By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sat, August 25 2007 - 2:47 pm
September 24, 2007
When I got out of bed I knew exactly what I was going to write here today. A computer glitch (my fault!) and it was gone, so I started my new article, Once-in-a-Lifetime Sightings. I'm trying to limit it to natural phenomena to keep it manageable in size, but one of my once-in-a-lifetime sightings was man-made.
My kids and I were picnicing in New Mexico north of Santa Fe on Easter Sunday 1992 or 1993. We saw a missile-like thing in the sky describing an arc seemingly towards Los Alamos. From the nose of the object to the ground, along the same arc it seemed to be traveling, there was a dark shadow, kind of like a jet-trail in reverse, only not fluffy.
Along the arc the missile would (seemingly - I know distances are deceptive and so is visual perception!) have sprung from, at least in front of some mini-mountains, the air had a similar altered look, as if the light were polarized or something, except as I remember it looked lighter than the surrounding landscape.
Even in New Mexico I never talked to anyone else who saw this, and saw no sign of it in the media. Can anyone enlighten me as to what that Easter Sunday phenomenon was? (My kids saw it too, and I really don't think we were group-hallucinating on cheese sandwiches and pickles!)
September 23, 2007
Recently I have been testing the differences in three search engines (Google, Yahoo and Dogpile) in an admittedly very inconsistent way, and it is an eye-opening experience!
One of my tests was with three words from one of my poems which I deemed an unusual combination - froggy, unnerved, and natters. I put none of the words in quotes, and Google said it had 44 thousand plus responses. Whew!
It also, paternalistically, asked me if I meant "matters" rather than "natters." I answered no in my mind, but there seemed to be no way to tell Google that, so I looked at the offerings. None of them mentioned my site or "natters" which I had not yet put into quotes. Most of the sites had two of my three words (oh, yeah, except often one of them wasn't my word! We are not talking nonsense words, here folks, "natter" is a real word! I just looked it up in our dictionary to be sure - okay, okay I may have slightly misused it but it is a real word!)
I began to wonder if Google could only Google two words at a time. No, down at the bottom of page nineteen were three words. Perfect! Except one of them wasn't mine!
I started skipping pages, 'til I got to the last one they really offered, which was almost to 1,000, without seeing a single "natters." Google changed unnerved to unnerving and froggy to frog but never got around to giving me the three words I asked for!
Oh, this is getting too long. I'm too dispirited to continue. Log in tomorrow to read more about my exciting adventures testing the search engines!
But wait! The Virtual Uncertainty Principle might kick in! I must continue but I'll try to keep it brief.
Next I Googled the three words, each in quote marks. That narrowed the responses (to twenty-six, maybe?) none including the three words I submitted.
Yahoo could not find me, with or without quotes.
Only Dogpile had only one response (the first on its one-page list)that included all three words - and guess what! It was my very own poem!
What do you know. Even pass/fail will not save two of the three engines on this little pop-quiz.
September 22, 2007
Today I was mowing the lawn and kept bumping into walnuts. With their chartreuse-in-the-shad skins they are about the size of a fat round plum. Since I haven't mowed the lawn for three weeks, I had to keep bending down anyway to fluff up its hair so I could cut it. Bending down to pick up the walnuts was something I could imagine complaining about.
But I was just so thankful none of them fell on me! That would have to feel worse than your average hailstone, except oh yeah, it hasn't fallen as far!
Doing kind of a toe-tap dance criss-crossing the lawn reminded me of some folk-dancing I've done - maybe inspired by walnut-hunting!
I confess I haven't braved trying to get the walnuts out. According to one acquaintance (whose grandmother had him doing it as a boy in southern Indiana) it is a procedure that requires aging and soaking. It's just the kind of thing I want a person to teach me, while helping me do it! Too bad he is in New Mexico, far from walnut chores!
(Although come to think of it, shelling pinons is quite a task, considering the size of the nut!)
In Oregon recently I saw the cool spiky pods of the hazelnut, but the nuts seemed very light - all dried up inside, maybe!
What kind of nut grows near you? Do you fear bops on the head while you are trying to mow the lawn? (or rake the gravel, or sweep the leaves off the patio?)
September 21, 2007
What do you think about protected genius? Einstein made his greatest scientific contributions when he was married, with children (I think) and working full-time for the patent office. His second wife protected him from all kinds of outside influences.
But does genius really need protection? I'm sure Einstein (at least, from reading his biography) made contributions in his protected state, but not his greatest ones.
It is conventional thinking that most people do their most creative work when they are young. Maybe that is because as they get older they have the means to protect themselves from unwanted activities, contacts with people, physical discomfort.
What if those are the very kinds of things that get the mental cogs going?
I'm no genius (I'm told!) but whatever creativity I have is fueled, not interfered with, by contact with the outside world. Why should not the same be true of people of genius?
