Saturday, July 04, 2015

Long & Rambling Update


These are some lovely black skimmers I saw at the beach one day on my walk ... they have nothing to do with this blog post.  I just wanted to share them.

So, I had this big deadline this week ... technically, July 1, I was to turn in something, anything, to show that I am making progress in my PhD program. 

The truth is, I have had a hard time motivating to write these two out of four papers that I owe various people at the university.  Even though I have actually been working on the papers, off and on, I still didn't seem to be making progress.  I could write and write notes, but getting something to see coherent in the paper was elusive.

At nearly 2 am on July 2nd, I was still working on the paper.  I had pledged to myself that I would get this monkey off my back ... no matter what.  I decided to turn in whatever I had done by July 1... well, at 11pm on July 1st, I was rounding the corner, with only one section to complete and a conclusion to write.  I had a pile of notes on this section, but every time I read through the notes in an attempt to get something that sounded like it meant something, well, it made me want to run screaming through the house.

So, I winged it ... and some of it might have sounded ok, I couldn't actually bring myself to read the rest of the paper after having revised so closely all the rest of it, over and over.  All that to say, I FINISHED IT.  And the other paper? Well, I made an executive decision not to do it. 

In the midst of all this craziness, I felt like I needed to have control over some part of my life -- so I decided to get serious about the workout and diet routine. 

Black skimmer in flight!
If you are thinking to yourself, why would she add this to the pile of other things she has to get done, well, you might be on to something.  But, truthfully, it did help. 

Every day, regardless of how much I wrote, I would go for my three mile walk.  And in between sitting and working on the stupid paper, I would get up and do some stretching or some ab work.

It should demonstrate to you just how much I did not enjoy writing this paper that I found exercising a BREAK! It didn't get so bad that I started cleaning, but I will admit that I thought about it SERIOUSLY.

And, when I say diet, I have to admit I read an article (when I should have been writing) about fast-like diets -- diets of 1000 calories a day OR LESS.  I got the bright idea that I should try this, but I was understandably scared that it would be hard to do.  My compromise was to try to step down into the lower calories. I started at 1200 and worked my way down, by July 1st, I was eating 1000 or less and happily shedding pounds (why is LB the abbreviation for pounds?).
The egret that led me into the lagoon

Next week, I am going to go all the way and do the five days of fast-like, plant only diet to see if it will help me keeping from plateauing as I work my way to my weight goal (140). 

The good news is that I am not hungry... I am eating almost no processed food and getting most of my carbs from fruit and feeling fine.  I am 11.6 down, officially, as of this morning, though I am afraid to report that until it is maintained.  As I keep losing .4 lbs per day, it turns out I am not plateauing as of yet.

And, I accidentally went caffeine free yesterday. I just forgot to drink the coffee I intended to make. In the evening, I was feeling super tired, and that was when I realized ... I never made that coffee! I marveled that I didn't have a headache.  It was unintentional but fortuitous because next week, in my non plant phase, I didn't have a back up plan for the milk in my coffee. 

This morning I woke up with the splitting caffeine withdrawal headache.  OUCH! I remembered that Monday I planned to have NO COFFEE, so I decided that I should not make this headache go away with coffee.  Instead, I took tylenol, and am sipping tea, hoping I can step down by Monday ... all else fails, I can do green tea with no milk ... that's my update-ish.

I have other things to say about what I might be doing with my life next, but I decided not to make plans more than a week in advance for a while.  That's my plan for next week except I also plan to go to the movies, maybe three times! And I am going to read books (already started one) that are not for papers. 

But, I am also going to keep working on one of those other papers... because I am dutiful, often to my own detriment.

Happy fourth!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Poetry Thursday, delayed...


The loving acceptance

You so deeply hunger for...

Can never reach you

Until you've learned

To give that gift

To your self.

Practice holding

Your self

As dear as you

Would hold anyone

Else whom you

Truly cherished!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

NRU lite

The News Round Up is light because I am on the deadline, end of the line deadline, no more extensions, monkey off my back, deadline.

These are the stories from the last week or so that I couldn't help but read and pass along...

There are few times when I truly wish I had a lot of disposable cash, but when I read this piece, I was yearning for that winning super lotto ticket.  I would love to be a homeowner in Italy ... anywhere in Italy.

It turns out we can use our consumer muscle -- The Donald is feeling the weight of the population of people he denigrated in his presidential announcement. 

