Thursday, January 31, 2008

headline questions

Have you noticed that more and more news headlines are posed in the form of a question?

I remember my Journalism 101 class, and the importance of the "attention-grabbing" function of the headline. These days, however, attention-grabbing has turned into "engagement-seeking". Everything is interactional these days. News isn't news - it's a guessing game!

Guess who won the Florida primary?

Guess who's back in hospital, being observed 'mentally', after "bizarre behavior"?

Guess who died? Who wrecked? Who lied? Who made a fool of him - or her - self?

I usually refuse to read "articles" like that, just out of principle. I resent being dragged in by idle curiosity. Today, however - on AOL - I bit on the headline for this article, the headline for which was "Why did Feb. 17 Make the List?[of days you shouldn't travel]".

As I'm traveling on Feb. 17 - this was information I clearly needed to know. I clicked on, only to be referred to yet another article which supposedly would enlighten me. It took me a while, but I finally found it - buried in the middle of an otherwise unastonishing - and, frankly, uninteresting - article. Why shouldn't I travel on Feb 17? Here it is, quote-unquote:
The 50th running of the Daytona 500 takes place Feb. 17th. I don’t even live in Daytona Beach, Fla. (I’m in Orlando) and I’m thinking of getting out of town. Don’t even think about renting a car — they’re taken that weekend. And stay away from the Orlando theme parks, unless your idea of family fun is to stand in a long line with a lot of rowdy NASCAR fans.
Here I thought we might be dealing with some universal wisdom applicable universally - like, maybe, Feb. 17 is the day all airplane wheels fall off, or when the refuelers 'short' the jets on fuel just to piss off the pilots, or the day all the new air traffic controllers control traffic without supervision, or something like that, or meteor showers, or SOMEthing. . . .

But no. It's the DAYTONA far-reaching 500. whoop.

So! Don't go outside. You might get run over.

Luckily, I'm only going to Ireland. . . . . I might be safe. Maybe.

viva minus 22

I'm sure you've missed those count-downs quite as much as I did. So we're starting a new set - the viva countdown! oh joy. . . .

Can you believe this? Twenty-two days from today, I'll be in a conference room somewhere, with [a silenced] Magda at my side, the former head of the department acting as "chair", the internal examiner and the external one. We will do something for two hours, whereupon I will emerge either victorious or crestfallen. Or - possibly - devastated. . . . elated? or maybe something in between.

Thinking about it more carefully now, very likely I'll just be numb.

The good news is that my 'local' will be within spitting distance and I'll just bet that an expertly-poured pint will cure whatever ails me. The other good news is that I should be done early enough to get my favorite seat at the bar. Or - if I'm crying - Willie will let me into the snug (which will still be unclaimed that early) to cry into my pint in private. . . .

It's the little things that help cheer me up at this point. Like contemplating the symmetry of 20 and 2 days left. . . . And wondering where the hell I put my copy of the dissertation as - surely - it's time to read the thing for the first time, from beginning to end, and what if it's really terrible?!

I spent a little time this morning re-visiting the crazy days of the last countdown, the one before the dissertation was due. It all seems so unreal now. Almost as if another person did it. Just as I'm sure the viva preps - and the actual viva voce will also feel very unreal when it's all said and done with.

Meanwhile, though, I have a dissertation to read (and a list of errata to prepare), at least 2 new books to skim (if not actually read), and my main author's main book to re-visit in order to try and get the principles back into the working part of my brain, memory and speech pattern.

My vest is done - or the main pieces are, anyway. All that remains are the edgings for the armholes and the front where it buttons. But I don't like the edging the pattern calls for: it puckers, somehow, and looks wierd. Blocking might help, but that feels a little too much like cheating. You know, sort of like adding a whiz-bang production to cover up the fact that the song you started with is rather mediocre at best. So I've started a border of my own 'unvention' - yes, I've finally broken down and gotten one (two, actually) of Elizabeth Zimmerman's books. . . . - and we're trying out a separate band of cable as the edging. I'll let you know how it turns out.