September 20, 2007
I was going to talk about transportation today (again) but I guess transportation will just have to wait (ha ha just like we have to wait for transportation! A little petty poetic virtual justice!)
I decided, after dreaming about being in a kind of concentration camp for what seemed like half the night, to ask about dreams.
Sometimes I (half-asleep) think of dreams as being entered from a series of doors, in my imagery down a hill and to the right. A whole series of very plain doors, one of which I choose to enter.
Is this imagery familiar to anyone? Does anyone else have an image of their entry to the dreamworld? If so, what is it like?
In my dream about being in a camp where we were forced to work, and could at any moment be summarily called away and presumably killed, we were prisoners and couldn't get away.
Some psychologists would say I must be happy in my waking life. If you have a crappy life you have ecstatic dreams, and presumably vice versa. I'm not so sure, but sometimes it seems to be true.
But if it is a dreamworld, and if a dreamworld is not real, how come we just can't magically escape from the tormentors and just walk away (or magic carpet fly away) from a place of danger?
Now I know sometimes you can change the content of a bad dream if you redream it. I've done it! But you have to have the bad dream in the first place, and while it is happening you feel trapped in it, and the only way to escape is to "die" to the dream and wake up....
What then? Is dreamland one of the universes of string theory? While you are there it sure seems real! What makes so many people think it is not real?
I would love to see if we can map out common experiences and places of dreamland. Any ideas on how to get started? Maybe start by communicating with friends who have appeared in our dreams?
....but often the content is so durn embarrassing.....
September 19, 2007
We adults seem very know-it-all about how we treat our children. Part of becoming socialized, as children, is acquiring an awareness of adult limitations on our freedom. When I was young I don't remember any rationale for it except "Everyone was so worried about you!"
Nowadays it is all about the safety of the child, never mind if the ones the child needs protection from the most are his parents and teachers! (Kind of like that book, Are You Your Garden's Worst Pest?)
For those at the other end of the age spectrum it seems to be increasingly the same. The decisions of old people about how they want to live and where they want to live are increasingly over-ridden by their own children (under a lot of pressure from society!) "for their own good."
I see younger people making decisions for and about their parents that may seem justified in our present societal value of life over everything else, but I can't help but wonder. Nursing homes have locked doors. The tenants of these places are under strict control determined by their physical needs (exercise and regimented "healthy" diets.)
Yesterday my mother tried to walk to the bank. This was unnecessary and ill-advised. But she is a grown-up, and used to doing what she wants. When she ran out of steam, she sat down on a lawn to catch her breath.
Now, if anyone between the ages of adolescence and gray had done that, no one would think much of it, as long as they were only there for a few minutes, but because my mom is aged it started an avalanche of action on the part of concerned citizens, including a trip to the emergency room which she felt she didn't need.
Having done a certain amount of concerned citizen activity myself (e.g. calling the police about a drunk sleeping perilously close to the curb at a park!) I am not faulting these people. They mean well, and I acknowledge that people don't always recognize that they need help.
But say she had ended up in a nursing home, even for a while. Do we really have the right to put adults in a place like that, literally under lock and key? Do you want to be treated like that, even for your own good?
How many people have to subject their parents to what is essentially false imprisonment because otherwise they will be judged abusive and neglectful and subject to societally justified imprisonment themselves?
I'm just wondering....
oops I forgot I was going to talk about travel... tomorrow!
September 18, 2007
One thing I would love to see a thorough study of by pollsters is how U.S. residents feel about travel. I just read Ian Anderson's January diary entry in (at? on?) www.jtull.com (hey, Ian now that I have revisited your site, and am on the internet, and am now yours.com, why not write a little more often?) about global warming, and it warms my heart that he was able to effect the planting of thousands of oaks in the middle of England to offset the effects of all his flying! I love it! I did not realize we could offset the effects of our own activities so directly! Now if the rest of us can do it fast enough, maybe it will be soon enough to help solve our common problem.
Boy, I just barely got started about travel and already have taken a sidetrip to the subject of Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull, my alltime favorite group. I just read a little of a book about their band (very little, I'm afraid) and it commented that part of Stormwatch (one of my favorites of the group's albums) is some of the best of Tull. Validation! But, what about Too Young to Rock and Roll... and Thick as a... and well, the list goes on and on, the group is great!
Oh, Ian, if that was you in old-guy disguise (kind of like a monk's robe only pale) at a bus stop in Santa Fe, NM in the late 1990's the day after you played a rainy concert at the Paolo Soleri Auditorium and I ignored you to pick up a penny, remember a bus stop is not a park bench! and don't judge me too harshly.
Ha, ha, ha! I love to think I have brushes with my favorite creative people! Don't mind me, I'm just mumbling with only the vodka listening!
