The last couple of times we were shopping for a new home the realtor was eager to show us houses with "open" floor plans because that was widely seen as being a desirable feature. Both times the house we chose was indeed one with an "open" design. We liked the spacious, light, airy feeling engendered by the main living space in these designs. We also like to open the window coverings and enjoy a well-lit home throughout the day -- and enjoy the view of our neighborhood that we spent many thousands of dollars for.

This morning during my walk I was struck by how many homes have their window blinds closed during the day, at least the ones that are visible from the street. There are good reasons for this I suppose. This is summertime in California's central valley, with an average daily high temperature above 90℉, and people may be trying to keep their homes cool by blocking out the sun. They may want to make it less obvious that the home is empty while everyone is away at work during the day. There are probably as many reasons as there are houses.

I did not not keep a tally of how many homes had "open" windows (meaning that the blinds or draperies were open, not necessarily that the window itself was open to allow free passage of the air), and how many were closed. I estimate that well more than 75% of the windows I saw were "closed", including the ones that were obscured by landscaping. I don't make a habit of looking at the windows of houses I pass, but in thinking back over my daily walks in my own neighborhood in western Washington I think the proportion of "closed" windows there is very similar, and I don't recall any seasonal variation -- though, as I've already said, I don't keep a tally so I can't say for certain.

As often happens, I was reflecting on this observation and began to think of this idea of "openness".

"I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in / And stops my mind from wandering / Where it will go" -- Paul McCartney

Fixing A Hole (Instrumental) [I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in]

So, where did my wandering mind go? (After all, I might need it back someday.)

Fear and Security

Another, yet related, thing I've noticed is that people tend to exhibit varying levels of openness in their social interactions. Some of us are very quiet, shy, withdrawn, or reserved, while others are quite outgoing, gregarious, and seeking the company of others. Some of us view strangers primarily as potential danger, while for others a stranger is nothing other than a friend I haven't met yet.

I've had some friends whose social interactions seem to be built on a foundation of fear. While I (though I am a definite introvert) generally feel safe and secure in whatever circumstance, they (even those who are extroverts) are often hesitant and cautious. I've wondered whether this is partially because I'm a "privileged" member of this society, being a white male who stands 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs above 200 pounds who has not experienced a great deal of bullying or other social oppression, while my less "open" friends may be female, physically smaller, and/or members of often-oppressed social groups.

I've never felt a need or desire to own a firearm. I've wondered how much fear motivates those who do. My sense of safety and confidence matches that expressed in Psalm 23:4 "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil", but not because I have the swaggering attitude expressed by some who might add "... because I'm the biggest baddest son-of-a-gun in the valley".

Open Standards and Open Software

While my mind was wandering through the openness, I began thinking about the benefits we've gained as a result of open standards and open-source software.

As I was learning about computers back in the 80's many of the standards related to their production, operation, programming, and networking were controlled by organizations like ANSI and ISO (and their corporate and governmental constituents), which were expensive to produce and consequently were expensive to purchase copies of. Since then many standards have been developed using more open collaberative methodologies and were specifically intended to be published in a manner that they could be freely accessed at little or no cost.

Similarly, open-source software has provided us a rich ecosystem of freely-available interoperable software, allowing each of us to use and build upon what others have built before.

Privacy, Security, and Openness

While it seems to me that generally openness is a desirable quality, there are definitely times to close the blinds. When evening comes and the light outside begins to fade we close our window blinds to preserve our privacy. What about privacy during the day? If you pay attention you'll notice that even if the blinds are open and the draperies pulled back, unless the house is unusually well-lit you won't see much of what's going on inside because brighter lighting outside creates strong reflections that obscure the internal scene (and viewing angles from the street leave you looking at mostly the ceiling). Except for the bathroom and bedrooms (which don't have windows facing the street anyway) there is little happening in our house that we feel we need enhanced privacy for.

Some of the homes I pass as I'm walking offer cheery greetings saying something like "welcome friend" while others have notices posted with the name of their alarm system or security service, that video surveillance is in progress, warning about potentially dangerous dogs (or their armed owners), or other security measures they have taken. There are no such signs outside my house; I'd rather not tell you what security measures I have in place -- I'll leave you guessing rather than give you clues about what to do if you come visiting me with unfriendly intentions.

If you've read the other pages on my site you might expect that I'd be a pretty open, friendly, welcoming guy. That's mostly true -- keeping in mind my introverted personality traits -- and I am happy to consider strangers as potential friends unless they demonstrate some intention to cause harm.

Welcome, friend. I sincerely hope that you too can approach life with openness and confidence. If that seems frightening to you, perhaps having another friend will help.

More Questions Than Answers

As with most things related with human behavior there are many more questions than there are answers. Now that I've been home for a couple of weeks and actually paid more attention to how many windows here are "open" I see that probably more than 50% of the houses have "open" window coverings. It is still very much summer, but daily high temperatures here are about 25 degrees cooler than when I was in the central valley of California. It may be that temperature control is a big factor in the difference I've observed.

However, there are large differences in the demographics of the two communities so cultural differences may also have a significant influence. It also seems that homes in more affluent neighborhoods are more likely to have "open" windows, but I didn't walk the low-rent neighborhoods of either community so that tentative observation is based on about the upper two-thirds of the economic scale.

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📅 c: 2022-08-08 13:02 ✏️ e: 2022-08-29 11:30

tags: #open-source #fear #security #friendship