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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Puppies Sleeping

My blog stats show that puppies in a square container (I don't want to skew a google search with a false lead, so I can't say that word that starts with "b" and ends with "x") are super popular. I wonder if puppies sleeping will be too.

These are wire-haired fox terrier puppies sleeping, and shamefully, I don't know the original source. (...of the picture, I mean. Obviously, sleeping puppies are from Jesus, like Sheldon Cooper's intelligence.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What are you looking for?

NOTE: Scroll down for puppies.

LEFT: Snape icon from a snapierthanthou (a very old LJ)

Oh, no. I've never added a site meter to my blog because it could trigger obsession. And now Blogger has gone and added a "Stats" tab. (Seems they started in June 2010? But I only recently noticed.)
Sure enough, I'm riveted.

My favorite is checking the search terms. I've even taken to going back into posts that get hit a lot and beefing them up. The Dumbledore slash post [link below], for instance, was pretty paltry, so I added a couple pix.

Here're some of today's Search Keywords.
I've linked them to their respective posts.

pictures of puppies in a box
[This search turns up every day. Kinda gives you hope for humanity. The content of my post is actually about slash, but yup, it's illustrated with puppies in boxes... can't remember why now.]

shelley winters looking fat
[mostly the young SW not looking fat, actually, but there is one of her from The Poseidon Adventure. Still, I didn't add any because, frankly, I didn't like the way they asked the question.]

box of puppies [see above]

grace lee whitney images
[I.e. Janice Rand on Star Trek. Of course I have these, though nothing unusual. So... let's add Grace Lee Whitney in Some Like It Hot (1959), no kidding! via Flattland]


"dumbledore slash" [New and Improved]

"i want to go to berlin"
[Indeed, the exact title of my post, in fact, and, in this case, WYSIWYG.]

"the lives of others" poem
[Another regular. I already knew people searched for this, because it's the only post where people who've found it have thanked me in the comments---something nice about people who like this poem, perhaps? And so I'd beefed it up with some links and pix quite a while ago.]

alaska that big wild good life teeming along the
[The original NBC video of Shatner reciting some of Palin's speech had expired, so I found another one on youTube]

I was amazed, too, at how many pageviews l'astronave gets. As I figured, a dozen-plus-some regularly read my new posts (hi guys!), but hundreds view some old post every day (389 yesterday--- 998 (!) hits on September 16, a day I posted nothing. (Was that a particularly glum day around the world, and everyone stayed in and looked at puppies?)

I cannot credit my fine sensibilities, of course: the post with puppies-in-a-box is the most popular:
2,519 pageviews between June 1 and now.

OK... so I'd better add a puppy in a box here too, in case someone comes looking.
Would a wagon do? These are wire-haired fox terrier pups, via Whatley

Wow--here's a find, from the Tacoma Public Library Image Archive.
Date: ca. 1936 (This puppies-in-a-box thing must be atavistic.)
Description: Five Scottish Terrier puppies in a box on a high-back, winged, over-stuffed leather chair.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Cloudy Brain

Here's where to send/drop off the archbishop's DVD, if you get one: DVD to ART.

Now Wordle will make a word cloud of your blog, though only the most recent posts, I guess, judging by this result. Anyway, this is an accurate picture of what's been on my mind ever since bink started her DVD to ART project last Thursay. In fact, I'm zonked from all the hubbub and am going to put on my jammies, watch the 1999 BBC David Copperfield, with Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), which I've never seen, and eat chocolate cake from Tom T.

Monday, September 27, 2010

bink, and her little dog too!

Here's bink talking on TV news about her DVD to ART Project. (More info in post below.) That's her little dog Joop running around!



Here's where to send/drop off the archbishop's DVD, if you get one: DVD to ART

I had to miss a big-screen showing of the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers to see this on TV. I whined a little about that ("why couldn't they air your story tomorrow?"), but it was worth it.
And the themes are eerily similar. Life forms that turn people into mindless drones... "They're here! They're here!"Kevin McCarthy and a Space Pod. Via this review.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spin Me Round

Here's where to send/drop off the archbishop's DVD, if you get one: DVD to ART.