...as if. I'm in a Hilton Hotel, waiting to catch a shuttle to the airport with not even a glass of water to quench my thirst (or pay attention to my mumblings.
Boy, it is sure hard to tell the whole truth! Actually, I was just talking with an arborist named Dana Karcher who works for Davey. She is giving three lectures in Corvallis OR (today and tomorrow) about 1) inexpensive ways arborists can promote their businesses 2) something about urban forestry, I forget exactly what! and 3) a toolbox for urban forestry.
It is sure exciting to talk to someone so involved with the greening of America! She says if you want to learn more about it all, just google urban forestry.
I'll talk about modes of transportation tomorrow, God willing.
Right now, I'm thirsty and have a shuttle to catch!
September 17, 2007
Yesterday in one of my Piglet stories I wrote that the Green-(tailed, was it?) Towhee was another name for the Rufous-sided Towhee (or White-Spotted Towhee, I forget them already!) based on an illustration I saw on the internet which seemed to depict a male and female of one species. All three names were given to the one illustration, which may have misled me.
So that particular Piglet story might be particularly inaccurate! Write me! Bitch and whine! Tell me how I am misleading today's youth!
Attention! I want attention! I'm the type who would rather get bills in the mail than no mail at all!
Pathetic, huh. But maybe not as pathetic as some public figures I could mention. Oh, gee, who could I be talking about? Simple to guess, isn't it, son?
When I was writing about the Towhee, for the first time I got a little bird visitor. Not a Towhee, a Chickadee was smack up against the screen of the window, two feet away. I whimsically fantasized I had summoned it up because I was writing about birds, but recognise the silliness of that. Haven't had any porcine or other large mammalian visitors snuffling outside the window!
Not to mention murderers like Rose Flora Thorne. But she is close to the screen within. Very, very close heh heh heh heh.
Oh, and of course not famous people like Jay Leno and Paris Hilton, whom I also occasionally write about. But all I have to do to have them right up against the screen is turn on the TV. No writing necessary! They turn up sooner or later!
September 16, 2007
Cat Stevens once wrote a song, "I'm looking for a hard-headed woman...." When I used to hear that song, (sometimes long after he wrote it) I used to wonder what kind of woman he would end (or had ended) up with. (Not that you can ever, in the USA think that you have ever "ended up" with anyone!)
For many years I heard nothing of Cat Stevens except that he had joined some Eastern-style spiritual community. Now that he has come back into public notice (at least the for the first time in a long time to mine!) on a PBS program as somebody Islam (that being his present "last" name - too bad it isn't quite as memorable as Cat Stevens!) I find that he has married a Muslim woman.
My, does that bring up a number of questions to a curious one such as I! I have met a couple of Muslim women who seem just as hard-headed vis-a-vis their husbands as I ever was (and I was, inspired partly by Cat Stevens!)
But that was here in the USA. (And one of them always wore a burka outside.) How "hard-headed" can a woman really be in a country (or religion) where she cannot even have a job outside the home? How much power does (or can) her society give her in a context where she must cover herself and not work?
Maybe plenty, I suppose. But I think that might depend on the amount of power that her husband wants to (or cannot help but, for emotional reasons) give her.
By my definition, that is not power at all. Power is something you take for yourself. (I am not talking power over others here, I'm talking power over your own self and your own life.)
I've had a Muslim woman try to persuade me that the stricture against a woman going out without a husband or male relative was for the woman's protection. Very well, if that is so, then I will go without. I have enough trouble deciding what I want to do when, without having my excursions also dependent on the schedule and/or caprice of someone else! And if I don't have a choice, then I say, protection has nothing to do with that particular law.
It is all about control.
September 15, 2007
People are the most difficult thing in the world. Getting along with people in intimate situations is the most difficult thing in the world.
Not really, of course. It only seems so.
How we as a species can have any pretence to get along as cultures or aim to have peace when we can't even get along in our own households is a mystery to me.
We can't even seem to establish personal boundaries, rights of control, and ownership in our own homes, let alone between masses of people.
It's laughable. But hey, sure, we have to keep trying! Both in the home and with other countries! Oh, yeah, I haven't even mentioned in the workplace! Oh my God, what a hornet's nest we uncover there! Thank goodness, the traditional workplace is not in my immediate collection of stressors!
September 14, 2007
A friend and I experienced an interesting little occurrence today. Heading out of a gift shop in Waldport, OR, a kind of sleepy little tourist town (if such exists) I heard a man sneeze behind me. I didn't know who it was (it might have been my friend) and said, "Bless you, bless you" for the two sneezes. Looking back, I realized it was not my companion but a stranger, who said "Thank you." By that point we were heading out the door, with me in the lead. I held the door for my friend, who held the door for the man behind him - who failed to take it in his turn!
A little thing, no? Hardly worth mentioning, right?
But we both felt (my friend and I) that we had learned something about that total stranger that made us feel we had learned all we needed to know!
Is any little thing really such a little thing?
Here there are no consequences, presumably. A little incident, which probably matters not at all in the big scheme of things, certainly not to my friend and me.
But I'm going to be sure to catch my own door as long as I am able!
September 12, 2007
Hello! If you haven't read yesterday's entry yet, start with it (for aesthetic reasons.)
My Friend's Bizarre Sunday Morning
I forgot when in the sequence of events this happened, but at some point (about 6:30 in real time) my friend's neighbor comes out of his house stark naked and rummages around in the back of the truck he uses for his business. Eventually finding what he's looking for (evidently not an article of clothing!) he saunters back into his home.
End of Interlude
Well, I can't believe that my friend got much newspaper reading done on this morning, because the entertainment wasn't over yet!
As I said before, there are a lot of birds in Albuquerque this summer. After reading for a while, my friend looked up to notice his lawn was covered with pigeons! Fifty feet down the street, a neighbor's yard was equally littered with mourning doves.
As he watched, they grouped themselves into two opposing "fronts" ("Just like West Side Story!" he said) and started walking towards each other down.
On and on they came, not hurrying, until the two "fronts" merged and intermingled. When they had penetrated each others' ranks by about three feet, the mourning doves arose en masse and flew away.
The pigeons, rapturous, started fluttering and prancing around in a victory/mating celebration dance!
The maroon-clad ambling drunk, sans bottle, trudged back up the street.
Thus endeth the tale of My Friend's Bizarre Sunday Morning!
(I suspect that for the foreseeable future, his Sunday mornings are going to feel kinda dull!)
September 11, 2007
My Friend's Bizarre Sunday Morning
It was a working Sunday, like every other Sunday, but as usual he went out, got his New York Times and Albuquerque Journal and settled in his favorite chair at a front-facing window in his nice but ordinary neighborhood in Albuquerque.
He saw something moving out of the corner of his eye, and looked up to see a chocolaty-maroon-garbed man who looked like he had had a rough Saturday night shuffling by. In his hand he carried an unopened bottle of wine, so my friend thought maybe an unsuccessful rough Saturday night! (I myself was thinking, that goddam New Mexico blue law that won't let you buy alcohol by the bottle on Sundays! (which is when I liked to do my food shopping.) I figured it was his Sunday night supply!)
Unsteady as this stranger to the neighborhood was, he managed to totter past the neighboring hedge - out of sight.
Well, a lush in Albuquerque - hardly a once-in-a-lifetime sighting. Back to the newspaper.
But then, once again, something caught my friend's eye! Out of two driveways, simultaneously, were coming a family of almost full-grown roadrunners with their parents, and, a house or two away, a neighbor's cat! Both parties were blissfully unaware of the other's presence.
My friend stopped breathing for a bit, I think. "Uh-oh!"
At this point in the narrative he felt compelled to give me a little background for his tale. For some reason this year many of the local birds have managed to raise two or three clutches of young, so there are a lot of birds around. Maybe the roadrunners had two sets of young with them or something.
They were all almost to the sidewalk before the bird family and the cat caught sight of each other, but when they did there was an instantaneous flurry. The cat was upon the birds, and they were gone within two seconds.
No deaths. Nothing left at the scene but a fluster of feathers.
End of Part One of My Friend's Bizarre Sunday Morning. (To be continued.)
September 10, 2007
Well, I was halfway through today's article, which was about a friend's bizarre morning yesterday, when I lost it all due to some random touch on my part.
Instead of getting angry (or rather, to be honest, after getting angry!) I reminded myself that it was my unconscious way of telling myself, "Write it better! Write it more succinctly! Make it a better story! Or maybe, don't write it at all! Change the subject!"
Well, to tell the truth, it was a pretty long story. I was actually a little concerned about that. I like to keep these daily rumilluminations of a reasonable easily readable length.
So I've decided to start telling the story of my friend's bizarre Sunday morning tomorrow. It should be good for two or three days' entries!
And just guess the point of today's commentary! (True confession, I believe I have tried to convince you of this before!)
September 9, 2007
Why is it we people seem to have so much trouble with the idea of equality and equal rights?
Different humans stringing pearls on a wire for a perfect necklace will come up with different creations. Not all pearls are the same. There are pink pearls, freshwater pearls, pink freshwater pearls, black pearls.
But we call them all pearls. Who would dream of outlawing necklaces made with pearls of uneven size or colors?
Why can't we do the same with humans? Any given human might choose to grace his string of friends with those of a certain type or size. That's fair - we are supposed to be free to pick and choose our associates as we see fit.
Some of us like to have a perfect monochromatic strand of symmetrical perfection while others of us like a varied, colorful haphazard selection full of whimsy and humor.