My biggest regret in all of this is that I'm going to have to find the end of the one sewn-on band in order to try and rip it out. It's so hard to undo things, once they've been sewn together. . . .

neutrality and oppression - the relationship

The answer to those in Ireland who are so proud of their "neutrality" and view it - somehow - as ever-so-superior to those who are not neutral. . . .
Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Elie Wiesel, writer, Nobel laureate (b.1928)

You remember Elie Wiesel, don't you? The Holocaust survivor who's written so powerfully about it.

But then the current "neutral" anti-war people seem to be supporting people who maybe don't think much about the Holocaust.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

bluebird of happiness

It must be the cartoons that have spawned that particular image. . . . Snow White, probably. Wasn't there a bluebird of happiness in that one, carrying the train of Snow White's gown?


I like bluebirds. Of course, I'd never seen an actual bluebird until a week ago, when I saw two of them, flying across a field just down the road from the greenwood. I have aspirations of luring them to the meadow in front of our [almost-under-roof] house. I understand they like peanut butter. And they prefer man-made housing, on stakes. Not too high up. I have just the thing.

But there's a problem. Someone told me not too long ago that bluebirds are territorial, and drive off all the other birds.

Is it true, do you think? Our bird-watching books have not mentioned it. It does say that they're 'gregarious' and can live in large family groups, especially over winter. That's not so bad! But it doesn't say anything about "plays well with other species". . . .

Hmmm. More research is needed, clearly. Luckily, I have time before I have to make a decision whether or not to court them. Moreover, just putting out the preferred feed and housing is far from a guarantee that my desired bluebird of happiness will materialize.

Meanwhile, I feel oppressed at the prospect of full-time "work" outside of my house (1), the moths that have [apparently] invaded my closet judging by the pinholes I keep finding in favorite sweaters and blazers (2), and legal cases involving money disputes (3).

I don't like money disputes.

I don't like disputes - not really. And yet I pick fights. Or maybe it's that I point out conflict. I dunno. . . .

Two of my go-to writer friends have been scribbling along these lines as well. Lee Anne at Adorable Device of Destruction - in her posting about a flattened culture of happiness - and Non-Essential Equipment, who apparently got some people worked up by posting about faith issues and the question of 'non-believability'.

More thought. Clearly needed.

Note to self: Without conflict, there is no story. "Happily ever after" marks The End.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

spem in alium

[click "play" and then read on - this is more about the music than the random (although pretty) images. . .]

No - not a plant, although I was looking for alium bulbs as I pondered and daydreamed about my garden this cold winter's day. . . .

A 'google' search of alium reminded me of Tallis' Spem in Alium, a motet for 8 different choirs of 5 parts each - or 40 different voices - simultaneously. . . .

I attempted it 3 or 4 years ago with a band of other like-minded musically-adventurous types in Galway City's St. Nicholas' Cathredal. We got through it - amazingly - although there were some periods of unscheduled silence before some intrepid soul would pick up the lost thread and, like hounds to the scent, the rest of us joined in.

You can download the music here - and what a boon that site is to the ancient music lover! Tons of sheet music and scores in the public domain, available for free as pdf's. Amazing. There appear to be a lot of recordings there as well.

Anyway, here's the song. It's a long one - some 10 minutes. I sure did enjoy trying to sing it. 8 small choirs gathered in a circle, each with our own music director, and then the "professional" director flown in from England to stand in the middle and try and meld us all together. A small audience of maybe 25 or 30 people also sat in the middle surrounded by choirs and were nearly as relieved as we were when we managed the final chord. Thereafter, we drank sweet wine and ate 'biscuits' by candlelight.

We were elated and yet sad at the same time. It was a strange combination of emotion. I think it had to do with the ephemeral nature of the enterprise, knowing that we would in all likelihood never again be a part of something quite that ambitious. It's hard enough to get people for 5 different parts let alone to get a multiple of 8 times 5!

I watched the movie Troy for the first time the other night. Achilles comments that the 'gods' are actually envious of mortals, because our very mortality lends a sweetness to the moment that the immortal can never taste. . . . We savor the moment because it will never come again.

It was an amazing moment.

Friday, January 25, 2008

general update

Sorry - I've been sick. I can't quite tell what it is, but I spent the day zonked out yesterday. Today, the constant headache has yielded to ibuprofin, though, and I'm feeling the wonderful feeling of no pain. It really brings home the saying that the one good thing about hitting yourself in the head with a hammer is that it feels so good when you stop. . . .