OK, I get it now.
Like it, don't like it, Facebook works.


1. On Thursday, my BFF bink created a Facebook group DVD to ART. She wrote:
"On 9/22 the archbishop [ John C. Nienstedt, of Minneapolis and St. Paul] mailed Catholics a DVD warning that if Minnesota legalizes same-sex marriage, the sky will fall.
RESIST your temptation to return the DVD; toss it; use it as a frisbee! Give me your DVDs and I’ll recycle them into art: transforming a message of fear into hope."
2. Within 24 hours, Andy Birkey of local news site Minnesota Independent had posted "Minnesotan seeks to creatively reuse Catholic church’s anti-gay marriage DVDs", and Hart Van Denburg of City Pages posted "Archbishop John Nienstedt's anti-gay DVD becomes art fodder":
"An Artist in Residence at the Basilica of St. Mary, [bink] says she wants to take the negative message from the archbishop and transform it into something completely new, inclusive and positive. "I don't really want it to be "anti" anything," she said. "I want it to be a different message." [italics mine]

3. And on Saturday, less than 48 hours after bink first posted DVD to ART, the pastor of the Basilica of Saint Mary called bink in and "suspended" her from her role as Artist in Residence, which she'd held for fifteen years.

bink knew this would be the outcome if/when word got out about her art project, and she was willing to accept that. (It just happened really fast.) 

She blogged, "I'm both startled and humbled to find that I've join the ranks of people before me who been silenced or ousted, one by one, for disagreeing with the church.
Maybe in 500 years, I, like Galileo, will get my suspension lifted."

Galileo tattoo from Discover Magazine
Eppur si muove means "And yet it moves" in Italian. Galileo supposedly muttered this phrase in 1633 after the Inquisition forced him to recant his knowledge that Earth moves around the Sun.
_______________

I'm stunned at the speed of it all. It's one thing to spend the summer reading about social networking, another to experience its power personally.

I'm also stunned to witness up close and personal--once again--the brutal way the Catholic Church metes out its peculiar brand of justice: 
Bam! You're outta here. No appeals, no recourse, no nothing.

I am not normally given to patriotism, but the Church makes me want to kiss the U.S. flag in gratitude for the ideals it represents: ideals like free speech, checks and balances on power, due process. 

Yeah, we Americans don't always live up to them, but by god, at least in theory we hold them dear. 
The Church does not.

I love the Church, though, as a repository of some of humanity's most amazing stories.
They are the stories that inspire bink to respond to the archbishop's DVDs with love and creativity.

In the long run, I believe, that response is made of the stuff that truly has the power to transform.
Not the speedy change of Facebook, but the low, slow work of evolution.
And if we're going to survive, we have to evolve.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
--Charles Darwin
_________
Michael Bayly at The Wild Reed blog also wrote about bink's and other responses to the archbishop's DVDs:
"What To Do With the MN Bishops' DVD", and "Local Catholics Seek to "Create Some Good Out of an Unfortunate Situation"".
_________
TOP image: "Saint Jerome Writing" by Caravaggio
Gutenberg's Bible was the Vulgate, largely Jerome's Latin translation.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Get Published. Step #1.

1. Write something worth publishing.

There you have it.

I went to a "How to Get Published" presentation this evening, and that was the presenter's first tip.
Quite right too.

The other tips boiled down to:

2. Send it off.
3. Get rejected.
4. Repeat.

I guess I knew that. I'm thinking about doing this but probably won't, not until I finish my Project. But you could!

Here're the resources from the handout: Online Resources for Publishing Short Works: Poems, Short Stories, and Essays

Duotrope's Digest: an award-winning, free writers' resource listing over 3075 current Fiction and Poetry publications.
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Lit Mag Central
Newpages

Contests and Calls for Submissions
Poets and Writers Magazine
Publisher's Weekly

And... how to write a great query letter to an agent (this is a download):

Query Letters

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Friend me.

If you want, please, friend me on Facebook.

