.: Distraction :.

Without being clever or flip about it this time, (though I sometimes have to hold my breath to keep from being that way, since I'm such a natural-born smart-aleck) I'll say that it won't do us any good to pretend that you are going to get anything approaching a systematic treatment of the subject of Kismet. It'd bore us both to tears. A systematic approach would require a gradual building up from simple to complex with elementary concepts mastered before we go on to build upon them to the more complex.

Kismet itself isn't that way. It imposes itself upon us, then like a timid kitten, is gone. Topic titles used in this text should be considered as loosely collecting onto themselves subtopics which SOMEWHAT follow the topic.

Now the proceeding paragraphs didn't say a thing about DISTRACTION. I purposefully distracted you from the topic, or perhaps I myself was distracted.

Yesterday during lunch break I drove downtown to try to take care of a traffic ticket. There was such a long line I declined to wait but decided instead to take care of some "things to do" I had written in my notebook. My drive cross-town to pick up some items in Mountain View was partly chosen, partly random. I knew generally the direction I was to go, and knew the major streets. When I came to a stoplight, rather than waiting, I would turn right (California allows a right turn on a red light) if such a turn would generally lead me in the direction I wanted to go. Green lights would take me straight ahead. The roads traveled, for the most part, were not ones I had used before. If I were to go again from point A to point B and use the same driving strategy I would be unlikely to follow the same course.

The plan was originally to go to downtown Sunnyvale to take care of a ticket. I reacted to the long-lines by changing my Kismet and decided to pick up some items in Mountain View. Time and again I changed my path in accordance with the conditions that were presented to me. The people I met (almost ran over) the sights along the way which made up the experience, induced a particular unique thought pattern.

I passed a house where the occupants were having a garage sale. As I drove by I saw a filing cabinet which I thought was one of the hard-to-find Oak cabinets I have in my home office. I turned around, parked my pickup truck, and then discovered the cabinet was just painted metal, not Oak. I got a rather puzzled look from the seller when I took one look at the cabinet and immediately turned around and left.

Further on in my journey I stopped and wrote down the address and realtor's phone number at a house-for-sale.

Kismet is being prepared to take advantage of the twists and turns of fate. However, if we are to be Kismet masters, we must also avoid distraction.

~Kismet's Crooked Road

The crooked road of Kismet is seen while traveling probably more than at any other time. There is a break in the traffic pattern that allows you to change lanes. If you don't act with reasonable haste, that break will soon be filled. If you do, then the rest of the traffic will be affected by your new position and the lane you just vacated may provide an opportunity for someone else to improve his or her position in traffic.

~Anticipating the Future

Much of this writing is aimed toward giving you a "bag of tricks" to better equip you for the main task of Kismet: anticipating the future.

~Non-Changeable Future

You are standing atop a tall cliff with shear sides. You drop a pebble off the sides and count six chimpanzees before you think you hear it hit the ground.

A very pretty bird flies by. You are stunned with the beauty of the creature and, forgetting where you are, stride purposefully over to get a better look at the plumage. Suddenly you are walking on thin air. No, you are falling. You can see you are plunging straight down the embankment, gaining momentum as you go.

Not a pretty picture. Can you, falling ever downward do anything to prevent your destruction? Can your Aunt Ida in Denver, who thinks very highly of you, do anything to keep you from colliding with the earth below?

Can you do anything, within the next 24 hours to stop the rotation of the earth? To cool down the sun? To rearrange the stars of the milky way? Yes, my friends, there are non-changeable events. Unless you wear blue underwear embroidered with a red "S" and the costume isn't just to impress the kids, forget it! You are not going to stop a speeding locomotive by brute strength.

~Very Changeable Events

I can type the letter "S" three times: SSS. I can stop and take a gulp from my soft drink (I just did to demonstrate the action). I can get in my car and drive over to a friend's house, get him or her out of bed and talk the victim's ears off about Kismet, or the price of eggs, or the Giants' chances of winning the pennant.

There are a lot of things that I can easily do which will affect the future.

~The In Betweeners

Between the unchangeable events and the very changeable ones lie the class of events and arraignments which are not easily affected but are not impossible to affect.

While not impossible, what are the chances that Queen Elizabeth will divorce Prince Philip and marry my friend Clem Kaddiddlehopper? The percentage of universes where the Queen and Clem walk down the isle is very small. Clem strikes it rich. His back 40 is loaded with oil. He invests in Surry Unlimited and increases his fortune even more until he is among the world's wealthiest men.

Meanwhile one horrible year follows another in the royal household, much of it, the Queen thinks, is Philip's fault. Finally, to save the family fortune, the Queen dumps her hubby and marries Clem, which action is no longer frowned upon by the world since most every social norm has been stood on its ear in this, one of the clem-weds-Queen universes.

Can Clem take some actions to improve his chances of wedding the Queen? Sure he can. He can probably improve his chances enormously. Yet if he were to do everything he could, with the best advisors in the world guiding his every move, his chances of being the Queen's mate are insignificant.

Wisdom lies in recognizing those oh-so-long chances as the practical impossibilities they are, and not wasting time on them.

~Energy, Information, and Position: Once Over Lightly

Let's once again dabble in theoretical quantum mechanics and other concepts from modern theoreticians. We will introduce energy, information, and position in a very superficial way. A more vigorous treatment is left for later.

Everett postulated on THE ACTUAL EXISTENCE of many worlds or universes. Each world is created by a branching in time by the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a certain event. In one world I take the freeway to Mountain View. In another I don't turn right at Castro street to give another motorist plenty of time to clear the intersection. In another I remember how late it is getting to be and don't stop at the garage sale.

Just before starting to write on Kismet I reformatted a floppy disk. In reformatting I erased all of the information which had been on the disk. Where did that information go? To parody a song you all know, which is sung by Jimminy Cricket:

"Where do files go when they have been removed?
They must be somewhere in the sunny afternoon."

In the creation and destruction of information we don't violate the laws against conservation of matter or energy.

Position isn't information and certainly is not energy or matter. Position can be described. That description is information. When there is a change in position, matter is displaced and energy utilized (changed from one form to another).

Though students of quantum mechanics might not expect position itself to be treated as a topic, it has been well studied in quantum mechanics.

An event in Kismet can be studied as a relationship or interaction of information, energy, matter, and position. Available to us are certain aids to analysis and understanding such as information theory, mathematics, and the study of physics, which were not nearly as well developed by the ancients.

When we intercede in our Kismet, and choose a certain path, it is possible to follow the changes in the world which follow from that choice. Modern chaos theory suggests considerable limitations on PREDICTING that course as the sequence of events which follow bring the course of events further and further from the original interceding.

~Limits to intervention

The concepts of energy, information, and position were introduced because we will need to use these concepts to answer a very fundamental question concerning Kismet: if we intervene and cause a change in events, what are the limits to that change? If Kismet is like throwing a pebble into the water to produce a ripple, does the wave force lose energy as it expands from the original splash and eventually become "lost in the background noise?" Or does it go on and on forever? Or are there other limits to the affect of any change?

If an event is treated as applying energy to alter the position of matter then the usual conclusion is that the force of the event declines with time and distance. However so much of Kismet involves human interactions on this very finite planet. The energy expended in an event causes a change in position, but that change in position leads to very different information patterns. The information patterns, especially when aided by modern communication and mass media, have an effect which is profound and long lasting.

The events of Kismet are not mysterious and beyond human understanding. They can be studied, and with the understanding which comes from that study, methods and strategies developed.

~Self-betterment using Kismet

This writing, besides introducing the reader to Kismet, is a practical guide to self betterment through Kismet. If your learning goes no further than recognizing distraction and developing methods to lessen it, then the goal of self betterment will be well attained.

