Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blogger miscellany

So I did my duty clogging up the blogosphere with my comments on other people's sites. I had no idea blogging came with all these obligations. Or am I just a compulsive, blog-addict?
I may create the first 12 step group for bloggers. #1 We admit that we are powerless over our blogging. #2 (I forget what the second step is--maybe something about a higher power? Any 12 steppers out there to help me out? Actually one of my proudest possessions is a copy of the "big book" given to me by a patient, but I have no clue where it is at present. Probably in a box never unpacked from my last office move.
I have two blogger problems of late. The first is that blogger thinks I have an unmoderated comment but if I click on it tells me there are no unmoderated comments. This is mildly annoying. Of course there may be any number of immoderate comments. But they should be all moderated by now. Especially since part of my blog addiction is to check for unmoderated comments whenever I am on-line.
More annoying is that I have to sign in afresh to blogger each time I want to access my dashboard from the blog itself. This started recently when I downloaded a new firewall. It turns out two firewalls are definitely worse than one (or as my secretary puts it, windows firewalls don't play well together). I discovered to my dismay that it requires much labor and uncertainty to remove my old firewall. I am afraid I will accidentally dismantle my entire computer while doing so. I also think it will take me on the order of an hour to accomplish this. Problem #2 is probably not blogger's fault. As my husband would gleefully gloat it is because I still use Windows machines and not Apples. As I've retorted only a million times, Apple doesn't support the software I use at work. Sigh.
Last, but not least, I've added a few links to my blogroll. (You know who you are). Fellow bloggers are what make this fun.

Have a nice day!!

I guess the record warm weather is over. Did British Columbia send theirs our way? Do I have to cancel this afternoon's patients?






Thursday Thirteen #2

Thirteen places I want to visit (that I haven’t been before)
1. Machu Picchu
2. Galapagos Islands
3. Alaska
4. Nepal
5. Angkor Wat
6. Great Wall of China
7. Masada
8. Jerusalem
9. Fiji
10. Luxor, Egypt and Egyptian monuments nearby.
11. Great Barrier Reef
12. Kiev (a roots thing)
13. Musee d’Orsay in Paris

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I lost a post

Well, I thought I posted something this morning but it apparently got lost in the ether. No backup either. Probably no great loss.
Today is my long work day. This means in the office from around 11 AM to 9:30 PM. If you add a 45 minute commute, this is a long day with little time to blog. But there was a cancellation today so here I am. Such an addict.
This morning's post was about my post on war. Although I tried to avoid any debate about the war in Iraq, some crept into the comments made on the war post. Basically, I'm a wimp. I have my political beliefs but have a been, there done that, attitude about sharing them with you on the blog. There are too many other people out there doing it better than I can and I find creative writing more fun. Plus (here's the wimp part), I don't want too much controversy on the blog. I'm doing this to relax and have fun, not create fights. So take my meaning to be that in a utopia, I assume there will be no war; I do feel that some wars are justifiable. I just don't choose at present to tell you which ones I favor and which ones I don't.
Thanks for all the comments. I'm glad folks like my photos. I feel that when the photos turn out well, my camera should take the credit. It turns out with a good camera, digital photography can make anyone look like a decent photographer.
I'll get back to you tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, which is becoming a regularly scheduled blog time.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Nature's Embrace

Taken in Indiana this weekend.

