Friday, May 30

TGIF

TGIF: Think Green, It's Friday!

Fridays I will post something to do with the green theme, with a special focus on green + art. I also post finds to do with the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), new policies in government or industry, eco-friendly appliances and vehicles... anything green!




Reuse + art

Kudos to sfgirlbybay, which I read regularly, I found an excellent use of the 'reuse' part of thinking green.

Scrap collects and sorts donations of "high-quality, low-cost, re-usable materials sucha s textiles, paper, jewelery findings, wood, buttons and plastics", which are available to the public at quite a discounted price. This is so great! Companies or individuals like not paying for disposal of their excess, less is sent to the dump, public has access to cool things that would otherwise be expensive or inaccessible. I imagine just going to Scrap would inspire some form of art.

sfgirlbybay's original post




The Ecosphere: more than just sea monkeys

Ever wanted to hold the world in your hands? Now, with an Ecosphere, you can. Enclosed in a glass globe is an entirely self-sustaining ecosystem. Blending art and science, beauty and balance, an Ecosphere is a microcosm of life you can hold in your hands.

It contains micro-organisms, bright red shrimp, and algae in filtered sea water. All you need to do is provide indirect light and your ecosphere will flourish.

How does it work? Thankfully the good people at Ecosphere Associates, Inc have provided us with an
illustration on their website (gather your basic biology, everyone). Too much algae and it will grow to block out all the light. Too many shrimp will use all the oxygen. It truly is a fine balance.


I know it's not recycling or environmentally friendly, but the ecosphere can be a case study for our own situation on Earth. We have thrown the delicate balance out of whack... And soon, without significant action, we will go too far past the tipping point.



Ecosphere are way cool. I want one.




Actively Green Events

The 2008 Commuter Challenge runs from June 1-7. Candians are encouraged to walk, bike, bus, train, or carpool to work as a choice for personal community and environmental health. Employees can register to track their mileage for friendly competetion between workplaces.

At the end of the week, participants can see the results of their saved gas mileage as reduced emissions. Last year participants saved 1264 KG of GHG emissions and 6 KG of Nox emissions (no, I haven't the faintest idea what those are). To know you are doing something good is one thing, but to actually see some results is fantastic!


I know I am going to register, as I already carpool to work. (Unfortunately it is almost impossible to bike, walk, or bus to work from my house)



This is just one of the events spurred on by Canadian Environment Week. From this site you can find events near you or take some of their suggestions to quietly celebrate Environment week:

  • Change at least one lightbulb to compact fluorescent
  • Turn off your computer when you're not using it
  • Keep a reusable bag in your car for groceries and use one less plastic bag.


Also this upcoming week is World Environment Day, June 5th. Here are a few fun items from their list of 80 Ways to Celebrate WEP:

  • Art made of recycled materials (YES! second on the list! though it is alphabetical)
  • Competitions (banner, drawing, essay, painting, poster, poetry)
  • Donate to an environmental cause
  • Excursions to nature sites
  • Performances (plays, songs, poetry)
  • Visits to botanical gardens and national parks

Wow. I am so excited now! I just can't wait!! Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, May 29

Invisible (to some)

Introversion vs. extroversion. The next biggest game show, a 'daily living' Survivor. I am so surprised that a bigger deal is not made of these differences. Then again, I know of people who didn't recognize either term.


Introverts are those quiet, thoughtful, self-aware, level-headed, discreet people, who may or may not be awkward at small talk. They think before they speak, are reserved and private, and though they may give the air of being disdainful, they do like people. Introverts need to spend time alone, to "recharge their batteries", because being around people makes them tired.


Extroverts, on the other hand, love to spend time talking, chatting, letting everyone in on their life stories, figuring out problems by talking out loud. Extroverts make people their friends, whether they've known someone 5 years or 5 minutes.


Thing is, it really is an extravert's world. Over 65% of the population in the U.S. is extroverted.* Yet they make that percentage seem more significant; extroverts, with their public displays of emotion and natural ability to interact with and persuade people, are just louder. Politicians are most often extroverts, as are salesmen, lifeguards, nurses... (of course this is a majority, not a totality). The introverts just grin (a conscious effort) and bear it, holding internal dialogue of what they'll do when the small talk will one day be over.


Those who talk the most set the rules, and so the characteristics we admire in others are characteristics of extroverts: confident, friendly, approachable, lovable, people-person. For myself (as an introvert), it is the mask I wear so that I do not give the 'aloof', 'cold' impression.


However, it is tiring, and I often wish I did not have to act to be liked in this superficial manner (for colleagues or aquaintances). This is especially true for women, who are stereotypically warm, caring and motherly. This is not to say that introverts are not this way, but they only open up to close friends with significant depth of relationship.


Is it fair to be held up to a standard designed by people who see and interact in the world completely differently from you? I just want to be the way I am and be appreciated for it, and most of the world won't get that. It's like being pulled out of the fish tank again and again to breathe air, by well-intentioned (and usually oblivious) extroverts.


So who would win Survivor of introverts vs. extroverts? Depends on who made the rules...

Wednesday, May 28

Pause

All it takes is sixty seconds to change your life. That's the thesis of Pause, relatively new website for teens. The idea is ingenious, the implementation perfect.


In less than 30 seconds a commercial on tv hooks the viewer to visit the website--one of those mysterious, appealing commercials with the beautiful muted dark color palette, grungy, textured scenes and realistic.


When at the site, the reader is enticed to explore. As far as I'm concerned, this website has the best elements of a page-turner novel: leave them wanting more. Mysterious meets knows-your-every-need (even the secret ones).


Some of the feedback Pause has recieved has revealed the other two key factors in Pause's appeal and success:

  • Not telling kids what to do, say, or think
(Because we all hate unintentionally causing reverse psychology to take effect). This goes extra far with Pause because the youth visiting it choose to check it out for help. They're not looking for another attempt at indoctrination. Pause takes the role of a cool friend who knows a little bit more and is confident enough not to just go with the flow. Quite appealing.

  • It only takes 60 seconds to change your life.
This realization gives so much power to teens, who feel overruled by parents, rules, and peer pressure. Yes, you can be a major influence on your life story. Yes, all it takes is sixty seconds to pause...

Just the word pause implies effortlessness. It's not homework, not something you have to work at, concentrate on, dedicate yourself to, or worry about. You don't wear it, smell like it, look like it... you're just free. And that's, well, liberating.


Here is the link again: http://fox.com/pause/. Unfortunately I was not able to find one of their short video clips (their commercials) to put in this post, but they are on the site.

Tuesday, May 27

It's a sign...

From this post
Here's the visual goody:

Site picks

Some things of note I found in the past week:


How About Orange
A visual and/or craft blog. And, orange! How much better does it get?



Passive Aggressive Notes . com
I love seeing pictures of signs and notes like these. Laughing is good for your brain.


English fail
Again, awesome sign mistakes. You can also exercise your ab muscles.


Behind the Lens
Photography blog. Experience in the field and knowledgeable.


Ill Seen, Ill Said

Blogging indoor furniture, art, clothing, accessories of all kinds. Some really unusual, appealing finds on this site.


Here's the visual goody

Monday, May 26

Book of the month!

A certain situation has made itself known to me this week: the epidemic of bad powerpoint presentations (chronic monopresentation). This is a very serious issue that affects hundreds of thousands of people, sometimes even as young as 13 years old.


Chronic monopresentation is characterized by slides overfilled with nothing but text, lack of white space, and monotonous verbal explanations cloned from the screen. If supervisors or companies push for the so-called "professional" look, it may become contagious. People with less confidence in informality or their ability to tell a story and connect with the audience may be more prone to chronic monopresentation.


If you or someone you know is suffering from these or other symptoms, talk to your doctor about a treatment that's right for you. Leave your data worries behind you.


*Presentation Zen is not for everyone. Talk to your doctor before taking this or any medication. Side effects include increased sales or connections, very good impressions of you and a focused product or messsage. This medication should not be used with transition effects in powerpoint or keynote. For more information, visit http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/

This blog article not endorsed by Presentation Zen or Garr Reynolds.

Sunday, May 25

Take a moment

What pleased my eyes this weekend:

Being 'in the country'


Beautiful flowers


The light in our entrance way, for which I laid flat on my back to admire. I love the creamy wholeness of those halos.



Sometimes, it's just the simple things that bring us pleasure. Looking around my home for opportunities to use my new old camera, I found little that pleased the aesthetic eye. On the floor in frustration, I looked up... and saw this light.

Sometimes, I just forget to breathe...

Friday, May 23

TGIF

With the onset of spring I would like to introduce

TGIF: Think Green, It's Friday!


Fridays I will post something to do with the green theme, with a special focus on green in connection to art. I also post finds to do with the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), new policies in government or industry, eco-friendly appliances and vehicles... anything green!

(Hehe I feel like a genius sometimes. TGIF just makes me giggle.)



