31 Aug 2006, 8:14am

Bricklin and Insight

I seem to have had a few longer, more intense consecutive posts. Looks like time for a more leisurely stroll…

Going through a parking lot my head was turned by this pretty nose:

What is that? I had to do a 360. That’s a yank at the brain stem with the reptilian-meets-mechanics, low to the ground latent power.

Excuse me while I wipe the keyboard dry.

It looks more like a manga version of my first love, a ’78 Corvette. (Ah, happy reveries.)

I wondered if it was a kit car until I saw the doors. I immediately thought the 70s. But what is this thing, with wing doors? It’s a Bricklin apparently, with a production run from 1974-75, made by a man who got rich from plumbing and decided to manufacture a production line of his own independant design of car. (Those were great years for grease monkeys dreams.)

Under 3000 of these were ever made before he went bankrupt. Pity.

Bricklins’re all over the world now. There seem to be as many enthusiast for these as for the Insight. The forums at Insightcentral.net seem more active but then there are more consumers now and bigger production runs and some of Honda marketing it.

That’s another lovely shape of a car. The Insight’s got that low to the ground feel I seem to be weak for, leaning toward the teardrop or wedge shape, with the wheel covers that always makes people do a double-take.

Efficiency Link: How to tame the unruly amount of emails? A system for Inbox makeover [via Life Clever]

Overheard in the Market: A vender greets people looking at her various bottles of maple syrup. One would-be customer doesn’t respond. As he is walking away he said to his companion, “I didn’t answer her because I didn’t want to have to tell her I just wanted to check out her jugs.” 😉

Featured Quote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver

30 Aug 2006, 5:56am

Goals: A New Year Starts Each Day

Is resolve and deciding what to do the basis of getting things done, or is doing it the only doing it?

There’s a lot we could do. It’s easy to get carried off by the current (of) demands and not get around to really important things. This is the place of goal setting which has to happen not annually, or occasionally but constantly. Passing until the next month or next year lets time be squandered. So does filling hours that don’t move you to how and where you want to be. Deciding what is a useful goal you want will help you get there.

So then, I need to understand what are characteristics of useful goals.

Goals Don’t Fly by Night
Overnight change is undone by the next morning. You need to proceed in a clear-eyed methodical way of commitment and consistency.

New habits are like Tetris. [Note: The image was captured long ago when I had time.] Each new layer destroys the old and makes room for new. Or else misorganized layers pile up until you’re buzzed out the game. Then you start again with the understanding you’ve gained of the system.

Goals are Specific and Concrete
You know when you’ve done it. It’s hard to quantify such internal things as soft goals (at bottom of post). It takes a long time before deep change becomes visible on the surface. But a goal like to be better can’t be measured and just makes things all cloudy. Goals should be as specific as possible to be achievable. Otherwise they are just wishes. They don’t have to be condemned to stay wishes.

Goals are Small
Big goals are the target but subgoals are the means to the end. To achieve a goal it doesn’t need to be stretched to long term.

Some goals should be parsed or parceled small enough to be short-term to be acted on now. One small doable element that moves you in the right direction, immediately.

Goals Have to be In Your Power
Resolutions to stay on course have to be in your control. For hypothetical example, saying I will be Prime Minister is not in my control. To say I will join a political party and put myself forward as a candidate is in my power. It doesn’t overstep my bounds.

To be an effective subgoal, it has to be the next step. Is it realistic to assume I can run for party leadership or are there steps that need to come before?

Immediate Goals have to be the Next Step
To set a 20-year plan may allow you to backwards plan where you need to be now but only if you work some things out. To be effective (sub)goals can’t be too far ahead of your curve. Make them as immediate as possible. You need to work out the nearest probable step. Going to a meeting. Informing yourself. Finding the circle of people you want to be among. Getting on the same wavelength. Finding the movers who are already a step or two away from you and soak up all you can.

Goals make you Accountable to Alertness
Goals can be explicitly written out. Some find a plan, mapped out into general steps to achieve what you desire useful, if it doesn’t bind one inflexibly.