Sunday Scribbling—Nemesis=war

This is not going to be a diatribe for or against the war in Iraq. The impetus for this post is the Vietnam novel, Fields of Fire, by James Webb, that I just finished reading. In an earlier post blogaway: Jim Webb's Books--Literalness vs. Literacy, I described feeling surprised that the fictional efforts of Mr. Webb, now Senator-elect from Virginia, were used against him in the recent political campaign. I reported feeling the need to have read at least one of the books in question before writing any further on the matter.
I just read the last chapter and was pondering the message of the book which I take to be that war is rife with moral ambiguity. And somehow that led to thoughts of the meaning of a nemesis.
War is not my personal nemesis. In fact, it has scarcely touched me or my family. My siblings and I, my parents and grandparents have all missed any direct contact with wars or the military. I somehow spent my childhood blissfully unaware of the Vietnam War. I am not sure if this is because my parents protected me or if I was just unimpressed due to my youth. Being a woman, I have never feared being drafted which at times angered the feminist in me. Now I am probably too old to be required to go to war.
But our country is again at war, and in a war whose justification will be debated for many years to come. Perhaps the most important lesson of Vietnam is that all wars should henceforward be questioned closely.
The Vietnam War touched me personally only second hand. I spoke briefly of it with my second cousin who was a combat veteran. He is much older than I and was reticent to go into details but I had a sense that he carried his burdens with difficulty and always would. Then, some years later, while training in Psychiatry, I worked at a Veteran’s Hospital.
Many of the vets I treated were from the Vietnam era. I learned there to honor them for their service and was privileged to hear their stories from time to time. Both my cousin and the vets I met at the hospital had their ugly side. They could be cynical, cruel and contemptuous of women. Many were drug and alcohol abusers. Some of the vets were homeless. A few lied about combat experience to get more benefits or to share in some glory they felt they lacked. It was sad that at times we had to check records to prove that some alleged war hero had never left U.S. soil.
In Field of Fire, as in the Vietnam War itself, nothing is as is should be. A hero dies unrecognized saving one who betrayed him. Good and evil walk so closely together that they are inseparable. Little about the war is noble except perhaps the loyalty of one soldier to his fellows. Men who dream of returning home, find they cannot. The people they are fighting for revile them.
Webb’s book is lyrical and frightening. It is not easy to read and haunted my dreams. It is perhaps no more violent than a Stephen King novel but its violence is more real. One of Webb’s characters, a Vietnamese soldier, muses: “War is as natural as the rains. There are years when there is no war and there are seasons without rain. But always war and rain return. There is no difference. It is the nature of things.”
I hope war is not as inevitable as the rains and that some day it will cease to be the nemesis of humankind. We have conquered smallpox and someday, maybe, malaria and AIDS. We seem all the more helpless against ourselves and our own nature.
If an author’s character can be predicted from a novel, then I found nothing to warrant a vote against Mr. Webb and much to admire. Read his books and look through the latest crop of stories coming from the war in Iraq. We owe it to ourselves, our veterans, and our children.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I've been tagged

I just returned from 24 internet-free hours in Indiana. We walked in the woods, played on the beach and climbed the sand dunes. After such a pleasant interlude, I found that I have been tagged by a meme. So here goes:

Three things that scare me: spiders, horror movies, getting senile

Three people who make me laugh: my kids (this is two), my brother-in-law

Three things I love: Coffee, the Pacific Ocean, the French language

Three things I hate: hypocrisy, racism, mayonnaise

Three things I don't understand: daylight savings time, why life isn't fair, string theory

Three things on my desk: a monitor, about a thousand loose pieces of paper, my kids' computer games

Three things I'm doing right now: typing this, sitting in front of a space heater, wondering what to eat for dinner

Three things I want to do before I die: go to China, see my grandchildren, see my children into adulthood

Three things I can do: speak French fluently, crochet, make a good chicken soup

Three things I can't do: knit, play tennis, do a handstand

Three things you should listen to: your conscience, good music, NPR

Three things you should never listen to: malicious gossip, the people at the next table in the restaurant, a married couple's argument

Three things I'd like to learn: Italian, knitting, to be a better person

Three favourite foods: Pasta, sushi, Hot and Sour Soup

Three beverages I drink regularly: coffee, grapefruit juice, water

Three TV shows/Books I watched/read as a kid: Bewitched, Gilligan's Island, I Dream of Jeannie (I'm so ashamed. . . )

Three blogger friends that I am going to tag : Paula, Pepper, Sharon--I hope you don't mind my tagging you.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Belated Turkey

While learning the ropes of my office scanner, I played with this souvenir of Thanksgiving in Kindergarten, 1996.


This bluebird was enjoying drinking from the fountain at Zion Ponderosa Lodge near Zion National Park, Utah

My first Thursday Thirteen

I had a weird dream last night. It was probably triggered by the war novel I was reading just before bedtime. The highlight was that I was living in a war-torn country and had to flee to the mountains to avoid shelling. I packed the necessary food items, and what bedding and clothes I could carry (all were in short supply due to looting), but was upset because my digital camera could not be located. I’m glad I had my priorities straight.

I’m going to try a Thursday Thirteen, although the details of establishing the links seem confusing. If all those other bloggers can do it, maybe I can too.

Thirteen dreams I have (in no particular order):
1. Take my kids backpacking for the first time.
2. Study psychoanalysis formally.
3. Learn a new foreign language.
4. Learn to manage my temper better.
5. Have something I wrote published.
6. Write my memoirs.
7. Be healthy enough in my old age to play and travel with my grandchildren.
8. Learn more about my roots.
9. Retire (when the time comes) but keep a small private practice going.
10. Own a house in Provence.
11. Go on Sabbatical to a foreign country.
12. Go on an archaeological dig.
13. Hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wild turkeys couldn't drag me away. . .

Happy Holidays to you and all of yours. And if you're not from the U.S. I hope you eat well today anyway.
Gotta cook and my hand hurts for some reason.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The nature of rocks. . .

