Friday, December 31, 2010

In Between Reflection: Resolute

11:59 on December 31, and I am resolute, which is not quite the same thing as having resolutions.

Uwavering is part of the definition of resolute, according to Resolute, unwavering: Those things, I think, are a part of who one is for good or, as the case may be, for ill; thus they're different than the commitments one makes, or tries so painfully to make, at the beginning of a year. Ah, but I may have some of those too, though... and coming up in a bit here is Evening Nigh's Year in Reflection 2.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Memory: Across Three Generations

Create your own video slideshow at

Here is a bit more Animoto animation, created the same night as the video of my two nieces. This one showcases three generations of my family, beginning with my mother's youth and continuing on chronologically to a picture of a toddler Chelsea. I was actually a little surprised when I watched it as one picture I thought I had included did not appear. Wow, is there a big chronological jump before that last picture! I had meant to include a family portrait taken when my brother and I were in our early 20's. Ah, well!

Reflection: Chelsea's and Callee's Video

Create your own video slideshow at

A video featuring my little nieces. Several of the shots were taken by me on Easter. There are a few from Christmases gone by.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In Between: And Where am I?

This week, I am writing fourteen research-based articles, in addition to a little work elsewhere. It's taking some addition to do that much contract writing and still do posts and lenses. But I have a lot to say... some posts saved that are started, but not finished, and so many letters to mine for tidbits. This little blog is my communication outlet for friends and loved ones from afar. keep checking in on me?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reflection: Under Polka Dot Skies (Again)

This blog opened with a picture of a snowy Seattle, under polka dot skies. One of my early Squidoo lenses, Step Into Seattle, began with that picture, and the line, "I don't live in a land of polka dot skies..."

As you can see from the upper left corner of my picture, polka dot skies have returned to Seattle -- meteorologically if not metaphorically. This picture was taken early Monday before the snowstorm really got going.

That evening, I chose to take a bus out to a tutoring appointment, despite the predictions. The buses have chains, so they do better than cars. It got bad, though. The bus lost its traction, and once the driver got it stopped, we all had to get out. I walked from 25th & 55th to 15th & 45th.

I will note that luckily we had broken down right across from a Circle K, which has a really nice coffee bar, so I was equipped with a 16 ounce cappucino on the journey. I cut through campus because it seemed safer than the viaduct, and sure enough I was soon walking in the wrong direction. But I encountered a group of people and one lived near me, so I walked with her on the trek through campus.

There wasn't really a point where I felt seriously frightened or even regretted not having canceled the tutoring appointment. I do have some wariness of walking at night, but the world wasn't even dark tonight, with the fine white mist blowing. Campus was otherworldly. I was almost home by the time my hands got seriously painful or numb.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Reflection: With Legs Crossed

I have been sitting here, working on a stack of freelance 'cert' articles, this time on the subject of yoga. I have been sitting with my legs crossed and my feet elevated in such a way that... well, the netbook does fit very nicely wedged between the balls of my feet. It's a healthy position for the netbook, too -- good air circulation so it doesn't get overheated.

I haven't found equivalent ways to celebrate any of the other health professions.

Things have been crazy time-wise. The articles are rather a blessing. One very different freelance gig was a disaster; it taught me after 35 or 40 hours -- that my eyes can't track across the rows of a spreadsheet. It's been a lot of 12 hours, but much of it has been at home. (Doing a little teaching, but couldn't be out in the schools too much and still get done what I need to.) Sometimes I go out to Online Coffee the first hour they're open, to get a free hour on their computer with the purchase of a coffee.

It's getting a little less wild, time-wise. SquidAngeling is over for the season. No more trying to read spreadsheets. Writing gets a little faster, too. There are a couple blog posts I begun, but didn't finish. They may appear under this one later.

This morning, I learned that if one wants to train to be a yoga teacher, they may have to, say, do a handstand in the middle of the room. I would have made a bad yoga teacher, I will note. Joint flexibility is high -- muscle flexibility and strength very low. I'm gaining the vocabulary needed to discuss many things.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Reflection: A Loss of Pliability

A soapbox post -- not the one I was planning, but a very 'me' one. I have hesitated sometimes to mention the cat -- aware of people here and there, just freezing at the mention -- but it has been a long time since he died. For a time, I would go to a support group at the humane society, and I was aware how some people hesitated to bring another animal into their life because they were afraid they would love it and it would die. I was aware also how people would sometimes interpret things I said that way -- like once when I was talking about how maybe it would be better to get a foster animal. Someone heard in those words that I was afraid of getting attached and having an animal die. No. The pair bonding impulse in me is so strong that... I have never in my life even one time that I can remember resisted any attachment because of a fear of being hurt. Quite the contrary. I can't imagine being hurt by the people around me because I can't imagine loving them. But that's not because I don't mold myself to others' shapes. It's because I do it too much.

When I was a little kid, I was like Play-Doh fresh from the can. By the time I was a teenager, the pliability was down. I wrote before about the classic storybook image of the little girl who can only love her doll, and not even another doll someone buys for her that looks just the same. Up to a point, that tendency is part of the beauty of being human. But too much of that is a barrier to normal living. It's normal for a person who's been married to someone for thirty years to say, "I will never love again," and be a perpetual widow. It's not normal for a young teen to already be moving in those directions -- finding it progressively more difficult to love, not out of fear, but out of doing it so completely (We're not even talking romantic liaisons here!) that anything else just gets a "But that's not my rose!" reaction.

So many issues people have are normal -- even good -- traits and drives that are just upregulated beyond the norm.

This picture was titled "Helping Hand". But what do I title it? "A Loss of Pliability"!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Reflection: A Time for Angeling

Ah, there's an essay I want to write in the next day or two, on something dear to my heart (back on the soapbox again). But first...

I've written at different points about the SquidAngels, who 'bless' and boost rank on very high quality lenses. And now, a few days short of one year on the platform, it's my season for 'angeling' -- the first one, at least. The terms have gotten shorter, but people now have the opportunity to cycle through for repeated tours of duty.

I've 'blessed' more than twenty these first two days, but one has been my particular project.

Here is where I am linking to the blessed lenses: Squidangeling Season.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Between: If You're Human, I Apologize

I do need to get another phone. It's happened occasionally forever (colloquially) but it's been worse for a while. It used to be that sometimes, especially if the phone had been off the hook at some previous point, that I'd pick up a ringing phone... and it would keep ringing. Jiggling the cord -- pushing it in further -- would get it going, and I'd take the call. But now... Someone called several times in a short span of time. I don't think they were an automated subfinder because there were no jobs posted when I logged on to the online version. If you're human, I actually didn't mean to do that that time. It did make me anxious, those several attempts.

