Saturday, January 31, 2015

Backlash

I feel the anti-vaccination movement is really about something deeper. I believe it is an anti-authority fight with Mommy and Daddy. I feel bad for the children who are caught in what is essentially a BAD DIVORCE caused in part by the medical community of their parents generation. My very own sister in law chose not to vaccinate her son against polio when her own father had the disease.
Article

Earth Mother Louise Erdrich

Earth Mother
Kevin Nance | Jan - Feb 2015
Acclaimed author Louise Erdrich ’76 writes complicated stories that illuminate issues confronting Native Americans and society at large. Now she’s speaking out to save the planet.

Giving the Commencement address on the Green in 2009, novelist Louise Erdrich was in crowd-pleasing form. With a buoyant voice and a radiant smile cutting through the mist of that drizzly day, she told funny stories, starting with what turned out to be an allegory about some baby chickens being transported in the back of the small plane that first brought her to Dartmouth. Every time the plane hit an air pocket, the chicks went peep-peep-peep-peep-peep—courageously raising their voices against a worrisomely turbulent world.

But near the end of her 15-minute talk Erdrich’s own voice darkened. So did her metaphors. “Knowledge without compassion is dead knowledge,” she said, her smile replaced by an expression of grim purpose. “Beware of knowledge without love. I don’t mean Harlequin Romance love. I don’t write those kinds of books. I mean love as in devotion to this world—a world that needs you right now, worse than it ever has.” She assessed the crowd with a gimlet eye. “Have you ever been in a relationship where you took someone for granted, but he or she seemed resilient? A relationship in which you had the feeling that things were going to be all right in spite of how you’d acted, and then, all of a sudden, boom—you got dumped? That’s the relationship we’re in right now with the earth. But if the earth dumps us, we all do die of broken hearts.”

Article

I LOVE Wendell Berry

Letter from Wendell Berry

Below is an excerpt of a letter by Wendell Berry that was the catalyst for the Tilth movement in the Pacific Northwest. Wendell wrote the letter to Gigi Coe and Bob Stilger following his return home from speaking at the “Agriculture for a Small Planet” symposium at Expo 74 in Spokane. Heeding Wendell’s call for “another kind of agricultural symposium,” Gigi Coe joined with Mark Musick, Woody and Becky Deryckx, and Michael Pilarski to establish Tilth as the host organization for the Northwest Conference on Alternative Agriculture, held in Ellensburg, Washington, in November, 1974.

Port Royal, KY

July 4, 1974

Dear Gigi and Bob,

I sure did have a fine time out there, and felt, when I left, that I was leaving friends. As I sort of told Bob the other night, I felt pretty grumpy about leaving home. I thought it would be a joyless duty, and that the people running the symposium would be boring official types who would make me wish I had never left home. So I was surprised to find the two of you so bright and good, and I hope you’ll forgive my wrong assumptions.

Now I want to tell you some notions that I never would have had if you had been what I expected you to be.

First, I’m impressed with what might be the importance of your being placed where you are now. The experience and the contacts that you’ll have when Expo is over ought to give you a peculiar usefulness to the environmental movement.

Second, the overwhelming message that came out of the symposium is that the agricultural establishment is going to go right on trusting “American ingenuity” and reciting specialists’ statistics until the case against it is proven by its failure—which will be the failure of much else that is more worthy. People like Leon Nelson are not going to listen to people like Wilson and me—they are not even going to be able to understand what we are saying—simply because they don’t have to. They are well paid, stuffed with the self-importance of the well paid, and set apart in their lives from both their critics and their victims. Leon hasn’t used a John Deere implement, much less depended on one, since he became a John Deere executive.

Third, your symposium, as well as a lot of other meetings I’ve been to in other parts of the country, proves the existence of a thoughtful and even knowledgeable constituency for a better kind of agriculture. And this constituency is as yet powerless because it has no programs. It has no coherent vision of what is possible. It is without the arguments and proofs—the language—that will make it coherent. Our sessions amply demonstrated the hesitance and the great difficulty people have in speaking of any kind of agricultural alternative. Leon Nelson can speak—as he did to me—of a 600 HP tractor operated by remote control, and his voice has an absolute assurance. To me, that sort of vision is a dangerous absurdity. But it does not seem absurd, much less dangerous, because it is produced by a vision that has dominated popular thinking for a generation. What seems absurd is anything less than the biggest tractor conceivable. There are situations in which a horse-and-hoe technology is the most practicable, but even I who have thought about it for years, find it difficult to defend—at least in a language that other people will listen to.

Fourth, the crisis is not in land use. It’s in the lives and the minds of land users. That’s why I don’t believe it can be helped very much by any kind of official policy. Good land use is going to come about either by hard necessity or by some kind of teaching. I have in mind what Gigi told me about her work in a birth control clinic. That effort has gone against the grain, just as any sort of agricultural reform will have to. And there are a lot of women whose lives have been changed because other women have helped them think of another possibility. As long as the other possibility is a better one, thoughts will be close to deeds.

And so I’m asking you, from where you are, can you see any possibility of another kind of agricultural symposium—not, this time, that would represent a broad spectrum of opinion, but rather one that would try to bring together the various branches of agricultural dissidence and heresy? Supposed you could get together representatives of farm workers unions, NFO and any other such groups, family farmers, urban consumer cooperatives, small farm co-ops, organic farming and gardening co-ops and organizations, the publications of dissident agriculture, and the conservation organizations, wilderness societies, etc. Could such a meeting be made to happen? And if it could happen, don’t you think it would be directly useful? I’m not sure what unanimity might be made, but I am sure that it would be the start of something or other that would be useful. For instance, one of the most urgent needs now is a forum in which urban environmentalists can begin to learn something about farming.

Would one or the other of you let me know what thoughts you have in response to this?

Your friend,

Wendell

Merton the Amazing Monk

It's the birthday of Thomas Merton, born in Prades, France (1915). Merton was a Trappist monk, but he was also the author of more than 50 books, 2,000 poems, and a personal diary that spanned much of his lifetime.

Merton decided to write his master's thesis on William Blake, and he found himself deeply influenced by Blake. He converted to Christianity, and in 1941 he entered a Trappist abbey in Kentucky, where he remained for most of his life. In his diary from this time, Merton wrote, "Going to the Trappists is exciting. I return to the idea again and again: 'Give up everything, give up everything!'" Merton had become well-known throughout the world, in part because of his writing, in particular his autobiography The Seven Story Mountain (1948).

- Writers Almanac

Ceci Conway + Alan Lomax

My friend Ceci Conway worked with Alan Lomax. She took me to meet some of the musicians living in rural NC when I lived there. I'll never forget it.

It's the birthday of musicologist Alan Lomax (books by this author), born in Austin, Texas (1915). His father, John Lomax, was also a musicologist and wrote books like Cowboy Songs and Frontier Ballads (1910) and Songs of the Cattle Trail and Cow Camp (1918). Alan went to the University of Texas and then to Harvard to study philosophy, but after his mother's death he dropped out of Harvard to accompany his dad on one of his folk song-collecting missions. He loved it so much that he decided to make it his life's work.

He wrote: "Our way of work is simple. From letters and books and word of mouth, we hear of someone, perhaps a Vermont woodsman or a Kentucky miner, who knows a store of old folk tunes. We get into our car and go to visit him. But my father and I don't burst in like college professors in search of quaintness. We make friends. We live in the neighborhood. And before we even go to a place, we find out about the kind of work in that section so that we can talk about it. Only then do we go and ask for songs. [...] Generally the reaction of people is friendly. They're proud you consider their music important, and they want to do the best job possible. I remember one Finnish singer in the Middle West, from whom we were recording a song about a Finnish Robin Hood. It took 20 minutes to sing. When we had cut the record, we played it back for him. His sharp ears discovered one tiny mistake, and he was so eager for perfection that he made us do the entire record over again."

The Lomaxes went to the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where they met Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. Lomax wrote: "I'll never forget: He approached us all the way from the building where he worked, with his big twelve-string guitar in his hand. He sat down in front of us and proceeded to sing everything that we could think of in this beautiful, clear, trumpet-like voice that he had, with his hand simply flying on the strings. His hands were like a whirlwind, and his voice was like a great clear trumpet. You could hear him, literally, half a mile away when he opened up."

Lead Belly had been playing music since he was a kid with an accordion, and entertained his fellow inmates with his concerts. The Lomaxes were so impressed with Lead Belly that they cut a whole record of his singing, and they agreed to record a song he wrote for the governor of Louisiana, begging to get out of jail. The lyrics were: "In nineteen hundred an' thirty-two, / Honorable Guvner O.K. Allen, / I'm 'pealin' to you. / If I had you, Guvner O.K. Allen, / Like you got me, / I would wake up in de mornin', / Let you out on reprieve."

The Lomaxes took the song to Governor Oscar K. Allen, and not long afterwards Lead Belly was let out of prison — it was actually an early release for good behavior, but both Lead Belly and the Lomaxes thought the song had helped. After that, the Lomaxes helped put Lead Belly in the national spotlight.

Alan and John Lomax headed up the Library of Congress "Archive of American Folk Song," recording and preserving thousands of songs. Alan was particularly interested in doing more extensive interviews with their subjects, and he recorded the oral histories of musicians like Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Jelly Roll Morton, Muddy Waters, and Vera Hall.

In August of 1940, Alan started a prime-time radio program called Back Where I Come From. The first episode was hosted by literary critic Clifton Fadiman and featured Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives, Len Doyle, Josh White, and the Golden Gate Quartet. Performers took turns saying, "Back where I come from, we always say..." and filling it in with a local saying. Each episode was centered around a particular theme — for the first episode, it was "weather." The cast sang "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More," "The Erie Canal," "The Foggy Dew," and "So Long, It's Been Good to Know You," which was interwoven with Guthrie's commentary about the Dust Bowl. Back Where I Come From aired three nights a week, for 15 minutes. Soon Pete Seeger signed on as well. Besides "Weather," other themes included "Jails," "Nonsense Songs," and "Love True and Careless." The cast and crew thought the show was a success, but CBS unexpectedly canceled it in February of 1941.

Lomax wrote to Guthrie: "Our agent William Morris told us we were set for life. And then the great paw of America reached out and stopped it: Mister William B. Paley said that he didn't want any of that goddamn hillbilly music on his network. And that was that." Guthrie replied: "Too honest again I suppose? Maybe not purty enough. O well, this country's a getting to where it cain't hear its own voice. Someday the deal will change."

