Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pie Face

Next week I will celebrate my 49th birthday. This is my crossing over mark to start living out my 50th year.....zowie! Hard to believe it. So I've been thinking some on where I am, where I want to be, what I want to do before my light goes out.

One of the strange traditions I have is that each year on my birthday I have a friend give me a pie in the face. Odd, but true. It began with a pie from my brother the year I turned 19 and has been going on ever since. I missed a few years along the way... but I've definitely had my share of pies. I've had fruit pies and cream pies. The past few years I've done it with just whip cream in a pan; Why waste good pie?

It's a bit of a rediculous tradition I suppose, but it has been fun and keeps me from taking myself too seriously!

Egypt Bound

On November 9 my husband and I will board a plane headed for Egypt. The trip has been planned for many months. For the longest time it seemed to be no more than a pipe dream. But little by little we sculpted that dream into reality. The tickets are now bought and paid for. Our itinerary is set. As our departure date draws closer, I'm getting a bit giddy.

I wanna ride a camel and see pyramids. I will climb Mt. Sinai and my beloved will scuba dive in the red sea. We will visit museums, mosques, bazaars, desert oasis Bedouin villages and so much more. I will spend time at St. Katherine's monastery and even do a bit of geochaching. Yeah, I'm getting excited.

I've been reading about all the places I plan to visit in the Lonely Planet's Guide to Egypt and I have a map of the country on my office wall.

I'm oh so ready for this adventure!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Old Lady Co-Ed

So I'm trying to get myself acclimated to being a student again after a dozen years of being a teacher. The day I started classes just happened to be my YOUNGEST son's 30th birthday. So, my classmates aren't just younger than me. The are younger than my baby. Ouch.

As a decidedly "non-traditional" student navigating the graduate school mountain again I'm finding my perceptions are quite different than when I went at it the first time around.

For one thing - I used to be thrilled when the teachers would excuse the class early. Now I'm not. Granted we're all tired and our brains ache with overload. But dammit I paid about $4K in tuition, I want the full measure! If I bought a gallon of milk and came home with a cup missing, I'd feel gyped and ripped off. I chafe when my classes let out more than 15 minutes before they are scheduled to.

Then there are other things... how much we do or don't use the very expensive books I had to buy, the degree or lack of formality between students and professors, the endless seemingly arbitrary hoops that must be jumped through, etc etc. I have a steep climb ahead of me to find my way through it all.

Maybe if I keep reading Kirstie's descriptions of her linguistic work and make time for the occasional forays to her pappy pig's
words of wisdom I'll be able to stay motivated and keep my sense of humor

What is "Normal"?

Ok - so maybe I won't disappear all together. I'm sure my writing will become much more sporadic now that I'm in grad school, but sometimes I do need to take a break from the books. Other times, this seems like a likely place to sort out some of the ideas and concepts I'm being exposed to.

For instance.... in my psychopathology class we had a rather interesting discussion on what "normal" means. How can we consider mental illness unless we know what it means to be mentally / emotionally healthy?

Is there such a thing?

In my textbook "Symptoms in the Mind" by Andrew Sims various definitions of "normal" and "health" are considered.

"The World Health Organization definition of health states 'Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity'(1946)"

HUH? As the author goes on to say: "If total well-being is required perhaps virtually all of us are excluded." (Sims p. 6)

Amen to that!

So, admitting we all have our quirks and what point does a specific behavior, thought pattern, characteristic or condition cross the line from being "odd" or "eccentric" over into what we consider truly deviant or mentally ill?

Because my first master's degree is in Sociology I can't help but see everything through the eyes of cultural influence. What is considered deviant in some circumstances may be considered delicious in others. Depends on so many things...who is watching, who is doing, who is in power, etc. etc.

Thomas Saatz argued there was no such thing as mental illness at all - just behavior that the power structure of society disapproved of. I worked in the mental health field far too long to believe that....I've spent too many hours with people in psychotic states to think all mental illness is a matter of social definition. There clearly ARE brain disorders that cause tremendous chaos for some individuals.

But when does someone being "quirky" gravitate over to being deemed pathological?

The old joke says that if you are kinky you use a feather, if you are really weird you use the whole chicken.....

but I digress.