One doesn’t want to freeze and ignore opportunities that arise and could do the objective better than your initial method. Even in planning, new things crop up. One must harvest when it’s there.

an invitation not taken
is a road that breaks
growing potholes, weeds

That doesn’t mean one clings to goals that don’t serve you. They must serve you, not you serve them. If it doesn’t work, and you have worked on it, reexamine your method, your ratio of energy in and energy out and tinker your dreams. They’re yours after all.

My Application
Some things weren’t on the top 9 list of New Years Resolutions but were amended to the 1st quarter of noticeable improvements:

  • Keep desk in order (improvement, throwing out papers sooner, again cat assisting by knocking things off to make an impromptu cat bed on the floor by my feet)
    Next or Immediate Action: Bookmark the reference material I’m not using this second, extract CDs and put back on library shelf.
  • Doing shoulder rolls and stretches (not maintained, but back straightening, sitting flat-footed and without a spine twist are prioritized, bodily protests lending a helping cramp.)
    Next or Immediate Action: Hunching. Try to knit with shoulder blades.
  • Saying “enough of that” faster before I let me bore myself and others (yes and further giving myself permission to speak up occasionally when I’d rather do something else is going in the right direction too)
    Next or Immediate Action: Switch to task I set out to do at the computer.
  • Contacting someone I don’t see daily more regularly, 2 x per month by phone or face-to-face (It’s heading in the right direction but loooots of room yet for faster cycle of contact.)
    Next or Immediate Action: Copy out address of J to see him.
  • Sending Writing Submissions (This was on my 2003-2005 goal sheets with exacting targets set between 1-4 per month, unmet and dropped in 2006. I hesitate to set a number again. Jitters only beget jitters. Let’s say 6 before year end.)
    Next or Immediate Action: Revisit after the Poetry Carnival I’m hosting.
  • Accept that I can’t always know before I go
    I’d be content to do research for forever. But the bigger the picture, the less I can crunch data in a timely manner. I dithered rather than did.

    Instance by instance, rather than stalling, I aim to continue installing fearlessness tempered by wisdom, jump in blind if necessary and trust in my own capabilities.

    Eventually from the reaped courage of doing that, I plunge in with my eyes open, then dive while seeing, then proceed to prepare before I leap, (but not become overly circumspect).
    Next or Immediate Action: That’s a bit hard to apply isn’t it?

Link: How to Set Goals You Will Actually Achieve by Steve Pavlina.

Priority Quotes: “When they demand to keep Aunt Sophie’s boxes full of thimbles and Uncle Oscar’s fire hose collection, he dares to raise the question: “if you love them so much, why were they covered in dust under your bed?” […]We have a plethora of things to make excuses for.” ~ Patti Digh

“Opportunities are not unlimited. There are only so many scenic routes we can take. […] Only so many moments to talk to your significant other or kids without keeping one eye on the television. Only so many dog walks. Only so many new things to learn, and fewer to master.” ~ Kathy Sierra

It can take decades to “get around to” things. Be the Do Now.

29 Aug 2006, 2:50am

Pear Tree Abundance and Sailing the Light Fantastic

My in-laws pear tree is “loaded for bear”. So much that 2 branches and a limb broke off already.

Pears thicker on the branch than leaves.

Tomatoes and pears line up as harvest.

If you squint, does that not seem to say “Poetry” as graffiti on this Cobourg Pier?

Juvenile ducks may be growing into adult size, but have no flight feathers and still make a squeaky toy sound despite their ferocity of their gang rumbles.

Boats raced within the breakwater.

Glad to take the opportunity to go out on a boat. (Apparently I blanched quite pale and in a short time, my body gave a clear signal (of sudden whole body sweat) that lunch wasn’t content where it was. [Good body design, that.] Since it’s been years since a vomit, it was interesting. I stayed undeniably sea sick only a couple hours before my color came back while being checked in on stretched out on a pier bench.

Even when I lay in bed on theoretically solid ground, 10 hours later, I felt the horizon line of the white paint of the ceiling lurch, and worsen whenever I shut my eyes. But I eventually slept and well.