For the rest of his life, Lomax continued to record folk artists, champion folk music, and publish books. His books include American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934), Mister Jelly Roll (1950), Folk Song Style and Culture (1968), and The Land Where the Blues Began (1993).

The award-winning, best-selling soundtrack to the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) begins with a recording that Lomax made in 1959 of James Carter and fellow prisoners in the Mississippi State Penitentiary singing "Po' Lazarus." More than 40 years after Carter sang "Po' Lazarus," Alan Lomax and his Lomax organization teamed up with an investigative reporter and T Bone Burnett — the producer of the soundtrack — to track down Carter and pay him royalties. Carter's first check was for $20,000, and he was amazed to hear that the soundtrack was outselling albums by Mariah Carey and Michael Jackson. That was in March of 2002. A few months later, Alan Lomax died at the age of 87.

He said: "We now have cultural machines so powerful that one singer can reach everybody in the world, and make all the other singers feel inferior because they're not like him. Once that gets started, he gets backed by so much cash and so much power that he becomes a monstrous invader from outer space, crushing the life out of all the other human possibilities. My life has been devoted to opposing that tendency."

Normand Mailer: Demonstrates Committee of Sleep

It's the birthday of Norman Mailer (books by this author), born in Long Branch, New Jersey (1923). He grew up in Brooklyn, went to Harvard, and then got drafted during World War II. He served in the Philippines, and although he didn't participate in much fighting, he got enough material to go home and write a novel, The Naked and the Dead (1948), published when he was just 25 years old. It was a best-seller, it made him famous, and for the next 60 years he continued to publish books.

Mailer was incredibly productive, and stuck to a strict writing regimen. He said: "Over the years, I've found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write."

He wrote every day from 9 to 5, up until his death at the age of 84. For the last 27 years of his life, he shared a studio with his sixth and last wife, Norris Church Mailer, an artist and writer. They each had their own space. Mailer sat on a wooden chair looking out at the Provincetown Bay — he liked to be near water when he wrote — but he closed the curtains when he really needed to concentrate. Mailer and his wife ate breakfast and lunch on their own schedule, but they would meet up at 6 p.m. to drink wine and eat dinner.

The routine worked for most types of writing, but he couldn't force his novels. He said: "It's very bad to write a novel by act of will. I can do a book of nonfiction work that way — just sign the contract and do the book because, provided the topic has some meaning for me, I know I can do it. But a novel is different. A novel is more like falling in love. You don't say, 'I'm going to fall in love next Tuesday, I'm going to begin my novel.' The novel has to come to you. It has to feel just like love." He carried a small, spiral-bound notebook with him at all times, in case inspiration struck.

He wrote by hand — he usually wrote in the morning and then typed it up in the afternoon, or gave it to an assistant to type. He said: "I used to have a little studio in Brooklyn, a couple of blocks from my house — no telephone, not much else. The only thing I ever did there was work. It was perfect. I was like a draft horse with a conditioned reflex. I came in ready to sit at my desk. No television, no way to call out. Didn't want to be tempted. There's an old Talmudic belief that you build a fence around an impulse. If that's not good enough, you build a fence around the fence. So, no amenities. (But for a refrigerator!) I wrote longhand with a pencil and I gave it to my assistant, Judith McNally. She would type it for me and the next day I would go over it. Since at my age you begin to forget all too much, I would hardly remember what I had written the day before. It read, therefore, as if someone else had done it. The critic in me was delighted. I could now proceed to fix the prose. The sole virtue of losing your short-term memory is that it does free you to be your own editor."

He wrote novels, short stories, essays, and plays. His books include The Deer Park (1955), The Armies of the Night (1968), The Executioner's Song (1979), and his last novel, The Castle in the Forest (2007), the story of Hitler's childhood.

He said, "I become an actor, a quick-change artist, as if I can trap the Prince of Truth in the act of switching a style."

Writer's Alamanac

Barbara Tuchman

War is the unfolding of miscalculations.
- Barbara Tuchman

I LOVE Brautigan

This year I turn my nephew onto Richard Brautigan and now we share other authors. I call Brautigan my spiritual father. My beloved hero from Jupiter.
January 30th (yesterday) was the birthday of poet and novelist Richard Gary Brautigan, born in Tacoma, Washington (1935). He moved to San Francisco, where he read his poetry at psychedelic rock concerts, helped produce underground newspapers, and became involved with the Beat Movement. He had long blond hair and granny glasses.

In the summer of 1961, he went camping with his wife and young daughter in Idaho's Stanley Basin. He spent his days hiking, and it was there, sitting next to trout streams with his portable typewriter, that he wrote his most famous work, Trout Fishing in America (1967).

William Carlos Williams

I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.
—William Carlos Williams

Yesterday

Yesterday I was at City Hall at 8:15 am and had meetings all day until 1PM. When I got home I was starving so I made chicken salad from my chopped bits of leftover blizzard chicken. I added chopped red onion and chopped celery, pepperoncini, vinegar, mayo and lots of cholula and rooster hot sauce. It was snowing slush out of the sky. Deep freeze was expected overnight so I decided I'd batter tackle the 4 foot pile of fallen snow on the flat roof over the dining room. I climbed up to the 2nd floor porch and jumped onto the roof with my shovel and shoveled the two ton pile for 2 hours straight. It was satisfying to hear the bricks of snow fall in the alley. Neighbors saw me from the street and one neighbor across the street who had to shovel his roof last week, opened his 2nd floor window to talk to me. I waved. My face was beet red. I was roasting hot from exertion. I felt a little delirious and wobbly. At one point I lay down on the snow pile and put snow on my neck and forehead to cool off. Then I got up and continued until the pile was gone. I was elated and exhausted by what I accomplished. I took a hot shower and changed my clothes. I felt great. When Bill got home I told him I had an early Valentine surprise for him. A cleared off roof.

Dutch Marries Italian: Stroopwafel in Pizzelle Iron

Allrecipes
Recipe by Marshmallow87

"Dutch stroopwafels (translation: molasseswaffles) Foreign people love them, so I translated this Dutch recipe to English."

Original recipe makes 12 servings
4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/8 cups butter, melted

3/4 cup white sugar

2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm milk

1 egg

1 1/2 cups molasses

1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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Directions

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, melted butter, sugar, yeast, milk and egg. When the dough becomes to stiff to stir, turn out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes. Set aside to rise for 45 minutes.
To make the filling, heat the molasses, brown sugar, remaining butter and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to blend, and set aside.
Preheat a pizzelle iron. Knead the dough briefly, and divide the dough into 2 inch balls, or a size compatible with your pizzelle iron pattern. Press the balls in the preheated iron, and cook until the iron stops releasing steam, or until the waffles are golden brown.
Carefully remove with a knife or spatula, and split in half horizontally (like pocket bread) while they are still warm. Don't wait too long, otherwise they will break. Spread filling on the insides, and put the halves back together.

Note
If you can't split the waffles because they are too thin, just sandwich the filling between two waffles.

Loving Warm Water

Video of blissed out puppy taking a shower.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Why You Should Tell Your Children How Much You Make

Your Money
Why You Should Tell Your Children How Much You Make

JAN. 29, 2015

Scott Parker once withdrew his entire month’s salary in $1 bills in an effort to show his family the value of money. Credit Jim McAuley for The New York Times

Your Money

By RON LIEBER

When Scott Parker wanted his six offspring to know more about the value of money, he decided to do something that many parents would consider radical: show them exactly what he earned.

One day, he stopped by his local Wells Fargo branch in Encinitas, Calif., and asked to withdraw his entire monthly salary in cash. In singles. It took 24 hours for the tellers to round up that many bills, so he returned the next day and took away the $100 stacks in a canvas bag.

His oldest son, Daniel, who was 15 at the time, remembers the moment his father walked into the house and dumped the $10,000 or so on a table. “It looked like he had robbed a bank,” he said.

After a pause to let it all sink in, Mr. Parker began peeling off bills. He told them about taxes, set aside money for a tithe to their church and made a big pile for the house payment. The singles piled up for soccer and scouting and hamburger night. By the end, there wasn’t much left over. “I was trying to make as big of an impact as I could, and I definitely had their attention,” he said recently.

Your children deserve to know what you make, too. It may sound improbable, but you can begin to initiate them when they’re as young as 5 or 6, building their knowledge slowly and giving them the real answer while they’re still teenagers. Handle it right, and it will be one of the most valuable lessons of their childhood.

Here’s the bigger problem this helps to solve: Money is a source of mystery to children. They sense its power, so they ask questions, lots of them, over many years. Why isn’t our house as big as my cousin’s? Why can’t I have a carnivorous plant terrarium? Why should I respect my teachers if they earn only $60,000 per year? (Real question!) Are we poor? Why didn’t you give money to the man who asked you for some? If my sister can have Hello-Kitty-themed Beats by Dre headphones, why won’t you get me the Bluetooth-enabled Lego Mindstorms set? (It’s only $349, and it’s educational, Mom!)
Continue reading the main story
How Do You Talk to Your Kids About Money?

On Monday at noon Eastern, columnist Ron Lieber will answer questions about how families can talk about finances on The Times’s Facebook page.

We adults, however, tend to do a miserable job of answering. We push our children’s money questions aside, sometimes telling them that their queries are impolite, or perhaps worrying that they will call out our own financial hypocrisy and errors. Sometimes we respond defensively and viscerally, barking back, “None of your business,” unintentionally teaching our children that the topic is off limits despite its obvious importance. Others want to protect their children from a topic many of us find stressful or baffling: Can’t we keep them innocent of all of this money stuff for just a little bit longer?

But shielding children from the realities of everyday financial life makes little sense anymore, given the responsibilities their generation will face, starting with the outsize college tuitions they will encounter while still in high school. “It’s dangerous, like not telling them about how their bodies are going to change during puberty,” said Amanda Rose Adams, a mother of two in Fort Collins, Colo. “That’s how kids come out of college $100,000 in debt with an English degree.” Or not knowing how and why to start saving right away for retirement, or how to pick a health insurance plan.

Money is always the Excuse, it’s never the Truth

Article
NEWS | ECONOMY
Mayor behind Pittsburgh renaissance: Providence must be strategic, willing to take risks

Published: January 30, 2015 01:00 AM
Comments

By Paul Grimaldi

Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s capital city has to be “intentional” about its future if it wants to find a place in a globalized world, according to the man who helped lead the turnaround of a Rust Belt community now considered the country’s most livable city.

