partly: (Poised)
I was watching my cousin's little girl today. She's six and adorable. She loves to play games, so we were doing all the standard kid games and she wanted to play a Memory card game. Now, I hate Memory. Always have, but it's a good enough game to play to pass some time and she loves it. She's also VERY good at it. She rarely misses a pair when one has been flipped over. It was fun watching her play, so very sure and quick.

But the most interesting thing was what I learned about myself and my inability to see things the way they are.

There were 36 cards laid out in four rows of nine cards each and we sat across the table from each other. Once we started playing I'd flip over a card that I know I had seen a match to and then I would reach to where I was really sure the match was. I was usually wrong. She would laugh and, before I even flipped the cards back over, would flip over the match I'd been looking for.

The interesting part? Eight times out of ten the matching card would be in a spot that was a mirror image to where I was looking. If I had thought it was in the row closest to me, it was actually in the row furthest away from me. If I flipped over a card two columns in from the right, the actual spot it would be was two columns in from the left. It wasn't that I was flipping over the wrong card right next to the correct card, no, I was completely in the wrong quadrant of the playing field.

I actually started to do the opposite of what I thought was right and my game improved. If my first impulse was to reach to the right side, I would force myself to go to the left. Instead of picking the side closest to me, I would do the side furthest from me. Granted I still sucked, but I did better.

I don't know why that surprised me, really. I mean, I know I have issue with things like that. Left and right, for example. I understand that most people do the left and right thing with no issues but I can't. I mean, I can't. If I'd be ambidextrous, I would never know which way is right because I know right is the side that I "write" with. I actually have to hold my hand as if I'm holding a pencil and then I know which side is right.

I usually don't tell people this because it immediately places me in the "dumber than a kindergartener" category, but it's something I've had to learn how to deal with all my life. Ask anyone who's ever taken directions from me. They will tell you that they always follow the way I point rather than what I say because if I want someone to go left I will point left but I will often say "go right".

It's always interesting, what people chose to judge "smart" and "intelligent" by. You screw up right and left? You will never be seen as smart. Have a hard time memorizing the multiplication tables? Dumb becomes your middle name. It doesn't matter if you can recite the whole damn Hamlet soliloquy, if you mess up "7 x 8" and you're automatically in the shallow end of the gene pool. Misspell common words? Hell, might as well just curl up and die before you infect the rest of the world with your obviously contagious stupidity.

Ok, that's probably an overstatement and most people over the age of 18 probably won't say those things to your face, but it's not exactly wrong, either. Our society -- especially our on-line society -- places a great deal of emphasis on "smart". Defining "smart" is a lot harder than one would think, though. So people chose to define "dumb" instead. And they usually define dumb as "people who can't do the things that come easily to me". That's just human nature -- we think of ourselves as smart, we quantify those things that we do that "make" us smart and we judge other people by those same standards.

I understand all of that. And quite frankly, I'd like to think that I'm too secure (or at least too damn old) to care what people I've really never even met think of me. Most of the time I manage that, too.

I think what really bugs me about these things is that if I could come up with a label to give people -- like "I'm dyslexic" -- that covers all of these "shortcomings" everyone's attitude would change. You see, we will accept people's shortcoming if there's a nice, neat label to toss on them. If someone's dyslexic, we'll benevolently forgive their "stupidity". We will overlook their "failings" as long as they can have a label that excuses them. You don't have that label, well you're out of luck. You're just dumb.

It pisses me off that people need a label to be considerate or in order for people to accept that intelligence comes in more than one flavor. It's wrong that a diagnosis is needed in order for people to be tolerant and accepting.

Obviously, this is a sore spot for me. This post has been sitting around in one form or another for years. I've come to terms with the fact that this will never change. I understand that most of the world needs such labels in order to know how to treat people. I only pull out the "I'm dyslexic" defense when I'm really stressed. Usually, I don't need to. Most times, I just try not to care what people will think. The rest of the time, I know my limitations and work hard to address them or avoid situations where they will cause me problems. I work hard at hiding my shortcomings so I don't have to justify them to the world.

It is, after all, the smart thing to do.
partly: (IMNSHO)
My mom was telling me of a discussion that she had with a good friend of hers and, as things tend to do with this friend, the conversation drifted into politics, specifically Sarah Palin. And, as also always happens when Sarah Palin is mentioned, the commentary became much more personal than political. The conversation ended with discussion on how Sarah Palin went hunting and killed a caribou. “Anyone who can enjoy killing an animal like that,” said this friend of my mothers, “is a really horrible person.”