PS I have a different one lugged in now.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reflection: A Star for Passing Brain Chemistry

Talking about purple star lenses again -- but I'm not bragging. It's the stories surrounding the stories that I want to talk about. Someone gave Struggling to Pass Brain Chemistry a purple star. I wrote that story, as some will remember, four or five years back. I later made the choice to self-publish it on Squidoo. Putting it up on Squidoo... well, that gave the story some things it wouldn't have had otherwise, and I'm talking about something more here than giving it a music soundtrack. The comments on that lens... they're a substantial part of why I put it where I did. It went on Squidoo to collect acceptance, and Squidangel blessings. It did that. And a while later it got its purple star.

Those purple star awards... I'm not the only person on Squidoo who has gotten several in a short span of time since it became a pay-it-forward program. I also want to tell a story about... well, not about the first two, but about what I was doing when I got the email notifications. I was checking the one email I don't get scared to check, and I was looking for an email from almost the only friend who has that email address. (And why not? He is on so many shared networks. He couldn't die or do anything noteworthy without it hitting all the major networks. What's an email? But I digress.) Anyway, though there are more purple stars than LOTDs ('lens of the days') in Squidoo-land, it's still considered something of an honor, and boosts your rank and all that. So a lot of people would have reacted (do react) with some excitement -- to the first at least. My response was, "But I'm not looking for a purple star! I'm looking for for a note from..."

Still monotropic after all these years: Laser-light and not incandescent. It's about what I'm looking for, and what I care about, and not what the world chooses to give me. This (the end of this paragraph is an edit, some time later) can sound snobby of me, but no. In 'real life' people have sometimes thought I was not altogether there because I didn't respond to something in a normal ways... like maybe I didn't even hear or observe. I just don't tend to have normal emotional responses to things -- good or bad -- if it's not something that was on my radar. I'm not 'deflected'... though I can surely act if I get inspired.

There are a lot of words I didn't know when I first penned the "Brain Chemistry" piece. But, with the exception of folks' names, I've changed only a few. I may not stand by the labels worn in those days, but I stand by the rest.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reflection: The Art of Research

I was wondering what the appropriate post was to follow that last one. I decided to share a bit of writing (something I have been doing quite a bit of actually). I started my first hired freelance gig just about a week ago. I've done 10 articles so far for $15 a piece. The articles take some time to research, but it's a pretty good beginning gig, the sort of thing that it would have helped to have in the summer when things kept falling through. Now... well, I make a lot more in an hour subbing in the schools, but jobs are still a bit scarce in the 3rd week, and... it's tough sometimes. There have been times... ah, but that's a story for another day...

Now then. I have a few tabs open to research on cardiac sonographers -- job description, certification requirements in different states -- but before I tackle another set of articles, I want to get this posted. Yeah, I'm writing about medical licenses. As a sample of research and writing in the medical field, I had sent a link to... well, it was actually first ever Squidoo lens.

The lens I'm posting here today is also research-heavy. It goes back about 6 months, was an award winner recently -- a different kind of Squidoo award. The"purple star" award on Squidoo is now done as a "pay it forward" receive one and then nominate another lens thing. It was quite a few months ago that Addy first dropped in on Reclassifying Mental Disorders and wrote a comment I kind of had to laugh over. 'Bout a week ago she paid it forward.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Memory: From a Time Before Time

I have a memory of being in the bathroom with my mother, at a time when I had not yet stopped being her perfect little girl. I think she might have been checking me and my long hair for ticks -- a summertime ritual in Virginia. "When I'm 40, you'll be 80," I declared.

"80 is very old," she said, and even then, I knew that was a message that she might not make it to that far off time.

She did not. Not quite.

Some months back, I wrote that my mother's Alzheimers -- or whatever neurological disease caused the progressive loss of function -- had reached the point where she could no longer talk or be cognizant of her surroundings, and that she was asleep or half asleep most of the time. My brother thought then that she'd live only a couple more weeks. But she lived more than five months, slipping the rest of the way away only this morning.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reflection: Going Around in Triangles

I have written about the different (contrasting) things that people have thought they've seen in my posture: Sometimes they've seen fear. Sometimes they've seen flexibility. There's a fair amount of illusion in both those perceptions, and it occurs to me those two contrasting illusions are actually coming from a common source.

I bend my arm inward, or upward, at the elbow, and again at the wrist -- a posture that forms a triangle if there's space (or a cat) in between. I do something similar with my legs. Lounging around with limb-triangles pointing off in all different directions, or tangled up with each other in the position that teachers call criss-cross applesauce... well, that looks flexible. Standing with that same sharply bent wrist and elbow-- ah, now the pose looks fearful and self-protective. But strumming a guitar with my arm in that triangle, perception changes yet again. Now I am simply told my posture looks a bit off. Finally we have an observation, devoid of false inference.
There's a picture of me even younger, eleven or twelve, holding a bell pepper out toward the camera -- a little bitty girl holding a little bitty lightweight pepper -- and you see the same tight, popping muscles you see here in this picture. There's another picture of me that age with (ack!) bare upper arms, and you notice something else -- that there's such low tone in the upper arm that it actually looks concave. Women tend to know what their worst physical feature is! Mine are my arms: such obvious muscle tone irregularities if I don't hide 'em with sleeves.

Muscle tone irregularites ... There's your flexibility. And there's your fear.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Memory: It Was Then That the Fox Appeared

I tend not to link to the more social communities I belong to -- a few people who read this may have a sense of the reasons why. Today, though, I am going to embed a little audio clip.

This is from a group that is not Squidoo-affiliated, but has a core membership of Squidoo people. There is a writing network, and a weekly BlogTalkRadio show that generally has a guest. I do audio clips for the weekly show: One week, it was one of my short memoir pieces; one week it was flash fiction by our guest, but most often it is a public domain piece.

I looked in on the platform that the crew uses to send messages, and saw that this week would be a recap -- no guest -- and that my audio clip from The Little Prince would be replayed. "Sentimental," the message note, and I smiled.

I wasn't very pleased with that clip, as I don't really have character voices. After several attempts at the fox's voice in which I succeeded only in losing the emotion, I let the voice go. I didn't listen to the show the week it first aired. This time I did. Since it was liked enough to get a replay, I guess I shan't cringe.

