Body Morphic Disorder

So often you hear about people with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). 


This is a psychiatric disorder where people are obsessed with their real or perceived body flaws. 


Often their notions of a physical flaw is widely exaggerated like someone who has a barely noticeable mole, but they see it as a major blotch on their skin that everyone must be staring at and repulsed by.  


People with this disorder may often stand in front of the mirror starring at themselves obsessing over these minor imperfections. 


But there is something major that is missing here. 


And it is the polar opposite of BDD.


I would call it the Body Morphic Disorder (BMD). 


My notion of BMD is where people are similarly obsessed with their bodies, but rather than real or perceived flaws, they are focused on real or perceived notions of their body’s beauty and  perfection!


Instead of looking in the mirror and perceiving problems and feeling self-loathsome, these people are excessively vain and see themselves as a (near) perfect specimen of a human being. 


“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”


Or the equivalent of ain’t I just grand!


It’s funny-weird that we perceive criticism and self-contempt (BDD) as a psychiatric disorder, but we don’t generally see narcissistic self-worship as a personality disorder!


Yet any extreme is a bad thing. 


Excessive loving or hating of your physical self–is the kiss of death when it comes to seeing things the way they really are and being a genuine human being. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Fine Line Between Fantasy and Reality

So I’ve started to realize that there are at times a (very) thin line between fantasy and reality. 


In some cases, people hear some facts or some truth, and then in their mind, they concoct entire stories of fantasy or full-fledged conspiracy around it.


But more than that, the fantasy in their minds, because it starts with a real fact or two then becomes entirely perceived as reality itself. 


We saw plenty of this in the last election cycle and even today, with one political side or the other purchasing phony dossiers or making up stories about the opposition–and they may even have some underlying facts associated with it. 


But around these facts, entire scripts and stories are concocted through inductive reasoning or highly imaginative thinking, whether for example, of deep Russian conspiracies reminiscent of the era of McCarthyism or the Salem Witch Trails of yesteryear. 


Again, I’m not saying that nothing is there, but the question is whether there is real truth then to the whole conspiracy that has been drawn from fantastical minds of opposition agents, reporters, and others gainfully benefiting and perhaps running amuck with these grandiose versions of alternate reality?


What I am coming to believe is that it’s not so much that people are willfully making up these stories (although there can certainly be plenty of biases, exaggerations, and agendas at work as well), but that in their mind, they create these bombastic versions of what seems like truth to them and then they pawn it off and sell it to others who are only to happy to latch unto some juicy new gossip or theory of “what’s really going on.”


Similarly, some people who get very mad may actually take albeit a genuine fight with another person and pour layer upon layer of evil doings and manipulations on them until by the time their mind is done, the other person has become the devil themselves–and the fantasy for a short time seems like it is the reality–until such time that cooler heads prevail and reality replaces the mind’s fantasy or it’s ultimate fears. 


In short, there is a very fine line between fantasy and reality–our minds can get carried away with facts or notions of the moment and build those into full-fledged conspiracy theories of “who done it” and “why didn’t we see it all along.”


Certainly, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some very good pretenders out there who truly are doing very bad things and covering their tracks, and it’s for the gifted and detective minds out there to perceive those and prove them as being the greater reality.


But we have to be careful in accusing people–until such time that the facts are all there and the perception or fantasy of our mind’s eye is shown to be the reality indeed. 


We need good investigative journalism, excellent law enforcement and intelligence, and clarity of mind to know what’s real and what’s fake in life and in our fantastical minds. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Perception Is Reality

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Sometimes, one person’s clothing hook is another person’s elephant trunk.


Or maybe it’s the other way around that some creative person looked at an elephant and thought:

“Oh my that trunk of his would make a great clothing hook.”


Life mimics art and art imitates life.


And that is flattery both ways. 


Either way perception is reality. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Am Doing

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Today, a disabled man asked the lifeguard at the pool, “How are you doing?”


The lifeguard couldn’t understand or fully hear the disabled man who had to repeat the question multiple times.


Then, the lifeguard responded, “I am doing well. How are you doing?”


The disabled man with a blank to sad look on his face says, “I am doing.”


His response of just “doing” (not well, good, or fine) was like just going on day-to-day amidst very challenging life circumstances of illness and disability–just in a state of being, but certainly not feeling like he was thriving in his current life. 


It reminded me of my own parents, survivors of the Holocaust. 


After the horror and loss of the Holocaust everything, including coming to this country without a dime or a job was just a cakewalk in comparison. 


For 25-years, my dad would never even go to the doctor. 


He would say, “G-d is my doctor!”


Only later in life, when all his friends were sick or failing, and my mom was so sick with Parkinson’s would my dad respond to people’s questions of how he was, by saying simply, “Surviving!”


And then often adding, “We are part of the survivors’ club.”


When we’re young, healthy, and vibrant, the world seems too small compared to what we think we can do and accomplish.


That’s good–it gives us the thrusters in life to go as far as we can with accomplishments and progress. 


As we age though, the realities of life and health come into vision and we realize that we can’t lift cars with one hand (anymore) or fly lightening speed with just our cape around the globe–we’re mortal. 


