Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's all about cows.

A recent article reminded me of a favorite poem written by my friend, Liz. It's sneaky good and smart and friggin' hilarious. I love the second stanza and, well, just the whole idea of a secret deception by cows, of all beasts. Genius.
Forget what you have heard
of all that's good and evil.
Forget what you learned
in King James...

It's all about cows.
Pretending to be innocuous
casually insisting by the nature
of their inertia that they are content
to chew cud and stare.

Facing in the same direction,
cows have their own Mecca....
stimulate their secret powers
at night--
with a collective concentration
so intense in its destruction
a cow itself will fall to the ground
with the force of one finger.

Cows are the source of depravity,
take over the minds of our children,
cows kill.
Some wear human suits,
pose as civil servants, smile
with their plastic lips closed.

And clandestine buildings
have been searched
to find the severed bodies,
isolated organs, hides...
of traitor cows, informant cows.

And central to their plan
for the final human massacre,
cows do plot to deplete the ozone.
[It's true. And she was wise to this years ago. Thanks for letting me post this, Liz!]

aloft somewhere between DC and home

A herd of lumbering somethings from a foggy other world.

[Still taking pictures from planes. I'm like a kid up there.]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

she likes to paint.

I'm not much for people watching. It can be interesting, but I always feel a little guilty about it. Given the choice between that and tree or cloud watching, I'd take the latter two. No contest. Something about their quality of being defined or delineated (can't quite put my finger on the right word...) and fluid all at once, shaped at the wind's whim, calms my soul.

Makes me think of Lao Tzu's words (don't ask which translation) sent to me by Dr. Juan:

By yielding...
By bending...
remain straight.
Softness overcomes hardness.
The formless is greater than form.

I stumbled on Caitlin Schwerin's web page a short while back and instantly felt like she captured that quality and conveyed the same sensation. Like she says, "If you think trees don't dance. Well, you're wrong."

I wrote and asked her if I could post a few of her pieces here and she agreed (Thanks, Caitlin!). It ended up being more than a few, but it was hard enough narrowing it to these. Take a tour of her work. She does much more than trees, clouds, and openness, and does it well.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

yay or nay?

[Most of this was copied, with permission, from the Snap Shots site. Saved myself some verbiage.]

I just installed a nice little tool on this site called Snap Shots that enhances links with visual previews of the destination site, excerpts of Wikipedia articles and IMDb profiles, inline videos, MP3s, stock charts and more.

Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you “look ahead,” before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.

Should you decide this is not for you, just click “Disable” in the upper right corner of the Snap Shots bubble and opt-out.

Let me know if it aggravates. I find it easier on the download for us dial-up dinosaurs.

love conspicuous

My dad is a man of many, many words, but each has purpose.

For whatever the quest, whatever the impasse he has a suggestion or anecdote at the ready. He'll tell you if he thinks there's a better way. At the same time, he leaves it at that. Whatever path you take is yours, and he's with you whatever the outcome.

Because of him, I know that it is possible for a man not only to feel and to care, but also to express this unabashedly. He wears his heart on his sleeve, his face, his whole semblance.

He is not much for pretense. He can smell that stink from a mile away; can hear the hollow ring. Perhaps it is because he is hard wired to feel things intimately, intensely, and to reflect these feelings just as surely. He leaves no doubt. You always know where you stand, and where he stands: an honest and sure-footed place hard to come by elsewhere in life.

Here's wishing that I could be sitting with you now, dad, sharing words over coffee, fried eggs, hash browns, bacon, and toast...rye, of course.

Friday, June 15, 2007

(brief) ode on a ball of Belizean soil

Thou morsel pluck'd from cool earthen bed,
Amidst the brown, orange, and yellow strata.
By some childlike wonder her hands were led--
More this than donnish quest for data.
What tropic biota slumber within thy shape
Rolled to rough form 'twixt pale, muddied palms?
What dessicated nutriment waits still to dissolve
From hardened sphere to foreign, temp'rate soilscape?
Life was not quash'd for souvenir taken without qualm,
For Earth's embrace knows no bounds and mighty worm absolves.

poor performance

Overheard while eating a solo lunch at a crowded little sushi place. The fact that I know very little about sports and almost blew pop out my nose makes this even better.

