Thursday, August 31, 2006

That Special Spark of Life?

Going from the ridiculous to the sublime, I just couldn't resist these two graphic representations of a very controversial topic right now. With the latest news being that a small portion of a stem cell can be extracted and viably used without hurting or killing the donor cell, it seems that the much needed research using them for Parkingson and spinal trauma etc. can move forward and we can keep up with the rest of the World's Scientific Community...cutting pun intended.

Since my blog's theme is "preserving life"...especially mine, my family's etc. I think it is only fitting that I take a stand on such an important issue. My views are somewhere in the middle of these two "extremes" depicted. All life is sacred but when does it actually become "life"? And if the cells were going to be discarded or aborted anyway, what's the point? If another aging, dying life can be saved or prolonged by this procedure, then why not?

The above cartoons/comics poke fun at what, I think, so many of us have grown to detest. ie. the "militant" side of the question where the proponents almost "dare you" to disagree with a "pro-life" issue. We all want to save lives, like this "Life Guard" but sometime it can't be would be too "god-like" omnipotent to do so. So we kind of sit there with our "shades" on and try to ignore the whole problem.

The section below of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the "Cappella Sistina" ceiling by Michaelangelo, to me graphically represents another extreme on the issue. (my wife did it in about a week) We again had the opportunity to see this masterpiece in Rome at the Vatican and were struck by the center "panel" of "creation" in the artist's mind. The whole ceiling is an optical illusion since is looks vaulted but is actually flat. How appropriate. Also the figures at one end are more foreshortened we were told because he "ran out of room" for all the Bible stories he had to tell.

When is conception? Is it purely physical? Are our lives conceived and changed as we live and grow...up...much like our thoughts? It continues to be "a puzzle" to me. Bob!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Love's Labors Lost?

When the heart
is cut or cracked or broken
Do not clutch it
Let the wound lie open
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt
And let it sting
Let a stray dog lick it
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell
And let it ring
Michael Leunig
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong,
And I am Marie of Roumania.
Dorothy Parker
These are two poems from my Poem a Day book that seem to be so appropriate right now in part of our family's life. So called "Love" can motivate us all to do things that we subsequently regret. Not only "feelings" get hurt...little people do too. They then "Inherit the Wind". But we must all muddle through and do the best with what we are given. (or with what we choose) Time does not always heal a broken heart it just procreates another one. How sad...making it so hard to... Bob!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Giving it the "Old College Try" again...Really Old

So I'm almost done with my first week back to school at Crafton Hills College. What a kick! I have one more class lecture/lab Friday. I'm really enjoying it so far. Some things have changed since I last went to college back before and during the '70's. Actually it has been since the '60's when I last went to a Junior College. Where has the time gone? What do "they" say, "Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans." Well, I didn't really make other plans. I've always planned to go back to college and "follow my bliss" ie. study the things and take the courses I never got a chance to take and wanted to. If you look back in my posts last year you find my planning and applying to CHC. And that is just what I'm doing. I actually was going to work on my creative writing but first, I had to have some Music and Art...what I most enjoyed teaching on the elementary level all those 38 years of my career.

You see, I never had "History of Art"...back then they called it "Western Civilization" a "required course". Now I have this most interesting and entertaining professor with slides in a "darkened theater style classroom along with 40 other students who could be my grandchildren age-wise. Not to worry. I think the subject is facinating, especially since our Greek Isles Cruise in May. I'm already reading and hearing about "object de arte" that I have actually seen, touched and walked on. I'm really into making "flash cards" of all the "Canon" and Provenance on each site and object. I plan to renew our membership to the Huntington. We had let it lapse. I used to take kids there every year. I'm looking forward to seeing the new Chinese Exhibit which we have received notice about.

I'm also enjoying my Music Theory class with a very experienced professor. He is cool ie. plays the bass or double bass and leads a jazz group on Thursday nights. I wonder if he does vocal jazz like Bruce Rogers at Mt. Sac. I should ask. He is requiring a lab on Fridays after class. This should be fun. He has offered the use of more than 20 practice room pianos. I can use ours at home but it might be fun to use the schools too. The last time I did that was at North Park College when I was practicing for my call back audition to the choir. I was singing bass at the time and had to learn a very diffficult hymn's bass part, "Break Forth O Beautious Heavenly Light" I'll never forget it. That year the choir toured the Pacific west coast of the U.S. The next year it was the east coast. I'm looking forward to finally learning key signatures and how to change pitches with sharps and flats for memeory. I recognize the rudiments for barbarshop singing which is all acappella but not how to notate it.

The Mixed Chorus class on Tuesday nights is starting out interestingly. I volunteered to audition first. He always needs tenors. Who doesn't. There were about twenty there and there will be a Christmas performance required. Our director/professor has a church choir in Redlands and knows Howard Duffer from Inland. I sang with them one year when I had to stop Mountainside Master Chorale. Bruce Rogers was the best. He spoils you for other conductors because of his expertise and his friendliness and compassion. He made it fun to sing. I've already met two of the young men that were there. Brian Harkness was one and I've already forgotten the other's name. He wanted to know if I knew his dad when I sang with the IMC. I didn't.

