Friday, August 20, 2010
I have a bumper sticker on the back of my little Honda Civic that says, "KILL your TV!" That gives you a purdy clear picture of my position on the quality of television and the miniscule amount of it that I think is worth watching. This segues easily over into the video games arena in the sense that what we are putting into our minds impacts our behavior and who we are in terms of our values and priorities. I feel strongly that the level of violence in this country can be closely correlated to these phenomena.
What is your position about all of this?
"A new video game set in modern-day Afghanistan coming out in October simulates war. The game's multi-player format allows some gamers to be in the role of the Taliban, while others play the part of the coalition forces. Karen Meredith, whose son died in Afghanistan, told Fox News, "My son didn't get to start over when he was killed. His life is over, and I have to deal with this every day...it's just not a game." Jim Sterling, a writer at gamer website Destructoid thinks the war game is fine, "No, war is not a game. But games about war...they are games. Nobody made Meredith's son become a soldier just like nobody will make Meredith buy Medal of Honor." Now you can blast to smithereens allied troops while news filters through on your radio or TV of another young soldier killed by a car bomb.
"This new Afghanistan war game raises two questions. The first, of course, is whether it's appropriate for a major corporation to be giving our children an opportunity to play the role of Taliban killing American soldiers. The second and larger issue, is whether these games of violence - which were first developed three decades ago by the US military to help train US soldiers learn to overcome the cultural prohibition against killing - should be considered as neurologically dangerous to young and developing minds as hard core pornography.
"Just as with pornography's influence on young people, there is conflicting science on both sides of the argument. But in the face of this uncertainty, shouldn't we regulate games that teach and show murder and violence the same way we regulate actual and even cartoon depictions of explicit sexual behavior?"
In the Dhammapada the Buddha taught:
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Does it get any better than this: I pull in after three months *on the road* around noon yesterday, pull myself together, gather gifts and take off for festivities with dear friends for three birthday celebrants at Ellen's fabulous hilltop *Tree House* (so called because it's built on a hill up among them) whose kitchen window looks out directly at Pinnacle Mountain.
Ellen, one of the birthday girls, who is the hostess-with-the-mostest with Chloe!
Me with two of the birthday girls, former housemate Janice and Ellen.
The third birthday girl, Gail on the left, with Fritzie in the middle, and Pat, who shaved her head in solidarity with a dear friend who is grappling with breast cancer
Fritzie, Pat and (blinking) Janice again. The first celebration was for my birthday, held at Fritzie's place. I blogged about it back-when:
Anne Avant, famed and favorite Iyengar Yoga teacher, Ellen, and Amy (just back from 3 weeks in Bulgaria...and earlier in the summer yet another trip to China). After the February celebration, Anne sent an email out to everyone and said we should keep doing this periodically...and the next one was held at her place last May!
Johnye (Janice's mom and the matriarch of the group), Pam who, instead of completing her PhD in English Lit, got practical and picked up an accounting degree and ultimately became a CPA -- fortunately, I think, she has stopped playing with numbers and is back to playing with words...she is the quintessential wordsmith!), and Camille (who finished the semi-finals game of a tennis tournament in time to join us). Camille started the prison project and Pat, Gail, and I volunteer in it with her.
Some kitchen action.
Here Janice, just back from two months camping and volunteering for the National Park Service (she and her sister Judy lead light house tours where they stay at Devil's Island in Lake Superior) at the Great Lakes, is singing the song she wrote for Ellen and Monroe's wedding, was it three(?) years ago (one of those storybook romances...lucky Ellen!)
Unfortunately Judy missed the celebration because she was on-call at the hospital. (She's a pediatrician.) SparkFriend Sandra also missed it because she's in Wisconsin helping her mom post-op; Jean and Pamela are also in WI...visiting friends and family; Siaw Khian is visiting family in Malaysia and Marilyn is in Missouri, supporting her mom, whose partner is very ill.
At our next celebration Johnye will be celebrating her EIGHTIETH! I wish this was lighter...I swear she looks longer than me! (ROTFLOL!!! Gotta' leave that typo -- since at almost 6' tall, she is DEFINITELY "longer" than my 5'3" and she looks YOUNGER than me too.) Mid-life Johnye decided she wanted a PhD, finished it and proceeded to join the faculty of the English Department of U of AR and taught English Literature for many years there. And it makes my head spin to think of everything she's involved in now! Is that the formula Johnye???