Ah, but that is not why I am a bit nervous about sharing this on this bloggy woggy.
Listen to internet radio with Alex Crabtree on Blog Talk Radio

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reflection: Sometimes You Picture Me (2)

This picture is made from a snapshot someone took back in my co-op days. I uploaded into a frame and used it in a personal post, some months back, about body language and illusion. It was one of the few posts that I've written that I hesitated to publish. One of the ways that people have misinterpreted body language is that they've thought they saw fear in contexts where it didn't exist. Of course there are also more harmless illusions created by body language...

In co-op days, a housemate (I generally don't name names, but it start with 'J' and rhymes with 'mud') said, "You must have been so good at gymnastics when you were growing up."

I laughed. "In all my years of PE, I couldn't touch my toes -- couldn't even come close."

"How could that be?" he said, in his Mud-like manner (bemused, but not disbelieving).

It took me the better part of a decade to come up with a partial, non-scientific explanation about something that's mostly a 'nothing issue'. The interesting thing isn't the explanation; it's that it took me so long to come up with any reason at all that sounded plausible -- as it has been with some far deeper life issues. I tend to know in advance when my words are going to sound flat and unbelievable and I've made the choice in those situations to simply... not try. There are reasons, other than fear of not being accepted, to be mum about who you are.

Put yourself for a moment in my... leotards. Imagine: When people watch you, day after day, carelessly turn yourself into a human pretzel, it's gonna sound hollow and clunky when you say that in PE, you were gasping and wincing trying to bring your fingertips much more than halfway down your calves. (How can that be? I mean, really, how can it?)

Now you're not losing opportunities in life because you create a false illusion of flexibility, but other false do illusions carry with them losses. Yet it can take years to explain away those illusions in ways that don't sound hollow and clunky when they hit the floor. Because you yourself don't know how something can be, only that it must 'can be' because it is.

As for the toe touching thing, this is my partial explanation. It was always was difficult for me -- more so than the average person -- to bend at the waist when my legs were straight. It was always easy for me -- more so than the average person -- to bend at the waist when my legs too were deeply bent. Just put together a bit funny, I guess.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Reflection: Strong Bonds

When I put a new blog, I tell this one here it'll always be my #1 commitment in blog-land. When I contemplate a little pot of meandering rosemary, I tell the basil plant, it's my precious little one, it and not that other plant. And as for the netbook... it's this netbook, this, this one I'm committed to.

There's research now that attachment is actually a drive, related to pair bonding, and supported by its own neurochemical system. It's not normally as strong a drive in humans as it is in certain other species, but like other drives, it can be out of whack and out of proportion. (We know that drives can cause strong impulses that can't be explained at the logical or macro level, but do we realize how many small -- well, often small! -- drives we humans have within us?)

What I see in genetic testing is the chance to talk about things that I haven't been able to before -- kind of like web writing, but opening even more doors. (And, yes, there's a little more I know than what I write on the blog at this point.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reflection: Basil Plant (Again)

Google advised me that my basil is a delicate perennial; it can probably survive winter inside with a flourescent light upon it. The sky will grow grayer and dimmer when fall sets in, but insufficient sunlight has actually not been its problem lately -- no, more nearly the opposite. The plant wilts with too much bright direct sunlight, especially if it's soil is either too wet or too dry. I'm figuring it out. The basil wilted again yesterday, but today, resilient thing that it is, it has again plumped out its leaves.

Google also gave me a heads up that incadescent light might have some effect -- that me leaving th light on way too much might be causing it to grow spindly or stalky instead of bushy. My 'leafy green Space Needle' has gotten a bit funny looking, but it is green and very much alive. Sitting several feet from the window, it is engaged in the task of making new litttle baby leaves.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reflection: The Time You Waste For Your Basil Plant

There is a basil plant. I think she has tamed me.

Let me say this: I do not have a green thumb. I have neglected plants in my time. I seldom have a plant at all except the summer basil -- and I have neglected summer basil before.

But this one... The basil plant and I live in a room with two windows facing the afternoon summer, in a city where even in the sun, the cloud cover often doesn't dissipitate until noon. I set the basil plant atop the dollhouse, so it can be right up by the window. Sometimes I move it around a bit in late afternoon, chasing patches of afternoon sun. I poke and stir at the soil to check tht is is very slightly moist.

Two days ago (the last really sunny warm afternoon) it got hot in that room. I couldn't work on the netbook -- on sunny afternoons I can't see the netbook. Closing the blinds wasn't an option as the basil plant thrives on sunny afternoons -- because a good afternoon photosynthesizing followed by a night recouping and rebuilding restores that basil's firm umbrella-like leaves, but it's quick to get droopy when conditions aren't favorable.)

What is it about this basil? It's simultaneously so vulnerable and so resilient -- but so, I imagine, are the others if I got to know them. This, though, is the basil plant I took pictures, this is the basil I wrote about... To echo The Little Prince, in herself, she is more important than all the other basil plants.

Postscript (a day later): Trader Joe's chucked their basil plants last week -- they weren't doing so well. I was thinking this morning -- looking at the rainy sky, at the droopy leaves -- that my basil plant wasn't going to make it more than a few days. But it looks so much better tonight -- and will likely look even better by morning. Today was actually a mostly cloudly day, but I realized that with the window open, I could set the plant directly on the sill with the rail of the day bed to hold it in place. There it sat except when the lowering sun sent some bright rays into the room and we chased them.

And now... nightfall. Goodnight, netbook. Goodnight, basil plant. And (outside the still open window) Goodnight moon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reflection: The Hand Holds the Key

My little finger wanted me to write this.

Today I was out walking when I became conscious of my middle two fingers tackling the little finger, yanking it so it was perpendicular to it's previous position, and holding it down. The little finger was very appreciative: Ah, that felt good!

No, I'm not just writing this to be silly. I came up with a phrase for something. It occurs to me that some of my postures that are the oddest -- and most comfortable -- are variations of "bend and lock": First bend a finger, arm, leg inward and rotate it differently than the way it grows out of its socket. And when it's rotated to wear it feels comfortable, grasp it, lay on, wedge it somewhere -- yes, somehow lock it into place... but not for long, because a lot of other things are waiting to be bent and locked, too. (Hey, the little finger had it's turn.)

The things we can look at and only think we see. You might look at me and notice that my fist was clenched, but fail to notice the reason: One clue is apparent when you look very closely and observe that the other fingers are curled around the little finger, holding it in that perpendicular position.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dear Evening Nigh Reflections

Evening Nigh Reflections began on August 12, 2009. The first post -- no, the first two posts -- went up that day, on public computers. And so the blog turns one today!

I've put so much online since the inception of this blog: notably 68 Squidoo pages. This summer this blog was joined also by a sister Blogspot blog, Audio Reflections.

But Evening Nigh Reflections is still my baby.