I have an hour between classes to have my lunch and just enjoy the campus. I've been doing just that. I love the carolon (sp) bells that play at noon. There are lots of trees, grass and views of the valley below the Yucaipa Hills (Crafton Hills) I must look alittle strange...not just because of my age, there are very few there my age or even approaching it. I also pull my backpack. It is too heavy with all the books and it has wheels. I also have my little lunch pal, mini fridge. I'll probably stop carrying all my books and grab lunch at the Student Dining Hall...even though it didn't smell all that good...alittle greasy. I have time to leave the campus to a local coffee house "Grounds for Enjoyment"...about 10 mins. away but then I'd lose my parking spot. This is one of the things that hasn't chanced since I went to Cal-State L.A. Parking! Even though I bought the sticker, I have to endlessly cruise for a recently vacated spot...they go quiokly. So far I've had to park in the remote lots and walk. I don't mind the walks. Of course there is also the beautiful, young "scenery" many of the co-eds have such a "sense of fashion"...if you know what I mean. Ah youth! I have interacted or conversed with no one yet. None seems to need "fatherly" or "Grandfatherly" advice...other than..."get more clothes on please"...and I wouldn't want to say that. Wait 'til it turns cooler. Bob!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Trevor Goodchild + Aeon Flux

Two very interesting names don't you think? I especially like the the first...a bias of mine. It smacks of such genuine heroic proportions. The writers of first a TV show and now a movie must've thought so too. In their Sci-Fi Thriller taking place in the 25th century, he is first a villain and then a hero along with his former wife and heroine Aeon Flux. She is a "monokin" and very special genetically. In the title role Aeon is first sent to assassinate him as the protagonist and then she turns with him to fight the real antagonist, his evil brother Orin.

This plot may sound familiar to many. It comes from ancient mythology and from the Bible. Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his jealous brothers all had the same cathartic problems with each other. I think you can site more "problem brothers" than "buddy brothers" down through the ages. I can only think of David and Jonathan as a positive example for now. Orin, the second in command to his brother, Trevor, hatches a plot to unseat his brother and keep the old regime going. Trevor, nobly, has been trying to discover a cure for the fatal disease that has made everyone sterile. Orin knows that Trevor is succeeding but has been executing the evidence of his success. I don't want to tell the full plot and spoil it for my "vast readership" but I'm saying that it does keep you guessing and engrossed.

Then there is the beautifully designed, starkly modern scenes and costumes of Aeon. She is the tall and athletic Charlize Theron. She fits into her surroundings which are all ultra modern and quite graphically creative. One of the key co-conspirators with Aeon is her colleague monokin Cynthantra. She has hands for look out. (no match for Aeon though) My favorite Aeon feature is her deadly...whistle. She has such strength; not only physical, but moral and mental. She is wonderful example of what many of our women today aspire to be...invincible, indomitable, self-sufficient. "Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound". Yes, it's a brave new world out there and this movie/TV show sure brings it on. Enjoy! Bob!

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I just received an excellent suggestion from a long time friend of mine. I think it is very fitting for my blog and the underlying theme, ie. "Life Preservation". The initials I.C.E. in this case stand for "In Case of Emergency"...not some new "rapper". The suggestion with these initials is that everyone who carries a cellular phone should put these letters in the phone's memory and they would be connected to the one person or persons that you would want notified "in case of emergency" and you were unconscious. This person might just be your next of kin or loved one or someone who would know who to call and what emergency procedures should be followed. It is also suggested that "ICE1" or ICE2 and so on be used for a priortized list of those who need to know of your emergency. They could also be other numbers for the same person just in case the first number, say, a cell number is down or turned off.

As I was programming our cell phones I mentioned this to my wife. Oh oh..."a different kind of ICE"...It seems she told me to do that several month ago. Her sister and brother-in-law had done it and suggested we do the same. I have no memory of this suggestion at all and of course, never did it. Big trouble! Paying more attention to my email friends/suggestions than my wife's. Big no-no. I'm thinking this is not my unique problem. Many "long-time", "survivor-husbands" have probably developed a "syndrome" that I'm now going to call "I.C.E" for "Inconsistant Concentration Energy" It is sort of an off-shoot of the "Yes, honey...(nod)" modus operandi that we all have had to adopt/adapt just to "survive". Some other names might be..."Inconsiderate Concern Envelope" or "Insouciant Conjugal Entropy". Can you think of some others? I'm guessing it is a habit developed over years of hearing "talk" in the background, especially on the phone. She and her sister spend hours there. My suggestion is that there be a physical gesture or sign when she wants me to really listen and take notes. What do you think? Bob!