Friday, February 29, 2008

Graphics vs. lists

Maybe the lists we create are too left brained to create a vision other than a linear one. There's a website that describes what visual practitioners do. Either use the link above or click on the hand drawing the picture of the buffalo to see what can be produced. Doing a point by point list looks hierarchial and if the goal is creating a more indigenous decision-making model, perhaps we have to communicate graphically. Picking and choosing from another tradition may not work if the media is the message. I'm thinking that maybe we'll have to create a better balance in our ability to use both sides of the brain before we can understand one another. The generation that insists on keyboards and refuses to use workbooks because they don't like using pens/pencils are on their way to growing brains that use both sides in a more balanced way.

Act like a Business?

Today, I'm exploring a blogger who teaches in an Arts Administration MBA program.
One of his articles is "Act like a business? Why aim so low?"
"5. We must work with clarity and discipline. Nonprofit arts organizations don't have the luxury of elbowroom; every action must be taken with elegance, intent and openness to learn and improve."
The current situation in the Anglican church feels neither elegant or disciplined. It feels more like a guerrilla war with both sides strategizing and manuevering. Seems to me that when I joined the Anglican Church, I agreed to be part of a hierarchial stucture under the authority of the Bishop. The 1960s are over and guess what - our time of being teenage protestors is long past. We are the establishment. Undermining our institutions and our authority figures is shooting ourselves in the foot because like it or not, we are the matriarchs and patriarchs in our families. We're supposed to hold things together so our children can fight for changes that work better for them while maintaining a legacy for our grandchildren. Type Gen Y into google - guess what. They aren't too impressed with the Baby Boomers. They'd really like us to grow up and stop acting like rebellious teenagers. It's their turn to protest and our turn to maintain a structure for them to reform. We are not the arrows. We are the bow.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

For the Rest of My Life

Tonight I've been surfing around blogs with something about fatness in the name. I started with fatdoctor who's great and then followed links from there. The shrinking knitter had this to say about Ellen Page who played Juno, "I hope Ellen Page keeps making movies for the rest of my life." A light bulb went off in my head. I just started rattling off the really obvious choices. I think my family doctor is the best and hope I keep him for the rest of my life. My dentist, now there's a gem who better outlive me. If I choose bright, talented, caring graduates, there's every reason to think that I'll have died from old age before they reach retirement. If someone is 30 today and they retire at 65, they will be working until I'm 90 years old. I was in my middle 30s when I realized that I owned more books than could possibly be read in my lifetime. And I've been advised by senior friends that the day will soon arrive when a "lifetime guarantee" won't seem like much of a promise as the number of remaining years in a lifetime dwindle. I've climbed the hill of waiting forever for the next exciting milestone and am now on the side where time is in hyperdrive.

Bias & Obesity

When I was growing up in the country, it seems to me that it was the norm for a long and lanky farmer to be married to a shorter more rounded spouse. Farmers got hungry and cold and dreamed of heading to the house to see what hot, delicious something was about to be pulled from the over. This fascination with the size 0 woman seemed to me to be a Hollywood oddity rather than a Canadian reality. Thanks to the constanting streaming of media images, the range of acceptable differences narrowed to whatever the media says is acceptable.
So here's a link telling where things stand today:
Bias, Discrimination, and Obesity - Rebecca Puhl and Kelly D. Brownell
When we drew the circle wider, somehow that wider circle pushed a few of the original people out.

Canada at the Oscars

Sarah Polley and Ellen Page are not only extremely talented women - they somehow managed to be recognized despite being highly articulate with worthy messages. Both of them could just come on over anywhere in Canada and get people thinking and maybe even inspired to act. Regenesis is my favourite tv show and who can forget the day Sarah Polley lost a few teeth protesting on behalf of the poor. I would have gone to the theatre to watch their movies but I live in a small town without a theatre and receiving the Ridgetown newpaper and the Essex newspaper doesn't provide me with information of what is currently playing so I missed seeing the movies whenever they came out. So I'll be wandering to the local video store hoping to pick up Juno and Away from Her. Barbara Walters had trouble believe that schoolmates would be inclusive to a pregnant classmate in Juno's situation and some critics had trouble believing that Grant would continue to love Fiona through the Alzheimer's and her transfer of affection to Aubrey. Personally I would have thought it odd if people hadn't rallied around Juno and if a 50 year old marriage didn't contain enough love to survive emotional pain.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Dress

On Friday, we went shopping for my mother-of-the-groom dress.
Style: F12667
This is it (click the last colour square as the colour is marine) I added a teeny sheer jacket which basically gives me sheer sleeves. Because feet don't show, Danielle suggested getting ballerina slippers which is a blessing as it's been at least 20 something years since I last put on a pair of heels. So imagine me dancing in the above dress to this music Boyz II Men, Song for Mama.
I'm going to buy a copy of Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah and watch it a lot because the dress demands a much larger personality than comes naturally to me. If Danielle hadn't found this dress, I probably would have been all practical and purchased something navy that would have worked for all occasions - something safe and wallflowerish.
Everyone expects that children will a gift that dramatically transforms one's life. Who knew that twenty-something years later, acquiring children-in-law would open up whole new worlds.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Electro-Shock Therapy - link to talk.
Sherwin Nuland, the surgeon and author, talks about the development of electroshock therapy as a cure for severe, life-threatening depression. Midway through, his story turns personal. It's a moving and deeply felt talk about relief, redemption, second chances.