I am grieving that I can't spend all morning blogging
...about my orange rotary phone, for instance.
It's a Northern Telecom Doodle phone (it has a place for a doodle pad), from the 1970s.

Knowing my interest in Star Trek-y design, PG sent it to me for my birthday but I never used it until now, when my touch-tone died. (I don't have a cell.)
It does nothing but send and receive calls, and I love it.

But I have got to clear my brain so I can write about communications for work instead, having put it off for weeks.
I don't know about other people, but when I'm writing something, I have to turn my entire thinking apparatus over to it.

If I take a break to blog, I lose the train of thought and have to start all over again.

But FB doesn't break my concentration. It's more like chatting in the hall with a coworker, on the way to the bathroom. Just a bit of light friendliness.

What I wrote today:

15 minutes ago:
"I like how FBing peppers the day with time-wasting opportunities, insead of the whale-steak amount of time blogging requires. (I miss blogging though.)"

11 minutes ago:
"Correction: When I say 'time-wasting' of course I mean healthful socialzting... They say people with lots of social connections live longer. (Not sure if talking to oneself counts.)"

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, bink! Part 1


Happy Birthday, bink! ! !
I hope you get cake sometime today.

P.S. You know I'd have made a longer story, but I have to work on my Project...

Happy Birthday, bink! *PART 2*

Photobucket


A Documentary about My Life

"Project", via Margaret (by the same guy who did "Procrastination")

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stretch Your Mind: The Last Wave




I hadn't seen The Last Wave (Australia, dir. Peter Weir) since it came out in 1977.

You never know, when you go back to a movie (or anything) that stunned you with its excellence when you were young, if you'll cringe in affectionate embarrassment for your younger
self. (Personal case in point: Women in Love, and anything else connected with D. H. Lawrence.) Or if it'll just be dated and boring.

The Last Wave still astonishes.

The film is wonderfully weird. It gives the mysteries of the subconscious their due; it doesn't seek to tidy them up.
And while it shows that some traditional cultures can find their way in the dark better than high-tech culture can, it doesn't tidy them up either.

The main character, played by Richard Chamberlain, is a tidy-minded white corporate lawyer in Sydney who takes on a legal-aid case defending a group of Aborigines.
His dreams are unsettled, full of disturbing, prophetic images he can't understand.

The weather all over Australia has been strange. Hail falls in the outback.


Sydney is deluged with rain, day after day.The lawyer starts seeing apocalyptic images of the city underwater.

This is a gorgeous film, and it calls on film to do what it can do so well: use images and sound--including the unplaceable sound of the didgeridoo--to tell the story. Words are back up. The movie is narrative--there's a linear plot and everything--but its feels dreamlike.

(This past summer's Inception is the opposite. Ostensibly about dreams, it relies on the characters' words to explain everything. You feel like you're inside a video game--with detailed instructions. In fact, Inception is not a movie about dreams; it's a caper/heist flick. A fun one too! But it has more in common with Ocean's 11 than with
The Last Wave.)

Through one of the
defendants (David Gulpilil, right, of Walkabout fame),
Chamberlain's character realizes he is
tapping into a way of perception that Aborigines call dreamtime.
Its laws have absolutely nothing to do with tax law, and they draw Chamberlain farther and farther down-- into himself, his fears, and his city, until he follows Gulpilil through the sewers under Sydney to an ancient sacred site.

You can see the story as a warning about the power of Nature, which we ignore to our detriment---global warming, for instance, tsunamis, oil volcanos, the floods in Pakistan.

Or it may be (both can be true) that the story is not meant literally; possibly, the weirdness is all happening in Chamberlain's mind.
The movie could be depicting one man's breakdown as his rational self is flooded by his subconscious. His dreams, so long repressed, like the sites under Sydney, come to the surface when he meets the Aboriginal man who is fluent in the irrational.
(The weather is just the weather.)
The whole thing could be a picture about what might happen when someone so deeply wedded to logic is forced to confront the irrational.

This is no Dances with Wolves, where the nice sympathetic hero from the dominant culture fits tidily into a wildly different way of being.
It explores the limits, rather, of how far a person's mind could stretch beyond their safe reality before it snapped.
How much warping of our perceived reality--the illusion that we have everything under control, for instance--can we tolerate?