“It is about knowing what you want,” said Tom Murphy, the former mayor of Pittsburgh. “It’s about being strategic.”

Invited here to give the keynote speech at the Providence Preservation Society’s annual meeting, Murphy found a warm welcome on a chilly New England night.

Now a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, Murphy spoke about his travels to nearly 50 American cities in the last year. He cited Cincinnati, Denver, San Antonio, North Carolina’s Research Triangle and, of course, Pittsburgh, among others, as places that transformed themselves by creating a strategy for redevelopment.

By partnering with research institutions, building arts districts, creating regional transit systems, laying out massive public parks, restoring housing — or some combination of those activities — these communities invested in their futures.

“These were people willing to take huge risks,” Murphy said.

There were community leaders, he said, bold enough to propose wildly optimistic, complicated\ and expensive redevelopment strategies — and then confident enough to stick with those long-term goals when the inevitable criticism arose.

Pittsburgh cut city jobs and used the savings to finance the $60-million bond issue that paid for redevelopment to start. The money was used to buy old steel mills and other property where the city could guide redevelopment.

“Money is always the excuse, it’s never the truth,” Murphy said to a round of applause.

Like other urban strategists who’ve visited Providence before him, Murphy said the city has much of what it takes to spark its revitalization.

“Think of your city as a puzzle,” Murphy said. “You have these remarkable pieces on the table….”

He cited schools such as Brown University, the waterfront, historic buildings and people who are passionate about Providence.

The vacant I-195 acreage is one of those pieces, but the land’s reuse has to fit into a larger economic strategy, he said.

“You have a choice to do nothing, to nickel-and-dime your way into the future, or to be intentional,” Murphy said.

On Twitter: @PaulEGrimaldi

I Love this Poem

Today's poem on the Writer's Almanac. I love it.
From Our House to Your House
by Jack Ridl

It is 1959. It is the cusp of the coming revolution.
We still like Ike. We are still afraid of Sputnik.
We read Life magazine and Sports Illustrated
where the athletes grow up shooting hoops
in the driveway, playing catch in the backyard.
We sit on our sectional sofa. My mother loves
Danish modern. Our pants have cuffs. Our hair
is short. We are smiling and we mean it. I am
a guard. My father is my coach. I am sitting
next to him on the bench. I am ready to go in.
My sister will cheer. My mother will make
the pre-game meal from The Joy of Cooking.
Buster is a good dog. We are all at an angle.
We are a family at an angle. Our clothes are
pressed. We look into the eye of the camera.
“Look ‘em in the eye,” my father teaches us.
All we see ahead are wins, good grades,
Christmas. We believe in being happy. We
believe in mowing the lawn, a two-car garage,
a freezer, and what the teacher says. There is
nothing on the wall. We are facing away
from the wall. The jungle is far from home.
Hoses are for cleaning the car, watering
the gardens. My sister walks to school. My
father and I lean into the camera. My mother
and sister sit up straight. Ike has kept us
safe. In the spring, we will have a new car,
a Plymouth Fury with whitewalls and a vinyl top.

- Jack Ridl, from Practicing to Walk Like a Heron.
© Wayne State University Press, 2013.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

We know. We understand. And still we do it.

But we, when we put the thorns in our breasts, we know. We understand. And still we do it. Still we do it.
― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

An Unconscious Healing

What was sleep? A blessing, a respite from life, an echo of death, a demanding nuisance?
― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

If you love people, they kill you. If you need people, they kill you. They do I tell you!
― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

And gradually his memory slipped a little, as memories do, even those with so much love attached to them; as if there is an unconscious healing process within the mind which mends up in spite of our desperate determination never to forget.
― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain.
― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

We can know what we do wrong even before we do it, but self-knowledge can't affect or change the outcome, can it? Everyone singing his own little song, convinced it's the most wonderful song the world has ever heard. Don't you see? We create our own thorns, and never stop to count the cost. All we can do is suffer the pain, and tell ourselves it was well worth it.
― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

You still think love can save us. It’s more killing than hate. Hate is so clean, so simple. Like being in the ring. With hate, you just keep hitting. You hit until they stop hitting back. With love… They never stop.
― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

We're working-class people, which means we don't get rich or have maids. Be content with what you are and what you have.
― Colleen McCullough, The Thorn Birds

Snow Plowed

We got to walk downtown through tunnels of snow!! The City plowed a path through downtown!

My Childhood: Medical Abuse

Munchausen by proxy syndrome (MBPS) is a relatively rare form of child abuse that involves the exaggeration or fabrication of illnesses or symptoms by a primary caretaker.

Also known as "medical child abuse," MBPS was named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th-century German dignitary known for making up stories about his travels and experiences in order to get attention. "By proxy" indicates that a parent or other adult is fabricating or exaggerating symptoms in a child, not in himself or herself.

Munchausen by proxy syndrome is a mental illness and requires treatment.

About MBPS

In MBPS, an individual — usually a parent or caregiver— causes or fabricates symptoms in a child. The adult deliberately misleads others (particularly medical professionals), and may go as far as to actually cause symptoms in the child through poisoning, medication, or even suffocation. In most cases (85%), the mother is responsible for causing the illness or symptoms.

Typically, the cause is a need for attention and sympathy from doctors, nurses, and other professionals. Some experts believe that it isn't just the attention that's gained from the "illness" of the child that drives this behavior, but also the satisfaction in deceiving individuals who they consider to be more important and powerful than themselves.

Because the parent or caregiver appears to be so caring and attentive, often no one suspects any wrongdoing. Diagnosis is made extremely difficult due to the the ability of the parent or caregiver to manipulate doctors and induce symptoms in their child.

Often, the perpetrator is familiar with the medical profession and knowledgeable about how to induce illness or impairment in the child. Medical personnel often overlook the possibility of MBPS because it goes against the belief that parents and caregivers would never deliberately hurt their child.

Most victims of MBPS are preschoolers (although there have been cases in kids up to 16 years old), and there are equal numbers of boys and girls.

Diagnosing MBPS

Diagnosis is very difficult, but could involve some of the following:

a child who has multiple medical problems that don't respond to treatment or that follow a persistent and puzzling course
physical or laboratory findings that are highly unusual, don't correspond with the child's medical history, or are physically or clinically impossible
short-term symptoms that tend to stop or improve when the victim is not with the perpetrator (for example, when hospitalized)
a parent or caregiver who isn't reassured by "good news" when test results find no medical problems, but continues to believe that the child is ill and may "doctor shop" to find a professional who believes them
a parent or caregiver who appears to be medically knowledgeable or fascinated with medical details or seems to enjoy the hospital environment and attention the sick child receives
a parent or caregiver who's overly supportive and encouraging of the doctor, or one who is angry and demands further intervention, more procedures, second opinions, or transfers to more sophisticated facilities

If you have any concerns about a child you know, it is important to speak to someone at your local child protective services agency — even if you prefer to call in anonymously.
Causes of MBPS

MBPS is a psychiatric condition. In some cases, the perpetrators were themselves abused, physically and/or and sexually, as children. They may have come from families in which being sick was a way to get love.

The parent's or caregiver's own personal needs overcome his or her ability to see the child as a person with feelings and rights, possibly because the parent or caregiver may have grown up being treated like he or she wasn't a person with rights or feelings.

In rare cases, MBPS is not caused by a parent or family member, but by a medical professional (such as a nurse or doctor), who induces illness in a child who is hospitalized for other reasons.

What Happens to the Child?

In the most severe instances, parents or caregivers with MBPS may go to great lengths to make their children sick. When cameras were placed in some children's hospital rooms, some perpetrators were filmed switching medications, injecting kids with urine to cause an infection, or placing drops of blood in urine specimens.

In most cases, hospitalization is required. And because they may be deemed a "medical mystery," hospital stays tend to be longer than usual. Whatever the cause, the child's symptoms — whether created or fabricated — ease or completely disappear when the perpetrator isn't present.

According to experts, common conditions and symptoms that are created or fabricated by parents or caregivers with MBPS can include: failure to thrive, allergies, asthma, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and infections.

The long-term prognosis for these children depends on the degree of damage created by the illness or impairment and the amount of time it takes to recognize and diagnose MBPS. Some extreme cases have been reported in which children developed destructive skeletal changes, limps, mental retardation, brain damage, and blindness from symptoms caused by the parent or caregiver. Often, these children require multiple surgeries, each with the risk for future medical problems.

If the child lives to be old enough to comprehend what's happening, the psychological damage can be significant. The child may come to feel that he or she will only be loved when ill and may, therefore, help the parent try to deceive doctors, using self-abuse to avoid being abandoned. And so, some victims of MBPS are at risk of repeating the cycle of abuse.

Getting Help for the Child

If MBPS is suspected, health care providers are required by law to report their concerns. However, after a parent or caregiver is charged, the child's symptoms may increase as the person who is accused attempts to prove the presence of the illness. If the parent or caregiver repeatedly denies the charges, the child would likely be removed from the home and legal action would be taken on the child's behalf.

In some cases, the parent or caregiver may deny the charges and move to another location, only to continue the behavior. Even if the child is returned to the perpetrator's custody while protective services are involved, the child may continue to be a victim of abuse while the perpetrator avoids treatment and interventions.
Getting Help for the Parent or Caregiver

To get help, the parent or caregiver must admit to the abuse and seek psychological treatment.

But if the perpetrator doesn't admit to the wrongdoing, psychological treatment has little chance of helping the situation. Recognizing MBPS as an illness that has the potential for treatment is one way to give hope to the family in these rare situations.

Reviewed by: Michelle New, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2012
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Nausea or Narcissism

When we were kids and there was a snowstorm we helped my step father shovel the steep hill which was our asphalt driveway. This was one of the few times we could be with our dad without our mother. We relished the opportunity.

Our mother would shout from the kitchen doorway "Come back, you'll get nauseous! You haven't had breakfast." But we wanted work to help our father get to work on time, and we loved it. We didn't feel the least bit nauseous and we weren't planning to.

Now I realize our mother had to be in control no matter what the situation was.

Later in the day when my father was at work my mother would get stuck trying to travel up the driveway. She'd gun the big ugly ford station wagon burning rubber making smoke and noise, melting the ice down to the pavement. My sister and I would roll our eyes. This would go on for 45 minutes.

