Thursday, March 5, 2015

Art would have been proud...

As I sort through things and decide what to keep and what to toss, I found a freshman art project where I designed 14 panels in which one image blended to another.  So, in lieu of keeping the old thing, I decided to make a GIF animation out of it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A sunny morning

Sipping coffee,
listening to a classic Persian pop star Googoosh,
reading a book,
smelling the coffee cake which shall soon join the coffee.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pandora's Psychoanalyses

Pandora now gives articulate reasons for why they play songs.  Though I don't listen often, I do give feedback about what songs I like, and I confess they're doing a pretty good job these days of feeding me music I really like.

After a few hours of listening to a mix of Christian music after the style of Rend Collective and Tree63, out of the blue they played Five For Fighting's "100 Years".  I was curious as to why... and the little info box said, "Based on what you've told us so far, we're playing this track because it features pop rock qualities, a subtle use of vocal harmony, a prominent rhythm piano part, demanding instrumental part writing and major key tonality."  huh.  Not bad!  I enjoy minor key music intellectually, but it stirs up angst in me, so apparently my feedback over time has favored major-key music, etc, etc.

The next song was Counting Crows "A Long December."  I was curious if it would say the same thing; this time it said ""Based on what you've told us so far, we're playing this track because it features mellow rock instrumentation, country influences, folk influences, a subtle use of vocal harmony and acoustic rhythm piano."

Goo Goo Dolls rendition of "Give A Little Bit" was played because "Based on what you've told us so far, we're playing this track because it features pop rock qualities, a subtle use of vocal counterpoint, a subtle use of vocal harmony, repetitive melodic phrasing and major key tonality." 

I like what they've done with their algorithms--internet science at its best.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


He was the ocean, the twilight depths;
he was red and black-blue.
he was the delicate cry of pale orchids nodding in northern light:
I believed in him, and chased him with all my peasant passion.
Up and down the keys of black and white,
through a glass darkly,
I reached, I stretched, and my wrists ached.
permanent knots in my shoulders from malpractice,
but knotty arpeggios flickered frenetically,
painting with sound a fantasy that music was an answer, an embrace, a goal, and would be found soon,
always very soon.

Silent wait the keys and my wrists are loathe to ache from that percussion again;
the tatting of notes are missing from the stand.
My passion got in the way of discipline,
so I sit like an untamed fourteen-year-old trying to imagine a Neverland in musical notes,
a social filibuster.

Still later, in a quiet and beautiful way, I began to appreciate fairy tales once again.
Why grasp? crushing grasp!
No, no.
Joy is falling asleep--sweet drift!--when you were still awake.
Maybe I can start over with dreams and forgiveness.

Monday, June 2, 2014

When Helping Hurts...Autofill, Text Alerts, and Telephones

In sixth grade I formally learned to type.  I was already a decent typist, because I had played Mavis Beacon, but in the public school classroom, I was trained and tested in the structured environment of a classroom.  The resulting skill:  Utilizing all ten digits to type at speeds of up to 100 wpm, without looking at the keys.  Actually my wpm hovers closer to 70, because I never did get really accurate at that number row, and I still have to correct a lot of my x's, c's, and b's from that bottom row.

The internet came to school when I was in 7th grade; in 9th grade I got my own email account, and by the time I graduated from high school, I had hung out in chat rooms and learned for the first time that there are very sad and strange people hanging around in chat rooms.

Then the internet, and its browsers, ripened into a golden age of reading your mind.  Autocorrect had been around, built into word processing programs, for some time, but now autofill came in full force on internet website forms.  I began to take for granted that any question I had for google had already been asked a hundred times, and the dropdown autofill menu typically confirms that.  Thus, only half a word into the act of writing out a search item, I can complete the request with a tap of the down arrow and Enter.

Then you go to write a paper for the first time in a while and find yourself full of ideas...and a strange writer's block when it comes to finishing sentences...

I've noticed different ways technology does my thinking for me.

It's nice that I no longer rely on a computer printout for telephone numbers of friends and family.  Taped to the wall by the landline, this handy directory was really convenient, growing up.  In fact, over time I naturally memorized several of my best friend's phone numbers.  Now there is no need to memorize phone numbers.  After having a work phone for several years, I have only recently learned what my own work number is!

In the last few years, since finishing college and developing simple daily routines of life, I have noticed other trends in my neural firings.  For my own personal success in life, I had to leave one of the internet's most popular social networking sites.  It has the potential to be addicting.  More to the point, its design is extremely conducive to being addicting.  Who ever thought a tiny red icon containing a number could give you such an instantly gratifying high of affirmation and importance?  So, realizing my tendency to float around for hours in the half-light of the never-ending whirlpool of notifications, live feeds, and funny videos, I did the cold turkey thing.  