Do we really want to know what would happen if the plumbing broke?
_____________

The director leaves it up to the viewer to determine what's going on. It's a film, not a sermon. But if you want to know more about what he was thinking, read this interview with Peter Weir, by Judith Kass, or watch this special feature, below, included on the Criterion Collection DVD.

Btw, I note that Weir's good with water. He directed Master and Commander too.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sepia Saturday


Sepia Saturday: 1913, Houston, Missouri

RIGHT: My mother's mother, Meribel Covert (married name, Davis)
LEFT: Her cousin Fern Owsley Hines

I'm busy writing, or, rather, avoiding writing, which takes just as much (more?) time.
I miss blogging...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cats Are Stardust Too


(Via icanhascheezburger.com. Not mine.)
Currently housesitting three cats. Helps to remember we're all children of the universe when I try to give one her pill...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Movies I've Walked Out Of, No. 4: Avatar

I didn't walk out of Avatar after two of its three hours because I was offended politically, spiritually, or grammatically on behalf of indigenous cultures around the world, as some people were.
I even thought it was kind of fun to pick out the cultural references: Hey! It's the Maori! ...Massai! ...Marines!

I walked out because it was too long, too predictable, too much the self-indulgent project of someone with enough money and power to ignore any checks and balances on his story.

But I think I might have liked it when I was fourteen, the year, godforgiveme, I loved The Trial of Billy Jack.

You know that movie?
It was pretty vivid, I guess, because I remember it fairly well.

It follows the same formula Avatar and Dances with Wolves do:
faux Native guy outperforms Native folk in noble hearted one-with-the-Earthness. Except it also manages to preach nonviolence while serving up lots of Billy Jack's righteous ass-kicking. You get to enjoy this yet accept that Billy truly believes in a Higher Way. It's just that the bad guys are so bad, it makes him crazy.
Come to think of it, that was kind of fun too: you got to have your Gandhi cake and eat Malcolm X cake too.

I don't think these stories are necessarily evil, even when they're lies. They're what Star Trek circles call Mary Sue stories.

"Mary Sue", in a fan-written story, is a young female civilian plunked onboard the Enterprise for some reason. The captain (or whomever the author prefers) falls in love with her, for her incredible pluck, beauty, and uncanny knowledge of warp speed, which saves the day.

Mary Sues represent their authors (and her readers), of course.

Billy Jack and the Avatar guy are Mary Sue-esque fantasy figures.
Where these "let me imagine myself the hero of the tale" fantasies bug me is
1. when they sell themselves as history, or,
2. when they're crap storytelling.

Kevin Costner's character in Dances with Wolves is a Mary Sue too, and the movie's set in a real place and time, with some real characters.
But it's not exactly accurate, at that.
As Paul Chaat Smith writes in "Land of a Thousand Dances" [1]:
"[The film] is based on a novel and a screenplay about Comanches, and then shifted to South Dakota only after the production designer––and this is kind of poignant––finds a shortage of buffalo in Oklahoma. And not a single Comanche or Kiowa character, some based on actual historical figures, is changed.
I mean, yo, Kevin, Mike [Blake, writer]: saying Ten Bears is Sioux is like saying Winston Churchill is Albanian.

In the movies you can do anything... but don't toss out bouquets for service to the struggle and for historical truth."
Now, I live next door to South Dakota, and an installment in the Indian Wars between the U.S. government and Native peoples took place there when I was twelve, at the Wounded Knee siege in 1973.

I know Hollywood is all about entertainment, of course, but I cringe when Kevin Costner gives this history the Mary Sue treatment.

If it's not your history, these faux-historical movies feel like fantasy. I wonder if I'd love The Lives of Others so much, or at all, if I were East German.
We're supposed to fall in love with this Stasi guy who has destroyed countless lives because he is moved to tears by a piece of music?
Give me a break!

