margin:35; Bookends of Existence

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Devious Behavior: Acting Shamelessly

Some of you are probably wondering about all those pictures on the top of my page. Well, I belong to an art site called deviantArt. Two and a half million strong, we are celebrating our sixth anniversary on the seventh of August with the release of a new version of ourselves, known as Dev 5.

Besides this post being a shameless promotion of my artwork, Its intent is to let everyone to know that deviantArt is a great place to get to know a diverse group of people and build communities, and well...View a wide diversity of artwork from around the world 24/7/365. I joined deviantArt last month and have since made numerous friends there and continue to do so daily, and I would invite you, my literary family, to join deviantArt at one of the two subscription levels, paid or free (the differences which are spelled out there), and add me to your devWatch. In addition to seeing my art, you will also get to read my journal there, where I discuss things that I do not here.

Additionally, there are other peoples' (or your's, if you join) journals on deviantArt that you may find interesting (or not, depending on your personal preferences) and their poetry and prose, photography of various genres, traditional and digital media, 3-D modeling, and many other types of art (and you can also add them to your devWatch too). As for the other aspects of deviantArt, there are polls, contests, various discussion forums, a help desk, and other aspects of this vast site for us deviants. And If you're an artist, so much the better, as you can not only display your deviations there, but also sell your prints.

So after reading the words in my journal here, please take the time to go to deviantArt, sit back, and peruse to your heart's content, and if you see what you like...join. It will be worth every moment of it...And then some:).

Sunday, July 30, 2006

One Man's Trash...

I can't believe anyone would throw this (click above) out! What were they thinking?

And I wouldn't mind having those Civil War books he found, either. But I'm sure that Bible is worth more than $1000.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

All My Books

I have been organizing my library lately. My system is to arrange them first by category (science, art, religion, ect.) and then by title, with the exception of literature, where I arrange them by author. One thing about my new (old) house is that there are two walk-in closets on the ground floor, and my new library is no exception; so in there is where I put my computer manuals, reference books, and my own work.

Man, oh man, have I got books! Lots of books! I've got books that were handed down to me by my grandparents, books from the mid-to-late nineteenth century, including two large books about the history of Ohio (where my family's originally from), a set of Self-Interpreting Bibles copyrighted 1896 (where it mentions the telegraph and the train as being fulfilled prophecies according to the Book of Revelation) and McGuffey's First Eclectic Reader Revised Edition copyrighted 1879, and many other books too old to even have a copyright. Some of these books have beautiful pen-and-ink drawings, clear black-and-white photos, and images made with old-fashioned wood cuts (I have a collection of old wood cuts and other such things, too). Some of the more modern books, especially ones my Mom used to read, are from the 1930's (Dick and Jane Readers, Sax Rhomer's Dr. Fu Manchu novels (first editions, I think), and a copy of the Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne (the inside front cover has a written-in-ink date of 1927, but no official copyright date) and Mars Revisited by Dorrance and Company Publishing, copyrighted 1959.

Of course, I have added considerably to this vast collection over the years, as I've purchased many science books, and books pertaining to theology, philosophy, humor, and art. I have a copy of Stephen Wolfram's New Kind of Science, The Complete Guide to Publishing a Website by Future Publishing Limited (more of a magazine, but I still wanted to list it here), The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin and its counter-book Uncommon Dissent by William Dembsky, and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, not to mention various other books across an array of subjects. Of course, let us not forget the thousands of pages of Big Theories/Theories of Everything/Grand Theories that I've downloaded from the Web over the past several years, for purposes of researching for my book, which seems to be more of a journey than it does a writing project.

While unpacking some of my books I came across a few surprises: One is a book titled Alaska Trails 'N' Tails, which is a book of poetry and short stories written by Everett G. Greesley who, I found out, while reading the back flap, is a native of a small town just a few miles from me. Another one is written in 1925 by a relative, a judge, (now long deceased) about a famous Ohio man. Yet another book was a science textbook, with equations in it, owned by my grandmother, who was scientifically oriented. And, I sometimes find old family letters and notes written to other family members hidden between the pages of some of those books, those family members long gone. I wonder how many of those were actually read by their intended recipients? Perhaps, in some sort of acausal way, those occasionally-found messages are still bridging communications between people down through, and across, the ages.
The best, however, is yet to come, for behind this wall, where is located a back bedroom, are many more boxes of books, which cannot be unpacked until I am able to put up more bookshelves and buy/build more bookcases...whenever that will be.
The adventure continues...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