~Distractions, distractions

There are questions to be answered on the stone ripple effect. Some events may well simply disappear in the chaos. However the effect they have locally can be profound. Whether a man-a-courting marries the redhead, blond, or brunette may make little difference to the world at large, but it makes a heap of difference to HIM!, and to the brunette.

It is hard to see how the invention of fire was an event which is lost in chaos. It would seem that there are chaos organizing events, directed by intelligence, which expand in size or (conversely) create companion ripples. The study of Kismet should be able to recognize and classify these events and develop mathematical models to predict their consequences.

Summarizing some obvious "types" of events: There are events where it's hard to see consequences. There are also random acts sure to affect others, but with no obvious personal gain or loss. There are directed events with an intention to bring about a particular result. Finally, there are random acts intended to simple upset the present course of events where outcome is not known or even planned "this can't go on let's do anything to bring about some change"

We may treat life as if it were not real by choosing our own reality simply by transporting ourselves to a new location, a new set of people. Learning the rules may just be classifying people by their present reactions and seeing what effect is achieved by "pulls their string." If Joe is able to pull Becky's string by blowing smoke into her face, then chances are Fred can too. Even a better predictor of how Becky will react when Fred pulls her string is how she DOES react when he pulls it. Future reactions should be better predicted by Fred pulling her string than future reactions of Fred pulling her string are to Joe pulling Becky's string. Hay Fred, see how Becky reacts when Joe pulls her string. Learn from her reaction. If you want the same reaction try pulling her string the same way Joe does. If you like Becky's reaction, pull her string the same way again. If she reacts differently to you than to Joe, you may need to modify your technique, or maybe even find a different Becky. There are a lot of Becky clones out there. The Joes and Beckys practice on each other all the time, and on different Joe and Becky models. They learn to pull each others strings. You show up, Fred, and you are different than Joe. If too different, Becky will not react the same way. The closer you are to the same as Joe the closer will be Becky's reaction to your string pulling.

~Keeping a Kismet Notebook

Buy one of the little pocket-size note books. The kind I use is imprinted with "60 Sheets 5x3 Narrow Ruled White Paper". Get the kind which has the spiral wire binding on the side rather than the top. The side-spiral-wire-biding is just right to hold a pen with a clip inside the wire spiral.

Write the current date on the front of the note-book. When the note-book is chuck full of useful was well as no longer useful information, you will put the close out date next to the starting date and file it away.

There are a number of pocket-size computers and electronic notebooks out which will also serve this purpose. Use them if you are so inclined. Rather than running out and investing half a grand and up on such a gizmo I suggest you start out with the plain ordinary 69 cent notebook and learn the old method first.

Yes, I told you to buy ONE of the notebooks. They are cheap. Get several. Since you are human, there will be times when you misplace your regular Kismet notebook and will substitute the number two or three or four notebook. When this happens you mess-up the chronology of your notes somewhat, but it is best always to have a notebook at hand.

I have used the notebook technique for over four years. I recently changed from the pocket size notebook with binding on the side to a top-bound notebook. What is lost in this change, is the nice "togetherness feeling" of being able to keep your pen snug in the spiral binding. However, a lot of the notebooks now have smaller spring bindings and the pen can't be thus inserted anyway. Tip: use the pen clip to attach to the spiral binding on side-bound notebooks.

The advantage to the top-bound notebook is allowing more space to write on from side to side since the spiral binding doesn't get in the way. These top-bound notebooks also allow you to fold out both top and bottom halves of the notebook so you can write from top to bottom on an effective 9" x 3" page.

    Get a Sexy Pen

Your notebook and pen are going to be fairly constant companions and useful tools from now. You will want a pen or pens which you feel comfortable using. The choice of a pen is a little trickier than it sounds. But any choices you make can always be improved upon later since purchase of even a relatively expensive pen doesn't require you to mortgage your home to finance purchase.