But to me, who has about as much personal connection to East Germany as I do to the LA Lakers (I don't even know what sport they play), Lives is a moral fairy tale spinning the happy message that Art Changes Hearts.
I love that, even though I doubt whether it's exactly true. And I'm not about to believe I know anything about East Germany because I own the DVD.

Anyway, Avatar.
It's sci-fi, not history, so I was willing to go lightly. If the movie had been 90 minutes, I'd have enjoyed it. But as it was, it reminded me of when I was a kid and my father would predict, stopped at a traffic light, exactly when the light was going to turn green.
I thought he had some kind of magic.
Once I figured out the trick, the magic disappeared.

Before Avatar even starts, you know when the stoplights are going to change, of course. It uses an old formula, which can work well, but you gotta dress it up with other stuff--character, say--or else you're just sitting at a red light.

What movies do best, I believe, is tell a story. True, false, whatever, everything in the movie ideally should serve the story. As I recall, Dances with Wolves and Billy Jack both did that pretty well, whether I liked the movies or not.

But Avatar didn't tell its story well. It dragged on and on because, I suspected, the director was in love with his own young self. And all the pretty plants on Pandora couldn't keep me interested in James Cameron at fifteen.
I didn't leave because I was outraged.
I left because I was bored.
_________
[1] Paul Chaat Smith, Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong, University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

Smith writes: "...it’s a book title, folks, not to be taken literally. Of course I don’t mean everything. Just Most Things. And the You really means We, as in all of Us."


[Other movies I've walked out of.]

Monday, September 13, 2010

Britney/Kirk Break

Whenever I get thinking too hard for too long, my brain starts to go flat like old champagne and I have to take a break and aerate it again with something like this:
"Star Trek-Circus"

Dances with Shawls

Watching The Business of Fancydancing was sort of an antidote to thinking about Dances with Wolves.
Sherman Alexie, who wrote Smoke Signals, made the movie, based on a book of his poems.

It's about three men who grew up together on the Spokane reservation and how their friendships change when one of them leaves and gains some fame in the white world. (Just like Alexie did.)

It's complex and funny and requires a little care. I got more out of the commentary and "Making Of" features than I usually do.

For instance, the main character, Seymour (Evan Adams, "Thomas" in Smoke Signals), is a gay Native American poet. We see shots of him dancing, swooping (like an eagle, we might think, if we're in Indians-are-one-with-the-Earth mode) with cloth spread across his shoulders and arms.

Alexie explains in the "Making Of" that this is an in-joke: Seymour is dancing the shawl dance, intended for women only.
(The dance in the preview below is not a shawl dance, obviously.)

There are no wolves in this movie.
There is a gay chicken.

The voice-over is from this poem: "How to Write the Great American Indian Novel" by Sherman Alexie, from The Summer of Black Widows.

Read the poem
"The Business of Fancydancing" to get the title.



Saturday, September 11, 2010

Movies I've Walked Out Of, No. 3: Dances with Wolves


I just came up with this guideline for myself:

Watch out for movies that center on a majestic wild animal/indigenous person befriending a domesticated hero.

Are these stories ever anything but emotional porn that strokes our "I'm wild at heart" pleasure centers (but don't need to give up any comforts)?
Or romantic schlock seducing us with the idea that a wolf would recognize us as a kindred spirit (if only it got the chance)?

After watching such movies, I leave the theater full of nostalgia for wildness, yet oddly stupified.
And dirty, as if I've just paid to be lied to about what a sensitive soul I am, and how therefore it's not my fault that bad things happen to wild things. Which, of course, I have.

The icky secret is that there's a lot of pleasure in feeling fellowship with oppressed wild things--from a distance.
We feel pleased with ourselves:
We are so sensitive.
We are so superior.
We are so... safe.

As with horror movies--we enjoy the elevated emotion because we're safe.
Except I don't enjoy it when I cry over a story I know is a lie.

Twenty years ago, I walked out of Dances with Wolves when the film was almost over, after Kevin Costner has joined with the Indians, to avoid just that.
I knew was coming:
a sentimental slaughter that would leave me emotionally devastated yet weirdly self-satisfied.