Pinnacle Mountain at sunrise
A FRIENDSHIP BLESSING
May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul
where there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
May they bring you all the blessings, challenges, truth, and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam cara.
-- John O'Donohue, from Anam Cara
(Anam cara is Gaelic for "soul friend")
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I left Pennsylvania a few days ago. I last stayed three days and two nights in Ohiopyle, an area incredibly rich with recreational resources, among them an awesome bike trail.
The Youghiogheny River Trail has 27 miles of trail in the park and is part of the Great Allegheny Passage that connects Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cumberland, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.). The flat, crushed limestone trail was once the rail bed for the Western Maryland Railroad.
I rode only 10 miles of the extraordinary trail (or 20 miles round trip) and it was a virtual wonderland! I really hope to return to the Ohiopyle area of Pennsylvania again. My PA friends Lew and Tracey are totally right!
As I rode, I sometimes heard the roar of the rapids over the boulders...at other times the still waters created a quietness that was mesmerizing. The topography varied on the trail and always the river was below, although it was difficult to capture it with my camera. It was cool in the woods during the entire ride...I was always shaded by the canopy of trees. I shot photos on the ride back, and here is the visual offering from that magical experience:
Friday, August 13, 2010
A few pieces from the sculpture garden:
The Hagan House began in 1953 when the Hagans, owners of a major dairy company in Western Pennsylvania, purchased an 80 acres mountain just north of their native Uniontown, the county seat. As friends of the Kaufmanns, owners of nearby Fallingwater on Bear Run, the Hagans asked their architect Frank Lloyd Wright, then 86 years old, to design a deluxe Usonian home for them. The house was completed in 1956, and the Hagans lived at Kentuck Knob for almost 30 years.
In 1986 Lord Palumbo of London, England bought the property for $600,000 as a vacation home. Since 1996, the Palumbo family has balanced their occupancy with a public tour program, a method of historic property management more common to their native England than to the United States.
The Palumbos added a sculpture meadow to the site near the base of the mountain, where 35 sculptures by artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, Ray Smith, and Sir Anthony Caro are displayed. Found art pieces include a French pissoir, red English telephone boxes, and a large, vertically upright concrete slab from the Berlin Wall. The meadow is reached by a walking path through woods from either the house or the visitors center.
Wright employed tidewater red cypress, glass, and native sandstone to build the home and capped it with a copper roof at a cost of $96,000.
At 86, and hard at work on the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and about 12 residential homes, Wright said he could "shake it (Kentuck Knob) out of his sleeve at will" never even setting foot on the site, except for a short visit during the construction phase. This would be one of the last homes to be completed by Wright.
The crescent-shaped house curls around a west-facing courtyard, blending into the contours of the land. The anchor of the design is a hexagonal stone core that rises from the hipped roof at the intersection of the living and bedroom wings. The walls of the flat-roofed carport and studio burrow into the knob and define the courtyard's eastern side. A stone planter terminates the low retaining wall on the west side of the courtyard, and it features a copper light fixture accented with a triangular-shaped shade. To the south, the house extends beyond the hillside on 10" thick stone-faced concrete ramparts. As with other houses Wright designed during this period, the Kentuck Knob plan is based upon a module system, in this case an equilateral triangle measuring 4'-6" to a side creating an outside 240 degree L-plan house.
Interestingly, Wright did not select the top of the mountain knob, which would have provided commanding views. He chose a more challenging and less obvious site immediately south of the knob. The house is nestled into the side of the knob, a common practice for Wright, allowing the building to appear organic and harmonious with the landscape rather than dominating it. The house was oriented to the south and west for the best light throughout the year, something Wright often did when not limited by a city lot.
The name Kentuck Knob is credited to the late eighteenth-century settler David Askins, who intended to move from Western Pennsylvania to Kentucky, but then reconsidered and remained at this very property, naming his tract of land Little Kentuck. It subsequently became known the Kentuck District of Stewart Township, one of the county's several rural mountainous townships. Ever since the summit of the property has been called Kentuck Knob.
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