Self Taught Artist writes about art, that nature has already done everything to perfection. (Now I'm going to be brave here and try to put in a link. Wish me luck)--Self Taught Artist: I see Faces. (By jove, I think it is going to work.) She also has a great photo with her post.
This got me thinking about what I love best about nature. I'm not going to make a comprehensive list. The internet isn't big enough.
On a certain kind of day, this would be rocks. The mineral world encompasses a large variety of form, texture and color. When you are near-sighted, as I am, sometimes it is easier to look at the small details up close than at the grander vistas. Maybe that is what first attracted me to the pebbles underfoot.
Naturally smoothed stones are great to run your hands over. They are like a fine hand cream for the soul. And there are rocks with stripes, or spots, with large crystals or sparkly mica. There are stones in green, red, pink, orange. . . you name it. I have a rock I found at the beach once that has a little face in it. It looks like it was hand drawn in ink by a comic artist. I love this rock.
I'd like to feature more natural stone in my garden. This is a bit daunting because of the weight of stone involved in doing this. I don't live in an area where boulders are easy to come by (can you folks in British Columbia mail me one?), so quarried rock will have to do. More garden daydreams will have to wait for another post. A pond lined with, what else?, rock is also on the list.
I'm not great at taking photos of rocks but I am posting one of my efforts here.

The book I've linked at the end of this post is on my gift list for someone.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Duty calls, and today's a long work day. The good news is most of the rest of the week is off courtesy of turkey day. Unless you count making dinner for 12 as work.

Randomness for the day:
(1) Someone told me yesterday that my socks looked like the ones the wicked witch of the west wore when the house fell on her. This is a compliment, right?
(2) Thanks to all who posted/will post six word stories. I hope to compile them in a couple of days and post them (along with your sites--not sure if I can do links, but I'll try).
(3) My site meter topped 1000 today. At first, I was afraid that I'd be like the tree that falls in the forest with no one to hear. Thanks for reading.
(4) Thanks to Sunday Scribblings for generating major comments and great fun. You too Teaspoon Tuesdays. Now when will you post another prompt?
(5) Thanks to Photo Friday, Lensday and Moody Monday too but how will I ever come up with a photo for "embarrassed" (since I have a rule--no pictures of my kids).

Now as they say in the old country--do they?--to work. . . .

Monday, November 20, 2006

Very Short Stories

I cannot claim credit for this idea, but it is a lot of fun. This month's Wired magazine published a series of 6 word science fiction stories. Some of them are pretty amusing.
Harry Harrison writes: Time machine reaches future!!!...nobody there...
Ken MacLeod: We went solar; sun went nova.
Vernor Vinge: Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth.
Margaret Atwood: Longed for him. Got him. Shit. (I like this one).

So I decided to try a few.

He said unmentionable. I broke his. (see post under Evil)
This blog never ends. This blog
Two kids. One spouse. No time.
Met alien. No language. Don't shoot. . . (my sci-fi attempt)
Good night. Bed time. The end.

Kind of like Haiku with a plot.
Anyone want to try one?

A Quick Photo before Work

A wild poppy near Zion National Park, Utah

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Teaspoon Tuesday—Flight Plan

This prompt hasn’t quite caught my fancy. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m too content with airplanes and being a passenger. I do wish planes were speedier. I’d have loved to fly the Concord before it was grounded but, of course, who had the money? I feel a certain sense of loss that it is no longer an option even in my dreams.
My father almost managed to be an astronaut, back when astronauts actually went to the moon. I’m not sure why he didn’t make it, but if he had, there might have been no me. I don’t particularly want to fly on the space shuttle because I am convinced I would be incredibly sick. I’m fine with flying on a commercial jet but have trouble with sea-sickness and other forms of motion-sickness.
Flying is mostly about the places I want to go. It is not the lack of wings that hold me back but responsibility.
Thinking about flying made a sad poem come to me:

If I had wings
I’d fly,
Like Icarus
And die,

Perhaps I’m better off grounded except in my fantasies.

This book is sitting next to me right now. The Green Guides are my favorite guides to Europe. (Especially when they are in French).

Confirmed sighting on the global digital divide

--This is a follow up to a previous post, "You're so vain."--
We have two confirmed hits to this blog from the continent of Africa. My cluster map will not update until its mysterious algorithm is triggered in some unspecified time. Nonetheless, I will sleep better at night knowing that there are at least two computers in Africa, one in Cairo and one in South Africa.
In 1999, the BBC reported that less than 1% of South Asians are on-line, while in Africa there were only 1 million internet users. There is also the language divide; most websites are in English which is not widely spoken in Africa. Many Africans are not literate in their native language, much less English.(
The statistics may have improved slightly in the past 7 years, but not enough.

