Thursday, March 22, 2007

Meatcake, or Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

Today tastes like roasted garlic mashed potatoes, beets, and carrots. Not surprising, if you read the rest of this post.

See, every year the gang throws several parties in designated months. This allows us to set our social calendar, knowing when we will all gather together. Winter's End, the April Party, the August Party, Dead Man's, Grimm's Christmas. Medieval garb is always welcome, and the themes vary, tho' usually with a heavy fantasy component. This year, the theme was a dwarves' celebration.

One of the parties corresponds with dear husband Gareth's month o' birth. Traditionally, birthday cakes are disbursed to members of the group celebrating. However, Gareth does not care for sweets.

For a couple of years, a good pal and I had bandied about the idea of making a double-decker meatloaf, then frosting it with mashed potatoes. Just like a layer cake. However, we usually remembered we were going to do this right after the party. Like the next day, as we nursed our hangovers with dim sum.

Ah, but this year we got our acts more or less together the month before. We planned to get together the day of the party so we could devote some time to making the meatcake. Six pounds of meatloaf, a boatload of mashed potatoes and riced carrots. Beet juice to color some of the potatoes with, and a crash course in how to make frosting roses.

Et voila!

There wasn't enough room to write "Happy Birthday, Gareth" in barbeque sauce, so we opted to draw his sigil instead--the triangle within a triangle. Good enough to eat, no??

Friday, March 16, 2007

Thinking About Thinking About Thinking

Today tastes like a Third World Market--vibrant flowers, lush fruit, and flesh that has not been wrapped in cellophane and doused with sanitizers and deodorants.

We're back to the whole "think positive" meme again at the Lunchbox. I begin to wonder if that will be this decade's leitmotif, starting with the 2000 election, the events of September 2001, and the War. I'm visualizing not hearing about this again for a couple of months . . .

I just had an Anthony Robbins quote tossed in my teeth: "Thinking positively is like staring out the window at a garden full of weeds and saying, 'There are no weeds. There are no weeds.' "

Clever enough as far as it goes--the weeds are there and denying their existance will not make them magically *poof* away. However, the flip side is staring out at your garden--which has some weeds--and saying "There are no flowers. There are no flowers."

Denying the flowers won't make them go away, but it will make you less responsive to doing what it takes to nurture them ('coz there ARE no flowers, so far as you're concerned, right?) And soon, you will be right, there WILL BE NO FLOWERS.

Lucky you. You get to be right. Joyless, flowerless, but right.

Once again, you have to get up off your ass and go interact with the garden. If there are weeds that you cannot live with, go and pull them. If you want more flowers, go and plant them.

If you want a happier life, go and create it. Decide what it is you want, what the next step to getting there is, and go do it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But what if you don't want to let go of what you have? What if that next step takes you away from everything that is same and familiar--if weed-raddled?

Then you've MADE your choice, dumpling. You'd rather have weeds and moan about the weeds than get out the dandilion fork/hire a gardener/buy weedkiller. THAT'S YOUR CHOICE.

Visualizing a world where common sense IS BOTH. Oooooooohhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmm . . .

Monday, March 12, 2007

The "Secret" Is Out

Today tastes like Starbucks' coffee with nondairy creamer. Burnt and unsatisfying, yet undeniably popular.

The big movement in metaphysics is positive visualization, backed up with quantum physics for a blend of soft science (QP can be brought in and discussed without recourse to mathematics, unlike solids and liquids or chemistry) and feel good fantasy1. Cf What the Bleep Do We Know and Down the Rabbit Hole.

The latest installation is The Secret. Basically, it's another flick about the law of attraction, with a heavy materialistic spin. Want more money? Believe you already have it, and it will come to you! Want fame? Believe and it will be there! Want a really good parking space? See it in your mind's eye, and have it!

And if you don't, then clearly there's some negative energy that you need to get cleared out before you will be basted in butter and wrapped in warm blankies.

Ahem. So, since I am a believer in synchronicity, and the universe has thrown this theme at me three-four times in the last couple of weeks (I HEAR YOU ALREADY) I'm gonna blog this and see what comes2.

See, the straw that sent the camel to the chiropractor came when two people whom I admire very much on the web (One has more creativity in her little finger than I do in my whole brain, it seems) ('Tother writes and advises well enuff that I spent some of my very own buckage on her books. I didn't even look for them remaindered on Overstock, or used on eBay, that's how willing I was to actually support the writer and not the stockist) took up the issue of positive visualization. It seems One sat down with The Secret and thought her little hiney off and visualized herself into third eyestrain, and surprise! Nothing happened. The Perfect Life (TM) did not fall from the ceiling into her very lap.

'Tother was a little confused by the things people were spending their energy wishing for--I lifted the parking space from 'Tother's report of the movie. < hangs head shamefully> 'Tother wondered about the extreme hype of "If you want it, you can have it--but you can't doubt it for a minute." Uhm, how can you avoid doubt? Even for a minute? We are complex beings, after all.

And yeah, technically I should link their blogs here, since I'm having the temerity to disagree with them in public. But I don't disagree with them so much as I'm thinking that they're throwing out the bathwater before doing a nose count to make sure the babies are all out.

So spank me in the comments. I'm a big girl. I can take it.

See, you gotta remember with all the positive visualization/magical thinking processes that the addendum is "Wish in the one hand and spit in the other." In other words, wishing will only open up your hand to possibilities. Doing is the thing that will actually get your hand full.

Dear One, I'm going to address you directly, because you spelled out your story so clearly. (Besides, 'Tother hasn't disabled comments on her blog, so I could reply to HER directly. (And I did.)) You visualized yourself in an office job. But you hate office jobs, remember?? You suffered for a couple of years doing a temp job. You wrote in your blog that you felt strong resistance just VISUALIZING this outcome. So I can imagine just how many steps you took to start making it come true.

Did you even get out of zazen long enought to check the want ads?

Yeah, like that.

You didn't "create right" in the sense that you stood at the canvas and imagined having a completed painting. Subject matter? Oh, something. Composition? Yeah, it'd have colors, and spaces, and stuff. Line? There'd be lines, I guess.

And then you walked away from the canvas, disgusted by the LACK OF PAINTING, angry that the painting WAS NOT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU--before even putting charcoal to canvas to start a sketch, or paint to pallete, never mind brush to canvas. You refused to do any of the WORK that needs to come after the visualization; you created in the passive sense. You imagined, just as you thought "they" were telling you to do. However, you forgot that "they" also say you have to get up and DO in order to make this work.

Positive thinking is a TOOL--it will no more get you the result you want than laying the can opener next to the can on top of the stove will get you a hot lunch. You have to USE the tools to get the results.

And yes, the hard part of positive thinking (positive action) tends to get glossed over in the mainstream media, tends to get blown by in the sound bites, and is NEVER used to sell the literature--no more than McDonald's is going to flog actual calorie content of the latest Big Fat McBurger and recommended calorie intakes for the average human being in its advertising. No one wants to hear that you can eat ONE meal and get all your kCals for the day (and your fat for the week!!) out of that.

No one wants to hear "eat right and exercise and you can be healthy and as fit as you're gonna git." No, we wanna hear about the magic pill that will make you six inches taller, 25-50 pounds slimmer and 10 years younger while you sleep and eat anything you want in unlimited portions. So that becomes the sales line--you need to do the research and find out what the caveats are.

Heinlein was right -- TANSTAAFL3.

I'm not sure where your sense of surprise and indignation comes from.

Love, Spike

1. What's wrong with feeling good? Nothing, so far as I'm concerned. What have you lost but an opportunity to feel bad? If belief in an Imaginary Friend gets you through the long dark teatime of the soul that man is heir to, then feel free--but don't expect me to set a plate for Ralphie, or to shake his hand.

Unless, of course, I can see Ralphie too.

2. Gareth has said, on more than on occasion, that I am the sort of person things happen to. And yeah, that's true to a certain extent, because I am the sort of person who has connections like a spider in her web. I am on many many mail lists with people who share one or more of my esoteric interests, and have many equally esoteric interests of their own. So I ask someone if she knows X, and suddenly the list erupts with sources for X.

Or, in the course of being interested in a particular producer of yarn, I'll get an e-mail where that producer is looking for folks who design, and like her product. Stuff happens all around you IF you keep your eyes open for it.

3. For you non-fans: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. See The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Or better yet, read it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Syntax With Playing

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg suggests taking a few lines fron a less than stellar bit of work and playing with the syntax, scrambling the words and adding punctuation to make new sentences out of them.

What the hell--we've all seen most of the quiz results we're interested in on blogthings dot com, anyway, right??

For starters:

You forget to write down the echoey hollowness of the house. You forget how being alone feels strange like a shirt with one sleeve, turned inside out. You forget you have to set limits. You forget the amazing perfume of orange blossoms when spring shakes her hair down.

And here we go:

Forget echoey perfume hollowness, forget orange blossoms alone. You, when a shirt shakes, set limits! House, you forget being inside alone. Write down, write down! Amazing limits of you; strange like orange. Limits down, forget when you write. Write inside out like the shirt, one sleeve alone when spring blossoms. Feel you down, set hair limits, strange shakes turned orange.

Hmmm. That has some possibilities, it do.

Anyone remember Rachter?? That second set feels a lot like that program. I wonder what would happen if I assigned a numeric value to each word, dropped it through for five-ten word sentences, then tweaked the results a tad for found poetry for ATC's??

Must play soon. Must play soon. All work and no play makes Spike forget limits.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What Does the "TP" Stand For Again?

Today tastes like chocolate covered sugar pickled garlic. It's been one of those days where the eyes and the hands do not wish to work as a team. I'm about at the point where I'd lop both hands off at the wrists because they'd be almost as useful to me as they are right now.

I wish I was knitting, but I'm under deadline to get these done. And at last, much later than is reasonable, they are.

Artists' Trading Pins for a swap in Artechniques, a Yahoo group. The part that has been giving me fits is the jumprings and the wire-wrapped beads. Dead soft fine gauge copper wire, and I can't get it to conform to my thoughts.

I like how they came out. The swapmeistress is sending one pin from each participant to Belle Armoire for an upcoming jewelry edition. I'm hopeful; these are very much in the sort of vintagy grungy crunchy style that is de riguer and fashionable.

I may actually suck it up and make another one, just for me me me. Once the bad taste of scattering beads all over the floor and having rings pop loose/refuse to go through holes leaves my mouth.