To start off, I would like to post this article in the local Edmonton Journal:



Recycling thinkers make art of trash


Local gallery, film fest highlight international waste conference

Todd Babiak, The Edmonton Journal

Published: Sunday, May 11

We are what we throw away, as individuals and as a society. Sculptors, painters, photographers and installation artists have known this for some time. It's no accident that Tony Soprano, one of the icons of the new century, was a "waste management consultant."


Don Delillo's giant 1997 novel, Underworld, considered to be one of the most important if least-read classics of the late 20th century, uses garbage to define postwar America. The protagonist, Nick Shay, is employed by a firm called Waste Containment. He becomes romantically involved with an artist whose medium is the abandoned airplane. The book is a meditation on human offal in all its forms -- from excretions and simple trash to nuclear waste and mass media.


Our relationship with waste is possibly the least attractive aspect of human society. Cities and countries are judged by their ability to clean water, to limit and transform waste. Today, in the age of recycling, we transcend and perfect ourselves as individuals by reducing and reusing, which are creative activities. It's much easier to consume a lot and toss it all. Now more than ever, environmentally and morally and even artistically, we're encouraged to think about waste.


"There are so many cultural manifestations," says Gary Spotowski, from the Edmonton Waste Management branch. "How we see it, deal with it, use it, think about it, sometimes even beautify it.


"We're certainly defined by consumerism, and that's what pushes waste around like a giant bulldozer."


Instead of doing the usual thing for Waste: The Social Context, an international conference taking place in Edmonton this week -- mixers, speeches, a pub crawl -- Spotowski and the good people at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence decided to link up with arts organizations. Consumable Waste: The Perfect Product, a design show at Latitude 53, is open for viewing this week and opens officially with a reception on Thursday. Reel Waste: Films on Garbage, a four-day film festival at Metro Cinema, is a collection of fascinating local and international documentaries programmed by Spotowski.


The films will look at everything from the reasons Edmonton transformed from landfill disaster to a continental leader in waste management to Shipbreakers, a compelling look at the dismantling of old ships on the beaches of India. "I was looking for things that documented some horrors of waste management around the world," Spotowski says, over an Italian soda at Three Bananas on Churchill Square. "But films that also dignified the people that deal with waste, from sorters to artists. And I wanted some humour in there."


Spotowski comes to this honestly, he says. Thirty years ago, he was a garbageman. "I saw what we threw away 30 years ago, before recycling was a word on anyone's lips. In that sense, the transformation of the past 20 or 30 years has been astounding and gratifying."


After an education degree and some time as a sculptor working with scrap steel and Styrofoam, Spotowski has come to this: encouraging the whole city to join international leaders in thinking about waste, through art.


Edmontonians may not be willing to sign up for a conference devoted to comparing strategies and social marketing for waste and recycling. But we do like our movies and art galleries. There are hundreds of conventions in Greater Edmonton every year, large and small, some fascinating and some not-so-fascinating, but organizers can learn a thing or two from Spotowski and his colleagues. He's working with gallery owners and film programmers who are always keen to develop and nurture new audiences.


Why not a mini oil-and-gas literary festival? Or a dance show, commissioned by a teachers' convention? The first chamber opera written for an international pipefitters gathering could be right here in Edmonton.


For now, we'll concentrate on waste (please recycle this newspaper).


For more on the film festival and design show, see www.reelwaste.com and http://www.consumablewaste.ca/


tbabiak@thejournal.canwest.com

© The Edmonton Journal 2008

Thursday, May 22

Latest pictures

These pictures don't really have any theme other than they're new
Cheerful flowers my friend gave me! Carnations just have such depth and softness to them..

shiny plastic spoons

I love that face

ooooh blue tiles... love the texture...

some kind of asian-style monument



lovely old brick wall!

Wednesday, May 21

What are you telling your water?

With all this rain in our usually dry prairie province I thought it fitting to talk about water.

Water absorbs our feelings and emotions, claims Dr. Masaru Emoto. This could have a substantial impact on humans, with over 60% our bodies water. If water absorbs our feelings, are we 60% living the emotions we felt in the past?

The history behind Emoto's experiments with water is not clear, but he has taken thousands of pictures of super-cooled water crystals; they show that ugly crystals result from negative words or thoughts, and beautiful crystals, produced by positive ones.

This water crystal was shown the word "Joy"

In his experiments, pure water is 'treated' by a strong intention, prayers and blessings, or a word affixed to the bottle. The liquid is then supercooled, and pictures are taken. A team goes through the pictures with a key (what 'treatments' the water got) to establish any pattern. Masaru Emoto's research led him to the conclusion that positive words form beautiful, well-formed crystals (such as the one pictured here), and that negative thoughts lead to ill-formed, ugly crystals.

