August 29, 2003

Pith: the vital or essential part



Here are a few of my favorite online haunts:
[This is the site I visit to fantasize about living in Toronto again, which is almost every single day during the winter]

Jonathan Cainer's Zodiac Forecasts
[This is where I visit in the morning, when I need a positive spin on things past, present and future.]

Living Local
[This is where I go to see what Canadians are up to, sometimes I even buy things from the businesses listed there.]

Environment Canada Weather
[This is the site I visit every morning, and before every road trip during the winter]

Yeah, but...

This morning I am suffering from a terrible case of the "yeah, but...s". Everything I think about, read, or hear on the news causes an automatic response: reactionary cynicism. I call this my "pithy" mood. I can see I am in for a very long day.

I will give just a few examples of things that passed through my mind before 7 a.m. this morning.

Example One:

Reading Title: "Retire Your Stress" [from New Outlook, Fall 2003, page 12]
The "Quebec City clinical psychologist, who has specialized for the past 30 years in helping people prepare for the unique pressure they face as they get older..." says, "there are pressures aplenty... Most, however, are related to being cut off from environments that have long provided money, friends and purpose." [Ennui comes to mind]
My Reaction:
What this guy does not seem concerned about is that people with good jobs outside the home, who retire with good pensions, are a minority subset of Canadians who are cut off from environments that provide money, friends and purpose. Fair enough, this unconsidered majority could not pay his fees.
" While drugs are available to counter serious stress-related problems such as depression, Dr. xxxxxx says healthy living and doing things you love will help make the transition to retirement a smooth one."
My Reaction:
Common sense really, I agree entirely. Since most of the people suffering from "ennui" are unemployed, underemployed, or non-employed, and living from hand to mouth or worse, the advice of "doing things you love" would sound a lot like "let them eat cake".
[This extrapolation is a bit extreme, I know, but what you have here is an example of a mind attempting to grasp the gap between the reality of the significant majority, and what seems like good advice. Perhaps the discrepancy is a journalistic issue.]

Example Two:

Horrifying epiphany! Or not.
Women's Bras
My Reaction:
I was first thinking about back braces this morning. Then my mind wandered over to the discomfort of women's bras, particularly for small to medium breasted women. Then came the epiphany, which may be whimsy.
I have been advised not to use a back brace continually, as the back muscles may become lazy, necessitating further need for the brace. What if accepting the uplifting support of a bra actually increases the likelihood of breast sag in women of mature years, when gravity is beginning to dominate the physical form. Are there any muscles that work to naturally support the human female breast? Will these muscles atrophy with the use of women's bras?
[OK, so this is not an issue on which the world turns. I told you it was going to be a long day around here.]

Example Three:

I just read a piece on the internet where a journalist stated that writing the news is about maintaining "strict objectivity".
My Reaction:
Objectivity is hotly debated concept in the academic world. Is objectivity possible? My current belief is that objectivity is relative.
If this were true, then maintaining "strict objectivity" would represent following a conceptual structure of some kind, one that offered a cohesive logic with its own rules and syntax. My guess is, that is why journalists have to be trained; they must learn how to follow the particular conceptual structure desired by those who hire journalists; and to reject all other conceptual structures.
All this is to say that I suspect that journalists are trained to adhere strictly to the desired form of "objectivity". Perhaps that is why I find the presentation of the news overwhelmingly boring and banal. However, it is the only option available; what can you do? One does manage to tease out a few salient pieces of information, however out of context they may be. And hey, it could be worse, what if the news reflected the interests of large corporations and political ambition, rather than the public good?

You get the picture.

I have turned off the news, and stopped reading magazines in any format. I will scrub floors. I will line cupboards. I will concentrate on reading a novel. The book I am reading is Japanese literature translated into English. The references to cultural phenomena in this book cannot be dissected to any great degree, as I have not been to Japan and have no first-hand knowledge of their culture.

If all this fails to slow my cynical ramblings, I will focus on lesson 28 in my programming tutorial series. Math concepts are always good fun and perfect for escaping reality. It can be fun to adhere to a "strictly objective" set of rules and syntax. And programming language allows me to manipulate the enironment so skillfully; I can present information on the web just as I desire, while strictly adhering to one form of objectivity.


Top of Page

Worldly Distractions

Lone maple in field.
the test of time.

"All that you say is strange, Aragorn," he said. "yet you speak the truth, that is plain: the Men of the Mark do not lie, and therefore they are not easily deceived. But you have not told all. Will you not now speak more fully of your errand, so that I may judge what to do?"
from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
by J. R. R. Tolkien, 1974, London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd.,
page 455

On the Screen
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Video release!
Oh the joy of watching a good movie, eating the best pizza in the world, our very own, and sitting in our favorite chairs.

09:10 EDT
Temp: 23`C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: SW 19 km/h
Barometric: 101.2 kPa

Sunrise 6:45 AM EDT
Sunset 8:05 PM EDT

Page by Page: A Woman's Journal
by Maggie Turner

Canadian Maggie Turner writes and publishes poetry, photography, and a personal journal online. Her work reflects the current way of life in Canada, embracing Canada's past, present, and future in a unique portrayal of everyday life. Maggie's voice is one of the many that actively depict the rich diversity of Canadian culture.

Photography: "a term which comes from the Greek words photos (light) and graphos (drawing). A photograph is made with a camera by exposing film to light in order to create a negative. The negative is then used in the darkroom to print a photograph (positive) onto light-sensitive paper.
Source: University of Arizona Glossary

Poetry: "a form of speech or writing that harmonizes the music of its language with its subject. To read a great poem is to bring out the perfect marriage of its sound and thought in a silent or voiced performance. At least from the time of Aristotle's Poetics, drama was conceived of as a species of poetry."
Source: Creative Studios

Journal: " "Though a journal may be many things - a treasury, a storehouse, a jewelry box, a laboratory, a drafting board, a collector's cabinet, a snapshot album, a history, a travelogue..., a letter to oneself - it has some definable characteristics. It is a record, an entry-book, kept regularly, though not necessarily daily.... Some (entries) will be nearly illegible, written in the dark in the middle of the night.... Not only is it a record for oneself, but of oneself. Every memorable journal, any successful journal, is honest. Nothing sham, phony, false...." (Dorothy Lambert from Ken Macrorie's book, Writing to be Read )
A journal is a way to keep track of your thoughts about what you read... as well as what you did on any given day."
Source: Journal Writing

A Blog is an online journal created by server side software, often hosted by a commercial interest.

"The term "weblog" was coined by Jorn Barger[4] on 17 December 1997. The short form, "blog," was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog in April or May 1999.[5][6][7] Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used "blog" as both a noun and verb ("to blog," meaning "to edit one's weblog or to post to one's weblog") and devised the term "blogger" in connection with Pyra Labs' Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms."

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