At which point my mother – a farmer, hunter and outdoorswoman all her life – looked at her friend and said, “Well, it’s nice to know what you really think of me.”

It hurt my mother, I know, that this friend of hers said that, felt that way. I also know that insulting my mother was not the intention. People get wound up and entitled and say things that can’t be unsaid. There were apologies and changes of conversation, but that realization can’t be removed. It’s always there, that little bit of truth of what people think of you. I know that it lingers in my mom’s mind.

It’s a situation I run into online. People’s journals are private, personal things. I know this. It’s true even if the journal is called a blog and is posted for all the world to see. Because of this, they are full of the overstatement and hyperbole that comes from that freedom of private catharsis. There’s also a tendency for bloggers to assume that those they interact with are just like them. There’s logic behind it “If you like X, Y and Z, as I do, then you must also agree with A, B, and C”.

Most of the time the commentary isn’t even specific, they don’t mean any particular person. They just write in the general “Us v. Them” form: “People who do/think/believe/are WHATEVER are evil”. “People” not a specific individual. No. They would never actually insult a friend of theirs. It’s other “people” who are that way. It’s like that line in Men in Black “A person is smart. People are dumb”. It sounds really good until you realize that every one of those “people” is a person and that the “them” you are talking about may actually be one of the “us”.

The fact is I’m often the “them” on these rants. We don’t even have to get into the big stuff like politics or religion or how organic is the food you eat. Nope. You can throw a dart at fandom and hit an unpopular opinion that I hold.

Usually it’s not a problem. I can skip over posts that are blatantly hostile and have a bit discussion with those who aren’t. I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve and I don’t tend to wield my opinions like a sledgehammer (despite what the icon shows). I understand the harshness and exclusivity of such posts may come from the medium rather than the intent of the author. As a rational, logical, thinking person, I can do that. Usually.

But still, sometimes when I read what’s been written, I can’t help think, “So this is what they really think of me”. It’s kind like finding out you’re the enemy when all along you’ve been treated as a friend. And I never know quite what to do with that.
partly: (Perk)
I was once described as being "aggressively optimistic". It seems an accurate description of me. I like to see the positive side of things. I enjoy the silver-lining and I will fight to find it.

Don't misunderstand this. I know that bad things happen in this world. I know this because they have happened to me. They have happened to people I know. People I love. The world can be a hard and cruel place. Wil suffers from depression, so I know well how dark the world can become. I don't pretend these things don't happen, I don't ignore the bad or the evil.

But I always come back to a quote by Victor Frankl, holocaust survivor: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

My response is always, ALWAYS to try and surround myself with the positive. To fight until I can see some sign of good. Until I can BE some sign of good.

I don't succeed all the time. It's damn hard work to be positive in the morass that life can become. I'm easily influenced by the emotional context around me. I tend to self-doubt and self-recriminate. I am both stubborn and fearful. My fight/flight response is equally balanced and rarely makes my first reaction in any bad situation a good or positive one. I am very, very good at running through scenarios in my mind and thinking dark and dangerous thoughts.

But while I have no control over my initial reaction -- over my fear, over my inadequacies, over my overwhelming desire to just pretend that it didn't happen or to obliterate the problem utterly -- I have complete control over my response. As Victor Frankl says therein lies my growth and freedom.

So yes, I fight to be positive. I fight to do good. I volunteer with the youth of my community. I donate what I can to the local food pantry and HAVEN. I work for my Church. I praise good when I see it. I comment on it to those around me.

I fight to see the good. I am sure to note the number of good, hard-working teenagers I see at the store. I appreciate the neighbor who snowblows my front walk without being asked or being thanked. I admire the group of children who can play quietly (more or less) at a table while their parent waitresses a night shift and I greatly admire a business that allows them to do that.

I fight not to fall into the "It's all about me" mentality that seems to be all the rage these days. I try not to indulge in sarcasm or the belittling of those I disagree with or don't like. I remind myself that it's petty and often cruel to get pleasure out of the misfortunes of others.

It doesn't always work. A brief check of my journal will demonstrate that. But at the same time, I don't write done every slight or injury done to me. In two months -- hell, in two days -- I won't remember the small annoyances of the day, why should I record them here where they lurk waiting to reinfest my life at some point?

Which, in the end, probably makes me a lousy journalist. I know the thought is to write it down and get it out. Only I've always thought that written words were permanent and thoughts are fleeting. In my half-full world view, I'd rather let the bad thoughts flit right away. Of course, if I would take the time to mark down the good ones more often, life would be even better.
partly: (Don't)
I have many thoughts (thinky meta-type thoughts) on this season of SPN, but I thought I'd better write up my opinion on what's up with Sam before the show comes along and gives it's explanation. I'm prepared to be invalidated, but the show hasn't disappointed me even when it doesn't do what I want it to. Need I warn you that this is long?