The only problem with Masaru's experiments is that they are not scientific enough. That doesn't mean he lacked high-tech equipment or had a team of sub-par research assistants, but that he didn't place enough controls in order to limit human interpretation in data collection.

What does that mean? Too many other conditions were variable to say if the results were really from a positive or negative word. Imagine growing two plants to see if talking to plants improves their condition. If you plant one in more fertile soil than the other, water the two plants with different amounts of water or different schedules, and let them have different amounts of sunshine, how do you know that one is doing better than the other only because of your talking? It simply requires isolating the one variable you want to find out.

Masaru, on the other hand, reportedly did not photograph the crystals at the same times or timeframes, and a team selected the most aesthetically pleasing photographs from the large number they had taken. He claims that difficulties in photographing the frozen water impede perfect control of this, and also, that after it is 'treated', the water is neutrally labelled (letters of the alphabet) for handling in the lab. The experiment as a whole is very open to personal bias and interpretation.


I am not prepared to fully validate Emoto's experiments as real science, but it is not something to dismiss, either. Human brains are hardwired to find patterns; science is only built to do so. After all, there is something magical about these messages.

picture from Masaru Emoto's website
"Emoto Project"--outreach to children
Wikipedia on Dr. Masaru Emoto

Tuesday, May 20

Pay it forward

Two things came to mind as I was reading yesterday's post.

The first is that there are other kinds of abuse than physical domestic violence. Women are more likely than men to verbally abuse their spouses, whereas men are more likely to use violence, but both are used induce fear, assert power, and gain control. However, both are devastating, humiliating secrets victims bear. In fact, because the damaging effect of words is borne on one's spirit rather than one's body (and it is visually not as striking as physical abuse), victims, especially men, of verbal abuse remain silent in their situations.


The second thing, however, is a bit more of a cheerful topic: reaching out. I came across a beautiful thing this weekend (this link also in my sidebar). Lovely! I'm not going to say that it would completely change someone's life, but it definitely improves their day, or their week. And if it only takes a couple of minutes of your time, leaving you feeling good, isn't it worth it?

Monday, May 19

The vicious cycle

Do you have any idea how hard it is to be invisible and still contribute? It is so difficult to simply go to my room in the basement and pretend that I do not exist. How can I play music? Or spread out a project? Talk on the phone? (I am so thankful to be living in the age of the internet). I try to stop breathing when my mother descends the stairs. It's a mechanism of who I am: hide myself to get out of the world's way. Be invisible.

Where do you go for help when you have no problems because you've bowed over to make them work out? Who do you face when you're invisible? And if you show no signs of trauma, how does anyone know to help?

These questions make me think of battered women (or men, it happens!), who have few friends, trade excuses for bruises, and truly believe their husband's (or wive's) 28th rerun of the sincerest apologies and assurances of deepest love.

To get to that situation, though.... it is a gradual process. It starts with just a single slap, during a heated argument perhaps. The offender immediately apologizes and the victim says they're okay, allowing themselves to be comforted.

Then it happens a second time. And a third. Soon it becomes more and more violent, often without the victim being aware of the situation they are in.

Those who study this behavior have learned that the intense concern and love from the abuser immadiately after the event keep the victims unaware of any pattern in behavior; to them there are reasons for each time they were abused and that they are random happenings. In fact, in most cases the victims feel a nameless guilt and embarassment and assume responsibility for the acts. The bad habits have worsened, but it also feels so good and safe in the 'comforting' period that the victim sometimes still sees it as a good relationship.

Thing is, though, is that this cycle is not only characteristic of domestic violence, but also of anoraxia and bulimia, bingeing of any kind, drug abuse, and even unsatisfactory relationships. The pattern is a low of some sort (whether it's an absense/withdral or a negative event such as abuse or eating), followed by a high (feeling loved, drug high, feeling good about purging).

And ultimately, these patterns lead the people who have them feeling good because of it. Drugs numb pain and feel good, being rewarded by others or self for being skinny (and therefore desirable). Generally these patterns give their victims feelings of confidence, which will soon fail, only to be brought to a new high.

Well, depressing or interesting, I like to think about these things and compare them to my own life. I know I fall into this pattern sometimes (with falling deep into my emotions in connection to listening to music, with outbursts), and I think it is important to see these patterns to help live a healthier life.

If you are interested in further reading on spousal abuse, I can point you to one paper that is informative, easy to read and friendly. All my other sources I have remembered bits and pieces from and have no references for!