This brings me to my final observation.  Just an instant ago I heard a noise that told me an email has arrived!!!!  I have eliminated a lot of junk mail, so there is about a fifty percent chance that it is something relevant to me personally.  At that sound, I instantly stopped mid-sentence and moved my mouse to the application bar.  The email icon had one of those ubiquitous red symbols with a number.  Then I stopped and came back, because the intense onset of ADD caused by notification sounds is what sparked this post!

Lately I've struggled a lot with focus.  A lot is going on in my life, actually.  Twice last week, in person, I caught myself yanking my attention away from a friend I was talking to because somebody had walked up and interrupted.  I know interruptions are one of those things you have to figure out how to deal with in life, but I couldn't help noticing how unapologetically my attention instantly switched and I completely forgot what I had been talking to my friend about.

Maybe my focus problem is independent of technology.  Maybe not.  This morning a text message woke me up.  Alarms don't get me up, but a text message will.  I picked up my phone, read the message, and responded.  Then I lay down again and began thinking about my day, preparing and planning in my head.  But, whatever I was thinking about, it completely fell apart when my phone beeped again and I grabbed it to see the latest text message.  I responded, and lay back down, and then thought, "I have no idea what I was thinking."  Then I thought, "I think that a lot after I've been interrupted."

Instant gratification is no longer the only culprit.  I've allowed myself to be trained by sounds and small icons to instantly drop whatever I have been doing and turn my complete attention to the new sensory input.  Although instant gratification is the motivation to be so trained, the training is now in place.  It doesn't matter if I'm in the mood for texting, if I want to be receiving an email.  Those stimuli demand instant responses.

This morning I turned off the text message alert sound in my phone.

When I have posted this message, I am going to turn off the email alert sound on my computer.

There is no rational or compelling reason that I need to know instantly when I receive messages.  That is what telephone calls are for, and I don't receive too many of those.  My phone can demand attention for those.  

Speaking of phone calls, I have memorized a few telephone numbers.  I do it by applying my music knowledge, translating numbers to scale degrees.


(The last couple numbers being in the next octave up).

It is nice how much technology has made life easier.  But I am determined to reclaim my ability to memorize and to ignore distractions.  Since technology has designed extremely compelling distractions, which are 9 times out of 10 mere "wolf" cries, I think it is only fair to just turn off some of those noises.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


A decision--becomes many commitments which my own nature is not strong enough to fulfill.
How quickly I can lose sight of a castle I beheld from a pinnacle, in the toil of climbing through the forests of preparation!

I have snapped many "selfies" of myself in my different living situations.  It is so normal, very human to identify with my things (simple as they are), the paint on the walls, the books on the shelf.  I also have identified myself many times as an artist, a musician, a would-be writer.

Now I wrestle with my things--how absolutely shall I reject them?  Are they not memories--external hard drives for the brain?  A few notes, photographs perhaps, will do, won't they--if I want to be really technical.  Oh, a photo is nothing like holding a treasured mug in hand, but at least the memory may live.  (And how we humans do treasure memories!  Invisible realities that remind us we are bigger than this moment! that we are part of a collective identity that has sweated and bled and loved both for created things and the Creator!

In some moments, many moments, I think I would rather write about doing than actually do.  But without the pressure to accommodate both, writing has no inspiration.  And where writing has no inspiration, work has no art.

I can sit amidst a jumble of displaced items--most of them so useful given the right situation!--I can sit among them and think because I do not see them as chaos; I see them in their uses.  The five-gallon water cooler on the dining table is not there, but on a picnic table full of iced tea, and my three young children run to it with their plastic cups for a refill.  The miscellaneous scented candles burn cheerily, mingling with the scent of dinner to welcome my husband home along with two or three guests, and children's voices babble happily at play.  Two deeply red platters are piled with dessert, and half a dozen assorted mugs await a fill of evening decaf. 

The ragged fence in the back yard is there, but I easily imagine methodically cutting it out of the tree stump and digging up the posts in teamwork with a mate.  But all this imagining has suspended my connection with the reality that there is no such man at this time, and no promise of one; that there are no children; that plastic does deteriorate whether it is used or not.

And a decision to shake off the fog of superimposed fantasy, to become a little less nostalgic for the future (as only imagination can do!) brings about moments of emotional conflict.  Lingering, sitting down and reflect on why I love my possessions, when I need to get real and push them off like encumbering weights, freeing my footsteps for a much greater, surprising journey!