So for the most part I'm feeling so good right now, just because the headache has finally stopped!

Other than that, there's not much.

We're not going to SC today for the weekend. [long story - no inclination to tell it]. I have another resume package to put "out there" today - for a position in the "justice" business. . . . There's a legal case to get started. . . . And I have a kitchen to design and a construction site to go visit and [hopefully] a new roof to see.

I will probably also be finishing up the main bits of a cabled vest I started knitting a week or so ago. . . . Normally, I would go take pictures of the same just to have a bit of visual interest to this post, but sorry. Not today. Maybe later.

I started with the viva voce reading last night. One of my author's translators has written a "Guide for the Perplexed" book on him, and I thought it would be a great overview. It has been quite interesting. For one, he talks about how Ricoeur reacts against the Cartesian and Enlightenment system of object/subject thought by insisting on unique personhood, adding the element of action and the potential of capability to the philosophical equation.

To relent, I'll close with a picture of the vest. . . . as there seem to be no more words for today!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

money and freedom. . . .

I'm still working this sum out, but after how the stock market opened this morning (plunging some 400 points, whatever that means precisely, although I know it's not considered good) consider this thought by Robert Louis Stevenson:

The price we pay for money is paid in liberty.

-Robert Louis Stevenson, novelist, essayist, and poet (1850-1894)

In some ways, it's definitely true. Being in debt is like being in prison; it's a slavery. We give up our freedom to do other things and go instead to a job, or sit in front of a computer and write, or pack boxes, hammer nails, mind children. . . .

Isn't it ironic that we look to money to give us freedom?

Maybe I need to rethink that. . . .

Monday, January 21, 2008

body and soul. . . .

Nee, over at Non-essential Equipment, pointed to an article that she thought was "spot on" with respect to certain physical and cultural manifestations of moral sensibilities. I disagreed. To me, the article was little more than the attempt to reduce morality to a [not-completely-known-at-present] physical and/or sociological manifestation; an instinct. Here's what she wrote, and here's the article she referred to by S. Pinker. It's entitled The Moral Instinct.

Interestingly, today I read an article kind of from the "other side", in which a theologian makes the argument that we are more than our minds - that the body has something to do with our thoughts [and prayers] as well. Check it out - it's entitled "Thinking With Our Bodies", written by Mike Metzger.

How is it that I can so completely disagree with the one, and yet agree with the other? Aren't they really just approaching a similar conclusion, but from different perspectives? You know, I just don't think so.

I think it has to do with the question of responsibility - which in the one seems to be either lacking or sought to be restricted - but which in the other seems to acknowledge the potential of a greater richness in how we think, know, and decide, all the while leaving our individual responsibility in place.

I have a hard time with any kind of approach that would reduce morality to an "instinct"*. There is no trouble, however, for me to acknowledge that morality [or other kinds of thought and understanding] is influenced and/or enhanced by the physical and by our bodily experience.

One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis to the following effect [paraphrasing from memory here]:
So much of what passes for godliness is nothing more than a proper digestion and a good night's sleep.
It does not work the other way around, though, that what passes for a proper digestion and a good night's sleep is nothing more than godliness [or morality]. . . .

But perhaps this merely demonstrates my own bias in favor of the metaphysical, and my disenchantment with the Enlightenment Project, by which man seeks to elevate human reason and understanding to ultimate status.

*C.S. Lewis has another great thought regarding instinct, and the fact that relying upon it does not advance our understanding of the underlying matter: "to say that migratory birds find their way by instinct is only to say that we do not know how migratory birds find their way". . . .

C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (London: Fount Paperbacks, 1999 ed.)p. 21.

signs of life. . . .

I don't know why, but this post over at Garden Rant really cheered me up.

It's about a couple of birds that live inside the Denver International Airport. The article begins:
It's hard to describe the effect that three or four little birds can have on a group of bored, numbed-out, jet-lagged passengers.
It also features a poem. Which is pretty insightful, if jaded.

I guess I'm feeling a bit jaded today.

I'm not alone, it seems. A bunch of my writer-friends have posted 'I'm-down' posts. I don't know that I'm actually down, just a bit melancholy and thoughtful.

What I liked about the post is the reminder of how precious life is. And how delightful watching an ordinary sparrow looking for a meal can be. Even if it's just for a moment. Looks like I might go bird-watching today. . . .