First of all let me state that I really want Sam to be Sam. )

I realize this is a lot to ask from a television show. But I'll be happy if they just address a part of it. If it's the background theme to the overall story arc and MOTW that appears, like Free Will was last season. I'm usually happier when a show doesn't explain it all because I'd rather fill in the missing bits than have to deal with something that I feel doesn't work. So far the show hasn't let me down.
partly: (Shut up)
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I'd rather be rich.

I don't want to be "Super-smart". I know people who are super-smart. They walk around not understanding most of the world. Not relating to most of it. True brilliance is as much of a curse as it is a blessing.

Give me money. I can do things with money. I can build and share and help people. Hell I can do dumb things with it that make other people happy. I still be able to relate and understand the 99.9% that live in this world who are as average as I am. I can set up trust funds and foundations that allow all those "super-smart" people out there to do what they do. Me? I'll go fishing. I'll talk to the guy walking down the street. I'll hang out at a football game or help out with the local 4-H. I'll toss money at lost causes and plant trees and the like.

That said, I don't think the question is exactly fair. "Super-smart" and "Super-rich" are really not comparable.

Being Super-smart is who you are. How you think defines you. How you think influences how you see the world, how you interpret the world and the people around you. It colors every aspect of who you are and how you interact with others and the world around you.

Being Super-rich is merely an adjective. It doesn't change who you are. It doesn't change how you view the world or how you interpret the world or the people around you. It does change how you are able to interact with the world, that's true. It will allow you to do so much more. But it doesn't change you, not fundamentally.

And if anyone is willing to toss a whole lot of money my way, I'd be glad to prove that. *grin*
partly: (*gah*)
I should know better by now. Really I should. But you know me, I like to discuss the things I like. More than that, I like to discuss what I like about the things I like.

I'm totally a "brightside" girl. I don't get any enjoyment out of dissecting shows I like and listing everything that they could do to make it the way I want it to be. I get argumentative when people spin things in a way assumes a definitive fact when it's merely interpretation. I don't understand the mentality that makes everyone who disagrees with your opinion "an idiot".

I know these things about myself. I know that I'm almost always on the minority side of an argument (there are those who say it's a pathological need of mine), so the likelihood of finding someone who complements me is slim.

So why do I do things that end with me reading abut how much of an idiot I am for liking the shows I do? Why do I end up surfing around reading about how I obviously "drank the kool-aid" because I don't agree with whatever opinion some writer has? Why do I read laundry lists all the defects and flaws of shows I like (and by extention, the defects and flaws of me?). *headdesk*

I know why. I love differing points of view. I love discussing literature and fiction precisely because there is no right or wrong, there's only points of view. I love talking about moods and themes and characterizations. I love discussing how something that happens compliments or contradicts a philosophical, moral or ethical theory. I lack a outlet for that in real life and in my Pollyanna haze of optimism, I occasionally turn to the internet for a fix. I figure even if I can't discuss it I can read some thoughtful and intelligent commentary that's out there.

Yeah. Okay. I guess that was my mistake.
partly: (Pondering)
I love baking bread. It reminds me that life isn't about timing or exact measurements or verifiable perfection. In Egypt the bakers started out in the morning with the same ingredients but never knew whether they would end up with bread, beer or some combination of the two. Even with the reliable ingredients we have today, bread is not something that can be made well by precise measurement or blind obedience to timelines. Making bread is organic and is different each time you do it, even if you do it every day.

The temperature of the water effects how well the yeast reacts and the age of the yeast effects how quickly it raises. The sugar and salt may always be sugar and salt, but no bag is every alike and even the best yeast is a fickle creature and can only react to what it's fed. Sunny days are the best for baking bread. Is there a front moving in? Is the pressure falling or rising? What type of oil are you putting in it? What temperature was it when you added it? How cold or warm was the flour -- and yes, that makes a difference. As does the type and brand of flour you use.

Bakeries control all of the variables. They have to in order to put out a consistent product. But the more you control it all, the poorer the quality of bread. Wonder Bread isn't. It's edible and it's cheap, but you can roll it up into a little ball and the only difference between the bread and the crust is a slight color change. My cousin's girl calls store bought bread "fake bread". She's not far wrong.

