“Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced.” ~ Ned Rorem

Grey Trees 

“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through.” ~ Anais Nin

So, Saturday evening. The temperature has probably dropped 20 degrees in the last few hours. The wind is whipping about the house, and it is raining . . . again. Yet another storm front. I believe that it is snowing in the western part of the state. Here it is just cold, dark, and rainy. How lovely. 

Cold and Damp

I just wasted, well I won’t even tell you exactly how much time, but let’s just use the vague term time, playing spider solitaire, a highly addictive game for which the odds of winning are extremely low, at least, that’s how it seems to me since I never win. I wish that I were not so addicted to this particular game as it has absolutely no redeeming qualities. But alas, I do admit my addiction. There. I’ve said it. 

Last night Corey and I watched two awful movies: The Transporter 2 and Death Tunnel. I love Jason Stratham; he has incredible arms (I love arms that are muscular but not over-developed), but this was a waste of a movie. That being said, I believe that the viewer needs to approach the Transporter movies expecting sexy cars, great but unbelievable car chases, and some nifty hand-to-hand combat. Expectation of a plot is probably too much. 

Death Tunnel is supposedly based on a true story, but the director spent too much time cutting in and out of sepia-toned photographs and current action, I supposed in an attempt to be artsy, but the result was a chopped up mess of a movie that did little else but show scantily-clad females in peril from some sort of ghosts. Yep. It was as bad as it sounds. 

“We must now challenge ourselves to study this report carefully and make changes that will reduce the risk of future violence on our campuses.” ~ Virginia Governor Tim Kaine

Duck Pond in Winter, Virginia Tech

So yesterday I was reading the news, and I came across several items that were pretty bothersome, but the one that really blew me away was the revelation that the administration at Virginia Tech knew about the shootings 90 minutes before they issued a campus-wide e-mail alert and locked down the entire campus. According to the report, some administrators warned their families, and the president’s office was locked well in advance of notifying the rest of the campus. 

Also troubling is the fact that the dorm where the shootings began was released from lockdown, and students were allowed to leave while the shooting were still ongoing. Two of the students who left the dorm were later slain. Additionally, campus trash collection was cancelled 21 minutes before students and teachers were warned. 

These facts were made known Friday when a state panel appointed to investigate the horrific 2007 shootings released a revised report based on comments and questions regarding the original report, which was released just six months after the April shootings. The rampage by Seung-Hui Cho left 33 people dead, including the killer. For the full 210-page report, click on the link provided. 

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” ~ Malcolm X

In other news . . . I won’t even get into all of the minutiae regarding the Amanda Knox guilty verdict in Italy. That whole case has been incredibly mishandled as far as the publicity aspect of it. I don’t know enough about the forensic evidence to make any kind of judgment as to Knox’s guilt or innocence. I only know that Knox was tried in the British and Italian media long before she ever went on trial. 

Amanda Knox

Knox, 22, was accused of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher, 21, in Perugia, Italy. Knox, a Seattle college student from the University of Washington, had traveled to Italy for a few months of study. Now she will spend another 24 years in prison, unless she wins her appeal. 

What bothers me about the case is what bothers me about a lot of cases involving female defendants: how a female who is accused of a vicious crime is tried in the court of public opinion based on how she dresses, reacts or doesn’t react, cries too much or not at all, etc. I remember in the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial, the prosecutor was continually being criticized for how she wore her hair, what suits she wore, how much make-up she wore, and she was not the one on trial.  

What is it with the public and females involved in crimes? Let’s not even delve into the sexist label of “the fair sex.” Knox kissed her boyfriend, Italian student Raffaele Sollecito, 23, in full view of the police on the day that Kercher’s body was found. She kissed her boyfriend? Okay, public displays of affection may not be the best tactic at a crime scene, but is it an indicator of guilt or just bad judgment? 

Knox didn’t cry. Knox didn’t show enough emotion. Knox displayed bizarre behavior. Again, who decides how much is enough? Lack of tears indicator of guilt? Some people just do not get emotional. 