PS - Brian Williams reported that this particular Monday in January is being called "Blue Monday" - historically showing a very high [the highest?] rate of suicides of any other day. . . . Here's the article Brian's story was based on.

Friday, January 18, 2008

one man's dream

Why does everyone 'love to hate' Yanni?

I'd never even heard his music and yet he was an object of derision. Maybe it's the hair.

But you know what? He writes beautiful melodies. What I want to know is how he gets to play his music at such amazing places. The Acropolis. The Taj Mahal. China's Forbidden City.

This is his song "One Man's Dream".


To add to your verbal arsenal:

jobbernowl (JOB-uh-nowl) noun
A blockhead.
[From French jobard (stupid, gullible), from Old French jobe (stupid) + noll (top or crown of the head).]

from Anu Garg (words at who will send you a word-a-day if you sign up.

"That he pays not the least regard to the requirements of convention marks him out as either a superior soul or a right down jobbernowl."

Soseki Natsume; I Am a Cat; Tuttle Publishing; 2002.

It's so close to Lewis Carrol's "jabberwocky" that I can't help but think of Alice in Wonderland when I see it, though. And I run the distinct risk of calling someone a jabberwock instead of a jobbernowl.

No worries. I'm sure they'll get the general idea.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

dreary = wrong

If your morals make you dreary, depend on it, they are wrong.
Robert Louis Stevenson, novelist, essayist, and poet (1850-1894)

Now there's a thought for you!

Granted, I think it's a dangerous thought for someone trying to talk himself out of doing the right thing. . . . but it's a freeing thought for someone chained to a deadening sense of duty; it's an ennobling thought for someone facing trying times.

Dreary sacrifice or courageous over-the-top gift?

Dreary attendance or breathless assignation?

Dreary shouldering of a burden or joyful embrace and carrying off of a prize?

We get to choose. Somehow. And yes, yes, yes: I recognize that I am dealing here more with motive rather than a so-called moral "content." Morality is not the same thing as rules.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday already

I don't know where the time goes. I really don't.

I couldn't tell you what I did yesterday. . . . well now, I guess I can, now that I stop to think about it. We started early. The king's chariot is troubled and had to go to the chariot-fixer. A new fixer of chariots, since the chariot dealer has been found wanting. Wanting way too much money and apparently incapable of fixing the problem.

The problem? The mysterious disappearance of coolant liquid.

The solution? According to the new fixer of chariots: a new radiator cap.

So that was the morning. Well, the car drop off and back home, where the king worked out of his home office.

You know what that means.

Upstairs to where I'm trying to get things done every half hour, at least.

What'cha doing?

I was trying to write. . . .

Ah. . . . well, um, when you get a minute. . . .

And so it would go. One rabbit trail involved the search for the ruler I admittedly took from his desk drawer and which then apparently fell down a rabbit hole, never to be seen again. I have looked everywhere for it, to no avail. The king decided to look in my studio for it.

You don't mind, do you?

No. Of course not.

Whereupon all mental work ceased while he stood in the middle of the room and made periodic forays to lift things up and look underneath.

What you should know to properly understand this picture is the utter futility of his hoping to find his ruler in my studio, given the current disarray of that space. There are stacks of books, papers, and Christmas wrapping paraphernalia everywhere. In the near corner you may find kitchen counter samples, supply catalogs and ripped-out pages from magazines of pictures I like of kitchens, baths, brick walls, castles, gardens - you name it!

In the far corner lives the art supplies and sewing boxes (two) and assorted to-go bags I've assembled for various projects in assorted ziplock baggies of varying sizes.

Knitting is [mostly] in the armoir, but a couple of projects have taken up residence in an overstuffed chair (along with the knitting needle case - a very cool orange Veuve Cliquot zipped carryall we got with the champagne we bought to replace the broken bottle of Dom Perignon the king brought along for our first trip to Puerto Rico together, but that's another story. Still, you can see a picture of where we went, here).

As you can see, just walking into this room is a very dangerous thing for a "creative" like me, not to mention an "excursive" like me! I get caught up by things that reach out and grab me, and get lost in knitting, or remembering, or imagining possibilities, or - like I did yesterday - in sorting through, discarding, filing, and organizing. (and trying to picture what our house-under-construction might actually look like. . .)