Our mother had no respect for machines, people, animals or herself. Once she was pulled over by a cop who gave her a ticket for not getting out of his way while chasing a driver with his lights flashing and his siren on. She was adamant that she was faultless and laughed calling him the "little boy" who ticketed her. Weeks later she drove three hours to rural Massachusetts to contest the charge. This was a woman who was never wrong.

Saying Goodbye to Blogging

Andrew Sullivan would like to write a book. This is great news. Books rock! Records rock! Some things should never go out of style.

Underground Economy and Storm Surge = Title Washing

Storm Surge: Beware of Title-Washed Cars

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Shopping for a used car in Mississippi? Beware of title washing. The Magnolia State has the highest density of title-washed cars in the country, with 1 in every 44.6 used cars bearing a washed title, a Cars.com analysis has found. That's well above the national average of 1 in 324.9 used cars. New Jersey, meanwhile, has the second-highest rate: 1 in 87 cars.

Why? In a word, hurricanes. Nearly a decade ago, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita left 600,000 flood-damaged cars across the Gulf States. And in 2012, Hurricane Sandy reportedly left more than 200,000 storm-damaged cars in New Jersey and New York. Salvage titles, or titles for cars that were retitled after they were written off as total losses by insurance companies, proliferated after all three storms. Title washing also surged, where sellers alter vehicle titles to hide their salvage status and sell the cars as regular used vehicles. To do this, sellers often send those cars through states with looser title laws.

By contrast, used-car shoppers in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania have less to worry about. Just 1 in 2,127 used cars in Ohio has a washed title. Florida (1 in 1,444.9 cars) and Pennsylvania (1 in 1,200.3 cars) round out the podium for low-risk states.

CarFax, a provider of vehicle history reports, estimates that title washing could affect nearly 800,000 cars on U.S. roads. The company has state-by-state totals of title-washed vehicles — any cars (not just flooded ones) whose titles have been altered — which CarFax draws from all registrations issued since 1981. We indexed that data against the total number of registered cars per state, using IHS Automotive data from July 2014. Here's what we found:

IHS data encompasses only passenger vehicles (and not vehicles such as motorcycles or commercial trucks). So does the "vast majority" of CarFax's data, spokesman Chris Basso told us.

How It Happens
So what exactly is title washing? It's what happens when someone alters the "brand" on a vehicle title; that is, the car's legal status as a flood vehicle, salvage vehicle or anything else that isn't "clean." And it often happens when someone moves the car from the state where it was "branded" to a different state with different branding requirements. That might be a state where cars of a certain age (7 or 8 years old, for example) are exempt from branding, or a state that doesn't even have flood branding.

Title washing is dubious, to say the least. The FBI calls it fraudulent and corrupt, and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators noted in July 2014 that it's a federal crime.

Why It Happens
Why does it occur? Because the washers want to sell the car.

"Someone has a salvage car that they bought cheap — or stole — and now they want to sell it for a lot more," National Insurance Crime Bureau spokesman Frank Scafidi told us. "But to do so, they have to create a phony title for cover."

That altered title can help sell a damaged car for a lot more than it normally would. Cars that have avoided a title brand altogether — an equally dubious act known as brand avoidance, where a car should have received a salvage, flood or other not-so-clean brand but didn't — can also draw much better prices.

"Questionable actions by elements of the insurance and salvage disposal infrastructure [result] in title branding avoidance," wrote Howard Nusbaum, the administrator of the National Salvage Vehicle Reporting Program, in the IAATI article. And insurers furnish about 80 percent of the 3.5 million cars sold at salvage auction in the U.S. each year, he noted in that article.

Follow the Money
How much do sellers stand to gain from a car with a clean or less-severe title brand? In a Florida State Senate Transportation Committee hearing in March 2013, a representative of Copart, a national auto-auction company, testified that out of the million-plus cars his company had sold in 2011, some 142,000 were titled as "non-repairable" and could only be scrapped. Prices for those cars averaged $1,200. If those cars could be rebuilt, retitled and put back on the road, sellers could get $1,500 to $2,000 more per car.

ABC News notably exposed title-brand avoidance after Hurricane Sandy when it bought a used Ford F-350 at a New Jersey dealership for $20,000. It had been underwater for two days and declared a total loss by an insurance company but never received a flood title.

New Jersey later filed charges against the dealership. But the labyrinth of loopholes in various state titling laws enable a lot of branding avoidance.

"Some states have removed the non-repairable brand requirement, [and] some allow branding to be based upon subjective, non-testable criteria," Nusbaum wrote. Older cars are worth less and thus easier for an insurance company to write off as totaled, so some states allow cars past a certain age to avoid branding. And more than a dozen states lack formal branding requirements altogether.

That could lead to cars like this mangled 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan, which Copart lists online. After viewing the damage, which includes deployed side-curtain airbags and intrusion into the car's floor-pan structure, State Farm estimators manager John Cooling told us it's likely his insurer would have written this XTS off because of a "structural total loss" and sufficient "economic" damage.

But this XTS has a clean title, according to the information reported to CarFax. Copart displayed it online under its "clean title" listings. Cooling said it sometimes takes months for a car to be retitled after an accident, which the CarFax report did flag with "severe damage reported." But that accident happened on or before Aug. 20, 2013, according to CarFax — more than a year ago. The title was updated (but not issued a brand, salvage or otherwise) on May 19 in Indiana, according to CarFax, then sold at auction in Texas on May 26. Now it's back at a Copart auction lot in Houston.

We reached out to Copart for information on that particular car, but we haven't heard back.

"Everybody has their own titling laws; some states don't even have branding laws where they don't put branding on the title," Cooling said. "Someone might take the title and send it off to one up north where they don't have branding laws."

Legislative Pushback
The Justice Department moved to limit this with acts in 1992 and 1996, which created a title-branding database that eventually became known as the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, a national database of vehicle title brands. The Justice Department consolidated NMVTIS data into an online database, vehiclehistory.gov, in 2010.

Documents from CarFax suggest that states like Colorado and Texas, where damage needs to reach 100 percent of a car's value for insurers to declare a total loss, leave the most room for a clean title despite considerable damage. But both states have relatively few title-washed cars, and the bordering eight states, where title washers might transport a car after washing its title, show little correlation with states that have higher concentrations of title-washed cars.

It appears that title avoidance is just as much of an epidemic as title washing. Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia leave the threshold for a total loss up to individual insurers, according to CarFax. That leaves plenty of wriggle room for interpretation.

State-by-state compliance with NMVTIS sheds more light. The Justice Department requires all states to eventually report title brands and related details to the database, which now claims to have title information for 87 percent of U.S. cars on the road. But six states and the District of Columbia still don't report the data to NMVTIS.

There's a correlation between those jurisdictions and title washing. Six of the seven are among the Top 25 states in title-washing frequency: Mississippi (No. 1), Oregon (No. 5), Kansas (No. 9), Rhode Island (No. 14), the District of Columbia (No. 16) and Vermont (No. 21). The only outlier is Hawaii (No. 44), and it has a natural deterrent to transporting a car to wash its title.

"They get the title as a clean title and resell it supposedly with a clean title," State Farm's Cooling said. "People have, for lack of a better word, butchered cars back together."

How to Protect Yourself
How do you sniff out a washed title? Vehicle history reports are a good first step. The two leading providers, CarFax and AutoCheck, generally show title brands issued by any state during the vehicle's history. That can alert you to mismatched branding.

"Whenever a title brand doesn't carry over in a new registration — say, the [salvage] title was issued in Maryland and moved to Illinois, and now that salvage title goes away — we will alert anyone that's looking at the CarFax report that the vehicle has a potential case of title washing," Basso said.

Still, not all damage or branding ends up in a vehicle history report. Copart lists this 2013 Dodge Dart, for example, online for an auction in Georgia. It has significant front-end damage, and an NMVTIS report provided to Cars.com showed the Dart had been issued a salvage title by State Farm insurance on Feb. 6, 2014. Yet the information CarFax received showed a single owner, no accidents and a clean title — with a registration renewal, curiously, on Feb. 20. If repaired, this Dart might have a squeaky-clean CarFax report.

That's why it's always a good idea to get your prospective used car inspected by a trusted mechanic. And beware of sketchy sellers, particularly those whose names aren't on the title.

"We've had cases where they've repacked the airbag with newspapers and stuff and glued it back together, and people think they have a [working] airbag," State Farm's Cooling said. "It's a frightening thought to think someone could be in a car like that."

Want more? Read our list of specific questions to ask the seller, then check out our used-car-buyer's checklist.

Editor's note: This post was updated on Sept. 24 to clarify the type of auctions for which insurers furnish most cars.

Brave Lynsey Addario: It's What I Do

Lynsey Addario is a photojournalist. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and was a recipient, in 2009, of a MacArthur fellowship. This article is adapted from “It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War,” to be published this week by Penguin Press.
Article
Magazine
What Can a Pregnant Photojournalist Cover? Everything

By LYNSEY ADDARIO JAN. 28, 2015

You have two options when you approach a hostile checkpoint in a war zone, and each is a gamble. The first is to stop and identify yourself as a journalist and hope that you are respected as a neutral observer. The second is to blow past the checkpoint and hope the soldiers guarding it don’t open fire on you.

In 2011, three weeks into the Libyan uprising, I was in a car with three of my colleagues from The New York Times when we approached a checkpoint near Ajdabiya, a small city near Libya’s northern coast, more than 500 miles east of Tripoli. By then, as a photojournalist documenting conflict zones in the post-9/11 wars, I had been in dozens of risky situations. I was kidnapped by Sunni insurgents near Fallujah, in Iraq, ambushed by the Taliban in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan and injured in a car accident that killed my driver while covering the Taliban occupation of the Swat Valley in Pakistan.

As we approached the checkpoint, I sensed that something wasn’t right. My colleagues — Tyler Hicks, Anthony Shadid and Stephen Farrell — and I had been covering the revolt by ordinary Libyan men against the brutal regime of Muammar el-Qaddafi, who saw journalists as the enemy. We were about to run directly into a military checkpoint maintained by his troops.
Continue reading the main story

They ordered us facedown into the dirt. ... We all assumed this would be the moment of our execution.

“Don’t stop!” Tyler was yelling. “Don’t stop!”