From Wikipedia on the digital divide:
"Another key dimension of the Digital Divide is the global digital divide, reflecting existing economic divisions in the world. This global digital divide widens the gap in economic divisions around the world. Countries with a wide availability of internet access can advance the economics of that country on a local and global scale. . . . The digital divide is a term used to refer to the gap between people who have access to the internet (The information haves) and those that do not (The information have nots). It can also refer to the skills people have – the divide between people who are at ease using technology to access and analyse information and those who are not."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Fun and games with teenagers

This was just too choice not to blog. . . . This evening we were serving dinner to my family and my older son’s friend. Both older boys are 14 years old. Suddenly my son grabs his stomach and runs to the bathroom. My husband and I look at each other and say that he must be getting the stomach bug that kept my younger son out of school for the previous 2 days. My son’s friend leans over his absent friend’s plate and interjects: “Ooh, can I have his rice?” We nearly died of laughter. Compared to rapid-growth-induced hunger, what are a few virus particles between friends?


"For where the instrument of intelligence is added to brute power and evil will, mankind is powerless in its own defense."
Dante Alighieri

I need a nice photo. . . .

Friday, November 17, 2006


"The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones." William Shakespeare
"The evil that men do lives on and on... " Iron Maiden

Photo Friday this week has the theme of Evil. It is hard to find a photo that fits the theme well. To judge from some of the current entries I viewed, the other photographers are finding it a bit of a stretch, too.

I experienced two forms of petty evil today. The first prevents me from posting the photo I wished to choose for Photo Friday. The second was much more personal.

Regarding the first: I had taken a picture of some of the graffiti that has been littering my neighborhood. I thought it was gang-related and the gang activity where I live is a true evil. Well, it turns out the graffiti might be produced by young idiots who do not have gang links. However, they certainly think they are cool. I know this because they have a Flickr account and post the photos of their "work" that they have stolen from other photographers without permission.

This is what they write on their Flickr profile:

"Though many of our members who have pushed the name in graffiti hardest are cooling out during at the behest of the courts lest they spend actual time behind bars for painting (which would be pretty stupid) , we keep the culture alive. Blood in, blood out.

The photos here are mostly stolen. Our apologies go out to those who haven't recieved credit; we only upload here to save record of our work in case the compters it's saved on be damaged or stolen. That's happened before and much graff that's long met the buff has been sadly lost forever. If you want your photographic work credited, please email us and we will get to it.

If you want us to take down/pay you for use of your photos, stop being an asshole."

These idiots are responsible for thousands of dollars of property damage according to the limited sources I could find on the internet. But they think they are heroes and artists. I think we know better.

So I cannot post my photo because it will be stolen and used to glorify this petty crime.

Evil number two happened more directly to me today. I have had to ponder over what details I can post for privacy reasons and can only post vague details.

For the first time in my life, an individual called me a truly nasty ethnic epithet. It was a horrifying experience and I lost my temper in a disgraceful way. Perhaps I have had a sheltered life, but despite working nearly daily with the mentally ill for years, I have never been insulted in this way before. None of the drunks, schizophrenics, drug addicts, homeless and so forth was ever as rude as this "ordinary guy". And I may have used bad words in the past but I have never once used a racial or ethnic slur to another individual.

This day has really shaken me up. I'm not even sure I should post as much as I have. I hope tomorrow is a better day for me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The woods are quiet, dark and deep. . . .

The woods are quiet, dark and deep. . . .
Originally uploaded by skron.

Just something to rest the eyes on.

Heroes--Sunday Scribbling

I think when I was a kid I must have wanted to be a hero. Not like superman or a firefighter. I wanted to be the hero in the novel, the “plucky” kid who overcame adversity and triumphed in the end. Most of my favorite and often read stories involved these heroic youths. Some of these heroes were actually not human but that was fine with me. My hero could be a hobbit (LOTR), a rabbit (Watership Down), a deer (Bambi—from the book, not the Disney movie) or a person. I wanted to write great stories in my attic like Jo March or sell my hair to support my family. Some of my heroes were orphans, like Taran in the Lloyd Alexander series. Although I wasn’t orphaned I could identify with their search for their own identity and with their resilience despite loss. In kids’ novels, loss makes people stronger and they find true friends along their journeys.
Books supported me in hard times. They were my best friends and they could be counted on never to turn on me. The ones I had read many times before became a comfort zone. There were no surprises, but I could still share the hero’s ups and downs.
Kids today have rediscovered literary heroes in reading the Harry Potter books. I would have loved encountering Harry as a child. He is the perfect orphan, overcoming adversity and a really bad guy. (Of course in real life, I was more of a Hermione type). As a parent, I have read the Harry Potter books more than once. Each book is read aloud to my older child, then my younger son as he “aged” into it. Partway through the read-aloud, I get impatient with how long it takes to cover the book and read the rest in one sitting before my own bedtime. We listen to the book-on-tape on a car trip or I listen during my commute to work. (Incidentally, the reader of the Harry Potter series, Jim Dale is fabulous).
Nowadays, the only dragons I slay are internal. I try to fight my inner Voldemorts and Saurons, and teach my kids to do the same. The real-life heroes in my life are the parents I work with who are coping with mentally ill or disabled kids, as well as the sufferers themselves, who get up every day to a world as grim as any Mordor or as scary as any forest after dark. The times I feel, just a little bit, heroic are when I have helped someone conquer their OCD or depression, or simply, when I realize that I am raising my own kids to be the fine, young men that they are and will be.
Heroes change as you grow up.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


They grow 'em bigger in Washington.

