3-24-2010 World Folk Tales and Fables Week

Hi all,                                                                           March 24, 2010
This has been a disturbingly munged together week; we don’t have to keep track of what day it is anymore- except for knowing what days we are going to shows. There’s no school, there’s no work (outside the house), and we don’t even watch TV anymore (we watch DVDs- sometimes of TV shows, and I think maybe the girls watch on their computers). Basically, we don’t interact with the rest of the world enough to have a constant awareness of what day it is. It’s rather disorienting.
The weather’s gotten chilly again, it rained for a couple of days- but I didn’t go out in it, so the cool was all I noticed. (It wasn’t cold enough for me to close my bedroom window, but also not warm enough for me to unblock the vent so that warm air doesn’t leak out from the kitchen through my bedroom.) No more snow around here, and yay! yay! yay! we got our first snowdrop the other day, and today we have three crocus and the daffodils and hyacinth are poking up through the leaves I used to bury the garden border before winter. Oh I do love the first flowers! Now I have to remember if those were the ones I planted some in Dad’s yard and some in mine (from the same package) so we could see how far his garden zone is behind mine. I don’t think that was where I put those. I wish I’d written it down.

All week I’ve been “thinking backwards”, trying to keep track of how much needs to be done (and in what order) before leaving for Ecumenicon- I was making new sculpture, and that meant that they had to be fired, and they had to be sufficiently dry before they could fire, and obviously they had to be done before they could be set to dry. That, and how much light there is, or how much feed there is left for the goats and rabbits is how we keep time, and it’s not linked up with everyone else. So I guess we aren’t totally detached from the world, there are deadlines for signing up for shows- Willow had to get on a waiting list because PortCon, one of the events she really likes, filled up between the last time she checked it and this most recent time. Now she’s on another waiting list. So far we’ve been lucky with such situations, but one can’t count on it, and not knowing is stressful.
I’ve also been doing the email back and forth as vendor coordinator for the Beltaine at A Sacred Place- which makes me crazy when they ask me questions I don’t have the answer to. I really feel for all the other people who try to organize events, like Charles doing Ecumenicon, or Jane and Mithracon. And I have an article to write for Sage Woman (luckily not until next month) and paintings to do.
This year the Pennsic organizers offered merchants the option of registering on-line, and there are still many glitches in the program, so we fought it for a long time, and I finally called Cindy, who says she’s been getting so many calls she feels like throwing her computer out the window. Actually, that made me feel much better; I’m not sure whether it’s knowing that it wasn’t just me having problems, or whether other people got upset with their computers too. I KNOW that computers do help us do things faster and easier and stay in touch- but when they don’t do what we expected them to do, it gets so frustrating! (and we still have to mail in a physical check and contract even if we do the rest on-line).

As I’ve been bustling around this week I’ve had the tune “That’s Entertainment” (and a few other old show tunes) going through my head, because I watched That’s Entertainment II. In the sequel they had Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire hosting, as well as lots of great clips from the MGM film archives. And they danced- not as well as they used to, but still much better than what I can do- and they were 63 and 76 (as I recall). And the melodies have stuck in my head again. I saw several movies I put on my queue- of course it’s really long.
We are continuing to watch and enjoy the TV show Bones discs. I had no idea that Angel (Boreanis previous show) had been off the air for so long. I am so totally charmed by their geek squad! Apparently geeks are the new “cute guys”. There was a Sandra Bullock romantic comedy called The Proposal which was good in a very lightweight way. I kept wondering if it was a remake of some old movie with gender reversal. A boss blackmails her secretary to marry her because her visa has expired, and although they start hating each other, they predictably fall in love by the time their scheme is found out. A vampire movie- 30 Days of Night was different than the usual horror movie because mainly the plot is that in a town in northernmost town in Alaska, some vampires figure out that there’s no daylight there for 30 days and move there and start killing people. But they are unconvincing vampires- they leave a whole lot of blood on the snow- don’t make their human prey last, but just kill a lot; and unlike most movies, the humans just keep getting killed off. Not that good.
As I said, I’ve been continuing to listen to the course on the History of Ancient Egypt (which crept into my art- I made Shabtis, and a Thoth in his baboon form as god of scribes), babbling to the German lessons, and occasionally watching the Archeology of Ancient Greece and Rome. And a new book came in on Anglo-Saxon Burial Mounds– I’m psyched as a kid in a candystore! (the kids think I’m funny)
I’ve finally finished Justinian’s Flea by William Rosen (I’ve been reading too many books at once and not finishing any, but I’m going to try to go back and finish some of them). I also finished Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs.) Justinian’s Flea is pretty much about the complexity of the sixth century, exploring why so many things happened then, including the effect of the 6th century occurrence of the bubonic plague. Among other things, he suggests that without the economic effects of the huge population drop in the 6th century, Islam might not have been able to spread in the 7th. Of course I can’t help noticing that the other big thing going on in Eurasia at that point (the Age of Migration) was the huge numbers of people- whole peoples and cultures, who were moving from one area to another. They keep suggesting that most were being pushed from behind by other moving peoples- going back to the Huns pushing from the Steppes. But why did they start pushing west? Were there a few generations of great weather that resulted in a population explosion that required they spread? Could it be tracked back to some micro-organism doing something like the tracheal mites infesting the bees causing them to die off, causing crops they pollinate to fail, causing animals who depend on them to have to seek other sustenance? Rosen successfully demonstrated that there are so many interacting factors that we can’t track any occurrence to one cause. He did have a lot of information on the plague- as I’d hoped. As in the 14th century, it spread over most of Europe- faster over sea-routes, and a third of the population in affected areas died. I did get to finding it
very annoying that Rosen referred to the plague as “the demon”. I didn’t mind it the first few times but he was still doing it consistently at the end of the book. It got old.

