July 2011

I saw this on All confirmation bias, all the time, a collaboration between the band OK Go and the dance company Pilobolus. It is great:

This is the funniest thing I’ve seen this year by far. I can’t recommend it to anyone who didn’t graduate within a few years of me (1989) but if you did, this is worth the 30 minutes. (This one’s not for you, Mom.)

I love the Beastie Boys making fun of their early days because before they became geniuses with Paul’s Boutique I thought they sucked and I hated their image. This makes all the misery of having to hear the songs on License to Ill fully worth it.

If you don’t know the Beastie Boys and are one of the 3-4 people who feel compelled to watch anything I post, here is the original video. The longer one above is supposed to have happened just after this one ends:

I like this anti-ideology rant by Paul Hawken at the end of his lecture, “The Long Green,” for the Long Now Foundation. He bemoans how humans have such a hard time seeing and taking into account new, unfamiliar information, especially when older, more familiar things, such as ideologies, are in view.

“During the span of the 20th century, big ideologies were worshipped. They dominated our beliefs of who we were, what was true, what was possible. Ideologies prey on our inner sensibilities. They stalk this earth, clad in a kind of existential armor: capitalism, communism, socialism fought all during the 20th century for control of our minds and it wasn’t pretty. And we were told, we were educated, that salvation would be found in a single system. But of course as psychologists and biologists that’s just complete poppycock. We know that stability and health can only be gained through diversity and not domination.”

Paul Hawken founded an organization called WiserEarth that is worth checking out. Here’s the blurb from their website: “WiserEarth helps the global movement of people and organizations working toward social justice, indigenous rights, and environmental stewardship to connect, collaborate, share knowledge, and build alliances.”

I investigated this question as part of my Family Violence class last spring. It was one of a very long list of questions that clinicians should know about the area they work in. There are three organizations that offer some financial support in Lane County:

“Not much,” according to the woman who answered the phone at the Oregon Department of Justice, at 541-682-4523. But if the crime is a person crime, victims can get financial assistance for counseling, medical bills, rehabilitation, funeral benefits, grief counseling, and dental through the Oregon Department of Justice, after conviction.

Victim Services Program of Lane County, part of the Department of District of Attorney, does not have financial resources for crime victims but they do provide advocacy that can result in restitution in court.

Department of Human Services

[This copied directly from the DHS website.] Financial assistance to persons fleeing domestic violence or a person trying to stay safe from domestic violence whose safety is at risk because of domestic violence or the threat of domestic violence. The person must also fit the following criteria:

  • Be a parent or relative caring for a minor child or a pregnant woman
  • Meet the income criteria for the program. (This program looks only at income on hand that is available to meet any emergency needs.)
  • Be a resident of Oregon.

The program provides temporary financial help to support families whose safety is at risk due to domestic violence. Most often this is when the domestic violence survivor and the children are fleeing domestic violence or at risk of returning to an abusive situation.

The program can help with up to $1200.00 over a 90 day eligibility period. Payments are given directly to the landlord or other service provider.

  • The program can help with housing related payments when there is or has been a domestic violence situation. (including deposits, rents and utilities)
  • Relocation costs. (including moving costs and other travel costs)
  • Replacement of personal or household items left behind when the victim and children have fled if items are not available from another source. (clothing, hygiene items, essential furniture items)
  • Purchase of items that help address safety. (including new locks, motion detectors, P.O. Boxes)

My grandmother died in April, and I miss her. I didn’t get to see her often, but I miss her being out there. She was one of a kind. She would have been 91 years old today.

I am still surprised that she died, even at 90. Its hard to imagine anything happening to her that she had not decided on. She may have had the strongest will I have ever encountered.

An example: One evening, in her mid-80s, I asked her how to successfully quit smoking.  Several people I cared about were addicted to cigarettes and having trouble quitting.  She said, “Oh, quitting smoking is easy.  You just decide never to smoke another cigarette again, and then you never do.” She told me how, in her mid-70s, after smoking heavily since she was thirteen years old, and after only one day of reflection, quit cold-turkey with a carton of cigarettes still in her pantry, never to smoke again.

Who does that? I got the sense that it actually was easy for her. The difficulty of self-discipline was like a speck of dust in the way of her ambition. She was born to a subsistence farmer in 1920, in a town in Tennessee which still has no more than a few hundred people. She died the most respected woman in her wealthy retirement city in Florida, and don’t think that’s hyperbole. She mastered that game, and many others. She was a state-ranked tennis player, competitive golfer, and all-round athlete. She had been a successful fashion model and produced fashion shows late into her life.

Not everything went her way, of course. She had her share of disappointment and, I think, a good deal more than her share of tragedy. By the time I knew her, though, she was in control. She had what she wanted, said what she wanted, and got what she wanted. I really appreciated how frank she was with her opinions, and how she expected the same from me. “The problem with your hairstyle,” she said once, “is that you don’t have a hairstyle. It’s just all tousled, like a little girl.” I thought that was hilarious and asked her to show me the “right” way to part my hair. It turned out that she knew the right way to handle every detail of everyone’s life, which the anthropologist in me had a ball with.

