Believe it or Not...

This is, to my mind, not a bad thing if it radicalizes the center. In any case, this sort of “law enforcement” tactic is not only par for the course, I would expect it as fairly standard, especially since the rhetoric has ramped up over the past 8 years to lump a whole lot of people under the rubric of “environmental terrorists” (a laughable semantic trainwreck if ever there was one). Any truly inspired movement for radical change has to expect mass arrests, intimidation, every form of government / police oppression. In fact, if they don’t invite it, they’re probably doing something wrong. Otherwise it’s not radical change they are organizing towards, it’s just grandstanding and window-dressing. The worst thing the establishment could ever do to a movement is ignore it completely. The fact that a certain segment of the establishment is so completely agitated about environmental activists is in itself a victory not to be taken lightly. It is also a victory for which a great deal of payment will probably be made. When you’re trying to save the human race from extinction due to stupidity, don’t expect the forces of stupidity to not put up a fight. Especially since fighting is pretty much all they know how to do. As a postscript, it also cracks me up to read the statement “people have a right to demonstrate peacefully”. If you really have to think about why that statement is both ridiculous, frightening, depressing, maddening and in the end an invitation to rebellion, then you need to put down your venti caramel macchiato and read it again a few more times. And if you still don’t get it maybe you should punch yourself in the forehead a few times. (I recommend this, from personal experience).

Eyes Have Everything

Perhaps one of the greatest things is the human eye. Perhaps too great. They curious devils spy upon everything, looking, maybe trying to behold something worth the look. The eyes upon a girl's diary. Lovelorn, words deeper than what is put on paper. Even they look upon words struck out, slashed out with pen, but alas the ink is indelible. Even when you slash it out, but not so thoroughly, eyes can still look upon secrets written. They spy upon documents, shut away and forgotten years past. Words forbidden. Words literally not to be seen by them. But alas... It may be too late. The eyes spy upon something, as I've told you all before, forbidden. The secret is found. But if eyes had a mouth they would scream. Eyes can have everything. Perhaps too much of everything.

Book Review: Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell

Title: Shadowed Summer. Author: Saundra Mitchell. Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Mystery. Paperback: 192 pages. Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; First Edition (June 8, 2010). Description: Nothing ever happened in Ondine, Louisiana, not even the summer Elijah Landry disappeared. His mother knew he ascended to heaven, the police believed he ran away, and his girlfriend thought he was murdered. Decades later, certain she saw his ghost in the town cemetery, fourteen-year-old Iris Rhame is determined to find out the truth behind "The Incident With the Landry Boy". Enlisting the help of her best friend Collette, and forced to endure the company of Collette's latest crush, Ben, Iris spends a summer digging into the past and stirring old ghosts, in search of a boy she never knew. What she doesn't realize is that in a town as small as Ondine, every secret is a family secret. My Review: I didn't hear much about this book, but the story sounded interesting and I happened to receive a free copy... 

So I read it. Fun, exciting personal story, right? Well, it is an understated reaction to an understated book. Despite the book being about ghosties I can't say it is all about the ghosties. The story is about friendship, growing up, healing  and all that good angsty stuff that coming of age stories should have. I think what I liked most about the book was the setting. Setting can become its own character, a behemoth presence in a story. The setting doesn't overwhelm the story itself, but it surly enhances all the good qualities. The small town stuff. Showcasing the dark secrets everyone seems to have and hide. And it is plain to see that past events still have an effect on the people of Ondine. I see this book as a read for a younger crowd, I wouldn't have a problem with my little sisters reading this (they are 9 and 11). The romance is sweet and light. An awakening to love, if you will (jeez, I can't believe I actually just used that if I were sixty and a college professor). The main relationship focus is family and friends. 

I was kinda hoping for something to happen before I read the book, before I knew the character ages. I probably would have been rolling my eyes if anything did happen between these young kids (was that a spoiler?). There is a mystery going on, but I never saw it as a "Let's solve a murder and find a killer!" It was more of a puzzler, for the characters, about why this ghost was coming to them for help (he does have a peachy way of asking... sheesh). And stuff just gets resolved (I suppose) in the end. Rating: 3.5/5. I enjoyed this book so I don't want to say that I feel like a younger audience would like this more. Maybe older audiences would find it a bit of a nice departure from all the stuff saturating the ya market now. This book is a nice quick read about a small town girl trying to solve a ghostly mystery, and boys, crushes and friends seep into mix. So if that sounds like something you may like then check this title out. I have to make a mention that I liked the mini twist at the end. It was kind of bittersweet... probably why I liked it.

More on The Subject of Leadership

Jesse Wendel at News Bite group blog hits on one of my pet subjects, how to tell a real leader from a fake leader: If you’ve got something even close to working, be appreciative. Don’t whine, don’t complain. Send postcards and thank you notes to the people helping you achieve your dreams. Stop bitching about how they’re not perfect or they should do it differently. If they ask for your help, give it unstintingly precisely how they ask for it. Don’t feel compelled to tell them all your good ideas about how they should be doing it better or differently. They’re doing their goddamnedests to feed you your gig on a fucking silver platter. If you simply are unable or not constituted to cut the boss a break or not complain and stir up shit, leave. You should be somewhere else doing something else, some where you can run your own shop. No harm, no foul. Sure, people will miss you for about ten minutes. And then they’ll get on with making their TV show, running their baseball team, building their software, or winning a Congressional Seat. The rest definitely bears a read, and a re-read.

Stop What You’re Doing and Read This - Book Review

What follows are ten essays written by writers, publishers, scientists and other reading advocates who tell their version of how reading can transform a reader’s brain, mind, and soul. I loved the idea of this book when the publisher offered me a copy because I cannot convince people to read. I wish I could, but I have no idea how to do it. I can simply speak my own experience. “Why  should you read?” I might say to a non-reader. “Well, because I  have read, and it’s gotten into me somehow. I feel connected to the booming life of history. I feel embedded in words that generations will read long after I’m gone, and generations have read long before I existed. I’m in the conversation now, and I want to remain plugged into it. I’m empathetic now. I’m calmer. I’m no longer a solitary mind steeping in self-doubt and fear and the longing for joy; I am one of a whole soul of people who feels just like me. That is why you should read. To be part of that.” This is what I say over and over when people ask me why they should read, and it never elicits transformation. It actually puzzles people who see literature as a waste of time and readers as self-gratifying “bookworms”.

And it seems so insubstantial. All of the essays in Stop What You’re Doing and Read This!, while told in different styles and from different points of view, ultimately support the final essay, which is highly technical and discusses how the brain works when one is reading, and what can happen to the brain if one does not exercise it by reading deeply enough, not to simply take in knowledge and spit it back out, but to analyze it, form a conclusion, and support that conclusion as an individual and newborn thought inspired by reading but created in the mind of the reader. This final essay warns readers that to fail to think deeply actually weakens the brain, and that technology which offers readers short-cuts in deep thinking will have grave effects on the minds of those new souls entering our 21st century who will form tomorrow’s leaders. The final essay seems to plea with all those who have read the prior essays and can say, “Yes, yes. I love literature too. I can see the point of reading.”
“You love literature? Then we need you. We need to figure out where to go in the 21st century: how to save literature, keep it vital, and retrain the human brain to receive it, not docilely, but richly. We need you to fight with us. Teach your children. Train your brains. Do not fade into technology. Do not become lazy readers. Literature is too rich to die this death, and it will not die if we refuse to become passive. If literature affects life as deeply as we have laid out in this book, then the changing dynamics of literature will deeply alter life. We must be prepared for this and face it intellectually.” (The above quote is me analyzing and paraphrasing.) Many of the essays in the collection offer personal anecdotes about the life of a reader which demonstrate the enriching power of literature. I enjoyed these but felt far more energized by the essays that discuss the effect of the tools of writing on the brain.

My favorite essay in the collection was by far “The Right Words in the Right Order” by Mark Haddon. He dissects how words and their placement creates effects within the mind of the reader. For example, “Sad.” What a small word for the depth that is true sadness. Writers, poets take that intense longing, and that tiny little word, and combine it with other words that create rhythms that pierce the very soul, and readers feel  what the word cannot truly demonstrate. We live it because it is universal. As a new-budding writer, I found this essay particularly fascinating. Haddon addresses how writers create an illusion of life with just the alphabet,  and why it works. He also compares literature to its more popular cousin these days, film: “Stop reading right now. Look around you. It doesn’t matter if you’re lying in bed or sitting in a crowded tube carriage. This is what film can’t do. The sense of being inside  looking out,  of seeing a world that belongs to everyone but is nevertheless yours alone.” Mark Haddon - “The Right Words in the Right Order” (Essay #5).

DIY Electronic Project - A Wireless Microphone

Are you a “do it yourself” project enthusiast? If you are this is for you! First, building the circuit! This circuit is a popular phantom powered circuit based on the Schleps Design. It is a very easy and very clean circuit. The biggest trick with building it for a wireless microphone is laying it out on the perfboard. There’s not much space to get everything into the body. Follow the layouts and you should be fine. The microphone capsule has an internal fet and biasing, two large parts aren’t needed. The capsule I’ve chosen for this project is a Projects Unlimited capsule – 6538 L-R. It’s a great capsule and I have found the sonic quality to rival the famous Panasonic WM-61AY capsules. You can choose to use Panasonics here instead, if you like without changing anything else on the circuit.
With steel wool, lightly buff the copper side of the perfboard. This will mean that the soldering will be better. Then, with snippers, carefully cut a rectangle on the perfboard, more diy projects. Slide the board into the aluminum tube to make sure it goes in. File the edges of the perfboard smooth if it doesn’t fit. The fit should be snug.  This is very important: make sure that no metal edges of the perfboard touch the aluminum body – only the fiberglass portion. If you cut too much, try again (you should have plenty of perfboard). Stuff the board (build the circuit). The Resisters will go in vertically. That means that one leg stays straight while the other is bent in a 180 degree loop. Use bits of the snipped resister and capacitor legs to act as the bridges from one hole to another. Everything should be very straightforward. Make sure to note the + and – of the capacitors and Zeners.

Another World

Yesterday seemed like a day-long episode of the Twilight Zone. First there was the sighting of Sly Stallone in the Italian Market, then yesterday evening, I went with Bridgette to deliver a painting of mine that recently sold to the client's home. Most of the time, people will pick up work from the gallery, but once in a while, she'll deliver the piece(s) herself. She'd called me Tuesday afternoon and asked me if I wanted to go along to meet the purchasers and I said yes. I'm always interested in who is buying my works and where they wind up. Anyway, this particular client lives in Moorestown, NJ. Bridgette and I drove up, almost got lost, but made it in time to meet the guy and his wife at their place. During the last part of our drive, it's getting darker and the houses are getting bigger, and bigger, and yeah, you get the idea. The mail boxes are almost half-a-block away from the houses in this particular development. The good thing is that the houses are not the ugly, cookie-cutter homes you normally see in suburban, and increasingly, urban, developements. It also wasn't a gated community. Nonetheless, the neighborhood seemed, well, sterile and cold, and not just from the weather last night. I'm too used to seeing people walk around at night and standing there looking at these places, I couldn't imagine much life happening there, despite the obvious presence of people in their homes. Maybe it was the newness of everything. From the looks of it, these houses haven't been up for long, a few months at the most. The lawns were also a little too green.

At first, we were afraid that we had the wrong place, but luckily, Bridgette's instincts were on target. The wife opened the door, toting one of her young sons and let us in, painting in tow. As expected, the inside was as big as it looked. The husband was in the kitchen and after getting settled, the wife showed us around the house. It was big, but modest in style and very relfective of the owners. Bridgette and I kept looking at each other every time she showed us room after room. We didn't even make it to the third floor. There wasn't time for that anyway since Bridgette had another meeting last night and the client had a dinner to get to. We chose the best spot for the work and hung it. I've always wondered who lived in places like this and I got to find out last night. This couple, at least, was very nice and down-to-earth. They're genuinely into collecting contemporary work and very curious. They asked a lot of good questions and aren't into art just for the hell of it. I have gotten to meet other collectors of my work, but most of the time, that was at the gallery. I like connecting with the people who buy my work, but I felt a huge disconnect lifestyle-wise. I couldn't imagine living in a suburban development and having a place that requires having people come in and clean. There's no way they do their own house-keeping in a home that big. Everything was too new, also. I need a good mix of old and new where I live. Overall, it was a good experience. I liked meeting the couple and they are enjoying the painting and paying for it, so everybody benefits.