I'm trying to wrap my mind around what it means to ME to name myself or others as "well". What is required? Is "well" the same as "normal"? Do I know anyone who completely fits my own definition? Does normal have more to do with
a) the ideal "healthy" condition we desire or
b) the condition that most people fit into

If nearly everyone in the human condition is "unwell" then is it "normal" to be sick to some degree?

Yeah, this is the stuff I will be studying for the next while. What have I gotten myself into???

HMMMM..... ok, back to the books.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Full Plate

Life is getting crazy as I dance the intricate dance of juggling two jobs, gradute school, family, church assignments and life in general. Something has got to give. So it will probablly be my blogging time. I've got several thoughts rattling around in my head that I would love to write long, thoughtful prose about...but at this point it is a choice between blogging and sleep...I choose SLEEP.

I may pop in again from time to time and will undoubtedly still lurk on a few other sites that have become favorites, but for now I must bid the blog world farewell.

It's been a fun experiment.


Belladonna Piranha

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Homonyms, Homophones and all that stuff

I was looking back over my previous post and noticed I had misspelled a couple things. The one that caught my eye was LLAMA instead of LAMA. Of course, spell check would not catch that because BOTH are correct spellings, just for very different words. I remember learning to tell them apart like this:

A ONE "L" Lama is a beast:

A TWO "L" Llama is a priest:

And I will bet a Silk Pajama, there is NO Three "L" Lllama!

Yeah, these are the sort of little ditties I learned in my youth to distinguish between HOMONYMS and HOMOPHONES.

My classmates and I used to concoct all sorts of fun nonsense stories about Cece the concert pianist who would compulsively play middle C every time she would see the sea.

Or there was the one about the boy with the neurotic complex who could not bear to see a bear go bare, so he was always trying to put pants on the bear.

Or the hare who had no hair that got it's foot stuck in a lair, was trapped by a man who put the bare hare with no hair into a layer of pie.

Such foolishness.... strange what things I still carry around in the nooks and crannies of my brain. If only there was a delete key for that nonsense, maybe I could make room for the stuff I REALLY want to remember.

I'd Rather be Geocaching!

I've had a delightful day traveling along the backroads of Oregon in search of geocache. My husband has a good sense of direction and is willing to do the driving while I sort out which ones to go to next, so we make a good team.

One search led us to the most amazing ELK RANCH. This place is just a few miles from where I live, but I had no idea it existed. I haven't a clue how many elk were there - I'm guessing between 50 and 100. The ranch is pretty big with lots of trees, so I'm sure there were plenty we did not see. But of the ones which were within binocular range it was quite an amazing site. One was right next to the fence when we first drove up, but he took off as soon as I rolled down the car window to take a picture. However, I did snap this shot of a few others that were a short distance away. There was one huge bull that had six points on each side of his antlers. There were many 4 and 5 pointers and a few adorable babies~ !

Another cache location took us by a place where there were a bunch of lamas and then we went up into the hills to find one that led us on a merry hike where we saw lots of birds, flowers and a small snake. (quite harmless)

I'm up to 24 finds now, enjoying visiting places near and far. I still have to learn a thing or two about using waypoints and how to get my GPSr to talk to my computer (windows does not want to recognize it for some reason). So I'm still a newbie at the game. But I'm having great fun. It's a healthy diversion.

I've placed two cache of my own so far. People are just now beginning to find them so it is fun to read the logs to see who has been there and where they've come from.

This truly is an amazing game.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Endangered Species

On my way to work this morning I heard an NPR report about the Giant Palouse Earthworm. Apparently there are some folks who want to get the thing declared an endangered species. I'm not quite sure how I feel about protecting a rare three foot worm.

Yeah, I know all about that stuff about how we are all part of a web of life and anything that effects one part ultimately effects ALL parts. But there are some things I just squish. This sound a bit too big for squishing. However, advocating for its protection is not a biological battle I'm signing up for any time soon.

Whose Sorrow Matters?

As the five year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America came and went, I found myself doing a lot of reflecting. I look around me to see the ways in which our country has changed, and the ways in which it has not. More importantly I look inward to see the ways that I have changed, and the ways that I have not.