Identity management and the internet

Today I learned something new while listening to NPR--a favored source of news and trivia. They aired a report on "identity management firms." Identity management firms can be hired to sanitize your internet identity. For example, if you, or someone else, published something embarrassing on the net, such as a photo of yourself under the influence or in a naughty pose, or, bloggers take note, in your blog or my-space account, you can hire these folks to try to get it off the net again. The tactics are varied--nicely asking the owner of the site in question to remove your information, having a lawyer do the same (less nice), or burying your link by swamping search engines like Google so that the embarrassing one is way down the list. These measures (and maybe hiring these firms) become necessary because potential employers are searching the net for information that might alter their decision to hire you. An example was given on NPR of a potential hire for a corporate executive position who was turned down because he had an internet gambling habit.
What about other things people post about? It strikes me that a lot of people post about their mental illness. I have seen a number of posts by individuals with Bipolar Disorder. There are moms who post about their family and mention they have a child with a mental illness. People mention they take psychiatric medications or see a therapist. Or people openly post that they are gay. Or pro-choice. Or have an illness that is no one's business.
We may choose to share this information with strangers and friends but not with future employers or with people who have to offer us health insurance. A small business may not hire you because you are mentally ill or have diabetes because they know your health insurance may cost them too much. Or you may not be hired because you take a stance on the "wrong" side of the political divide.
No matter how hard we try, it is very difficult to post anonymously. I keep this in mind all the time as I post. I'm waiting for a patient to tell me that they ran across my blog. And I try hard not to post anything that I wouldn't tell them anyway if they asked me directly.
I personally don't believe this means that we should all go out and hire one of these firms. It is an argument for discretion by us all. Even more, it is an argument that our society needs to hurry up and adapt to a world with more information available to all (good) but less privacy (bad). In some ways, this privacy issue frightens me more than identity theft. At least that is clearly illegal and if my personal information is misused I can seek some form of recompense. If I am not hired for a future job because I posted that I have a set of beliefs that some one doesn't agree with, tough. I won't even know it happened. And I'm sure glad there are no photos of me in the costume I wore to that risque party the University of Chicago used to throw.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A new vocabulary word

It is not often I run into a word that I have never seen before. This one was a gift from my son's high school History teacher. The definition comes from (what else?) Wikipedia.

presentism (literary and historical analysis)
Presentism is a mode of historical analysis in which present-day ideas and perspectives are anachronistically introduced into depictions or interpretations of the past. Most modern historians seek to avoid presentism in their work because they believe it creates a distorted understanding of their subject matter.

The book my son has to write a report on, and the source of the comment on presentism:

House of dreams--Teaspoon Tuesday

House of dreams
Originally uploaded by skron.

It is hard to pick a dream second house. Would it be the house in Tuscany or Provence? Or the one on my private island in the Bahamas where I spend my too cold Chicago winters? (Can you believe it was dark before I left work at 5 today?)
But as luck would have it, my father bought one of my dream houses as his second home. He and his wife recently purchased a home in a development on the Pacific Northwest coast. It is not one of the ones in the picture but is nearby in the same development. I'd take any of the ones pictured, although I like the one that is a sea foam blue-green and the one that is natural wood with red. The homes are a 10 minute walk from the ocean which is left untouched by the development.
The Washington beaches are my "relaxation place". To explain, I spent many happy days hiking, backpacking and camping on beaches in the Olympic National Park. Nothing could be better to me than walking barefoot on the beach looking for rocks or sea shells.
When I became an Intern during my medical training, one of my supervisors noticed I looked stressed. At the time, I was abashed it showed. With more than a few years distance behind me, I now wonder why I was ashamed to be seen to be so pressured. After all I was having overnight call every 4th night, learning a new field under challenging conditions, and raising a toddler. There were too many days when my idea of quality time was to sit with my son on my lap while I tried not to fall asleep in the middle of Barney.
At any rate, my supervisor called me aside and offered to make me a relaxation tape. She created a tape which walked me through a restful scenario. Part of the process was my describing in as much, multi-sensory detail as possible, the place I considered the most restful in the world. The beach I described could have been one near my father's new house. This tape was a marvel. The more I listened to it, the more power it had to relax me. One time listening to it I fell asleep. Another time it cured a migraine. I wish I hadn't lost it years ago.
And now I can go there whenever I can take a break and visit my family. I can walk on the beach, watch my kids at play, and listen to the waves and the sea gulls. I may not be a poet but there is poetry there. Thanks, Dad.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

“I don’t want to be a passenger in my own life.”--Sunday Scribblings

Tail End
Originally uploaded by skron.