See also this follow-up post

Sunday, May 18

Worries, odds, and ends

Wow. I am missing the need to post something on my blog. Usually, throughout the course of the day, at work, ideas compete to be post content, pictures are taken and put aside for this use, conversations or events lead to an overall mini-essay thing.

Right after the redesign was finished on Saturday, I felt a release. I had accomplished something! And I could see the results right before my eyes, in my blog that I look at most often.

That and, spending a whole day and a half just on design meant I was alone and no drama occured. No one bothered me, my energy was not drained by being around people (the introvert that I am), nothing I despised inspired a rant....

I guess I was just blogging for peace: to bring harmony to the inner turmoil caused by outer chaos. I can say it's never been a problem for me, being too at-peace.

.......

That being said, this peaceful state opens my mind to other worries, allowing me to worry with full capacity. Do I need over a million-dollar 'useless arts degree' if I just want to become an artist or an interior decoartor or run a B&B or open a store? (nevermind that I haven't got a product to sell). Especially when what (little) capital I have could be put to one of those uses. And then I could stay here, with all I hold dear..(or am I just looking for reasons to stay?)

If only I could decide how to live my life!

Worry. It eats stomach acid for breakfast.


....On a happy note, I am looking forward to posting Friday! I wish it were Friday already, or that I had come up with the idea sooner...


Oh, and here's a picture I took Thursday. A consolation prize for listening to my worries

Saturday, May 17

Recycling project

Now I can show the start of the project 'save the CDs'...


I love sun rays!

the shadows are cool...
I can't wait until I get a whole bunch together and ave a wall of them for the sun to shine through, casting the room in shunny orange

New look!

YES! My work is done, and I am very proud of the new layout...

Lots of work, a few unnecessary steps, but at least the end result is close to what I envisioned

Friday, May 16

Away

I am taking some time to create my own template for this blog (I'm so excited!)

The CSS is alternately superbly simple and annoyingly complex, trying to fit together all the pieces.

I will still try to post. If nothing gets out in a couple of days, it is because I have dived into the deep end of web design, and am in way over my head...

Thursday, May 15

Visit to Hole's Garden

I feel like black and white today!





























































































Nearly unquantifiable

Personal values... sometimes they have personality 'tests' and values 'tests' that ask you certain questions like government spending on social programs, what should be done about the homeless, the value of higher education, etc etc. One of the things they ask is whether or not you would consider it risky to pursue alternative medicine, or how likely you are to go for it. Well I myself am always interested in those alternative methods of healing, looking at the body and health wholisticly, and wondering about those... more fuzzy options as far as health solutions. (Not to say I would necessarily pay large sums of money to try them)



Last week I came across this page. I'm sure there are many more like it that have all sorts of cool tidbits as well, but I haven't found them yet. This quantifies what some people believe about music or art in relation to healing.



To sum up the major points on the page so that you don't actually have to visit, regular exposure to music and music with art improved mental health. The test subjects were living in nursing homes, so one would assume that they do not have much music.
"Once the testing was complete, the results showed a statistically significant improvement in depression scores and in mood and behavior patterns"


I think it's fantastic that music has this effect. I think it should be made easily available to everyone, regardless of their life and circumstances. Same with natural sunlight, and seeing people regularly. There just seem to be some basic things we humans seem to do better with.


“At Baptist Medical Center, we took our Room Service program in, and on the first day, there was this woman who was comatose — totally unresponsive,” said Jenkins. “She said the only thing that brought her out of the coma was the music. Many of the staff witnessed it.”


When you do research like this, though, you have the 'chicken or the egg' questions. Are people who participate of better disposition, therefore more likely to recover from depression? Does opening the self to new experiences also open the subject to new and positive thoughts, regardless of the music played?



I suppose it doesn't matter too much as long as you don't attribute the result with a conceived cause. Guns don't kill people.... people do. (the guns do make it easy though)

Tuesday, May 13

Day of Silence

If you didn't already know, the Day of Silence is a 24-hour vow of silence that students and teachers take to protest bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. April 25 was this year's date, and I am sorry that I missed it. I'm not sure how much impact it would have had for me to take this vow at my workplace, where at least a few people are open about their sexuality. Next year, 2009, Day of Silence will be on April 17.

Well imagine my surprise as I am looking up the Day of Silence on Wikipedia, I find something called the 'Day of Truth' (on Wikipedia here). It sounds intruiging, to be sure, so of course I investigate. Turns out it's a day opposing the day of silence, and, I think, homosexuality in general (plus bisexuality and transgendering)

I have to admit, I was quite shocked. Is it strange that I've never been around a significant group of people who opposed LGBT? All of my life I've been surrounded with people who are good with it, or at least not publicly opposed. I thought that this closed-mindedness was old-fashioned and falling away. I mean, somehow the Catholic Church has accepted that not everyone prays to Jesus, or not the same way.