In the middle 70s, as a student, I observed someone receiving electro-shock therapy. I remember the wall in the room being cold and pressing my body up against it so I wouldn't faint. As a young woman, it was very terrifying to see someone put to sleep and have their muscles temporarily paralyzed thereby losing the ability to say "Stop. I change my mind. I don't want to go through with this." Although no one knew for certain why this treatment might work for depression, it was thought that it worked by making the painful memories inaccessible.

Scott Young posted on this talk because of Nuland's use of a trigger phrase to stop his compulsive thinking and redirect his thoughts in a more productive manner. In his case,"Oh fuck it" was the magic phrase that allowed him to quickly move past a discouragement and concentrate on his positive goals.

I had rather imagined it to be like the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" but for Nuland it was a second beginning.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Naming Yourself

My soon-to-be daughter-in-law asked me what I wanted to be called when they decide to make me a grandparent. It took me a few hours to come up with an answer. I wanted to be traditional but not ancient. My choice: Grammy - like the music award. When they think of me, I want them to remember life's music - the ability to heal, celebrate, create and express their truth.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mirrors & Eye Glasses

This rectory has an abundance of mirrors as far as I'm concerned. To me, a mirror is "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all" and I never was in the running. During most of my 30s, if I happened to pass by a mirror, I had a baby/toddler/preschooler in my arms. Who wants to compare her face with the perfect face of a small child? So I got out of the habit of looking. And I probably stopped during that period when I had rosacea so severely that my nose was redder than Rudolph's with that persistent large white pimple on the end of it and there was way more scalp than hair on my feminine head. Well when I was in Halifax in Windsor Park, I walked into the bathroom with my prescription eye glasses on. Talk about a shock. When did my skin get wrinkly around the eyes? And I swear I didn't know about all those stray chin hairs I missed taking care of. I remember reading somewhere that the best friend of a post menopausal woman was a magnifying mirror. Wonder what I'd discover if I could magnify this face? I could start my day with "This is my face the way God intended me to see it. After finding my glasses, this is my actual face that the world sees every day and holy cow, this is my magnified face or is it a some geological ruin?

Reading Vocabularies

Is it possible to have a concept without the vocabulary to describe it? I would think so because mankind invents stuff and then names it. And then there's the whole allegory, science fiction, apocalyptic, seeing into the future stuff.
That said, having a speaking vocabulary but not a reading vocabulary is a major problem which requires more thought if dyslexic kids hope to meet their academic potential. I used to think that what was important was having the story line that shapes culture. Renting videos of Shakespearian plays, Dicken's novels, the Bible would keep a dyslexic from falling behind in the area of great ideas. Now I'm thinking that watching the movie version isn't good enough because the movie version doesn't build vocabulary. Life is too short for me to crack open Dickens. I challenge you to pull a Shakespearian play off the book shelf as a test of how many words are no longer in common use. Does it matter? Can you read across academic fields, across cultures? Can you do your own research, ask the right questions, formulate ideas outside your box? If your children choose to only have a speaking vocabulary, is that ok or is that to the brain what choosing not to get off the couch is to the body?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Re: Calligraphy

This is the icon for the yahoo group byhandartists. My husband and I belong to a local calligraphy group called Kent Scribes. We're not very good at it but the other members have talent.

Calligraphy is almost meditative and requires hand eye coordination as well as an artistic flair. In our society that worships speed, it takes great discipline to commit yourself to a process that could be done in two minutes using computer fonts. My eyes need training to see and my mind needs focus and that requires the pen rather than the keyboard.

I'm doing a bit of algebra tutoring which is a bit like saying I'm a fish explaining to a baby bird how to fly. What I know about algebra could fit into a thimble with plenty of space to spare but if I know the answer, I can see which rule wasn't followed. Because I'm not a math person and because I have to sit there in case there's a problem that needs analyzing, I sometimes sound a touch angry or annoyed or whatever. So I'm thinking if I use the math time to work on calligraphy, it will center me and make the math process for pleasant for both of us.


No, I'm not taking up bicycling. Personally I'd be the first to buy a military tank as my family vehicle of choice. My favourite medical area is neurology which leads to total paranoia about anything that could cause a head injury.

Actually, I'm trying to get myself organized enough to get back to T'ai Chi and line dancing which I know I like and when the icy/snowy stuff disappears, doing a daily variable intensity walk. Any dancing is fun as far as I'm concerned - even dancing with my Christmas Santa.

