Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Amazing Story of Prisoner 00235 and His Escape from Burma continued ...

So, imprisoned for nothing, Htein Lin continues to be the artist he is. Word gets around. Another prisoner working in the office manages to get him some enamel paint. When that was gone, Lin used the color dyes used for staining the doormats made in the prison, or color powder left over from a Hindu festival.

Lacking tools, he would often just use his bare hands to apply any medium, though he also found toothpaste and medicine bottle lids, toothbrushes, and cigarette lighters helpful.He realized the long white cotton prison outfits would be useful, and he would buy them from prisoners being released for 10 cigarettes. His family brought him a tarpaulin to sleep on, and he used that to paint on, gradually tearing off strip after strip.

What survives of what he created from all this is amazing. Some paintings provide a striking account of life inside the prison: prisoners shackled, lining up for food, waiting on death row. Some are of mega-themes like the eclipse and the millenium.

Lin hid his paintings in his bedroll until he could smuggle them out with friends or family, often bribing the guards. Not everything survives, because, for example, one warder took the money, opened the paintings, assumed they were elaborate escape maps, and burnt them all.

Not to mention that, after a government purge led to a review of thousands of cases, when he finally got out of prison in November 2004 (for his escape is not from prison, but from danger later), his wife (whom he later divorced) turned out to have sold all the paintings he had done on paper to a scrap paper merchant for recycling!

Still, the work done on the prison uniforms survives, and was to be Lin's key to freedom. But how is still an amazing story ... check in tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Amazing Story of Prisoner 00235 and His Escape From Burma

There is so much horror in the world: Darfur, Iraq, decapitations on video in Germany, the anniversary of 9/11, drug deaths, so much, so much. Maybe that's why I'm also glad occasionally to hear of the flowering of life somewhere, too.

Though I grant you, this one is amazing. I mean, have you ever been reading some novel or other and you hit one fantastic plot twist too many? I've even thrown the book across the room, muttering, or shouting, "Oh, come ooooonnnnn!!"

To be more accurate, I used to do that. Until I'd lived long enough to see that, no matter how amazing the plot turns the novellists come up with, they can't approach real life for weird wonderfulness.

Take the true story of Prisoner 00235 in Burma. Locked up for 6 and a half years in a Burmese military prison.

His crime? None. Just the fact that his name showed up on a list other people thought they might contact.

Born in 1966 in a small village in the north of Burma, Lin knew he wanted to be an artist. But there were no art schools to attend, so he went to University in Rangoon to study law. In the "democracy spring" 0f 1988, in which Aung San Su Kyi emerged as leader, Lin, like many other students, was expelled.

But the internal squabbling in the pro-democracy movement convinced Lin he wanted nothing further to do with politics. He dedicated himself to his art from that point on with his first exhibition in Rangoon in 1996.

Unknown to Lin, in 1998 a letter between two former student colleagues was intercepted, in which they had a list of people to check in with to see if they wanted to be involved.

Simply because his name was on that list, Lin was arrested and, sentenced to seven years, spent the next seven months on death row.

He was still an artist. Many families brought food to their loved ones, and Lin would beg for the plastic bags and the paper labels when they were done eating, and began tracing designs with his fingernails. It was the start of his amazing escape. More tomorrow ...

Friday, September 7, 2007

"Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust" Might Be More Interesting than We Think

From the dust storm pictures above, to the microscopic study of a bit of dust NASA kindly provides below, and in our homes whether we like it or not, we are surrounded by dust. (Perhaps me more than most, after I discovered that my short-sightedness would allow me the simple pleasure of removing my glasses and being unable to see it! Tip, for those of you out there with myopia!)

Anyone addicted to Kim and Aggie, BBC America's "How Clean Is Your House" stars, and their exploration of households heaped with dirt will know, there's a lot of living stuff in there among the dust.

Insects, germs, mites, all collected on Aggie's little Q-tips and sent off to the lab, only for the agar plates and computer files to return with the horrifying truths. "A normal household kitchen counter will have 500 to 1,000 of Bacteria X, yours has 2 billion!" (A true quote, even if I did forget the name of the bacteria!)

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" doesn't sound so good, does it.

But, hold on, once again science comes to the rescue. For they have now discovered that non-organic dust, when held in the form of plasma in zero gravity, can take on the characteristics of living organisms in space.

