Two apartment buildings

Just a quick photo today. I liked the lines and colors of these two apartment buildings, which I noticed while daydreaming during an extra long stop at the traffic light facing south at Farwell and Ogden thanks to Milwaukee’s train/shuttle, “The Hop” passing through.

Two apartment buildings in a slightly abstract, geometric composition photo
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A post for Labor Day

Here’s a Smithsonian article about the Battle of Blair Mountain, a labor uprising from a hundred years ago by coal miners in the hills of West Virginia: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/battle-blair-mountain-largest-labor-uprising-american-history-180978520/

The Battle of Blair Mountain occurred about a year after the Battle of Matewan, immortalized in the 1987 John Sayles movie Matewan.

Last fall I wrote a post about unions in general, mostly how they seemed not to have as much presence and power as they once did.

Although we may often think of it in terms of cookouts, summer ending, pools closing, and kids heading back to school, Labor Day is all about celebrating workers and the rise of labor unions (Wikipedia article: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day).

The Smithsonian article is a sober reminder of the terrible price often paid by those who fought—or still fight—for workers’ rights.

Posted in History, Life | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

A September haiku

My slightly melancholy ode to the fleeting season . . .

September

Swallows gathering

Morning fog on the water

Summer has ended

I was looking for a video of swallows gathering to illustrate and found this one. Yikes! Calling Alfred Hitchcock!!! 😱

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Oh, cruel harbinger!

Yes, I know it’s the end of August. But couldn’t we wait just a little longer for the autumn colors to arrive???

One tree with yellow leaves among many with green leaves
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Cilantro-lime rice, yum!

This is not a food blog, but . . .

My daughter just made some fabulous rice that I want to share with you. The recipe only, that is. The rice itself will be long gone before anyone has time to make it over to my house 😀

Here are the ingredients you need.

  • 1.5 cups of basmati rice
  • 3 cups of water
  • One teaspoon of minced garlic
  • One bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

First of all, be sure to use basmati rice. It has a unique, nutty flavor, and you won’t get the same result if you use a different kind of rice.

Sauté the garlic in the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice, stir around in the oil (medium heat) for maybe five minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and cook for about 10-15 minutes until rice is fluffy. Keep heat low so rice does not burn. Stir now and then. When it looks like all the water is absorbed, stir in the lime juice. (You can add more lime juice if you prefer a more pronounced lime flavor.) Salt to taste. Stir in the cilantro immediately before serving.

That’s it! And OMG, it is delicious.

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Lines Crossed

The sky is overcast in Milwaukee this morning. For some reason this bird and all the crisscrossed lines caught my eye when I stepped out onto our back porch with my cup of coffee to supervise our dog. She had just chased a chipmunk up our crabapple tree and was sitting patiently at the trunk watching it. She would sit there all day waiting that poor little critter out if left to her own devices. So we usually call a merciful halt to the standoff before too much time passes. Anyway, the bird and all the various powerlines caught my eye. I liked the balance between the utility pole and that bird on opposite sides of those long, sweeping dips of intersecting sets of parallel lines.

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Writing Exercise – “Looking in the Rearview Mirror”

I wrote this essay as my exercise for this week’s writing group meeting. The prompt was “looking in the rearview mirror.”

When I was in high school, one of my friends used to pull out a little compact with a mirror from her purse every day in the high school lunchroom after she’d eaten so she could check her teeth and make sure they were clean and free of food particles. When I was in college, I once walked to my first class of the day in a heavy snowfall. Only after stopping in the restroom after class before heading to my next one did I realize that my mascara had given me Alice Cooper eyes, thanks to the snowflakes melting on my eyelashes. I had no clue until seeing myself in the bathroom mirror.

Mirrors are useful that way. They allow us to see things from a perspective we otherwise never could have.

The rearview mirror was one of the automobile’s earliest safety features. According to Wikipedia (yay, Wikipedia! Click here for info on how to donate to this very worthy nonprofit: https://wikimediafoundation.org/support/), mirrors were being installed on cars as early as the 19-oughts  and 19-teens. Apparently, their main purpose was to help drivers be more aware of other vehicles that might overtake them from behind. This was an era, of course, when we barely had actual roads in much of America, much less any significant traffic. As driving became a more complex undertaking, additional mirrors were added to the sides of the vehicle, and the rearview mirror became important for many reasons. Can you imagine trying to change lanes or merge without the benefit of mirrors in heavy, fast-moving traffic on an interstate highway? How about parallel parking in crowded urban streets?