It was novel and not scary, quite survivable, interesting, therefore good, (especially since it didn’t and won’t last.)

Two days after I was still more susceptible than normal to motion. (Let’s just say I was never the little kid hogging the swings, teeter-totters or lineups for amusement park rides. 😀 )

Glad Game: Good mood. It sounds like it was a rotten time, but I rather enjoyed the good and the “bad”.

Encountering a “Make your Own Adventure” book. I remember going through those as a kid, tracking what I’ve done in a notebook, so that I made sure I’d pursued every possible option.

Lesson learned to not scoot back kneeling where there is tack strip for carpeting about. I feel 1/4 the way to Christhood with these nails into the top of my feet. 😉 (No immaculate conception or perfection otherwise detected however.)*

*[Addendum: Since 3 of us got “nailed”, does that make us collectively 3/4 of the way to Christ 😉 ]

Glad for silliness

And stillness.

And motion.

Glad for harvest season tomatoes eaten in the hand like apples.

Glad of how ice cream applied topically in dribbles guards against humid heat.

28 Aug 2006, 4:43pm

Cowboy Poetry

“Her Levis, so tight/I can read the dates on dimes/in her hip pocket.” ~ Paul Zarzyski (“rhymes with bar whiskey”) roughstock rider, cowboy poet .

I bumped into this snippet that led to all sorts of interesting places, that I won’t take the space to go though all the paces of here. I want to make more a series of reading notes than an essay that cumulatively builds to some leading thought.

But I will say this, that I am biased towards the (defense of the) integrity and intelligence of farm-hands or ranch hands. They are no more or less likely to think or poet deep. They have the same capacity as anyone for mulling outside the checkbox of task. The solitary life could permit time to think in long form, if they take it. Cowboys were [Source:PBS interview] among the most well-read. A while back the cowboy ranchers had currency for cigarette packs where you could clip coupons and send away for pocket-sized copies of Shakespeare and Tennyson.

But back to Zarzyski. He won the 2005 Montana Governor’s Arts Award for Literature, and has written 10 poetry collection over 30 years. In this from his 2003 book he remembers his father,

I dreamed a Robin Hood-Paladin-Sinbad life
from those shoulders. His jugular pulse rumbled
into the riffle of my pulse, my thin wrists
against his Adam’s apple—a whiskered knuckle
prickly as cucumbers in our garden
where I picked nightcrawlers, wet and moonlit,
glistening between vines across the black soil.

The PBS poetry profiles includes one of of Zarzynski. PBS also interviewed him and others on the annual cowboy poetry gathering in March 2006. What is that?

Jeffrey Brown: The gatherings, put on by the Western Folklife Center, have been held since 1984. For a week at the beginning of February — a time when ranch life is quiet — Elko’s population of 18-thousand swells by 5,000 lovers of western poetry and folkways.

They asked a long-time ranch hand, why so much of the poetry there was played for laughs. Bennett’s answer, in short? It’s a tough demanding life with disappointment.

“I have found that the way everyone seems to deal with it for the most part is with humor.” ~ Virginia Bennett

Some cowboy poetry is a way to talk of pain and love that doesn’t usually fit into everyday conversations. It’s a way to share in an indirect/direct way.

Also from the same interview, Wallace McCrae says something else that stood out to me: “I think a lot of academic poets resent the popularity of cowboy poetry. Because a lot of our stuff really isn’t very good. Of course, a lot of their stuff is awful!”

Sounds rather like slam poets vs. page poets, doesn’t it?

The tense dynamic in some minds between what I’ll call here professional poets and accessible poets I think is shrinking (despite what I could judge from direct experience. For instance, my mom thrusting a sheaf of verses at me demanding me to tell her that it doesn’t “count” as poetry. The forced rhyme and random meters she wanted to trounce I don’t think warrants throwing someone out of the poetry category, if for no other reason that I love hybridization, storytelling, narrative, lyrics, and people being real through an intermediary of words.)

I love someone stretching themselves. I honor the effort and effect. There’s room enough under the umbrella term for everyone without jostling. There’s no sense in claim jumping it. Poetry is like cells. It’s everyone’s birthright. It’s like HIV or oxygen. It gets in your blood regardless of who you are by age, by job, by personality.