Huh? Yep. An international panel including the Max Planck Institute in Germany (to whom I have sold books, yay!), the University of Sydney, Australia, and the Russian Academy of Sciences have found that galactic dust can form spontaneously into helixes, and, wait for it, double helixes (the famous pattern of DNA) in space, held together by electromagnetic forces, and that these inorganic creations have memory (contain a code comparable to the genetic information held in organic matter) and the power to reproduce themselves (this code can be transferred to the next generation).

I promise, I am not making this up. And I am grateful to the London Sunday Times and reporter Robert Booth for bringing it to my attention.

Indeed, here in the U.S. the National Research Council, an advisory body to the US government, is recommending NASA begin searching for what it describes as "wierd organisms". (Have they tried their local UU society? Whoops, sorry.) Actually, they are to look for organisms that lack DNA or other molecules found in life on earth.

Professor Greg Morfill of the Max Planck Institute says "The question now is to see if it can evolve to become intelligent." These findings have provoked speculation that the helix could be a common structure that underpins all life, organic and non-organic.

Wow! "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust" may be a whole lot more exciting than I thought!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Guess What's In the Picture??

Now here's a question - what do you think is in each of the pictures above?

You probably got the first one OK. It's a carpet. Well, not exactly a carpet as you know it, or get it down at the wholesale warehouse. But it is a fabulous rug.

But now what's the next? Well, yes, it's a rug, too. A fantastic sculpted rug.

And the third? You might just be able to make out the floorboards underneath, and guess, yes, a rug again! Metal, this time, woven throughout.

And the last? A supernova? A fancy dancy ceiling, lots better than flourescent stick-ons? I mean, it can't be, it couldn't be, no, no, no, but it IS - it is a rug!

The latest thing, evidently, in rugs is rugs with LED lights woven into them. Forget the tacky fairy lights hanging over your bed (well, you would want to forget them, wouldn't you?) Here is something else. My new glowing carpet.

Well, not mine, actually, but one fabulous creation among all the others (all the rugs here are from Top Floor Rugs). Gotta love 'em, even if I'm sure I couldn't afford 'em. I know, I know, totally non PC, haven't even considered their carbon loading ... but I still like 'em. Must be the burgeoning fabric artist in me!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Where Have You Been, Juffie Girl???

Hi all! Just back from two weeks in this spectacular scenery ... down the back behind Moab, Utah, in a canyon by the Colorado River. This is the view from the front porch of our cottage. And the quilt photos were taken on the back porch, which is about 10 feet from the Colorado River, with a giant red rock canyon rearing up just past the river into the sky. We're 17 miles into the canyon ... and 17 miles from a cell phone signal because of that ... so blogging was out of the question.

While there I finished my eldest grand-daughter's quilt. She is an animal fanatic, particularly wild animals, and I had found this fabric full of wonderful African animal faces. These were "fussy cut" individually, and set in fabrics with the green of the Serengeti plain grasses in spring, a gentle spotted fabric rather like leopard but much smaller and more delicate, some wonderful big grass stripy fabric, and some weathered gray wrinkly elephant skin-like fabric.

Two pillows made just of the faces went with the quilt, but I moved while photographing them, so they're too blurry for public view.

Now I'm back and the book sales have begun again with a vengeance (shipped 18 today, already have 8 orders for tomorrow) - my quilting bee has got me going on the baby quilt for the next expected grand-child, not to mention several others - church is getting going again (I do need to let this go - I'm finding the energy level can't sustain it along with the rest of my daily life) - and so on and so forth.

My desk is piled with blog materials, so you can expect to hear from me regularly for quite a while from now on! Like it or not!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Choices, choices, choices, in other words, let's not do anything at all

And my sweetie's home, huzzah hurrah, after a long delay in Dallas where there was a change of equipment for his flight, followed by a change of crew, one member short, she arrived, whoopsie, the co-pilot was caught coming in from Mexico and a computer was down in customs ... but eventually they took off, and he arrived, sooooo nice.

But today's blog is about something else entirely. It's about the deleterious effects of too much choice. No, no, not, not on the young, not on "this generation", gawd I haven't hit old fartdom that hard ... yet.

Today's blog is about the deleterious effects of too much choice on me. And I wonder about you.