    Use a fine point pen

Remember, your notebook is 5 x 3. That's five INCHES by three INCHES. A lot of your note taking will be in small lettering. There are a lot of medium point pens in use. They make thicker sometimes darker lettering, and there are less problems, particularly with the cheap pens, with ink closing (the pen acts as if it is out of ink when clogged).

The problem with the medium point pens is when you are making small letters, legibility is lost in the thicker ink strokes.

If you are uncomfortable writing in a small script, chances are you need to have your eyes checked. Schedule an appointment with your Optometrist. Good perception is part of Kismet.

   Ink Color

I prefer black ink for most uses. As far as I can tell, this is simply a personal preference. Red ink is good for contrast, emphasis, or to indicate changes in MODALITY in what you are writing (more on modality later). Green ink doesn't stand out as well as I like. Blue is fine, and may even be more easily read than black. It's not pure chance that blue and black are most popular among pen users.

Choose an ink color you like. You also might get one of the multi-color ink pens which allows you to load one of four ink cartridges by the flip of a lever. Mine, made in France but distributed by Bic, cost about a buck and a half at a local drug store. The multi-color pens are too thick to fit inside the spiral binding of your Kismet notebook but are good for experimenting to find the color ink you like best. If you follow the system I use, you will be using your pen and notebook a lot, and you may welcome Ink color changes just for the sake of variety.

   Have a lot of Pens

Treat yourself to the luxury and convenience of having lots of anything which is used frequently and is cheap. You never want to lose an idea for want of a twenty-nine cent pen just when fickle inspiration makes an infrequent appearance. Buy a twelve-pack or two of the 29 cent fine point black (or your choice of color) pens. Distribute them liberally anywhere you frequently inhabit: your car, kitchen, bathroom, office, etc.

   Don't shy away from expensive Pens

As I write this, my number one pen is a rose-wood Hallmark which cost about twenty-five dollars. I've got a foreign made wooden pen which put me back about twelve bucks as a back-up. One of the things I like about the rose-wood pen is its clip. The end of the clip tapers in such a way as to enable the pen to slide relatively easily in and out of the spiral binding on the note-book. The "heft" of the pen and its looks also please me. Yes, when a fellow loses such a pen it is expensive to replace. Which has happened to me once. With such a pen, a guy soon learns to hang onto it. Hallmark isn't in the pen business anymore, so the rosewoods may be scarce as hen's teeth in the future. So you will probably have to go out and find your own favorite pens. When you have a pen or pens which you really like, pick up some refills for them. You can get them in several colors of ink. Always make sure they refills are NOT medium point.

~What to Put in Your Notebook

Use your notebook to jot down any thought you want to mull over later or share with other. Make lists of things to do, items to pick up from merchants. Keep it beside your bed and jot down thoughts which might be worthwhile which come from the twilight time. We'll have more to say on use of the notebook after we talk about the reasons for a notebook. It will act as a memory aid, and to help you organize your thoughts. It will help you to make the move out of the cave and into a mini-cabin.

~Up from the Caves

Imagine the delight and wonderment of those remote ancestors of ours when they discovered that instead of writing their favorite recipes, notes to neighbors, or double-entry accounting footnotes, on stone they could actually write on clay tablets!

The clay tablets were ever so much easier to carry around. You only needed a couple of mules instead of three horses and two woolly mammoths to transport your really creative stuff. Then, wonder of wonders, someone invented paper! We're down to a single mule, folks, unless a guy is really a bookworm.

The combination of writing, a convenient way to store the written word, and cheap methods for reproducing information so stored, was a giant leap for mankind.

If we want to turn the clock back even further, the invention of speech would rank as another giant step in communications history.

So here we are in the computer age with personal computers, modems, telephones, the internet, and mass media. So what's all that got to do with Kismet?

~The Changing Rules of the Game

Ever play marbles? Toss a single marble into the ring. Try to shoot it out with your big agey shooter. Toss a dozen marbles in the ring. Shooting out one from the center isn't anywhere near as easy. You will strike one, then another, before you hit your target. Now toss in hundreds of marbles all with little motors of there own who self propel around the ring. Try your hand at shooting out a single orb.