But we are all human. Under the law we should all be only human.
Why do we have so much difficulty with that?
Why do so many men want to make their women less powerful than themselves? Why do so many women want to give over their power to some man?
Why does skin color seem to matter more than hair color? Why does sexual orientation matter more than inner love?
In society, of course, that will always be true. Each individual has predilections. But where on earth do we get the idea that we petty individuals have the right to deny anyone else the equality before the law that we enjoy?
Please, let's not let the degree of freedom and power we wield with regards to our own choices go to our heads! Lets not confuse power over our own lives with the right to deny others their own power and right of choice!
If you feel powerless look to yourself! Develop your own powers by encouraging yourself to become more knowledgeable, capable, serene and hopeful!
Here endeth today's sermon. (Hey, what can I say? It's Sunday! And writing this makes me feel so... self-realized! And powerful! (Insert Tarzan yell here!))
September 8, 2007
Ah, the great, free wonderful West! Driving back from the Quilt and Garden walk, I saw green valleys and hazy distant coastal range mountains. During my Oregon visit, I have the opportunity to enjoy mountains, farmlands and rocky coastal oceans.
Landscapes are wonderful, but when I first moved to the Southwest it took me a while to appreciate them. Growing up in the glacial morain Midwest (hills to the north, complete flatlands to the south) landscapes are not the point. True, along the lake dunes, shore, and endless water are significant, but in small-town Midwest it is all about the close view. Glimpses of even magnificent sunrises and sunsets are not guaranteed, but there is a lot of stuff close by to look at. Kind of a detail versus a big picture thing.
The weather in the Midwest is all about dramatic extremes, even if the terrain isn't. There is no thunderstorm in my experience like a Midwestern thunderstorm, nor torrential rains either.
Whether this close-view/long view dichotomy affects us by making us more or less detail-oriented, more or less far-sighted, I don't know.
Maybe it does, especially by comparison.
All I know is that, there is something about the West that makes me feel Free!
September 7, 2007
A couple of years ago a man I know bought a beta. It was one of those wavy-finned creatures you see swimming around in a vase of water with a plant and its roots, which according to what I've heard, feed the fish. (Although I guess they do need food too.)
Now my friend has a larger art-glass bowl with three fish, two of which are usually not to be seen, including the beta. He leaves the bowl outside at night in warm weather to give the fish a change of environment and temperature.
He gets a kick out of feeding them and then putting in their oxygen bubbler so they can have fun getting energized from the increased oxygen level and chasing their food around the bowl. They don't compete for their food because they each get fed a different kind.
I only had one fish when I was little, a goldfish. Knowing nothing, I did little except feed it, maybe too much. It went belly-up one day (which I considered a very ominous sign!) It was. Considering what my friend does for his fish to make their lives interesting, I guess mine probably died of boredom.
My fishy friend gets a real charge out of those silent little critters, whose only noisemaking seems to be making little kissy sounds at the surface of the water.
He really gets a reward from his pets comparable to what he puts into them. Makes me wonder if he couldn't have a second career in an aquarium or zoo if he wanted!
Reminds me of another friend I had who was nervous at taking responsibility for my basil plants when I left town. When I got back, they were in great shape! She had taken to touching their leaves, and if they felt a little bit limper than usual, would water them.
I felt maybe she had missed her vocation as a nurserywoman!
Gee, I know my talents are split! I have had two or three amateur careers!
What are your alternative life paths?
September 6, 2007
Whew! It's a relief to get my embarrassing health tip off the top of my home page! And true confession, I don't have any more hits than usual! Yet.
Change of subject.
A couple of months ago in Indiana, I was walking down the street a block or so from home when a youngish male voice yelled (to my back, it seems - or rather, to someone else's back) "I love ya, bitch. And that's true!"
Now I know that wasn't directed at me. But I can't imagine who would want such a confession of love (and hostility?) directed at them. Has rap and contemporary slang made the word "bitch" an acceptable word to use to describe someone?
How out of touch with "my" culture am I?
A few years ago I was working nights in a bakery in Oregon. The people working there took turns playing CDs. One employee, a 20-year-old male, played rap, mentioning that I didn't have to listen to anything I didn't want to. I heard males calling females bitches, I heard gang members glorying in the fact of being a "thug," (and heard girls singing provocatively about how cool he was.)
I reached my limit when a song came on in which the singer was beating up on his "bitch" (replete with the sound of blows.) I told my co-worker I wasn't about to put up with that, and he immediately took it off.
But really, doesn't this kind of attitude wear off on people? I can't believe that people who listen to this kind of "lyric" will not suffer lowered expectations about how women should be treated. (Or anyone for that matter!)
Yet I read, watch and write stuff about murders. Is it the difference in degree that makes me feel the roughing-up stuff is more dangerous? That everybody knows murder is unacceptable so it's safe to write about it? Or am I just kidding myself?