Like most people, I recall a sense of horror that washed over me that day when the second plane hit. When the FIRST plane went into that mighty sky scraper it seemed an inexplicable accident. HOW could someone be so dumb as to crash into a building? What went wrong? Was the pilot ill or impaired somehow? Sorrow and grief bubbled out of me for all the people killed. But at that point, there was no fear or dread. It was a terrible, awful thing that had happened. But bad things do happen. I could absorb it and move on.

Then the second plane hit. Then the growing sense of wrongness took shape. This was no tragic accident. This was deliberate. This was an attack.

As news came in of the Pentagon being hit as well the whole world tilted. My smug sense of safety about my land crumbled and fell just as surely as the twin towers coming down.

The days that followed were a surreal land of zombie anomie. Each of my three brothers were stranded someplace different, unable to get a return flight since all the airways had been grounded. My Boise, ID brother was in Phoenix. My Austin, TX brother was in Florida. My California brother was in Amsterdam. While each of them was physically safe, our whole family felt a sense of panic at the need to get them home.

Media saturated us with images of the catastrophe. We were glued to our televisions, transfixed, our minds gaping like goldfish out of the bowl. We were looking for a way to make sense of it all – but there was no making sense of madness.

Then, just a week after the disaster, my husband and I were on a plane bound for Fiji. The trip had been planned for nearly a year. We were on one of the first international flights allowed to take off again. Many people we knew thought we were nuts to get on a plane after what had just happened. But I was calm. I slept most of the way there.

We spent the next 10 days or so in the Yasawa islands, in a remote area with no television sets, no newspapers, no radio. After the previous night and day bombardment of how awful and dangerous the world was, I slipped into the sweet relief of quiet like diving into a cool pond to go skinny dipping on a summer day. I allowed the peace to wash over me and sink in deep.

One of the men from the village of Nacula heard there were Americans on the island. He came up to us and said: “We have been told there was a mighty explosion in your country. We have been told that many of your friends and neighbors have died. Our schoolchildren cry great tears for your loss. We grieve with you for this tragedy. Welcome to our little island. May you find peace here with us. We sorrow with you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do.”

I thanked the man for his kind words. I drew a picture in the sand showing a rough sketch of the United States. I showed him how the “mighty explosion” was on one side of the country and my home was clear on the other side, about as far away as one could get and still be in the same USA. I told him that yes, we were very deeply sad for what had happened, but explained that none of our own immediate family or friends had died in the blast.

That conversation has remained with me. Many, many times since then I have asked myself – whose sorrow and pain do I allow to pierce my heart and what suffering am I more callous to?

The wonderful people of Fiji did not personally know anyone in the United States. Most of the ones we met had never been off their own island. The disaster was many miles away among a people who gave little thought to their own lives or circumstances. Yet without question, those dear islanders CARED about what had happened and truly did grieve for our loss.

I think of all the times I’ve been flicking TV channels with a remote control and seen images of war, famine, earthquakes, tsunami or what have you that happens all over the world. When I see these events occurring far away, how much do I allow it to transform my heart and my spirit and how much do I emotionally shrug, saying “that’s really sad” and then move on to the next thing without so much as a blink? What determines which tragedies rock me to my core and which onese I define as merely a sad, unfortunate thing? Whose sorrow pierces me and whose does not?

Does it matter how many people die? Does it matter where they are dying? Does it matter how they are dying? What is my personal hierarchy for sorrow and grief?

If I remain fully present to every pain that happens, I run the risk of being emotionally obliterated. I cannot keep putting one foot in front of the other and get through the day if I am caught up and swept away by the full horror of every harmed soul. So I build walls around my heart. They are walls that allow me to be separate and intact in the face of deeply troubled times. However, I want them to be short walls that I can peek over. If I focus on the flies gathering on every bloated body or the babies that are being damaged and destroyed I will go mad. It makes sense to have limits to how much I concentrate on the pain of this world. But in the same breath, there is great cost to limiting my attention to suffering too much, danger in turning my heart away from others in order to preserve myself.

Last night I watched a program on TV about the people who were in the twin towers when they came down crashing into dust. The story that stayed in my mind was of the firemen whose lives were spared because they stopped to help a woman stranded in one of the stairways. All logic and reason declared that those firemen needed to haul ass and get out of that building if they wanted any hope of survival. But when they found this woman exhausted, unable to go down any more stairs on her own, they simply could not pass her by. So they took her with them, step by excruciating step, slowing their progress considerably. In the end, it was that very slowing down of their descent which saved all of their lives. Had they been closer to the ground when the building buckled, they would have become another pile of body parts to be tagged and identified.

I believe that I too will be best served if I am willing to stop my headlong hurry to get to my destinations in life – to be willing to notice those around me who are stuck and hurting. I need to slow down long enough to care about and assist those I can around me. I believe that is the way will all save each other.

Our world focuses so much on the rational, the practical, the efficient, the material.

I want to be more open to focusing on connection with my brothers and sisters, whether or not they look like me or speak my language or live in the country where I live.

In a couple months I will be heading off to Egypt. Many people have questioned that choice…worrying both about my being on an international flight and spending time in a Muslim country so close to where bombs are flying. Like my trip to Fiji five years ago, I feel calm. I am eager to go. I want to be open to all that I will learn, to every nuance of what I will experience.

But just as importantly – I want to be more fully present to the people HERE that I am exposed to day to day.

The tragedy of 9/11 was truly awful. But it would be even more awful if we did not learn from it. How we treat each other matters. If I can allow this event in history to serve as a catalyst for change in my own heart and behavior, then it will have a power quite different from the meaning I give it if I merely say “that’s so sad” and go on with my busy life. We never know how long we have on this earth. I want to make each day matter and let the people I love know it with no doubt.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I am a Boiled Peanut

What's Your Southern Sign?

Some Southerners are pretty skeptical of horoscopes and the people that read them. If we are to ever fully understand all the star signs and the people they represent, we need symbols that all true Southerners understand: See the list below:

OKRA (Dec 22 - Jan 20): Are tough on the outside but tender on the inside. Okras have tremendous influence. An older Okra can look back over his life and see the seeds of his influence everywhere. You can do something good each day if you try.

CHITLIN (Jan 21 - Feb 19): Chitlins come from humble backgrounds. A Chitlin, however, will make something of himself if he is motivated and has lots of seasoning. In dealing with Chitlins, be careful- they may surprise you. They can erupt like Vesuvius. Chitlins are best with Catfish and Okra.

BOLL WEEVIL (Feb 20 - March 20): You have an overwhelming curiosity. You're unsatisfied with the surface of things, and you feel the need to bore deep into the interior of everything. Needless to say, you are very intense and driven as if you had some inner hunger. You love to stay busy and tend to work too much. Nobody in their right mind is going to marry you, so don't worry about it.

MOON PIE (March 21 - April 20): You're the type that spends a lot of time on the front porch. A cinch to recognize the physical appearance of Moon Pies. Big and round are the key words here. You should marry anybody who you can get remotely interested in the idea. It's not going to be easy. You always have a big smile and are happy. This might be the year to think about aerobics. Maybe not.

POSSUM (April 21 - May 21): When confronted with life's difficulties, possums have a marked tendency to withdraw and develop a don't-bother-me-about-it attitude. Sometimes you become so withdrawn, people actually think you're dead. This strategy is probably not psychologically healthy but seems to work for you. You are a rare breed. Most folks love to watch you work and play. You are a night person and mind your own business.

CRAWFISH (May 22 - June 21): Crawfish is a water sign. If you work in an office, you're hanging around the water cooler. Crawfish prefer the beach to the mountains, the pool to the golf course, and the bathtub to the living room. You tend not to be particularly attractive physically, but you have very, very good heads.

COLLARDS (June 22 - July 23): Collards have a genius for communication. They love to get in the melting pot of life and share their essence with the essence of those around them. Collards make good social workers, psychologists, and baseball managers. As far as your personal life goes, if you are Collards, stay away from Crawfish. It just won't work. Save yourself a lot of heartache.

CATFISH (July 24 - Aug 23): Catfish are traditionalists in matters of the heart, although one's whiskers may cause problems for loved ones. You Catfish are never easy people to understand. You run fast. You work and play hard. Even though you prefer the muddy bottoms to the clear surface of life, you are liked by most. Above all else, Catfish should stay away from Moon Pies.

GRITS (Aug 24 - Sept 23): Your highest aim is to be with others like yourself. You like to huddle together with a big crowd of other Grits. You love to travel though, so maybe you should think about joining a club. Where do you like to go? Anywhere they have cheese, gravy, bacon, butter, or eggs and a good time. If you can go somewhere where they have all these things; that serves you well. You are pure in heart.

BOILED PEANUTS (Sept 24 - Oct 23): You have a passionate desire to help your fellow man. Unfortunately, those who know you best, your friends and loved ones, may find that your personality is much too salty, and their criticism will affect you deeply because you are really much softer than you appear. You should go right ahead and marry anybody you want to because in a certain way, yours is a charmed life. On the road of life, you can be sure that people will always pull over and stop for you.

BUTTER BEAN (Oct 24 - Nov 22): Always invite a Butter Bean to a party because Butter Beans get along well with everybody. You, as a Butter Bean, should be proud. You've grown on the vine of life, and you feel at home no matter what the setting. You can sit next to anybody. However, you, too, shouldn't have anything to do with Moon Pies.

ARMADILLO (Nov 23 - Dec 21): You have a tendency to develop a tough exterior, but you are actually quite gentle and kind inside. A good evening for you--old friends, a fire, some roots, fruit, worms, and insects. You are a throwback. You're not concerned with today's fashions and trends. You're not concerned with anything about today. You're almost prehistoric in your interests and behavior patterns. You probably want to marry another Armadillo, but a Possum is another somewhat kinky mating possibility.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Word of Advice...

Why is it that people often ask for advice, suggestions, recommendations or council and then completely disregard what they get?

Sometimes it's a simple thing, like asking of a waiter or barista what to order. (I use this in the same fashion I do flipping a coin...I ask, then pay attention to whether I like their answer or not, then I choose if I want to follow or ignore it.) In other cases the matters involved may be more substantial, such as when someone turns to a therapist or spiritual leader for input on how to face a difficult problem.

I talked with a pal recently who has some big decisions to make. I asked if she had prayed about it. She said "No, because unless I am ready to heed the answer I get, there is no point asking the question, and I'm not sure I am totally ready for an answer I might not like."

There's more to that statement than meets the eye.

Sometimes I think I am better served by listening to my own inner voice and fully owning responsibility for my choices from the get go, and yet – there ARE times when the council of a trusted friend or a complete stranger can be helpful (like the time a lady in a department store dressing room told me “honey, trust me when I tell you this, you DON’T want to wear that in public. Not in a million years.”

What is the best advice you were ever given? Did you take it? What advice do you WISH you had listened to?

When is it appropriate to give someone else advice? What dangers or pitfalls are inherent in doing so?

I’ve counseled a number of college students about both personal and academic goals… everything from helping them sort out what classes to take to what profession they hope to pursue to whether to stay in a difficult relationship or run for the hills. I am always quite cautious about projecting my opinions, biases and perceptions into someone else’s life.

I recall talking with a woman at my church one day and while we were engrossed in conversation, her five year old daughter came up to tap the woman on the arm and ask: “Mommy, is this any of my business??” Ya know, a lot of us could benefit by asking ourselves that question more often.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Public vs. Private

I was cruising through a few different blogs this morning and I ran across the following phrase: "I feel like I've already said too much about myself and fear that someone might get to know me too well. "

While there are most certainly plenty of private things I would never post on a public blog, I am intrigued by that whole notion of how we hunger to be known, yet fear it at the same time. Our social world encourages us to present only a thin veneer of game face facade. Yet for many, there is a deep longing for authenticity in connection with others. However, with increased sharing of authenticity comes increased vulnerability. If our public persona is criticized or rejected, it's not that big of a deal. If we share our true heart and spirit only to find that gets mocked or shunned, the sting can be brutal.

Yet, anonymity feels like the greatest loss of all. To not take the risk to open up to other people is a price beyond the cost of potential betrayals.

Current research has shown that people in America are feeling increased loneliness, isolation, disconnection. It is that very hunger for community that has fanned the flames of blogs, chat rooms and other cyber touching.

In looking at other people's blogs I am fascinated by the level of intimate exposure some are willing to engage in. Most I just click out of and move on, preferring stuff a bit more cerebral. But a few I can't help but stare at fascinated, sort of like rubbernecking when passing a grotesque car accident. You don't really want to look but you just can't help yourself.

As we move forward in the post modern world it will be interesting to see what sorts of human bonds we build as we design families and committees and communities. So many of the old rules of past generations no longer seem to fit. Yet a clear,cohesive set of new expectations simply does not exist.

What does it mean to be a friend? A partner? A neighbor? What are you willing to give? What do you expect in return?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Power of Intention & Prayer

If you would like to help Dean Radin, Ph.D. in his second experiment looking at the effects of distant intention on water crystals, then please click HERE and assess 50 pictures of frozen water drops. It should take about 10 minutes. This study is a triple-blind version of his initial study. Results will appear in the Explore ( in Sept., 2006.

Sidewalk Chalk & Thomas Edison

This evening I attended a pig roast at the college where I work. Some of the kids in attendance were playing / drawing with sidewalk chalk. I was amazed at the creativity of those young ones! They drew some very cool stuff.

Alas, I have not got an artistic bone in my body. So I watched them work with a certain degree of pensive longing. I've often wished I could muster some sort of creative outlet, but most attempts I've made have been dismal and sad, so I stopped. Yet, watching those kids at work, it occurred to me that they were not the least bit concerned over whether their pictures were "good enough" for any standards other than the joy it brought them to create.

It made me want to re-think what things I will try or not try. Granted, I will never have the talent or skill of Julian Beaver, but that doesn't mean I couldn't have fun exploring the process.

Years ago I did some substitute teaching in an elementary school for a while. When I taught the first and second graders, if I asked a question like "who likes to draw?" or "who enjoys singing?" nearly every hand in the room shot up. They all wanted to make a picture for me or sing their favorite ditty - so eager and full of promise. But when I taught the fifth graders or eighth graders, responses to questions like that were far more scattered and timid. By that point kids had already begun to define themselves in terms of their deficiencies, saying "no way, I really suck at that!"

All too often we list what we lack instead of savoring our strengths...and we learn to move away from those areas where we have a few failures.

I am reminded of Thomas Edison...when he
was trying to find just the right material to use for the filament in light bulbs he had many, MANY failures. After literally dozens of tries without success some people encouraged him to quit and move on to something else. Instead, Edison stated: "Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work." Another great Edison quote is: "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

Things I have started and not finished are MANY: learning to draw, to play the piano, to speak Spanish, to Waltz, to sew. I HATE feeling incompetent so when I've tried something for a while with minimal success I tend to move back to my cushy comfort zone of the things I am good at. MASTERY is one of the most reinforcing feelings I know. But looking at that, I see what a limiting pattern that is. How can I learn or grow unless I learn to tolerate my own bumbling feeble attempts at new things?

Maybe its time for me to rethink some of my standards and expectations for myself. Not every art project has to be the Cistine chapel. Not every song has to rival Erna Sack.

Yeah, that sounds great. Yet even as I try to muster up the courage to begin again with art, with music, with dance, or any number of other areas I've tried before and had less than stellar results, I feel my gut turn to water with embarrassment at looking like a fool. I inwardly cringe and want to creep back to my cage of the few things where I feel certain and safe. How do I interrupt that pattern and get the gumption to establish a new paradigm for myself? I don't really know.

It SOUNDS very reasonalbe to say "even though I may not ever be great any any of these things I can have a great experience learning to express myself along the way." But in practice, I balk time and time again. The emotions that come with being the last kid picked for every school team, the wallflower left standing alone at the dance, the pathetic wretch whose attempts to create inevitably turn out to be mediocrity in the extreme....these are such a powerful impedement to trying again.

How to jump that hurdle? I don't know yet. But I aim to keep looking. I want to learn how to grap on to just a touch more of that Edison tenacity. I want to learn how to let go of the fear of "getting it wrong" or looking like a fool and be willing to give myself a chance to try as many times and in as many ways as it may take. Maybe the place to start is with a bit of sidewalk chalk.

Movie Quotes

I was reading an interesting article about the power of movie quotes. The article listed the following as the top rated movie quotes, listing them by citation frequency. I found it kind of interesting.

1. "I'll be back" (1984 - Terminator)

2. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" (1939, Gone With the Wind)

3. "Show me the money" (1996, Jerry Maguire)

4. "Go ahead, make my day" (1983, Sudden Impact)

5. "Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates." (1994, Forres Gump)

6. "You can't handle the truth!" (1992, A Few Good Men)

7. "Hasta la vista, baby" (1991, Terminator 2)

8. "May the force be with you" (1997, Star Wars)

9. "There's no place like home" (1939, The Wizard of Oz)

10. "Yeah, Baby." (1998, Austin Powers Films)

11. "Here's looking at you, kid." (1942, Casablanca)

There were some others...but you get the idea.

What makes a quote powerful or enduring? How do certain phrases resonate in our lives?

Words have power. I believe that the words we use and the words we choose to hold in our hearts and in our minds really can shape our experience and our perceptions.

I have a little jute covered notepad I picked up in Costa Rica years ago that I use for writing down favorite quotes. Some come from books I have read, some from speakers or workshops I attended, some just snatches of conversations I overheard on a bus. I love language and am continually amazed by the ways we use it both to hide and reveal our souls.

Do you have any quotes that are particularly meaningful to you? I'd love to hear 'em.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Oh, what a puzzle!

Just got back from an afternoon of cache searching. Rather than head towards Walla Walla for the rest of the clues for Goblet of Fire, I went looking for some multi-cache puzzles over by Pendleton. I really enjoy the challenge of these sorts of hides.

Example - here are directions for one of the ones I did:

Step 1: To start, go to the opening location, sit on the bench, and take in what is being presented. You will need to use the only year located on one of the seals or emblems found above the State of Oregon.

Let the year be represented as “ABCD”
If you add 3139 to the year, you will get “EFGH”. (ABCD + 3139 = EFGH)

To get to stage 2 of this cache, use the letters from above and go to (N) CE° CF.CAF (W) AAG° CH.DDB
Step 2: Locate the date when the first State of Oregon police officer was killed on duty. This date could be written as mm/dd/yyyy. You will use these numbers and the following clues to create a word which is the final location of the cache. This location is within 100 feet of the plaque honoring this officer.

Use the day of the month and add to it the number of horse thieves in the gunfight killing the first police officer in the State of Oregon. Use the letter in the alphabet that corresponds to this number (for instance A corresponds with 1 because it is the 1st letter in the alphabet). This letter is the 1st, 3rd, and 4th letter in the word.

Divide the number of horse thieves in half. Use the letter in the alphabet that corresponds to this number (for instance A corresponds with 1 because it is the 1st letter in the alphabet). This letter is the 2nd letter in the word.

Multiply the month by 5. Use the letter in the alphabet that corresponds to this number (for instance A corresponds with 1 because it is the 1st letter in the alphabet). This letter is the 5th letter in the word.
Step 3: Figure out the word, find the word, and find the cache.

Took some doing - especially since the YEAR at Step 1 was in Roman Numberals, which I was a little rusty on, but fortunately my husband knows enough HISTORY to place the appropriate decade and I could decipher the last part.

Some people like crossword puzzles. I like geocache puzzles. We also found a couple standards - and got stumped on another that appears to have gone missing. But at least we were out spending time together, getting some nice exercise and learned a little bit about the history of this region we did not know before.

Gotta love it!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

In Search of the Goblet of Fire

I have now logged sixteen finds of various geocache since getting my GPS a little less than a month ago. Some have been very simple. Some have been rather tricky. But now I am up for a more serious challenge. I am in search of the Goblet of Fire.

There is a teacher in Milton Freewater who is an avid geocacher. He has set up a multi-cache challenge that will involve covering many miles for a Harry Potter inspired series of finds which lead up to the final destination called “The Goblet of Fire.” He has placed quite a few cache at various places around the valley. One of his took me three tries to find, so I know better than to assume this will be easy. After all, one of the tag lines from the Goblet of Fire movie is:
"Difficult times lie ahead, Harry."

To find the Goblet of Fire, I must first find four different cache sites that will each give me a coordinate clue.

The four caches that hold the clues are: The Whomping Willow, The Forbidden Forest,
The Chamber of Secrets, and The Herd of Hippogriff.