What an interesting prompt. The strange thing is that the two things I am doing right now, blogging and taking pictures could cause this to happen. How so? They both make you observe your life through a lens of sorts.
Sometimes that lens sharpens things. For example, I have been thinking of late that I notice the structure of the world more since I have been taking more photographs. For example the shapes that tree branches take, especially now that the leaves are nearly fallen and the branches emerge more starkly. Today I drove through a part of Chicago only a few blocks from my home, but one I didn’t know well. I saw some lovely old homes and an interesting out-door art exhibit I had no idea existed.
On the other hand, if one looks too long through a lens, one may forget to join in on the action. At a party, the camera is an excuse not to interact. On a vacation one can forget to participate. For example, on a diving vacation I took years ago (before kids prevented this sort of play from happening), someone on our dive boat spent so much time with his video camera, he seemed to forget why he was there. He was so busy staging memories that during one dive outing he made us reenter the water because his first shot had failed. In the evening he wanted us to sit around and review the day on film.
Blogging, too, can make one self-conscious. Instead of reading an article, I am analyzing it for its bloggability. Not to mention the addictive quality that blogging can have. It is not just the time spent writing, which may after all be time well-spent, but the time spent surfing other blogs, responding to comments, and trying to drum up readers. Shouldn’t I be sleeping right now? I have been on-line so much of late that my right hand is getting tendonitis.
It is strange too, the dilemmas that blogging raises. There are issues of privacy. I shouldn’t write things that might shame my family members. I shouldn’t talk too openly about my work so as not to violate the privacy of my patients. And I may mention things in my blog that I may not choose to share with my patients, although I have no illusions about privacy on the web. In a way my blog is an alter ego that I share only with strangers. When I chat with other bloggers on-line am I living my own life or a fictitious one?
Nonetheless, Freud would have honored a life well-examined and blogging does fit that role. Writing is a dream I have had since I wrote my first story at the age of 5 or 6 (complete with illustrations). If this isn’t just a passing fad for me, it may help me develop a part of myself that might otherwise have been suppressed.So if I am a passenger, I am also the pilot of this vessel.

Quotation is from Diane Ackerman--and no I haven't read her stuff. But it should be on my "to read some day" list.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Jim Webb's Books--Literalness vs. Literacy

I know the Virginia elections are a done deal, but I had to write about this and I only heard about it after the election, courtesy of a Chicago Tribune article. On November 8, Kathleen Parker wrote about Senator George Allen's attempt to smear his opponent on the basis of the novels he wrote about the Vietnam War. Apparently what you say in your novels can be used against you. Ms. Parker, like myself, feels that taking the contents of a novel out-of-context to smear an author is taking literalness too far.
Before writing this I went back to the internet and found the following press release from the Allen campaign: "Webb’s novels disturbingly and consistently – indeed, almost uniformly – portray women as servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or some combination of these," the Allen press release reads. "In novel after novel, Webb assigns his female characters base, negative characteristics. In thousands of pages of fiction penned by Webb, there are few if any strong, admirable women or positive female role models." ( Part of me wants to say, "So racist comments are ok, but portraying war-time abuse of women and boys is not?"
More surfing, courtesy of Jake Tapper's blog for ABC, revealed that some of what Webb has written is indeed disturbing, notably a scene involving pedophilia. But Lolita is disturbing too and it is considered a classic novel by many. Bad things happen in real life and some of them are portrayed in novels. If I write a novel about a rape, it does not mean I approve of it. This may be true even if I write a novel from the rapist's perspective.
Kathleen Parker makes this point as well: "far more perverse than a staged sex act in a wartime novel is our incremental trending toward literalness at a time when literal-mindedness is the blunt instrument of those trying to drag Western civilization into a new dark age." In an age when Muslims riot over cartoon content and Salman Rushdie has to go into hiding, we should adamantly refuse to make our authors have to apologize for their fictional imaginings.
However, in order to have a more honest opinion regarding this debate, I have ordered one of Webb's books on Amazon. I'll let you know if I like it.
In the meantime, any politician who has the discipline and intelligence to write a publishable novel, has my respect until further notice. Imagine a novel by George W. Bush. Scary.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday Challenge--Orange