I know, there's just the stigma so strong, the change that causes a physical fear in those traditionalists.


Just because there are a couple really cool gay video clips out there:

About two (possibly) gay boys. Some kissing.

Adoption

Foreign ad for a drink?


Video entitled 10 resons why gay marriage should be illegal... excellent voice. Warning: some stick men going at it

Gay marriage/equal rights

Had to hunt down some of my faves from a few years ago, and I definitely haven't seen them all, but here are some good ones

Monday, May 12

Meaning of life in the bottom of the glass

They're everywhere, those metaphors for life, but I love it when one really comes over and knocks me on the head with some relevance.

Sunday I decided to make my mom a smoothie. Smoothies are my thing, like the best food-ish stuff I can make (especially those tart raspberry ones!). So as I am making it, I decide to throw in a few ingredients that can't hurt. Like V8.

I've done this before, just a dash of V8 in a couple of litres of smoothie, can't taste a thing. I also decided to put in just a tiny bit of peanut butter, for some protein. Load up the frozen rasperries, mangoes, chocolate and regular soy juice, and we're ready to go!

Mixing

mixing

mixing...


Finally! All perfectly blended! Time for the taste test!

Well, as you probably have more common sense than I do, you predicted it tasted terrible. I kid you not. I put too much V8, and the peanut butter was not hiding its taste at all.

Moral of the story: never put peanut butter in a smoothie. (V8's okay in small amounts)


Seriously, though, looking back at my posts, a few days ago I was totally uncertain of what I was doing, if it was the right thing to do, if my current life was just a waste of time. But this disgusting smoothie showed me that after all the hard work and time spent on something, when you taste the fruit of your work, you definitely know if it's right or not.

Hopefully that's a dose of confidence. It is for me!
(Though now we're out of frozen fruit...)

Saved from a worse fate


Look at all the CDs that were going to the shredder!






They are blank, rendered useless only because they had labels printed on them for data that didn't exist...















I am going to make a project out of these, more on that later.... *mysterious*

Sunday, May 11

Mother's day!

I made a Mother's Day card for my mom!

I had these little 8x8 inch canvasses lying around for something for my mom and a couple of friends to do a project...
and I thought it was perfect for a mother's day 'card'!

It's watercolour (on canvas? really? well, it worked!), sharpie on paper (mailbox), glue, and tiny little paper airplanes.

I had started with the intention of it being a little more collage-y, but I like it.

My mom likes to send really cool things in the mail, that's why there's a mailbox. (Canadian mailbox: it's usually red, not purple, by the way)


Doing this totally unlocked my artistic side. Actually, it unlocked a lot of my enthusiam! I feel ready and able to do music again, and have suddenly decided to write a book! (check back in about a month and see if that one's still going...)

I feel my confidence revived. At least a bit. Art therapy!

Saturday, May 10

Why I started blogging

After yesterday's post I was wondering why I started a blog as well. Existential crisis! Day in and day out here.

I used to write letters. They were magnificent letters, written on blank white paper with my unusual hand, in pencil. I would put down all my questions, musings, wandering wonderings, pictures... all of my dearest treasures. I would send one of these letters about once every two months to someone I deeply respected (or maybe even loved). I would never receive anything in return.

I came to realize that I cherished these more than anyone else, and that sending those pieces of my soul to someone who didn't care who I was would only break my heart in the long run, so here I am running a blog. At least I have a running record of who I was. Maybe one day I will do something with this, maybe not.

Nowhere near monumentous enough to show how much I value this piece of myself, but I think that that's how the big things happen anyway. They just are, we make room for them, and we accept them as necessary.

Friday, May 9

There's hope for all of us

I don't know if I can post today. I am overcome by some sort of spiritual fatigue stemming from my drop in confidence. Lately I have been considering taking off to be a lifeguard in Europe, or to use my small sum of money I have been saving for school to put down towards a house and settle into a life here, starting a photography career at some company.

These are, of course, fantasies of escape (how many pools do they even have in Europe? Could I afford a very modest house? Would I be content doing portraits when I dislike people?) Suddenly, going away to my dream university seems like a waste of precious time and resources as I have a sudden urge to both have a great adventure and start settling down before it's too late.

And lately I keep wondering why Quest accepted me, and gave me $16 000--half my tuition and board. Why can't I just be normal like everyone else, a hairdresser in some salon wishing she lived in Australia, a pretty young waitress who can charm her way across the country, an accountant who goes home to watch tv after a long day of work.

