Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Looking Back

A smattering of some old favorite photos:

dancer from a folk music program in Albuquerque
Dancers at a program at the Albuquerque BioPark

Taylor on the set of the bridge of the Enterprise in the (no longer in existence) Hollywood Film Museum
the girls on the beach in Florida with a Christmas tree (2004)

Ellen and Carlos's wedding

me in Santa Fe, dreaming of Petaluma

Cinnamon when I first brought her home

stinky corpse flower Tay and I went to see in Denver

Civil War Reenactor during Battle of Glorietta Pass reenactment at El Rancho de las Golondrinas


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Other People's Fault

There was a lot I wanted to write about today.  I was going to write a post on "Peer Review and Faith", or one on "Meeting You Halfway Means Giving Up Half of My Principles" or "The Stick is Just a Stick Until You Hit Someone With It".  There is a lot I want to write today, but what it all really boils down to is avoiding recognizing personal responsibility where it challenges the view of the self as "ethical".
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
Today was challenging for me. I heard what I found to be the most horrendous sermon I'd ever listened to, right after signing membership to the church.  And while the congregation loved this woman, I was not at all impressed.  Now, in all fairness, the woman who spoke had been a member of the community, and perhaps people in the congregation knew her, loved her, and understood where she was coming from differently than I did from her (unprepared, off the cuff) sermon.  On the other hand, there were so many times I wanted to just stand up and walk out, that I still have a tightness in the jaw just thinking about it. 

Talking to one of the congregants afterwards, I told her I was not impressed, and quoted Asimov's statement about being entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts, after which the congregant responded that even facts are filtered though different understandings.  So I told her the fabulous whale story (from yesterday's post) after which she tightly said that absolutely could not have happened, because whales couldn't possibly breach in shallow water.

I also had a conversation about plastic (one of many these past weeks) where plastic pollution was blamed on people who throw out plastic instead of recycling.

THAT was something I'd heard over and over again... one of many statements : science was to blame for creating plastics, scientists should have known it was not a great idea to create a material that would last virtually forever, and people who use and throw single use plastics out are the problem, and they need to be educated about reducing their dependency on single use plastics, and to stop using them (and tossing them in the garbage) because it's convenient.

Of all the things I discuss when talking about plastic pollution, confronting the myth that single use consumer plastics are the number one source of plastic pollution in the world is the one that meets with the most resistance. 

One of the things I find in some far left liberal circles (and I've recently discovered there are, indeed, people even farther left than I am) is the set of ideas and behaviors which are very likely to feed into the right's concept of "the liberal elite":  people who are certain they only need to educate people to do as they do and the world would be a much better place, while at the same time stating they honor diversity and are culturally sensitive.  Now some of that liberal ideology comes in the form of actually having a first-rate intellect, and some of it, I believe, comes in the deep seated denial that we are ALL part of the problem.

Now I can go off on microplastics and their sources here, but the report Primary Microplastics in the Ocean  does it in 47 pages of detail. And I can go off on what is ACTUALLY the primary source of macroplastic waste in the ocean, but there's an extremely readable article from National Geographic that explains it very well.

But what I DO want to say is that while we condemn plastic bags and plastic bottles and plastic straws (all which DO present immediate danger to wildlife and DO contribute to over-all plastic pollution) we seem to forget that every piece of clothing we own that contains acrylic, nylon, spandex, acetate, or polyester are PLASTICS.  That our Formica counter tops are PLASTIC.  That our paint on our walls and our vinyl flooring is PLASTIC. That the tires on our cars (and much of the vehicle itself, from the seats to the hoses to much of the body) whether or not they are electric vehicles,  are PLASTIC. That the medical supplies we use, from the bags of saline, to our disposable tubing and hypodermics, to the containers that keep them sterile are PLASTIC.

And that it is not a group of people who fail to put plastic bottles in the recycle bin, or live in communities who do not recycle who are the greatest contributors to plastic pollution, but US.  Every single consumer, and the more you consume, the more often we redecorate, buy new clothes, repaint your house, or drive down the road, the greater  the contribution to plastic pollution on the planet.

Of course, we should be recycling plastic bottles. But to sit here in a polyester shirt and a cotton/polyester blend pair of jeans and point fingers at people who use single use plastics is the very height of hypocrisy.  Solving the plastic problem is going to take admitting we are a part of it, and that it's not just other people's fault.

Now I've gone very far from the "stick is a stick until you hit someone with it" part of this blog, in which I really wanted to focus on the common misconception of what science is, and whether or not knowledge can be evil in itself.  That's going to have to be a whole 'nother blog post.  But in part, it's all part of the same thing:  pointing the fingers at scientists and saying : you developed this stuff, you're the ones to blame.   That, and the one thing that really irks me when discussing literature: the misconception that Mary Shelly's Frankenstein was a condemnation of science, when she very purposefully used the same language Percy was using in describing his sociological theories.  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Fantastic Whale Story

I was going to title this "Magical Realism, Memory, and Aging", but decided the story itself was too wonderful, and needed to separate my understanding of the story (and criticism, because in retrospect picking the story apart for all the impossibilities just ruins an absolutely lovely tale).

Yesterday I was in the parking lot.  I don't remember why.  It isn't important.  I met a woman there. I do remember her name, and I do remember her dog's name, which is extraordinary, but then so was her story, which also makes her unforgettable.

We had been talking for some time, and we had been discussing the things I had seen, planned to see, and should see since I've moved here.  She was well traveled (a former flight attendant) and we had been talking about the country in general before narrowing it down to Sonoma County, and, inevitably, that I'd been planning to go to the shore to see some whales before the migration ended.

And she told me this story, which keeps playing around in my head... and which I want to some day paint... and which turned my world upside down because I know it's not even close to possible, but it was told as a memory-- her very real memory-- of her honeymoon decades before.

Here is her tale:

My husband and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon. It was all very beautiful and romantic.  One day we were on the shore, very near the water, dancing on the sand.  There was no music playing, the only music was in our heads, and we were dancing.

Suddenly there was a loud roar, and a whale jumped out of the water right near us.  My husband held on to me very tightly, because it made a huge wave like a tidal wave, and there was nowhere for us to go.  The whale almost hit us as it came down, and suddenly we were in the water.  I don't know how long.  We weren't separated because my husband held me so tightly, but when we came up we didn't know where we were.  We were in the middle of the ocean.  Then suddenly the water went woosh, and we were pulled under again, and washed up on the beach, still holding on to each other, sputtering water.

My husband stood and helped me to my feet, and brushed himself off and said "I guess Poseiden didn't want us. The sea spat us out" and he laughed.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Paint Night with Art2Nite

Clementine, from Art2Nite
So I haven't done much painting at home. Some people look for time to paint.  I don't start enjoying it until I make myself sit down, which is the hard part. So I thought it would be fun to go out and paint... no pressure to produce a masterpiece... in a social atmosphere.

I've always been curious about some of the paint night style events, where it's a bit of paint, a bit of drinking, a bit of socializing. It looked like fun, so when I saw that a paint night group was doing koi fish, I decided I'd go.

We had our paint night at Jamison's Roaring Donkey in downtown Petaluma.  Jamison's has a reputation all it's own (good/ popular) but isn't my cup of tea... or margarita, or particularly good wine. It is, however, all about beer and whisky.  I ended up ordering a 7&7 and settled down to paint.

The paintings are simple, step by step, and have a bit of a folk art feel to them.  For me the 7&7 was an important part of painting, because I have a terrible habit of overthinking, which makes me fussy and detail oriented, which isn't what you want in a simple, folk art type painting.  So yeah, there were people there who had never painted before with amazing koi, and all I could think was that my whiskers were in the wrong place, and I didn't have the contrast I wanted in the background.  Then I did the #1 thing NOT to do with paint night social paintings: I went home and fussed with it, which only improved it marginally.

Now I have to say, I see paintings from paint nights all over thrift shops and even up for sale on the internet, so it's NOT about creating a masterpiece, but I DO suggest that if you're going to do it, pick something you want to keep/ hang in your home.  You're not going to get another original painting at that price, and the experience is well worth it.

so yeah, I've got an art degree and my own paints, easel, and surfaces at home, but I'm going to another paint night with this group, because May 3rd Art2Nite will be doing that cute rooster picture that would look great in my kitchen, and they'll be at Hotel Petaluma, with Clementine once again running the event.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Petaluma Adobe State Park

I went for the sheep shearing.  I ended up staying on to demonstrate spinning and carding.

I did get several pictures around the adobe, as well as the sheep shearing itself (done with electric shears.)   Best part about Petaluma Adobe was the group of staff and volunteers that made the day amazing!

Once again I took far too many photos to just upload them here, so I've made up a slideshow of the day:





Of course this reminded me of the wonderful time I had volunteering at El Rancho de las Golondrinas. Choosing Petaluma as my home was influenced by the presence of this park so nearby, and I look forward to being a volunteer there in the future.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Time Flies

I've been settling in to my new apartment, slowly making it mine. I've got a new cover for my chair on order, got some white paint for my damaged little oak end table which is now out on the patio, awaiting a white chair and a blue and white rug (the first I plan to pick up tomorrow, the other on order from Overstock.com and arriving in about 10 days).  I've got a folding table temporarily set up in the living room to do some painting, something I've been wanting to get to, until I can get a nicer desk/ table for general work.