I hate this, but it's harmless enough, I guess, if we don't buy the luscious lie that we are exempt from responsibility for wearing furs because we weep for the wolf. Or buy that one side is wholly good and the other wholly bad.

It's so tempting to buy that, and so easy to overlook the implications.
A guy recently told me, for instance, he had no sympathy for the white farmers in Zimbabwe killed by black people taking over their land. In his eyes, it was a simple matter of justice being done--outraged innocence avenged. And he got to feel good about himself for being on the side of justice.

I told him if he felt that way about land redistribution, I'm sure he could find a local Ojibwe family to give his house to.
He did not feel moved to do so.

Well, neither do I. But I don't want to be reassured that I'm off the hook because I cry for the beloved country.
__________

When I walked out of Dances with Wolves years ago, I wasn't particularly thinking about the cultural politics of race, I just didn't want to be emotionally jerked around against my will.

But recently, I came across this wonderful article:
which puts Dances in its larger context. Here's that bit:

[Churchill is talking here about movies like Little Big Man where the hero is a sensitive white guy who sees the evil other white men, like Custer, do to Indians.]

Always, these highly personalized embodiments of evil [e.g. Custer] were counterbalanced by the centrality of sympathetic white characters... with whom Euroamerican viewers might identify.

Always, the Indians in such films serve as mere plot devices intended mainly to validate the main white characters' alleged sensitivities, and to convey forgiveness to "good" (i.e., most) whites for the misdeeds of their "bad" (i.e., atypical or "deviant") peers.

Although one can readily imagine the response had Hollywood opted to depict the European Holocaust of the 1940s in a similar fashion (albeit Steven Spielberg comes uncomfortably close with Schindler's List) the convention has been adhered to vis-à-vis the American Holocaust with almost seamless precision for the past twenty-five years. Most recently, it has been manifestly evident in Kevin Costner's 1990 epic, Dances With Wolves...

[White audiences]...in first being led to demonize men like Custer, and then helped to separate themselves from them via the signification of characters like... Costner's Lt. Dunbar, are made to feel simultaneously "enlightened" (for having been "big" or open enough to concede that something ugly had occurred) and "good about themselves" (for being so different from those they imagine the perpetrators to have been).

[end Churchill]

Oh, yeah. Schindler's List. I'd probably have walked out on that film too, if I'd gone to see it. Spielberg is a master pimp of the simple-minded, feel-good emotional lie.


[Other movies I've walked out of.]

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Camino: Start all over again.


My first 50th birthday present, six months early:
Joanna gave me a $1,000 travel certificate, to go to London to mark my completion of half a century in 2011.

She earned it by giving up her seat on a flight home this summer, thus being forced to spend the night for free in a swank hotel.
(How come they never offer these swaps when I fly?)

With her amazing gift, I got thinking I could do a different trip instead:
I could walk the Camino de Santiago again, as I did when I turned 40.

(The actual time on the road is cheap--hostels are about 5 euro/night, and besides food, there's nothing to buy ...and you wouldn't want to carry it if there was.)

bink could scrabble together frequent flier miles to go again too. Yesterday she made our reservations to Madrid. So, we're going, in May.

Here I am, dusting off my old backpack.

When I walked at 40, I said maybe I'd walk the pilgrimage every decade. But for a long time, I had no interest. (It's uncomfortable, to begin with.)
But now I do.
Not sure why.
Not particularly for spiritual reasons, like the first time. Maybe something more like wanting to shake off the dusty answers of this past decade.
Even if just to make room for fresh dust.


____________
Here's Fred pretending he can't dance–
"Maybe by the time I'm fifty/ I'll get up and do a nifty..."
– so he can woo Ginger, who sings "Pick Yourself Up" (dust yourself off, start all over again).

Monday, September 6, 2010

From the Files of Lytton V. Davis: Apple Crisp

I opened my mother's recipe box for the first time since her death almost 8 years ago. Full of comments and credits to people long gone, it was more her memory than her letters. 
("Aunt Florence's Sun Preserves –– Good!")
She'd jotted an Apple Crisp recipe on the back of a note from her mother (my grandmother):
"I've so much I want to do that I'm practically dizzy! 
Too tired to work tonight. I promise myself tomorrow. Have a cup of coffee tea? with me.
Love & thank you!! Mother"


I well remember her making this. Today I followed her recipe (below), with apples from the farmers' market. 