I first noticed this at the UUA's General Assemblies. If there's one great thing on, I'll go. Two great things, I'll choose one and go. Three great things, I'll dither, but probably choose one and go. Four great things and ... well, it's just too painful to decide so I'll go back to the hotel and rest. Or take a little trip to Mount Hood. You know the sort of thing, perhaps.

And I've just worked out that's where I am with my quilting. Got the Mystery Quilt to assemble, get quilted and finish; got the quilt for my eldest granddaughter to finish the binding on; got the quilt for my second granddaughter mostly cut, and some assembled, but have finish the assembly and then do the applique, which I've never done before; got the quilt for the new baby to get started on, have the pattern, have the fabric, need to get going, babies don't wait; the quilt for my eldest grandson, designed, but no fabric even purchased yet; have the lap-quilt for my daughter-in-law to do the next three stages of cutting and assembly on; have the quilt for the orphanage in Juarez to finish designing and cutting before assembly and quilting; and, of course, the Christmas table runners to make for everyone, let alone the lap quilt I have already designed in my head for friends.

Is this profligacy of choices why I've been watching the odd old Perry Mason, and the crazy ladies on the BBC's How Clean Is Your House? Hmmm. I do suspect so. Nevermind, in a couple of weeks vacation will be over. That'll turn the tide, won't it?

Friday, August 10, 2007

And it came, and it came and it came until finally it came

What a beautiful storm we have just had. Take the artist's impression, just above my writing, and darken it by a factor of, oh, several thousand. Then place that in front of the mountains out my front window (top picture). I watched those grand, 9,500 foot mountains in the late afternoon as they disappeared behind the blackest of black curtains of rain, with black skies horizon to horizon advancing upon us.

The mailman hadn't yet arrived. And I have to get on my mobility scooter to run a block to the cluster boxes at the end of the street. Finally the mailman came. I dashed (glad the thing will do 12 miles an hour, and not the 4 most of them do ... fitting since I once drove rally cars in England) and just got back into the house as the first drops fell.

What a crashing, pounding thunder lightening heavy rain evening we had. Glad all our skylights held! When people think of the desert, they don't really think of such things, but they are very common in fact.

With my bones hurting, and David still away with his son, I was in no mood to cook -- until you are impaired, you probably never think how much standing and walking is involved with cooking! -- so it was out to grab a bite from somewhere with a drive-up window.

Since the streets here are the drains, driving through the downhill intersections was quite an adventure. (There were flood warnings out.) Even the car park at the fast food joint was deeply flooded -- folks were coming out to cars parked neatly when they went in, now found water halfway up to their knees.

Home fine - all in all a lovely evening, if you see what I mean.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Ain't It Odd How Talk Changes; Isn't It Weird How Language Develops; It is Not Unpeculiar How Human Speech Forms Evolve

I'm sure you've heard all kinds of reports, been told in your studies, noticed yourself, that language changes. Language is not a static thing, as any college sophomore struggling through Chaucer in Middle English soon learns.

One of the weirdest changes afflicting British English at the moment is the complete misuse of the word "prevaricate". Even the most precise writers like Faye Weldon and John le Carre (if I remember right) have joined the parade.

How on earth could you misuse the word "prevaricate", which means "lie" as in tell one, or usually several, untruths?

By confusing it with the word "procrastinate", meaning to put off, delay, not do something you could, and maybe should, be doing.

Now I grant you, often when we are procrastinating we wind up prevaricating -- "Yes, I've started on it but it's quite difficult, you know", "I was just going to", "I rang but you weren't in", that sort of thing.

But common British parlance now uses the word prevaricate for the delaying, for the putting off itself.

Makes me feel like someone who writes letters to the newspaper signed "Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells".

Partly because I hold procrastination so dear myself, I suppose. I was delighted to know that procrastination has even been the subject of scientific study (what we don't do for those grants!) And it seems there is even a formula, discovered by Piers Steel of the University of Calgary after much study (did he ever put a day of it off, I wonder). The formula is:

To learn how strong your desire is to complete a task (U), you factor in your Expectation of Success (E), multiply this by the Value of Completion (V), divide by the Immediacy of the Task (I) multiplied by the Personal Sensitivity of Delay (D).

U = ExV/IxD in other words.

I've had a lot of fun looking back over my ministry putting various situations through the formula. Quite accurate, it would seem, for me anyway.

Personally, I'm more kinesthetic and visual than mathematical, though. So I just think of some of my procrastination like the ostriches above, but luckily most of it looks more like the smiling picture below that. And one great thing about being retired is, you no longer have to prevaricate if you procrastinate!