Then there was the try-to-get-an-actual-number out of two different kitchen suppliers - meaning an actual number for each thing, rather than one very large number for the whole project and then spend months trying to figure out just what it is that costs so much so that I can choose another option. Whenever I volunteer to give up something, though, it's always met with "Well, that's really not all that much."

Today, for example, after months of hearing how expensive the finishing package I had chosen was, I finally got the additional cost for the "distressing" I like. It is negligible. Seeded glass - on the other hand - I discovered is responsible for something like an extra $100 per pane! Clear glass they practically give away. I guess I'll learn to live without the little bubbles. . . .

But that's my job for today. An already it's after 11, and I've talked to my actual best friend who leaves tomorrow for St. Maartens (she usually comes with us to Puerto Rico, but I'm not in Puerto Rico, remember? sigh. . . .

But there's good news. I put in the application for a further research and teaching fellowship and I have been overwhelmed with the letters of recommendation I've gotten. You should see what Magda wrote! Man. I wrote her back to thank her and said that I would hire me, and I know better!

Then there's my buddy who I've known since he went to the Basic School at Quantico. He's a Lt. Colonel now and who (unbeknownst to me) is in the middle of some special operation in the middle East and took the time to do this for me. From the copy of the acknowledgment email I got, that alone spoke volumes to the person in charge of making the selection. . . .

You know what? If I don't even get an interview - I don't care. Not at this point.

Friday, January 11, 2008

thought: life and thinking

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

I have often wondered what we would look like if what we thought were somehow visible on our face. . . . In a way, though, it is. After years of thinking ugly thoughts, does it not show in the habitual scowl or snarl lines some people seem to wear?

Sorry - don't mean to make a political statement here, but hers was the easiest scowley face to find. . . .

Hillary doesn't look so bad when she smiles.

But you can still see those scowl marks in between her brows.

Then there are others who make you feel real friendly before they've ever said a word. I think it's the smile lines.

Of course, it's not easy to get a picture of someone who has laugh lines when they're not actually smiling. . . .

OK - so that's how we hold our faces. Or how we translate emotion into physical experience: tight-shouldered tension, sweaty nervousness, the tingle and flush of attraction. . . .

How about the content of our thoughts? What difference between - say - the one who thinks of nothing but the details of his next gourmand feast, and the one who dwells on how best to feed and clothe the poor and hungry?

Or the one who is obsessed with what she looks like, versus the one obsessed with her garden? Or his car? Her music? His stockmarket portfolio? Her track record?

Not to mention things like war, peace, education, criminal law, ecology, animal welfare, politics, God. . . .

Who knew "life" could be so complicated?

elvas update

Thought I'd forgotten, eh?

Oh no. It's impossible to forget these guys. They dominate the living room! Let's start again at the beginning. Day one:Several days later, the ptero hatchlings:Oops! Trouble in paradise. . . .These two want to be together:I guess three's a crowd. Fine. I'll just go off on my own.I think he likes television.Check it out - football! My favorite.The playoffs! The 'Skins lost. . . .Meanwhile, the other two have split up. One insists on standing upright. The other is doing an imitation of a reading light. I like that in a flower.Here's the overall picture: reading lamp to left; mr. upright in the center; football-friend to the right.

It's hard to get a good shot of the blossom straight on. Here's friend-o-football in profile to the right.

And yes, they do rather look like the picture on the cover (below).

I just can't figure out how that photographer got his blossoms to stay in such close proximity to one another. Mine won't have anything to do with anyone else. And don't be talking to me about the sun - we've got guys facing in every direction here, so rotating them to 'follow' the sun is clearly not an option.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

protection. . . .

I need someone to protect me from all the measures they take in order to protect me.

-Banksy, street artist (b. 1974)

The quote reference is from Word-A-Day, which I've written about before. Ok, referred to - anyway - before. . . .

I don't know who vets their quotes - all I can tell you is that they say that this is something Banksy said. . . . Then again, having done a bit of research on this guy (I'd never heard of him - sorry!) it appears that he keeps his identity a closely guarded secret so how could one put quotes around anything he has supposedly said?

Said as "Banksy", anyway.

As usual, I digress.