John has a personal trainer. David and Peter are walking every day. Stephen has dog walking, walking to Tim Hortons and his gardening. Paula and Danielle go to the gym semi-regularly. Even the dog and the cat trimmed down while I was Nova Scotia. Maybe it's time for the one who looks like the picture to do something about that back view.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Juno Towers

For twenty-seven years, our vacations have all been family vacations - roughing it in a tent, staying with family, moving across the country stuff. People would talk about getting on a plane and travelling as a wellness activity but I couldn't figure out how that worked. If I couldn't relax in the bush, how would I relax with all the stimulation that comes with travelling?
The last few days of my time in Halifax, I think I came close. Of course, we are talking about the last few days of a month out of my environment. I was in something that resembled a hotel suite. There was the bedroom with tv, a bathroom, a study area, a kitchenette area, a table with a couple of chairs and a sitting room area with a little foyer. I was given a meal card and could choose anything I liked and ate in a formal dining room.
I've been home for 4 nights but I wake up every morning thinking I'm still in that suite. When I fall asleep, my subconscious goes to that world where I had no responsibilities and was totally provided for. Before I lived my life during the daytime and then relived whatever stressed me all over again in my sleep. So I'm wondering how long this lasts. How long will my subconscious live at night in this brief space where life was simple? I have a feeling that the room was designed expressly for this purpose as the people who normally stay there have extremely weighty responsibilities and lots of memories that are rugged. It's a healing space and a working space for those who cannot fall, for those who cannot quit, for those who soldier on.

Sticky Notes Produce Responses.

If you send out a survey or a request for information and add a personal sticky note message not only are people more apt to respond to your request but they also respond more promptly and more fully. It feels more like a request for a personal favour and the polite/helpfulness motivations kick in.
I can't guarantee it would work with me as I'm a legendary procrastinator but it would make me feel even more of a cad than I usually do about not getting something done.
Source: "Post-It® Note Persuasion: A Sticky Influence" by Randy Garner. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 2005. Click here and then click "Chicago GSB" to obtain a PDF of the full report.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Using Multiple Computers

The first article I read about the efficiency of using multiple computer screens was in reference to Bill Gates' office. Then there was that picture of Al Gore's office with his multiple screens. Well when I was lonely and a bit bored in Halifax, I gave it a try. Don't do it unless you want to be instantly hooked. My short term memory is very short. By using two screens, I can put instructions, rules, research, whatever on one screen and use the other screen for composing. It works especially well with making expanded notes from a power point presentation. Power point keeps the speaker on track but don't come close to the kind of notes one makes with additional research and a textbook in hand. On the trip, I thought I was crazy lugging a large- screen laptop around the airport. I had a backpack for it which also contained lots of other stuff as well so it was weighty. Being forced to part from my full size computer, I found what I hated most about laptops was using my finger as a mouse. Adding a mouse made all the difference.

Military Decisions

It was the military liaison nurse who phoned and asked the right questions. The civilian hospital gets credit for saving David's life and it's the military hospital that is working to ensure the best possible long-term outcome. After spending two days in David's apartment, arrangments were made to move him where he could get the best nutrition and the greatest chance of being able to make a full recovery. I spent another 2 days in Halifax and left with total confidence that he was in better hands than mine. David has never been so grateful to be military. The military is hierarchial and as an able seaman, David is pretty much on the bottom of that hierarchy. The pubic hospital system tries to be very equalitarian. Being equalitarian is a fine ideal but in reality, everyone including the medical staff, is treated like a peon/slave. David's operation ended at 11 p.m. which gives some indication of quality of life conditions for surgeons. If the people caring for you, do not have their health issues respected, the lack of feeling cared about filters all the way down the system. The military treats its officers well and those officers were extremely generous in giving David permission to live above his rank until his health stabilizes. In this case for sure, treating the top well had a positive trickle down effect. And I learned that some economies are very costly. No more handling unexpected expenses by reducing the food budget. We're too old for such foolishness.

David's Discharge

When David was discharged from the civilian hospital, I was given no instructions whatsoever. The physiotherapist did teach him how to do steps. There aren't the resources out there for anyone medical to show even the mildest curiosity about life beyond their doors. I get that. It's dangerous but I get it. The people were all good people but there's just no room for curiosity - no looking at food trays to see if the patient ate because the food is low quality anyway. The major protein source was milk-based - instant breakfast and boxed milk shakes but David read somewhere that milk thickens secretions so he didn't touch it. He went down to the hospital cafeteria to buy food but even there it took some thinking. I thought I was being smart by mixing the soups to get a wide enough variety of vegetables but the wives of the dialysis patients warned me about the amount of sodium that was giving me. When I got off the plane, I headed straight to the doctor's for a renewal of my thyroid pills and even though the waiting room was packed to the gills and my own doctor was out of the country, I got a lecture because my blood pressure was creeping up. Because I'm at the upper limits of normal, I'm supposed to take my bp and record it every day but in my rush, I forgot to pack the machine. Believe me, I was extremely grateful not to see my doctor because he is incredibly conscientious and really cares about every little thing. Hospitals save lives and for that I am eternally grateful. But my doctor is right - it's the little details, the little choices that have a big impact on quality of health.