I have read that Stephen King regretted writing (or at least publishing Rage (albeit under another name)) because it seemed as if some high school students may have used it as a model for the way to handle their own anger.
If it's any comfort to my readers, fewer people seem to read my murderlets than any other kind of writing on my website - except maybe the poetry!
As for being called a bitch, it's happened to me a few times, and not spoken with love. I always consoled myself with the fact that it always happens when a woman stands up for herself. (In my case, I must confess, sometimes for two hours straight!)
Nowadays? Hell, maybe "bitch" is just another term of endearment!
September 5, 2007
Every once in a while I give a health tip, like being hydrated enough really helps you sleep. (That is why, I believe, drinking alcoholic drinks almost guarantees that you'll wake up around 4 am. It dehydrates you!) Drink lots of water before 7 or so at night and you'll sleep better!
Today, at the risk of embarrassing my children mightily, I'm going to give a tip about a highly ridiculed and humiliating problem: constipation.
I have probably mentioned, or you have heard elsewhere, that exercise and water and fiber are good constipation preventers. And they are. Every day I walk and drink water and eat a salad big enough to feed a family of four or I suffer the consequences.
You may not have heard about a tip a friend of mine gave me: abdominal massage helps digestive ailments. If you you are constipated, massage in a clockwise motion and for the reverse problem, counterclockwise.
But here's a tip I just discovered myself a few weeks ago.
When people are constipated they have a big tendency to hunker down and push. Instead, try straightening your spine and lifting up your hands high. Then pretend they are branches of a tree blowing in the wind and sway slightly.
It helps! Follow that with some hip wiggling and bumping and grinding! It works, and no one can see you dancing!
Now. I've said it. My kids are going to die of embarrassment. Me too. But I tell you what - I bet I get more hits on this website than ever!
September 4, 2007
It is strange. For me, the most inspirational time of day really is the morning. From that deep well of intuition and insight called sleep, I come up with what I consider my most meaningful and seriously helpful insights. (Or in some people's opinion, probably looney ones!)
Later in the morning, I might get more political. I might let a little more after-coffee stridency enter my tone. Might be just a wee bit harsher and more critical of the status quo.
The later in the day it gets, the farther I get from feeling I have anything to offer other than maybe a little sardonicysm or crosswordplay. I'm more likely to just pfool around a little. Just shoot the delicatessance!
But of course some of my fables are like that too, written - you guessed it! In the morning!
Once again, I have come full circle. Top of the evening to you!
September 3, 2007
Happy Labor Day! That's one of those weird names that bring your attention to what you are trying to forget!
Like names of organizations that sound as if they are in support of something that they are really fighting against! Most of us English-speaking types understand what the meaning is, but I often wonder how people who speak other languages deal with it. As if English isn't difficult enough!
Reminds me of my eldest daughter, who confessed that when she was little, she thought "firemen" were people who started fires! (Maybe from the Zozobra "firedancer" who does start a fire!)
I have another laugh on myself to report today, like my distress over not having a "mouse."
I was trying to make myself some coffee, but couldn't get the coffee-maker to go on. So I figured I would just put the filter and coffee in the basket, and pour boiling water through it.
All very well, but the brew wouldn't come out! So I put the thermos that was part of the maker underneath. Still no coffee.
So I felt beneath the compartment with my fingers and a few drops came out. Voila! and Ow! The coffee was too hot. So I tried pulling the little plastic "teat" with chopsticks. They just slipped off. So I tried "milking" it with opposite hands. Still too hot - and the drops flew all over.
Finally my eyes fell on a clothespin. So I used that to get the coffee out. Ta-da!
The correct solution? Put the thermos lid on the thermos before you put it under the coffee filter compartment. The lid that doesn't look like it has a hole in it! That one! It pushes on the little plastic sensor and causes the coffee to be released. The joke, as usual, is on me.
Nothing makes me feel dumber than coffeemakers.
Now I'm going to try to figure out how they get a live bird into that delicate-looking but obviously used bird cage hanging ornamentally from the ceiling....
Ah, wonderful Loaf Day! May you be loafing in your method of choice, not laboring! But wait -that sounds as if we are celebrating bread, doesn't it? Idle Day? Sounds too much like Devil's Handmaiden Day! Or idolatry!
How about Lazy Day? After all, too often the only people who don't get to celebrate Labor Day are the laborers!
Really, does Labor Day make any sense at all?
September 2, 2007
I'm working at a different computer today and find myself continually reaching for the mouse.
Isn't that amusing, in the context of women (and sometimes men) jumping onto chairs to avoid any possible contact with a being of the same name?
I'm not only reaching for it, I'm muttering, "I wanna mouse! I can't do this without a mouse! I NEED a mouse! Where is my computer cat?"