This doesn’t mean that we can’t do great things for ourselves and the world at any age and with any (dis)ability, just that it many not be as simple or as easy any longer–we have to fight harder and be part of the survivor’s club. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Eyes Wide Open

This is an interesting video on Plato’s Allegory of The Cave.

It is long-winded, but if you watch a little I think you will get the point.

In the video prisoners who are kept in the dark, chained, and with no real view of the outside world, have a limited perception of what exists out there.

They see shadows, but what is a shadow compared with the reality of true people, places, and things.

When one prisoner is released outside into the light and the wonders of the world, he sees and experiences the greatness, the complexity, and the beauty of it all.

The world, he sees, is much more than a shadow on a darkened wall.

Watching this video, I think how fortunate I am to be able to have an education (and I am actually in a class this week).

It is wonderful to learn and grow–and have one’s eyes opened to all there is out there.

True, not all the topics that I encounter and learn about are of great interest to me (sometimes, like everyone, I feel like I just want to get some Zzzzzs), but just being exposed to different topics and ways of thinking is a great opportunity in and of itself.

I think sometimes, how lucky I am to live in the 21st century in an age of globalization, opportunities for advanced education, and all the technology to bridge time and space and see more than many who came before us.

I imagine that compared to G-d, we are like the prisoners in the cave who only experience and see a minutia of reality, and G-d is out there over us, omniscient.

Someday, G-d releases us from our mortal bodies and we ascend to heaven to partake of his greatness and then our eyes are truly opened as well. 😉

What A Dummy!

Dummy
This guy is a real dummy–no, I am not being mean or rude.

While this guy looks very real, it is actually a statue and is called “Vendor With Walkman” by Duane Hanson.

This guy sits in a windowed room in Ft. Lauderdale Airport, and it seems that almost everyone who passes by stops and does a double-take–he is so real looking–it is amazing!

Looks are deceiving, but this takes it to a whole new level–think hard about what is real and fake; it is not always so obvious. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cloud $ Confusion

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It seems like never before has a technology platform brought so much confusion as the Cloud.No, I am not talking about the definition of cloud (which dogged many for quite some time), but the cost-savings or the elusiveness of them related to cloud computing.

On one hand, we have the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy, which estimated that 25% of the Federal IT Budget of $80 billion could move to the cloud and NextGov (Sept 2012) reported that the Federal CIO told a senate panel in May 2011 that with Cloud, the government would save a minimum of $5 billion annually.

Next we have bombastic estimates of cost savings from the likes of the MeriTalk Cloud Computing Exchange that estimates about $5.5 billion in savings so far annually (7% of the Federal IT budget) and that this could grow to $12 billion (or 15% of the IT budget) within 3 years, as quoted in an article in Forbes (April 2012) or as much as $16.6 billion annually as quoted in the NextGov article–more than triple the estimated savings that even OMB put out.

On the other hand, we have a raft of recent articles questioning the ability to get to these savings, federal managers and the private sector’s belief in them, and even the ability to accurately calculate and report on them.

Federal Computer Week (1 Feb 2012)–“Federal managers doubt cloud computing’s cost-savings claims” and that “most respondents were also not sold on the promises of cloud computing as a long-term money saver.”

Federal Times (8 October 2012)–“Is the cloud overhyped? predicted savings hard to verify” and a table included show projected cloud-saving goals of only about $16 million per year across 9 Federal agencies.

CIO Magazine (15 March 2012)–“Despite Predictions to the Contrary, Exchange Holds Off Gmail in D.C.” cites how with a pilot of 300 users, they found Gmail didn’t even pass the “as good or better” test.

ComputerWorld (7 September 2012)–“GM to hire 10,000 IT pros as it ‘insources’ work” so majority of work is done by GM employees and enables the business.

Aside from the cost-savings and mission satisfaction with cloud services, there is still the issue of security, where according to the article in Forbes from this year, still “A majority of IT managers, 85%, say they are worried about the security implications of moving to their operations to the cloud,” with most applications being moved being things like collaboration and conferencing tools, email, and administrative applications–this is not primarily the high value mission-driven systems of the organization.

Evidently, there continues to be a huge disconnect being the hype and the reality of cloud computing.

One thing is for sure–it’s time to stop making up cost-saving numbers to score points inside one’s agency or outside.

One way to promote more accurate reporting is to require documentation substantiating the cost-savings by showing the before and after costs, and oh yeah including the migration costs too and all the planning that goes into it.

Another more drastic way is to take the claimed savings back to the Treasury and the taxpayer.Only with accurate reporting and transparency can we make good business decisions about what the real cost-benefits are of moving to the cloud and therefore, what actually should be moved there.While there is an intuitiveness that we will reduce costs and achieve efficiencies by using shared services, leveraging service providers with core IT expertise, and by paying for only what we use, we still need to know the accurate numbers and risks to gauge the true net benefits of cloud.It’s either know what you are actually getting or just go with what sounds good and try to pull out a cookie–how would you proceed?(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)