they brought this morning.

I value the bilingual school where my kids are learning to be fluent in Spanish just as their classmates are learning English.

I love that the ladies in the hair braiding salon, where my daughter was getting her hair done, raised my spirits yesterday with their jokes about Mitch McConnell and the incoming “coochie snatching president.” They even teased me about my lack of braiding knowledge, joking that I could give a lecture on the topic after spending an hour or two there. (As if.)

I love my neighborhood and my town, a medium sized suburb where you can walk down the street and hear six different languages in five minutes. Where you can eat a dozen different kinds of food from all over the world. Where you can work in a coffee shop side by side with entrepreneurs who came here from god knows where for a chance to make their dreams come true. Where you can drink your coffee right alongside moms pushing strollers, retired folks out with their friends and their little fluffy dogs, and high school students of all kinds working their homework and their budding caffeine addictions.

I love the swims in the clean water of the SF Bay — water that has been cleaned up thanks to the hellraising efforts of several generations of activists, mostly women. I love that some of my swim buddies are gay, and that they can feel safe and welcome wherever we go together, for swims and for lunches afterward.

I treasure my children, who are a different color than my wife and I, and who could not be more part of our family if they had come from our bodies. I’m grateful to the many people who believed enough in us, and in the potential of our love and abilities as parents, that they helped us bring these children into our family. I’m grateful that many of those same people took the time and care to educate us, as much as they could, about the racial issues our children would face, and that we would face as a family. Those lessons have proven valuable again and again.

I love the peaceful, quiet evenings when I can sit on the front porch or walk around my neighborhood, just listening to the quiet murmurings of people going about their lives, sometimes catching a whiff of someone’s dinner or hearing a snippet of their music.

My life is substantially better because of the diversity of the country and the area where I live. My family’s life is richer and more varied. And, I might add, as a multicolored family, we are safer here than we would be almost anywhere else in the world.

Someone I know was claiming online this week that his life would be essentially unchanged regardless of who the president was. Lucky for you, I told him. But for me, I feel absolutely different. The incoming president troubles me, a lot, both for what he has explicitly said and what he has alluded to or implicitly endorsed. His supporters scare me even more, especially the ones who feel emboldened to speak their racism, misogyny, and homophobia more openly now, and to express it ever more hatefully.

This — this diversity — is exactly what we stand to lose if America becomes a more hateful, more intolerant, more exclusive nation. This, I am here to tell you, would be a loss not just for black people, immigrants, gay people, transgender people: It would be a loss for white people too. It would be a loss for all of us.

And I’ll be damned if I’m going to just sit back and let that happen to the country I love.

Something to lose