Well, since I haven't risen from this chair and here we all are (except the cat, where is he anyway?) I guess I was mistaken.
I wonder if the computer experts who named the mouse appreciated the irony of the name. I imagine that it was more like, "It's smaller than a rat, it's probably grayish" (like everything else about the unassuming entrance to computerland) "and it has a long tail - let's call it a mouse!"
Anybody want to place any bets on when a computer mouse becomes the first definition listed in the dictionaries?
September 1, 2007
I met a mathematician at UNM years ago who told me a high percentage (I want to say 90%) of the math professors in the department at that time were air signs.
I worked in a pediatrics clinic where 33% of the employees were Pisces.
Coincidences? A bent of the hiring personality rather than the bent of the employees?
How big a percentage of spelunkers are earth signs?
The Strong Vocational Interest test, which I took when I was in my early forties (I think) which tried to judge what occupation you should be in based on the interests of those already active in it, was found years later, I heard, not to work.
On a PBS station the other night, the scientists tried to formulate what makes people attracted to each other. Aside from the most primitive of physical responses, they didn't get it right. Their tests involve speed dating (or meeting, or whatever it's called.)
And the scientist think the astrologers are off! How do astrologers do at matchmaking? The person who wrote that big black book on EAST WEST astrology paired up Princess Di and Prince Charles in her book!
I think speed dating is just dumb. Relationships don't develop that quickly that often. I think maybe three times in my life have I instantly liked someone a great deal, let alone become romantically interested in them.
Considering that I have met thousands of people in my life, the likelihood of a romantic connection, let alone a permanent one resulting from meeting thirty people seems pretty slim.
But hey, meeting thirty is way better than meeting one or two. Theoretically.
The only problem is, those thirty are in a hurry. (Like I must have been, when I wrote this. Revised Sept. 4)
August 31, 2007
In Santa Fe, New Mexico the festival of Zozobra is approaching, where the Kiwanis Club (or some such) burn a very tall effigy (rich person? tourist?) to the accompaniment of fire-dancer and fireworks. This seems to disturb no one. He isn't real!
In the cop shows on TV, you never see one of the cops going through moral angst because he just put five bullet holes through the head of a black-and-white silhouette.
Which is what troubles me about the recent rise in religious fanaticism, east and west, Islam and Christian. Turn a flesh-and-blood human being into a caricature; make him into nothing but a silhouette of what you disagree with, maybe even hate - and it becomes so much easier to shoot him!
Tell you what - let's make a bigger tribe. A real big tribe of all sorts of people whose Gods get along. Our Gods, because they are full of love and understanding, not only get along with each other, but want their children to get along. Maybe spend their time writing each other poems and painting each others' portraits.
That's what our Gods want! Plus my God doesn't want me to have to clean up any more messes. I think He/She feels I have cleaned up enough stupid messes, and I shouldn't have to do that anymore.
And I'm not even a cop or a CSI tech or a medical examiner!
August 30, 2007
Do you think August is the most dignified month? It is certainly very productive and fruitful! Are Leos the kings of the zodiac? How do kids feel about August now that it seems to be back-to-school month? (That used to be September, the day after labor day.)
If you are still in school in June and already back in school in August, how can you kid yourself that summer vacation is three months? Sounds like one - July - to me!
How come augmentation means "increase" when the light is going away? Sure, the plants and harvests are increasing, but isn't August part of an abstract division of celestial time? Are we still living in a pre-Galilean past? (Well, obviously, with the name Augustus to begin with!)
Just ruminating about global illumination, literally.
August 29, 2007
Do blondes have more fun? In my experience, maybe yes. Of course, I used to be considered blond and now I am a brunette. So I'm told. I admit my hair is a little darker now. Sometimes it looks like that dirty dishwater color we all hold so dear.
But for me the question is not, do blondes have more fun? It is, do people have more fun in the West? For me, the answer is an unqualified, resounding, yes!
I noticed years ago that both coasts are more style-conscious than most places in between. I don't know about the West Coast, but the East is way more achievement-oriented than the Midwest and West.
In the East, being attractive, intelligent, a good conversationalist and well-read just isn't enough, from what I can tell from my contacts with the Easterners who have moved west.
They really like ambition and achievement. Shudder. I wish they'd stay in the East!
Now, I'm not saying that people in the East don't have fun. I know they do. But do they know how to relax? Well, yeah, maybe with someone attractive, intelligent, a good conversationalist, well-read, and of the same professional and socio-economic status as they!
Want to have a good time, surrounded by many different kinds of people and environments? Go West, young men and women! West of the Mississippi, at least! Just don't go all the way to the Coast!
Throw off the expectation-shackles of the East and relax!
(Oh, Easterners, if you disagree with me and think I'm being unfair, get in touch!)
