Monthly Archives: September 2007

I Enjoy the Quiet.

The muss, fuss, and bother of Monday morning madness — vanquished by the retreat to office where, sipping coffee, I ponder the load of work I have today.  A trip through email nets potential irritants, and I close the client, moving on to checks the sites, the blogs, the forums.  …Well, I start.  Then, input from the tedious goads me to address some nonsense, but not quite yet.  First I’m going to enjoy the quiet of my morning without fervor.

Laughter in the Morning.

It’s always nice to start the day with laughter.  A good article poking fun at the state of the Bushite, some welcome news on the eco-front, a brilliant cartoon lampooning some human idiocy.  Of course, then there’s that bit of joy with coffee, watching the early morning sky.  This sets up breakfast, when, if the eggs turn and hub’s yolks don’t break, the happiness there is its own reward as he daintily dips the end of his sausage into the yellow. 

Sluggish Starts and Determined Finishes.

The students were sluggish this morning, and finding a pace and an exercise that would get mind, body, and spirit engaged proved keeping them off-guard and moving to a lesson of principle and concept.  After the initial two hours of changing direction on them mid-stride, I finally started to see a real focus begin to happen. 

Sometimes, to gain a foothold on surety, one has to keep the student off balance long enough and shift the balance quick enough that they finally find their “feet.”

By the end of session, I was seeing some real use of root, weighting, and attending, all critical to effective martial arts and self-defense. 

They bowed in with a lack of definition in their minds and bodies, their spirits sluggish, but they ended the class and bowed out with energy, determination, and a sense of being.

I’m pleased…though it was work to get them there — three solid hours of work.  Now for a nap…after I do a few chores.

Real, Plastic, or CGI?

Whether it is photograph of a model, an actor or actress, or a lawyer defending a high profile client, increasingly it is very difficult to tell if the person portrayed in the picture is real, a plastic model, or a cgi (a computer generated image).

This is NOT just due to cgi getting more life-like, but, rather of life becoming a mimic of cgi — the make-up, hair, and physique mimicking computer generated imaging.  They’ve met in the middle, and that, for me, is very disturbing, not because of the inherent implications for fraud as much as because it sets up a very false standard for people as a role model for success.

A lot of it is due to lighting, but it also has to do with skin and bodies enhanced all over, not just the face, by make-up and surgery, well-coiffed and well-dyed hair, impeccable manicures and the like.

Check out these images and tell me which ones are real people, which are plastic, and which are CGI (computer generated):

 

Without cheating, even if you recognize them, which look REAL, PLASTIC, OR CGI?

1 Real Plastic CGI
2 Real Plastic CGI
3 Real Plastic CGI
4 Real Plastic CGI
5 Real Plastic CGI
6 Real Plastic CGI
7 Real Plastic CGI
8 Real Plastic CGI
9 Real Plastic CGI
10 Real Plastic CGI


Now, check your answers.

3, 5, and 10 are CGI.

All the rest are real EXCEPT #2 which is a plastic, life-sized clothes mannequin.

How did you do?

What do you think about this trend and its significance?

A Meal with Prejudice

Dining with colleagues at a local establishment exposed us to the depth and breadth of local prejudice that is running rampant outside what I’ll term the PC zone.  (Definition of a PC zone: All places where one must exhibit the trappings of tolerance and social propriety in order to maintain butter on one’s bread, else lose substantial income.)

We became victim to the proximity of lawyers and business owners who, thinking themselves somehow “off the record,” began to berate and spew hate-speak against anyone and everyone, from Native Americans to Germans, from Chinese to Irish, from English to Polish to Arab to African, and especially against blacks, homosexuals, and women.  Obviously together even though they were spread over several tables, these bigots even grinned over at us who are a group of individuals who vary in skin color and sex.  It seemed they knew they were being offensive and were totally enjoying themselves.

Then they began talking down anyone who wasn’t Christian.  And, after that, came the vilifying of Catholics, Mormons, Christian Scientists, and other recognized Christian denominations who aren’t particularly well-thought-of by the more fundamental.  This wasn’t particularly problematic for anyone at our table since most of us are either not affiliated with any religion whatsoever, or, if we are, we keep it to ourselves, well-used to this sort of biased speech.

However, we had, as a group, became very silent.  What had been lively, vivacious conversation about progress in our various interests, organizations, and occupations became an embarrassed silence — embarrassment for them and their stupidity. 