Front Page News

Please don’t write me and say that I don’t think that Knox is guilty because she is American; her citizenship is irrelevant. Don’t write me and say that I am criticizing the Italian judicial system; I don’t understand allowing jurors access to the media, but it’s not my system. Don’t write me to say that I should be feeling bad for the Kercher family; of course I am. And don’t bother to write me to tell me that “Foxy Knoxy” is evil personified; who and what she is is not up to me to determine. 

My discontent here is the perception of guilt based on physical appearances. Knox is attractive, but her Foxy moniker has nothing to do with her looks: She was dubbed Foxy for her moves on the soccer field. I’m just saying that we cannot assess a person’s guilt based on physicalities. The converse is also true: Just because a woman is attractive, it does not mean that she is incapable of committing a crime. Let’s stick to the facts. And that, dear readers, is what did not happen before or during the trial as regards the media and the public. 

Well, for a subject that I wasn’t going to dwell on, I certainly did. Didn’t I? 

“If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” ~ Rollo May 

Other than that, not so much to say. My quote about inspiration is perhaps the only inspired thing about this post.  Great quote. Mediocre post. I’m trying, really, but the synapses are firing a bit slowly, and my ability to be creative is suffering as a result. 

More later, I expect. Peace 

Counting Crows, “A Long December,” so appropriate . . . 

  

  

  

 

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.” ~ Albert Einstein

 

Sunset2 at Palm Island Park Mt Dora Fl

Sunset at Palm Island Park, Mt. Dora, Florida by Janson Jones 

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Ghandi

Well, here we are. Thursday. Another day. Rain outside my window. Muddy paw prints on my floor. Exactly 12 cents in my wallet. Life is . . . well, it is what it is.

Standard Issue School Safety
Today's Standard Issue for School Safety

A quiet peace has settled over the house. Eldest son is spending more time at home. Not really sure what the reasons are behind that, but I’ll take what I can get. Today at Brett’s school there were seven, yes seven fights. Corey said that when he pulled up to the school to get Brett, the police were escorting people out in handcuffs, most of them females. The school was in lockdown for a couple of hours. Local news stations report that 14 students were arrested.

Lockdown. In a school. And people ask me why I don’t get a teaching job. No thank you, not in an urban public school, no matter what their academic standing is or how good the principal happens to be.

The one year that I taught in public schools, I was hit three times, all three accidents, but hits, even so. You know that old myth about having unusual strength during a time of crisis? Well, it’s true. I once broke up a fight between two boys in my classroom by lifting one of them off the other. The kid I lifted, who was actually a very nice boy with very good manners, was a head taller than I was.

Another time, a girl in my class was reaching around me to hit a boy she had a crush on, and I got punched in the arm. The worst fights were always the ones involving females. Not making a generalization here. This is what I saw firsthand.

Not sure what made me think of all of that. I suppose the situation at school today. Thankfully, Brett was not in the vicinity of any of the fights when they broke out.

“Creativity is the process of bringing something new into being . . . creativity requires passion and commitment.” ~ Rollo May 

Maureen, my friend in Australia made a comment that she really liked the images that I used in the last post. I’m glad that people notice the images and the words.

Waves in Blue and Green
Sargasso Sea Abstraction by L. Liwag

I spend about half of the time writing my blog, and then the other half searching for and working on images. Sometimes I am very lucky, and I have a very specific image in mind, one that I have seen on another blog. But other times, such as with the last blog, it takes forever for me to find the precise image that I want. I usually look for images that I know have no copyright or for which I know that the copyright has expired. Or, in the case of my friend Janson Jones, I try to let him know that I plan to use an image in a post; he has graciously given his permission.

And then there are the times that the images I include are mine or a family collaboration. Someone in the family may have taken the photograph, but then I work in Photoshop (wonderful Adobe program, but eats up memory), and play with color, layers, filters. As with every computer program I know, I am self-taught on Photoshop, but the more that I work with it, the more interesting things I find to do with photographs.

And then after I have my words down, and I have inserted my images, I try to think of the perfect song to go along with my theme for the day. Of course, this is not always possible because sometimes, like today, I just kind of amble from one thing to another.