My Wild & Wet Weekend

This is long and personal, so unless you are interested about the detailia of my life, you may wish to skip this one. But, if you want a good laugh...
On Saturday, I was at Barnes & Noble when the weather turned stormy. As I looked out at the churning sky while preparing to leave, I figured I might as well attempt to make it to my car in spite of the cyclonic conditions. Big mistake! As soon as I exited their foyer and got just outside their solid-wood doors, the wind grabbed my rainbow unbrella right out of my hand. I tried to run after it, but to no avail. I could do little but watch my multi-colored rain shield, having seemingly achieved a mind of its own, dart ever-so gingerly across the parking lots of neighboring Kohl's, Target, and Office Max, at speeds over which I could not achieve a superior curve on foot.The wind, being a harsh taskmaster, had also taken ahold of my kilt, and was blowing it at heights I really wish it hadn't (luckily, I was wearing something under it) giving the people sitting in the Starbucks cafe by the plate-glass window quite an eyefull, but I was a lot more concerned about retrieving my wayward umbrella.
Thinking that I might have a better chance of catching up to my air-borne umbrella in my trusty Chevy Cavalier, I ran to it, hopped in, and carefully exited the parking lot. Now in hot persuit that would make Sheriff Rosco P. Coaltrain proud, I sped over to the adjoining parking lots acrosse the street, no longer able to see my umbrella. But with steely determination, I slowed down and visually scoured the vast expanse of parking spaces, casting an attentive gaze in between the cornucopia of vehicles nestled in the parking spaces, to no avail. After a while, I spotted it in the hand of an employee of one of the big stores, while the gallant young man holding it was helping a lady customer to her car. Upon spying that, I thought two things: 1) good for him for helping that lady to her car and 2) I WANT MY UMBRELLA BACK!!! As soon as he got her dryly to her automobile, I carefull rolled up to him, rolled down my window, and explained to him my plight. He looked at me strangely, and agreed to give me back my umbrella.
Ok, so it's got a few small holes in it. So it has a few broken stems. So one part of it has to be propped up by hand when I use it. But I vow, vow I say, that I will fix it and it will fly...umm...shield me once again from nature's vigorous onslaughts!
On Sunday, I was the usher at church. When I got there, no one was handing out the church bulletins at the entrance to the sanctuary, so I grabbed them and greeted the incoming worshippers. When the service got underway I took my place in the back usher's pew (a tradition which is fading because now the ushers prefer to sit in the rest of the pews with their families). Concerned that I might be the only one there to usher, I was glad that four men were able to help take the collection at the appropriate time. But then, after the service, the pastor, with pleasant smile upon his face, came down the center isle, shook my hand, and said, "good morning!" again. After a brief pause, he noticed that no one was dismissing the people, so he asked if I wanted to. I replied "Sure!" and I did, and walked up the center isle to the front of the sanctuary, and nodded alternatively from one side to the other for the people in those respective pews to slowly exit. After everyone was out in the foyer talking, I asked the head usher what was going on. He said that he had forgotten that he needed to usher the congregation out, and that his entire ushering team had failed to show up for last week too, and probably wouldn't show up until after the end of this month. I feel bad for the head usher, too, because it puts him on the spot when his team doesn't show up. Now, I am more than happy to fill in where needed, but...it would be really nice if those who signed up for the usher's list would actually, oh I don't know...show up and usher!
That afternoon I went to a big local park located in a nearby major city, where I ran into an outspoken and well-known former corrections department officer (aka retired probation officer) who was asking for signiatures for his public office election campaign. I cordially declined and said to him "I haven't decided who I'm going to vote for yet". He politely excused himself and continued prowling the vast expanse of the park, seeking whom he may devour. Agree or not with him, I admire a person who is willing to pound the pavement and work for what he wants.
Right in the middle of the south end of the park is an excellent fountain with seven jets in the center, profusely spewing vast quantities of H2O high into the sky. Around the rim of it is a nice wide surface on which to sit. During the course of the afternoon, several people had been dangling their feet in the nice, cool, chlorinated water. Now, for quite a while I had always wanted to jump into a public fountain, but seeing as I'm somewhat of the inhibited type, I was resisting the temptation...until now. I casually removed all of my clothes except for my bathing trunks (I had them on under my clothes all day), strolled over to the fountain, and sat upon the ledge. I turned around to face the water and dipped my feet in. Then, with the song "It's Now or Never" coursing through my mind, I took the Big Plunge and jumped right in! SPLAAAAAAAAASH! I made sure I got thouroughly soaked, got out, and strolled around dripping wet until my trunks got dry, and with a sunny, 85 degree, breezy afternoon, that didn't take long.
Strange, isn't it? On Saturday, I was trying to stay dry, but on Sunday, I couldn't get wet enough LOL!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Grateful Dead, the Pleidians, and Growth

Well, the usually-conservative self has finally met up with his usually-hidden liberal self as I now have an actual Grateful Dead connection.

It started at Barnes & Noble while I was sitting in a chair sipping my mocha, or as I order it "decalfcalfemochaskinnynowhippedcreamicetogo" (the new staff members of the cafe have a little trouble picking up on this order when I rattle it off all in one breath without any pauses between the words, but the experienced ones know exactly what I mean) and reading my usual assemblage of newspapers, occasionally glancing over the top of the numerically-gathered newsprint to observe the masses of humanity haplessly gliding by in their sundry vehicles on the highway outside of the giant plate glass window that I was sitting in front of. After mentally ingesting the local paper, state paper, and the Wall Street Journal, I decided to get up, return the newspapers to their rightful places on the metal upright rack from which they came, and go on the prowl for more mental stimulation in the form of books and magazines. Since I am intent on improving my artistic style I sauntered over to the art region of the great book store. While there, I let my eyes gently glide across the spines of the various books, hoping they would soon alight upon an interesting title. After a while, I came across a book about the art of Jerry Garcia.