One of my favorite movie scenes involves a rearview mirror. I still experience a shivery thrill every time Steve McQueen’s dark green Ford Mustang materializes in the rearview mirror of that Dodge Charger driven by those Chicago hitmen in Bullitt (1968)—an iconic moment of reversal in which the hunted becomes the hunter. In this particular instance, the mirror is more used as a dramatic device than serving any functional necessity. In fact, when Steve McQueen overshoots a corner during the subsequent high-speed chase, he doesn’t use his rearview mirror to assist in backing up. Instead he sticks his head out of his open window and eyeballs it, making for far more interesting and compelling action nicely complemented by clouds of exhaust flying out of the rear tire wells as he quickly reverses course and peels out in the right direction to catch up with the bad guys.

In another movie I really like, Smoke Signals (1998), which is set in part on the Coeur d’Alene Indian reservation in northwestern Idaho, there’s a young woman who drives her car backwards throughout the film, the assumption being that the car has only two gears working, “park” and “reverse.” Interestingly, this young woman never uses her rearview mirror. Instead she drives forward/backward twisted around in her seat so that she can look out her rear window while also conversing with the car’s passengers.

Which brings me to my main point about rearview mirrors. Although they’re a great safety feature as an add-on to your main focus, they become an impediment if you stop fully seeing the reality in front of you because you’ve shifted attention instead to the image in your rearview mirror.

That’s kind of a nice metaphor.

Mirrors are useful for gaining a larger perspective and avoiding tunnel vision. Sometimes looking in the figurative “rearview mirror” of your life provides excellent insights for understanding yourself and making better decisions in high-stakes situations. As Santayana said, after all, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” So a good rearview mirror is exactly the right tool for remaining aware of your surroundings—both spatial and temporal, both literal and metaphorical.

But if you spend too much time ruminating on the past, it becomes difficult to move forward safely and purposefully to your intended destination. 

Posted in Creativity, Learning, Life, Writing, blogging | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shaded sunlight through slanted blinds

It has been a while since a collection of geometric shapes caught my eye, but I really liked the patterns of light and shadow seen here in the dark vertical, light horizontal, and even-lighter slanted lines created by sunlight filtering first through the leaves of our magnolia tree and second through the blinds on our dining room windows.

There’s something very restful about these colors and lines. Today has been such a beautiful day in Milwaukee! Sunny and much cooler than the extremely high temperatures and humidity we had earlier in the week.

These mid-June days in the run-up to the longest day of the year are my favorites. It’s almost 6:30 PM right now and we have at least three hours of daylight ahead of us. Even approaching 9:30 PM, there may still be the tiniest amount of light left in the sky.

A week from now the days will have begun shortening again. Sigh. I think I need to move somewhere closer to the equator since these long, long days of sunlight make me so very happy.

On the other hand, if this was the norm maybe I would not appreciate it quite as much.

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Some songwriting magic

Have you played the online game of Heardle? It’s obviously similar to the smash hit Wordle in that a new short puzzle appears daily. At some point in the last several months I began playing both of those games plus a similar daily game for movie fans called Framed. (One of my film studies students introduced me to Framed this spring. Thanks, Jonathan!)

Here are links to all three games in case you’re interested.

Heardle: https://www.heardle.app

Wordle: https://www.nytimes.com/games/wordle/index.html

Framed: https://framed.wtf

Anyway, yesterday I got the Heardle in one second. The song was “Bridge over Troubled Water,” and I’d guess everyone of a certain age would be able to recognize those opening piano notes instantly, as I did. Hearing it brought a smile to my morning.

It also reminded me of this old Dick Cavett interview with Paul Simon in which Simon talks about his creative process and how he composed this beautiful song. It was really interesting to hear his songwriting influences.

I found the interview clip on YouTube and I’m sharing it in case you might also find it intriguing.

Posted in Creativity, Life, Music, Popular culture | Tagged | 2 Comments

Two lists

Or in plainer text: Diversity = Variety, Biodiversity (including gut/diet), Social diversity, Cultural diversity And is associated with: Resilience, …

Two lists

I really like this! So many things to think about related to creativity, the environment, social/political contexts, etc. Very succinct, with excellent clarity, thanks to its poem/list form. I’m sharing via my own blog in hope (and expectation) that anyone who likes the stuff I usually post will also appreciate the insights here.

Posted in Creativity, Digital society, Learning, Life, Nature, Political Analysis, UX (user experience) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments