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About GandalfTheWise

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  1. GandalfTheWise

    Learning Python...

    Over the years, I've programmed in FORTRAN, BASIC, Pascal, C, C++, Java, Perl, Python, LISP, various shell and scripting languages, and probably more that I've forgotten using. Right now, the Wolfram language in Mathematica is my go-to language for the type of work I do. I've never kept track, but I'm guessing I've easily written several hundred thousands if not millions of lines of code in my life. I can ride a bicycle, but I'll never compete in the Tour De France. Similarly, anyone with some motivation can learn to program in Python. However, it will take effort to become a good programmer. I don't say this to be discouraging, but rather to point out that learning the syntax of a language is a separate skill from being able to use Python to solve programs and implement good solutions. It is possible to know Python and write terrible code or to know Python and write great code. If you are interesting in natural language processing, there will also be a literature of data structures, algorithms, and theoretical work related to digital processing of language. It won't be enough to know Python, but there will be a set of knowledge to learn about language processing. For example, I'm good with numbers, but I'd never be able to implement a good accounting system without taking the time to learn double-entry accounting and things like that. Here are a few lessons I've learned in 3+ decades of programming. 1. Programming is ultimately a skill that you must practice to become good at. In one sense it is like riding a bike or playing guitar. It is something that you must actually do to become good at. The more programs you write, the better you will get at it. 2. Learn the importance of choosing effective algorithms. Choosing algorithms is about choosing good methods to solve particular problems. For example, if my task is to give 20 people a glass of water, pouring water from a large pitcher is a good method. On the other hand, if my task is to carefully add a few drops of food coloring into 20 different mixing bowls, using an eye-dropper is a good method. Using an eye-dropper to server 20 people water is insane as is using a large pitcher to pour a few drops of food coloring. Different tasks are best accomplished with different algorithms. 3. Choose the right programming language for the task at hand. Some tasks can effectively be done from many languages. Other tasks are much easier when using the appropriate programming language. Too many programmers use only the language they are most comfortable with whether or not it is a good fit for the problem at hand. 4. Document, document, document, document your code. Assume that you will have to change something in it years from now when you have forgotten what you wrote. Related to this, learn to write self-documenting code that you can glance at and understand. 5. Take a long term view of things and assume the worst. I once hacked together a DOS shell script acting as a file server on a Windows 95 machine along with code on a Linux server which then processed the data and generated PDF files of graphs using some open source programs. I wrote it to process the data generated by a couple manufacturing machines to the tune of perhaps 20,000 parts per day. It was meant to be used for R&D purposes for a few months on a couple machines. However, I never trust input data to always be as expected so I took some extra effort to make the code adaptive to variations and problems in data from the machines. Fast forward a few years and that same code (with no modifications) was handling data from over 30 machines (of different designs and different columns of data) to the tune of millions of parts per day. I didn't know it until someone came in and asked me to explain what a graph meant. I was shocked to find that manufacturing had taken my R&D hack job and turned it into a system critical part of the company. They'd just started adding machine after machine to the automatic processing and the code just kept up with it. That code ended up handling close to a decade worth of data and hundreds of millions of parts from about 50 different machines without me having rewrite the core processing parts of it. Once you write a program for someone, you never know what they are going to do with it! Another example is when my company acquired an XYZ table but didn't have the money to buy to controller unit!!! I put together the circuitry and programmed the Atmel microcontroller using a combo of C and machine code along with a Java interface on a PC. I then used a Java based version of Python (called Jython) to script and drive the table. I did that work over 10 years ago. It's still being used today. 6. Find a few good experienced programmers as mentors. There are a plethora of programming tricks and hacks that can save a lot of time and effort.
  2. GandalfTheWise

    House Closing

    We're all in and I'm typing this from our new home. Other than quite a scare when we got to the title office to close and my wife couldn't find her purse. We realized we left it at the motel. They waited for us to go find it (about a 10 minute drive) because my wife needed her driver license in order to close. The last place she remembered it was sitting on the ground next to the car in the parking lot. Lots of "O God let us find that purse" prayers for about 10 minutes. We had called and the motel manager had gone to look for it. They found it and had it at the desk. That's the first time my wife ever gave a motel manager a huge hug. We arrived at the house at noon, the movers had all our stuff in by about 2 or so, cable connected at 4, and we'll have our beds and the kitchen ready for tonight. Now for a few weeks of slowly emptying boxes and settling in.
  3. GandalfTheWise

    House Closing

    @Annette @NOONE7 It all worked out smoothly! The movers were amazing and had our stuff loaded in about two and a half hours. The closing went trivially easy. The longest delay during closing was me carefully reading the IRS disclosure to see what I was signing. Cashing the check and setting up our bank transfers went easily. We'll be closing on the new house late tomorrow morning. At the pace the movers loaded stuff, we should have our own beds, the kitchen, and "essentials" such as the internet up and running. Thanks all!
  4. GandalfTheWise

    House Closing

    We're in the process of moving tomorrow (Thursday). Movers are coming tomorrow morning and closing is scheduled for late afternoon. We're then scheduled to close on the new house Friday morning with the movers arriving about noon. We just found out today that there is a possible hitch with the title company with regards to the buyers of our house. At this point, we won't find out for sure what's up until after the movers are scheduled to have picked up our stuff. Prayers for a smooth completion of things and peace of mind would be appreciated. Thanks.
  5. GandalfTheWise

    Attack of the enemy?

    This is the type of thing that requires some amount of discernment and balance to understand. I think the key is to be aware that the spiritual world can influence the physical world but by the same token some things that happen are likely just from living in a fallen world. Also, we need to be aware that the path and journey we'd prefer to walk along is not always the same one God has planned. I recall once when I was in a Christian band (as a guitarist), the day before one of our biggest events, I was at work, grabbed a piece of wire and sliced a big gash on my thumb. An hour or so later, I put a nearly identical cut onto my other thumb. In what ended up being nearly 20 years working there, that was the only time I ever cut myself like that and I never really changed any working habits. I ended up wrapping up a few band aids on each thumb and managed to play okay though it did affect me. It was a highly unlikely event. In one sense, I'm hesitant to say demonic influences affected my attention and judgement so that I cut myself. On the other hand, two injuries that only happened once in 20 years and on the day before a big spiritual outreach leaves one wondering. This was also during a time where there was a lot of spiritual contention and fighting going on in the area. I don't feel a strong need to definitely answer the question of what was involved there. I'm willing to live with a mystery and things that are not completely known. I've had a few things in my life that were immediately changed. I once had a number of phobias just vanish in response to prayer. I had a serious shoulder injury (with symptoms of a torn rotator cuff) return to normal over a period of a few months. I went from not being able to touch the top of my head with my right hand to full motion with no discomfort and full strength. I've had other things that have just remained. I've heard many similar testimonies from other people over the years. As a practical spiritual matter, it is the immediate healing of the phobias that has turned out to be a powerful spiritual anchor for me in my life. I had not even been thinking about those things (and had just accepted them as part of my personality and a normal part of my life). We had a guest speaker, God impressed strongly on me that I should go up for prayer afterwards, the speaker just prayed a brief generic prayer over me (not even saying anything about fear or other such stuff), and I immediately sensed things changed inside of me. In spite of whatever doubts or crises of faith I might have, I fall back onto a "there is no way phobias just vanish on their own" sense that God did something I cannot explain. In one sense it ended up being a John 9 type of thing for me (like the blind man who was healed and in spite of pressure and contention merely kept saying the one thing I know is that I was blind and now I see). It is ironic in some ways that one of the more significant spiritual events in my life was something where God just did it unexpectedly. In all things, I think that the key is to keep our eyes focused on the path and journey God has us on. I've been a Christian for over 40 years now and have seen a number of miraculous recoveries of people with severe illnesses, and others with no recovery. I've seen immediate recoveries where people just had stunned looks on their faces, other times where things improved over time that weren't expected to, and other times where nothing changed. I've seen some things happen in instant response to prayer and sometimes in response over time to much corporate prayer. My sense of things is that God sometimes directly intervenes and does things in ways that show His grace and power that build our faith and that other times there are tough paths we walk through that we learn from and gain experience that allows us to better minister to others that are suffering. Often, the most effective ministers are those who have walked a particular path themselves. The only definitive thing I would say here is that Christians have wide variety of opinions on such things (and some hold them quite strongly). Some strongly believe that miracles are rare and not to be sought after, other believe that miracles are to be expected in response to prayer (and if nothing happens it is a lack of "faith" that is the reason). Some Christians think spiritual attacks with physical effects are exceedingly rare and others think they are much more common. Christians with this range of views all point to various Bible verses they use to prove why they think they are correct. As a practical matter, I don't immediately blame everything wrong on spiritual attacks, but I don't immediately rule it out either. If I don't have a strong spiritual sense of direction on something, I'll pray for discernment and wisdom. When asked to pray for other people, as much as possible, I try to pray for what I sense that God wants me to pray for. As with everything else of this nature, I take what I sense with a grain of salt. It might be a random thought passing through my head, or it might be God's Spirit directing me. As an example, I recall once that a few of us were praying for a gentleman after church who had been in a serious accident. Everyone else was praying some eloquent serious prayers for healing and as I stood there, the word "sleep" kept popping into my head. He had said nothing about it, but I just prayed a simple, "Lord, help your child to have calm restful nights" or some such one or two sentence prayer. After we finished, he looked at me and said that he hadn't had a good nights sleep in weeks. The next week we again prayed for him, and the one thing he reported that was that while he still was in serious pain, that he had started sleeping much better and was much more relaxed than he had been. In the larger scheme of things, God wanted His child to know that He was with him in this. In hindsight, my sense of things was that this man was struggling with not only the physical stress of the aftermath of the accident but a spiritual sense of feeling abandoned. God simply doing something out of the blue (having someone pray for something he hadn't asked for and seeing it happen) was probably part of His way of dealing with the spiritual issue that was going on to let this man know that he was not abandoned and that God was indeed with him.
  6. GandalfTheWise

    Seeking help and advise for Youth Group

    One thing to consider is to have the outlook where getting as many of the kids (and others) as possible on board with the journey and challenge of getting the van could be part of the ministry and growth process. It would give many more people a sense of ownership of the van as well as potentially adding to relationship building between many people. Having a donation that covers the van today would take it from being a goal to reality; but perhaps, having dozens of people (across a range of ages potentially) spending hours together doing various things in the upcoming weeks and months might help extend a sense of community and common purpose that might ultimately have much value.
  7. GandalfTheWise

    Relationship advice

    My wife and I will be shortly celebrating our 35th anniversary. Speaking from experience, one of the most important things in a relationship is spiritual compatibility. I think a more fundamental question is if this is going to be a healthy long term relationship for both of you and how best to proceed so that it will be a healthy long term relationship. Right now, I cannot imagine life without my wife. That's not to say things have always been rosy. We've had our nights where we each slept on the farthest edge of the bed from each other. But we each get along well with each other's families, we have supportive friends, and we have a common outlook on life and similar priorities in life. We've also taken the effort to learn as much as we can about things that help marriages work. A few good books that we've found insightful are "His Needs, Her Needs" by Willard Harley, "For Women Only" and "For Men Only" by Shanti Feldhahn, the DVD series "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" by Mark Gungor. I'd recommend considering talking to an experienced pastor or christian counselor. You are dealing with a few huge things right now at the same time, learning to walk with Christ as a new Christian and trying to rebuild a marriage. Both are challenging on their own let alone both at once. Being part of a good church, joining a women's small group, bible study, or prayer group probably would be helpful. You don't want to try to do this on your own. There are many people out there who've walked a similar path willing to share their experiences.
  8. GandalfTheWise

    A worship team at the feet of a false prophet

    I'd strongly urge you to find several *independent* Christian research sources. Most of the so-called Christian research sites I find basically copy and re-copy each other's material and create an echo chamber. Just because one can find 20 links and see 20 people say the same things about someone doesn't mean it's necessarily true or discerning. Often it is a rehashing of one original article that gets amplified by a number of people repeating it and reposting it and rewriting it to appear more original. Sometimes the original article is well done and researched well; sometimes the original article is plain awful, misleading, and basically libel and untrue. I've seen both types of articles posted (and reposted) on Christian sites. About 40 years ago when I was a younger Christian, I got suckered into Christian witch hunting that masqueraded as discernment and research and wasted a few years believing pretty much every bad thing researchers wrote about various other Christians. I had a rude awakening when I was sharing my discernment with a few people at my church. Someone mentioned a particular preacher and I felt compelled to explain about how unbiblical this person was. They challenged me on it and gave me one of this preacher's books to read. I was happy to dig in (especially since I had a book that had exposed this preacher as a new ager in disguise.) I was shocked to find that nothing of what I had been saying was correct. The book disparaging this preacher had taken literally every single quotation out of context and put words in his mouth. As I found, this author that I had been taking as an authoritative guide to exposing the new age in the church was putting words in people's mouths. He was probably so convinced he was right and that the devil was so devious and deceptive that he deemed it proper and spiritual to re-arrange sentences, take things out of context, and in general make up whatever he wanted to. It's been a long time so I forget many of the details, but I remember being shocked to find that this researcher was basically fabricating stuff and saying that it was what this preacher was teaching when I read sentences from this preacher that explicitly said something different. I then found a couple other books by authors that this researcher was attacking and found he did exactly the same thing to them. He'd lift words and sentences out of context, redefine them, and then put a new age message where there was none before. Sadly, this guy is still active decades later doing the same old thing. I suspect as people wise up to him and ignore him that many more new people discover him and listen until they wise up. Even more sad is the number of other Christian "researchers" that do exactly the same thing. In the interest of illustrating the type of thing I'm taking about, I am going to butcher the OP in the manner I've seen some of these Christian "research" sites do. I do NOT believe what I am writing here. I am purely doing this as an example of the type of stuff I've seen Christians put out and how they intentionally misrepresent people and make many worst case assumptions. (Now, I think they are probably doing it out of good intentions and they believe they are exposing darkness, but that doesn't change how misleading they often are.) [Example of a Christian hit piece] "Firstly, let me start off by saying that I do not know how to test the spirits as yet and therefore I am unable to tell whether or not someone is a false prophet and so, therefore, I always conduct a google search to do a background check on the "preacher" in question - I've only recently started doing this." Wow, the OP apparently believes Christians should use a biased secular source to "test the spirits" and trust that this biased secular source will give unbiased links!!! I wonder what type of spirits are being tested!?! Does any mature Christian really believe that the spirit behind google will return links pleasing to the Holy Spirit!!!! No mention of the Bible, prayer, being part of a solid Bible believing church, or of asking a mature Bible believing pastor. Any *real* Christian with the Holy Spirit in them should be able to test the spirits. Or is this the OP's attempt to misguide Christians into trusting the spirit behind google instead of the Holy Spirit?!?! It's good God now gave us google or how did Christians for the past 2000 years discern false prophets?!?! Let's call out posts like this that encourage Christians not to follow the Holy Spirit and the Bible but to read and accept questionable links!!!! [End of example] Ayyy. I cannot do this anymore. I couldn't even bring myself to put in large size type in red color to make it more authoritative. I don't know how in the world some Christians can write pages upon pages of stuff like this day after day and maintain such a cynical, negative, hostile, and dark mindset to do this. But this is the type of thing I've seen (and on sites that some people regularly link to from this site). Frankly, I think some people who often read sites like that start to unconsciously adopt that same type of inquisitional and accusatory spirit that is willing to twist and question everything in the quest to root out error. To me, the sad thing is that the accusations often become accepted truth by repetition and innuendo rather than truth by fact. The reality is that it is very easy to make anyone look terrible and accuse them of teaching or believing false things by grabbing individual phrases and sentences from a book or sermon out of their larger context. It becomes even easier when a handful of sites and researchers start agreeing with each other and unquestioningly repeat and repost what the others say. Over the years, I've come to take the approach of trying to judge someone's ministry and teaching in its entirety and from the perspective of how it is growing and maturing, not from a few sound bytes, a few of their most stupid moments or decisions, or from a few of their most poorly phrased sentences. Sadly, many Christian research sites seem to take the approach of "hey, we've made 100 different accusations against this person, if only a fraction of those things are true, they must be as bad as we thought. And besides, if they are that bad, we are justified in making more accusations and keeping them under close scrutiny." This is why I look to find several *independent* Christian sites and *independent* articles with different viewpoints when researching any particular person or ministry. I also like to look up original books, articles, or sermon transcripts from that person to find a more complete context.
  9. At times I've needed a small group with a handful of supportive people and at other times I've needed to be fully involved in a church. I've been in some ministries and churches that were falling apart where my main ministry was just encouraging people and helping them hold together. There are times it is best to call it quits and find a place to protect yourself. There are times it's best to hang in there and things will improve. I've had times where I should have given up much earlier than I did and I've had times where I'm glad I hung with it for another few months because things changed. I think that the main thing is to not feel guilty over what you need. There are times we are in a position to help others and there are times we need to be in a place that is healthy for us. Over time, I guess I've more or less adopted the approach that I'll give something the best shot that I can, but when it starts to seriously affect me and my family, it's time to circle the wagons and make sure I'm spiritually healthy enough to minister to other people. There are times it seems like I simply have a good sense of what God wants me to do and it works fine to do that. Other times, it seems like God just starts setting circumstances in a way that I cannot ignore. For example, this past winter, I was trying to get set up for involvement with a ministry at our church and nothing would work out. It was truly frustrating because it seemed like everything was being shot down for no good reason. As it turned out, God has us moving to a new town and there is no way I could have effectively carried out the planned ministry. Hang in there.
  10. Wow...I can understand why this is a struggle. When feelings and problems seem to run contradictory to what should be helping and working out, things can be weird. Nothing obvious is jumping out at me. I'll meditate on this some more. Also, it's been a long day and my faculties are definitely starting to fade right now. I figured I'd get something out tonight. Here are a few random thoughts. I wonder if it's possible that a few people might feel you are mad at them and feel awkward around you resulting in mutual awkwardness? Are there any small groups (prayer group or bible study maybe) that might be more comfortable to go to for awhile before pushing it more trying to reconnect with a church? I was hoping to have some great insightful and helpful words that might help you relax tonight before bed time, but I'm coming up mostly blank.
  11. GandalfTheWise

    Boy Trouble

    I'm not sure any simple advice will help much. This may be something that will require a lot of encouragement and spiritual and emotional healing and growth over time. Often, compulsive and ongoing destructive behaviors have root causes that need to be healed and addressed to really produce any change. If she is insecure, lonely, feels ugly or stupid, feels unloved, or something like that, which then results in her enjoying whatever attention she can get in whatever manner it occurs, it's unlikely there's any simple advice will do much. If that is what the situation is, God is going to have to touch her heart and help her see herself as a beautiful creation of His. This might be a situation where much prayer and discernment about what the real issue is may be required to see any significant changes. My wife and daughters (now adults) liked the book Captivating by Stasi Eldridge.
  12. GandalfTheWise

    Seeing The Humor in Things

    I tend to be the same. I think I get it from my dad. We're often serious but laugh at things most people wouldn't. I recall as a teen (on a dairy farm) my dad and I were trying to catch a heifer to breed. This was in a cow yard with an old barn. After an hour or so, we managed to get her trapped in the barn (which had two doors). My dad stood by one door with a rope with a lasso on the end and I went into the old barn (which had about a foot or two of manure to wade through) to drive her toward my dad. It worked. My dad got the rope on her neck but she spooked like crazy, ran back through the barn dragging my dad with her. He kept up for a few steps, stumbled forward, and then refused to let go as she dragged him face first through the manure. He eventually let go. He got up laughing and said, "I bet that was funny to watch". I recall I was helping a land lord change the bath tub drain trap in a place we were renting. It was old and stuck so as he started torquing on it with a pipe wrench, I tried to hold the pipes from bending too badly. The drain trap was old and rusty and broke apart dumping the entire contents onto my head. I started laughing. I recall our land lord was looking at me with wide eyes (probably expecting an explosion of some sort). Once he saw my reaction, he started laughing too.
  13. They had to drop out in VA because my daughter's feet were getting some nasty type of tendonitis. She saw a doctor who basically told her to quit because she was risking serious injury if she kept at it. They were so hyped for finishing all 2100 miles that they were crying when they had to stop. They are now talking about when our granddaughter is older maybe trying to be the first 3 generation crew to do the entire Ice Age trail in WI or something like that. Cool. We're all different and what we need to be doing at any point in time is often unique to us. I enjoy reading and hearing the different ways in which God works in people's lives.
  14. GandalfTheWise

    Calling All Pastors!

    I'm in my mid-50s and have some good friends who are in full-time pastoral ministry. One of our best family friends has been a pastor for about 25 or 30 years now. Over the years, I've been encouraged by a number of pastors and friends to consider FT ministry myself, but it was clear God had a different direction for me in spite of having many of the right gifts and talents for pastoral work. One of the things I've learned from them is that most of the effective pastoral work takes place behind the scenes with individuals and small groups. While much emphasis is placed on teaching and preaching, an effective pastor's ministry is much broader than that. A dear friend of ours is pastoring a pair of small mainline churches in small-town WI. The growth those churches are now experiencing is not because of his preaching, but because of the time he spends in the community getting to know people and reaching out to them. Much of the real work of a pastor is in day to day life and the often slow gradual spiritual growth of individuals and groups over a long period of time. It is often walking with individuals and families at their lowest points when their lives are falling apart. Being a good shepherd is much more than having the right teaching or message for each and every occasion, it is also about being willing to patiently walk alongside of people. Many who are good preachers and teachers are not good pastors. Many who are great pastors are so-so preachers and teachers. Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that the best pastors are those with a wealth of day-to-day common sense, experience, and wisdom. It's not about knowing all the answers. It's about being able to help others learn to apply answers in their lives. It is not about "teaching" people stuff. It is about helping them slowly and gradually learn practical spiritual truth and apply it in their lives. Many years ago when I was in my 20s, I had the opportunity as a campus pastor to spend a couple hours in a small group with a retired man with extensive missionary experience. He'd spent decades on the mission field himself, started countless churches, helped launch hundreds of local people into ministry, and later in life had been in charge of world-wide missions for his denomination and had spent the latter part of his life traveling the world encouraging and helping those missionaries. In this small group, someone asked him what the most important thing was for good ministry. I was expecting some super spiritual answer, but without hesitation he answered "good old common horse-sense". He went on to explain that it wasn't about having a headful of knowledge and all the right answers, it was about having the experience and common-sense to do the right thing in most situations. He was not downplaying spiritual guidance, anointing, and empowering; he was pointing out that much of ministry is in nut and bolts day to day living. That only comes from having walked with God for years and having learned much about life for ourselves. When I was back in my late teens, I almost went to Bible college to become a pastor. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't. I'm sure I'd have had a fruitful ministry, but it would not have been what God really made me to do. God made me as an artist that plays with ideas. A lifelong career in the hard sciences, mathematics, and analytics has honed my gifts and talents in a way that little else could have. God's now ordered my life so that I'm semi-retired and can focus on using a lifetime of training and practice to do things that I never could have had I gone into full-time ministry early in life. I think the most important thing is knowing who God has created you to be. If God made you to be a shepherd that revels in walking alongside people and helping them in their lives, I think you'd thrive as a pastor. If you are searching for a noble task to do to prove how good a Christian you are or trying to do something "important" spiritually because of a sense of obligation, you'll end up burning out in a few years. I used to view life through the filter of finding our "calling" (or in other words what does God want me to *do*). I've now come to view life through the filter of discovering *who* God created us to be as a unique individual. When I was younger, I had a strong sense of what God was calling me to do and saw that as the call upon my life. I started working toward that, and continually failed and fell short, until years later I had given up on it and forgot about it. A few years ago, God reminded of those things. I suddenly saw them in a new light. Those things were not goals for me to strive and be found worthy of; those things were promises about what God was going to do. I started to see my entire life as preparation for that work rather than a string of failures and successes. It was not a question of working hard to achieve those things; it was spending decades being changed into the person God created me to be so that those things would be a natural outflow of my life.
  15. @HikerMom My wife likes hiking as well. She and one of our daughters did the first 1000 or so miles of the AT a number of years ago. She's been wanting to go back and do it again. During the time I was decompressing from stress, one of the things I simply needed to do was shut down and completely get away from everything I was doing. I was pestering God about what I should be doing next after leaving my job and having all that spare time in which to do important things. One of the things I had worked on for years was learning to read the Bible in Greek. I just felt like God was telling me, go read the Bible through in Greek and then we'll worry about what's next when I was done. As it turns out, the process of doing that (which took about 3 or 4 months) forced me to mentally slow down and focus. I couldn't just read at my normal rate but had to slow down and concentrate. On average, I was putting in about 3 hours or so a day doing this. The rewiring of a new language in my brain (which is basically what foreign language learning is) and practicing focusing on something calming for hours a day was a major part of slowing my thoughts down and stopping worrying and being angry about things. As it turned out, doing something not directly related to what I thought I needed to be doing was fairly important during a mental and emotional transition from constant urgency to being in the present. It was also the first time in many years that I actually stopped worrying about what I needed to be doing next, making plans, etc. I'd just go sit on our patio with our dog, read, and listen to nature without thinking about other stuff. The mental focus required to learn and read Greek prevented me from thinking about other stuff. The more I did it, the more I got used to not thinking (or perhaps more accurately moping, obsessing, and brooding) over things that were not my responsibility to worry about.