Ha ha ha ha! Fat chance! You are too busy pursuing goal-oriented activities! Even your recreation is for serious!
August 28, 2007
Too amazing! Right after I talk about the revolutionary soldiers' being offered bonuses for enlisting, it happens here! Twenty thousand dollars if they are ready to go right now instead of three months from now!
It's so nice to know that the Federal Government can throw so much money one recruit's way, but can't give its citizens a few years' worth of preventive health care with the same money.
It is so upsetting, it could make me sick, but I can't afford to get sick! (One reason I quit one of my jobs - yeah, it was the only job I ever had that provided health insurance, but it made me sick! I think, literally!)
As reported in Glenn Tucker's book, (the same I referred to yesterday) the legislature spent way more by having to deal with a mutiny than it would have taking care of its obligations up front. That is not even mentioning the loss of life that occurred.
The Native Americans who lived in what is now Michigan, Ohio and Indiana wondered at the ways of the Federal Government, which paid them money to keep the peace. Why didn't they just give the settlers with money troubles money so they wouldn't have to come out West (what was the Northwest then, that is)? A good question. I'm afraid that the answer is that the Federal Government was not trying to help its people so much as take over territory! Promises made to Native Americans by well-intentioned and honorable people were easily ignored by subsequent greedy ones, and who was to stop them? Their numbers were too great.
But to get back to my original point, that many individuals and governmental bodies think that they can get away with treating alot of people very badly. Why else would they follow a course of action that will cost them more time, money, and stress in the end?
Maybe the sad truth is that usually it doesn't. Do they really get away with such unjust treatment of others most of the time? What do you think?
August 27, 2007
I've been reading a book about the Revolutionary War (see For Book Butterflies Tree) which makes it clear that the legislatures of the country often had a lack of appreciation for their constituents. During the war the legislature in Philadelphia did not feed, clothe or pay our soldiers adequately. (In the case of pay, at one point the Pennsylvania Line - 1300 strong - mutinied because they had not been paid for a year! Then the government gave new recruits a bounty of gold for enlisting!) This time-honored tradition of treating its soldiers badly has been repeated in recent times by the government issuing to the troops bullet-proof vests that weren't bulletproof. (I'm sure there are other examples.)
It really brings up a lot of questions about who is under whose care. The soldiers were under the legislators' care, in a sense. The legislators had the responsibility for their lives and sustenance. But these soldiers were fighting for the very existence of the legislature (and possibly the legislators - what would have become of them if the British had won the revolution?) So who was under whose care?
Nowadays if our representatives don't care about us, they run the risk of losing their seats and much of their power. They don't run the same financial risk, though. If I understand correctly they get a whoppingly wonderful pension for life!
It is easy to assume that you are more valuable in the world than someone else just because that person is not you! But we are all dependent upon all of society, (and now more than ever, on all the societies of the world.) As Ben Franklin said during the revolution, "We must all hang together or assuredly we will hang separately!"
Our survival chances (globally speaking) are only as good as our cooperation. Let's work on that skill for a while!
August 26, 2007
Maybe life is just a game or a riddle - when you have solved it you die. Or graduate, if you prefer.
Aren't transitions in some respect always to be dreaded? In four years of college you have ups and downs. But graduation might be kind of like death. The ceremony itself is, to me, something to be borne. But the worst comes before, in the form of finals (and at my college, a series of comprehensive exams required for graduation.) And isn't part of the pain of graduation the uncertainty of what form life will take afterward? (I went to graduate school for fear I would end up in some kind of shit-job - a lousy motivation!)
Or how about weddings? It is supposed to be the happiest day of a young woman's life. (How come they don't say that about young men?) I myself didn't want a wedding. I wanted a Justice of the Peace elopement! As far as I was concerned, the wedding was for everyone else. The wedding itself was an ordeal to be enjoyed if possible.
Since then I have seen weddings I might have enjoyed more. When I was catering, I saw some great parties! These people also had money and were willing to lavish it on bunches of people! My bet is, that with weddings as with graduations, the worst precedes the ceremony. All the detail-arranging, the family fights over how it should be. I have heard horror-stories: the daughter (bride-to-be) striking her mother, the bride-to-be who doesn't want her fiance to have a stag party being beaten up by him.
I escaped most of that bad stuff by having a simple wedding (not simple enough for me, but too simple according to an in-law!)
Maybe I can escape the bad stuff before death the same way. I have a plan. I'm still enjoying life, so if I have a choice, I won't die too soon. So I'll try to avoid ending the game for as long as healthily possible.
But I'll mull over it. I'll fiddle with all the pieces and just almost barely fail to make all the right connections until the conditions are just perfect and then bam!
With any luck I'll graduate without too many tests, trials, family fights and aesthetic decisions!
(Now how can you induce the kind of shock in a dream that allows you to die in your sleep...?)
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