My most used tag this first year has been "soap box post"-- used over 40 times. I don't do any analytics on this blog, but the LinkWithin widget that makes the related posts thumbnails gives me some clues about which posts are (relatively) popular in tiny spheres. Some show up as "You may also like..." under a lot of posts in the weeks after they're written. The Kitty Carryall Metaphor was one of those. And from an even earlier time: Netbook Attachment/ Beautiful in my Eyes was a 'frequent flyer'. My Widget's Under the Weather, on the other hand, has hardly shown up as a "You may also like..." post at all (possibly due to some modesty or embarrassment on the part of the widget in question).

Some other theme strands: Well, I'm not going to link directly to either of the posts with the off-key singing, but here's one of the posts that began the "Time After Time" theme: Watching Through Windows.

Browsing back through the posts, I noticed that earlier Animoto videos -- most of which had soundtracks by real artists in the Animoto library -- had vanished off my Blogspot posts. They're all still on Animoto, though, and it looks like I can re-embed them using their new codes. I just re-embedded one on Mauicat Tribute -- a tribute to a kitty that a lot of folks know died in June of '09.

I messed up the formatting of the post a wee bit, but once a blog has any subscribers at all, it's probably best not to republish it a bunch of times.

On that note, oh, what a year. And "Happy birthday, dear blog, happy birthday to you."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Reflection: Basil Plant to the Foreground

New digs... down one floor only. I'm in a smaller -- but sunnier -- apartment in the building I've lived in for most of my time in Seattle. Now I want to speak about that basil plant, looming large in the foreground. Today it is sitting atop the dollhouse, right up by the window, soaking up Seattle sun. Yesterday afternoon it did the same. If I had a little Fujifilm camera handy today, what a shot I could get: the basil plant against a segment of North Seattle skyline... kind of like a little green leafy Space Needle. (The Space Needle isn't actually as downtown Seattle skyscrapers, and it is not in fact downtown. Photographers like to take pictures looking down from Queen Anne Hilll.)

I've done something now a bit surprising to those who know me: I haven't exactly set myself up as Martha Stewart, but I do have this page on Squidoo, One Room Living with tips and pictures. And yup, things are much more spiffy when I'm armed with a camera, a scanner, an internet connection... It's the monotropism thing again: I function at a much higher level when I have a reason, a real reason, for everything I do. It's more comfortable doesn't tend to cut it as a reason for the likes of me.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hard to Keep Me Off the Internet...

It is hard to keep me off the internet. My phone and internet have theoretically been moved to my new room today -- I moved down a floor in the world! -- but there are some obstacles in the way of actually getting ethernet up and running. This is after all a 1920 building. The phone jack, which of course wasn't designed for ethernet, almost appears... well, walled over. The apartment manager, Jack, is going to come up later to remove the old phone jack and try to install the ethernet one. Hopefully Jack will have the jack -- and the internet -- working later today.

So where am I typing this post from now? No, not the local library, which doesn't open til 1:00 on Tuesday. I am typing from... my new mini-studio on floor 3. It juts out a little into the alley, see, and I am a little closer to the free wi-fi zone on 'the Ave' a block over. Close enough to... I am sitting on the day bed by the window enjoying a very week internet connection, courtesy the city of Seattle. This city-of-Seattle-sponsored-freebie wouldn't do at all for, say, internet teaching -- that's reason alone for ethernet -- but if I don't mind pages timing out quite frequently, I can engage in some internet activity!

I think it may help to raise the (adorable) netbook more to window level, but I do want the (adorable) netbook perched in a very secure position. So I have my arm and the netbook resting on... no, not a lap table... a large stuffed bear.

Speaking of which... I was taking some pictures of my 'recording studio' and the studio, in general, but there is another little obstacle. The computer that's hooked up to the scanner at Online Coffee is down. Actually all the computers in that corner were wearing "Out of Order" signs this morning. But... there is another Online Coffee with a scanner that doesn't work as well, but, last I knew, was working.

It can also be hard to keep me from scanning pictures if I have a mind to do so.

Now if only everything else were so easily solvable... using will alone.

Friday, July 30, 2010

In-Between: Moving (One Floor)

In an attempt , to fund my med tests (and life in general) it's down one floor and a station in life, in a manner of speaking -- though it's nicer in a way, my new studio-room.

I had witty things to say, but my mind is so very tired. When the dust settles (literally!) I'll still have the same number.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reflection: Online, On the Air... Of the Air

I've had Audio Reflections up for nearly a month now, and just today I formally announce it/ link to it. Hmmm. Ah, and some things I still hold onto yet. A writing group I belong to -- kind of an offshoot of Squidoo as its Squid-founded -- is beginning a weekly 'radio' show on BlogTalkRadio and I am doing some reading/ voice stuff... like some poetry intros.

I linked to a recording of this nifty little poem, "To Any Reader" (aka "Child of Air") some time back, but here's the version I recorded with intro:

Child of Air

Tardiness... I also put up one of last months'blog posts today... ah, I mean 'twas saved some weeks, but not published. This one also contains a poem, a rather evocative one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reflection: Kyrie...

Kyrie Eleison: a Greek prayer. Across a lot of my life, I have closed letters to particular people with "God bless". Since the word "blessings" carries such a unique meaning in Squidoo culture -- and one can't necessarily go about it for general purposes -- well, I thought I should look up a new blessing.

I didn't now the spelling of "Kyrie Eleison" well enough to enter it the search engine and find out... how to spell it -- but I did find the phrase promptly upon typing "Carry a Laser" into Google. (Carry a laser down the road that I must travel, Carry a laser through the darkness of the night...)

While searching through my files for a picture for this post... I had no awareness of having I clicked on any music files, but I guess I must've because Windows media player popped up and (aptly) began playing Joshua Kadison's "Born to Shine":

...Got on the bus today... didn't get off I just knew I had to take a ride... a strange man sitting right next to me said, "I can feel what your eyes can see, don't you worry, brother, everyone's doing fine"... something must have changed cause somehow everyone seemed blessed.

I am your reflection, and you are mine, all of us reflections of the light divine, so shimmer, little one, you were born to shine...


(Editorial Note: The next post may crop up under this one -- again.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In-Between Reflection: Still in the Game?

"But we are still in the game/ If we should lose there's only us to blame..." I am lifting Dan Fogelbers's line pretty far out of context here.

In those practical areas of life... I interviewed at a new test prep school in Bellevue, who told me she'd add me to the roster and contact me when she had students for me, worked with a new CLEP student, and am in the process of possibly picking up some lucrative classes elsewhere (auditioning, so to speak?