There was a line I read once and for the life of me I can't remember where it came from, it was: Time, like bread rising. I understand that. It takes as long as it takes. There is not 'time" there is only conclusion. It may take a half hour or two hours for the bread to rise. The usual instructions are "Raise until double in bulk."

Those instructions go with "Add flour until stiff" or "Add sifter of flour plus just a little more, if needed". This is how I learned to bake. My recipes have other similar instructions, such as "Add water like pie crust" or "Bake in hot oven until done." One of my favorites goes "Add two eggs, three if available. May omit if you have none." That recipe was clearly written during the Depression when good cooks were the ones who had ingredients.

The recipes lack cooking temperatures because the stoves were heated with wood and didn't have accurate temperature gauges on them. Things were measured in cups but that cup didn't have to be a measuring cup. I still have two white "Baking cups" that my grandmother had. They hold about a cup and a quarter of ingredients. Teaspoons and tablespoons were used on the table and pinch, smidge and dash were all accepted and understood. This is how I bake.

This is how I live my life.

There isn't a template that I lay out before me. There isn't a recipe for success that I can mix together. The variables can't be controlled. I may just be out of an ingredient today. The low that is moving in is going to make it really hard to do anything. No one has ever come up with an accurate gauge to control the temperature of my life. Sometimes the sun just won’t shine and the water is always cold.

But "Time, like bread rising." I'll get there. There are no deadlines. There is no failure. The loaf I have today, with the ingredients and circumstances may not be perfect. But it's edible and even at it's worse it's better than Wonder Bread. And tomorrow? Tomorrow with it's new ingredients and new circumstances? Tomorrow I can bake again. There's no deadline. No perfect recipe that I have to adhere to.

Time. Life. Like bread rising.
partly: (Girl)
On the surface you would think that Chuck would be the perfect show for me to love. It's got spies and humor and action and talented, good-looking actors. All of my friends are madly in love with the show and it's the perfect opportunity to sit around and glee about a show everyone is on the same page with.

Yet, I just can't share the love. Parts of Chuck, I adore. Heck, entire episodes can be made of win. But there is always something that keeps me from really loving the show. Quite honestly, I don't think that I'd watch it at all except my daughter loves it and I watch it with her.

The worst part was I could never put my finger on what really bugged me about the show. The best I could come up with was that the "Buy More bits" really bothered me. And that wasn't that much of a shock, either. As much as I love humor in my shows, I'm not particularly fond of "comedy" and the Buy More portions lean strongly toward the "sit-com" feel that I don't always appreciate -- especially when it deals with the more crass/stupid humor like they do.

But it was more than that, too. Because while I'm not fond of such humor, I can usually get over it and focus on the awesome parts of the show. With Chuck, I couldn't do that. Then after watching a recent episode (the one that aired on 2/1 – the most recent ep is sitting on the DVR waiting for Myr to want to watch it), I suddenly understood exactly what bothered me.

And this time it really is all about the girls )

I’m not looking to convert people to my point of view on this. I just had to write this out because I haven’t been able to articulate what it was about the show that kept it off my “Squee-worthy” list. I do enjoy watching Chuck and there is so much about the show that I adore. The problem is, I just can't watch the show without being constantly aware of how much parts of it piss me off. And while my (over)reaction may be irrational, my issues with it are valid. YMMV, of course.
partly: (Golden Days)
It came to me again yesterday that football could really be considered my first fandom. To be specific, I suppose I’d have to say that Packer Football is my first fandom, but I love football as a whole and will watch games and cheer for teams when my beloved Packers aren’t involved at all, so I think I can go with the generic “Football Fandom”.

Fans are fans. I’m always perplexed when one set of fans belittles another. I’ve heard people standing around in Packer jerseys and wearing cheeseheads talk disparagingly about fans who dress up for Star Wars or LOTR. But then again I’ve been at SciFi cons where the whole point of a panel was to diss the “red-neck sports fans” and talk about how much cooler us “geeks” are.

It’s something I notice, I suppose, because I live in two worlds and love both of them. I fit equally well into each group. It’s not an act, either. I love passion and fans are passionate. I find so much more joy in cheering and celebrating than I do in pointing and ridiculing.

Besides I love a good party and the Super Bowl is always good for a good party. Granted it’s not a three-day stay in a hotel surrounded by hundreds of like-minded fans, but it doesn’t require travelling or paying an admission fee either. So it works out.