I was interested in "protection" from the political perspective, as we enter the ramped-up campaign heading to the elections this fall. Just what is the government reasonably expected to do to protect individuals, and from whom and from what.

Your assignment today: think about that.

Do I need, want, or expect "protection" from my family? My neighbor? My elected official? The nearby-living different-than-me group? Here's another "Banksy" streetscape (the one above, by the way, is called "Ratapult". . . . The one below, if you can't read the text, says: "How do we solve the crisis of youth crime? How do we get these kids to kill the right people?"

Here's another interesting observation: check out just how many products and companies advertise that they protect us - or that we need their protection. The one that particularly galls me is the life insurance company that says their insurance will "protect" me.

Protect me?!

I don't think so.

Not unless that word means a whole new thing these days.

But hey - I've met a pretty cool thinker and image maker today already through this flight of fancy. I figure it's a good day, even if that's all that happens today. . . . But it's not even 10 yet. I've got some time, Lord willing. Maybe I should go eat some "protective" cereal and put on my "protection" face cream. Then I'll go read up on how the politicos now leaving New Hampshire are planning to "protect" me if I will vote for them in November.

This is serious business. I think it calls for one more Banksy. Somebody get me outta here!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

another day. . . .

It is as I suspected.

Today is another day. A better day than the one that ended yesterday, but maybe that's just because the day is still mostly ahead of me, and I still see hope and promise in it. Whereas yesterday was a bit of a trial, and - finite ridiculous person that I am - I am not able to see the benefit of trials and other beset-ments. . . .

At the same time, I am dimly aware that it is these very besetting difficulties endured, that has made me who I am. How is it that we are most shaped by difficulties, rather than by whimsies and delights? But perhaps there is someone who can make the case for character-shaping delights?


I thought not.

Hedonists seem always hedonistic as a remainder - namely because it doesn't really "matter" so you might as well enjoy yourself - rather than as a goal. The "teacher" of Ecclesiastes did pursue pleasure at one point in his quest to find meaning, but found none there. Of course, he found none - really - anywhere else, either, in human pursuits anyway. . . .

WARNING: I suspect theological content lurking ahead. . . . a premonition, perhaps, from the Ecclesiastes reference that sprung - unbidden - to mind. But maybe not. We'll have to see, eh?

Now. Where was I? Right: better day. Or another day, anyway.

I'm coming back around to "good"/"bad" orientations in a philosophical and theological sense. Isn't it quite amazing to consider the judgment involved in saying whether a day is either "good" or "bad"?! I, who have neither made nor contributed to making [or receiving] any day at all, presuming to judge in advance? Or even after the fact!

Quite astonishing.

This is not to say, however, that the exercise of "judgment" is "bad". I have little time for people who mouth the "Who am I to judge?" platitude, when talking about lying, cheating, stealing, killing, even plain old simple bad manners - etc.

I'm just saying that it might a good idea to consider my framework as I judge, and to recognize my limitations. I am fully capable of judging - and condemning - rudeness, violence, cruelty, manipulation, all sorts of things, under the appropriate circumstances. But there are perhaps times when that judgment is better suspended, like perhaps when I don't what I think I want right now, or even when I don't get to go to the islands as usual [poor pitiful me], or - more seriously - when suffering; sickness; violence; rejection. Or maybe it's better for me to say that - rather than suspend judgement - I should be open to seeing also what good can come out of even the "bad".

I am NOT in any way here arguing [as apparently Paul's audience did in - ah - the book of Romans, I think it was] that we should go out and do evil so that good will result!

Suffering and the problem of evil is the philosophical fault-line where it seems all thought systems break down. . . .

Consider this: the tree that caused all the trouble in the garden of Eden was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Interesting, eh? "Knowing" evil - at this point - I can't imagine not knowing it. . . . And therein is perhaps one way of understanding the "death" promised to any who ate from that tree: namely the death of the not-knowing.

Well! That'll tie my thoughts up in knots for a while! Better get moving, I think. I have a weathervane to order - and finials. Here's the weathervane we've chosen - the banner. I like it!

It's a whimsy.

Not character-shaping.

But perhaps an indication of how that character has been shaped?