But our driver, Mohammed, a quiet, 22-year-old engineering student, was slowing down, sticking his head out the window.

“Sahafi!” he yelled to the soldiers. “Media!” He opened the car door to get out, and Qaddafi’s soldiers swarmed him. “Sahafi!”

The doors flew open, and Tyler, Steve and Anthony were ripped from the car. I immediately locked my door and buried my head in my lap. Gunshots shattered the air. When I looked up, I was alone. I spoke to myself out loud, a tactic I use when my inner voice isn’t convincing enough: “Get out of the car. Get out. Run.” I crawled across the back seat with my head down and out the open car door, scrambled to my feet and immediately felt the hands of a soldier yanking at my arms and tugging at my two cameras. The harder he pulled, the harder I pulled back. Bullets whipped by us. Rebel fighters, some of whom we had just been talking to a few miles down the road, were barraging the army’s checkpoint. The soldier pulled at my camera with one hand and pointed his gun at me with the other.

After a standoff of several seconds. I surrendered my waist pack and one camera and clutched the other, finally managing to escape the soldier’s grasp. I chased after my colleagues while bullets flew around me and pulled out the memory cards as I ran. Somehow the four of us reunited at a cinder-block building set back from the road, sheltered from the gun battle that continued behind us.

“I’m thinking about making a run for it,” Tyler said.

We looked into the distance. The open desert stretched out in every direction.

Within seconds, government soldiers were upon us, pointing their guns and yelling in Arabic, their voices shot through with adrenaline. They ordered us facedown into the dirt, motioning with their hands. We all assumed this would be the moment of our execution. And then we all slowly crouched down and begged for our lives.
Continue reading the main story

I pressed my face into the soil, sucking in a mouthful of fine sand as a soldier pulled my hands behind my back and kicked open my legs. I raised my eyes from the ground and looked directly into the soldier’s eyes. The only thing I could think to do was plead, but my mouth was so dry, as if my saliva had been replaced with dirt. I could barely utter a word.

“Please,” I whispered. “Please.”

Will I see my parents again? Will I see my husband again? How could I do this to them? Will I get my cameras back? How did I get to this place?

The soldiers picked me up by my hands and feet and carried me, bound and defenseless, to a vehicle parked in the road, directly in the crossfire between the rebels and Qaddafi’s troops. I looked over to our car. On the ground beside the driver’s door lay a young man, wearing a striped shirt, one arm outstretched. He appeared to be dead. I was sure it was Mohammed and felt sick with guilt. No matter how he died — either in the barrage of bullets or executed by one of Qaddafi’s men — we had killed him with our relentless pursuit of the story. I began to cry.

Over the next six days, we were bound, beaten and dragged from place to place while blindfolded. Men I couldn’t see touched me all over my body, muffling my cries with their salty fingers. Luckily, it never went further than that. We had no idea if we would live or die; no sense of whether negotiations were taking place to free us. It was afternoon when we arrived in Sirte, Colonel Qaddafi’s stronghold, which lies halfway between Benghazi and Tripoli. We were still blindfolded when they led us downstairs into a damp, cavernous and musty space that rang out with the cries and whimpers of prisoners. Eventually they untied our hands and blindfolds and brought us a dinner of orange rice and plain white bread rolls. We hadn’t eaten anything but a few dates and juice boxes in 36 hours. Our cell was about 12 by 10 feet. There was a small sliding window in the upper left corner, four filthy foam mattresses on the floor, a box of dates, a giant bottle of drinking water with some plastic cups and, in the corner by the door, a bottle to urinate in. There was nothing to do but sleep and talk, mostly about the pain we were causing our spouses.

“This is it for me,” Steve said. “No more war. I can’t do this to Reem anymore.”

Bold and Beautiful: Chirlane McCray

Article
N.Y. / Region
New York City’s First Lady Shares Family History as She Unveils Push on Mental Health Care

By NIKITA STEWARTJAN. 28, 2015

Chirlane McCray, the wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, revealed on Wednesday that she had been surrounded by mental illness most of her life — first as a child of parents who had depression and later as a mother of a daughter who is recovering from depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

In a public appeal, Ms. McCray used intimate family turmoil as a springboard for public policy. She announced plans for a comprehensive review of the mental health problems that affect New Yorkers to help the city identify and address disparities in care. The review will be conducted through a partnership among the city’s health department, the Fund for Public Health and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which Ms. McCray leads as an unpaid chairwoman.

The “road map,” as the first lady called it, will be completed by summer, and the mayor’s fund will then commit money, though she did not disclose a budget.

Ms. McCray, who has worked in publishing and as a speechwriter, made her announcement at a conference of mental health professionals at Brooklyn Borough Hall. She lightened the mood by asking people to stretch and greet one another. Then she grew serious.

“My mother, who is a daughter of immigrants, and my father, who was a veteran, a World War II veteran, both suffered from depression at times in their lives,” said Ms. McCray, 60, who grew up in Massachusetts. “They had periods of intense sadness for different reasons. To their enormous credit, they still managed to bring us up. But we knew it was there.”

She said she recalled asking: “What’s going on? Why aren’t they talking to us? Why do they have this behavior?”

As an adult, Ms. McCray, the mother of two children, said she was in shock when her daughter, Chiara de Blasio, now a 20-year-old college student, revealed her troubles.

“I felt everything you would expect a mother could feel — love, at first and foremost, but fear and a great deal of uncertainty,” she said. “I really, I can’t tell you what a shock it was to find out that this young woman, who was a great student, beloved by her classmates — her teachers had so much to say, so many good things to say about her — a high-performing individual, was struggling with these issues right beneath our nose.”

“I’m proud to say today,” she added, “that Chiara is kicking butt at recovery.”

Ms. de Blasio publicly disclosed her illness on Christmas Eve in 2013, days before her father took office, via a YouTube video. She has been honored for raising awareness, accepting an award from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in May.

Mr. de Blasio has also shared his experience with his estranged father, an alcoholic who committed suicide as he battled terminal cancer in the 1970s. He has also spoken about the challenges that his son faces as a biracial teenager, and at times has drawn criticism.

Ms. McCray’s speech on Wednesday was the first time she shared that her parents, too, were affected by mental health troubles.

Her remarks drew applause. She said the conference was the right to time to reveal the city’s new strategy, and she described how people try to hide or ignore mental illness. “How did we get so far away from addressing that in our daily lives?” she asked.

Hot Chocolate and Cat

I love to hear what people in New England are saying about the storm.Article

Happy Birthday Anton Chekov

from Writer's Almanac today:

It's the birthday of the man considered "the master of the modern short story" and a brilliant playwright, a man who said: "Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other. Though it is irregular, it is less boring this way, and besides, neither of them loses anything through my infidelity." Anton Chekhov (books by this author) was born today in Taganrog, a seaside city in southern Russia (1860).

His father borrowed too much money trying to build a big new house, and his grocery store went out of business, and he went bankrupt. In order not to be thrown in debtor's prison, the family fled to Moscow — everyone in the family, that is, except Anton Chekhov, who was left behind to finish his last three years of high school and to pawn whatever family possessions remained. He worked as a private tutor; he caught little singing birds and sold them as pets, and he wrote stories for newspapers. He sent all the money he made on to his family in Moscow. He described his teenage years as a "never-ending toothache."

He finished up high school, got into Moscow University's medical school and paid his own way, and at the same time continued to support his family by writing funny stories for Russian newspapers and magazines. He wrote under pseudonyms like "Antosha Chekhonte" and "Man without a Spleen." He once told a friend that "medicine takes itself seriously; the game of literature requires nicknames." He finished medical school, passed all of his doctor exams, and started to treat patients, mostly for free. The same year that he had officially become a doctor, he started coughing up blood. He'd contracted tuberculosis, and it would eventually kill him when he was in his 40s.

His stories, as well as the popular productions of his plays Uncle Vanya (1899), The Three Sisters (1901), and The Cherry Orchard (1904), made Chekhov famous throughout Russia. He acquired a reputation as "Russia's most elusive literary bachelor," preferring lovers and prostitutes to a committed monogamous relationship. He once wrote to one of his supporters: "By all means I will be married if you wish it. But on these conditions: Everything must be as it has been hitherto — that is, she must live in Moscow while I live in the country, and I will come and see her. ... Give me a wife who, like the moon, won't appear in my sky every day."

By some accounts, Chekhov considered himself a doctor foremost and a writer by hobby. There are a great number of medical doctors who also wrote fiction and poetry, among them 19th-century American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sherlock Holmes' creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robert Seymour Bridges, who is the only physician to have been Poet Laureate of England. American writer Walker Percy was a medical doctor, and Michael Crichton completed medical school before he became a full-time writer. Doctor Arturo Vivante wrote more than 70 stories for The New Yorker magazine. Mystery writer Robin Cook is a physician and author of the best-selling thrillers Coma (1977) and Mutation (1989). Dr. Abraham Verghese took a break from hospitals to attend the Iowa Writers' Workshop in the early 1990s; he returned to medicine and now teaches and practices at Stanford, where he has a secret unmarked writing office on campus.

Cheers for Central Falls!!

Article

LOCAL NEWS
High school volunteers out in force clearing streets, sidewalks in Central Falls

Published: January 29, 2015 01:00 AM
Comments
The Providence Journal /

By W. Zachary Malinowski

Journal Staff Writer

bmalinow@providencejournal.com

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — Volunteers from closed Central Falls High School were out in force on Wednesday digging out driveways and sidewalks for elderly and disabled residents in the state’s most densely populated city.

Mayor James A. Diossa came up with the plan to have high school students on the Community Emergency Response Team, CERT, hit the streets with snow shovels. Joshua Giraldo, the city’s director of Parks and Recreation, met 10 of the teenagers at the Central Falls Fire Department at 8 a.m. They started off with coffee and doughnuts before heading out to help those in need.

“We have been hitting the ground running,” Giraldo said. “These kids are awesome.”

Three of the high school students were on Cross Street clearing a path and driveway for an elderly woman who was stuck in her house. Alex Dominguez, Lesley McBurney and Laura Cuevas, all 17-year-old seniors, took the volunteer work seriously. They wore day-glow vests with the CERT logo.

“I want to give back to my community,” Cuevas said. “I want to help people who don’t have the ability to go outside.”

Added McBurney: “We can help people who have health problems.”

Since Central Falls emerged from federal bankruptcy in the fall of 2012, there has been an outpouring of support for the 19,400 residents in this city north of Providence. City officials raised $10,400 through crowdsourcing to buy artsy steel trash cans and recycling bins for Jenks Park, next door to Central Falls City Hall.

The city’s population is more than 61 percent Latino, and the young Hispanic population has been eager to run for political office and get more involved in turning around the 1.3-square-mile city. Many of them volunteer to help improve the city.

Diossa, who was elected mayor in a special election in December 2012, is the state’s youngest chief executive at just 29 years old.

He said he is impressed with residents’ willingness to chip in.

“We are seeing neighbors helping out their neighbors,” he said. “It’s much more different today. Our younger residents stand ready at all times.”

Fitzpatricks Flannel Shirt Index

Article

Dr. Stanley Aronson

“Stan was a giant of medical education, at Brown University and elsewhere, a distinguished leader in global public health, especially in developing nations, and an elegant, learned and delightfully idiosyncratic writer,” said Robert Whitcomb, writer, editor and blogger, and former Journal editorial pages editor.

Edward C. Achorn, The Journal’s current editorial pages editor, said: “Each column was on a different topic. It required a lot of research. It wasn’t just on the top of his head. He had this passion for knowledge that continued until the very end.”

Achorn recalled visiting Aronson at his house just two weeks ago. “He was talking to me about how he would, instead of watching TV, go look at the Internet or the books on his shelves and think about what to write about,” Achorn said. “He was fascinated by virtually everything.”

“In conversations with Stan during the last several years, I came to understand how pleased he was with the growth and development of the medical school he did so much to create,“ Brown President Christina Paxson said in Brown’s tribute to Aronson. “His natural humility prevented him from taking credit, but Brown’s medical school and many of the statewide improvements in medical care delivery that grew along with it began with Stan’s arrival in Providence.”

Said Dr. Joseph Friedman, professor of neurology and the Stanley Aronson Chair in Neurodegenerative Disorders at Butler Hospital in Providence: “I will always remember Stan as the embodiment of a polymath, a person who knows everything about everything, yet he was caring, humble and anxious to help others.”

Aronson was the author of more than a dozen books and some 400 articles for medical journals.

Aronson’s last Journal column, “Where are aromas from yesteryear?,” was published Monday. The week before, the paper published “A move to document the causes of death,” an elegant essay on the history of mankind’s chronicling of death. It ended:

“In the words of an anonymous scribe, ‘We come hither; we know not why; and we then go hence, we know not when, to join the majority.’”

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., the son of Elihu and Lena Aronson, Aronson graduated from City College of New York and New York University’s medical school. At the age of 60, when he retired as dean of what is now called Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Aronson enrolled at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and earned a master’s degree.

Source

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Manufacturing + Selling Fraudulent License Plates

Press Releases

State Police Auto Theft and Insurance Fraud Unit Arrests Providence Man for Forgery and Counterfeiting and Forgery and Counterfeiting of Registration Plates

Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent, of the Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner of Public Safety, announces the arrest of a Providence Used Auto Dealer on forgery and counterfeiting and forgery and counterfeiting of registration plates and certificates by the Rhode Island State Police Auto Theft and Insurance Fraud Unit.

On January 22, 2015, Wilfredo A. Hernandez, age 29, of 71 Robin Street, Providence, Rhode Island was arrested and charged with manufacturing and selling fraudulent temporary registration certificates, plates and proof of insurance cards and offering them for sale on Craigslist.org.

The investigation originated from information received that Rhode Island temporary registration plates were available for sale on the internet website Craigslist.org. Subsequent investigation resulted in detectives purchasing a fraudulent temporary registration certificate and plate from the Craigslist.org poster for $85.00. Court authorized search warrants to Craigslist.org and Verizon Internet Services revealed that the classifieds were posted from Mr. Hernandez's residence and business.

Members subsequently obtained an arrest warrant for Mr. Hernandez for the alleged forgery and counterfeiting.

On January 22, 2015, members executed court-authorized search warrants at Mr. Hernandez's residence at 71 Robin Street, Providence, Rhode Island and at the Used Car dealership, In Town Auto Sales and Service at 11 East Josephine Street, Cranston Rhode Island. Several computers and documents were seized at both locations.

On January 22, 2015, Mr. Hernandez was processed at the State Police Lincoln Woods Barracks and arraigned at Sixth Division District Court, Garrahy Judicial Complex, One Dorrance Plaza, Providence, Rhode Island before the Honorable Magistrate Joseph P. Ipploitto Jr. where he was released on $10,000 personal recognizance. A pre-trial conference date was schedule for March 30, 3015.

Any person, who commits forgery and counterfeiting, is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction may be imprisoned for not more than ten (10) years or by a fine of not more than $1000.00 or both. A person who counterfeits registration plates is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than $500.00 or both.

Related links

Department or agency: Rhode Island State Police

Online: http://www.risp.ri.gov

Release date: 01-23-2015

The Slumlords

The local slum-lords did not come and remove snow with their company plows as promised. They have other priorities. Rather than follow through on their promises, they decided to abandon their loyal tenants to make money plowing elsewhere. It's sad to see people who scrape at minimum wage jobs scramble to find a way to get to work. As if poverty wasn't punishing enough.

Becoming a Butterfly

My father-in-law Bill Calhoun senior was an amazing guy. He would say, "Inside every misfortune is a gift. Go claim your gift!" The older I get the more I understand.

The problems we have back here are 20 years old. They came with the territory. The blessing is we have each other, we have our health, our own home, our city, and through the various problems we have encountered made great friends and we are even more committed to making the neighborhood and the City better for EVERYONE.

Another friend said to me "the caterpillar is not looking to have the pupa cut off, the struggle is necessary for becoming a butterfly."


How Does a Caterpillar Turn into a Butterfly? SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
To become a butterfly, a caterpillar first digests itself. But certain groups of cells survive, turning the soup into eyes, wings, antennae and other adult structures
August 10, 2012 |By Ferris Jabr

As children, many of us learn about the wondrous process by which a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly. The story usually begins with a very hungry caterpillar hatching from an egg. The caterpillar, or what is more scientifically termed a larva, stuffs itself with leaves, growing plumper and longer through a series of molts in which it sheds its skin. One day, the caterpillar stops eating, hangs upside down from a twig or leaf and spins itself a silky cocoon or molts into a shiny chrysalis. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transforms its body, eventually emerging as a butterfly or moth.

But what does that radical transformation entail? How does a caterpillar rearrange itself into a butterfly? What happens inside a chrysalis or cocoon?

First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly or moth—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on. In some species, these imaginal discs remain dormant throughout the caterpillar's life; in other species, the discs begin to take the shape of adult body parts even before the caterpillar forms a chrysalis or cocoon. Some caterpillars walk around with tiny rudimentary wings tucked inside their bodies, though you would never know it by looking at them.

Once a caterpillar has disintegrated all of its tissues except for the imaginal discs, those discs use the protein-rich soup all around them to fuel the rapid cell division required to form the wings, antennae, legs, eyes, genitals and all the other features of an adult butterfly or moth. The imaginal disc for a fruit fly's wing, for example, might begin with only 50 cells and increase to more than 50,000 cells by the end of metamorphosis. Depending on the species, certain caterpillar muscles and sections of the nervous system are largely preserved in the adult butterfly. One study even suggests that moths remember what they learned in later stages of their lives as caterpillars.

Getting a look at this metamorphosis as it happens is difficult; disturbing a caterpillar inside its cocoon or chrysalis risks botching the transformation. But Michael Cook, who maintains a fantastic website about silkworms, has some incredible photos of a Tussah silkmoth (Antheraea penyi) that failed to spin a cocoon. You can see the delicate, translucent jade wings, antennae and legs of a pupa that has not yet matured into an adult moth—a glimpse of what usually remains concealed.

Blessings

Monday I stayed up until 2 am baking and cooking. I got up at 6 and started shoveling front, back, side, and oil-man access stairs. Then I repeated a few times. I was deliriously happy and then very tired yesterday afternoon (after only 4 hours of sleep). I was drunk on endorphins from hours of shoveling and hopped up on black tea and wine biscotti. So at 4PM I went to bed. I wasn't able to sleep but I just tried to defrack my brain. I swear I was hallucinating snow blowing across the room! Like having sea legs.
I got up at 6 PM and a neighbor had snow-blowed the lot filling in all of my shoveling. I wasn't able to open the back door. The very fear I was trying to prevent. I had a laugh and Bill and I repaired the damage shoveling out the back door and side yard. Then we counted our blessings. They did clear a lot of the parking lot and we love them. The kale bean soup was good. At 8PM We watched Vinny D'Onofrio on Law and Order. We love him.

Tree Change Dolls

Amazing

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Day Lunch

After 4 rounds of shoveling three foot drifts, I cleared the path to the oil tank. I was exhausted, wet, dizzy and drunk on endorphins. I came in and took a shower and decided to make tacos. I fried a stack of corn tortillas, an activity I find very meditative. After an hour we had lunch at the dining room table watching the snow and Junco snow birds in the bushes. We covered our tortillas with slices of avocado, cholula hot sauce, red onion, chopped bell peppers, slices of the roast chicken, oil-cured black olives, and scallions. Delicious.

Now I am ready for a nap.

Snowstorm Euphoria!!

I stayed awake until 2:00 baking a chicken after I had made a vat of soup. At midnight I whipped up a batch of wine biscotti and began baking a few rounds. Bill took apart the sink's dripping faucet. We're crazy!

The storm is so exciting. Bill's school and everyone's school is canceled so it's a holiday of sorts.

I woke up at 6 and shoveled out the front back and side paths for Lily. The snow is 2 feet deep! My neighbor Mark Shultz was shoveling and we shoveled the driveway exit path together laughing about the need for exits for feeling better. We laughed at absurdity and beauty of the snow and blizzard winds.
I am baking another batch of wine biscotti. The roast chicken and the vat of soup are in the foyer because there's no room in the fridge. It's colder than the fridge anyway!

I'm sure I'll need a nap and then we'll have to shovel the flat roofs.

Let's make snow ice cream. I'll have to whip up a batch of pumpkin. My favorite is pumpkin pie ice cream.

Now that it's a decent hour I can take out my saxophone and honk along with Doug and Gordon's yellow CD, on the stereo. Life is good!

Refugees First Blizzard

Article

Drug Dealer's Footprints in the Snow

Nothing like snow to reveal the lingering paths of the drug dealers.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Committee of Sleep

It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.
- John Steinbeck

View Bill Calhoun's video where he discusses the importance of 'the committee of sleep'. View here.

Using Smell as part of Interrogation!

You know, he's thinking about how the suspect smells. He's talked to me about that. Like, he picks up on how - what their body odor is, what their eyes are doing, what their hands are doing and all of that is going - he's improvising - all of that is going to help him determine how to proceed in the interrogation.

. . . the best detectives that I've seen are not harsh, and the reason is that it's more effective to do what they do. And it's interesting in this environment. People want to tell them. You almost have the impression that people are kind of yearning to speak. They're just looking to be approached in the right way. So that's one of the reasons why it works. But I think it's also because, frankly, he's a very, very sophisticated interrogator who has interrogated hundreds and hundreds of people, and he knows what works. And it's the greenhorns who are harsh in interrogations.

Fascinating interview. It makes me wish I was a detective. Especially using smell as part of interrogation!

Here.

Wind Map of the EARTH

Wind map of the earth here.

Portuguese Kale Soup with Hot Chouriço

I just had to go to Price Rite grocery and get jammed in with all of the pre-storm shoppers. I also had to glance at what they were buying. I saw two of my male neighbors frantically buying things for their wives who stayed home. I bought 4 heads of kale and hot chourico which I just made into a soup with the chic peas I simmered all morning. I have whole wheat oat and corn sourdough to bake tonight or tomorrow. I bought a fat chicken to dust with paprika and roast with a lemon inside its cavity in the spirit of Laurie Colwin. I also bought wide egg noodles which I've never bought but they remind me of my grandmother and pot roast. I'd probably bake a pot roast if my butcher was open today but I'll bake a chicken instead. We do strange things when we are set loose in a grocery store before an impending storm. I bought Goya brand pound bag of dried beans; 16 bean soup. I plan to bring my neighbors bread and soup if they lose power. The check out girl said I wish I was your neighbor. I said "Oh that would be so fun." There's an apartment across the street open! In my wildest dreams I'll be cooking and baking for the whole neighborhood.
Chorizo
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chorizo (Spanish) or chouriço (Portuguese) is a term originating in the Iberian Peninsula encompassing several types of pork sausages. Traditionally, chorizo is encased in natural casings made from intestines, a method used since Roman times.

Chorizo can be a fresh sausage, in which case it must be cooked before eating. In Europe, it is more frequently a fermented, cured, smoked sausage, in which case it is often sliced and eaten without cooking, and can be added as an ingredient to add flavour to other dishes. Spanish chorizo and Portuguese chouriço get their distinctive smokiness and deep red color from dried smoked red peppers (pimentón/pimentão).

Due to culinary tradition and the high cost of imported Spanish smoked paprika, Mexican chorizo is usually made with native chili peppers of the same Capsicum annuum species, used abundantly in Mexican cuisine. In Latin America, vinegar also tends to be used instead of the white wine usually used in Spain.

Chorizo can be eaten sliced in a sandwich, grilled, fried, or simmered in liquid, including apple cider or other strong alcoholic beverage such as aguardiente. It also can be used as a partial replacement for ground (minced) beef or pork.

Spanish-style tapas bars that serve traditional Spanish-style chorizo have gained in popularity in recent years, and now appear in many large cities throughout North America and in parts of Europe.

Excited about the Storm

I'm so excited about the storm. The sky already looks menacing. Everyone is talking about it. Back in 1978 we didn't have radar to tell us about the impending doom. My father-in-law had a feeling he should leave work early that day and he did and it saved his life.


Ernie Banks

I care deeply about my people, but I’m not one to go about screaming over what I contribute. I’m not black or white. I’m just a human being trying to survive the only way I know how. I don’t make enemies. If I’m not crazy about somebody, he’ll never know it. I kill him with kindness.
-Ernie Banks aka Mr. Cub
source

Milk, Bread, Batteries

I'm excited about the storm and so was everyone I saw yesterday when I walked Lily to Edgewater Drive. I saw Peter and his sister in law shoveling. I saw Mallary and we walked the loop together with Lily. She loves crafts and told me she wants to learn to make soap. I've never made soap but I'd love to try it. I said her sisters and mom and I could have a soap making day at my studio. That would be so cool.

Today I am thinking about what I might need to get in preparation for the storm. I might want to get batteries and maybe a big fat chicken to roast if they are still on sale. Maybe I'll get a gallon of milk, too at the dairy farm. I'll be baking bread tonight or tomorrow, as long as we have electricity! I'm also thinking of making wine biscotti but making them thin and flat using my cookie cutter. They are so great with tea.

My muscles are still sore from shoveling the past few days but I don't mind I actually like the feeling of sore muscles. I feel lucky that I love to shovel and walk and swim. I never want to live as if I was just a head propped on a body.

‘Historic’ blizzard expected to paralyze Northeast

WEATHER
Published: January 25, 2015 11:15 PM
By W. Zachary Malinowski

Journal Staff Writer

bmalinow@providencejournal.com

PROVIDENCE — A blizzard of historic proportions is expected to descend on Rhode Island starting Monday afternoon and dump between 20 and 30 inches of snow across the state and eastern Massachusetts.

But the problem is not just snow. The National Weather Service is predicting that winds will reach 30 mph and could gust to 75 mph in coastal areas. The whipping winds will create blizzard conditions and visibility will be near zero.

The weather service said there is a one percent chance of getting less than 18 inches of snow. It is expected to be heavy and wet which could down power lines and cut electricity to homeowners.

The storm is expected to paralyze the region through Tuesday night and WPRI-Channel 12 meterologist T.J. DelSanto tweeted on Sunday afternoon that Rhode Island residents should be prepared “for potential outages which could last for at least a few days.”

The blizzard is expected to pick up steam on Monday around 7 p.m. and could last until Wednesday at 1 a.m.

For more weather and updates, see our weather page. To check road conditions and traffic where you're headed, see providencejournal.com/traffic

Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza announced that the Providence Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security will open at noon Monday at 591 Charles St.. City residents in need of help or shelter can call PEMA’s ”snow hotline” at (401) 680-8080.

On Sunday afternoon, parking bans were announced in Tiverton, Burrillville, Johnston, Middletown, Portsmouth, Hopkinton and Seekonk. By Monday morning, those bans are expected to be in effect in every community across Rhode Island.

At T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Zamir Zaki, a spokesman, said flights will be on a regular schedule Monday morning. “Not so sure about the evening,” he said. Zaki said individual airlines make the decision about whether to fly in or out of the airport.

Governor Raimondo issued a statement on Sunday night saying that her staff will be closely monitoring the blizzard and tracking the path of the storm.

“Rhode Island will be as ready as possible, but make no mistake: this could be a very severe and dangerous weather event,” she said. “I urge all Rhode Islanders to also take the steps necessary now, ahead of the storm, to be prepared. This includes making sure to have sufficient food, water and fuel for the next few days.”

The National Weather Service recommends that all boats be in port on Monday by noon.

In the event of a power outage, call National Grid at (800) 465-1212.

Raimondo also is seeking volunteers after the storm through Thursday to help elderly and disabled residents with snow removal. Serve Rhode Island will coordinate requests from elderly and disabled residents and assign snow shovelers to help them out. Volunteers can sign up online by going to Serve Rhode Island’s website or clicking on this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SRI_SAFE-D. They can also call Serve Rhode Island at (401) 331-2298.

Amtrak is planning to operate a normal schedule on Monday, but it may re-evaluate its schedule as the weather worsens. The train service intends to make schedule changes as far in advance as possible. Those with reservations are urged to closely watch conditions late Monday and early Tuesday.

In the sports world, the New England Patriots plan to fly from Logan International Airport in Boston at 12:30 p.m. for Super Bowl week in Glendale, Ariz. The weather also is expected to postpone opening arguments on Tuesday in the murder trial of ex-New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez in Bristol County (Mass.) Superior Court. Judge E. Susan Garsh had hoped to have the 18 jurors — 12 seated and six alternates — on Monday.

Viola Davis

Viola Davis wins SAG Award PROVIDENCE JOURNAL

Published: January 25, 2015 09:40 PM

Viola Davis accepts the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series for “How to Get Away with Murder” at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Sunday in Los Angeles.


Associated Press

Viola Davis won for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series at Sunday night's Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Davis won for her performance in ABC's "How To Get Away With Murder."

Davis thanked the producers of the legal drama "for thinking that a sexualized, messy, mysterious woman could be a 49-year-old, dark-skinned African American woman who looks me."

Davis, who grew up in Central Falls, has won two Tonys, the last in 2010 for her role in August Wilson's "Fences." And in 2012, she received the Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement from Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, the company she joined after she graduated from Rhode Island College. Davis received Oscar nominations for her roles in the films "The Help" and "Doubt."

She has been a supporter of education in Central Falls, raising and donating money for the city's Adams Memorial Library, the Central Falls High School chess team and drama club, and the Segue Institute for Learning, a charter school.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mental Health Reform in RI

Article

Slum Landlords

The slum landlords don't plow the lots and today after the snow melt the lots are sheer ice. The tenants at this intersection are spinning their tires and getting stuck. The fly by night automotive garage guys are running their chop-shop, as usual. How do these landlords sleep at night? With money clenched in their fists.

Narcan Saves a Life

Article

License Plate Thieves

It's so easy to obtain out of state license plates for next to nothing off the internet. In our neighborhood it's a way of life for drug dealers and car thieves.
Most automotive license plates are stolen for one of the following reasons:

A car thief needs an out-of-state plate to get the car he just stole across state lines.
To commit traffic violations. If they want to break the laws in states where traffic cameras are installed they can steal a plate and run red lights, or commit other traffic violations with immunity. If this happens be prepared for a visit or call from the local police department.
Kids clowning around, I was in Myrtle Beach during spring break and several thought it might have been teens on a scavenger hunt.
Gas and go artists. These people steal a plate, then gas up and leave without paying. This way the camera catches YOUR plate, not theirs. Expect a call from the local police department if this happens.

Finally, Someone Who Lives Like Us!

Scandinavians, who also have a low excess winter mortality rate, have a common saying: “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”
Article

Eyes of the Beholder

source
“What sustains the artist is the look of love in the eyes of the beholder. Not money, not the right connections, not exhibitions, not flattering reviews.”

What is more intriguing than a spot on the bathroom floor which, as you sit emptying your bowels, assumes a hundred different forms, figures, shapes? Often I found myself on my knees studying a stain on the floor — studying it to detect all that was hidden at first sight. No doubt the painter, studying the face of the sitter whose portrait he is about to do, must be astonished by the things he suddenly recognizes in the familiar visage before him. Looking intently at an eye or a pair of lips, or an ear — particularly an ear, that weird appendage! — one is astounded by the metamorphoses a human countenance undergoes. What is an eye or an ear? The anatomy books will tell you one thing, or many things, but looking at an eye or ear to render it in form, texture, color yields quite another kind of knowledge. Suddenly you see — and it’s not an eye or an ear but a little universe composed of the most extraordinary elements having nothing to do with sight or hearing, with flesh, bone, muscle, cartilage.

A picture… is a thousand different things to a thousand different people. Like a book, a piece of sculpture, or a poem. One picture speaks to you, another doesn’t… Some pictures invite you to enter, then make you a prisoner. Some pictures you race through, as if on roller skates. Some lead you out by the back door. Some weigh you down, oppress you for days and weeks on end. Others lift you up to the skies, make you weep with joy or gnash your teeth in despair.

What happens to you when you look at a painting may not be at all what the artist who painted it intended to have happen. Millions of people have stood and gazed in open-mouthed wonder at the Mona Lisa. Does anyone know what was going on in Da Vinci’s mind when he did it? If he were to come to life again and look at it with his own two eyes it is dubious, in my mind, that he would know himself precisely what it was that made him present her in this immortal fashion.

To paint is to love again. It’s only when we look with eyes of love that we see as the painter sees. His is a love, moreover, which is free of possessiveness. What the painter sees he is duty-bound to share. Usually he makes us see and feel what ordinarily we ignore or are immune to. His manner of approaching the world tells us, in effect, that nothing is vile or hideous, nothing is stale, flat and unpalatable unless it be our own power of vision. To see is not merely to look. One must look-see. See into and around.

The most familiar things, objects which I had gazed at all my life, now became an unending source of wonder, and with the wonder, of course, affection. A tea pot, an old hammer, or chipped cup, whatever came to hand I looked upon as if I had never seen it before. I hadn’t, of course. Do not most of us go through life blind, deaf, insensitive? Now as I studied the object’s physiognomy, its texture, its way of speaking, I entered into its life, its history, its purpose, its association with other objects, all of which only endeared it the more… Have you ever noticed that the stones one gathers at the beach are grateful when we hold them in our hands and caress them? Do they not take on a new expression? An old pot loves to be rubbed with tenderness and appreciation. So with an axe: kept in good condition, it always serves its master lovingly.

I have always cherished old things, used things, things marked by the passage of time and human events. I think of my own self this way, as something much handled, much knocked about, as worn and polished with use and abuse. As something serviceable, perhaps I should say. More serviceable for having had so many masters, so many wretched, glorious, haphazard experiences and encounters. Which explains, perhaps, why it is that when I start to do a head it always turns into a “self-portrait.” Even when it becomes a woman, even when it bears no resemblance to me at all. I know myself, my changing faces, my ineradicable Stone Age expression. It’s what happened to me that interests me, not resemblances. I am a worn, used creature, an object that loves to be handled, rubbed, caressed, stuffed in a coat pocket, or left to bake in the sun. Something to be used or not used, as you like.

I turn to painting when I can no longer write. Painting refreshes and restores me; it enables me to forget that I am temporarily unable to write. So I paint while the reservoir replenishes itself.


Though my mind was intensely active, for I was seeing everything in a new light, the impression I had was of painting with some other part of my being. My mind went on humming, like a wheel that continues to spin after the hand has let go, but it didn’t get frazzled and exhausted as it would after a few hours of writing. While I played, for I never looked on it as work, I whistled, hummed, danced on one foot, then the other, and talked to myself.

[…]

It was a joy to go on turning [paintings] out like a madman — perhaps because I didn’t have to prove anything, either to the world or to myself. I wasn’t hepped on becoming a painter. Not at all. I was simply wiggling out of the strait-jacket.

He draws a further contrast between painting and writing in their respective effects on the creator’s psyche:

I enjoy talking to painters more than to writers… Painters give me the impression of being less used up by their daily task than writers or musicians. Also, they use words in a more plastic way, as if conscious of their very substantial originals. When they write … they reveal a poetic touch which writers often lack. Perhaps this is due to living continuously with flesh, textures, objects, and not merely with ideas, abstractions, complexes. Often they are mimes or story tellers, and nearly always good cooks. The writer, on the other hand, is so often pale, awkward, incompetent in everything except the business of putting words together.

To paint is to love again, live again, see again. To get up at the crack of dawn in order to take a peek at the water colors one did the day before, or even a few hours before, is like stealing a look at the beloved while she sleeps. The thrill is even greater if one has first to draw back the curtains. How they glow in the cold light of early dawn! … Is there any writer who rouses himself at daybreak in order to read the pages of his manuscript? Perish the thought!

When one is an artist all mediums open up… Every artist worth his salt has his [hobby]. It’s the norm, not the exception.

For me the paintings of children belong side by side with the works of the masters… The work of a child never fails to make appeal, to claim us, because it is always honest and sincere, always imbued with the magic certitude born of the direct, spontaneous approach.

[…]

Paul Klee … had the ability to return us to the world of the child as well as to that of the poet, the mathematician, the alchemist, the seer. In the paintings of Paul Klee we are privileged to witness the miracle of the pedagogue slaying the pedagogue. He learned in order to forget, it would seem. He was a spiritual nomad endowed with the most sensitive palps… He almost never failed, and he never, never, never said too much.

We all learn as much as we wish to and no more. We learn in different ways, sometimes by not learning…. My way is by trial and error, by groping, stumbling, questioning.

To paint is to love again, and to love is to live to the fullest. But what kind of love, what sort of life can one hope to find in a vacuum cluttered with every conceivable gadget, every conceivable money maker, every last comfort, every useless luxury? To live and love, and to give expression to it in paint, one must also be a true believer. There must be something to worship. Where in this broad land is the Holy of Holies hidden?

[…]

The practice of any art demands more than mere savoir faire. One must not only be in love with what one does, one must also know how to make love. In love self is obliterated. Only the beloved counts. Whether the beloved be a bowl of fruit, a pastoral scene, or the interior of a bawdy house makes no difference. One must be in it and of it wholly. Before a subject can be transmuted aesthetically it must be devoured and absorbed. If it is a painting it must perspire with ecstasy.

The lure of the master lies in the struggle he engenders… [In America] for everything which taxes our patience, our skill, our understanding, we have short cuts… Only the art of love, it would seem, still defies the short cut.

Certainly the surest way to kill an artist is to supply him with everything he needs. Materially he needs but little. What he never gets enough of is appreciation, encouragement, understanding. I have seen painters give away their most cherished work on the impulse of the moment, sometimes in return for a good meal, sometimes for a bit of love, sometimes for no reason at all — simply because it pleased them to do so. And I have seen these same men refuse to sell a cherished painting no matter what the sum offered. I believe that a true artist always prefers to give his work away rather than sell it. A good artist must also have a streak of insanity in him, if by insanity is meant an exaggerated inability to adapt. The individual who can adapt to this mad world of to-day is either a nobody or a sage. In the one case he is immune to art and in the other he is beyond it.

Miller traces this purity of intention back to one of his first mentors and greatest influences, the painter Lilik Schatz, who never condemned Miller’s lack of technique in painting but had no tolerance for “lack of feeling, lack of daring.” Miller quotes Schatz’s memorable advice: Do anything you like, but do it with conviction!

No one had ever talked painting to me the way Stieglitz did. It wasn’t his talk alone either, but the look in his eyes which accompanied it. That he was not a painter amazed me…. If ever the artist had a friend, a spokesman, a champion defender, it was in the person of Alfred Stieglitz… He was one of the very few Americans … whose approach to a work of art inspired reverence for the artist, for his work, for art itself. Lucky for us who come under his spell that he was not a painter, that he had created for himself the role of interpreter and defender.

Usually the artist has two life-long companions, neither of his own choosing… — poverty and loneliness. To have a friend who understands and appreciates your work, one who never lets you down but who becomes more devoted, more reverent, as the years go by, that is a rare experience. It takes only one friend, if he is a man of faith, to work miracles.

How distressing it is to hear young painters talking about dealers, shows, newspaper reviews, rich patrons, and so on. All that comes with time — or will never come. But first one must make friends, create them through one’s work. What sustains the artist is the look of love in the eyes of the beholder. Not money, not the right connections, not exhibitions, not flattering reviews.

To win through by sheer force of genius is one thing; to survive and continue to create when every last door is slammed in one’s face is another. Nobody acquires genius — it is God-given. But one can acquire patience, fortitude, wisdom, understanding. Perhaps the greatest gift [is] to love what one does whether it causes a stir or not.

Who knows what is good for man in this life? Poverty is one of the misfortunes people seem to dread even more than sickness… But is it so dreadful? For me this seemingly bleak period was a most instructive one, because not being able to write for money I had to turn to something else to keep going. It could have been shining shoes; it happened to be water colors. To make water colors for money never gave me the least qualm. I set no price on my labors. Whatever the buyer chose to offer, whatever he thought he could afford, no matter how ridiculous the sum, I said yes… I earned just enough to keep my head above water. It was like writing songs and getting paid to whistle them.

All this good fortune — of being able to work like a dog in happy poverty — was the result of a chance encounter with Attilio Bowinkel who ran an art shop in Westwood Village. One day I entered his shop to buy two tubes of paint. I asked for the cheapest water colors he had. When he asked me if that was all I needed I told him frankly that that was all I could afford at the moment. Whereupon the good Mr. Bowinkel put me a few discreet but pertinent queries. I answered briefly and truthfully. Then he said, and I shall never forget it: “Choose what you like … paper, paints, brushes, whatever you need. It’s a gift.” A few days later he came to the Green House to inspect my work. I blushed when I showed him what I had on hand. He didn’t say whether they were good or bad but on leaving he took a few with him, and the next day, on passing his shop, I noticed two of them in the window, beautifully framed. They were sold that very day, to Arthur Freed of M.G.M., a collector of modern European paintings… In Attilio Bowinkel I found a friend and a savior.