It's raining again, which has canceled my planned trip to Bodega Head tomorrow, but hopefully won't cancel sheep shearing at Petaluma Adobe on Saturday.  My calendar is beginning to fill up, mostly with pleasant things, although I do have some medical appointments coming up.  Right now it's more about bingo in the community room on Wednesdays, various local events, including Butter and Egg Days later this month, and I've actually gotten a Groupon and finally signed up for a paint night at a local bar.

Cinnamon also seems to have adjusted.  She loves the new dog park and is more energetic than I've seen her in a while. We've met new people (and new dogs) and gone new places, and some of the park trails here allow leashed dogs, so I'll be taking her on some fun walks out on some of the local trails.

It hasn't been all smooth. I'm still having trouble with getting my medical transferred in from Long Beach, although I got a call today that says they're (finally) starting the process.  That's good, because I had a ton of blood drawn today for various tests, a couple imaging studies coming up in the next two weeks, and I've been referred to a surgeon.

But for the most part, I feel like I'm finding my way here and finding my niche with only a few bumps and adjustments. I'm still shocked by how rural the area is, but seeing all the open space, driving by all the wildflowers (especially those bright orange clumps of wild poppies), it makes me feel glad to be out where there's so much green, and everything isn't manicured back or paved over.

These last two days the hummingbird baby I'd been watching has left it's nest and started venturing into the trees and bushes around the courtyard.  I think I know how he feels.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April Fools

Every year I find some of the most enjoyable posts on April Fools Day.  The best ones are the ones you have to do a double take on... a "wait, what?" moment where you're almost hooked.  Then there are the ones that are outrageous from the get go, but the article written has so many hidden little gems that you can't help but laugh out loud.

This year April Fools Day falls on (Western) Easter (Easter in the Eastern Orthodox churches is next week), and as an atheist, I'll have to bite my tongue about resurrection jokes (Stephen Colbert went there during one of his "First Drafts" Segments) and this year, once again, I'll skip my tired, old, conversion April Fools posts.

Instead, I'd like to focus on the fun and amazing posts I'm seeing around the web today, so this post will evolve during the day, as I find and add more and more articles from around the web.




Jelly Vue Glasses from Monterey Bay Aquarium.

"Seamlessly integrated with their popular Jelly Cam livestream, JellyVue™ glasses promise to help alleviate stressful real-world situations with the soothing pulses of the Aquarium’s sea nettles."

“First of all, JellyVue™ is not AR, or VR. It’s a proprietary tech we call CnidoSight™, which is basically a 100% opaque projection of the Jelly Cam directly into your field of vision. Operating heavy machinery with JellyVue™ is definitely not recommended.”



Gulls Aim for Humans When They Poop,  Hakai Magazine

A new study published this week in the journal Fecal News suggests Brown is right. The researchers found that eight times out of 10, glaucous-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens) specifically aim for human heads when they defecate above land. The other 20 percent of the time, they simply can’t hold it long enough to find an unsuspecting human, possibly because they’ve indulged in too many French fries, the authors posit in the paper.

*DO click the link for Fecal News






This next one took me by surprise yesterday, when I googled directions from my phone and Waldo peeked out from the edge of the ap. Because I was in Petaluma, and because I knew that we have a "Where's Waldo" as part of the up and coming Butter and Egg Day events (there are Where's Waldo signs in many storefronts, labeling places kids can come and search for Waldo to win a prize), I assumed this was a local phenomena. It is not. 

Google maps now includes a game of "Where's Waldo".  If you click on Waldo when you open Google Maps (he'll lean out of the upper right side of your screen) you'll be taken to an option to play a game of Where's Waldo.

This does NOT interfere with the functionality of Google maps, but does take you away from your map to play the game.



"...Following these new insights about the health and happiness of canines, eharmony will be offering new features to make meeting suitable mates easier and less stressful. Based on the algorithms eharmony uses to create highly compatible relationships for humans, the new “Furever Love” Canine Compatibility Companion Service helps users create robust profiles for their pups based on key dimensions of personality that predict the most compatible, highly successful, long-term relationships."

"...
eharmony will be expanding the new offering in coming months to other animals, such as cats, rabbits, horses, sea lions, and dolphins."



Planet Fitness, Terrain Tread treadmill (YouTube)





Think Geek is getting into the fun with a number of fake products.  Here are a few of my favorites:




an interesting footnote here, one of last year's April Fools jokes was so popular, they made it into an actual item:


I doubt very much that they'll be able to do that with this year's bluetooth enabled pet rock.







I could go on and on, but there are several other lists of April Fools jokes on the web, including this one at the Washington Post (no kidding!)