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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reading

The world was hers for the reading.
~ Betty Smith
- - - - -

You know, now that I think of it, I'm not sure I can believe everything I read.

Actually I'm not sure I can read everything I believe, either.  I think some of the things I believe might be written in languages I don't know.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Messages

A message prepared in the mind reaches a mind; a message prepared in a life reaches a life.
~ Bill Gothard
- - - - -

Sometimes I write notes to myself.  I think a lot of people do that.  Some use lists for tasks they need to accomplish or reminders of things they don't want to forget.  I do those things sometimes.  Sometimes I forget to make lists or write myself reminders.

I did come across this note to me in one of my journals:

"MLB to MLB - The time to be awesome is now."

I give the best advice.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Adventure

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered.  An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.
~ Gilbert K. Chesterton
- - - - - -
Leslie is the most brilliant person I know when it comes to navigating obstacles.  She takes things that do not go the way she expected or hoped and makes them into new opportunities.  I like that.  She has helped me try to do that more.
I don't always succeed.  I will admit though that sometimes when I am frustrated with someone or a situation I just think, "This will make a good blog."  Or "This would be a good play."  Or "This will be the last time they do that to me!!!!!"
(pause)
That last one isn't always so helpful and isn't really an example of what I'm trying to convey in this post.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kipp

Don't overact the story of your name.  Overact the story of your work.
~Karl Lagerfeld
- - - - -
 
I like to look for things connected with names.  If I see things, I try to take photos and share them with those people.  I don't always have a chance to get the photo.  I was going to take a photo of the town sign for "Bryan" and send it to my friend "Bryan," but I didn't have time on my recent drive from Iowa to Pennsylvania.  Sorry, Bryan.
 
When I saw the Kipp Lane sign in Clemson, SC however, I made sure I went back to get a photo.  As my friend Kipp says, "There are lots of people named Kip, but the ones with the extra "p" - well, that sets the rest of us apart from the average Kip."  I don't know that I agree.  I mean extra "p" Kipps may be more special, but I don't know a lot of single "p" Kips.  Of course, I could be completely misquoting him, too.  I know there's something about the extra "p."  Sometimes I just make stuff up in this blog.
 
In case you hadn't already figured that out.
 
Here is some truth, though.  As far as my name goes, I have a lot of nicknames.  Most people now just call me "Michelle" or "Dr. Awesome."  Either of which is fine.
 
That said, no one has ever once called me "space cowboy," "gangster of love" or "maurice."
 
Truth be told, I'm fine with that.
 


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Step

Every failure is a step to success.
~ William Whewell
- - - - -

Text from Kirk on September 3rd.

Kirk:  I'm sure you remember, but just in case, it's moms birthday today!

Kirk:  No it's not.  I fail.

Me: You are the bad child.  I sent her the movie Noah and a card yesterday.  Should get to her tomorrow.  If you think of it, do remind me again about her birthday.  On her real birthday.

Kirk:  I will.  I sent flowers and just spent 5 minutes telling her happy birthday before she politely corrected me.  Birthday fail.  Uncle David's birthday ruins everything!!!!

Me:  Sorry your life is so hard.

Kirk:  Thank you!  Finally someone understands me!

Me:  Yes.  I do.  And it is terrifying.

(2 days later)

Kirk:  Today is moms birthday.  Her real one.  like the one she was actually born on.

Me:  Ok.  Thanks for the reminder!

Kirk:  I might remind you again in 2 days if I forget the correct date again.

Me:  Great.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Scenic

Scenery is fine, but human nature is finer.
~ John Keats
- - - - -

I like taking a moment to look around and appreciate the scenery.  The sky.  The land.  The water.  The yetis.

Also, I would like to see a yeti.  Close enough to get a photo, but not so close that they would attack me.  I don't know if yetis are carnivorous or not, but I suspect they would feel threatened by me.

I'm only saying that because so many other mammals find me intimidating.

I wish I had a pet yeti.  First of all, it's fun to say, "Pet yeti."  Say it.

(pause)

See?  Wasn't that fun?

Also, I would like it if my yeti got all excited to go for a walk, but I wasn't ready to go for a walk and I could tell him, "Not yeti!"

Actually, it would be more like, "Not yeti."  Because I wouldn't yell at my yeti.

Note:  This is not exactly where I thought this blog post was headed.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Red

"Maybe Christmas," the Grinch thought, "doesn't come from a store."
~ Dr. Seuss
- - - - -

The Grinch was very insightful when he had the above insight.  Christmas does not come from a store.  It isn't about standing in line on Thanksgiving night to get the big new item or the movies that are on super-sale or to buy stockings.  It isn't about pushing and shoving and trying to get in and out of stores so you can hit all the door busters across your town.

The Grinch was way ahead of things.  You don't need to go to a store to have Christmas.

You can get all that stuff online now.  

And also the best things in life aren't things.  The best things in life are people.  

And the things they can do for you.

Holidays are fun.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gifts

You take away all the other luxuries in life, and if you can make someone smile and laugh, you have given the most special gift: happiness.
~ Brad Garrett
- - - - -

A while ago some people on FB posted something along the lines of, "The older you get the shorter your list of Christmas gifts becomes and you find that they aren't things you can buy."

(pause)

Okay, I'm sure it was worded a lot better than that.

But my point is that I agree.  I heard once - and I think of this often - "The things you own, own you."  It was about not being materialistic or becoming attached to stuff.  Good advice.

You want things like peace and love and kindness and revenge.  But you can't buy those things.

(pause)

Actually, that's not true.  You can buy revenge...  Allegedly.

And you can buy love.

You know what, forget it.  I just think when you get older the things you want for Christmas are super-expensive and often illegal.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Faith

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the creator.
~ Mahatma Gandhi
- - - - -

I was talking to Kirk a while ago and we got to discussing religion.  We talked about the church in which we had been raised (and with which neither of us currently feels an affinity).  Kirk shared that if he hadn't converted to Judaism another faith he was interested in was Buddhism.  

I agreed.  I like the selfless-centeredness of that faith.  Or at least that's how I think of it.

I told him that I was actually interested in the Quaker faith.  I think it aligns with my personal, political and social beliefs.  I also think the reflective nature would work well for me.

He started talking and I had a thought and interrupted him.

"WAIT!" I said excitedly.  "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I just had a thought.  I might start my own branch of the Quaker faith that focuses on environmental issues!!  I am going to call it the Earth Quakers!!"

He was quiet for a long time.  Long enough I thought we had maybe dropped our call.

"Hello?" I said.

"I'm here," he sighed.  "It's just that when you or Erik say things like that it reminds me that there is no doubt that you are related to our father."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Snowman

It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.
~ Dylan Thomas
- - - - -
 
This reminds me of my childhood.  Except I don't remember making a snowman that my brother knocked down.  And I don't like tea, so I'm sure we never had that. 
 
So my version of this poem would be...
 
It snowed last year and I knocked my brother down.
 
Except I don't think I knocked my brother down last year.
 
(pause)
 
I'll never be as poetic as Dylan Thomas.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Destruction

Right or wrong, it's very pleasant to break something from time to time.
~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- - - - -

I think I agree with this, but I'm not sure.  I suppose it depends on what one is breaking.  Breaking spirits - no.  I don't think that is pleasant from time to time.  I hope others do not either.  Breaking wind?  Breaking the tension?  Breaking Bad, yes.  Those things are pleasant from time to time.

I think there is a fine line between breaking things and cleaning things.  There is some sort of purge that happens with both.  You are getting rid of something.  Or at least changing the form of something. 

The other day I was cleaning out my email.  That felt good.  While I was doing it "Skyfall" by Adele came on.  I thought about how it changed the feel of purging my messages.  It felt more spy-like.  Well, not really.  But it changed how my mind was feeling.  

And later I thought how glad I was that it wasn't the Mission Impossible theme that had come on.  If that music started, I think I would have been inclined to purge everything before it self-destructed!

I'm just kidding.  I know it doesn't work that way.

Computer elves destroy things in computers.  They don't just self-destruct.  And I'm pretty sure the elves in computers are disgruntled and dismissed Santa's elves.  At least that's how it feels when they mess with my stuff.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Apples

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
~ Carl Sagan
- - - - -

When I write my blog, I work to try and bring the pieces together to make something new.  A quote.  A photo.  Something I thought or heard or thought I heard.

Like recently I was trying to come up with something about "The William Penn Overture."  And it would have involved apples.  And then it would have talked about how if William Penn and William Tell ever met they could have gone to Vegas and had some kind of archery and Tower of London escape act and called themselves "Penn & Tell."

But the pieces just didn't come together right.  I'm strong enough to admit that sometimes I can't make things fit the way I'd like.

Sometimes you're trying to make an apple pie but you only have crab apples, so it isn't really what you were going for.  Ironically, if you use Ritz Crackers you can get pretty close to that apple pie, though.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Centered

Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing.  This is the ultimate.
~ Zhuangzi
- - - - -
So, I am writing this post on August 8th (Friday).  On Monday I will drive down to Clemson to start as a faculty member there.  I am scheduling this to post at the end of the fall term.  

So now it's August 22 (also Friday) and I just came across this blog post that I started and didn't finish.  I imagine I was going to write something about how the semester might unfold that I was going to try and and stay centered and accept whatever I was doing.

I've done okay with that in the past two weeks.  Of course it's a long way to the end of the term.  I'm sure I'll get off-center at some points.  I hope I can accept what I am doing.  Unless I develop kleptomania.  That's not really acceptable.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Police

I think God's going to come down and pull civilization over for speeding.
~ Steven Wright
- - - - -

The police pull people over for lots of reasons.  Speeding.  Broken tail lights.  Expired tags.  Reckless driving.  Not wearing seat belts.  

I like to think that they are trying to help us be safe and make the world safer for all of us.  That's what I like to think.

I also think that if you can answer the, "Do you know why I pulled you over," question you should get a percent off of whatever ticket you might receive.  Although maybe you should get money off if you don't know what you were doing because that implies you didn't mean to.

I haven't really worked out the details of this idea.

But not too long ago I saw a police car that had pulled over a hearse.  I like to think that when the officer got up to the driver's window he asked, "So, what's your hurry?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

L

We can't take any credit for our talents.  It's how we use them that counts.
~ Madeleine L'Engle
- - - - -

I like reading what Leslie writes.  She is creative and notices details and is able to capture them with words.  

However, I am frustrated that she just doesn't write enough westerns.  I think she needs to stretch her creative talents and write about cowpeople and ranches and dust and cacti.  

I also think it would help her if she would start spelling her name L'eslie L'ewis.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cats

God made the cat in order that humankind might have the pleasure of caressing the tiger.
~ Fernand Mery
- - - - -
 
People post a lot of things about cats.  And dogs.  And babies.  But this post is about cats.
 
Cats are fine.  Like people there are some cats that I appreciate more than others, but that's not a big deal.  It's the way it is.  And that is okay.  I'm not sure all people are cat people or dog people.  Some people like neither.  There could be salamander people or tarantula people.  Actually both "Salamander People" and "Tarantula People" may have been horror films from the 1950s.
 
But I digress...
 
The other day I read a post that was something like, "A house is not a home without a cat."  What people don't realize is that what they're actually saying is, "A house is not a home without a box of fecal matter sitting in some corner of a room."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Anthropomorphism

Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
~ George Eliot

- - - - -

If we were to make all superheroes into animals, I don't think I would have made Batman into a gorilla.  I'm not sure what animal best suits Batman, but it would be a gorilla.  Hm.  Batman... I'm just not sure.

I know what Robin would be, though.  Some kind of annoying little flying thing.  Like a mosquito.  Or a drone.  An animal drone.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Basement

Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.  I think it's in my basement...  Let me go upstairs and check.
~ M. C. Escher
- - - - -

This is the basement of a rental place I was in for a year or so.  The basement was pretty big.  I had a desk and some other things set up down there.  One day Elizabeth and Maddie came over and I showed them the basement.

Elizabeth said it looked like a James Bond room.  I liked that.  I thought it looked like a laboratory or a secret lair, too.  Then she added, "Like one of the places where he might get tortured."  Maddie agreed right away.

Well... everyone is entitled to her own opinion, I guess.  Live and let die.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Time

Time is what we want most but what we use worst.
~ William Penn
- - - - -

Sometimes when you have things to do it is best to do them quickly and be done. Get it over with.  There are other things you enjoy doing that you wish might never end.  I won't list what those are because I suspect they are different from one person to the next.

Unfortunately, there are also things we don't want to do that take a LOT of time to complete.  For some of those things dividing the task into smaller blocks of time is the best approach.  Maybe fifteen minute increments to get a larger task done bit by bit.

For the really crappy things that take a long time, I suggest dividing the work into fifteen minute excrements.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Change

You can't stop the future
You can't rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
... is to press play.
~ Jay Asher
- - - - -

I have been in South Carolina for four months now.  Know what?  You never know what is going to happen.  You can be sure there will be challenges, but you can't be sure what they might be.  Just be ready to be patient and creative and adaptable.  Then you'll be fine.

When I got to South Carolina, I had to go overnight with no water at my new rental.  That was okay.  I figured I could fill a bucket with water from the spigot outside to clear the toilet.  Then I realized that if the water inside wasn't on, the water outside wouldn't be on either.

While I was unloading the things I had in my car, I got attacked by mosquitoes.  I hadn't expected that.  When I got them off me and then got in the car to go run some errands, there were mosquitoes in the car.  I got most of them out (or dead - which is technically out - - of LIFE).  I was driving and then I realized that there was also a bee in the car.  It was in the back seat.  I rolled down the window and it went away.  That was good.

Then I went to get gas and a older, shirtless man in cutoff shorts and carrying a football came up to me while I was filling the car.  He looked at my license plate and said, "Iowa, huh?"  I said, "Yes." (because I'm so good at conversation).  He asked, "What part?"  I said, "Ames.  It's a little bit north of Des Moines."  

"Uh huh," he nodded and then thought for a while.  "Have you ever heard of Des Moines?"

I paused and then said that yes, I had heard of Des Moines.  He said okay and walked off.

I went in to use the restroom at the gas station (since I had no water at home).  When I was done, I saw a dime in the drain.  I was going to get it and think of it as a positive omen and then I decided that I didn't really have a desire to reach down in the drain of a gas station's bathroom sink.

Change is good, but a dime in a gas station drain is change that isn't worth it.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Haiku

Here's a haiku / palindrome I wrote called "Obsession"
"Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob,
Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob,
Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob."
~ Jarod Kintz
- - - - -

I think it is good to combine things in creative ways.  Like haiku and spam.  Or haiku and palindromes.  Or haiku and obsessions.  Or blogs and haiku.  

"Haiku!" I shouted.
"Bless you," the old woman said.
She loves the art form.

If someone else wrote that exact same haiku - know what that would be?  A haikuincidence?

No.  Plagiarism.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Diner

The diner is everybody's kitchen.
~ Richard Gutman
- - - - -

I love diners.  I like little places that are sort of out of the way and locals and truckers eat there.  Or little seafood shack places off the beaten path.  I just think the restaurants themselves and the people have great stories in those places.

I mean, we all have stories.  No matter where we work.  And our places all have stories.  Good, bad and other.  I just think when you put the right people in the right places, the stories that emerge are rich and deep and outlast the people and the places from whence they came.

Yes, I just used the phrase, "from whence they came."  This post is about stories and that is story-ish language.

But my point is that I think Sally should have a diner.  However when that idea came up one time - about her waiting tables or something, she said she hadn't ever done that.  And then she added, "Can you imagine what I would say if someone didn't like their food?"

Yes.  I can.  And that is EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Library


                           
There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -

Leslie and I are pretty intellectual.  We're always looking to learn and share ideas and grapple with knowledge and ways of understanding.  We challenge each other and those around us to think deeply and creatively about issues and questions.

Even in our free time when we're apart we look for ways to entertain ourselves which are intellectual.  Like on Sunday night she watched a show about research and I watched one about America's past.  

Well, she watched the premiere on TNT of "The Librarians" and I watched "Drunk History."

We're really not all that intellectual.  Or we are, but in a really accessible sort of way.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gate

I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate.
~ Arthur Wing Pinero
- - - - -


I wonder if each of our lives is centered on a single question or pursuit.  I wonder if we constantly return to the same idea over and over again.  If we look for answers, find them and then the answers change and we have to engage with the issue again.  Could that be right?

When you think about your life, what is at the core? 
What is it you're searching for?

Is it about fear or legacy or truth or kindness or peace or achievement?  It is something, right?

And if that is true, how many times do we have to wrestle with the question or the topic before we realize we're wrestling with it?  Or do we ever know?

Maybe we can't ever see our own center.  Can we see the key issues with which others struggle?  Do we know their themes?  Is it easier or impossible for us to have the distance and the closeness to see that in another human being if we can't find it in ourselves.

I don't know.  That's why I'm asking you.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Comfort

When someone is crying, of course, the noble thing to do is to comfort them.  But if someone is trying to hide their tears, it may also be noble to pretend you do not notice them.
~ Lemony Snicket
- - - - -

I think that it is important to give people every chance to succeed.  I think that providing support and encouragement and opportunities are ways to help others in their pursuit of success.  And it is also rewarding to provide those things - rewarding to the provider, I mean.

But we have to draw the line somewhere.  People might feel more comfortable wearing their pajamas to work, but that probably isn't okay.  And they might feel better with a "comfort turtle," but that shouldn't probably happen, either.  At least not if they are responsible for managing the jaguar cages.  

I myself have not eaten turtle.  Or cooked it.  Or served it.  But if I did decide to cook it, I wouldn't serve it as comfort food.  I would want to cook it at a fast food restaurant.  That would throw the universe into a complete tailspin. Albeit a slow one.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ideas

I like the scientific spirit - the holding off, the being sure but not too sure, the willingnes to surrender ideas when the evidence is against them: this is ultimately fine - it keeps the way beyond open - always gives life, thought, affection, the whole man a chance to try over again after a mistake - after a wrong guess.
~ Walt Whitman
- - - - -

I like to think that I put the "i" in "ideas."  And I hope you put the you in "youdeas," as well. 

Also, I don't think that the "dea" part of "I-dea" should stand for Drug Enforcement Agency because - to tell the truth - I haven't had a lot of ideas for them.  I probably could if I focused on that, but I have some other things I'm going to think about first.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy

There is only one way to achieve lasting happiness.  
That way is simply: Be happy.  
After reading that, you might be having some or all of the following thoughts: "It's stupid, and I'm beginning to feel very unhappy about buying this book.  I hope it gets better."
~ Chris Prentiss
- - - - -

Those opening lines are why I bought the book Zen and the Art of Happiness.  It was okay.  I didn't like the parts where the author went on and on about the addiction recovery place he started.  It read a little bit like an infomercial at times.

But that isn't my point.  My point is that when I read those sentences out loud to Leslie, she spit Diet Coke all over her kitchen.

And I decided to be happy about that.  And I was.  And I still am.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Porcupines

The porcupine, whom one must handle gloved, may be respected, but never loved.
~ Arthur Guiterman
- - - - -

I sometimes am ahead of trends.  I can tell when things are going to catch on.  Not always.  I said sometimes.  Sometimes I don't even realize it until I see a lot of other people liking or doing what I like or do.  And rarely - if ever - is it a fashion trend I am ahead of.  If you know me, you weren't thinking that it was fashion I was talking about.

Anyway, I have a feeling that porcupines are going to catch on.  Not sure why I think this, but I do.  I imagine they will be pretty popular on t-shirts and bumper stickers and maybe in cartoons and stuff.  

"So, why the photo of the deer," you ask?  Two reasons.  First, I don't have a photo of a porcupine.  Second, I said they are GOING to catch on, not that they've caught on yet.

Isn't that a nice photo of a deer?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Nest

There are no birds in last year's nest.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- - - - -
So, I had this photo of the nest.  Then I was looking for a quote to go with it.  I found this quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from the poem, "It is Not Always May."
Then I started thinking about cowbirds.  And I thought I remembered that they lived in other birds' nests and maybe their nests from previous years.  So I did a little checking.  What cowbirds and maybe cuckoos and other creatures do is called brood parasitism or maybe kleptoparasitism.
Kleptoparasitism.  That sounds like a really, really bad thing to do.  Klepto is bad and being a parasite has pretty negative connotations, too.  I hadn't heard of this before.  How awesome.  And disturbing.
(pause)
Sometimes I start these blogs and am just not sure where to go with them.  So I leave them for a while and then come back and try to find something to do with them.  Sometimes something more comes to me.  Sometimes not.  Sometimes I just post them like this.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Elk

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.
~ Carl Sandburg
- - - - -

On one of my Iowa drive-around adventures, I came upon this elk farm.  It was...  I don't remember where it was.  I am not completely sure I was supposed to wander around the property where I found it.  I mean, there weren't locked gates or doors, but sometimes I go places I'm not supposed to go.

Anyway, I hadn't ever seen elk like this before.  There was a bin of apples (the sort of semi-rotted apples you pick up off the ground if you have apple trees).  I threw them to the animals.  They liked them.

I didn't expect to see the elk.
I don't know if they expected me to feed them apples or not.
 It was a nice interaction.

If I had a pet elk, I would name him Lawrence.  You might think it would be because then he would be "Lawrence Elk."  Not so.  It's because I like Jennifer Lawrence.

I wouldn't make my elk do The Hunger Games, though.  I don't think it would do very well with the interview portion with Stanley Tucci.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Science

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.
~ Albert Einstein
- - - - -

We put together Lego models (thank you, Julie!!!!) in our research class.  While the students did that, they discussed the difference between research and assessment.

A couple of students commented on the fact that all of the scientists were women.  They liked that.  I liked that they noticed.  One woman said, "And I'm glad they weren't all purple and pink pieces with the women scientists!"  Another good point.

Afterward, it got me thinking about science and how some people don't believe science.  That is weird to me.  To just decide that facts are not true.  How does that work?  When I was in school that meant you were wrong and you got points off.  It didn't mean that your parents could rewrite the curriculum to meet your needs or to ignore things that were known and proven to be true.  

But times change, and we have to keep up with the times.

I think a good way to resolve this is to remove all science from schools.  Replace it with "myience."  Everyone can make their own myience up and can test themselves on whatever they want and grade however they want.

Of course, that will only work in the k-12 system.  Once everyone gets into college -- that's where they'll get sorted out.  It's natural selection.

Allegedly.