[to be continued. . . .one day. . . .maybe. . . .]
P.S. I have nothing against pleasure. In fact, I like it a lot! Further, I think that how we deal with pleasure is one of the "church's" biggest fault-lines where they break down. Chocolat is one of my favorite movies. Not because it's anti-intellectual (as the reviewer seems to think is necessary, in order to enjoy sensual experience) but because it does not deny the wonderful pleasures of food, drink, taste, laughter, music, love, dance. . . . I begin to think that religious "worship" is very puny indeed because they don't "get it" - but that leads to another whole big discussion, fraught with the danger of (you guessed it) empty hedonism. Full circle. We're pretty much right back where we started.

But the danger of hedonism is way too much for me to take on before noon.

music therapy - the lullaby

Ravel's Pavanne for a dead princess

This is a nice interpretation by a pianist I don't know. . . .

And this is the closest thing I can think of to a lullaby for a grown-up. (although you'd better be asleep before that last chord sounds, or it'll wake you up again!)

I listened to this over and over again when my official best friend's mother died. Years ago now. I don't really know why I love it so, or why it calms me.

I think I can sleep now.

nothing to say. . . .

I have nothing to say - really - but I can probably say it in 500 words or more. Dissertation-speak, you know. Actually, I've gotten a bit out of the dissertation habit and I fear I have not yet entered into the viva voce read-and-get-into-the-dissertation-defense mind set.

But I don't want to talk about that.

The pressure ought to build up enough in a week or so to the point where I'll have no choice but to talk about it, but I've still got a coupla days of dissimulation left in me. . . . Meanwhile, I'm not sleeping well, and - when I do sleep - I'm dreaming wierd dreams, like the one the day before yesterday, which involved airlifted elephants floating overhead, and the threat of one of them being lowered on me. As Dave Barry says: "I am not making this up." Or at least I'm not making up the fact that I dreamt about it. . . .

The long-awaited house is finally being built: we have a foundation, and actual walls now. Today, we had to make the final decision on the roof shingle. Don't ask. Do you have any idea how many different shades of gray they have for roofing tiles?!

I'm feeling a little sorry for myself because the rest of my family leaves tomorrow for our usual 2 weeks down in the islands. "We" decided that, because of the ongoing construction and the fact that next month I have to travel to Ireland for the viva, we ought to forego the usual trip the first 2 weeks of January. And it makes perfect sense - don't get me wrong - but I am still trying not to whine about it. Here, let me show you what I'm missing.There now. Don't you feel sorry for me?


Somehow I didn't think you would.

The good news is that it's supposed to be 70 degrees tomorrow. No beaches. No palm trees. But at least I won't be freezing for the next couple of days!

Well now, on that positive note, let me end and then see if I can go get some sleep free from dropping elephants. tomorrow's a whole 'nother day, with building materials to select, price and order, a trip out to the site, and then a funeral. . . .

Hoo buoy. Well that positive note was short lived. No worries though. Tomorrow's another day. Thank God.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

what I learned. . . .

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it -- and stop there -- lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again, and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Actually overheard: "Oh I never read anymore. I had to read so much during the war [note: that would be the Second World War. . . .] that I said to myself when it was over that I would never read again."

This, from an 83 year old woman whose husband died a year ago. Her chief complaints? She's lonely (1); she's bored (2). But hey, she had a bad experience reading over 60 years ago so she's never gone back.

I don't understand.

Then again, there are probably equally ridiculous "lessons" I have taken to heart for myself, never questioning the ridiculousness of conclusion I have adopted from the experience I went through. I just don't see them. Or not yet, anyway. . . .

day one. . . .

a new year. Amazing!

Resolutions? I've never been big on them, myself. But it occurs to me that if you fail to aim at anything, you'll hit it every time. . . . Hit nothing, that is.

Better to aim for something.

My "resolution" is to start walking every day. We're hoping to get a dog when the house is built, and I'd thought to use that as an excuse motivation to walk every day. But I think now that that won't do at all. If I won't walk for myself, I won't walk because of the dog. I'll just kick him out the back door when he has to go, and/or stand around, tapping my foot, until he's done his "business". Not a good way to bond either with the dog or to incorporate daily exercise and fresh air into my system!

So: walkabout is on, PRE-canine, in the hopes that it will endure, post-canine-arrival.

Here's where we walked today, out at the greenwood. I never tire of it.