These are dry months in more than one way. But.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reflection: The Sweep of the Harbor Tide

Seattle,Lake Union
I did put up that other site: Evening Nigh Reflections has sister, Audio Reflections, who is doing mostly public domain poetry, and is of a more pragmatic mindset than this one.

I've learned a lot from 'Squid-people' about putting things up on the internet that support one's pragmatic existence: one's teaching, writing life... The new site is doing the 'Professional Squid' Challenge: a post a day for 30 days. (I know: Professional Squids?)

But I am not so pragmatic with my attachments -- online as elsewhere. I love this blog! (And as I say that, it wags... well, not its tail, but its header, perhaps.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In-Between: New Friend Selection Technology

If you read the following announcement at face value and use the definition of friend that sufficed for centuries -- well, I think it's pretty funny:

"Facebook's new photo tagging feature selects friends for you."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Memory: From the Days of Steve Salamander

As we near another July 4, here is a ghost of a July 4th past: "Your Hometown" -- an excerpt from "Til Steve Salamander Returns" The story was composed my first summer in Seattle and published last summer. More than a little bit of my heart is in the story... and the place and the characters therein.

P.S. Working in HTML mode on this one because of the embedding code. Having quite a time getting that photo sized right -- so no photo for now.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Evening Reflection

It's Sunday evening, and Bartell's is closed. You know online writing is a big part of your life when you have the lentils, you have the spinach, you have the garlic... but you lack a disposable camera to record the process.

Photo essays are motivation to keep a reasonably clean kitchen. So is moving from my current apartment, as I noted in a previous post.

I write several places on the internet, and am kind of sorta beginning to have an online community that stretches across sites. But that's not why I've written less on this blog this month. Ah, no. It's that there are things I can't discuss and things I can't not discuss -- and here and there posts that I simply don't want to cover up too soon.

This blog here is my baby. This blog here is my tenuous connection to... important parts of my life. That clock picture got inadvertently left out of a video I put up a few weeks ago.

Once again -- another post will probably pop under under this one.

Reflection: Flower Phone

A poem by Robert Frost ironically (for me) titled "The Phone". Ah, but here the phone is not a phone but a flower who seems to convey tidings from a loved one.

I recorded this a while ago, and there it sat in my drafts. I don't think I've posted it yet on my public domain poetry site, where I've been posting pretty much a public domain poem a day -- no, not a pace I'm going to keep up forever, but good for getting the site off the ground. It's doing the "Professional Squid" blogging challenge... 30 posts in 30 days.

(I know...Professional Squids!?)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reflection: Summer Sunshine

I woke up this morning from one of those scary dreams where someone died and I'm not sure who. With Benadryl in my system, I went back to sleep for quite a while -- and the next dream cut through some of the turmoil but not all.

Long later I woke up to Summer Sunshine. Step Into Seattle Farmers Market was today's Squidoo Summer Sunshine winner -- $99 to my selected charity (the Grameen Foundation) and $99 to me. Well -- the person yesterday evening who I gave almost the last $.50 in my purse to for a crucial phone call said the karma would come back. He said the karma comes back when you think you can't take another step.
The next blog entry might (once again) appear under this one. Some posts I start but don't finish right off.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reflection: Living Spaces

Decisions -- and moves, too, most likely. Times are tight, oh yes, and putting out money for medical tests is surely the straw that could break the...

Priorities: One does what one needs to do, and what one feels they need to do. And so I've been looking up alternate housing situations.

There are times I have found myself missing the big old attic that I lived in for a while before my current studio. There were stairs right there in the unit, so it wouldn't have done once my cat got old. Now, though...

I called on a room (elsewhere) and ultimately was also shown a nicer room that shan't be renovated for a month or two. Perhaps I will. There's some safety in having options.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reflection: The Fox and the Roses

Sometimes human interaction -- mine -- does seem like something straight out of The Little Prince. Here and there there's a fox; here and there there's a rose... Oh, and there are are a lot of other roses, too, growing together: roses who may be beautiful in their own right, but to whom I have a tendency to say inside my mind,

"You are not at all like my rose... As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world."

"One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose."

I may say it inside my mind... oh, but that doesn't mean I have never let that attitude seep out and show itself on the outside. There were times over the years when letting it show got me in some trouble.

I've been writing to a fox as of late. Some of my letters over the years to different people... well, they can be almost like blog posts. I may soon post excerpts from a letter to a fox. And the post may appear under this one (as I actually begun it before).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reflection: People as Poetry

Some of my blog posts grow out of letters. This one grows out of a letter to... well, I started to say "someone you don't know", but do I really know who might be reading on a particular day. It started with... No, it didn't start with, but it included a quote from an author who said poems are to be read --not analyzed -- as they're images from their creators' eyes.

About that quote: I am going back and forth on whether people are slightly like poems in that sense. On the one hand, I do sometimes get into reading people to unlock mysteries. On the other hand, they too can be seen as images from the author’s eye. One surely can get into trouble when they analyze and take apart and go on the basis of what they think they know as opposed to listening to the gestalt.

That picture of me writing is from many years ago -- I scan various things that I might use for photo-illustration, and sometimes I just go on a search through them.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reflection: Those Who Hide Too Well Away

Another thought in the form of a poem:

We make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout
But oh the agitated hear
Til someone really find us out...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Audio Reflection: Keepsake Mill

My folks couldn't have envisioned this when they took that picture years ago: By gummit, that old photo is talking! Actually, it's reciting "Keepsake Mill" -- a poem that (though you wouldn't guess from its somber tones) actually comes from a volume of classic children's poems; it's one of a couple poems where the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, steps out of his 'child's garden' and speaks from across a span of a great many years.

It's a pragmatic thing in a way, finding more ways to put up audio online. I can put up another site/ domain with my InMotion hosting, and I hope to have Audio Reflections up within a few weeks. The site can give some support to other things I have on the web, so it's a practical move as well as a pet project. You know I'll maintain it! (I can get too exhausted to write, but I seldom get too exhausted to read aloud.)

This particular poem is also for people in my life, and those I miss. Speaking of which... The phone just rang, and I didn't answer it. Oh, bad me! Of course I'm not avoiding anyone -- just news of them. (How very... me.) Got to ease myself back into gear: Breathe in, breathe out, center...

But here's a poem, a slightly abridged version as I needed to get the piece down to sixty seconds (without going at too ridiculous a pace).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Reflection: Scrub Scrubbing Away...

In one of my first attempts at magazine publishing (my brother and I had a magazine company that summer and gave our parents a subscription) I gave my mother and father step by step instructions about how properly to clean house. I know, I know... It seems a likely story.

Flash forward to the present: After 5 hours this weekend of cleaning -- appliances, walls, floor, windows -- does my studio apartment sparkle? Heavens, no! When it comes to the insides of cabinets and drawers, the clutter will make it quite a job -- I can't actually scrub 'til I can 'see ground'. At some point, I may need to bite the bullet and actually sort things. (I am much less fond of filing, sorting, and trashing than of scrubbing.) Of course, when it comes to the inside of stove and such the scrubbing itself is quite a job -- and I need to replenish my supply of abrasive sponges. Off I go again...

To what does the apartment owe this flurry of cleaning? Truth is, I think I'm going to need to move somewhere cheaper. The cost of some medical tests? Well, in an extended season of difficult times, that's the last straw in some ways. If those tests are so very important to me... well, looks like it will take some sacrifices elsewhere.

I still have my 'bad news shield' up as I rush about, busy-busy, trying to accomplish things and to put up some insurance again the dry season. I do need, very soon, to lower the shield a wee bit and let in a bit more of the world, and those people I love. Ah, now they're the ones that can make me fragile -- and sloppier and less accomplished. (They're worth it, though.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reflection: Perched Here in Seattle

I wanted to leave that previous post up a few days because there is (very much!) a message in it to a few folks. I may have quite a lot to write come tomorrow, but today I will say just a wee bit here. Because... Well, I worry about people when I can't reach them. So if anyone returns the favor...

As hard as I may have been to reach lately (if anyone but the Subfinder is trying!) I am right here in Seattle. And -- though my mind is quite far away -- I'll post a link to a bit of the land outside my window: Step Into Seattle Farmers Market

Getting ready to meditate now...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reflection: You're calling to me...

I thought this was a very good time for the artist "I'm singing, though rather poorly" to release another verse of "Time After Time" -- even if the artist is singing rather more poorly than the first time. (And even if one of my photos seems missing.)

Read on...

Create your own video slideshow at

Friday, May 28, 2010

Reflection: A Note to the Person...

A note to the person who's voice filled me with so much panic:

An intake of air -- Oh -- and I held the phone away from me and began to cry. And after a little while I was aware of the dial tone.

Of course I am talking to you. I am not talking to you tonight.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memory: Conversation on a Bus

On the bus, there were 2 people ahead of me -- separate seats. I was sure they were both men; they had men's voices. Everything they said I tried to assimilate into my original assumption: 2 men talking.

One of them talked about a change in appetite.

"Are you pregnant?" the other asked.

"Heck, no," came the reply. My assumption at that point: They were clowning around. It did seem they kept the joke up a little long, but what the hey...

The one said soething like, "In another 20 years, when I'm too old to have kids..." Again I was a bit puzzled. I mean, can't men have kids at any age? But maybe he meant in another twenty years he'd be too old to raise kids...

It took me rather a long time to challenge my original assumption: that here were two men talking.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reflection: Stimulating Relaxation

Counterintuitive as it is, I find these things calmative: coffee, mucuna pruriens supplements, as well as some energy drinks (depending on the formula). The "Caffeine calms me!" response is surely not unheard of-- but mellowing out on stimulants is more typical of ADHD than it is of anything I've ever been diagnosed with. So in a way, I have a biogenetic marker for ADHD, even though I don't fit the phenotype.

Here's a different sort of explanation for the phenomena: Stimulants activate the "flight or fight" systems in many people; that's why we say they're bad for anxiety. But I have hardly any "fight or flight" response in me at all; while many anxiety-disordered people have abnormally high arousal levels, mine are very abnormally low. My anxiety is actually monotropic vulnerability; it's a matter of putting my eggs in one basket (and often a flimsy basket at that). So... if a substance like coffee can stimulate enough interest/ arousal that I focus outward on things other than my own particular obsessions, well, the overall effect is going to be calming.

People who've known me over the years know I have this thing about coffee -- and that I did long before I had any explanation whatsoever for the fondness!

Coffee Picture: Gregory Szarkiwicz, Free Digital Photos

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reflection: Uploading Oneself to the Internet...

I did an online test of my netbook's internet connectivity speed. The upload speed was slower than the upload speed, yes, but not by as much as is usually the case. The upload speed measured at close to average for all computers with similar ISP addresses, while the download speed was markedly slower. What does it mean that the netbook has a much better upload speed than download speed? It (like me) shows, relative to the general population, marked adaptation/ preference for uploading itself to the internet as opposed to merely downloading.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Reflection: Farmers Market Scenes

Create your own video slideshow at

I tried out the Animoto 'air' template on this one, though I think I prefer using the traditional (or nontraditional as it were) Animoto template. A majority of the pictures here were taken in or near the U-District Farmers Market; a couple were taken in or near the Capitol Hill Farmers Market. There is, however, one major 'imposter', a themed picture far removed in space and time. It's not the cat -- that very sociable feline greeted me a couple blocks from the Capitol Hill Farmers Market and would have been happy to let me take a whole roll of pictures of it, had I been so inclined.

There is a "Summer Sunshine" contest on Squidoo -- create a page and set the royalties 100% to charity. Every weekday during the summer, they're picking a winner -- $99 bonus to the charity, $99 to the writer of the page. I haven't put a page up yet, but I'm planning to showcase the Seattle Farmers Markets, and set the royalties to a microenterprise or hunger charity.

The song for this little farmers market musical slideshow is "(Love is) Better Than Money". Ironic choice, or not so much? I dunno. I had actually selected the song for my farmers market slides a long time ago, but I had to get some "fairer month" photos before I put it up. I'm not sure which month the U-District Farmers market sign photos were taken, but the other farmer market photos represent December to May. So... now I'll probably get the page up by the weekend.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reflection: Irises Crossing

I enjoy things more when I see some big reason for doing them -- when they seem, to me, to fit into a personal grand design. My first summer in Seattle, I roamed all over with my disposable cameras. That habit surely did fall away. But now, with so many goals -- personal and pragmatic -- tied to what I put on the internet, I go roving with Fujifilm cameras again. It's not a chore; I enjoy it -- yet at the same time, I require a reason to enjoy.

Seattle is still a beautiful city, even despite... The snippet of (my) song lyrics that appears on the sidebar of this blog -- the lyrics that this blog derives its title from -- include the lines, "I cry for disappointed dreams/ For things you would not give to me/ But in between you're beautiful.." There's a bit more of that on the Evening Nigh Reflections opening post.

I just got a roll of film developed, and scanned some things this morning. I didn't intend to photograph the crossing sign along with that iris, but I kind of like it. I chose not to crop that one.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reflection: Up a Down Staircase

I checked my mailbox today -- some of it. (I do recognize of course that many people complete this activity on a regular basis and don't feel the need to brag about it online, but 'check mail' is one of the main activities rendered difficult by my bad news phobias.)

I've been arguably on something of a roll the past few hours: Not wanting to live life as a fugitive I went to King County Library to pay some library fines. When the lady behind the counter looked up my account, she was really staring for a moment. No, it wasn't because of the size of my fine (not that bad actually) and no, the matter had not been transfered to any other agency (neither collections, nor the FBI, nor the mafia...) No, she was staring because... well let's just say there's a limit to how long they hold onto things there, but if I'd gone in sooner, I would have left with a picture ID.

While the activities of the past few hours have been arguably exemplary, they do, I realize hint at pockets of dysfunction. I also want to say (and this is important) that I do feel uneasy about some missed calls. I try to make myself frequently reachable through at least one communication mode. I may need to get a new phone. When it's been off the hook (and sometimes I do knock it off accidentally) I tend to lose the next call. There are times when I jiggle all the ports and cords and still don't get connected -- it's happened too frequently in the recent past.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Reflection: Don't Let the Party Dress Fool You

Don't be fooled by the party dress and mary jane shoes! The Squidoo web page that that picture appears on has willpower like you wouldn't believe.

There has been a thread going on Squidoo about how having an eBay module on a webpage may cause the page to fall out of the Google index or be ranked very low. Some say this is an unintentional bug (that the eBay module is generating some kind of weird code). Someone did an experiment and removed the eBay module to find the page rise again. Anyway, A Paper Doll Childhood is one of several of my pages that took a hit Google-wise and took something of a dip in terms of visitors. By the time I removed its eBay module this morning, it had fallen fell a few thousand spots in the internal ranking system.

But here's wear it gets curious. When I looked in on it this morning, its stats were kind of paltry in terms of visitors, but it had risen back up a few thousand places in the internal ranking system -- and was once more seated at the top of my personal 62 lens Squidoo stack. (Yup, find the line, "This member's top ranked page is ______" and there you will find the page with the paper dolls smiling out in its little pink dress and patent leather shoes.) Hmm, how does it do it? Maybe the page got an "angel blessing" -- something that can raise Squidoo rankings. Sometimes, though, I am hard pressed to explain just how that page manages to be so successful. Sometimes I think it has a will of its own. (Perhaps it is reading the Law of Attraction?)

Anyway, the larger lesson is one I frequently return to: Appearances can definitely belie intenal strength.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reflection: Community

That's my mother long ago with a group of Eastern Airlines pilots -- a big part of what was then her community(and, I will note, a different world than any that I knew her in). I myself have been a part of different communities at different times: a dorm, 2 co-ops...

I don't think there are more than a few people who really have an idea of the cascade of events that led me to find myself finding myself online. There's pain in the cascade of events, and there's a lot that's not ideal. But there are times I have had reason to love some of these virtual communities and some of these still-real people!

Now then... about another another community not quite so long ago as to be rendered yet in black and white: At my latest scanning session at Online Coffee, I also scanned one more photo for use in a second verse of "Time After Time".

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Reflection: Good Hands

I did find out what the disenrollment letter. One of the first they does now as part of their recertification process is send a letter to verify a person's address. If the letter is returned -- and the address is not verified-- the person is disenrolled. The person can appeal, though, if they think there was a mistake. Despite the budget and the fact that they want and need people off the program, I think I have a good chance of being re-enrolled. I'm still here (and I got the second letter -- obviously).

Well, these thing do evoke some anxiety in me. But as for silver linings in silver and oft-chilly lands, today I was at the University of Washington Medical Center as an uninsured person. I guess it's the first time that I've ever been there for any medical evaluation or treatment; I've been there as a visitor. I do strongly feel that they're the best medical facility around -- they treat people well.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reflection: Missing Things

You wouldn't recognize me from the picture, huh? Indeed it wouldn't have added much to the birth card the state of Virginia issued, even if technically it had been a photo ID. I'll get back to that idea in a moment...

In a way, this is an addendum to yesterday's post. And oh my, do I have things to add. I got something in the mail that was startling -- and I was telling myself that it appeared to be in error and there was a good chance I would get it straightened out. After prowling around on the internet, though, I'm not sure the correspondence had anything to do with either negligence or perceived negligence on my part. It may have to do simply with changes in legislature.

Apparently, for the first time, Medicaid is going to be extended to people who don't have children (as in single people with incomes less than 14,400). I think I did read somewhere that Basic Health was going to disenroll people with who were Medicaid-eligible, even if they weren't currently on it, but I can't find the information on the internet now. So here I am with a generic letter saying that my payment due is now 0, the reason is disenrollment, and to file an appeal within 30 days if I thought there was an error.

Well, I definitely feel it's better to get disenrolled for reasons other than one's own negligence or error. (Has the government really done something so useful with dollars as to extend that safety net?) Still I would consider it far from ideal to have to go on a program where the income is capped so very low (133% of the poverty level as opposed to Basic Health's 200%). It's not good to be wanting/ needing to get one's income up beyond what it currently is...while simultaneously needing to have such a very low income.

Here I am in the midst of all this medical testing, which brings me back to... that picture. I've got a stash of photos for a geneticist. But UW genetics sent me a mailing telling me what to bring to the appointment; they want to see my pictures, yes, but they also want to see my ID. Dang. I brought back that official birth card from the State of Virginia, issued in '72. But it's not a picture ID, and even if it was... Well, hey, if I still looked like I did then, the doctor wouldn't need to see pictures.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Reflection: As April Draws to a Close...

Just a few general updates here as April is slip sliding away. Getting ready, during this next week, to go to a geneticist and a job interview -- in no particular order. Times are the tightest they've ever been, but... now think about it. What was the biggest reason I needed thousands of dollars in reserve? The kitty, of course. There's no one in my care right now, and money is... well, money is just money.

Now it's a silver-gray Seattle morning and I'm busy with my online life: a get-together for online tutors, updates to my pages on Squidoo. One of those webpages has seen 69 visitors this week -- I think that's the most any has seen in a single week thusfar. I do add links to some of my webpages writings there on the sidebar from time to time.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

In-Between Reflection: Honk If...

It's nice to have a bank where they know you, especially when you're without an ID and such. Oh, at Wells Fargo, I'd say they they know me.