Though no one will read your blog if you procrastinate so long you don't write it!

The German's call it Schadenfreude, I just call it laughing at something that is no laughing matter, except it is

Deep under the earth near Geneva, Switzerland lies the CERN particle accelerator. (See picture one, which shows an added mark where the large and small loops of the accelerator run for miles and miles under the surface of the land.)

The new structure of the machine, subject to four engineering reviews between 1998 and 2002, is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) (see picture two for part of it) which aims at nothing less than to re-create the conditions of the Big Bang at the beginning of our universe 14 million years ago (ie smash together protons at nearly the speed of light).

It was scheduled to begin doing this in November. Now, well, maybe next Spring. Because, alas, a little basic error in the designers' mathematical calculations led to a not so little explosion in deep under the earth which lifted a 20-ton magnet (like the one in picture three) off its mountings, filled a tunnel with helium gas, and forced an evacuation.

Now all the 24 such magnets located around the 17 mile accelerator must be stripped down and fixed. And the helium? A simple little matter of using pipes filled with liquid helium to cool the tunnels to the required -268C for the process. Boggles the mind if all you've ever done with helium is fill a few balloons and make your voice go crazy.

Those of you who know me know I love all this stuff for real ... cosmic theology and all that.

But I did have to laugh. I mean, don't you see the irony? Researching the Big Bang when wallop, a big bang!?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

So That's Why I Moved To New Mexico!

Your Inner European is Spanish!
Energetic and lively. You bring the party with you!

So That

Monday, August 6, 2007

Not Only Is What You See What You Get, But What You Already Have Is What You See

"What you see is what you get" they say, usually meaning someone is genuine, exactly as they appear. Though don't necessarily take this as a compliment -- they may be meaning the person referred to is too uncultured, too gauche, too crass, to observe even the little social niceties that make life go so well.

I am fascinated by how often "What you already have is what you see" also, even moreso, seems to be the rule. Like, sorry guys if you can't identify here, but every mother will know what I mean, like how when you are pregnant (especially if you don't particularly want to be), or when you want desperately to be pregnant and it isn't happening, pregnant women are everywhere. I mean, everywhere.

I can't really believe that there were all that many more women suddenly pregnant when I was. But it sure looked like it. (Actually, there were all that many more women suddenly pregnant in one congregation I served, come to think of it. I got pregnant, then three other women did too, and our much loved organist resigned. Well, she already had four children, and didn't really want any more. She felt it was too dangerous to stay around! Three weeks later she was back. Not only had it been too dangerous, it had been too late. Thus it was one little congregation grew by five!)

Anyway, just as you see what you already have (the dishonest person lives in a world of only sharpers, the depressed person in a world of only tragedies, the way nastiest person on Design Star accuses everyone else of having a rotten personality, etc. etc.) - now I am seeing death.

My husband David got a call yesterday from his son. David's first wife had died suddenly and unexpectedly at home, with a neighbor calling the police when she hadn't seen her for several days. David has flown out to be with his son, their only living child, to be companionship in dealing with all that follows such an event.

And then I'm reading along, something light in a time of low concentration, and damn, I discover one of my favorite authors, Michael Dibdin, died in April, just before his sixtieth birthday. Damn, damn, damn.

As for me, I'm OK, just very very very very sore - my helpmeet is away, and while I can pretty well manage for myself when I have to, the pain level soars, too little rest, too much tearing of tendons by my inner Iron Maiden of osteophytes. Never mind, if I have to have death on my mind, I'm off the watch my tape of tonight's episode of The Closer. Love that woman.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Newsflash ... everybody is not a rat ... it is not all terrible ...

So much harsh news - from war zones, from famine and starvation draughts, from monsoon floods, from sports with drugs in baseball and cycling, and purposeful blocking of a "too-successful" Formula I motor racer - on and on it goes.

So I thought I'd bring you some more than good news ... some beautiful news, in fact. It's all about Fordhall Farm. If you look here you'll see the whole story.

A brother and sister (see above) were faced with losing the farm they inherited from their parents, a farm which had begun to work organically before any of us had probably ever even heard the term. This beautiful, natural, care-filled farm (see above) was about to churn through the market and get industrialized, pesticided, antibiotic-ed, soil depleted, animal factoried, you name it, not only was the loss of their home and farm staring them in the face, but the loss of a better way of doing things. Better for them, for us, for the earth, for the world, for hope, for the future.

They hit the internet. Ain't it a wonderful tool? They used it to tell their story. And sell shares in their farm. It worked! 8,000 folk and counting now own this farm, a true co-operative. (See some of them volunteering on the farm above.)

If this story doesn't warm your heart, your fears are right, you are dead.

Oh, and say a prayer for them, too, won't you (even humanists know what to do, you can think good thoughts, can't ya?) because foot and mouth disease has just been discovered again in England. Their farm is a long way away -- but last time (2001) it managed to ravage the whole country. I love their story, and my theology is a whole lot less important than sending them good energy whatever you call it! That's how I feel, anyway.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It Would Be Good If It Were True Any Longer, But It's Not, At the Moment Anyway ...

When a person moves to the desert, as we did, what do you think they move there for? Escape from the snow, oh yea, as a minister I've done too many funerals for men who were out shovelling the snow. Indeed, one fine gentleman of not too many years was simply sweeping, with a broom, about half an inch of light powder when it did him in. The extremely cold air that often follows such storms, you see, gets in the lungs and ... well ...

OK, so we don't have much snow. And when we do get an inch or so, gone by noon, it's alternately hilarious and terrifying to watch the "locals" drive in it, no snow tires, no experience, hilarious from a distance, terrifying if you actually have to be out in it.

What the h$%^ is she doing talking about snow in the middle of summer? Well, there's something else lots of us move here for. It's called "It's not the heat, it's the humidity (or even humididity)".

It is true. High temperatures are a lot easier to take when the air is dry, and there's a marvellous desert breeze. If you perspire it's evaporated straight off you, cooling you down in the process, just the way the body is supposed to work.

Until global warming, that is. Suffering through another week of diabolical humididity, I might as well be in Florida this summer. Thunderstorms everyday - and even if it doesn't actually rain, though it has every day for ages, the clouds and humidity hover and exhaust.

Now there's always been a "monsoon" season out here - hot dry days with thunderstorms in the late afternoon or evening. But this is all day, every day, with no hot dry about it.

In other words, welcome to the rainforest. Not what I signed up for when I moved to the desert, but you know, ::singing:: "You can't always get what you want ... "

Which reminds me, did you know I once MC'ed for a show where the Rolling Stones were performing? Well, Mick Jagger and his group anyway, at the University of London when he was still a student there, if my memory is not totally gone.

The things we don't know about our ministers!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I Have a Thing - and Can It Get Me Into Trouble ...

Yes, I do, I have a thing about the stiff, perfectly balanced, stuck in place so solidly they can not move, floral arrangements often favored here in the States. I've tried to find an image of exactly what I mean without success, but the first picture here is a close approximation.

I don't like this kind of arrangement.

Maybe it's all those years spent living in Europe (20 years of my adult life in four segments spread over 40 years: Switzerland, England, Holland, England again), but I prefer floral displays to look like a most varied bunch of flowers you've just picked from the garden, and plunked in a vase (again, I couldn't find exactly what I mean on-line, but the second picture is at least an approximation). For those of you who watch PBS, the floral display that begins the mystery program Rosemary and Thyme, well, that's it, really.

I haven't thought about this much of late, florists here do very stiff, formulaic displays so I've given up on flowers in my house, something I was never without in Europe, but a phone call with my son this morning reminded me.

Discussing what I might like for my birthday, I was saying no flowers (because of how they would come!) ... when up popped into my mind a scene from many years ago in the church I was serving.

I got a phone call telling me that this was the year for the Odd Fellows (a sort of fraternity for adults, I suppose you could say) would be visiting our service. It seems they went to a different church each year for Odd Fellows Sunday, or some such.

Ever the agreeable soul, I said, sure, come along. (Anything to fill the empty pews in that beautiful old New England congregation seating 400, current congregation well less than a quarter of that.)

But when I got to the church Sunday morning, the place was still empty but the flowers had been delivered the day before. EEEEEEEEK! As stiff a formal display as you could imagine, a sort of carpet of flower heads, all the same height, they hadn't even had the sense to vary the dimensions!

Well, I would soon fix that. So up I stalked (sorry, bad pun) and started rearranging. The flowers made a pair of nice, height varied displays, though they were all the same bloom, and not enough greenery, so it still wasn't the best, but it sure was better.

Soon the congregation arrived, including the Odd Fellows. Massive consternation. Several members raced to the front, and began wildly rearranging my rearrangement, back into the stiff, flat horror it was before.

Only then did I notice the letters IOOF (International Order of Odd Fellows) the red flowers made against the white flowered background.

At least they never came back, there's that to be said for having a "thing".

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Getting a Life ain't the Problem ... Having it, now there's the thing

No, I haven't actually been any place like this recently, alas ... but I have been too busy living my life to blog just for a bit.

The Tour de France was on, and, with my bones too exploded to fly to Europe any more, well, what's better than three weeks in France courtesy of the Versus Channel on television, and yes, well, I love the cycling race too. We would settle in to watch the DVR (well, I'm not getting up at 4:30 am, there are limits even to love), with our sandwich au jambon (French mustard, of course), and our Cafe au Lait (yes, I know, dead naff to drink this in the afternoon, but tough), some crudites, and have a lovely visit.

Then it was off to deal with bumper book sales, nearly a full-time job at the moment. Phew.

And a lot going on in the church I consult for.

Some time back my friend Biddies wrote about getting up in the morning and reading the news and how upsetting that can be.

Well, we never, never, ever do that. We awaken to silence, we meditate, we have a cup of tea, we stare for a while just in noticing mode, we do a little work, we listen to music. No news until at least mid-afternoon.

This is nothing compared to what I did the whole time my children were young. We'd go to our cottage on the lake (those were flusher times, then) for six weeks and the rule was simple. No television, no radio, (most UUs are with me up to this point), no newspapers, no magazines (some are fading, but a lot of UUs are still with me), and no books. (The last one loses just about every blessed and unblessed UU).

Our motto for our six weeks was -- "Something Is Happening, and We Are It!" A corrective against all those who currently clearly believe that what is reported on television is more real than their own lives, indeed, all those who clearly these days believe that if they aren't themselves on television, they aren't really alive.

And so I say unto you (as preachers like to do) Something Is Happening, and You Are It!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

MySpace or Facebook, and who are we anyway?

So, the news is out. Social scientists have discovered that MySpace and Facebook in fact mirror class divisions in US society quite neatly. Well-to-do, stable American teens with "good prospects" wind up on Facebook, while poor, queer, marginal and non-white teens end up on MySpace. Even in the military "grunts" tend to be on MySpace and officers on Facebook - guess which one the military banned! For more, click on the word "news" and see fascinating quotes from Danah Boyd's paper.

Just an interesting little insight, you might think. But recent research by both the Sutton Trust in England and the London School of Economics reveals that out of all technologically and economically advanced countries Britain has the lowest rate of social mobility (no real surprise if you've lived there) - and the United States, yes, that's right, the "land of opportunity", has the second lowest rate of social mobility of all the countries studied. Peter Lampl of the Sutton Trust writes: "In no other country were the prospects of those from non-privileged backgrounds more limited".

Reminds me of another study whose source alas I can no longer find, a few years ago, which discovered that while most American's believe social mobility exists as a possibility for them, more than 95% stay right exactly where their parents were.

These new researchers at the London School of Economics found two main reasons for this social stuck-ness. First, the increasing level of income inequality and second, education that disproportionately benefits the better-off.

Countries that do well in social mobility, Sweden and Canada for instance, have far lower income disparities between higher and lower earners. And the quality of education varies less according to parental income.

It's not just what on-line friendly web-site we use, after all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wisdom in Graffiti

If you Google "graffiti" for images, you'll mostly get a weird dichotomy of "graffiti art" and "methods for removing graffiti". We don't seem entirely in agreement on this subject, folks.

Some like the color and splash added to often bleak urban landscapes by colored spray paints artistically applied. Others feel it is the beginning of the end for their neighborhood. And all in all, both may be right. Though I do think locking up the spray paints at HomeBase and Lowe's etc., as we have around here, so even the lovely young woman wanting to remake a rescued table from the rubbish can't buy them, is overkill.

Yet there still can be much wisdom in unofficial messages. I love the creativity of the Moss Graffiti on this old wall - there are even instructions for growing your own moss message if you wish to.

And I love the chalked graffiti above: "Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest; Come taste the sweet berries of the earth; Come roll in riches all around you; And for once never wonder what they're worth!"

But most of all I love the graffiti on the wall above the bar in a British army mess in Iraq - a commentary on how we got them all into this mess:

Yee-Haw is not a foreign policy

Can I hear an Amen?

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Law of Unintended Consequences

You've all heard about the law of unintended consequences, no doubt ... in Iraq (see above); in easy money (see above); in that bitter little motto "No good deed goes unpunished"; and so on.

If I had my life to live over again, I think I'd be a lawyer, cause I just love the crash between human reality and the attempts to make it fit rules.

Lately the case of the will of Tom Watson, Jr. of IBM fame and fortune has caught my eye, and my imagination. The massive fortune of Tom Watsons Sr. and Jr. passed to Jrs. widow upon his death, and upon her death was intended to be divided into trusts for their 18 grandchildren, as I understand it.

However, one of TW Jrs. daughters, OW, a lesbian, was partnered for years and that partner, had, she says, and I have no reason to doubt this, given up her own career in order to live in her partnership. But she then feared what might happen to her if OW were to be, say, killed in an accident.

And all these good people who have fought against gay marriage, or even civil partnerships for decades, centuries, then indirectly brought about what happened next.

There being no way to be civil partners, and certainly not married, at the time, OW did what many gay couples were doing at the time - she legally adopted her partner.

Trouble was, they broke up within a year. But upon the death of TW Jrs. widow, as the money was about to be divided among grand-children, this adopted "child" of OW said, hey, I'm a grandchild too!

It's all in the courts in two states, and still there, as far as I can find out. To further complicate matters, OW has now repartnered, and she and her new partner have adopted two little boys, who are counted among the grand-children.

Oh, man, there are enough unintended consequences in this story to make a lot of lawyers very rich, sadly. The people who ought to pay are, perhaps, those who have prevented the simple civil rights and acts available without a second thought to all the rest of us who happen to be wired differently.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr but how strange

Grrrrrrr. Among the dozen books sold today is a lovely book on Passive Solar home construction, I remember listing it well. Only one problem. Despite a gonzo filing system for the 1300 books we have listed, we can not find the d$%^ed thing.

I'm actually feeling physically sick.

All of which puts me in mind of this afternoon's watching of the Tour de France (we are wild cycling fans), and the amazing run of Australia's Michael Rogers, out in front, well away from the folks expected to be winning, making a stonking ride ... until ... a slide in a corner during the descent (these guys get up to 70 miles an hour), straight into the Armorall fence. He got up, continued, but there were too many injuries, there was too much pain, and he is out of the race. They use that terrible word "abandoned" when this happens.

How he wished the cameras were anywhere but there as his head slumped over his handlebars and his shoulders shook with his sobs.

Imagine, a whole year of 12 hour training days getting ready for this three week race and, one week into it, when you're leading, boom.

Frustration! As my English friends would say, I wouldn't like to be living in his head at the moment.

And here I am with my little frustration - well, it should be little, but it ain't. It will be something of a miracle if I have a hair left on my head by tomorrow morning.

Oh, you ask, but your title mentions "strange". Yea, cause I just think it's strange how minor frustrations can really get us riled up (well, me anyway) ... I tend to handle disasters somewhat better. Odd, that.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

So here's the new quiz result:

You scored as Harry Potter, You can be a little reckless and hot-headed at times, but a more brave and courageous friend would be hard to find.

Harry Potter


Albus Dumbledore


Hermione Granger


Sirius Black


Remus Lupin


Ginny Weasley


Severus Snape


Ron Weasley


Draco Malfoy


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

But what I want to know is how does Harry Potter feel being defined as "Love in the Time of Cholera"? (I refer you to my most recent post.) I love to take all these quizzes for interest sake, but even more, I love to see how impossible it is to line up all the results side by side and have anything that makes sense.

But now I suppose I'll have to read the last Harry Potter (I found the most recent two unfinishable, I confess) if only to find out if he sticks to bottled water - the advice from my last quiz.

Makes me think of the hoard of books recently dropped off for sale by a stranger. As my beloved shelved all these books once they were listed on-line, ploughing through all the self-help books, and meditation books, and books about various religious approaches, and more books on the soul, he remarked, "I do hope she's finally found it, whatever it was she needed so badly, and was looking for so hard."

And I hope none of us are looking for salvation in these quizzes! Sure is fun, though.

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating