I made several more tiny framed color drawings for January. Until then, here is a doodle of a fish I made on the back of a receipt.
I walked by the creek and saw a wood ibis, a roseate spoonbill, and another wading bird (not shown) hanging out together.
On another day, I saw this anthill on the border between the grass and the sidewalk during twilight. It's really more of an ant mountain, isn't it?
This is the writing prompt from the writers' meetup a couple weeks ago. I was given ten minutes to come up with something. I didn't write much, but the others liked it enough to tell me to finish it. I'm going to write a short story that I will hopefully finish and post by the end of January. Until then, here is what I did in ten minutes:
It was my eleventh birthday. It was the day that eleven turkeys showed up in our driveway. Sally had tried to catch them, but they were too fast.
I went to school like usual. It was boring. When I left to get on the bus the turkeys were waiting – watching. I slipped between them nervously and got on. They watched me leave. Had they followed me to school?
After dinner there was a tapping at the door – eleven taps. My father opened it, but nothing was there. Something short ran past the kitchen window. That night I found eleven feathers in my bed. Of course my mother blamed me for it. Once the lights were out, I heard a tap from the closet.
For anyone that would like it, I made a writing prompt. If it helps you, leave a comment or a link to your story.
The stone again vibrated with energy and then it spoke. "I have one hundred levels of emotions. I understand the foundations of physics. I know the position and momentum of every particle in and out of existence. I know all the digits of pi in binary, decimal, hexadecimal, and every other base possible. I have 997 senses. I can smell shapes. I can hear color. I can visualize events in thirty spatial dimensions and four temporal dimensions. I am capable of perceiving things impossible to describe to you in any language you would ever be capable of learning. I can perceive my own thought processes in their entirety as I am thinking them, including my ongoing perception of those same processes. I can grasp the full meaning of infinity itself within an infinitesimal moment of time and I do this every second of every day. I am capable of sixteen forms of consciousness – nine of them simultaneously. I have no need of arithmetic because I use a higher math. I am omniscient in multiple ways, the number of which cannot be found on any number line you could ever comprehend. Yet, I still have this one question."
"And what is that?" I asked.
I recently read Parker J. Palmer’s book Healing The Heart Of Democracy, a book about political strife and incivility in America, much like my 2012 book, The Nutcase Across The Street. I bought it because it speaks to my interests.
Part of his proposed solution to our partisan problems consists of learning to let our hearts “break open” rather than “break apart.” This is poorly explained, but I think he means that after having our hearts broken we are then able to empathize with others, including those whose hearts are broken over issues we don’t care about or would prefer to be settled in ways they would not. This is the main theme running through the whole book.
Another part of his solution consists of learning to connect with others outside of our immediate circles of friends, learning not to fear strangers – especially those of different races, socio-economic classes, etc. Simply living in an urban area where one has to negotiate a path through crowds can help one develop the habit of respecting others and Palmer also suggests numerous other ways this might be done formally and informally. He claims connecting with others also has the added benefit of making us less dependent on centralized power for our needs, making us less vulnerable to manipulation and fascism. He claims individualism leads to despotism because when people no longer need others, they stop caring and are easily divided by those that would overpower and subdue us.
Most of this makes sense to me, but in my experience the only way to keep the peace sometimes is for people to separate. Rather than trying to push everyone into working together or living where there are crowds, people should be able to escape and live as they want without interference. Individualism may lead to despotism, but it seems to me much more likely for the lack of individualism to lead to despotism. One cannot rule alone (or else I’d already be doing it) without widespread allegiance to a system – allegiance that could not exist if more people were more independent.
Other proposals include leading by example to change hearts rather than change the law, seeking consensus rather than majority (or plurality), respecting the rights of minorities, respecting the democratic process, and respecting the constitutional system of checks and balances to slow down change to the point that society can safely absorb it. He wants us to “live in the tension” of never having any issue permanently settled.
He seems unaware that the problem with our current political situation is that we cannot agree on what is constitutional, what is democratic, and which minority rights to respect. Do we respect the reproductive rights of the mother? Or the right-to-life of the baby? Do we have greater respect for a president elected by the states through the electoral college or for a congress elected by much smaller (and often gerrymandered) districts? Did Bush commit an unconstitutional act by ordering troops into Iraq? Did Obama commit an unconstitutional act by signing the ACA? The problem is not that we can’t settle our disagreements; the problem is that we can’t even agree on the process to go about settling our disagreements.
In my book, I propose that we talk more to each other in order to eventually reach an agreement on these issues. Palmer expects us to live at peace without ever reaching an agreement. My solution may very well be too impractical and idealistic, but Palmer’s solution is no solution at all!
Overall, it is a very interesting book packed with numerous nuggets to think over. I have already pointed out above why I think it is incomplete, but his ideas could still be an important first step to get us to negotiate honestly. It also gives an important historical perspective to our connection with strangers that most people (including myself) seem to lack. The book is actually about much more than politics. It is about getting along, socialization, intimacy, and communication. I give it at least four stars.
For more of my thoughts on the politics of division, visit my other blog, The Understanding Project.
I recently read Parker J. Palmer’s book Let Your Life Speak. Essentially, it is a memoir of his depression and struggle to find meaning in his vocation and in the will of God. To me, it is disappointingly short on details, speaking mostly in generalizations to make a point. That point is that we all have a deeper self that as we get older gets sidetracked by things we think we should be doing but don’t reflect who we truly are. By not “letting our life speak” we fail to be fulfilled and so become depressed. Having been through similar experiences, I recognized exactly what he was talking about, but I thought it was poorly explained. How it is that we get distracted and how we recognize the call of our true nature when we hear it were not discussed at all.
On the other hand, I was pleased to see someone saying what not to say to a depressed person. Trying to cheer them up will backfire, as it only serves to remind them of times that they were capable of being cheerful about anything, depressing them further. Trying to claim a common hardship for the purposes of bonding will at best have no effect as they are incapable of bonding while in such a state – and at worst will make them feel worse that two people have hardships rather than just one.
Overall, the book was well-written and short enough to read in one day. I find it very difficult to rate. I don’t know what to compare it to. You’ll have to use your best judgment.
I just discovered that Butterfinger is now competing with Reese's. The local Dollar Tree sells peanut butter cups flavored just like traditional Butterfinger bars. The filling is creamier than that of Reese's (which is more crumbly) except for the few crunchy grains of Butterfinger trapped inside. They were absolutely amazing - though still not as good as Reese's white chocolate coated peanut butter cups. Now those are something else entirely!
This is normally where I would post a picture, but by the time I found my camera this time they had already been eaten.
How is it that some people count on their fingers?
I've looked everywhere, but I can't find any numbers printed on mine...
I recently discovered that the wife of an old friend writes a blog on her travels and observations on life. I think I might have briefly met her once, but I had no idea what she did. It seems she spends a lot of time following trails into the unknown and taking photos of sunsets before getting lost in the dark on the way back. At least check out her blog at FreeSpiritFun.blogspot.com
Nobody remembers how it started, but a tribe of people began to worship these beings as gods, hanging them by their chimneys on certain nights of the year, sacrificing presents to them (by stuffing them inside). They do this so it will not demand to make a present out of them (one stocking monster once ate a baby carelessly placed near it, dragging it in with its fern-like tentacles). The monsters are larger on the inside and so can hold millennia worth of presents. Little is known about the creatures, but it has been recently learned that they are sometimes cannibals.
Hello, my name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small. I like bacon. I like pizza. I like bacon pizza. I enjoy long walks on the beach, but prefer the mountains. I am a huge fan of Jesus. When I grow up, I want to be just like him and create my own universes.