All right, did the folks at Thursday Challenge realize that Lensday had Orange as the prompt for last week? Orange is not the most photogenic color. After all how many buildings are painted orange? Is your favorite flower that color? How many orange articles of clothing do you own? And pumpkins are so predictable and trite. There was an orange house on my old street. My husband always thought it was a protest color, because the neighborhood was gentrifying and everyone else seemed to be trying to do the "painted lady" thing with their houses. I thought it was simply bad taste.
So I drove around looking for something orange to photograph. Southwest airlines planes are sort of orange but although I had great fun taking pictures they didn't quite meet the theme. Last night's sunset was orange but the color didn't shine through in my photo. Then I had an inspiration. The journal I read professionally is fondly known as the "Orange Journal." I have dozens of them lying around the house. But a photo of the cover of a journal is boring. So I looked around the house and found that even though my favorite color is most emphatically not orange, the house is full of items in that color. It took me less than five minutes to amass a pile of orange items and create a still life. My cat assisted by snooping around wondering what on earth I was doing with this stuff.
So great art it ain't but it sure gets the point across.
Colorifically yours.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Coming in for a landing

Coming in for a landing
Originally uploaded by skron.

I had to take my car in for service today. The dealer happens to be near Midway Airport. I didn't have anything important to do and had my camera with me. So I decided to go to the airport and try taking photos of the planes taking off or landing. I managed to find two good viewing spots (much of the airport is surrounded by sound baffles and you cannot get a good view).
It was like being a little kid again going to watch the trains go by. I could basically sit in one place and watch and listen as these mammoths went by overhead. I can't share the sounds with you, I don't do video blogs, but here are some of my photos.
Another thing about airplane photography--these mammas are big and fast. You only get around 2 shots per plane and they had better be in focus because there is no time to adjust things. So some of my pictures aren't centered as well as they would have been if the planes had cooperated and waited for me to set up my shot. It sure was a blast, however.

One problem is Blogger is giving me trouble with posting photos again, so I will only have the one photo up for now. You can click on my Flickr site to see other plane shots.

If you can't stand the heat . . . .

Moody Monday picked Comfort as the mood for this week. I wasn't the only one to submit a photo of a cat. I guess cats have a special ability for seeking and finding comfort. Dogs comfort people, it appears to me. Cats spend 16 hours a day asleep and make a career out of doing it well. I took this photo because I cannot imagine being able to tolerate sleeping on a hot radiator. Clearly I do not have a cat's metabolism. In this photo, Dot draped herself thinly to maintain a maximum contact level with each coil of the radiator.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

All Right Now, Baby, It's All Right Now!

We used to sing this after the Stanford football team scored a goal when I was in college. Of course, today you know I'm not referring to football. It really isn't all right, what with our current administration, Americans and Iraqis dying right and left in Iraq and the likelihood that the Republicans still will control the senate (stay tuned until December or January on that one) but vengeance is sweet. Global warming hasn't gone away either. It was also a fun, cliff-hanger sort of election. I had trouble committing to going to bed last night but once it was clear that the outcome of Virginia will probably be contested for the next month or two, I decided I might as well get some rest. My first patient today is a Republican so I don't get to gloat until my second one comes in (a staunch liberal).
I have more political thoughts to share, but they will have to be deferred. Some of us have to work after all. . . .
Signing off from a Blue State.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Real Simple/ Real Life (Mine)

So what do those “celebrity questionnaires” reveal about me? That I’m not a celebrity or that none of us are all that interesting when asked about our favorite brand of toothpaste or toilet paper?
Here, I “bare all” and answer the questionnaire given in Real Simple of September 2006 (the actually interviewee is not a celebrity either).
1. What makes you laugh? My cat chasing a super-ball around the living room (just this minute).
2. What’s your favorite possession? My wedding ring—it was my grandmother’s.
3. What superhuman power would you most want to have? I guess wisdom doesn’t count as a superhuman power. How about telepathy?
4. What did you want to be when you were little? A scientist like my father. Boring.
5. What’s your motto? Do as I say, not as I do?
6. What would you do with $1000 in spare cash? Go to Paris for the weekend.
7. What’s your simplest pleasure? Reading a good book.
8. What would your “I’d rather be. . .” bumper sticker say? I’d rather be on vacation.
9. What’s the craziest fashion trend you’ve ever followed? Starting a Blog.
10. The big question I’m currently wrestling with is. . . How to balance work, family and leisure needs.
11. Would you reather be a little smarter or a little sexier? Tough one. For now I'll go with smarter.

So did anybody learn anything? I doubt it.

