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29 June 2006

Sometimes anger can be fun.

I get a little mad at the bathroom stall door at work some days. See, it sticks a little, and I am trapped inside the stall. Once I kicked it really hard with my foot to open the darn thing. BANG!

Oh dear, that was an overexpression of anger. I should mellow out. A simple forceful shove would have done the trick. Listen, self, no more of that.

Another day. The darn door sticks again. No one else in here? Well then: BANG!

I chastise myself. Then this big grin comes over me and I chuckle and think "that sure felt good!"

Emotion, my anger, an engagement with the world. I am alive again today.

"No object was hurt during the expression of this emotion."

the problem door

28 June 2006

I like this anger.

A few years ago the Dixie Chicks spoke out against our infamous president, causing repercussions such as the alienation of a lot of their country music fan base and the refusal of radio stations to play their music. Maines was told to "shut up and sing or [her] life will be over".

Well that just ain't right. Remember my blog on anger, and how the women's lib movement had a right, perhaps even a duty, to express their anger? This is another example of when anger should be expressed, IMHO.

And the Dixie Chicks do it so well in the songs in their new DC, Taking the Long Way:

"I'm not ready to make nice,
I'm not ready to back down,
I'm still mad as hell
And I don't have time
To go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is
You think I should"

I used to sort of like the Dixie Chicks music. Oh but today, I'm up and saying "You go girls!" Samples:

"But I, I could never follow"

"Dust bowl, Bible belt
Got more churches than trees
Raise me, praise me, couldn't save me
Couldn't keep me on my knees"

Enough to get this here old rock-and-roll lady up and saying right on. Dixie Chicks sound like a rock group to me, and I like it.

19 June 2006

Pools of ideas.

I am truly a fan (perhaps to the point of being obnoxious) of the Teaching Company philosophy courses. Instead of working with the time-tired pools of ideas floating around in my head, I have all this new input to work with. Heavens, one person living one life can only come up with so many thoughts, why not listen to what tons of philosophers over the ages have come up with?

Another benefit is that after listening to a course, I get more out of articles in magazines. For instance, in this morning's Science News*, I read the following:

"...activities aim to develop students' capacity to perceive and reflect on their emotional reactions and those of others. This skill makes it possible for them to negotiate solutions rather than to fall back on violent rituals. The objective is to imbue kids with enough emotional literacy to foster resilience..." This is just what Prof. Solomon talks about in the Passions course: How to step back and think about the emotion you are feeling, and choose a level of emotional response that is appropriate for who you are and the society that you live in. And this: "In the end, the goal is finding out the truth about yourself so that you can better control yourself."

What is the truth about yourself, and who am I? Back to the old phrase, "know thyself and happy be". It's a lifetime project just to know yourself.

*quoted from "Violent Developments: Disruptive kids grow into their behavior", by Bruce Bower. Science News, May 27, 2006, Vol. 169.

18 June 2006

The Passions: Introduction and Anger.

I am just about finished with the 24-lecture course entitled "The Passions: Philosophy and the Intelligence of Emotions", by Professor Robert Solomon, copyright The Teaching Company. This is the second course I have listened to by Prof. Solomon, the other one being a course on existentialism: "No excuses!" Both courses have the underlying theme that we are responsible for ourselves and for our behavior and if we think about who we are and how we should act, our life experience will benefit.

The introduction of the Passions course begins: "We are not only ‘rational' creatures, as Aristotle famously defined us, but we also have emotions. We live our lives through our emotions, and it is our emotions that give our lives meaning. What interests or fascinates us, who we love, what angers us, what moves us, what bores us - those are the things that define us, that give us our character, that constitute our 'selves.' But this obvious truth runs afoul of an old prejudice, namely, that our emotions are irrational, even that they are incomprehensible. Our emotions present a danger and interrupt or disturb our lives, because we are passive with regard to them; they 'happen' to us. By contrast, this course is an attempt to understand our emotions - how they provide insight and meaning - and the extent to which we are not passive but active regarding them. Our emotions, according to a recent theory, are imbued with intelligence. And a person's emotional repertoire is not a matter of fate but a matter of emotional integrity."
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13 June 2006

The Kitty and the Snake.

This is odd. My cat likes snakes. Tori (the cat) is three, but has only been going outside for a few weeks. When she is out, I keep checking on her to make sure she is hanging around the house. Once, then twice, I found her near the house, but a foot away from a snake. Each time, Tori was calmly washing herself and the snake was frozen in place. The third time I found her with a snake, I ran for the camera to document this oddity.

My guess is that she picks up the snake and brings it close to the house, or maybe she just chases it. Then the snake plays possum and Tori loses interest.

As soon as I call the kitty away from the snake, the snake slithers away.

Fox (our chihuahua) - the worm-and-toad-roller - loves the way Tori smells when she has been around a snake.

kitty and snake

I googled and found that this is a smooth green snake, common in Colorado.

11 June 2006

Townie and me.

One of my favorite things about summer is that I have time to take bike rides from work in Boulder. This spring has been extra special because it's the first time that I've had a chance to take a long ride on Townie. Townie is my Schwinn Le Tour, a bike that was a present from my husband sometime in the early 90s, and re-presented to me last Christmas by my son, who converted it to a town bike. This old touring bike now has a flat bar, Shimano shifter pods, a set of cantilever brake levers, a new Shimano XT rear derailleur (required for compatibility with the new shifters), and BMX-style pedals. A new life.

Townie is light and nimble. Hills seem easier than they did on my Bridgestone mountain bike. I was a little hesitant to take Townie on the South Boulder Creek trail, since this is a dirt trail and the bike has slim tires. But Townie did fine, even though parts of the trail that were covered with running water.

We stopped by the big tree that I sometimes eat my lunch under. It's a great view looking back at the Flatirons. What a life.

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06 June 2006

Two Coloradoans in New York City.

Images of our recent visit to New York City wash back and forth across my mind. People in New York put on a different facade than do those in Boulder. Many women wear dark slacks, tailored but often mussed shirts, something funky in the outfit - pointy shoes, flowered purse, loud scarf. Men wear jeans or slacks with blazers, some women wear the same, or perhaps a jean jacket over any-length skirt. One day was very hot, and still, the New Yorkers wore clothing to cover their bodies. I saw few of the double-tank tops and bare midriffs that are rampant in Boulder.

Such a jumble of buildings and cars and people. New Yorkers look straight ahead as they walk the crowded streets. No last minute decisions to veer left or right to let you pass, their path was decided according their line of sight and we learned to watch those lines of sight so that we too could flow smoothly through the crowds. Cabbies nosed through crowds of people in crosswalks: no state law to protect pedestrians there.

Most shopkeepers did not make eye contact or respond to small talk, no one wanted to know anything about us. The people at the information desks at the museums seemed exasperated when we could not follow their directions, they thought we were bemused hicks. There were a couple notable exceptions, the soup-man, a couple waitresses, a museum security guard.

I don't remember a single time that a native smiled at me on the street. This made it surprising when a man came up to John and me on the subway and said with a smile "You two look good together, keep it up!" Just when we thought we had New Yorkers figured out, they threw us a curved ball.

uptown Manhattan

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