As communication, and transpiration have become more modern, we find ourself in that big marble ring where the old rules and strategies are no longer adequate. If we were pushed around, had our marbles shot away by more skilled or aggressive players in the old rink, we can be completely overwhelmed, out of the game in a flash, in the new one.

On the other hand, the opportunity for self direction and for changing the course of a significant portion of the enlarged world is greater than ever. First, however, to quote the anvil salesman in Meridith Wilson's The Music Man, "You gotta know the territory!"

~Back to Keeping a Notebook

Memory is a fickle and fragile thing. We'll teach you some techniques to better use your memory, if not improve it. For now the rule is: "write it down."

When we rather flippantly talked about progress in communications through writing, we didn't mention the improvements in THOUGHT which occurred as well. It's obvious that writing and reading help people communicate thoughts. What is less obvious is the significant improvement in the thought process BY THE INDIVIDUAL.

If one person with good verbal skills and a little intelligence can think 1 unit of thought, then that same person with a pencil and paper can think 1.5 units. With a simple type-only word processor (and the skill to use it) she can think 2 units. With a complete home computer setup with spreadsheet, and calculator she can think 2.2 units. Now connect her to others who can help mull over the problems, help with the research, and stimulate thought. She's now up to a 3 unit think!

Think a house. Now draw the house. Now model the house in clay. Now build a scale model using wood, cardboard, light nails and glue. Now build the house. Each step of the way the house becomes more yours, less fuzzy, more doable. The think-house is pretty sketchy. Stares aren't really placed right, and may even run through rooms where they shouldn't outta. But the think-house is oh-so fast to build!

The drawn house takes a little longer, has less problems, but still is not buildable, for most people. The clay model is better yet but the media is wrong. The wood and cardboard starts to shape up to give you an idea of what the real thing involves. You see details of fitting which you didn't imagine in clay. Really building the house gives you a real house! The think house, the drawn house, the clay model, the wood and cardboard model, allowed you to do the real thing with fewer problems. Each of the models can be a worthwhile goal in and of themselves. That dune-buggy you've always wanted to build can be arrived at that way as well. Or even rather complicated machines. Each of the drawing or model-building experiences helps to create the "real thing."

Thinking is very mobile. We carry our brain around with us a good share of the time. Modeling clay, and other model building stuff is carried around less often, is messy, and often starts the neighbors talking. We can benefit from that first multiplier, just by having our Kismet notebook (and pen) at hand. Have Pencils for drawing, you just make too many mistakes if you use a pen for drawing, especially mechanical drawing.

Our ability to think spatially is also enhanced by both writing and drawing. Use your notebook for drawing as well. You can transfer the drawings and writings to more permanent, or easier to manipulate media later on.

The notebook is mobile, it's cheap, and it is with you all the time.

~Goen' out In Just Your Bones

You go to a big party. It's a smashing lollipiloser of a bash with everybody who is anybody there. You suddenly realize everyone else is dressed fit to kill. You are wearing jeans and a dirty T-shirt.

You look around and discover that everyone else has now enhanced their memories and calculating skills by bonding with little mini computers they wear like hearing aids. You look down and discover that you not only are improperly dressed, haven't a clue where to get a mini-computer, but you have left almost everything behind and come out in just your bones!

Why should you ever be disadvantaged by not looking your best? Why should you ever be disadvantaged by having I.Q. points temporarily shaved off because you don't have your Kismet notebook?

~Time Out to Define a Few Terms

Serendipity: The faculty of making fortunate and unexpected discoveries by accident. (Coined by Horace Walpole after the characters in the fairy tale The Three Princess of Serendip, who made such discoveries. -ser'en-dip'-i-tous adj. (the American Heritage DICTIONARY of the English Language)

Fortuities: Happening by accident or chance; unplanned.

Sagacity: Having keen senses, perception, intelligence.