I appreciated how well she loved the fine things in life, fancy food, elegant clothes and jewelry, dancing to a good swing band, just-so etiquette, her town, her friends, watching the sun set. I feel sad that I will never watch the sun set over the Caribbean with her again. “We’re lucky here,” she would say. “This is the most beautiful place in the world. Sometime when the sun sets you can see a green flash. Watch for it!” I appreciated how she would crow over me when I danced with her, or “how handsome” I looked, dressed up, hair parted just right.

Sadly, I have lost the only photo that exists of myself as an adult with her. I also do not have a copy of the one photo of myself as a child with her. This is all I have, but it is appropriate. I think she would like to be remembered this way:

My Grandmother, 1950s

I’ve often wished I had a biofeedback device that could tell me whether something I was doing was good, bad, or neutral for my body. I have found pain and other sensations ambiguous directors. What are they asking for? This has been especially important in the last few years, dealing with injuries and slower healing. I recently asked my physiotherapist, Shannon, for her general recommendations for reading pain related to an activity. This is what she said:

1) Joint pain is never okay. If you experience joint pain during or after activity something is wrong; consider getting help to figure out what.

2) You should have no muscle pain during an activity (if you do, it means you are doing way too much).

3) Muscle pain after an activity means you are close to the right intensity – try lowering intensity and/or duration for a while and see how you respond.

4) Mild to moderate muscle pain in the next couple days is fine as long as it doesn’t escalate.

5) Each time you add an activity, do it at a constant level for 1-2 weeks before increasing duration or intensity

In his lecture “Fixing Broken Government” for the Long Now Foundation, Philip K. Howard suggests that this time of trouble in the US might be one in which we can make some big, useful changes. He hopes for a change in “governmental operating system” comparable to the Progressive, New Deal, and Civil Rights eras. Instead of protecting children and other workers, establishing safety nets, or addressing civil rights abuses, however, he would like to un-paralyze our government.

Based on the idea that laws have “piled up like sediment in the harbor,” paralyzing our public servants, and on his truism, “Only real people, not rules, make things happen,” Howard proposes three new principles for modern government:

1) A spring-cleaning on all law with budgetary implications. A law does not become one of the 10 Commandments because some dead people passed it. He also proposes an “Omnibus Sunset Law” under which all laws with budgetary implications automatically expire after 10-20 years.

2) Laws should be radically simplified. Replace 95% of the 100,000,000 words of binding federal law, all the details, with individual responsibility. Allow public servants to use their judgment. Laws are to set goals, general principles, and allocate budgets and to determine who is responsible if the goals are not met.

3) Public employees have to be accountable. There is no need for minutia in law if people are held accountable if they do a bad job. That means they have to be fire-able.

On playgrounds:

“There is nothing left in playgrounds for a kid over the age of 4. Nothing. Seesaws, jungle-gyms, climbing ropes…merry-go-rounds are abandoned. There are a few diving boards left, but not many. Not very many high boards. Why’s that? Because they all involve not just the risk, but the certainty that something might go wrong. They also happen to attract kids to the playground so they don’t get fat and die of obesity. They also happen to teach kids how to take responsibility for themselves, and to be athletic. These risks are vital for  for child development, which the American Academy of Pediatrics and all kinds of other boring people would write books about, but we don’t have a legal system that allows kids to take the ordinary risks of childhood. It’s lunacy. ….The range of exploration of a 9-year-old in America has declined by over 90% since 1970. Kids are not allowed to leave home by themselves. And that ability to wander around the neighborhood, to explore the creek, all that sort of thing is absolutely vital.”

Tilke Elkins, my favorite living painter, has her first gallery show and it is great. It’s open for one more week, until July 22, so you can still make it if you live in Oregon. It’s at The Voyeur in Eugene, 547 Blair Boulevard.

I may be biased by my years as the marketing director of her magazine, All Round, by my many more years living with her as she used our house as a gigantic art project, and by my even more years as her friend. (Plus, she did the album art and most of the photography and fliers for my band–here‘s an example).

I do not believe, though, that I am biased because of any of that. I’ve just had the great fortune to have spent so much time drenched in her aesthetic. I am not one of Abraham Maslow’s visual “advanced scout,” of superior sensitivity to color and form. It takes me a while to really appreciate an artist. I’ve had that time with her and it has really paid off. Tilke, on the other hand, is an advanced scout. When I am in doubt about a visual decision, I ask her and can trust to find her correct, eventually.

Photographs cannot do justice to her work–to my eyes, it seems to glow from the inside–but here is a shot of the gallery, to give you an idea:

Art by Tilke Elkins at The Voyeur, July 2011

Also, Tilke is starting an art school in Springfield, Oregon, this fall. She’s offering three classes:

Experimental Drawing Techniques and Materials: Tilke paints with natural pigments, many of which she makes herself, out of rocks and plants. She also paints on found materials.

Art for Synesthetes: This may be the first art class for people with synesthesia, whose senses behave quite differently from other people. (See my post on synesthesia here.) Tilke has synesthesia and it is part of how she works.

On Being a Metamodern Artist:  I have no idea what this is but it sounds intriguing. Check the “art school” link above for more information.

I forget who showed me this–someone I worked with at the old Rancho Mirage Charthouse. Squeeze some lemon juice onto your watermelon. I like watermelon a lot, but with lemon I love it. It’s so delicious that I’m surprised it’s not a big thing. Try it and thank me.

Here’s a video of my nephew Oliver, posted by his mama, Maya.

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