You're So Vain

Actually, what this is referring to is the map on the right margin of the blog which places a dot for the location of anyone who looks at this blog. This is a fun widget to look at and imagine what the person in Singapore thought if they actually looked at the blog they hit on while surfing.
But what I do, much more deeply, care about is the total absence of hits from Africa. Not because I need an African audience. I'm sure they and billions of other people have better things to do. It is because to my uneducated eye it means that most of the people of Africa do not have access to the wonderful tool that is the internet. We talk about a computer literacy divide in the United States but look at the map. An entire continent that isn't surfing. Of course it isn't just the lack of computers or internet access. There are problems that are much more severe and pressing, such as poverty, AIDs and malaria.
But it is something we should all think about as we play on the web. Is it really "World Wide?"

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Globe Mallow

This flower was seen near Zion National Park, Utah. To the best of my knowledge it is a Globe Mallow. I am submitting the photo to Lensday theme "Orange". At least it is not a pumpkin.

Singing in the Car

Le Temps de Vivre
Paroles et musique : Georges Moustaki
© Manèges
Nous prendrons le temps de vivre
D'être libres mon amour
Sans projets et sans habitudes
Nous pourrons rêver notre vie
Viens, je suis là, je n'attends que toi
Tout est possible, tout est permis
Viens, écoute, les mots qui vibrent
Sur les murs du mois de mai
Ils te disent la certitude
Que tout peut changer un jour
Nous prendrons le temps de vivre
D'être libres mon amour...

Teaspoon Tuesday asks for some songs to sing in the car. On occasion I like to indulge in some old French music I first learned while in high school French class. Georges Moustaki was a favorite of my French teacher and many years later I managed to dredge up enough memory of his tunes to find some tapes. Just this summer, I bought one CD (found in Italy). His music all reads as very 60’s to me. I looked Moustaki up on Wikipedia just now ( and discovered that he was born in Egypt. This I didn’t know. To me he was quintessentially French, but what do I know.
My rough translation is as follows:

We will take the time to live
To be free, my love
Without projects and without habits
We will dream our life.

Come, I am there, I only await you
Everything is possible, everything is permitted

Come, listen to the words that reverberate
On the walls of the month of May
They say to you the certainty
That all can change one day

Like most things, it sounds better in the original French.

A bientot.

The Winner of the "Needs to Get a Life" Award

Incidentally, this is my 50th Blog!!! I wasn't sure if I would persevere but it is coming along. We'll see if I'm still going in one year.
No, it is not me who needs to get a life. Or maybe I do, but I'm talking about someone else.
I've been stuck for a topic for a day or two plus too busy with back-to-work woes. Then life gave me a prime rant topic.
Yesterday I was dropping my son off at a class and had double-parked due to lack of parking spaces. Unfortunately I was too close to the car beside me and D. opened the door into the car next to us. Equally unfortunately the car was occupied. Mr. T. as I'll call him got out of his car and inspected the site that was touched by D. It appeared he found some mark because he then came up to the passenger side of my car.
Nice lady that I am I rolled down my window. He then went on a rant about the damage to his car. I said apologetically that I'm sorry, my son was nine and made a mistake. This wasn't good enough for T. The rant went on so long that I became a bit riled up myself. Not for myself but because I felt he was picking on a little kid who made a mistake. Kind of like the people who chew out one's kids for kicking the seat in front of them in an airplane. I mean I'm trying to keep them under control but what am I supposed to do, put barbiturates in their milk?
Mr. T. keeps on raving. "The car isn't even mine" he says. "And I only have 20,000 miles on my car", he says. I reply, "I thought it wasn't your car." "It's my father's." I wish I had thought of something smart to say like "what man your age needs daddy to buy you a Lexus?" but I don't think that fast.
When Mr. T. threatens to call the police, I feel a need to take decisive action. First I tell him derisively that the police will laugh him out of town if he calls them to tell them a 9 year old kid put a mark on his car. I also call him an unprintable name. Unfortunately the 9-year-old already knows mommy uses bad words. I go inspect the mark on his car. It has to be at least a milimeter long!!! Mr. T. tells me there is not a mark on the car. This I doubt. 20,000 driving miles in urban Chicago lead to marks. In Chicago, we park by the touch system, i.e. back up until we touch the car behind us. I look at his back bumper--marked up everywhere. I'm tempted to tell him my car has fewer miles than his but refrain. Mr. T. never stops ranting but my remark about the police changes his tune. Macho men do not like being mocked by the police. He now threatens that he has my license number and wants my insurance information. He also tells him that someone like me is obviously divorced. While I'm trying to figure out a meaningful come-back (after all I've been married for 17 years), Mr. T. gets back in the car and drives off. I fleetingly wondered if he was going to ram my car but was reassured that that would leave a really big mark in "his" car.
The encounter left me shaking (rage, adrenaline, fear, embarrassment). I needed to cool down over hot Starbucks. As I say, some people need to get a life. Or not drive expensive cars in the city.