~Lucky Vernon

Vernon was sagacious, and he had a nose for serendip. He and I would walk to and from grade school together almost every school day. Vernon was really good at finding things, it was almost as if he could smell them out. One of this big finds was a $20.00 bill. That was in the "good old days" when $20.00 was really worth something. He would often find dimes, quarters, fifty cent pieces as well as pens, a watch once, and treasures of worth only to little boys. Both of us, it would seem, would have the same chance of finding treasurers, but it was always Vernon who spotted the find first; and guess who kept it?!

The art of finding things which you aren't really looking for is called "serendipity." The word was first used by the author Horace Walpole who wrote a fanciful story entitled The Three Princess of Serendip, who were always finding things. Vernon was like the Princess, and for all I know, he may still have the knack. At last report he was doing quite well in business, having no trouble "finding" customers.

Vernon never seems to be especially intent on discovery, but he did pay closer attention to where we were going than I did. Of course, whenever Vernon found something, often right under my nose, I quizzed him as to how he did it. "Oh," he would say, "I just kind of notice things as I go along." Therein may lie the secret of serendip. When one is alert to the possibility of discovery and "looking around" Walla! there it is.

Another friend of much more recent acquaintance is Hugo, who years ago, emigrated to the U.S. from Germany, and has done quite well for himself. He has a thriving business, and a beautiful home. "This country is full of opportunities," Hugo once told me. "You people who have always lived here aren't always as aware of them as are people like me who come from another country." Hugo, like Vernon, has a nose for serendip.

~JimBo's Fireflies

You are lost in the woods. "Well, not REALLY lost," you tell yourself. You are sure that you know the way out, and around each bend expect to see familiar surroundings. Yet nightfall comes, and still all you see is trees. By this time you are starting to be just the least bit worried. You review, in your mind's eye, all the survival skills you know, or think you know. You are getting rather hungry, and consider peeling back the bark of a tree to eat the inner bark. Didn't Chief Joseph's tribe do something like that on their flight through Yellowstone?

You see a dim light, somewhere up ahead. Your mind races ahead to the thought of neon signs heralding "Hamburger Haven." As you approach, you can see that the light is coming from a small building, something like a fruit stand, in a little clearing in the woods.

Above the structure is a sign upon which is scrawled: "JimBo's Fireflies." As you look closely, you see the entire building is aglow with the iridescent insects. They are congregated in several open-mouthed lamps, flying in and out seemingly at will, but with hundreds of the tiny creatures apparently content to stay within the lamps to light up JimBo's.

The people in the stand seem a little strange, don't answer any of your questions on where you are, how to get out of the woods, or how there could be such an unlikely business as JimBo's Fireflies in the middle of a forest. You look through your pockets and find a quarter, which is enough to buy two bugs. One of the proprietors hands you an old Pepsi bottle, into which immediately fly your two lightning bugs. You are warned not to cap off the bottle, but to let the insects come and go as they will.

One flies out and a little ways down the path, then returns to the bottle as the other exits to follow a similar flight. Completely perplexed, you walk in the direction of the flight. As you look up, you see a swarm of fireflies well above your head giving you the required minimum glow so you don't stumble on the path. As you follow the seemingly erratic road the inspects lead you upon, the hours drag on. You hadn't realized just how far into the forest your wanderings had taken you. Finally, near dawn, you exit the woods, not far from where you had come in. As you leave, the swarm of lightning bugs departs, presumably back to JimBo's. The two you bought for a quarter fly into the Pepsi bottle, and settle down to rest.

When you get home, your pair of fireflies exits the bottle, and settles on a bush in your garden. It seems they have come to stay. Each evening you look out your window and see their welcome flash, which you now accept as a sign of good luck and prosperity. In Winter there is no sign of them, but they are back every Spring, now multiplied to a respectable swarm.

Somehow you know that never again will you, or a member of your family, be lost; at least not for long. JimBo's fireflies will always be there, to light your way, and show you the path.

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