The four sets of coordinates which I find in these other sites will be the four corners of a big X. The center point of the X is where the Goblet of Fire is.

The description of this cache site says:

“The coordinates listed for this mystery cache are the coordinates for a lookout that is within a mile of The Goblet of Fire. The final cache is rated a 4/4 for good reason. Come prepared with heavy boots, long pants, some drinking water, and a bit of time on your hands. …

This would be an excellent cache to bring your dog on. There is a manmade watering hole less than 500 feet from the cache (it looks like a lean-to). Your dog can run, dig, and be free while you trod along looking for this cache.

If you record all of the clues correctly, the center of the "X" is the exact location of the cache. The final cache is a five gallon ammo container well camoflauged. It is stocked with some very desireable items, but the true treasure is being selected by The Goblet of Fire.”

Judging by the comments logged by other players who have found it (and a few who tried but failed) I’ve got a serious challenge on my hands. Apparently the final hike in will take about an hour and is over some challenging terrain. Also, finding the darn thing isn’t easy. But it sounds doable if I use my head, plan carefully and figure out how to do the routing.

I found two of the four waypoints today. I’m hoping to get the other two picked up on Monday. Then it is on to the main challenge to find the Goblet of Fire. Wish me luck!

This geocaching thing really can be addicting. I’m having a blast with it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Just the facts...

I'm home again...glad to be back in my own humble abode.

Been doing some writing about a few different things that cut a bit too close to the heart for public display. But once again I can rely on the usual suspects to open up a new topic to turn over in my head here.

Ponderpig brought up the issue of theories and facts and Leo further expanded...

I can't help but wish I had those two guys here sippin' tea (or whatever they prefer) and available to explore these ideas further. I have so many things I'd ask...

I think the whole notion of TRUTH seems so elusive we gorge ourselves on facts as a poor man's substitute.

Joe Friday of Dragnet fame, was always so intent on methodically getting to the facts. The updated version is CSI where we watch the amazing world of forensics "PROVE" who did or did not commit a crime.

FACTS-- what are they ? What is their relationship to truth?

I've been thoroughly schooled in scientific method of establishing a hypothesis, testing it, and then basing conclusion of what the facts are on the evidence that appears.

I have been trained to think in an empirical, linear fashion, basing my convictions on proven evidence.

But all the graduate school mountain of probability and statistics or advanced research methods classes gave no room for things I know as truth that I have no solid evidence for.

My heart rages with passion and faith and curiosity that have nothing to do with proof and evidence.

In most cases I think we puny humans (not so sure about talking pigs) are deleting machines, manipulating the haphazard, contradictory stuff of life to confirm whatever it is we've already decided to believe. We START with a belief or an assumption, opinion or prejudice; Then we either discount, contradict or just plain fail to notice any evidence to the contrary of what we hold to be true. That's our deletion machine in action. Whatever signs or events would confirm our previous assumptions we underline and capitalize and print out in big bold letters as PROOF we were right all along. We feel so justified, vindicated, validated by our "facts."

I think most people are uncomfortable with ambiguity. "Facts" comfort with a tangible sense of weightiness and authority.

But the problem with "facts" is they are like the definitions in a dictionary. A dictionary is not any sort of definitive record of the CORRECT meaning of words. All a dictionary actually provides is a HISTORICAL RECORD of how words were used in a given language at a given time. Language is a living, fluid thing that changes. Words shift, those slippery devils. So new dictionaries have words used in different ways from old dictionaries. BOTH are considered correct for the time they were in use.

I have an old chemistry book which states that ATOMS are the smallest matter in existence in the universe. Uh, sorry - what about protons and electrons? Oh yeah, we didn't get THOSE puppies until we had electron microscopes to measure them.

Then again, one of the interesting things about quantum physics is the discovery that the very act of observing and measuring some phenomena (such as particles and waves) can alter them. So does looking change the facts?

Then there is also the whole issue of who or what is a credible source for facts? Years ago I dated a guy who was a news director at a rock 'n' roll radio station and he taught me to be rather skepical of what I heard or saw in media and for any who feel like taking the time to bother with the download the movie clip on that last hot link would certainly support that...

It's late and I'm tired. So I'm off to bed. But I think there is more here to chew on... perhaps another day.

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