Wednesday, November 03, 2010

NaBloPoMo Blog Post #3 - Oh, How I WISH I could Dance With Dragons!

I've been waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish "A Dance With Dragons" for nearly two years. I started reading his "Song of Ice and Fire" series in the summer of 2009 (one should only read these books in the summer, or on a long vacation if you're not a teacher or student who has down time in the summer, because you will NOT be able to do anything else until you've read every single one of them). I was between books, and a friend from Montana who loves Sci-Fi / Fantasy as much as I do told me about them. I got them from the public library, and could not put them down. I read straight through all four of the books that had been published to date, and after all of that serious investment and commitment was left in a cliff-hanger!  How cruel.

So I went to George's website to see if there were any clues about when "A Dance With Dragons," the next installment, would be completed. Oh, joy! He said it would probably be out in October. No problem--I'm impatient, but if I can get urban high school teenagers to sit for 90 minutes in my classes, then I could certainly hold it together for just a month and a half.

October 2009 came and went. There were rumors it would be out in February 2010. February 2010 came and went. It is now November 2010, and he announced at the New York Comic Con in October that it would be  "sometime in 2011." AAAACCCKKK!!!

This blog post is supposed to (a la the handy prompts provided by NaBloPoMo) "Describe the plot of the next book you want to read, even if the book doesn't exist yet." Forgive me if I've taken the opportunity to RANT about the long overdue appearance of ANY plot for "A Dance With Dragons"!

OK--I'll step back a little. I mean, here we are, well into November, the annual season of frenetic and frantic writing, the season of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo. At this time of year, it's probably good to remember that the very reason we have these two fine traditions is that so many of us never get off our respective arses to write that book that we've been saying we'll write "someday." In all fairness to Mr. Martin, if tens of thousands of us wannabee writers have to use props like NaNoWriMo and NaNoBloPo to get our poop in a group, our pen to the page, our electrons onto the screen, why should it be any different for George R.R. Martin? Perhaps he has writer's block? [SPOILER ALERT]: Or perhaps he is tired of killing off all the "good guys" in his books, and is mourning over these losses and reconsidering his strategy. [END SPOILER] Or perhaps (gods forbid) he has lost interest in the story or the characters or both, and just can't bring himself to finish it.

I don't know. But I'm thinking that whatever it is that is the equivalent of clapping for Tinkerbell should be undertaken immediately by all "A Song of Ice and Fire" fans everywhere. Perhaps the equivalent life-saving (or in this case, book-series-saving) activity is just what we are all doing here: raising our pens to the page in solidarity and support of each other in developing/maintaining a good daily writing habit.

So, with my pen raised and my fingers anxiously poised over asdf jkl;, I salute you, George, and wish you godspeed in your effort to get "A Dance With Dragons" on book shelves everywhere by....oh....let's say Christmas, just for kicks and giggles, shall we? That would make such a nice holiday read. (And I'm going to clap furiously and repeat over and over, "I believe in fairies! I believe in faires!" just to hedge my bets.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NaBloPoMo 2010 Post #2 - The Bracelet

Today's writing prompt: Tell us the story of a piece of jewelry you own. Where did it come from, and what does it mean to you?

This is an even better question than yesterday's; and one with a very, very interesting answer...

I have a little sterling silver and onyx link bracelet that I received when I was five years old as a gift from my Uncle Poochie (he hates it when we call him that, but it's what we have called him since time out of mind, so he's just going to have to deal with it). He brought it back from Viet Nam after a year there with the Air Force in 1969. I love my Uncle Poochie, so I have always treasured the bracelet. Though I rarely wore it because the clasp was handmade and sometimes released when it shouldn't. Rather than risk losing the precious bracelet, I stopped wearing it altogether and let it adorn the inside of my jewelry box for about two decades before bringing it out again.

Two decades after receiving this priceless gift, I was traveling by plane from Starkville, Mississippi to see a long-distance boyfriend in Austin, Texas. When I was dressing for the trip, I wanted to look stunning when I got off the plane, so I put on more jewelry than I normally would have. I saw the beautiful little bracelet in my jewelry box and in a moment of forgetful inspiration clasped it onto my wrist.

I arrived at the airport without incident, but when I put my arms up to hug my boyfriend as I came off of the Jetway I noticed that my precious little bracelet was GONE! I immediately told the gate agent who allowed me to re-enter the plane and look all over the area where I had been sitting, dig around in the pouch in front of my seat, and retrace my steps all over the plane. Alas--it was GONE. Poof. Vanished.

I was dejected. It colored my visit with the boyfriend with a dark and gloomy glaze. (We broke up not too long after that, though it had nothing to do with the lost bracelet.)

When I returned home, every time I looked at my jewelry box I was stabbed with a pang of guilt. If only I'd left the precious little bracelet where it belonged. If only...

Two years later I was living in Montana. It had been Hell getting established there, both physically and emotionally. (That is a long and painful story to make a stone weep, and I'll spare you.) One day when I was feeling as low as I could get, and couldn't find a single reason to feel hopeful about my situation, I opened my jewelry box at the end of the day to put my earrings in it as I was undressing for bed and was absolutely stunned: my precious little lost bracelet was laying there in the jewelry box, where it always had lain for twenty years until I foolishly lost it.

I am not making this up. And I did not just think I lost the bracelet. The bracelet was lost, and the evidence of my painful error was with me every day for two years as I daily went in and out of that jewelry box to fetch and return the earrings of the day. There is no mistake. One day the bracelet was lost. The next day it wasn't. I have just walked to my bedroom to verify that it is still there, to make sure that I didn't imagine this highly implausible tale. It is still there. If you don't believe it was lost in the first place, you can contact my old boyfriend and he'll confirm how I lamented and wailed its loss (so much so that I ruined our weekend together).

I have no idea how the bracelet made it back into my jewelry box from the void. But it did. And I'm grateful to have it back; and to have it as a reminder that there are things in this universe so strange and mysterious that we cannot comprehend them.

NaBloPoMo 2010 Post #1

Since it's been nearly six months since my last blog post, I decided to join the NaBloPoMo initiative. I'm also doing NaNoWriMo for the fifth year in a row; so now I'll be cranking out a minimum of fifteen hundred words a day for my "novel," and making two blogs posts a day (for this one, as well as "Behold the Lilies"). I've been enthusiastic and motivated before about "turning over a new leaf" and posting every single day. Hope springs eternal, and the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Hopefully, I won't find myself in Hell at the end of the thirty days, and will find myself with an agent and on the road to publication instead. ;-)

I'm not proud, so I'll start off by using the handy prompts that NaBloPoMo provides. Prompt #1 for Day 1, November 1, 2010: How would your life change if you didn't have rent or a mortgage to pay, i.e., if your housing was free?

This is such a good question. Not because it's hard for me to answer, but because it's a question created from something that so many of us say to ourselves all the time anyway: "If only I didn't have to pay rent... If only I didn't have to make a car payment... If only I didn't have to work for a living... If only..."

But the speculation usually stops there for most of us. Hardly anyone I know goes beyond the "If only...." and finishes the statement with any kind of wish or plan. On the rare occasions anyone asks us what we really want, hardly anyone can come up with an answer.

I found this to be true of myself a while back. I was stunned by my lack of imagination! If I'd been asked "What do you really want?" twenty five years earlier I would likely have had a rapid fire list of ready responses. It's so easy to dream and want when we are young.

Despite the disturbing realization that I had no ready responses, I started thinking about it. I thought entirely too much about it, in my opinion; delving into why I can't want anything, and how I got to be this way. (I'll spare you the long and boring story of my painful delving and just skip to the end: what I want.) After identifying root causes and practicing the art of wanting and naming what I want, I can now answer this question easily.

If you didn't have to pay rent or a mortgage and my housing were free, I would still work for a living. Without the burdensome expense of a rent or a mortgage, I would finally have disposable income with which I could invest in myself and the accomplishment of my dreams. I would continue to live at the same standard of living I do now, but I would sock the money away for as long as it takes to build the emergency and retirement funds that investment and financial experts tell us we should have. With the peace of mind and boldness of spirit that money in the bank can provide, I would only work for someone else if they took such great care of me that I couldn't wait to get to work every morning. I would also do only the work that I love to do, and would not spend a single moment in any kind of drudgery or time-wasting, life-wasting endeavor.

I can't help but believe that the only person who is ever going to treat me as well and provide me with the perfect, meaningful, enjoyable work to which I would limit myself would be me. So I would most likely be self-employed. I would start another beauty salon, make it successful, replace myself as the manager and franchise it, and give half of the profits to charity.

I would write, publish and market all of the digital classroom tools that I have on my "to do" list but have never had time to finish; build an educational software empire, and give half of the profits to charity.

I would start a school for the arts and make it possible for any child who wants to attend it to do so, regardless of their economic situation; and I would take half of the profits from that organization and give them to the non-profit support organization I would create to cover tuition for the students who can't pay.

I would write every single day.

I would paint every single day.

I would play the piano every single day.

I would play the guitar every single day.

I would hike or ski or kayak every single day.

I would open a gallery in which to sell my artwork, and take on a brilliant gallery director as a partner to make it a raging success. I would take on another partner to syndicate my artwork as prints, greeting cards, etc., and make that venture a raging success also. I would donate half of the profits to charity.

I would travel six months out of the year with an easy mind, knowing that all of my business partners and colleagues are so highly qualified, reliable, and conscience-driven that I don't have to think about my business ventures back home, and can enjoy my time abroad.

In short, not having rent or a mortgage to pay would provide me with seed money and peace of mind, with which to plant my creative field, and the time and energy to tend it and watch it grow.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Yo Zambullirse el zorro con el yeso en la agua.

WHY, you may be asking, would I plunge the fox with the plaster cast into the water? There could be so many reasons: he might need a bath; he might be trying to bite me, and this was the best way to distract him.

OR I might have drawn the words "el zorro," "zambullirse," and "el yeso" from my new "Spark Notes Study Cards: MORE Spanish Vocabulary Study Cards" box! (For those of you still wondering, no you do not have to call the ASPCA on me--I am not being cruel to wild animals with disabilities.)

(Free fox photo courtesy of Clipart Graphics.)

Combined with the strategies I mentioned in my previous blog post, I have added the vocabulary cards, as well as the "Grammar Study Cards" (same publisher) to my Spanish language tool box.

I can already tell that I need to shuffle the cards--apparently they are in alphabetical order, and the "front" end of the box starts with "z" and moves back toward "a." This is not exactly a natural way to learn a foreign language. (Did YOU learn to say new words in alphabetical order when you were a baby? I didn't think so. Neither did I.)

So, today yo zambullirse el zorro con el yeso en la agua. If I manage to finish dunking him without getting my arm ripped off, I'll see if that box of grammar cards can teach me how to say "dipped/plunged" (past tense) instead of "dip/plunge" (present tense).

Meanwhile, buenos dias mi amigos!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Come on in. La agua está muy bien. (Or: Why Some of My Facebook Posts and Comments Have Been In Spanish, Lately.)

If you are one of my Facebook friends, you may have noticed lately that some of my posts are in Spanish (usually short responses, like "Me gusta!" or short comments in response to comments made to my status by friends in Spanish). The reason for this is simple: I am at long last making a really concerted effort to stretch my extremely rudimentary understanding of Spanish beyond my narrow little comfort zone.

Free clip art courtesy of

There's nothing more motivating than a deadline, and I have one looming in front of me now: one of the requirements for successful completion of a PhD is that I be able to pass a written test that "proves" that I'm fluent in a foreign language. Though I WAS fluent in German as a small child, I've lost it all now. And though I took four semesters of honors French in college, receiving all A's and B's, I am hopeless at French because I've never had an opportunity to use it.

I only had one year of Spanish in 9th grade, but when I was working on my BFA 20+ years ago there was a family from Argentina living in the same building as my daughter and I in the university family housing. The father was working on a PhD in Agriculture, and the mother had a lot of time on her hands--she was a school teacher in Argentina, but spoke English as poorly as I speak Spanish now, and her teacher certification was no good in the states anyway. They had two daughters that were about the same age as my daughter, and they played together every day, and swam together at the university pool in the summer. The mother and I became friends, and were able to communicate by filling the gaps between my poor Spanish and her poor English by helping each other with the languages.

Now I teach in a high school with a large Latino/a student population, so I speak Spanish more frequently than I have in 20+ years. But 3 years into this experience I haven't really learned anything new, because it's my job to teach them English in my content area, so I do the same thing with them that I did with my Argentinian friend 20+ years ago. I rely on "Como  dice...en Espanol?" ("How do you Spanish?"). I have Spanish/English dictionaries in my room for the students so they can learn English better. This does nothing to encourage me to stretch and learn more Spanish.

Mostly I use my Spanish to make my Latino/a students feel more comfortable, always greeting them and asking how they are in Spanish. One day a couple of years ago I greeted one of our Latino students as usual in Spanish. He responded as usual, but then continued on in a rapid stream of Spanish out of which I was only able to pick out a few words. I gave him a confused, straining look as I hesitated, trying to pick out and sort the words I recognized into something that I could understand, but even if I'd been able to do that quickly enough for it to not be socially awkward, I still wouldn't have been able to formulate a response because I no longer have any vocabulary.

So I sighed, and immediately confessed that "Yo hablo muy, muy poquito Espanol."

He smiled, and said in heavily accented English,"Really? Because you speak Spanish with no American accent." Wow. I had fooled an actual native Spanish-speaker into thinking I could speak the language, without even trying! That was great feedback to get, because through that interaction I discovered that at least I pronounce what little I do know correctly!

But that was two years ago, and I'm no further along than I was. And now I feel the hot breath of the PhD demons on my heels, reminding me that I really should NOT wait until I'm about to take my oral and written exams to try to "bone up" on my Spanish! And what a waste of a wonderful opportunity--I have all these students and several really terrific colleagues at school who are fluent also who I'm sure would be willing to help me out.

The Universe started prodding me. I received several email solicitations from Rosetta Stone announcing huge mark-downs of their Spanish language modules (but even so, they are still really, really expensive). My mind drifted to my "Spanish for Gringos" CDS, gathering dust in the corner of my office. Then, Good News Network posted an announcement that the Foreign Service Institute has made all of its old language courses available for free to the public online: Wahoo! I went straight to the Spanish section and started going through their documents and sound files.

It occurred to me at this point that I already have documents and sound files--two different courses, complete with CDs, that I've been through without really exerting myself. At this point it occurred to me that what I really need is someone to work with me so I can practice in a natural way (rather than learning all of Mr. White's lines in the Foreign Service Institute dialogues). So I invited a Facebook friend (we'll call him "Friend A") to work with me online, and he said yes. Then, another friend ("Friend B") who is a lot more fluent than I am, but still wants to work on her Spanish jumped in, and I have two friends helping me online.

By far the single most useful thing I've done to ramp up my learning speed has been this: Friend A suggested that I change my language settings in Facebook to Espanol. Wow! I did that, and all the sudden I learned about 20 words that we see over and over in Facebook on buttons, links, etc. Me gusta! That's when Friend B jumped in--she thought that was a fantastic suggestion, too, and wanted to know how to change the settings.

So far so good. Friend A now only writes to me in Spanish, which is fantastic, and Friend B jumped on this bandwagon, too. I have finally found a useful purpose for the Google translation tool (because it really stinks for just copying and pasting blocks of text and getting anything that makes sense out of it): I only use it as a sort of Spanish/English, English/Spanish dictionary. I read the Spanish passages and try to work out what they mean without any help. Then I cut and past the individual words or short phrases from within the sentences that I don't know into the Google translation tool. This works GREAT because it means I'm learning vocabulary! It also works great because I'm now really LEARNING.

This morning, after I spent about 30 minutes using this method to translate two paragraphs of text, it occurred to me that I should make a list each day of all the new Spanish words I've learned, and attempt to use them in other contexts immediately, and then throughout the day, so I don't forget it all before it has a chance to sink in. So here's me doing that--today's words/phrases :

Spanish      -        English
idioma        -        language
ver mas      -        see more
ayudando/ayudandote  - helping/helping you 
la vida         -        life
agredicido   -        grateful
comentar    -        comment
gusta          -        like
configuración -     setting (literally: configuration)
ahora          -        now
Me quedo feliz -   I'm happy
se cambia    -       changes
se hace una manera - is a way (se hace=is, una manera=a way)
para            -       for, to
practicar      -        practice
perfil           -        profile
inicio           -        starting place / kick-off (in Facebook, this is the Home page)
eliminar       -        delete/remove
Hace una hora aproximadamente - about an hour ago
approximadamente - approximately
leer             -        to read
escribir        -        to write
mejor           -       better
despues       -        then/later/after
traduzco      -        translate
presos         -        prisoners
encanta       -        love
todavia        -        still
buena suerte -       good luck
hablando      -        talking
hablo           -        I talk/speak
decir            -        to say
puedo          -        I can
recibe          -        get
palabras       -        words
tambien        -       also
suena           -       sounds (as in, "sounds like")
de nuevo      -       again
esta manera -       this way

If any of you reading this (if anyone is reading this) are fluent in Spanish, you'll see right away that haven't used the infinitive forms of many of the verbs in my list--I just copied them out of the sentences the way they were used, understanding that if I use them in other forms I'll have to learn the correct conjugations. But for now, I'm just so happy to have increased my Spanish vocabulary by several words! This new method of learning the language is already working really well, and I'm so excited estaaprendiendo Español! 

If there are any other friends out there who want to join in on the fun of helping me (and maybe even helping yourself) to learn Spanish, don't be shy! Come on in; the water's fine. ;-) 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Great" Facebook Debates Lead to New Blog

Over the course of the last year I couldn't help but notice a lot of anger being expressed on Facebook regarding politics. Most of this was coming from extremely conservative Christian corners, regarding imminent health care reform policies about to be enacted into law. I won't use this particular post to debate the particulars of the pending legislation and all of its many revisions (maybe later), but I was astounded at how these good Christian folks were so angry about the possibility of this legislation passing. They accurately called it a socialist policy, but that was their very justification for bashing the bill--apparently Jesus would not support equal access to health care for all, regardless of socio-economic circumstances. This nearly left me dumbfounded.

I say nearly, because I attempted to reason out the issue from a biblical perspective for a short while. I am a Christian too, after all, and my interpretation of what Jesus taught is not even in the same universe, apparently, as these other Christians' interpretations. There was no reasoning it out though, because these debates were not debates at all. I would find documented research and facts, post them, and then be told that I couldn't trust what those people said. Why? Well, because the people who were losing the debate said I couldn't, that's why--no facts whatsoever were presented to support the other side of the argument.

It got ugly. At one point I came all unglued over a Fox News story about a survey "proving" that a college education makes you stupid. This new tack in the health care debate just made me mad: "We can't win, so we'll just make stuff up, now." I frothed at the digital mouth on my Facebook page about this, and one of my right-wing friends posted a link to the website with the survey, inviting me to investigate. I did. I even took the survey. The survey is touted to be about civic literacy, but it is really about capitalism and the free market system. (Guess who stands to lose if the health care reform legislation is passed: Insurance companies who operate on a free market system, that's who.) Even though I am not an expert on economics, I scored 85% (the national average was 75%). So, I more than passed their "civic literacy" test by a wide margin, thus disproving (according to their skewed logic) that my college degrees had made me stupid.

My friend who posted the article/survey un-friended me over this, without so much as a "fare thee well." OK. Whatever. That was good information to gain about that "friend."

But the whole unfriendly encounter got me to thinking about what I was really trying to accomplish by engaging in these bogus debates.

According to the International Debate Education Association (IDEA), a debate is "a way for those who hold opposing views to discuss controversial issues without descending to insult, emotional appeals, or personal bias. A key trademark of debate is that it rarely ends in agreement, but rather, allows for a robust analysis of the question at hand."

The IDEA uses the Karl Popper debate format, which begins with an affirmative speech centered around a positive resolution (e.g., "I think Jesus would have supported health care reform because..."). It's called a "positive resolution" because you state it such that you are for it, not against it. Then a negative cross examination ensues (questions designed to shoot holes in the resolution), followed by a negative speech centering around the opposite of the positive resolution (e.g., "I think Jesus would not have supported health care reform because..."). These two items are repeated, and then followed by affirmative closing remarks, and then negative closing remarks. Hopefully you understand that I, nor Karl Popper, are commenting on the merits of the argument with the use of "positive" and "negative"--this means you're either for the resolution (positive) or against it (negative).

The so-called debates that I had been sucked into were conducted more along the lines of this format: . (If you read all the comments to the very bottom of the thread, remember: I'm the one who got blocked--or un-friended, in this case--not the other way around. ;-)

So, what was I trying to accomplish by participating in these debates? Of course, I was trying to participate in "a robust analysis of the question at hand." It wasn't necessary for my "opponents" to agree with me, but I was hoping for a real debate (even though I wasn't the one who started it). I haven't gotten one yet. So far everyone on the "other side of the aisle" on this issue has yet to provide any research or documentation to support their position (not even a quote from the Bible, for heaven's sake--if that's going to be the bedrock of your position, why not quote it?).

What actually happened though was that I stirred up a huge hornet's nest every time I had the audacity to attempt to confuse my opponents with the facts. (I'm not saying I'm right about my particular point of view, but I did provide bona fide documentation to support my position, which is one of the steps in a real debate.) They questioned my faith, called me stupid, and got really, really mad. I got frustrated and a little angry in response. It just felt yucky.

What I Learned From All This

After my so-called friend un-friended me over the so-called civic literacy survey debate, I remembered something my grandmothers used to tell me (they all read from the same book, don't they?): "You'll attract more flies with honey than with vinegar." (I always wondered why I would want to attract flies in the first place, but never mind--I get the moral metaphor.)

I decided my grandmothers were right about this (this is not open for debate--they just are, OK?), and chose to try a new tack. Ever after I will only post good news and positive results that spring from the policies and legislation I support as a way to inform the "other side" of the reasons I support these things. I also do not respond to posts designed to get my dander up. I just let them roll by, because unless I say something in total agreement then I'm just going to be told I'm going to Hell for disagreeing with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. It's pointless, and it just makes me feel crummy, and doesn't do anything to further my cause.

The extreme right-wing and the extreme left-wing have BOTH forgotten how to do conduct a debate, if they ever knew at all. The extreme left-wing is particularly skilled at insulting the intelligence of the right-wing (which may be why I was so unsettled by the so-called civic literacy test--they used the extreme left's favorite weapon against them). The extreme right-wing has been relying more and more on the "you're going to Hell because only a communist would support Barack Obama!" retort (although since the health care reform passed their latest strategy seems to be to pretend that they are the majority and the government is trampling their rights, which can't be true, because Presidents are elected and legislation is passed by majority vote). Regardless of tactics and strategies, neither side seems to be getting their message across effectively. Both sides seem more interested in being right than in changing the world for the better.

The most disturbing part of all of this is how frequently Jesus' and God's names are thrown around in support of some pretty mean-spirited comments and policies. This makes all of us Christians who are not on either the far left or the far right look just as bad as the Christians mishandling the teachings of Jesus.

What I've Decided to Do

So I started a new blog: Behold the Lilies. Instead of starting up another debate to prove to these folks that they are wrong in the way they've been representing Christianity as Jesus taught it, I've decided to be the change I want to see in the world. (Uh oh! Gandhi said that! He was a Hindu, so I must be going to Hell for quoting him, right? Wrong! Read on...)

It is really disturbing to me to see how the Bible is used as a weapon against the very social progress and policies that Jesus himself tried to make happen 2000+ years ago. Instead of contributing to the negative environment, I'm going to do what Jesus did and tell stories that reflect and radiate the joy and miracles that happen everyday as evidence of the God I see revealed in the world.

Because Jesus is so frequently misrepresented by folks who use his name in defense of their arguments, I'll be using the Bible as documentation to support my observations. As of this writing, I've read the Old Testament over 8 times, the New Testament over 16 times, the Psalms over 16 times, and the Proverbs over 96 times. I know what's in the Bible, what Jesus and everyone else who is in it said, and it is NOT what the people calling health care reform a communist initiative say it is. Jesus taught us that love, compassion and joy are supposed to guide our every move.

Because I live in a world where we are so fortunate to understand so much about how the Universe works, thanks to so many wonderful scientists throughout history, I'll also be using scientific data as documentation to support my observations. Joseph Campbell said that in order for religion to continue to work over time, it must keep up with the Universe as known. Evangelical pastor and writer Michael Dowd, author of "Thank God for Evolution" confirms Campbell's idea in his book, asserting that science confirms the existence of a loving God and a friendly Universe.

Because I know that an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God is big enough to reveal itself to everyone on the planet in a way that they are able to get it, I am grateful for the other great religious traditions of the world that have informed our own Christian religion so greatly. A lot of what Jesus taught is the same as what the Buddha taught 500 years earlier--the central truths of life are universal; how can it be true only when Jesus said it, but not when the Buddha said it?

Though I respect and admire the other great religious traditions of the world, my own cultural orientation is Christian, so that is the viewpoint I will be coming from. I sincerely believe that there is common ground to be gained by listening first, and then seeking to be heard. And that's what I'm attempting to do from here on out.

What About THIS Blog?

This blog has always been about whatever I'm immersed in at the moment, which for the last several years has been Art, Art Education, and Native American Studies. It will continue to be my outlet for sharing what I'm doing in those areas, as well as anything else I find interesting or fun. It is a sad commentary on my workaholism that it has been primarily about my work--I'll try to do better and play more. I'll also try to make more regular posts. I was astounded when I realized I haven't posted anything since last August! Yikes! I'll be back soon, I promise. :-)