And I wonder.  From Lot's wife's perspective, did she feel she had just as much reason to love her city, to long to imprint its image in her mind that she might take its memory with her?  As far out of context as I am, I don't want to draw a comparison that unnecessarily shames--but I wonder if so much sentiment, so much determination to remember flickers of story is just so many strings keeping me tethered....
(but tethers can be so reassuring!)

Somewhere deep inside, I must somehow find hope in my past.  Hope in my earliest memories--hope that there is something I have forgotten, but that one day, if I hold onto the memories I do have, I may suddenly remember something fantastic.  Why do I have the persnickety desire to remember my earliest memories?  Why does it drive me crazy to remember only as early as 18 months of age?  It seems I wish I could remember the moment my soul sparked into existence.  And if I could just understand who I am to such a level, memories would cease to matter.  I cling to early memories as a sort of anchor I can dive to in the sea of my conscious past, hoping I might one day excavate just a little deeper than I ever had.  Somehow I believe I do have memories earlier than the ones I am sure of.  (Last night I watched Mary Poppins for the first time, I thought, and in the scene where the Banks children and their father cross the street from the cathedral to the bank, along with the richly beautiful choir of saints, I was struck that it almost perfectly depicted a dream I had a couple years ago, in which I stood on a portico like that of the bank, looking across the street at the cathedral, thinking I would just dash over to join the church service, then realizing it was already begun, as great swells of choir music came out, so rich that I doubled over crying at its beauty.   (So now, I ask my older sister, and she says yes, we did watch it, when I was about two years of age.)

Closure.  Sometimes a decision with no organic context, or sometimes a naturally occurring event in good time.  Sometimes a relinquishing of the quest, replacing it with a quest to go forward, to leave all these questions and things behind, for something and Someone so much greater than any formative human sense of "home".

When Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions--if it were not so, I would have told you," what was indicated by that second clause?  That it was a popular belief that heaven would indeed be a magnificent, glorious place, and if it were not so, Jesus certainly would have corrected the disciples' thinking?  The Lord is good.  If there is a reason for me to remember some random memory, He can bring that about without me questing and clinging.  

As to memories in general, hopefully I can retain them internally and externally within reason, without being hampered by them as I press onward.  I do not want to become a stranger to the people I love from the past and the present.  Family, gold friends and old friends, those who have passed and those who will surpass me--
ah what a mysterious fabric is Creation.
May I dwell even more on the beauty of the Creator.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Besides treating the ferns with extra care, I've taken up the care of six Betta fish.  Since a cat prowls this household, I moved things around in the spare room.  In here I can control the temperature more, and, of course, shut the cat out.

I may have bit off a lot to chew on with six bettas.  I remember in college, different girls on the hall bought betta fishes, keeping them in tiny containers of water and commenting on their chronic half-dead behavior and occasionally cleaning the bowls.  I joined the club, but to be different I bought a goldfish.  To be more different, I bought a black goldfish, which reminded me of a hammerhead shark the way its eyes boggled sideways.  Ibble-ka-Dibble was a very peppy fish, who always wanted to fly out over the rooftops as seen below my dorm window.  Or so I interpreted his headbanging in the direction of the window.  (Once, while my roommate checked her email before we headed to lunch together, she heard me saying "I know you really want to fly out over the rooftops..." and responded, "I'm coming, I'm coming!" later explaining that she thought I was just giving one of my strange metaphors.)

Alas, Ibble-ka-Dibble was not the same fish when I came home from working at a camp the following summer.  Having survived most of the summer in the care of my family, he got a little overneglected just weeks before my return, and they replaced him without telling me.  His change of personality was the first thing I noticed.  I gave him to my dad to keep at his office, but alas, nor was Ibble-ka-Dibble II long for this world.

That was my experience in fish-keeping, back in 2006.

Now when I recall the scummy fishbowls of Alpha Hall I shudder slightly.  I would actually like to treat these six beautiful fish with kindness and dignity.

So I've given all but two of them luxurious 2-gallon homes  

(what did two of them do to get 2-quart homes, you ask?'s just what I bought.  I am a little bit sorry.)

The plastic lids were dividers to keep the fish from seeing each other and getting angry and stressed out, but I've removed them now, and they don't seem to care.

But I mentioned the cat, Charlie.  He sometimes wants to come meet the fish, and under supervision, I don't mind letting him.

And that is an introduction to my fish adoption.