In reality, football fandom has really taught me a great deal. I’ve learned to deal with prima donnas whose celebrity status threatens my enjoyment of the game (see icon). I’ve learned to deal with unexpected plot developments that I didn’t like (ie any game we lost, especially the two losses to Minnesota this year!). I’ve learned how to stay friends with those who have different views about the sport (what do you mean, you’re a Dallas fan?). It was the first place that I learned about creating fanfic (just wait until next year – we’ll go all the way!) I’ve learned how not to let other people’s rants ruin my squee. I've learned that just because you rant about something doesn't mean you don't love it. I’ve learned how to balance my desires for victory against the fact that I have no control over anything that goes on in the field. I’ve learned to enjoy other fans joy and understand other fans heartbreak.

Would I have liked it better if the Pack was bringing the Lombardi Trophy back home? Damn straight. But I think the most important thing being a sports fan has taught me is how to enjoy something I love even when it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to.

Besides, there’s always next year.
partly: (Dean)
A philosophy near and dear to my heart – and an integral building block of who I am – is concept of free will. More than anything else it is our choices that define us. And the choices that define us the most are those that are made when it appears we actually have no choice. The concept of free will has its most power in face of the capriciousness of fate or destiny or whatever it is that people are calling the uncontrollable circumstances of life. Even if we can’t choose the path we are on, we can choose how we go down that path.

One of the reasons I love “Supernatural” so much is that it’s all about free will. I know that there are a lot of shows that bandy about the concept of free will. Usually it’s presented as coming-of-age marker or a pseudo-anarchist “screw the establishment” mantra that firmly entrenches our hero as “different”. But instead of just tossing out free will in an “us or them”, fork-in-the-road, “left or right”, or a "do/don't do as you're told" simplicity, Supernatural focuses on the true complexity – the power, the cost, the unpredictability and the necessity – of free will.

Only partially about Supernatural, no knowledge of the show needed. )

I’ve always believed that it is more important to teach people how to think rather than what to think. It’s how I’ve attempted to raise my child. It is, however, a scary and dangerous thing. Our differing choices of free will could lead us to stand alone and against those we care about. This, again, is something that Supernatural does so well, especially in the last season with the schism that developed between Sam and Dean. People often like to take sides and place blame, as if life is a zero sum game that has a perfect solution that eliminates all the errors and pain. But you can’t. Free will demands that there are errors and pain. In the end, that’s what freedom is. As Dean told Castiel in “Lucifer Rising”: “I'll take the pain and the guilt. I'll even take Sam as is. It's a lot better than being some Stepford bitch in paradise.”

Granted, our lives rarely (fortunately) have such grand, obvious examples of free will. We rarely get to make grand stands for life and right and good. But I think that all of us, somewhere deep down, want to be able to make that choice. To fight a worthy battle, to choose our own path and to say, “If there is anything worth dying for... this is it.” After all, it’s our choices that makes us truly alive, isn’t it?
partly: (MadCity)
The New York Times recently (July 5) had an article about my State Capital, Madison called 36 Hours in Madison, Wis. -

It's mostly a travel guide focusing on where to eat and a couple of things to do. Because it's, you know, the New York Times, it focuses somewhat on the High End, but Madison's High End is usually very welcoming and within the realm of affordability even for the average person. Anyhow, it was nice to see a shout out to the town. The best part of the article, IMO, was the introductory paragraph, where the writer captured the spirit of Wisconsin better than most ever do:

MADISON, a liberal college town that doubles as the capital of a politically complicated state, pulls its disparate elements together into a spirited reality all its own, a funky amalgam of hard-partying students, socially conscious activists, sports fans, outdoor warriors, politicos from both sides of the aisle, artists, foodies and more. Long pigeonholed as a hotbed for frat parties and activism, Madison has a vibrant but much more tempered side brimming with arts, culture and food. In a city with so many types to keep happy, it’s impossible not to find something that suits your fancy.

I especially love the description "politically complicated state". And we are. We may have been Blue in the last elections, but you will notice that even the Democratic Party doesn't count on Wisconsin as a sure thing. That's because we don't do things out of blind loyalty and we tend to be too politically aware of real life consequences. Hell, even our most influential Democratic Senator (U.S. Senator Russ Feingold) isn't afraid to buck the party line when he knows it's the right thing to do.

That is the best things about Wisconsin -- isn't just one thing. Don't try to stereotype us. Don't think that just because we're A, we also have to be B. Political labels of "Democrat" and "Republican" or even "Liberal" and "Conservative" aren't nearly as important as the practical and pragmatic. While Madison does tend to lean more toward the "well-intentioned but stupid" occasionally, it happens far less than most other places. In a society where everything has to have it's own little label and niche so that things can be easily categorized and dismissed, Wisconsin doesn't fit.

And I like that.
partly: (Lurker)
The thing about fandom -- the real, when-you-get-right-down-to-it thing about fandom -- is that fandom is made up of like minded people. Fandom (especially groups fandom) is really not about diversity. At least not diversity of opinion or interest.

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying that it's right or wrong, because this isn't a right or wrong thing. It just is. Fandom is all about finding other fans who are alike. It's true of any type of fan: media, sport or political.

The Internet has only made it more so. When you head out into the internet looking for fandom friends, you go out there looking to find other people who like the same things you do. With luck (and a good search engine) you can find people who not only like the same thing you do, but like it for the same reasons. Do you like just a particular show? How about a particular character on that show? Or a specific (relation)ship? How about that specific 'ship set in an S&M setting with a solid NC17 rating on all the posts? I'm sure there is just the community for you.

And that's great. There's nothing better than finding a place where you belong.

Until you don't. Until you are really into something, only to find out that no one else cares. Until you have a great view on a character, only to find that others view them in a completely opposite way. Until no one else sees what you do and no one else wants to, either.

It's just no fun playing in a sandbox all by yourself, no matter how beautiful the sandcastles are.

You can modify your views, of course, and most times it's neither hard nor painful. If you squint right (and aren’t too invested in your own, differing view of the characters) it becomes really easy to start seeing the world the way everyone else does. Read enough fanfic you can see the 'ships that everyone raves about. It’s easiest just to fall into a group where you don’t have any real stake in any side and just go along with the majority view. Fandom is just a hobby after all.

But I’ve rarely ever been good at playing in other people’s sandboxes.

Most times, I'm fine with that. I'm a loner by nature, both in real life and on-line. I'm usually content to hang around the edges. But sometimes.. sometimes I wish I could share. Join in. Be part of the big group. Jump on that bandwagon and really, truly believe in that bandwagon. Because that would be a fun ride.

For a while, at least.
partly: (Pondering)
Gakked from [ profile] imbri6:

1) Comment here, and I'll list five things I associate with you.
2) Post this header in your own journal, and elaborate on the five things I mention.

I commented on hers and she gave me:

Ramblings ahead! )

Leave a comment and I will give you five words of your very own!
partly: (Crazyworld)
There is much going on in my life, most of which is post worthy. As usual, this means I'm not posting anything. I've got to figure that out sometime.

In the meantime, here is a Random Thought of the Day:

While checking out the headlines I came across "Sound of Music" Plan Protested, which talks about how there are plans to turn the von Trapp's Austrian house into a hotel and how the neighbors aren't fond of this idea. Standard stuff. However, in the middle of the article, there is this paragraph:

Baron Georg Ludwig von Trapp, the real-life widower, lived in the villa with his family from 1923 to 1938. After the Nazis confiscated the property in 1939, SS chief Heinrich Himmler moved in and stayed until 1945.

And my first thought was "Why would anyone want to stay in a house where Himmler lived?".

My daughter had an interesting comment the other day. She said: "Did you realize that every breath you take has been breathed by someone else -- thousands and thousands of people have already breathed the air that you do." (Being who she is, she followed that by saying "Einstein could have breathed the air already!".)

I just don't think I want to breathe the air that Himmler breathed. Or sleep in a room where he could have happily planned the death of millions. Most importantly, I wouldn't want to do either of those things without acknowledging what I was doing.

It seems like such a odd, throw-away line in the article. As much as I love the story in "The Sound of Music" and admire the perseverance of the van Trapp's, Himmler's presence in the house has much more of a historical impact. How many people visit the site without ever thinking about the evil that resided there after the von Trapp's left? How does the van Trapp's escape from Austria/defiance of the Nazis overshadow Himmler's role in the very Holocaust they were running from? How does Himmler get reduced down to an afterthought in an article about romance-driven tourist attraction?

It's a strange world we live in.
partly: (SaveWriters)
More thoughts on the societal impact of the WGA strike. The first part can be found here along with an explanation of how I manage to come up with these thoughts.

I freely admit that most of this post reflects how I (and those I hang around with) watch and experience television/movies. Your mileage my vary...

The value of scripted entertainment to critical thinking. )
partly: (SaveWriters)
The WGA strike is big news in a lot of the LJ's and forums that I'm on. It probably goes without saying that I'm all for the writers. I know that the stars get all the press and that without good actors even the best scripts suck. Hell, look at Shakespeare -- sometimes the best scripts require good actors. But without the writers, the actors would have nothing. Writers, by the very nature of their work -- behind the scenes, not the focus of any popular awards, never given publicized credit -- are unknowns. Because the common thought is "Hell, anyone can write" they are devalued as a profession even before their ideas and words appear on a screen. That "valuelessness" is compounded in an industry that values gore, glitz and glamour over substance. And even worse and industry that doesn't realize that the "gore, glitz and glamour" has to start out in a writer's mind or you get nothing.

The writers deserve to be well compensated. They deserve to have access to the same type of copyright protection and royalty rights that any other writer has. The WGA needs to look to the future and demand that they get paid whenever someone uses their words to make money.

As usual, however, I look beyond the immediate concern of compensation and I think that this strike is important society as a whole, not just to the WGA members and those who work in the entertainment community. Hence my choice for icon: Save the writers, save the world. There are two main philosophical issues that this writer's strike speaks to. I'm breaking into two posts not to spam my flist, but because they are two very separate thoughts.

The value of unions in America. )

Continued in part two Critical Thinking
partly: (Truth)
Look, another "Just Write Damn It" philosophy piece based, of course, on 24.

Theme Topic from '24' Episode 5.2 -- Truth and nothing but the truth... )
partly: (Pondering)
I'm running way behind in what I want to do here, but as part of my "Just write, damnit!" policy, I'm taking a philosophical theme from each episode of "24" and rambling about it. I'm cutting it because rambling is hard on the flist.

Theme Topic from '24' Episode 5.1 -- No matter where you go, there you are... )
partly: (IMNSHO)
In my surfing around looking for different thoughts on the whole Katrina distaster, I ran across this great blog entry. I totally love it. More that that, I agree with the main points of it. Read at your own risk, however. Although there is some offensive language, I'm sure it's the ideas that are in it that some will find the most offensive.

Quotes from it:

Who can not see the way the country has changed, not since 9/11, but before that – since the 2000 election? Who cannot feel the split, the division, that rips like a shredding sail on a broken mast, canvas tearing like the sound of musketry, as the rigging falls to the deck?

Race has nothing to do with this – precisely nothing. The mobs of murdering Hutus and swarms of slaughtering Serbs are as different racially as it is possible to be, and they are cut from precisely the same cloth.

That’s because the people I associate with – my Tribe – consists not of blacks and whites and gays and Hispanics and Asians, but of individuals who do not rape, murder, or steal

In New Orleans we have a mayor who left some 400-500 buses sitting fueled and underwater in the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool saying that evil white conservative America was selling out his people within 24 hours of the catastrophe, from a safe and dry and adequately toileted location, while four years ago we had a Mayor who ran to the site of the disaster so quickly it is a full-blown miracle he was not killed when a building collapsed literally on top of his magnificent, combed-over head.

Sometimes, Bad Things Happen. Some things are beyond my control, beyond the control of the smartest and best people we have, even beyond the awesome, subtle and unlimited control of the simpering, sub-human village idiot from Texas.

Hurricanes come. They have come for all of human history, and more are coming. Barbarians also come to steal or destroy what they cannot make themselves, and they, like human tempests, have swept a path of destruction through civilization since before history was written on clay tablets on the banks of the Euphrates.

My favorite, because I often think it:

George Bush did not take over the White House with a six-shooter; people voted him into office with the biggest number of votes in American history. I’m one of those people, and [...] I demand my equal time.
partly: (IMNSHO)

Yeah, I know, it's voting day and a little late for this, but here it is anyway.

And if you're to the point that you'd just like to chuck the whole thing because right now both candidates look like characters from a bad political satire move: Vote anyhow.

Pick three or five issues that are important to you and make your stand on them. I tell you, sincerely, if you try to vote on all the issues, you're going to go crazy.

Do you know how any of the candidates stand on funding of NASA and deep space exploration? If it's important to you, you should. Will exploration of Mars continue? What about the deep space listening posts? The study of the sun? What about study of earthquake and volcano activity?

What about support of wildlife and recreation areas? How do the candidates stand of use such areas? And I'm not talking the hot topic of "corporate" use here (logging, oil, whatever) I'm talking regular, public use. Who do the candidates look to when making those decisions? What about wildlife? I have black bear, wolf and bobcat wondering around my folks back yard -- hell, I live in town and I had a black bear in my backyard. So, do the candidates agree with how my life experience says this should be taken care of? Would those candidates (or their advisers) even believe that Northcentral Wisconsin has black bear, wolf and bobcat? Is it important to you if they know things like that?

What about earth-bound scientific advancements? What is their plans for the funding for scientific research -- superconductors, robotics, cybernetics, genetics? Should that be all private? Public? Government regulated? Government controlled? At what point is line drawn and do you trust the people in the government to draw that line? And how are government funds and government regulations balanced against the steep price that comes with governmental involvement?

And then there is the big issues: War. Terrorism. Health care. Taxes. But do you really know how any candidate is going to deal with those? I mean, details, actual plans? And those are big flashpoint issues that will require massive amounts of support from many people other than the current political candidates. Are you sure your candidate will be able to do what he says he will do?

Don't get tunnel vision on the big issues, because it's the little ones you ignore that will make or break this world.

Before you vote just find out one thing:

Does the candidate you support, support what you believe?
Does the candidate you support, support what you value?
partly: (Pondering)
I ran across these two wonderful articles on TTT. I found them on TORN -- my first choice for all things LotR.

This first one is one the differences between books and movies and how things need to be done differently in different mediums. It's written by "Quickbeam" over at TORN and you can go there to read it. It has the links to all the original info and such. Of course, because I don't trust links sticking around, you can click here )

The second article is by Johah Goldberg, entitled "Movies & Metaphors". It is wonderful and can be found at National Review Online. While the original work has links to all the articles and references mentioned, but I also copied it in case the link don't work. So, if you want, you can just click here )
partly: (IMNSHO)
Self-pity is more than a waste of time, it is a throw-back to an adolescent angst indulgence that does more to drive people away than to actually help the situation. You make your choices and, good or bad, you deal with them. The situation isn't they way you would like it to be? Well, too bad. (Obviously pity of any sort isn't my strong suit). Unless you live in a vacuum, the situation is never completely under your control. And unless you are some sort of egocentric SOB you have to take other people's feelings and desires into consideration. Angst is the ultimate in narcissistic behavior.

But there are times... times when it would be really nice to take that big sledgehammer of self-indulgence and beat people about the head and face. Point out one or two facts that they seem to be overlooking. Times when you would like to lay your lists of "This is what I do" and "This is what I give up" and "This is what I get in return" next to the other guys lists and point out that, HEY, what do you know, they aren’t exactly even.


Only I keep coming back to that first statement. And I hate angst. Even when I'm the one angsting. Or should I say, especially when I'm the one angsting. And comparing lists never works 'cuz all those other guys have more on their lists than you give them credit for.

So. Instead, I'll write cryptic LJ posts. No details will be forthcoming.

Thank you for reading.
partly: (Pondering)
Time magazine featured The Two Towers in several articles that focused both on the movie and on fantasy in general.

After several paragraphs that covered the usual "Fantasy is childish and infantile and is a dangerously seductive and simplistic way to think" they end up on a more intelligent note than I would have expected. After all, it's a more acceptable and less challenging choice to simply dismiss fantasy as being a feckless desire for easy answers. I was surprised to see Time not taking that easy way out, but actually going through the effort to see LotR as not simply another children's story.

I really liked the ending thoughts:

And at its core, The Lord of the Rings isn't a story about frilly shirts and talking frogs; it's a tale about temptation. Frodo isn't a knight in shining armor; he's not even a wizard in a pointy hat. His only claim to fame, his sole superpower, is his uncommon ability to resist the seductive, corrupting temptation of the all-powerful Ring he carries. And as hard as he fights against that temptation, in the end he fails.

Is there a message there for contemporary America? As the world's only superpower, we're carrying the Ring on behalf of an entire planet, and our burden is every bit as heavy as Frodo's. Seen in that light, The Lord of the Rings looks like a very grownup story indeed, one that can't be told often enough.
Frodo lives
partly: (Perk)
I've decided to go "Spoiler Free" for TTT.


I realize that is an odd statement since I have read the book, obsessed over trailers and photos and collect the Trading Card cards... And I love spoilers. The big, general "here's a pic with Sam and Frodo and Gollum" wet-your-appitite-type spoilers.

What I'm trying hard to avoid all those specifics found in reviews and detailed spoilers.

You see, last year I went to see FotR with very little spoilage.

I walked into the movie and was blown away. It reminded me of all that I loved about fantasy and renewed my passion the the genre. I realize it won't be the same this time but I do want some of it to surprise me. I don't want detailed dialogue or movement by movement scene discriptions. I don't want to know what PJ added or tweaked or left out. I don't want to know how he fits the elves in or how he uses Arwen. I don't want to hear people moaning about how he possibly may, based on short clips and rumors, ruin Eowyn and Aragorn.

I don't want all of these thoughts running around in my brain.

I want to be blown away. I want to be surprised.

And I have complete faith that I will be.

If only I can avoid the spoilers.


partly: (Default)

November 2012

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