Not sure how this story will end, but I see a movie in its future.  Since I wrote this, the story did end ... dramatically, and I await the movie.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Moving Tribute and Call to Action

...from our president...my president... I am so glad he has found his voice, and hope he will continue to use it and his pen, whenever possible, to help us get where we need to be.

And for all the haters.I hope that you will listen to this yourself instead of letting the haters tell you what our president said today.

If you prefer to read it, here is the text.

Congratulations, SCOTUS...

you got it right!

But mostly, Congratulations!, to all those folks whose marriages are now legally accepted in all states ... and to all those who were holding out until today to get married!

Some days, our colors inspire pride, and today is one of them!

Unfortunately, we continue to mourn and grapple with lingering, deep-seated racism.  This is also happening today...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Poetry Thursday (actually book quote)

“Neighbors bring food with 
death and flowers with sickness 
and little things in between. 
Boo was our neighbor. 
He gave us two soap dolls, 
a broken watch and chain, 
a pair of good luck pennies, 
and our lives.” 

—Harper Lee,
To Kill a Mockingbird

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NRU - on stoicism and forgiveness

I bristled over and over while reading this piece on President Obama's showing of late his emotions in public.  I understand that many people pretend to live their lives through social media where private emotions are often exposed.  Though I often wonder how many of those comments are made for the sake of attention. If they were merely spoken, would they be taken as a real display of emotion?  Whatever the case, I would like to know why it is that we imagine that just because someone does not show emotion means that he or she has no emotions.  The word STOIC has long been a part of our vocabulary, so this is not a new concept.  And this piece, though it gets around to acknowledging that all people have feelings, it never addresses the fact that as a Black president, Obama doesn't have the luxury of showing all his feelings.  Regardless I have to say that I support his not having ever to show his feelings unless he wants to.  I don't force you to cry in public, neither will I shame you for it.  Why do you judge me for not crying in front of you?  Why don't you ask me how I feel instead of making assumptions?

Much has been made of the forgiveness bestowed upon the Charleston killer by his victims friends and family.  I, too, am impressed with their grace and resilience, and their ability to understand that anger and hate only cause more injury.  I think it is always in our best interest to forgive, which does not mean that we forget or that we do not pursue justice or that we do not work to resolve the issues, in this case deep-seated racism, that contributed to the problem.  My issue with the media coverage is that it has not been analyzed in terms of how unwilling we are to forgive others who have perpetrated atrocities in the name of hate or rage or mental illness.  We should have compassion for all beings.  For all beings.  Not just those that we find cute and cuddly or pitiful or forgivable because they are white. For all beings. [In fact, if you feel drawn to forgive the Charleston shooter or the Aurora shooter or the Tuscon shooter (etc.), but not the Boston bombers or the Twin Tower bombers, I ask you to call yourself on this.]

So, I draw your attention to the words of the Boston bomber at his sentencing:
"I am sorry for the lives I have taken, for the suffering I caused, for the damage I have done – the irreparable damage,” he said.


In a slight voice and apparently racked by nerves ahead of his formal sentencing, Tsarnaev thanked his defense team and praised the survivors and relatives who spoke in the courtroom earlier “with strength, with patience, with dignity.”
“They told how horrendous this was,” he acknowledged.
It is not that it is remarkable in any way ... it is the least he can do to acknowledge his culpability not only in the crime but in its lingering, long-term damage that no amount of restitution can correct.  It is that he spoke, and in his speaking, those who have been long speculating as to what he was thinking while he did not speak had to acknowledge that he has feelings.   
Wednesday’s remarks were a departure from Tsarnaev’s behavior during his trial and even earlier in the day, when he showed no emotion during heart-wrenching testimony from victims and the exhibition of the photographs and videos from the bombing. He did not testify.
This follows the previous rant about judging people's thoughts -- we cannot, we are not able to judge a thought that has not been uttered or acted upon.  We cannot know what lies inside of someone's heart or mind -- unless we inquire, observe an action or become mind readers.

Unfortunately not "seeing" someone's remorse becomes our excuse for not extending compassion or forgiveness.  Once again, the survivors of the Charleston angels gifted us with an example to follow.  They did not *wait* or expect for the hateful young man to describe his remorse, or to find it.  They did not look at the screen and speculate as to what might be in his heart or his head.  They merely forgave -- and they did it for their own hearts and for the peaceful resolution to a horrendous turn of events.  They forgave even though forgiveness, for them and perhaps for us, comes at a cost.  As a country, we have much to learn from these folks.  Whether it is their faith or years of having to live with hate, the fact that they protect themselves with peace is a beautiful lesson. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

NRU potential for ranting

From the Science section of the LATimes.com -- this is not a perception or liberal media issue, this is the truth: Mass shootings are more common.  The study shows, for one thing, that between 2011 and 2013 (you know studies are always behind about ten years while they gather data and analyze it), there were mass shootings an average of every 64 days. For all the deniers (yes FOX NEWS devotees, I am talking to you), the article is a must read... it provides a ton of STATISTICAL (as opposed to mound of shit *information*) data on gun violence and the perpetrators.

Sometimes you just stumble upon a crazy, interesting article, this was one of them.  I don't think we learn anything from it; we are only marginally satiated with the amount of information given; yet, I endured to the end, and am sharing it...thus, crazy, yet interesting.  And it is the NY Times, so at least 1/3 too long.

So, I think that quitting might be the right move for this guy -- he was gonna get in trouble for not "following training" -- though, I have to say, in such cases as this, where no one was killed, that there was potential for retraining.  Circumstances beyond his control were certainly involved ... and, if we had not botched the cases of those killer cops, people would not be out for blood all the time with rogue cops.  If anything, the dispatchers and supervisors are at fault for not recognizing that maybe this guy needed a little mental health break after dealing with two suicide calls.  It speaks to the need for more comprehensive training in deescalation practices and in better mental health support for peace officers in general.  There are obviously two problems here -- or more -- one: that we need that better training and attention to mental health, and two: better policies for dealing with grievances, on all sides.  Protesting for the sake of "justice," in a world where the definition of justice is so murky, is not specific enough in terms of remedy.  There is clearly a need for raising consciousness about police violence and the way that racism plays into that violence.  But when we protest, we also need to think about what is an achievable outcome.  Oh ... IAF why are you not jumping into this foray and training some folks?

I don't even know what to say about this... if it wasn't in the LA Times, I would have believed it was the ONION or FOX NEWS with the mounds of shit...  honestly, I have no words.  Though, I guess I should since I have been deeply engrossed in reading about racial fault lines, the constructed-ness of the notions of race and the consequences of those assumptions.  What I can say is that changing perspectives to serve one's needs is not new, in any sense, particularly when it comes to race. And, once again, the only remedy to media scrutiny is to resign.

In the midst of collecting these rant-able pieces of the news, a terrorist killed nine people in their place of worship while they were studying the Bible.  It brought up for me, once again, the power of words and the stage upon which those words are uttered.  Not everyone has the access to view his/her opinions as those who appear on television.  Given the opportunity to use that platform, many have used it to spew hate or fear for power or laughs or money.  Jon Stewart, perhaps as he states below, is not beholden to anyone in that way at present, so he is speaking his truth and his heart to the millions who watch him ... and maybe some of those who spurn him as well, as they do their opposition research.  Here is what he had to say, in case you missed it:


Friday, June 19, 2015

NRU CA Sights

Are you in SoCal and want to find vintage stuff -- here is your guide.

Really want to see this exhibit!

Good to see foster youth getting covered in the news ... though I wish it were better news overall, but at least these kids are getting a chance with these supports.

Q&A about the P's (aka SoCal mountain lions) with the guys who are doing the study that named the cats.

This story could not be more heartbreaking ... but I hope that this step will help his family to truly grieve.  I know what striving does to the grieving process -- and it is not helpful.

The latest National Poet Laureate is from California (also formerly the CA poet laureate)... and he's Chicano...imagine that.

Now you know that we are really in a serious water crisis.  Why did it take this long to get here?

There is a lesson here -- and that is to not give up on people, especially the youth and children.  Of course, all of our actions have consequences.  For some, those consequences lead to lives of hardship, either caused to others, themselves or both.  For for others, those consequences lead to a productive life.  You just can't know which it will be when you are looking at a child, really, no matter what age.  I wish we could remember this story the next time we want to charge a teenager, or younger, as an adult.

Um... this would be an awesome story, but it is just scratching the surface ... it really belongs in my rantable NRU, but it's California, so it makes it into the California sights... a neighborhood disagreeing about the filming of a movie ... is it about the principle or money? You decide...

Obviously there are other ways to counsel first generation students about the college process, like having more "trained" school counselors.  However, this program really sounds like a winner to me -- mostly because my experience of high school counselors was that they were not always super helpful.  At least these students are close to the process -- and hopefully getting some kind of training and information to help them with their counseling ...

burning the candle

...at both ends for the families of those who were taken in South Carolina and for all of us in this country ... may we somehow learn what we can control (guns) and what we can only hope to impact (hate) with understanding, love and compassion.  And may we begin to recognize the weight of our words and take responsibility for not spewing hate.  We can know what we say, we cannot know how others will internalize it.



I don't care for Skip, but this was a powerful piece of remembrance and history.  May they all rest in peace.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Poetry Thursday


Poema 5 
 
Para que tú me oigas
mis palabras
se adelgazan a veces
como las huellas de las gaviotas en las playas.
Collar, cascabel ebrio
para tus manos suaves como las uvas.
Y las miro lejanas mis palabras.
Más que mías son tuyas.
Van trepando en mi viejo dolor como las yedras.
Ellas trepan así por las paredes húmedas.
Eres tú la culpable de este juego sangriento.
Ellas están huyendo de mi guarida oscura.
Todo lo llenas tú, todo lo llenas.
Antes que tú poblaron la soledad que ocupas,
y están acostumbradas más que tú a mi tristeza.
Ahora quiero que digan lo que quiero decirte
para que tú las oigas como quiero que me oigas.
El viento de la angustia aún las suele arrastrar.
Huracanes de sueños aún a veces las tumban
Escuchas otras voces en mi voz dolorida.
Llanto de viejas bocas, sangre de viejas súplicas.
Ámame, compañera. No me abandones. Sígueme.
Sígueme, compañera, en esa ola de angustia.
Pero se van tiñendo con tu amor mis palabras.
Todo lo ocupas tú, todo lo ocupas.
Voy haciendo de todas un collar infinito
para tus blancas manos, suaves como las uvas.

~Pablo Neruda
Veinte poemas de amor y una  cancion desesperada

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

beach cats at sunset

I am more than a little fascinated by the cats that live in the rocks at the beach.  I have only seen them a few times at one beach where I walk. 

But I realize that most of their days are spent blending in, so it just may be that they were always there, watching me. 

One day last week, I was taking an evening walk ... at high tide and I walked into what seemed like their evening ritual -- sitting out on the rocks while people promenaded.

It was the second day in a row that I started my walk right before high tide.  In practical terms this means that I could not walk on the wet, packed sand. 

Instead, I was trudging through the just wet and very dry sand, trying to stay out of the cold waves.

That day, I headed towards the lighthouse, and for the first time ever, walked along the upper ledge, the part that creates a cliff above where I usually walk. 

It was rough going, and I glanced over at the big rocks that separated the paved path to the lighthouse from the beach. 


No shoes, so scrambling over the rocks would tear up my feet. But on the other side, there would be no dry sand ... I didn't even think to the way the asphalt would tear up my bare feet.

It turned out as I walked towards the point that I could almost make it to the other side without having to climb over the rocks... just a few big, but climbable rocks, stood between me and the other side.

I finally made it over after stopping to watch the waves break against the sand ledge. 

As I looked back, there was no trace of my path ... just a ton of sand.  But as I stood there, catching my breath before heading back, a sea lion popped his (or her) head out of the ocean.  He/she stayed there for a minute looking at me. Someone joined me at the ledge and tried to tell me it wasn't a sea lion ... he was obviously confused about what "sea lion" meant as he told me over and over that it couldn't be a sea lion because those animals were big and ugly. 

This was a smallish sea lion -- I insist because they are the most likely visitors around her -- with a small and slender head.  He/she flipped down into the water and didn't surface again while I stood there.

But on the way back from the lighthouse, so many cats were out on their rocks.  Many watched as the people and dogs walked by -- defiantly staring down and only turning to go when they tired of the show. 
One sat atop his/her outcropping, watching the ocean, I imagined.  I think in all I saw at least ten ... and then there all the ones that were watching me.


















Monday, June 15, 2015

NRU minimum wage debate

 Garcetti signed the minimum wage law in Los Angeles this weekend -- acting like he is the first major city to do this, um, Seattle?

In any case, the LA Times, in the run up, featured some articles on the debate.  These two are theoretically about the need for changes in the minimum wage.  This one is meant to present the case against raising the minimum wage based on Chicago.  And this is a corollary that sets out the fallout based on Oakland.

Friday, June 12, 2015

NRU mish mash

I cannot imagine how this new tragedy opens up old wounds for VP Biden.  My heart breaks for all of them... may Beau rest in peace.

I hope it's not too late for this ... but I am seriously considering the vegetarian way of life again ...and interested in the fact that France has decided to think about wasting food.

It warms my heart, sort of, that all these folks are starting to wake up to the notion that they don't want oil pipelines to criss cross their land or go under their properties ... whatever their reason ... but it also boils my blood that so many think it is okay to mar our coastline or want to open up pristine land in Alaska in order to get more oil.  Enough already ... I wish I could say I would take up biking ... but I can't, so I will continue to walk as much as possible.

I am glad that there are people out there that can talk about their loss and their grief in ways that make it so human and intelligible. I can still barely figure out how I feel from moment to moment, sometimes still having to remind myself that it is real.

I wonder if the school board who decided to have graduation audience members cited are the same folks who believe big government is too intrusive...

What struck me about this article was that women are leading all of these companies, and so far, it is not making a bit of difference in terms of how the businesses are run.  That is to say, the women are not bringing any new ways of doing business, as far as I can tell.

Kindergarten and play -- turns out that the debates do just go in circles.

This map (and article) are horrifying ... and I think they are meant to be.  I guess at least you could try to direct your children to colleges in states that do not explicitly allow concealed weapons...

Um ... I hope that the crazy, we don't need no government telling us what to do people are gonna get right on these issues.  If they don't, I might have to lose respect for them (coughing).  I just can't figure out how guns are sacred but people's bodies are not... someone, please explain.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Poetry Thursday



Your hair is lost in the forest,
your feet touching mine.
Asleep you are bigger than the night,
but your dream fits within this room.
How much we are who are so little!
Outside a taxi passes
with its load of ghosts.
The river that runs by
is always
running back.
Will tomorrow be another day? 
~Octavio Paz

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Little libraries

Park Hill (Denver neighborhood) is full of Little Libraries! I took photos of most of the ones I found ... including what kinds of books were inside.


Most looked like this:

Some added a splash of color! Note the green roof...
This is a more traditional roof, but still with the red it is quite showy.

This was my favorite, though ... very flintstone-esque...
I don't know what I loved more the moons or the side peep holes or the decorations...
I almost took a book!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

F.O.C.

Friends of Cupcake ... maybe more like obsessions than friends.  But she did spend hours watching these guys run up and down and around the trees.



Friday, June 05, 2015

NRU CA sights

Uh oh, P-32, watch out because P-41 wants in on the pin up star title!  The pictures of P-41 are amazing.  I love these "candid" shots!  I am convinced that these cats are totally onto the cameras and are posing!

I think the NY Times needs to consider putting a word limit on some of their articles -- they are frequently very interesting, but there are definitely more words here than needed to both get the point across and make the story interesting.  Engaging through so many words is not as easy these days with limited amounts of time available...and so much "news" prepackaged in short doses and videos.  Oh... and it doesn't help that if you get half way through and have to leave the site for a minute, you come back to "suggestions" where your article was ... ugh.

A hotel that is becoming part of the LA Art Scene -- honestly makes me want to head out for first Friday ... missing Oakland and being so close to the mix.

There are some uses of the online newspaper format that irritate me, i.e. videos. If I wanted to watch a video of a news story, I would look for a video.  If I am at a newspaper site to READ the news, that is precisely what I want to do - READ!  However, I do enjoy the use of photographs -- and the fact that online we can get a collection of them to go with a story.  In fact, I am disappointed when they fail to ad pictures to a story that is begging for them.  This is a great collection of pictures about the Chavez Ravine protest.   Awesome use of the medium!

LA Times did this spread on drought resistant gardening and landscaping.  If you ever wondered what to plant or how to configure, these are your guides.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Poetry Thursday, on friendship and gratitude

Do not keep the alabaster boxes
of your love and tenderness
sealed up until your friends are dead.
Fill their lives with sweetness;
speaking cheering words while
their ears can hear, 
and while their hearts 
can be thrilled and 
made happier by them.
~w. Childs