Apple Crisp

–butter a deep baking dish
–put in 
5 cups peeled, sliced tart apples
1/2 cup water
–in a bowl mix (w/fork)
1 c flour
1/2 c oats
1/2 c sugar, white or brown [1 T molasses + white sugar = brown]
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t ginger
1/2 c butter (1 stick)
1/4 t salt
spread mix over apples

Bake 350 degrees about 45 min.



Friday, September 3, 2010

Learning to Give the Physical World Its Due

PLATO: It is the things of the mind that matter.

ARISTOTLE: These steps here, bud? If you don't watch where you're going, they are going to break your mystical ass.
_____________
I was unreasonably angry at myself for spilling coffee on my laptop yesterday. I think I was mostly angry because I got caught out for ignoring the messages the physical world's been sending the past couple years.

Little warning messages like:
"Dear Fresca,
Please be advised, if you continue to perch china items on the edge of counters, you will continue to bump them occasionally and they will continue to fall off and break.

Yours sincerely,
The Court of Physical Reality"
You know the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator? It goes into the storage spaces of your psychology and tallies up how many of what kind of dry goods, canned/bottled goods, spices, and cleaning products you've got in there, and how you organize them.

Results indicates, among other things, whether your approach to the world is more intuitive/Platonic (N) or sensory/Aristotelean (S).
My results have always come back S FAIL.
In other words, I break a lot of dishes.

Mostly my approach to the physical world has been to keep contact to a minimum. But there is so
very much of it... in the long run, that tactic wasn't serving me so well.

Myers Briggs (and your barista) point out that at midlife, people may start to stock up on types of goods they've lacked.
All of a sudden, they're buying turmeric and coriander. Or turning a cupboard into a shrine to Mary. 

Or, in my case, just this summer I'd begun to think maybe I should Be More Careful about physical things. Those messages were starting to come stamped PAST DUE in red ink.

So it was very galling to blunder physically in such a potentially major (expensive) way, just when I'd become willing to change.

But that's just the point:
I feel as if the desire to change, which is a Platonic factor, should be sufficient, whereas sensory things (like china) need S attention.

So, I don't hate myself this morning, I'm just humbled by the reminder that my computer doesn't care what my intentions are, it cares how I act.

Mind the gap.
____________

Painting: "School of Athens," by Raphael

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bugger. Bugger, bugger, bugger.

I hate myself.
I did The Very Bad Thing.
I spilled coffee across my laptop's keyboard.

I'm terribly careless about physical things--they seem so very... optional--so perhaps it was inevitable, but I managed to go 18 years without screwing this up. Till this morning.

I hate myself a little bit less because at least I intuitively did what the Apple Genius-bar guy told me was the perfect thing:
turned the compter off, unplugged it, and set it upside down (open, of course).

Then I biked it to Apple (thankful a store opened this summer nearby, in Uptown), where they took the bottom off and saw the coffee had only dampened the start button, not something supersensitive like the hard drive, so once it thoroughly dries out it'll probably be OK. Or not. But the guy said to wait 3-7 days before starting it, so any dampness doesn't short out the electronics.

The guy was sweet and said, "It'll be OK. You have good karma."
I suppose he says that to everyone, but it effectively calmed me down anyway.

I'm using my first laptop now, my 6-year-old iBook G4. I love it like an old friend, but I have to reset the time and calendar every time I turn it off, so I'm not going to turn it off for a week. Also sometimes the connection blinks out when I open and shut it, so I'm leaving it sitting open.

And I hate myself a little less again because I took myself out for 2 iced Vietnamese coffees and finished reading A Partisan's Daughter, by Louis de Bernières, a very good novel about about a young Yugoslavian woman in 1970s London, which restored some of my perspective.
Coffee on the keyboard?
#1stWorldProblem

But I'm still not ready to forgive myself.