Now, my mind is extremely open to a myriad of things; different foods, new reading material, unusual science, and so on, with art being no exception. Of course, I thought that this book would be interesting, since many people do not know that Garcia also drew and painted. Looking through the pages of that book, I admit that I saw a smidgin of myself in him, being open-minded and loving and longing to engage in the exploration, and sometimes, exploitation of those ideas. Anyway, I saw some very interesting pieces of Garcia’s artwork that I wouldn’t mind having mounted on the wall of my library. Having read the entire book in just that one sitting, I was preparing to disembark from my chair to put the book away, when a woman in a chair a little ways away glanced over and, after noting the book I was reading, said, "So, you’re a deadhead too, huh?" Ironically, while looking at the multitudinous media and subjects of Garcia’s handiwork presented in the book, I had, at least in some back-of-the-mind way, considered getting a Grateful Dead CD, just to see what type of music that someone who did that very eye-catching art would compile.

I looked at her, and somewhat nebulously responded, "This is quite a book. He did a lot of work that I like". Then, rising up from her chair, she explained how she had a ‘hand’ in the book she was reading, The Pleiadian Agenda by Barbara Hand Clow. Having introduced herself, and while pointing to her name in the tribute in that book, she explained how she had met Garcia once and liked his artwork. I only glanced very briefly at her book to see what it was about. But nevertheless, I realized that I now had a "Grateful Dead connection", and was, for the first time in my brief life, seriously contemplating purchasing a Grateful Dead CD.

After truncating our discussion, she left and I got up to tell one of my friends who works there about my encounter and mentioned to him that I might get a Grateful Dead CD. Then the discussion starting delving into changing minds and different belief systems. As my friend and I continued our discussion, he looked up some books on his terminal at his workstation, turning the screen so that I may see them too. They were books about philosophy and New Age, some of them based on ancient writings (i.e. the coming of Nibiru [the tenth planet] as prophesied by Zacharia Sitchen) and other diverse writings. I explained that, even though I myself do not believe in those teachings per se, I enjoy studying them. As a Christian, I do believe in the Second Coming of Christ, and although I do not follow many of the viewpoints of the so-called spokesmen of my faith (Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and certain other prominent "leaders" of Christianity), I enjoy studying the different prophetical viewpoints of those who believe differently than I do, resulting in me occasionally questioning that in which I believe. But I digress.

As I go through recovering from the past three years of my life, I feel the need to keep trying new things, to "keep up" with everybody (for better or for worse), to keep growing...stronger, smarter, wiser, and more independent. It is only in the personal exploration of ourselves, in conjunction with concern for others, that we will ever leave our personal and collective minuscule bubbles and float above the foaming turmoil that is the noise of our daily lives to the ultimate emergence with the greater-self: each other. For therein lies our greatest challenge, and our best hope for victory over the personal demons that would seek to keep us at bay, to destroy our hopes, only to replace them with fear. Seeing as love is the only thing that one can give have and still have, I might as well give that: for that is the only way I can stay whole. Understanding comes not only from the head, but from the heart as well.

And as for that Grateful Dead CD...I wonder what my Mom would say (God rest her soul) if she heard me listening to it? Let’s just say her reaction would be, at best...mixed:).

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Caverns of the Mind

The caverns of the mind are deep
dark, twisting, ever winding
Always hiding things from those without
and even from those within
Who would dare to want to know
what lurks within the dark recesses of our minds?

For the mind has uncharted pathways
Currents of both output and input
within which flow our dreams, desires, goals
and ambitions unparalleled
Our mouths sometimes trumpeting these aspirations
bridging that which lurks within those neuronal currents
to those without

Monsters under the bed abide in hallways dark
among the fears that are formed throughout our minds
The soul of man takes harbor within mental cavities
Fairy tails of childhood are spooned in from other minds so dark
That which we perceive gets absorbed into and interpreted
within the caverns of the mind

Monday, May 29, 2006

Thank You Service personnel

I would like to take this Memorial Day weekend to thank all of the members of the U. S. Armed Services for all that they do for our country. I support them and their mission.

Whenever you see a member of the military, do what I do: go up to them, shake their hand, and thank them for defending our country, the greatest in the world! They appreciate it more than you will ever know.

Friday, April 28, 2006

To Be...

To be seen you must see
To be listened to you must listen
To be felt you must feel
To be known you must know
To be loved you must love
To be in the universe you must be the universe

For the wings of man are his dreams
His flights are that which he dreams of
As symbiosis encompasses all about
As the heavens churn and roil
As the sun guides the planets
and God guides the souls of men
As quantum entanglements dictate that which we cannot comprehend
And as ergodicity continues its predestined reign
let us be ever mindful that the most important thing is...

To Be.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

When Does What We Read Become Real to Us?

I was researching my book the other day while a thought occurred to me: A book is really an almagamation of words and sometimes, pictures, and yet it is up to us to decipher it. Next time you have access to books, pick one up and, as I did, glance at random single words in it, and ONLY single words, without reading any of the words following the first ones you set eyes on. It's hard to do, isn't it? That's because as soon as we learn to read, our brains become hard-wired to read words in a certain sequence. As you notice, however, although you may know the meaning of the individual words, read randomly together like this they have no collective meaning, do they? (We must note here that the same observation could be made with individual letters within words, but we'll just stick to whole words for the sake of brevity here).

It is true that the words which populate books are presented to us in a certain order, mainly from left-to-right (although there are cultural exceptions to this), in order to have some tangible meaning to us. For those of you who have read other posts in Bookends of Existence, you will recall how we discussed the differences between left-brain thinking (numbers, minutiae, bits, mechanics, and in this case individual words) and right-brain thinking (abstract, conceptual, boundryless, and in this case, comprehension received while stringing individual words together in a predetermined sequence, or reading). As we read words, be they from a traditional or electronic medium, we begin to build a certain level of reality based upon the intersection of the words we are reading and our individual perception of them. For example, let us say we're reading a novel involving a fireman on the back of a fire truck racing to the scene of a conflagration. I invision that fire truck as a gigantic red hook-and-ladder vehicle, while you may invision it as a red water-carrying vehicle, while yet another reader my be imagining some sort of a green vehicle. While each of us has created, within the individual microcosm of our own minds a slightly unique reality, collectively we have created a general reality, that, despite our individual interpretations of it, can be roughly agreed upon.

This is a reflection of how we interact with the universe at large. On one level, all things are static: acausal, no movement, no sound, all things being abstract. On another level, we come along, and in a certain sequence, interpret those static, acausal things and assign them meaning, sound, motion, ect. thus bringing causation to them. And although we each may have our own perception of what we observe, we can collectively build, or interpret, a larger reality than exists to us individually. This is also why I believe that the better a person's reading skills are, the more skillful they are at interacting with the universe at large.
Just as books would be meaningless without us to interact with (read) them, the universe would be meaningless without us to interact with it.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Who Controls the Internet?

I just read a book with the above title and merged the ideas that were entrapped between the pages with thoughts that I have had about the web for quite some time now.

As is the case with the universe, I see the web not as one ambiguous entity, but as a very complex edifice consisting of multiple layers. Of course, if the pennings of Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Boarderless World is true, then it does indeed consist of multiple levels. According this book written by Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu and published by Oxford, the Internet is not a free-for-all unbound by governmental regulations, but multiple Internets that are regulated by the governments of the countries that they’re in. For instance, the Chinese Internet is very strictly controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, with very little freedom granted to its citizens. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the American version of the Internet is much freer and more open to outside use and ideas (and unfortunately, more outside abuse). So this means that companies that do business overseas will have to, within the boarders of those places, obey the laws of those particular countries, which is why some US companies either have to comply with the legal wishes and whims of those countries (which often means handing over to authorities the citizens of those countries who discuss online dissenting viewpoints) or pulling out of those countries entirely. These decisions are made based on whether the business in question will lose more money by obeying the regulations of that particular country or by pulling out completely.

Beyond this, however, I ponder: Is it possible for the web, in and of itself, to actually become a world superpower? Considering the stronghold (for better of for worse) that it has on our planet now, I can envision a scenario in which this occurs, due to the occlusion of the three basics concepts of the net: 1) That for the developed world, it is ubiquitous, 2) On much of the Earth, people can, with diverse degrees of freedom, interact within it, sometimes instantly, and 3) There is a very strong collective body, consisting of cooperation between the European Union, United States, ECT that exerts some control over it. On the first point, in some places it is so omni-present that one needs to just turn on the computer and it’s already online. Of course, the ‘net also exerts influence over countries that do not have it by simply, through its absence, leaving them behind. The third point comes about because in every country that the World Wide Web resides, there are laws regulating online activities, and also entities that control vital aspects of it such as Internet addresses, registries, web servers, power grids, telecommunications and such things so together these forces, who may or may not agree on everything, do constitute a major power bloc.

Another aspect of the World Wide Web is the symbiosis of it. In the advent days of the web, when there were only a few web users, each party constituted more of the Internet because there were only a few more people on the web than were contributing to it. But now, through the exponential growth of the Internet, it has become more than the sum of our collective planetary whole, making each individual player a smaller, and less influential part of the whole. Of course, the ones who can command an audience have more influence on the larger scale because there are more people to influence. We cannot, of course, rule out collective neuroplasticity since what we read and experience on the web shapes the physical structure of our brains and thus our way of thinking. As we interact with the World Wide Web, we shape that which shapes us.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Brains, Games, and Androgyny

Our brains may be one complex mass of neurons and synapses, but as most people are aware of, it is bifurcated into two hemispheres, a left and a right one. Our bodies are contra controlled by this three-pound organ, so that the left hemisphere guides the animation of the right side of us, while the right hemisphere controls our left sides. But the story doesn’t end there.

In the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink (Riverhead Books) the case is thrust forth that our society has been left-brain dominated throughout the information age in the guise of accountants, computer programmers, physicians, lawyers, and other types of detail oriented professionals. As the left hemisphere of the brain contains the skills to do math, read, and decipher data and information, the right side of the brain is wired for conceptual attributes like empathy, art, big-picture thinking and abstract paradigms. Pink points out that while many people decry the out-sourcing of jobs to Asian countries, particularly India and China, this gives us here in the West a golden opportunity to spearhead the next revolution (or should that be evolution) in Human thinking: the conceptual age.

Indications of the dawning of this new intellectually-oriented age are already prevalent as major companies such as GM are hiring artists to design automobiles, as people want more than just four wheels and air conditioning, but also want a machine-type of beauty, something aesthetically pleasing. The same can be said of other items, such as everyday appliances, where, now that we’ve got function down pat, sensuality rules the day. But all this goes way beyond the superficiality of looks; Interns at med school are offered courses on the arts and humanities and medical facilities are now being designed based greatly on visual appeal, scientific publications and books are filled with more-than-ever elaborate graphics which greatly aids in interpretation and recall, and an ever-increasing number of people are taking up concentration-intensive advocations such as yoga and pilates. Normally, women are more slanted toward right-side activities such as empathy, emotions, loving, while men are more geared toward hard-fact things, such as accounting, data analyzing, and mechanics. People who balance these seemingly-opposing attributes so that they compliment each other and work to achieve their goals have androngynous minds (by the way, my favorite single color is Pepto Bismo pink - a "feminine" color, while my favorite color combination is navy blue and gold - "masculine" colors), and are more likely, according to Pink, to succeed in the conceptual age.

It is imperative, if one is to survive into the twenty-first century, to be able to balance both the left-brain and right-brain mind-sets, both as individuals and collectively, because the two of them don’t compete with each other, but compliment each other. Some members of our society (your’s truly included) are known as boundary crossers, because, rather than concern ourselves with restrictive labels such as men’s/women’s, old/modern, high-tech/low tech, we adapt whatever works for us. For instance, a few years back one of the major shoe companies (I can’t recall which one) had designed a pink athletic shoe for women, but yet, a very large portion of their customers were men. Was it because those men wanted to wear women’s shoes? No, they liked the color and the fit and would have purchased them regardless of which side of the clothing section they were sold from. Another example can sometimes be found with cotton gardening gloves, as many people buy them strictly for use in the garden, but others use them for curing psoriasis by putting hand lotion in them and sleeping with them on *(disclaimer here...I’m not a physician, so I’m not stating a medical opinion here, just a societal fact. If you have psoriasis, see your physician)*. Or how about antique collectors, who will see, for example, a beautiful antique lamp, and purchase it and use it even if it was made in 1910, and, don’t want it solely because of it’s age or it’s ability to give light, but appreciate it because of both of those aspects of it.

Of course, an example that past generations would find appalling while the younger crowd will just love is video games. A far cry from the early ones made in the 70's and 80's, some of the newer ones require advanced problem-solving skills and the ability to work with others as a team, which is why many corporations and prospective employers want to know about the gaming experience on the applicants’ resumes. In fact, next time I apply for employment, I will put on my resume the fact that I play SimCity 4 and Warblade, since they both involve conceptual thinking and problem solving.

I could expound further here, but I’m out of time for now, as I’m busy/going to be busy working on several projects at once, both on and off the WEB.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Truth is In a Million Little Pieces

I think it to be very unfortunate that James Frey thought it was necessary to lie to his readers in his "memoir" A Million Little Pieces in which he describes his battle with drug addiction. If he would have been honest in the first place his book would have found itself in the fiction category, and this controversy never would have occurred. Of course we cannot indict Nan A. Talese/Doubleday Publishing for the fabrications propagated through the writing instrument of Mr. Frey, for it should not be incumbent upon the publishers, who serve as authors' vessels to look over every writer's shoulder to make sure that they are being accurate and truthful, but rather every author who engages in the fine art of memoirery should willingly bear the mantle of truth of their own fruition, whether it be for purposes of pride, sales, or matters of conscience. This begs the question, "how many other memoirs or works of fact are actually works of fiction?" As a young, budding author (my friends' and associates' verbiage of me) I find the actions of Mr. Frey abominable, if not threatening to the credibility of all us authors of the statement of facts and the empirical aspects of that which we write about. Mr. Frey was booed when he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to 'fess up', and rightfully so. He used his publisher and Mrs. Winfrey and played his readers like a cheap violin, thus ending his credibility on a very sour note.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ashley Furniture Company is Generous to Readers

This is what I like to see.

A major local Furniture, Ahsley Furniture Company, based out of Arcadia, Wisconsin, has donated money for a new library. That to me is good corporate citizenship. Please see head link for full story.

Listophiles

Are you a listophile?

A listophile, per my definition, is a person who makes an excessive amount of lists for things most people do not make lists about (I just know that my spell checker is going to flag my newly-made up word:>). But seriously, many people, including yours truly, make an almost superfluous number of lists, including lists of email addresses that I find throughout my many daily romps in newspapers, magazines, and books. Also among my list collections is not a list at all, but my card index file. Eclectic in nature, it has 3x5 cards with the web site name, personal name, or vocabulary word neatly written on the front, with the same word written at the top of the lined side, followed by any other pertinent information, such as phone number, email address, URL, ect.
Sometimes I will just jot something down on a randomly-procured scrap of paper until I get around to completing an index card for it. Other times, if it's a publication that contains a fountain of information, I will purchase it. But by far, the largest list that I maintain is the bookmark file on my PC. This list contains everything from websites about blogging and blog listings, chocolate pancakes information, banana recipes, tongue-twisters, psychometric tests, optical illusions, book-related subjects, computer games, science fiction, and...well, you get the idea. A long list of many things, a list which contains probably thousands of items. And let us not leave out the Blogrolling Hot 500 link list in the links field on this site, or the Great Books List, the site to which the title at the top of this posting leads to.
Let's face it, lists offer a sort of security for us listophiles, for with all of this information at our fingertips, we've got nothing to lose...Except our lists, of course.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Mind, the Brain, Reading & Rambling

The link above probably explains this subject better than this post will, but I will ramble on nonetheless:>).