I’ve come a long way since I began blogging over a year ago. Whether or not my changes are an improvement only others can tell. I like to think that I have reached a point at which I have found a good balance between words, images, and music. These three things are the root of my creative process. I almost always write with music playing in the background, and my time at The Chrysler Museum of Art opened my eyes to so many beautiful paintings, sculptures, glass, photography, and other art forms from every time period.

I had always loved art before I worked there, but my appreciation for the visual expanded significantly during my tenure at the museum, especially because part of my job included writing about exhibits, giving interviews, etc. I had to take crash courses in artists and their works every couple of weeks. I’m not complaining at all. I loved the opportunity to learn more about an area in which my prior involvement had only been brief visits to museums. Coming at a work of art from the inside, having the opportunity to work with the curators was wonderfully informative, and therefore, rewarding.

“It has always seemed strange to me that . . . so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought—that is to be educated.” ~ Edith Hamilton

William Glackens The Shoppers Detail
"The Shoppers," by William Glackens (detail, 1907, oil on canvas) from the permanent collection of The Chrysler Museum of Art

I suppose I don’t really understand people who do not want to learn new things. It’s as if they are content with a certain body of knowledge, and anything else would just be extraneous. I understand a need to be focused, but to close your mind to new things, developments in science, language, politics—How can you not take an interest?

I fear that we are raising an entire generation that does not know how to delve, how to dabble. The art that they see is on a computer screen not in a museum. The research they do is from the Internet not in a library. Their knowledge of classical music comes from hearing it as background music to a commercial or when it is used in a movie soundtrack.

The term classical education is no longer a matter of pro forma, and that grieves me. A true classical education meant learning about as much as possible, even if it was just a bit about everything: languages, art, music, literature, politics, science, math, culture, economics, history.  Of course, not all of these subjects are absorbed at once.

A true classical education begins early, with a basic foundation in language so as to be able to absorb basic facts. From this, students progress to analyzing what they are taught until ultimately, these students have the ability to express themselves using their expanded knowledge base. Of course, this is a simplified explanation of what is known as the trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and quadrivium (astronomy, arithmetic, music and geometry) of a classical education.

Unfortunately, Latin is no longer taught as a matter of course. And the dialectic of logic and reasoning is included in schools that are focused on college-bound students, but what about the rest? Do I dare touch on the uneasy fact of how many of our high school students graduate without knowing how to read or balance a checkbook?

We are so removed from the Greek and Roman ideas of education (barring their idiotic barring of females from receiving formal education) that I fear we will have a generation whose only acquaintance with Latin may be the two phrases carpe diem and semper fi. Of course, I am over-simplifying things as I have a tendency to do when I am frustrated.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ~ Cicero

Actually, I don’t really know how I ended up on this particular topic; I only know that upon arrival, I began to become vexed—a sure sign of my omnipresent impatience with ignorance (not stupidity) and how we as a society are responsible for said pervasive ignorance.

Alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day
One of my children's favorite books

Time to stop and have a Pepsi and some chocolate, something to sweeten my disposition. I will leave you with this: If you have young children, read to them, all of the time, from board books when they are very young to fairy tales as they get older. A little story: My daughter Alexis was with her friend Jennifer. The two of them were sorting through children’s books bought at an estate auction. Alexis kept picking up books and saying how wonderful this one was and how much she enjoyed that one.

Jennifer replied that she hadn’t read most of them. Alexis was incredulous until Jennifer reminded her that her mother was not an English professor like Alexis’s mother. Jennifer, like so many young people, grew up in a house without books; whereas Alexis already had a pretty extensive library by the time she entered high school. Not bragging, just telling a story.

Teach your children to read early and you will allow them to become life-long readers. And remember, never ever make fun of a child’s ability to read. Nothing could be more cruel or do more harm to a child’s self-esteem. Just ask anyone who has struggled with dyslexia or a learning disability.

I’ll stop now. Relenting my time on the soapbox. More later. Peace.

Just a note: I actually wrote this post on Thursday afternoon, but after writing about picking images for my posts, I froze. I could not, for the life of me, decide on any images that would be suitable for this post, with the exception of William Glackens’ painting “The Shoppers.” Probably should not have written anything about my creative process . . .