Guy#1 is in his late 30s/early 40s. Guy#2 is in his early 60s. They have been discussing the poor performance of a coworker. We'll call the coworker "Chuck". Guy#2 seems a pompous know-it-all; Guy#1 seems to be tolerating him. Barely.

Guy#1: Let's just say that Chuck's chances of doing well are about as good as the Timberwolves winning the Stanley Cup.
Guy#2: [after a considerable pause] I thought for a second you were going to say "about as good as the Timberwolves winning the NBA Championship." They may not have gotten there this year, but it could happen next season.
Guy#1: Ok, would you like me to change my qualifier? Chuck's chances of doing well are about as good as the Timberwolves winning the Stanley Cup in 2008.
Guy#2: ...

half the battle

[work seepage]
I am very thorough. Sometimes excessively so. I also expect that when I communicate with someone they'll read/listen to what I have to say, and then respond. This hinges on the given that I'm dealing with others who have the same understanding of the situation, are as thorough as I, feel as strongly as I, and have the same priorities. Not always the case.
So, when that is not the case, I come off as really obnoxious, persistent, and stubborn. Sometimes that perception is true, sometimes not. In either scenario, I do myself no favors.

  1. Lighten the f#@k up
  2. Know that the given is not necessarily a given (what's the adage about "assume"?)
  3. Be clear, give people space and time to process...then SWARM! (only partially kidding);
    ...oh, yeah, and
  4. Admit mistakes.
I made a mistake today. Ok, the second party did, too, BUT there wouldn't have been an issue if I hadn't pestered someone unnecessarily with some detail I just had to bring to light.

Don't worry. I'll tell them. I can't not. Really...I'm thoroughly good at #4.

Ah, yes, the high stress, highly political world of librarians. You have no idea.
One more observation: email is not a good substitute for in-person or phone conversation. Sucks that too often it is my only possible option.

Friday, June 8, 2007

maybe i think too much

Or: "what's gumming up my writin' cogs"

Writing the bit about brain development spurred me to do some digging that unearthed two intriguing books by Joseph LeDoux: Synaptic self: how our brains become who we are and The emotional brain: the mysterious underpinings of emotional life. I've barely cracked them, but I'll let you know if I'm dazzled. I have to say that regardless, I'm awfully impressed that LeDoux 1) is a guitar player in The Amygdaloids, a band that "perform[s] songs of mental disorder"; and 2) he lectured then performed for the Secret Science Club. Wish I could be a member!

Since becoming frustrated with 1) a generalist blogger who I'm interpreting as either a scaredy-cat who shies away from challenging conversation or one with a weak premise (p'raps a dollop of both), and 2) having a helluva time finding good, smart, meaty, entertaining reading in the blogosphere, I've been doing a little bit of reading about rhetoric--particularly rhetoric in the digital arena. It has not been easy on the brain, but I did find an interesting tidbit about a youth program called Connected Kids in Troy, NY, that involves kids in developing a database of after school activities for kids--they are involved in different aspects of the project (web design, rebuilding computers, communicating with youth-serving agencies, conducting focus groups, etc). This in a book chapter titled "On the Formation of Democratic Citizens: Rethinking the Rhetorical Tradition in a Digital Age".

[Whoa. Those were a couple of really long, questionably punctuated, and annoyingly numbered paragraphs.]

In the process of finding more information about Connected Kids (which I then passed on to a colleague working on a tech-y after school program) I discovered Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. What's not to love about that?

This post by Ann Bartow piqued my curiosity. I am now reading the book, The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900 by David Edgerton. Some may be interested to know that Edgerton gives due credit to the mule.

I'll write more about some of these goodies. For now, I feel I've vindicated my sluggishness.

They say that the left side of the brain
Controls the right
They say that the right side
Has to work hard all night
Maybe I think too much for my own good
Some people say so
Other people say no no
The fact is
You don't think as much as you could
(get it? P.S.? ok, here.)