Monday, January 30, 2006

Camille Claudel (and some guy named Rodin or something)

Yesterday I went to see the DIA's show Claudel and Rodin. It was really wonderful. I had a bit of bad luck as I was leaving for the show though. I slipped and fell on some wet leaves in my own yard and twisted my knee. I was in a lot of pain during this show but I still got a lot out of it. It is that good! You only have one more week to see it before it closes. And I would highly suggest getting advance tickets. My friends and I got there early and the show sold out shortly after we arrived.

Naturally I had heard of Rodin before this show. The DIA has a casting of The Thinker out front. It has always been one of their most popular pieces and one that is talked about a lot. I had never heard of Camille Claudel before though. She was a student of Rodin and also a lover. This showing of both of their works together was very interesting because one could see the influence each had on the other.

One thing that I found striking about the show was how much I found that I liked Claudel's works more than I liked Rodin's. There seemed to be more emotion in Claudel's works than in Rodin's. Or maybe it was her choice of subjects? I dont know. I have to wonder how much she may have been stuck in the shadow of Rodin simply because she was female. Would her talent have been more celebrated had she been a man? I dont know but I do know that most of the really famous artists are men. And Claudel was creating art at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th which wasnt exactly a time where women were celebrated as great artists.

I have a couple of favorites that I would like to share along with my thoughts. This first one is called "The Wave"

I had to stop and look at this one for a long time. I loved the sense of action in it and well the whole impending doom theme. Three young girls playing in the surf about to be crushed by a giant wave. YIKES! I loved the way she combined two materials for this sculpture, stone and bronze. I am not sure why that added so much to the thing other than it seemed to make the difference between flesh and water more pronounced.

This one is called "Age of Maturity" and it really is a beautiful piece. It is a sculpture of a man leaving youth behind and heading towards old age. I loved the way she saw this, how the man holds his hand back towards his youth because some part of him doesnt want to let it go but naturally he has no choice, he must go with the older woman...maturity as must we all. But this piece was more than just that, it was very personal. Claudel sculpted herself as Youth, Rodin is the man, and Rodin's longtime mistress Rose Beuret is the old woman. And there was something so raw and so exposed about that Youth figure that it just about broke my heart to see it.

It is easier to see in a related work called "The implorer." She just wants and wants but cannot have. I think she really captured the hopelessness of that feeling. Something a lot of us have felt at one time or another. I am always so moved whenever I see a work of art that shows emotions like that because whenever I have them, I always feel that I am the only one in the world to ever have felt that way. It is nice to get a reminder that most pain has been felt before and that one seldom really is alone in a feeling.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Dog Days of January

Yesterday was a total dog day. I have been a bit sick this week so I have been lax aout getting the dogs out of the house. I think they were going a little crazy. So, I figured that I would take everyone up to the lake where I could throw a ball and go for a short walk and then take a nap on the couch right afterwards. That and I am dog sitting for my sister's dog Buddy (who is the source of all evil in the world) so I figured I could save her some time and pick him up.

The big excitement was when we were walking along the lake shore. The dogs kept running out onto the obviously thin ice of the lake. Everytime they went out there, I called them back but then they would run out there again. Sure enough, one of the dogs just HAD to fall through the ice. Cookie was the lucky winner of the almost freezing bath. I wished I had a camera because she had a wonderful look on her face as she suddenly decended into the freezing cold water. Luckily, she was very near the shore and was able to get herself out of the hole.

Then, after we got home, my neighbor came over with her two beagle dogs. It was fun. Everyone ran around and sniffed a lot. I stood around chatting with her in the back part of the yard where I never go. It looks like people are throwing trash into the yard. We found some shelves and some liquor bottles and a kitchen knife. (why would someone throw a kitchen knife into someone's backyard?) I have my share of trash in the back yard too (mostly beer bottles over by the patio). So it looks like this spring I will have to have a backyard cleanup

Buddy, gets insecure when I dog sit for him and he has to be by me all the time. Actually he feels like he has to be touching me all the time. If I sit in a chair, he lays down touching my feet. If I lay down on the couch, he lays down next to me. All that action tired me out and I went to bed early. I let Buddy sleep in the bed thinking that he would be like Brooke and sleep peacefully at my feet. No, that little guy laid down right in the middle of the bed and practically pushed me to the side. How a 20lb dog can hog an entire queen sized bed is beyond me but Buddy somehow manages to do it. I kept waking up practically falling out of bed with Buddy spread out in the middle. Sheesh. I had to kick him out and make him sleep in the other room!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Monday through Friday, I spend nine hours a day at work. That is a lot of time. So it is not terribly surprising that I have developed relationships with my co-workers. And so it is always a little sad when one of them leaves. And so it was today. One of my favorite co-workers, Heather, had her last day today. She is one of my favorite co-workers because she always gets me in trouble for talking. Our little chats get busted up so much that I often feel like the kid caught talking in class. It is fun!

So we did the whole saying goodbye eight million times today at work and then some of us went out to Aubree's for a beer after work and that was nice. It is funny how much I am feeling that I will miss her. I mean, we have plans to go to the DIA on Sunday for our last chance at that Claudel and Rodin exhibit. I guess it is because I already feel that I have so little time to see people in my non-working hours. That, and I often find that I dont like change.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Framing Thoughts (LSD vs. Alcohol)

"You can observe a lot just by watchin'"
—Yogi Berra

Recently, I read a book about how people think in frames which is itself a frame. I have found myself thinking in that frame ever since I read that book. I think that is kind of funny really. I have been looking at the frames people view the world in and how difficult it is for them to accept any other view or even accept facts that are in conflict with their view. I know I do this too but, of course, the areas where I do this are less obvious to me than when others do it. Here is one example:

There was a pretty good discussion about LSD on amptoons where I noticed many people making comments like "I haven’t done anything harder than alcohol." I started to think about that. I mean, clearly the frame they are working with is that LSD is harder or worse than alcohol. But in what way? I suppose if one were talking purely from a legal point of view, LSD is worse than alcohol since LSD is illegal and alcohol isn’t. But I think they were coming from a point of view that LSD is more harmful to oneself than alcohol.

I have noticed a lot of people have a frame where they view all illegal drugs as being more harmful than legal ones. Some people do not even consider legal drugs to be drugs at all. Honestly, I have had people stand in front of me with a rum and coke while smoking a cigarette and say, “Well, I have never used drugs in my life!” Often if one suggests that caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are all drugs and potentially harmful ones in their own way, one will get a blank look of incomprehension in response.

If one should suggest that alcohol is not only a drug but possibly one that is worse than LSD, they will not accept that view even if one has facts to back it up. For example, if one presents facts that it is easier to overdose on alcohol than it is to overdose on LSD as evidenced by the percentage of users of each drug who have overdosed, such facts will be dismissed. For the record, I got some statistics off of the web that suggest an annual average of 317 deaths attributed to alcohol poisoning (notice that most people call it alcohol poisoning rather than alcohol overdose) and I was able to find only one anecdotal case of an LSD overdose where a person injected over 100,000 times the usual dose into their veins. But people have a hard time believing this, both because they are used to alcohol and either consume it themselves regularly with few ill effects or see others who do. Most people have not been quite as regularly exposed to LSD. I see a fear of LSD as being similar to the irrational fear of flying that many people (including myself have). We all KNOW that driving a car is more dangerous but we cant really believe it because driving a car is familiar and something we do regularly while riding in a plane is not.

Another interesting thing is that even though people will deny serious research that conflicts with their frame, these same people will, however, accept without question anecdotal evidence if it supports their frame. In almost every discussion I have had with someone about LSD, someone always mentions someone they have heard of who tripped on LSD and then "lost their mind" Almost always, when questioned, they will admit that they don’t actually know this person and that it was a friend of a friend. I don’t deny that such a thing is possible with a drug like LSD. I imagine that some people have a bad experience with it and then suffer PTSD or some similar disorder. I also know from working with people with serious mental illnesses like Schizophrenia that the onset of that mental illness is often around the same age that many people experiment with drugs so that the onset of the illness could easily be confused as a reaction to the drug. I can even believe that LSD causes mental illness in rare cases. It is one of those things though where a good study or several good studies would be good to have when forming an opinion but there simply are no studies that I know of that show that LSD causes any mental harm to anyone. Yet, people continue to believe LSD urban legends wholeheartedly.

Now, I am not saying that LSD is a drug without harmful effects although many people will hear that because I am saying that it is less harmful than alcohol. That is how it seems to be with frames though. A person has a frame that alcohol is safe so they will hear "LSD is Safe" when someone says something quite different such as "LSD is safer than Alcohol". LSD is safer than shooting yourself in the head too for what it is worth.

I find myself wondering what my frames are. I have identified a couple and have decided to try to be more open to facts that conflict with my world view. It isn’t easy though but I think that if more people did it, the world might be a better place. At the very least, I would hopefully find myself banging my head against my wall less while screaming “Why are so many people so stupid”

One can always hope.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Blog for Choice

Today is the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade and it is also "blog for choice day." The truth is that I dont have anything to say about this subject that I havent already said a thousand times before. Basically, I believe that women have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. We have the right to made their own decisions about medical procedures including elective abortions.

Abortion is still a right I consider fundamental. Can there be a right more basic than the right to choose what to do with one's own body? Oh I know there are those in the Anti-abortion camp who would say that a right to life is more basic but I disagree. Death is a normal part of the human experience and in no other matter is a person given a right to life that is greater than another person's right over their own body. Oh sure there is "Your right to extend your arm ends with my nose" rules but those are very different than the situation with abortion. A woman choosing to abort a fetus is more similar to someone refusing to donate blood even though doing so surely would save a life.

This issue is greater than simply one about if women can be allowed to terminate pregnancies. It brings to the surface many buried anti-feminist ideas in people. While there are some people who are anti-abortion who actually believe that this issue is about children and who show this in other ways by supporting programs that help all children including those who have been born, it has been my experience that most in the anti-abortion camp are really against women having any kind of power in our society. They see pregnancy as a punishment for being a slut and abortion as a way to get out of paying the piper so to speak. It is easy to recognize these folks. They are the ones saying things like "abortion should be illegal except in cases of rape or incest" and "women already have a choice...the choice not to spread their legs" and so on. Often these people are against all family planning including birth control because they arent as concerned about abortion as they are about women having control over their sexual lives. They dont want a whole bunch of women feeling entitled to have as much sex as they want with whomever they want even if they are not married.

So there you go. My blog for choice.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Woman for President in the USA?

Is the United States ready for a woman president? Frankly, I don’t expect it will happen unless we start to see more women in really powerful positions in other areas. We need more women in the House and Senate. We need more women CEO’s. I don’t see huge changes in those areas so I am not holding my breath for a women to be elected president in 2008. Consider that my home state of Michigan has only elected seven women to the House in the ENTIRE history of the U.S Congress (currently there are two female members of the House from Michigan).

I don’t think we will see a woman president until either the Republican party changes enough to nominate a woman or until there are enough progressive people in the Democratic party to compensate for any centrist voters who will vote Republican because they don’t like the idea of a woman running the show. Since there are so many in the Republican party who believe in a world view where only men should have power, I doubt the former will happen any time soon. There are many moderate Republicans who are willing to vote for a woman of course. I just don’t think there are enough of them to secure a woman’s nomination to a national platform. I think that the progressive world view could gain strength and I certainly hope it does but I don’t think that will happen by 2008.

If we could encourage more women to run for other offices, we might see a change in the way people in this country view things. People need to see that having a women as their House Rep; a woman as their Senator; or a woman in whatever other political position you can think of, will not result in the end of the world or even a government that is worse off than when it was only men running the show. *THEN* our country might be ready to have a woman President.

Related Article:

Monday, January 16, 2006


I havent really had a lot to write about lately. I spent Saturday playing a new video game I bought that is kind of a virtual train set. It is called 'Locomotion' and is kind of an older game so I got it cheap used. It is very fun though and I honestly spent almost 20 hours playing it. I actually got a cramp in a couple of my fingers! Every now and then it is good to lose oneself in such things though. By Sunday I was feeling pretty relaxed.

So, instead of blogging or playing on the computer, I decided to clean my house. I moved furniture and found all kinds of things under the couch. It was pretty amazing really. I found the tag that had fallen off Crissy's collar the week before she died. When I noticed it missing, I figured that I wouldnt bother replacing it because she simply wasnt going to run away at that point. It was nice to find it though because it will be something I have to remember her if I would need something, but it is still nice to have it.

I had a Grex board meeting tonight at my house and that went well although like most meetings that run over an hour, I thought it was too long. But, then, I guess the point of such meetings is to discuss things. And we did cover a lot of topics so I would say it was productive.

Cookie was well behaved. She always is around people. She likes *everyone* and is nice and sweet. Brooke on the other hand, has a thing where she sometimes just doesnt like certain people or is afraid of them so she did her share of barking and growling which isnt behavior I can tolerate in a dog. I had to keep giving her time outs in the kitchen. It is my own fault of course because I dont have enough visitors here at my house and usually when someone does come over, it is someone she knows. Oh well, perhaps I should start having more folks over.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Dogs as Role Models

"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive." —Gilda Radner

This was the quote of the day in our newsletter at work. When I first read it, my thoughts were total agreement. Dogs forgive easily, are passionate about things (like chasing squirrels), and are generally nice creatures. Oh yes, they are role models.

And then I remembered that my dogs like to eat poop out of the cat box. I guess that even when it comes to role models, there are limits to everything.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Rules for Dealing With Other People's Children

I recently have had some fun discussions with my childless friends about dealing with other people’s children. So I have developed some rules.

  • Forget about all of that “It takes a village to raise a child” crap. Many parents say they believe this but try to participate in the raising of a child and you will learn very quickly that they don’t mean it. Or rather, by “it takes a village to raise a child” what they mean is that single people should pay lots of taxes to support programs designed for other people’s children but should keep their mouths shut about them. Now, I think that it is perfectly ok for any tax payer to have an opinion about how their tax dollars are spent but one should expect some parents to pull out the “you don’t have kids, so what do you know about kids or education” thing if I happen to mention my opinions around them. I have found that the best approach is to remind them that I am only expressing an opinion as a tax payer about a public program (and I make sure that is what I am doing too. Saying, “parents need to spank their kids more so they are better behaved in school” is REALLY saying something more about a parenting style than a public program)

  • Do not *ever* think about giving any parent advice about child raising unless they ask for it (and even then I proceed with caution). Even if I know that even though I don’t have kids, I know more about raising kids than they do. Sure, I don’t have kids so I know less about raising kids than I would if I had kids of my own, that isn’t in dispute. But there are seriously stupid people out there who raise their kids in really terrible ways. So I might know that verbally abusing a kid to the point of tears every night is probably not a good parenting technique but, trust me, if I were to ever suggest that to a parent who does that, they will say, “what do you know? You don’t have kids” as if I would suddenly change my mind about calling children names and telling them they are worthless if I had kids. Yes, if I had kids, I would have more insight into the world of parenting than I have now but I would still be me and my fundamental values probably wont change. I know this. But they don’t. And they don’t want to hear what I am saying so unless I see the kind of abuse that needs to be reported to Social Services, I just stay out of it. Seriously.

    On issues less obvious than the verbal abuse example I gave, I just remember that there are lots and lots of ways to raise kids and most of them work pretty well, even the ones I don’t like. So while I might do things differently, it doesn’t mean that the parent I see is doing things wrong. And if I were a parent, would I want everyone telling ME what to do? I mean, I wouldn’t because I already know that if I had kids, whatever I did would be totally 100% correct….(hahaha. ok just kidding). But you get the idea. I wouldn’t want a bunch of busy bodies getting on my case if I did co-sleeping or natural fiber diapers or whatever other hippy dippy parenting thing I would be prone to doing. It took me a long time to learn to keep my mouth shut in such situations and I still slip up sometimes but really, it probably is better for everyone when unsolicited advice is kept to oneself.

  • Do not *ever* think of reprimanding another person’s child. There are two exceptions to this rule but generally, just don’t. Every parent seems to have a different method they use and unless you have been given permission and detailed instructions from a parent it just is better to keep your mouth shut. So…if you see some kid engaging in poor behavior, just ignore it. It isn’t worth the trouble to say *anything*. But as I said there are two exceptions to this rule
    1. Exception 1: My House, My Rules. If it is your house and you see a kid wipe a booger on your wall, it is perfectly acceptable to tell that child that booger wiping isn’t allowed in your house. I have lots of rules in my house that I enforce with *everyone* (not just children). As I have already mentioned, I don’t allow booger wiping. I also do not allow annoying the dogs, writing on the walls, screaming, running, climbing, and there is a definite bedtime of midnight if I have to go to work the next day.
    2. Exception 2: My Body, My Rules. Oddly this is an exception that a friend who is a parent asked me to do. Her kids sometimes hit me or jumped on me and I didn’t like it but was afraid to say anything. She said that she was trying to teach her children that they had the right to control their own bodies and how other people touched them. She wanted me to set an example by telling her kids that they couldn’t hit me. Then I thought to myself: Hey, I have control over my body and I have control over who touches me and in what way. I mean, if an *adult* hit me, I wouldn’t just stand there and smile and say “oh how cute” I would say something like “It is not ok for you to hit me” because it is NOT ok for someone to hit me even if that someone is a child. So now if a kid hits me, I tell them that they aren’t to do that anymore and if they continue to do it, I leave the room.

  • If you have a friend who only talks about their kid and seems to have no other interests, there are some things you can do.
    1. You can talk about your pets in the same way they are talking about their kids. Trust me, if you start describing your dog’s poop in the same animated way they describe their baby’s poo, they usually get the idea. And if they don’t? Well, who else is going to listen to you talk about your dog’s poop? *snort* I secretly LOVE doing that. Yeah…so bring it on, you parents who like to talk about your children’s poo. I have *two* dogs and they poo every day. Sometimes TWICE.
    2. Remember that sometimes (especially if they are a stay at home parent) your friends with kids don’t get too much adult conversation and simply need to have the conversation redirected with simple questions. In fact, getting the topic off of the kid is usually doing them a favor. They are talking about the kid because that is all they have been focused on but everyone needs to have other things in their lives. Your friend NEEDS to discuss Madonna’s new look or the BUSH administration’s latest fuckup (depending on the friend).
    3. Just go with it and listen to them complain about the sleepless nights and how they have no life anymore. This almost always makes me GLAD that I don’t have kids which is good because I don’t have kids and it is a lot better to be glad about that than wishing I had them.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The End of the Christmas Season

I have been pretty busy the last few days.

I took my dogs up to my parents house on Thursday evening. They always love going there and when I am ready to take them, I love to just say “who wants to go to the lake”? That phrase, more than any other produces a frenzy in my house that just cracks me up. The dogs snap to attention and then start running around the living room in circles while making excited dog noises. In the car on the way there, they jump up and down the whole way like kids on the way to DisneyLand. It always makes me laugh.

Friday evening was the Russian Christmas Eve dinner with the family which is fun. We did the trational dinner on Dec 24th too but it still was nice to repeat it again on the actual holiday. Russians still celebrate Christmas on Jan 7th. When I was a child, my grandparents did Christmas on the 7th and refused to celebrate on December 25th. I honestly used to believe that there were two Santas. There was the regular Santa who brought presents to everyone but there was also a special Santa: Russian Santa who brought presents on January 7th to all the little Russian children who also, luckily for ME, also brought presents to half Russian children who lived in the United States.

So...this year Russian Santa kind of made a return but in the form of a bald man visiting from San Francisco who brought gifts of Scharffenberger Cocoa Nips. I spent Russian Christmas with good old verlaine and his family and kate too. His family is sooooo fun. I had such a good time. We had glorious dinner of the best take-out fried chicken I have ever had. Then we sat around and opened presents from verlaine and kate. And we talked and talked until late in the evening. Good times.

And today? A movie and lunch with my friend Andee. Life is good.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Michigan in January

I really hate Michigan in January. I cant remember the last time I saw the sun. My full-spectrum light helps but it just isn’t the same. Everyone I see looks like zombies mindlessly going about their daily business. Oh well, at least folks here in Michigan have better skin that folks in less cloudy parts of the world.

I had a dream last night that I haven’t been able to shake all day. I wont bore anyone with the details but a few long lost friends (a couple of whom I haven’t seen in over ten years) were in it and when I woke, I had an incredible longing to talk to them. That longing has been like a dull emotional ache all day. Still, I don’t think I will do anything to try to contact them because for the most part, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to find them and honestly I am a little too lazy to try. I guess it is just weird how sometimes certain people never leave us.

hmmm. tblog seems to be down or at least, I cant access it so I guess that for now, this wont be mirrored there.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year

My big five day celebration of laziness and sloth has come to an end. I have to say though; I enjoyed it thoroughly and completely. I pretty much did nothing with myself for the better part of five days. I ventured out to see one movie with Kate but otherwise it was just me and my dogs and all socializing was done via telephone. It makes for a very relaxing time but not exactly for great blogging. I mean, as much as I am sure you all would LOVE to read blog entries with titles like: Investigating Belly Button Lint – Day 2, I just cant bring myself to write them ;)

I had been a little worried about some friends who live in Sonoma County where there has been a lot of flooding. I got a message from them on my machine left on New Years Eve just before midnight. It sounded like they were drunk and having a good time and not phoning from some Red Cross shelter because their house had been flooded. But then it occurred to me that if I were ever evacuated on New Year’s Eve to a Red Cross shelter, I would probably get drunk and start calling all my friends too. I talked to them eventually though. Luckily it turned out that the only great tragedy the weather caused for my friends has been that it rained so hard that they couldn’t let the kids go outside to play so everyone was stuck inside. I guess they resorted to drawing on the floors of the house with sidewalk chalk. Whew. Thank goodness they have concrete floors!

So, this is my first blog post of the new year. I was reading a bit about some New Year's traditions and how one superstition is that how you spend the first day of the New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year. If that is the case, I guess I can expect to be alone but by choice and relaxed about it. Oh and hung over a little bit but not too upset about that either. :)