One of the reasons I feel that our collective reading creates a unique layer of reality is due to a mental process known as neuroplasticity, or the brain's ability to re-configure its physical structure based on its owner's thought processes, which in turn are greatly influenced by his/her reading. According to a book I read not too long ago, The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force (Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. and Sharon Begley, ReganBooks/Harper Collins) we partake of certain activities, both in the physical and cognitive realms that help us to re-wire the neurons of the brain, opening up many different avenues that can enhance our lives. Neuroplasticity allows stroke patients to "heal" themselves, more or less, as the brain is capable of compensating for the damage caused by the stroke. Bear in mind that if you, or someone you know has suffered a stroke, or other mind-damaging traumas, you need to go beyond that which is penned here and do further research into neuroplasticity, as I am no medical professional.
Consider this: Our thinking, both individual and collective, creates the lives we live. Therefore, if what we read gives us pause for thought, thus creating neuroplasticity, and by extension collective neuroplasticity, then our minds are creating the universe in which we live (or at least a large part of it).
Now on to a little shameless promotion for my upcoming book (whenever that will be out). I have this deep desire to understand reality, not in just simple terms, but the intricacies woven therein. Websites, such as the one listed at the top of this article, go a great way to my understanding of our world around us. There are many heady paragraphs there, but very interesting ones at that. That said, I've always considered the Human Mind to be both the ultimate universe and the ultimate stargate interlinking those mental universes. Each of us is a microcosm, a conscious reality which interacts with all the other microcosms (people) around us to create...us.
During the typing of this post, I have just conjured up several more posting concepts based on reality, the written word and the mind (consider yourselves warned;>)).
In the words of René Descarte, "Cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am).

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Divine Art Reviews: Sister Wendy Beckett

One of my favorite books is Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces.
I've always had an eye for fine art, and this book fulfills that need. In over 500 pages, Sister Wendy Beckett meticulously describes, next to the paintings, her thoughts blended skillfully with some history about those paintings. Cutting across dimensions of time and space, she covers paintings from the twelfth century into the twentieth century, and exploring the diverse styles of various artists such as Van Gogh, Wyjnant, Melozzo, Signac, Michelangelo, Puvis De Chavannes, Diebenkorn, and a host of other impressionists, provides for her readers many hours of reading and learning. reprinted in splendid color, each painting represents a now, or moment forever frozen in time. The question each painting projects for our pondering is, "Did the artist paint what he or she actually saw, or what they thought they saw"?
One of my favorite paintings in the book is The Last Supper by Dieric Bouts, because of the immaculate detail of the dining room that Jesus and his disciples are seated in. If one looks closely, one can observe the symmetrical tiling on the floor and the carving at the top of the paneled doorway behind Christ, where Sister Wendy states "...The eye is led down the central line of the paneled door". In Pieter Bruegel's Hunters in the Snow Sister Wendy makes mention of the pig being roasted outside the inn (I noticed that the inn sign is askew) proving her sharp eye. And I cannot add one mite to Sister Wendy's description of The Virgin in Prayer where she simply says "Everything in this image is both soft and strong". It is her perception of art and her keen observational gifts that make me wish I could sit down and take tea with her.
Do any of you, my readers have this book? And if so, what are your impressions of it?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Warfare, the Elements, and Passion

I think that teaching reading to children is important, since that is the primary way that they will acquire information and entertainment throughout their entire lives. This Sunday I read an article in the periodical New Scientist that was discussing about how people can stave off the affects of aging through mental stimuli such as doing crossword puzzles and reading. As we get older, it becomes more imperative to read and keep our minds sharp. As the article points out, the best way to insure that the individual stays mentally active throughout his or her life is to get them into the habit of reading at an early age, reading that extends beyond the minimum required to finish the current homework assignment. With reading, especially novels, one gets to use one's imagination.
Imagination is a wonderful thing, because it is through this vessel that one can witness firsthand the clanging of deadly sharp swords, the riding of swift steeds by fierce Scythian warriors, the blinding flash of laser beams during an epic space battle, the on-going conflict of man versus the untamed elements, and the searing passion of two persons destined to be bound toether through undying love. Without knowing how to read, we could not experience the opportunity to re-create and re-live the florid concepts upon which humanity was built. I personally cannot think of anything worse than being a member of a word-based culture, surrounded by its inundative reading material, and not be literate. Sometimes when I'm in a bookstore or library I try to imagine how it would feel not to be able to access all of those interesting, if not compelling, microcosms surrounding me on those shelves. I think it would be terrible to not be able to peek into the world of C.S. Lewis, romp through Isaac Asimov's Galactic Empire, delve into the mind of Stephen Hawking as he tries to know the mind of God, fly with the birds in DK books' latest offering on our world's high-flying citizens, play with atoms in Scientific America's latest edition concerning molecular manufacturing, or travel to far away places through atlases and travel books.
But yet, how often do those of us who can read take this most precious of gifts for granted? Too often. And yet, that's not necessarily a bad thing, because to have that level of proficiency at any interactive junction with the universe and all of its nooks and crannies around us is wonderful in, and of, itself. However, if taking our reading prowess for granted means being ignorant of the fact that many people, not just in the impoverished world, but also in the industrialized world are deprived of the insights, prose, and humor that we have in abundance for ourselves, then it should, indeed, render pause for reflection. And, as that reflection fades as we re-emerse ourselves back into the surrounding cacophony of life, perhaps we could think of ways to improve word-crafting skills and increase reading efficiency, both speed-wise and comprehension-wise, not just in the industrialized world, but the world over. Luckily, there are two links in the links field on this site that hopefully will serve as tools towards the fulfillment of our goals. One of them is the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL) and the other one is ProLiteracy Worldwide.
As I say, a civilization goes the same way as it's literacy and literary capabilities and it is in this civilization's best interest to fulfill those aspects to their greatest extent.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Comics Meme

I went to Barnes & Noble this afternoon, as usual, to read and have decided to change my reading routine. Sunday will be dedicated to reading only newspapers due to the grand sizes of the Sunday editions, so instead of reading only the three newspapers I have been...The La Crosse Tribune, Wisconsin State Journal, and the New York Times (or sometimes the Wall Street Journal)... I will read all of them. Then Saturdays will be devoted to magazines, with evenings devoted to blogging. So my new reading schedule will be:

Monday - Friday: A book each day plus my usual three daily papers
Saturday: Magazines
Sunday: All of the available Newspapers

Once in a while during the week, I'll try to make it to Pearl Street Books, a huge used bookstore.

And speaking of newspapers, what is your favorite comic strip? Mine is Get Fuzzy, because if Satchel the dog were replaced with a fat, female calico feline you would have me and my two cats, one of which is Siamese like Bucky. I imagine that if they could talk and walk upright they would relate to each other and me just like the characters in Get Fuzzy do with each other :>). Do you know of anyone, family, friend, co-worker, or significant other who reminds you of a character in the comic strips? In fact, why don't we start a new meme, a comic strip survey, right here (please add to/comment on it):
1) What is your favorite comic strip? Get Fuzzy.
2) What is your favorite comic strip character? Mine is Bucky.
3) Do you ever buy any of the books based on comic strips, and if so, which ones? Yes: Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side.
4) Are you still reading any comic strips now that you have been reading since the first time they were published in the newspaper, and if so, what are they? Yes, Get Fuzzy, Calvin and Hobbes, and Pearls Before Swine.
5) What is the most shocking thing you have ever seen in a comic strip? Some of the serious aspects of Funky Winkerbean, as I think one of the recent episodes involved a car bomb in the middle east.
6) What comic strip characters can you recall that have been 'killed off'? Grandfather in the Family Circus.
7) What is the funniest thing that you can recall happening in your favorite comic strip? In a strip of Get Fuzzy, Rob, Bucky and Satchel are going on vacation when Rob says they need to keep their eyes open for a bath on the interstate (I'm unsure of the usage in this strip but apparently, according to the context of the strip it has something to do with an off-ramp - my dictionary was no help with this :>/) when Satchel comments on how it would be something to take a bath that big, and Bucky says (and I'm paraphrasing) "You're so funny that Mickey Mouse has a picture of you on his watch" to which Satchel responds "At least I have the ability to laugh at myself" prompting Bucky to say "You have no choice, Satchel". Rob then exclaims, "That's enough, you two!"
8) What do you think are the biggest changes that have occurred in the comic strip business i.e., new comics versus old ones, drawing styles (perhaps within one particular strip), attitude changes in characters, ect. My memory may be faulty on this, but I think Sally Forth used to be drawn a bit differently.
9) What is your least favorite comic strip? Cathy.
10) If you were going to draw your own comic strip, what would it be about? It would be about a young man who, after selling his country home has to adjust to life in the city.
11) What comic strip would you like to see made into a TV show, keeping in mind that not all comic strips would make viable television productions? Blondie and Dagwood, although they were a TV show many years ago
12) If you had to eliminate one major character from you favorite comic strip, which one would it be? Rob (Get Fuzzy).
13) When reading the funny pages, do you only read your favorite strip or all of them? All of the ones I like.
14) What pop culture icon would you like to see appear in a comic strip, and what should he/she do in that strip? I think Homer Simpson visiting Get Fuzzy and losing a no-brainer bet with Bucky could have hilarious consequences, especially if it was a dare :>) .

15) Which two comic strips would work well combined into one strip? Garfield and Blondie and Dagwood because Garfield and Dagwood share a common passion...food.

16) If your favorite strip was combined with your least favorite comic strip would you still read it? Sure, as long as the characters from my least favorite strip always got the short end of the stick lol.

17) Which comic strip do you think is the most true-to-life and why? Blondie and Dagwood because the things that happen to them can happen to people in real life.

18) Which comic strip, in your opinion has had the most profound impact on society and why? Blondie and Dagwood because they have been around for seventy-five years, and within that amount of time how could they not have an impact on society?

19) What is the biggest coincidence that has ever occurred between you and a comic strip? The same day my mother's obituary was in the newspaper, Get Fuzzy had just one panel where Bucky was hanging unto a branch with his mouth and underneath it was the caption "Fang in there!"

20) How would the world be different if comics did not exist? There would be a lot less laughter in the world and those who make their living off the funnies would have different occupations.

21) What comic strip character do you relate to the most and why? Rob in Get Fuzzy, for reasons previously stated.

22) If your favorite strip was made into an animated TV show, Which actors/actresses would do the voices of the characters of that strip? Rob (Ryan Stiles), Bucky (Regis Philbin), and Satchel (Ashton Kutcher).

23) In your opinion, what is the most violent comic strip? Beetle Bailey because Sarge always beats him up lol.

24) If it was revealed that your favorite comic strip or a character in that strip is not what it/he/she appeared to be, would you keep reading that strip if it continued after that revelation (for example, Hagaar the Horrible was not a true Viking, Doonsbury was just someone's dream, ect)? Yes, because it would be like reading Get Fuzzy in a parallel universe, and I'm fascinated by quantum physics!

25) What do you think of comic strip cross-over? I think they make for a nice change of pace.

26) If your life were made into a comic strip, what could readers expect to see in it? My cats underfoot, My relationships with all of my friends and associates, me looking for employment, then after getting that employment, the trials and tribulations of the workplace. Also Me researching my book would be involved, as well as me dating.

27) If you were going to make a cameo appearance in your favorite comic strip, what would you like to say and do in it? I would compare my situation to Rob's, and him and I would complain about the trials of pet ownership.

Again, feel free to jump in!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Try this: it's fun

I came across a website called Book Banter where this list caught my eye. This evening, I was at my local bookstore talking to a very dear friend of mine and was telling her about Bookends of Existence. During our discussion I mentioned this list, and she stated that she would like a link to Book Banter, specifically this list, so here it is:

http://www.yapawayjay.us/blog/sidebar/archives/001221.php

And here is my version of that list, which details some of my relationship with books:

1) I like books that I can read in one sitting, but not necessarily the smallest ones.

2) I like science books with good graphics, ones like Stephen Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell.

3) Sometimes when I'm reading books on fine renaissance art, I can actually "feel" what it would be like to be in that instant of time to the point of actually smelling the air that they would have, hearing the sounds that those paintings' subjects would have, ect. Perhaps I have a little bit of synesthesia :>)?

4) children's books sometimes illustrate certain concepts better than adult books do. For instance, one children' book was about architecture, and it had some of the best technical diagrams that I had ever seen, even better than those in some adult books.

5) Vanity notwithstanding, When contemplating purchasing a book, I look at the spine and try to imagine it occupying the shelves amongst my other books, considering the overall visual affect of my entire library.

6) The first books I remember reading are the Dick and Jane Readers, but I know I read other books way before that.

7) There is nothing more annoying in my opinion than books with their pages stuck together.

8) I've always wondered why some books have gilded-edged pages (If anyone here knows, please post a comment on this).

9) My favorite type of books are ones that connect two seemingly different topics, such as one that is coming out next year called The Beauty of Physics (at least that's the name I remember) which illustrates how the laws of physics are prevalent throughout famous paintings. The book I'm writing is one such book.

10) I read a book a day.

11) I like the smell of new books.

12) I break in new books before reading them.

13) I've noticed that some books have lightweight newsprint pages while others, especially science or technical text books have heavier, semi-gloss pages, making these books noticeably heavier.

14) I wish all books came with dust jackets on them.

15) Originally my Mother's, but now mine, I have a collection of first-edition Little Orphan Annie books, not to mention many other antique books, some dating back to the nineteenth century.

Now, I would like you, my readers, to add to this list, starting with number 16. Let's see how long this list can get!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thank you for reading!

Greetings!

Thank you for spending time at Bookends of Existence. When one considers all of the books in circulation today, we have an amazing number of written words for our absorption, probably more now than in any time in human history. Of course, that proliferation continues in leaps and bounds as more books are cranked out everyday...Everything from romance novels to quantum physics, cars to cats, Psychometric tests to internal medicine...Well, just about every subject imaginable.

Books are all around us. They permeate our lives, giving us comfort, knowledge, data, ideas, thus shaping the very reality within which we are immersed. Yet sometimes, we are quite complacent about these word-filled denizens upon which much of our existence is based. Imagine for a moment that there were no more books, no more ways to impart information and wisdom across the generations and seas. Sure, we have DVD's, the Internet and other forms of electronic media, but without technical and science books to educate our young about that technology those avenues of information transfer would soon cease to exist...And so would we.

What I want to explore here (and hopefully you will too) is the impact of the written word on our planet, and how, as we shape the literary world by ingesting it and adding to it, it is symbiotically shaping our very existence, an existence which we need to remain acutely aware of every moment of our fleeting lives. So what is the best way to do this? Study the written word, and if you feel up to it, add to it by writing your own books, for to do so gives you a certain portion of control over the very fabric of space and time. To journey through life in a literary vacuum is not merely walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Ps. 23:4 Holy Bible), it is building a house there and hanging a sign on the door that says "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" (Dante's Divine Comedy).

Please tell us about your literary experiences. What books have you read that have profoundly affected your life and that of those around you? What books would you encourage everyone to read? Have you written and/or published any books yourself (I'm working on one, in fact)? What books do you think have had the biggest hand in shaping our collective conscience? Feel free to jump right into this pond that has been filled with proverbial "Alphabet Soup".

Again, thanks for participating in my weblog!