This next bit isn’t from a cowboy poet but somehow, in an organic way, seems to flow in. In a Poet’s self-critique by Zolen Caló (who has written seven novels and six chapbooks of poem) he recounts how he fell into poetry despite the odds,

I have always loved poetry. I always wanted to be a poet. I never looked down on the profession just because of Edgar Guest or ee cummings. [or]…all alliterated as predictably as a consonant pinned beneath the cat’s paw on my computer keyboard…

I went so far as to write ‘Emily Dickinson sux’ on the bathroom stall of the convenience store down the street. I even etched my ex-wife’s phone number next to it as if mathematics, after all, might prove reality.

But in my ears continued to ring, alliterations.

I love the balls of taking potshots at sacred cows.

Not literal cows. 😯

Would you take pot shots at such cuties?

red hereford cows
[A pic of one of my aunts’ Red Herefords]

No idea or poet should be above examining or beneath exploring. Reverence and doting and appreciation are lovely but an awed hush of Big Name or Big Position? That’s counterproductive to actually getting across and getting one someone is trying to communicate. Likewise to dismiss out of hand is to leave yourself vulnerable from 6 o’clock. To not actually hear because someone isn’t saying it just right is not exclusively in the domain of someone who speaks/writes.

Reading: “What do you care what other people think?” [further adventures of a curious character] by Richard P. Feynman (posthumously). Lovely book. It’s a collection of notes, letters (to and from Feynman), essays, papers talking about everything from NASA to his first marriage and how his dad emphasized under the military uniform or Pope’s robe was someone who needed to eat, go to the bathroom and sleep. He emphasizes how he likes straight talk and asking dumb simple questions, suspecting long chains of logic with so many chances to err.

Word trivia:

What is a shrift? And why is it short? Shrift is an Old English word meaning penance. The phrase short shrift originally referred to the brief, perfunctory period given to a condemned prisoner to confess his sins prior to execution. It has come to idiomatically mean to quickly dispose of a matter or dismiss something out of hand. ~ Word Origins

Over 80% of “everyday spoken English” is Anglo-Saxon that entered in 5th and 6th century (including grammatical words in the count) ~ BBC’s Do You Know What You are Saying?

26 Aug 2006, 12:43am

Cycling Excitement

For the second time I spied this energetic group of cyclists taking back the streets en masse. The last time was also a Friday night around 7 around Rideau Street. The two or three lanes of cycling cavalcade came through, some with signs “less bikes, less cars”, some shouted chants against petroleum or pollution. Some hooted in favor of bikes.

I must say for myself, I enjoyed cycling tonight. (Sometimes I swear I’m lunar powered. I can’t focus well in evening meetings or chats, but I can walk with energy after 10 pm that is unimaginable at 7 or even 10 a.m.)

I’m surprised I’ve never cycled at midnight before. I guess structurally anything I’ve gone to at night is either walking distance or a long car travel, not that middle distance that perfectly suits cycling.

Tonight we saw Swades which was a lovely story, which I would give a rating of 8/10 or 9/10 at imdb.com if I had not uncovered that as yet another username and password that I don’t have record of. (I do have 4 emails saying I have forgotten my password before however.)

ANyHew. It’s another road trip movie. I seem to like those. Y tu mamá también, One-Way Ticket to Mombas (Menolippu Mombasaan), Enlightenment Guaranteed (Erleuchtung garantiert), God is Brasilian (Deus É Brasileiro), About Schmitt…

Every movie is a journey of course. But road trip movies are particularly fun, even Lista de Espera where the bus in Cuba never comes. A distance is travelled nonetheless.

Glad Game: The cold wind through my wool sweater.

The heat of the garage feeling like a balmy wave.

Knowing that sleep will convert me from animate to a heavy sack inert as potatoes shortly.

To take a blog break until Tuesday? Monday? of reading and writing.

Pauses and motions that refresh. Oh yes, and sleep. I’ve heard that refreshes too on occasion. 😉

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