Of course, I’m now burning with curiosity about the silk trade. I knew it came from China along the caravan route, but it apparently also went by sea around India- even during the Roman Empire. Also I want to know more about the Sassanian Empire and the Hittites and Assyrians (probably because I’ve been listening to the Egyptian audio course- I’m about 40 lectures in). I suppose we are years away from having names for the European civilizations that were going on at that point although they’ve been finding evidence (opidea or walled towns with industrial activities) for them for a few decades. Nice to know that we weren’t total barbarians, although I’m getting the impression that civilization is “marked” by writing that historians can decypher, but more by building large impressive things so after the culture is gone the people who come after them can go “oh wow, I guess they actually could do something.” If you raise a happy family or write a song, that’s nice, but if you shape and stack stones, or something more permanent, THEN you’ve achieved something.
Personally, I prefer the idea of “walking gently on the earth”- but one can’t look at Mt. Rushmore and not be impressed. Of course, I’d have felt the same way about the Kwan Yin that those Taliban idiots blew up. It’s hard for me to remind myself that what one subset of the Taliban does does not define every individual in the whole set. I hope that people give me the same individuality.
In the news- I was gratified to read a story about a study in Princeton about High Fructose Corn syrup clearly linking it to obesity. Now, of course, they want to know why, because up until now, a calorie is supposed to be a calorie, but they tested plain sugar against the high fructose corn syrup and fat, and it was the corn syrup that made the rats fat. Since the introduction of HFCS as a cheap sugar is quite closely matched to the epidemic of obesity. I expect to see the industry respond with immediate tests of their own to vindicate their product- and of course we all want to keep being able to use something that’s cheaper, as long as it’s not CLEARLY much worse for us. I thought about the way I talk myself into things I “know better than to do”, and came up with this essay:
The more I learn about how our bodies can react to tiny amounts of some substances the more I am disturbed about how we, as a culture, ignore these various things which are proven over and over by different scientists in different “fields” from medicine to allergies/ sensitivities, to surprising side effects from energy fields and sounds and other things that are part of modern life- and of course we see these affects in our own lives as well. But we have the most amazing arguments for continuing to do things that hurt ourselves.
I keep imagining this sort of conversation that takes place when someone discovers that something is bad for them, and their friends learn that they’ve changed their position on it.

Have some poison, dear.
Ah, no thank you, it’s poison.

But it’s delicious.
But it’s poison.

You like it, I know you like it. You used to have it all time.
Yes, but I found out it was poison, so I don’t any more.

Well, just have a little.
No thanks, it’s poison.

But you’ve already had so much, what difference can a little more make?
No thank you. I’ve had enough.

Everyone else is having some.
But I choose not to.

But it’s already paid for- this will be the last time, just until it’s used up.
It’s still poisonous.

People have been eating it for years and not being hurt.
Things have changed, the situation is not quite the same as it was. Levels are dangerous now.

It’ll go bad, it’s wasteful not to use it.
But if I used it, it will be bad for me, so I’m not going to.

Sometimes you have some and don’t realize it.
All the more reason to avoid it when I can tell.

I can’t tell that it’s hurting anyone.
It’s subtle, but I’m not going to have any.

If you don’t have any you’re insulting me, my judgement, the judgement of everyone else who has some.
I allow you to make your decisions, I made mine.

I disagree with your sources
Yes, and I disagree with yours. I’ll go with my best information, you go with yours.

But I worked so hard on it, don’t you appreciate me/love me?
I love you, but I’m not having any.

You have to have some or I’ll get in trouble.
Sorry, but I have to do what I think is right for me.

Experts say it’s better for you. Your not going along could cause a panic/economic disruption/ etc.
You don’t know as much as the experts, you should go along with their advice.
I am not convinced that they are unbiased. They may be dealing with pressures- as you seem to be. I’m not having any poison.

There’s something wrong with you psychologically if you don’t go along with experts and the majority.
I don’t agree with that either (and I’m not having any).

God wants you to have some.
I disagree with that interpretation of God’s will.

I’ve tried to think of all the strange permutations of how people try to get other people to go along with them- whether they are trying to share an alcoholic drink, a piece of cake, or a medication, or common activity. I tried to make them approximately in the ascending order people use when they are trying to convince someone of something. (Although I’m not sure whether Gods will “trumps” You don’t love me” or vice versa, it probably depends on the people.) We sure do get insecure when other people disagree with us! If someone disagrees, we could be wrong, and that’s scary. Better to go with the majority. Even if we know that, for instance, we get flushed when we eat chocolate- it still tastes good, and “they wouldn’t sell it if it was dangerous”- right? In this world where safety margins are decided on by averages, we often lose our initiative for self protection.

Do they still call it an essay if you write it on a Blog?

Since we’ll be gone until pretty much the end of the month, I’ve been trying to deal with lots of scheduling: I got a notice for a psychic fair in April and since I’m the vendor coodinator for Beltaine in NH Memorial Day weekend, I wrote the others on that list to see if they wanted to come sell there. Discussions have started about the Columbus Day weekend event, Twilight Covening, and the people who are running that want everyone to come to three other weekend meetings (involving three hours of driving each way for about a three hour meeting),
Kat has finally gotten ready to start calling therapists to see if someone can help her get over her fear of people (especially touching her). She’s getting better, but therapy should make it faster. Of course, it’s hard for her to initiate this with people, since she is afraid of people. I guess I’m cross because while it’s a really good idea for us to interview various therapists to see how they get along with her, the therapists- who are looking at getting over an hundred dollars a week from her, are charging her money for this interview, and we have to pay for the several. Seems to me since they’ll be making money from her, they should foot that bill, or charge less rather than more. But on top of that, all we are hearing is “what kind of insurance do you have? None? OK, I haven’t got any openings in my schedule”. Since if it’s anything like hospitals, they get more per visit from the uninsured than the insurance company has negotiated with them to pay for the insured, I don’t know why they seem to prefer the insured unless the ones who are paying out of pocket are more likely to say “this isn’t helping, I’m outta here!” whereas if there’s no “out of pocket” (as most insurance comes “out of paycheck”) they’re more likely to stick around for months or years. (Gripe, gripe) Anyway, she checked out the first one this morning, and didn’t “click”. I suppose we’ll keep looking. I’m not anti-therapy, but it has to be the right therapist with the right system. And let’s face it- these are job interviews with Kat deciding on which ’employee’ to ‘hire’, whether they think of it that way or not.
Sigh, I feel like a frikkin secretary. I do have a greater appreciation of why the cost of each session is so much- you aren’t just paying for the therapist’s time (and insurance, and office) but also for their secretary without whom the practice wouldn’t run. I think I may put in as many hours doing this secretarial part of the business as we do selling, and probably DSCN0565more than making art.
And there are other “not art” parts: We got another order of socks in, which requires rolling them and putting them in the bins, and updating the inventory in the computer. The packing (and unpacking) the van. The planning workshops and making and printing out handouts for them. Willow has picked up some pvc pipe and elbows and junctions and made a display rack for her computer blankets- and picked up a couple dufflebags to transport them in. (Yes, in the last couple of months while she’s been “too tired to do anything”, she has hand-stitched enough blankets to fill two dufflebags.) The advantage of DSCN0566the duffles is that when empty they collapse for the trip home. Animecon is very expensive, but she has hopes of more than breaking even because of the blankets- and the stuffies. She’s going to be working on stuffed characters while at Ecumenicon. I hope we can get pictures of her blankets and my sculpture to show you, but I’m still trying to get my camera fixed.
That reminds me- I was going to keep it short so I can get to bed early (long drive tomorrow!).
There is no other way of guarding oneself against flattery than by letting men understand that they will not offend you by speaking the truth; but when everyone can tell you the truth, you lose their respect. – Machiavelli in The Prince



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