I know we are supposed to use all our talents (and I 'supposed to' because I really do beleive that), but it is quite hard to use those talents, make a life and a living. As far as I can tell, I have some stumped talent in music (I am acutely strage-frightened), some skill at writing, an artistic eye, a questioning critical mind, an an open, willing and optimistic heart, and a strong desire to help myself and others improve themselves.

Well, that's useless. How does one even go about putting into action these qualities? How does one know it is the right thing to do? I know they say you can 'learn from your mistakes', and I am aligned with that beleif, but to actually do something day after day after day without some divine sign that you are doing the right thing makes me falter. You could be doing something wrong for years and only find out later, or you could be doing the best thing for yourself and those around you, and never know it. How do you even know what your talents are?


In the end, though, I am an optimist, and I like this quote, very much beleiving it to be true:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others

-Nelson Mandela

Thursday, May 8

Another Crane

Yesterday's crane
(The internet wasn't working yesterday...)

Did you know cranes are a symbol of peace?


I like to think of them as a symbol of love, for the world, or for one person. When I give a crane to someone I am telling them, I love you.

Wednesday, May 7

Should I stay or should I go?




A lot of my life (yes, I'm only 18) has been the struggle between nomadism and beauty.
























Nomadism offers almost limitless freedom. Pack your one bag and off you go, not tied down by unnecessary possessions or obligations or ties. Nomadism allows you to experience whatever you choose, whenever you want, and leave when it suits you. You can do things exactly the way you want to. Obligations to return favours, remember, or think about those around you? Pretty much gone. Once you've had your little thank-you song and dance you can leave.











On the other hand, remaining sedentary allows you wealth. Greater number of useful possessions, like dishes or tools you can use yourself (rather than pay someone a fee for their services). Relations with your neighbours allow you to return one type of favor for a different type in return, something that could have otherwise been inaccessible. Not to mention art.




Historical anthropologists measure a civilization's development by it's art. If there is enough food, shelter, and other resources to allow someone to spend all their time doing art rather than foraging or hunting, the society as a whole must be doing well. Of course, in today's society we have a market for art. But imagine in the pre-historic days, wasting time whittling something out of wood or painting would mean death through starvation, exposure to elements, or other creatures.







So clearly then, sedentary is the more evolved way.






There's something that pulls me to be free though...








I don't want to be materialistic, there are just so many ways to display beautiful things...


note: these are not my pictures. stolen from http://ninainvorm.punt.nl/ , sfgirlbybay , http://www.midcenturymodernist.com/ ...though those may not be their origins

Tuesday, May 6

It's not masochism, though

Last night, as I was overcome by emotions--pain, anger and sadness, I thought of what agony it was. Why did I choose this path, leaving comfort and friends and love, rather than to staying behind as so many others do? Horrible pain!
Then I thought of the two things I like about pain:

a) pain lets us know we're alive

b) pain is temporary

To someone perpetually in an existential crisis, the first offers the comfort of letting me know I am alive, not a walking useless shell wasting resources on the planet. And if I'm not useless, there is a chance that I am actually useful, and thus my life has meaning.

The second, that pain is only temporary, is a phrase I use commonly and it's what gets me cheerfully through all physical pain I've ever had. Usually, though, I forget to apply it to emotional pain, and become mired in memories of the past. But this too shall pass, I will move forward in my emotions as my body does in time, and things will eventually, inevitably, become better.
The best way to rid oneself of pain is to embrace it, really. An open wound will become dirty, infected, and fester with neglect, but if cared for, cleaned and monitored soon becomes unblemished skin. So do not run from pain. Embrace it. Love it! The fact that it hurts more than you could possibly imagine means you are intensely alive, and that if you are alive, you will be able to move on.

Today's crane


Monday, May 5

Origami




I created this crane today! I chose orange and light blue, it made me think of seagull colours.



It only took about 20 minutes to color and fold it, and it's so cute!

Sunday, May 4

Depression

To sort of continue from my last post with... depression. Clinical depression (as opposed the emotion we use every day) is a chemical imbalance in the brain because of malfunctioning neroreceptors.
To the very extreme depressed end, one cannot get up out of bed. Just thinking about things we normally would do easily, like washing the dishes or going to work, confuses and overwhelms. One feels guilty, helpless, emtpy, worthless, pessimistic, or numb and have no energy to attend to hobbies they once enjoyed, friends or family.
So the most depressed people lie in bed all day, sometimes needing care. Ironically then, it's when one starts to recover from their depression that one kills oneself, because that is when the pain starts to be felt again (rather than numbness).
I find this... well, depressing. But not clinically. (It's just a bit funny)

A picture, because I forgot to put one in my last post. (I hope I didn't darken anyone's day, I just think it's interesting to know these things.)
Squamish is there! My new home come fall!

Someone please kill me because I can't do it myself...

Silly title. I am not suicidal, I only wish that I didn't exist at all. Just one of those low times where I want to obliviate myself playing video games, sleeping long after my back aches from the bed, lie on the floor in my dark basement and numbly sing the alphabet over and over again.

How do we gather up the strength to go on, alone, unsuccessful, miserable? Sometimes it's the social pressure. Don't let on that you're unhappy, that your life sucks, make sure they don't know, don't let it show.

"So if you wanna burn yourself, remember that I love you
and if you wanna cut yourself, remember that I love you
and if you wanna kill yourself, remember that I love you
Call me up before you're dead,
we can make some plans instead
send me an IM, I'll be your friend"
-Kimya Dawson

Well these lyrics just cheer me right up! (you can hear the song here. The video is inconsequential. Interesting song...)

Saturday, May 3

no one travels with her


they lost her penny, whistle plated,
nickle, quater, dime
accordion scratching tree-branch tunes
when windmen have the time
steam the engine black and white
an orphan home alone
remember the forgotten child
the train a soulful moan





I don't know if you get what I was trying to say but I still like it...

Friday, May 2

Rock out!

Personal values... sometimes they have personality 'tests' and values 'tests' that ask you certain questions like government spending on social programs, what should be done about the homeless, the value of higher education, etc etc. One of the things they ask is whether or not you would consider it risky to pursue alternative medicine, or how likely you are to go for it. Well I myself am always interested in those alternative methods of healing, looking at the body and health wholisticly, and wondering about those... more fuzzy options as far as health solutions. (Not to say I would necessarily pay large sums of money to try them)

Last week I came across this page. I'm sure there are many more like it that have all sorts of cool tidbits as well, but I haven't found them yet. This quantifies what some people believe about music or art in relation to healing.

To sum up the major points on the page so that you don't actually have to visit, regular exposure to music and music with art improved mental health. The test subjects were living in nursing homes, so one would assume that they do not have much music.
"Once the testing was complete, the results showed a statistically significant improvement in depression scores and in mood and behavior patterns"

I think it's fantastic that music has this effect. I think it should be made easily available to everyone, regardless of their life and circumstances. Same with natural sunlight, and seeing people regularly. There just seem to be some basic things we humans seem to do better with.

“At Baptist Medical Center, we took our Room Service program in, and on the first day, there was this woman who was comatose — totally unresponsive,” said Jenkins. “She said the only thing that brought her out of the coma was the music. Many of the staff witnessed it.”

When you do research like this, though, you have the 'chicken or the egg' questions. Are people who participate of better disposition, therefore more likely to recover from depression? Does opening the self to new experiences also open the subject to new and positive thoughts, regardless of the music played?

I suppose it doesn't matter too much as long as you don't attribute the result with a conceived cause. Guns don't kill people.... people do. (the guns do make it easy though)

Thursday, May 1

Crazy ball on the river

Samarabalouf is a combination of Samara, the old French name for the Somme River in france, bal, a ball at which you dance, and fou backwards (fou means crazy), so explains Fran├žois in concert.


French gypsy jazz guitar trio Samarabalouf just blew me away. With their wholistic use of their guitars they made sounds of creaking doors, grating carrots, the whine of a tea kettle in a lonely cabin scratched by trees. These guys were probably more excited than we were to be there (and we were thrilled), knocking on their intruments, dancing with them, having humorous face-offs, interacting very well with the crowd and getting the energy going in a seemingly natural, effortless way.

Fran├žois, the guy on the right, spoke for the band both in French and in English (though his English is not in as good a condition), but the other two have just as much personality. It just shows that language isn't necessary, only useful for a tad of explanation. The guy in the middle, Luc, looked like he was ready to start dancing with his double base any minute---and there was some dancing with the instruments, too! With a quiver for his bow he switched between the flowing celloish sound and deep satisfying plunking noises to tiny little chirps, drops, and taps. The guy on the left, named Pierrot, did everything else, from strange cowboyish yee-haws to silent comedic relief, engaging the audience.


video

almost dancing...


video

a more mellow sound


I think it's the mark of a good musician or group that can really offer both talent and connect with the audience. Samarabalouf has a barrier of language but still manages to rise to the top and make the audience feel like they are just relaxing, a friend listening to the trio jam.


You can visit their official website here.