Anyhow... I was at the bus stop in the University District when a bus went by wearing a "Honk if your bank is terrific." Hmmm, but I don't drive, and I would look pretty silly on my own there honking like a goose.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Reflection: Dream Spaces

Before I talk more about dreams, I want to backtrack a bit. I haven't hung out much on the forums on the eduFire much for months, though I've logged in regularly for business (and I've been on the Squidoo forums). Now here's the reason for the disappearance off the one forum: Some people do know about my fears of things happening to people. When I started to expand my social contacts so much online... well, I was a little anxious about it. So many people to keep track of... and things happen to people, and people die.

I'd been hanging out on that platform a couple months when a fellow tutor who was really active on the forums sort of disappeared. There was a thread going on about the disappearance for some time -- weeks at least. People who communicated with him through other platforms (email? Twitter?) said he wasn't answering. I heard he'd been quite ill... Well, it was then that I started getting squeamish about hanging out on the forums there. I was on one day and a post someone wrote about what she'd learned from the guy, by gummit, it sounded like a eulogy.

Flashforward to today. I logged in to the system for a class that actually I did't think anyone was coming for and perhaps with my touchpad, I glazed over some link I didn't know I touched. I found myself on the class page of the person I did orientation with. He had new strategizing class for tutors. I thought oh, I'll sign up for that, need to get back to socializing over there -- ah, and for some very pragmatic reasons. So I looked at the attendee list, and I saw... the disappeared tutor.

Now here's where I return to the theme of dreams. It wasn't the night before, but the one before that that... well, here's a bit of the dialogue:

"You haven't been on the platform for so long."
"No, you haven't."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reflection: Where All of the Walls All Continually Change

Picture this: I go into a school to substitute teach. Someone in the office makes a gesture to show me which way the class is. I walk out of the office. A moment later, the person calls to me that I'm going in the wrong direction. Seems like I'm not paying attention, huh? Ah, no. A slight change in direction can disorient me. I can't look back and see the person who was doing the pointing -- there's now a wall separating us -- and so the gesture the person was making no longer has any meaning whatsoever to me. I can't place the gesture in in its proper orientation in space, I can't place the person in her proper orientation in space, and very likely I can't tell you which way which way the desk in the office was facing. I can still tell you where the office is -- I can still see the door if I turn around. But give me another minute, and a couple more turns, and I won't be able to where the office was. (I mean, where it is -- I know that things do have fixed locations in space, even though the world seems, spatially, "Just like a maze, where all of the walls all continually change".)

Yes, there are moments when that contributes to making a bit of a bad impression, or having some management troubles. Kindergartners, unlike, say, fourth graders, may be so meek that they won't tell me which way to walk down the hall even when I ask them to. But if we have to turn around ("Why are we going this way?") to correct a mistake, there may be some little issues. ("He got in front of me!" "I was there!")

Most of us aren't homing pigeons, but there are neurons that fire in our brain to help us record locations and find our way back. A normal human (like a normal mouse) will also show an ability to form cognitive maps or neural representations of place. They don't have to walk a path in a particular direction to understand it from that direction. And yet that ability can be missing -- even when cognitive/ reasoning skills are intact.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reflection: The Experience of Reward

An understanding of the brain can help us understand some basic funky little things, like why we might bite into a hard candy when ostensibly we want the taste to last. The candy releases neurochemicals into our brain, and so the biting may give a bigger rush. So what is it about really -- the taste or the brain chemicals?

If we accept that a lot of things may ultimately not be about our senses but rather about the chemicals released in our brains in response to our senses... well, then we can begin to understand so much, like what happens when the process goes awry. People realize, because they've witnessed the effect on peers (on TV if not in real life!) that drugs have a detrimental effect on the reward/ motivation system. Most of us, though, have less experience with people whose brains that work like that naturally -- people whose reward systems aren't triggered normally by their senses, but instead respond to only a limited set of stimuli. (It doesn't occur to a lot of people that that way of being even exists at all.)

I told a friend once that what looked like excessive fear on my part was actually monotropic vulnerability. I'm not sure the distinction was clear. I meant that if a person's reward system is triggered in unnaturally strong ways by just one or two stimuli -- and if they fail to respond to other supposed rewards -- then an unnatural amount of their attention is going to be focused on those one or two things.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Memory: Mauicat Tribute 2

Create your own video slideshow at

Here's a second little Mauicat Tribute video, which includes a couple photos that were brought back to Seattle from my brother's house just recently. I'll add this video to Maui's Squidoo page later. The Animoto music library includes two songs by the artist, Angie Arnesault -- I used one for the first Maui video, and planned all along to use the other for the second. (I've used other artists from their library for my Seattle videos.) Sometimes the job Animoto does with what I upload and select is... just stunning. The Animoto shorts are free, but if one has enough themed photos for a full length song, it is surely worth the $3. (Of course there are also more expensive memberships for artists and others who want to use Animoto to promote their business.) One almost has to make some things free to compete on the internet -- but I would like to give Animoto a bit of support. They've done beautifully with my kitty pictures here.

Now I want to say something about that lovely kitty cat who died last June. You know, when he was six or seven, vets first started finding abnormalities in his X-rays and in his lab work; the results were conflicting, and they waffled what system was implicated, and whether anything was seriously wrong or it was more of an anomaly. He seemed very healthy then, and I know there were people who thought I was overanxious and/or that the vets were just after my money. Ah, but, I didn't think that kitty was going to die immediately -- I just feared he wasn't going to get as far as the average cat. He didn't. The life expectancy for an indoor-only cat is about 16; he made it to just 13. There surely are times I've felt guilty, but I know he reached double the age that he was when they first discovered things that were 'out of range' his heart size, his creatine and calcium levels.
Now I hope I didn't detract from this lovely little video by including those comments in the same post.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reflection: My Dreaming Mind(s)

Having read quite a bit of brain science -- and quite a bit about those different parts of the brain that have to work together -- I can understand how a person could have a 'divided mind'.

My mind is less divided than most, more singleminded -- except for sometimes when I'm asleep. See, I have generally a very responsible mind when asleep. My sleeping mind isn't obsessive like my waking mind, and it tends to avoid topics that might upset me. And my sleeping mind occasionally seems to know far more than my waking mind -- it knows things I honestly don't know how it knows -- and I have a habit of listening to it and taking its messages quite seriously.

Occasionally, though, when I've had the wrong thing to eat before bed, or when something is physically wrong, my mind can get a little hyper... and then it wants to explore/ try out negative possibilities. What if... it asks. Ah, but then another part of my sleep brain is like... Uh oh, oh boy, we can't have this! And that second part goes around trying to clean up the mess. (Think of Sleeping Beauty, where the banished fairy says the princess will prick her finger and die, but then another fairy says oh no, she won't die, she'll just sleep for a hundred years.)