At the onset of all of this, one of the most locally prominent members of our group who had his back to the rest of the restaurant, glanced around, then pulled out a small box and placed it beside his plate.  Lights danced.  He then pulled out his cell phone and held it up before him as if it were a mirror.  A flash went off. 

He had a small, coy smile on his face as he tucked his cell phone away.  We ate on in silence. 

After awhile, the conversation around us lulled and dulled.   Mr. Prominent switched off the box beside his plate, stuffed it into his suit coat pocket, and smiled around the table.  “How about dessert?” he asked.  Then, “By the way, did you know that, when it comes to recording conversations, we’re a one-party consent state?”

Sipping Coffee

I sat sipping coffee as a manuscript was going through an evaluation process.  I also half-listened to a conversation happening over my shoulder…about that editorial process — young women sissy-whispering about who that might be with that manuscript box loaded with postage and whose manuscript was being evaluated.

Pages were sifted and shifted by the editor, notes checked, references made, and an occasional comment jotted.  With each new development, the surreptitious audience got a little louder…and louder…and louder…until, finally, the editor looked over at them, frowned, and asked them exactly what it was they found so stimulating that they felt it necessary to make themselves a nuisance.

I expected the brazen young ladies to slink down out of sight, or at least turn their heads and muffle it.  To my surprise, they scooted their chairs nearer and started to ask questions, chattering on and on about how they were writing books and…well, you know, pouring their details out as if pitching an agent.  They didn’t even pause long enough upon asking something to give space enough for an answer to happen in between their incessant, burbling chatter. 

ADD I wondered?  Too much sugar? (Both were drinking sweetened beverages.) Or was it just too much self-infatuation?

If you want answers, you’ve got to listen and, then, hear.

And Speaking of Boring, Writers…

I’m trying to reopen The Deepening, not as an online fiction magazine, but as a stimulating place to discover the joys of reading fiction.  I have a category called Peek Behind the Scenes which is supposed to give a look into the creative minds responsible for the stories.  Unfortunately, nothing much comes up in the way of “interesting” when it comes to many writers.  Most writers are REALLY BORING.  A look at their forums and their blogs will confirm this if you doubt me.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I know authors who ARE exciting people.  Their minds are constantly abuzz with what-ifs, they are forever rolling out new ideas, playing with possibilities, toying with potentials.  A few.  Some really good ones, too.  But the majority?  Omigod.  Dry, boring, awful.  The only thing coming out of their fingers when it isn’t fiction is their medical history, their love life, and their daily routines from brushing their teeth to their craving for adulation and praise  (“Pweez, pweez, wuv my stories and gimme lotz and lotz of muny.”) 

I’m sorry, but if the best thing an author has to offer as insight is some sappy, giddiness about how much they totally adore the false flattery given them by some reviewer they paid, or, worse, some whiny moan about how hard it is to get published, nobody cares, especially me.  What I want to hear is how they conceive their worlds, what generates an idea to form itself into a plot, what drives them to create characters and how they make them so real that their readers want to know more and more about those characters.

What drives the ideas? What music, sounds, visions, happenings? What happens inside them to make such magic happen with words (if what they do is any good, that is…which, for the majority who call themselves writers, isn’t)?

What do I see and hear from writers, though?

“I’ve got an adorable baby, a husband, a cat, and a dog.  I live in Anytown, AnyCountry.  I want to be rich and famous someday.  I love my new patio, and my favorite color is red.”

OR

“I’m simply the most marvelous thing since chocolate syrup.  You really will love my new book called Sonya’s Sunshine Dream and you need to buy a copy over at BlankDotCom where all my books are published by DumbSap Publishing.”

OR

“Those rotten publishers and agents won’t even look at my book.  They didn’t even have the courtesy to respond to my query until over six months after I sent it in.  And then they said no.  I mean, sure their guidelines say ninety days, but I’m special….”

Um…get a life?

Of course, artists aren’t much better, and neither are muscians, but, right now, I’m ranting on writers because it seems to me that I should be able to look somebody up and they should have more in their bio and on their blog than “I’m married and have two kids…,” “My eczema is better,” “I just finished tidying up my closet…,” or “I just got rejected again….”

Nobody cares.  Really.  Give us some insights into what catalyzes your creativity, what excites you, what makes you write a pulse-pounding story.  Else, hang it up.  Don’t say anything.  That would do you less harm.

Some People Are Exciting; Some Art Not.

I’ve been dealing, one on one and many on one, with people my whole life.  Some, I always enjoy engaging; others, well, two minutes into becoming acquainted with them, and I’m yawning already.

Self-infatuation and a penchant for caring more about the surface than about the depths, along with shallow thinking are the main culprits that bring me the “yawn reflex.”  Give me someone who isn’t seeking flattery and adulation, give me someone who doesn’t give a damn about what color lipstick they put on this morning…or even if they are wearing any, give me someone whose entire mental repertoire consists of more than parroting the latest ad, fad, and fatuous flatulence as fed them from the boob tube, church, government, or the gossip queens, and, maybe, just maybe, I’ll not dismiss them out of hand.

I like someone who can think for themselves.  (The churches, governments and the mega-corps do not.)

I like anyone who doesn’t swallow, hook, line, and stinker, the “truths” convenient for getting along and going along with status quo.

I like anyone who knows how to substantiate their position, and who, if they discover that maybe their position might be wrong, can admit it and take another look.

I like anyone who challenges opinion and accepted circumstance.

Polly Parrot, Missy Aren’t I Pretty, and Mister Dodges Anything Which Pins Him Down is not for me.

I might argue with you, and we might disagree, but that’s how we learn and grow and explore perspectives, isn’t it?  If I lend an ear, if I speak, and, if you, in turn, respond and listen, too, isn’t that the highest honor you and I can pay each other? 

Yes.

This from The Grist, Polar Bears & Whales vs. Navy Sonar

Ursine of the Times
U.S. study says two-thirds of polar bears will be gone by 2050

 The U.S. Geological Survey released a grim study of polar bears on Friday, concluding that two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will be gone by 2050. Polar bears in Alaska and other areas outside the very far north will be most out of luck, according to the study; it forecasts that precisely zero polar bears will be left in Alaska by 2050. “Sea ice conditions would have to be substantially better than even the most conservative computer simulations of warming and sea ice” for the bears to avoid the forecasted steep drop in population, the report said. For those desperately seeking an upside to all this, the survey team said the polar bears’ fate was likely only 84 percent linked to the extent of sea ice, which means the remaining bears will only theoretically be 84 percent screwed when all of it disappears from the Arctic. Phew! Meanwhile, for just $35,000 or so, kick-’em-while-they’re-down types can pay to go on polar-bear safari and bag a trophy kill. But hey, for an extra $100,000, we know a guy who can arrange a cage match with a polar bear and your own remote-controlled robot. Just let us know.

——————————————-

Play It Again, Uncle Sam
Appeals court overturns ruling, allows Navy to test underwater sonar

It’s the controversy that keeps on controversing: The U.S. Navy wants to test underwater mid-frequency sonar. Marine advocates say such testing effs up whales and other marine mammals. Repeat. (Grist has been writing about this issue since 1999, and we have never reused a headline. Thank you.) Anyhoodle, here we go again: last month, a federal judge ordered the Navy to stop using mid-frequency sonar off the California coast through 2009; a federal appeals court has now put the kibosh on that decision. “The public does indeed have a very considerable interest in preserving our natural environment and especially relatively scarce whales,” wrote Judge Andrew Kleinfeld. “But it also has an interest in national defense. We are currently engaged in war, in two countries.” And we can’t be too careful — what if the whales are working for the terrorists?

Whelp, Yup, He Done Did Break It!

So Friday…hubby broke his pedal.  No, not the guitar pedal, not the car pedal, not the bicycle pedal.  His foot — he broke his foot. 

Now, after x rays, after doctors conferring, he’s literally “on ice and immobilized” until the swelling reduces enough that the orthopedist feels confident that it can be cast. 

I’ve got a feeling that this isn’t going to be any of those nice take-it-off/put-it-on casts, either.  I’m betting they do one of those fiberglass numbers — rigid and lots of fun in the shower.  Hubs is a big man, and the joint got shattered into itty  bitty pieces. 

Needless to say, I’m not getting much work done.  I’m not getting much of anything done.  He needs lots of TLC and tending.

“Honey, can you get me a soda?   …Can you get me a sandwich?  Can you get my painkillers?  Can you….”

So now I’m gonna be even further behind on my various need-tos/have-tos.  Hubs comes first.  Always.  Don’t you wish every “other half” felt that way?  Well, don’t marry until you and your choice are both over thirty, and then work at it.  Remember, all that matters is the love, and also, when it comes to differences of perspective, is your point and your stance in the conflict worth more than your relationship?  Probably not, so don’t fuss the small stuff, okay?

Good.

Several things, though:  Don’t marry someone who prefers alcohol, drugs, or sports, never marry anyone who “gets physical,” and definitely do NOT marry anyone just because the sex is good.  Really.