Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Can We Talk? Guns.

I would like to discuss gun violence. With recent tragic events, I feel sad and numb. I see little hope of effective laws enacted though I wish it would happen. Semi-automatic and automatic weapons have only one purpose, and that is to slaughter an enormous number of people quickly and efficiently. In my opinion, you just should not sell ordinary citizens weapons of war.

I also believe the studies that show having a gun in the home is more dangerous than not owning one. So, guns for personal protection may make people feel good, but is it rational? Guns and children is another topic that concerns me.

I am not a big fan of hunting, but I can understand the sport. However, some guns seem to provide such an unfair advantage. How about using a bow and arrow?

Nonetheless, it is likely that as long as people feel afraid of their government, we will never get rid of powerful weapons. Being afraid of government is an essential element of the American psyche. Isn’t that what the second amendment implies? However, it’s laughable that even these weapons would defend anyone from fierce “big black helicopters” or stealth fighters (or even armored vehicles like tanks) if the government decided to go against its people.

As to the sales of guns, all the background checks in the world will not help screen for all dangerous individuals. We even have capabilities to find some potential psychopaths now using brain scans and genetics. However, not everyone with these findings is a psychopath. It might take a head injury, a small stroke, a viral illness or an emotional trigger to activate these tendencies. So, even requiring screening for a few known genes or a brain scan would be infringing on the rights of people who might never become mentally deranged. A mental illness diagnosis is of little help in screening. Most individuals diagnosed with a mental illness are more likely to be victims not perpetrators of violence. A genetic screen/brain scan policy of weapons purchasers to determine the potential for violent behavior would miss people whose vulnerability we do not yet have the science to know. Even if we do get the information in the future, and have AI models that are highly accurate in using the data for prediction, what will that mean for society? Will there be different classes of society based on your capacity for violence?

It also seems to me that weapon technology is getting past our human capacity to control that technology. Semi-automatic vs. automatic weapons? They both are people-killing machines and likely to get even deadlier.

Rational discussion about gun violence needs to happen, even now at a time of sadness. Of course, an outpouring of the human capacity for love, kindness, and compassion is what we need at this moment.

Still, we need to talk.



Saturday, September 2, 2017

On writing and living our lives

I wrote this essay and said "Hello, September." Can you believe that even Christmas in July is over?
Time is rushing past, life is the fast lane.

I took a class on Mass Media and Society in July. It was good. It was at Sacramento City College, one of my favorite campuses. The instructor followed the text and used standardized tests. The class requirements were the same as a regular semester class, which makes sense, since it is worth the equal number of units. However, the term paper was a challenge. I got an A, I'm not really complaining but I do like to have time for editing. A four week course makes that near impossible.

You'd think, after writing a blog I'd find writing easy. Not, so. I do know that good writers say the key to everything is editing. I think that is true. I've been trying to learn more about that process. I've been learning at Udemy.com. This is not an ad, they do not at this point offer me any affiliate status nor sponsorship. I just signed up for a few classes when they had $10 offers on some of their courses. One I especially am finding helpful is Editing Mastery: How to Edit Writing to Perfection. (note: still working on the course so please do not judge this post!) Shani Raja is an excellent teacher and I'm finding the class very helpful. The problem is time. Some of us are slow at the process. I think that is why so much writing is unclear and unfocused. Even two blog posts a month where I'm not obligated to say anything other than my thoughts and opinions is still pressure, if if a self-imposed obligation. Clearly, it's not an obligation I meet every month.

It's rather like that in many areas of life, isn't it?
We want to make time for exercising, eating healthy home-cooked meals, quality family time, meaningful friend time, and artistic and intellectual pursuits. We end up being a little haphazard in our results. Life is hard to edit to perfection.

I think that may be why we struggle with self-love, fitness, weight management, our relationships and our creative endeavors. We expect much that may not be possible. Don't get me wrong, fulfilling any of these expectations are worthy. I happen to believe being human and being perfect are not a reasonable duality. I read the other day about never confusing our Google searches with someone else's Facebook posts. That translates to real life situations, too. Like our virtual lives, there can be much we are unaware is happening. Maybe that slender girl in the bar eating chicken wings and drinking beer is not just jogging every morning, but she exists the rest of the day on diet Red Bull and is challenged by alcohol and cigarette addictions.

Sure, some people have fewer problems in certain areas; many successful writers start off able to express themselves well and find rapid re-edits easy. To imagine that anyone has it easy though, and does not have to work at skills, nor always gets it right the first time, is almost always the wrong idea.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A recent adventure

Most tourists to London cannot miss the idea and symbolism of royalty, but few get to be near. Now, I was born in Canada which does not have a huge population, so it's not that uncommon to have seen royalty; however, never in quite such limited group surroundings. Princess Anne was a speaker at the evening of lectures where she discussed her work with Save The Children. Cal and I attended that reception at the Royal College of Medicine. The speeches all endorsed convincingly that the provision of health care to women improves not only their health but that of their children and others in the family.

Lecture and reception at the Royal College of Medicine

Another night, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, a physician, and peer in government, invited the female guests at the conference to join her at a dinner at the House of Lords. She is a warm, humorous and intelligent professional who charmed us with stories about the pleasures and hazards of needing to be a physician first responder in that august body.
Parliament Buildings are ancient, but the dining room was lovely with fabric covered ceiling and walls and large sliding glass doors that opened to a narrow patio along the Thames.

Photos at the event were limited but here are my friends Gail from Canada and Deb from Australia

Even at dinner I had a lovely view out on the Thames to the Eye

On the narrow patio

View from patio in late evening

The dinner information and menu from the MWF Centenary Program

The Duchess of Gloucester, Princess Sophie, a patroness of the MWF, attended the dinner and met with each one of us. One expects royalty to be charming and gracious and she was every bit of that. We all were delighted to meet her and grateful for her interest in medical women.
The staff at the House of Lords was unbelievably courteous and kind and exceptionally friendly.
On my way into the dinner, a person who works in the building said to me, “I hope it's not impertinent of me Ma'am, but I must say I've never before been in a room with so many powerful women.” I smiled because there were many remarkable individuals present and I felt a bit awed myself.

A view of Big Ben as I left the House of Lords

Engaging educational topics, new friends, historic venues, great food, and entertainment made for a worthwhile trip.
Traveling is one of my passions, not necessarily easy, but worth all of the challenges.

Some photos from the MWF Centenary conference and events

This recent long trip started in San Francisco with a lecture by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. He has a new book that I highly recommend, Astrophysics - for People in a Hurry. My husband's positive reaction to the talk leads me to be confident that other non-scientists will enjoy reading and hearing Tyson's words on the subject.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson in San Francisco

From San Francisco, we left for London and then on to the rest of the UK and the Irish Republic.
For the present, I'll focus this post on London. The twenty-five days that followed London will likely inspire future blog entries. It was a peripatetic experience that existed somewhere between boot camp and a whirlwind, but fun!
London as a destination and the hobnobbing with the nobility was because of the celebration of the Centenary of the Medical Women's Federation of England.

Every Birthday needs cake

As a Medical Women International Association member, I wanted to celebrate with my physician sisterhood as did many other women physicians from around the globe.

A few of us decided we needed to get a photo of the visit to Historic Trafalgar Tavern

The MWF organization began with a small group of female doctors who met at a tavern in Greenwich. The MFW arranged a private boat tour for the Centenary attendees to travel from London to Greenwich on the Thames.

Thames River Cruise with MWF

Our group was too large to dine at the Trafalgar Tavern. Fortunately, a larger public house nearby, the Old Brewery, accommodated us nicely with delicious fare. The founding mothers would probably be pleased with the size of our celebratory crowd.

View towards the Greenwich Meridian

While I saw the location of the Meridian on the hill Cal and I were unable to work a visit to the exact spot into our full agenda. I do want to visit there in the future. (Note: I have visited a significant Meridian site in the past, in Ghana, at the spot where the equator meets the Greenwich Meridian, a place Ghanaians refer to as the "Center of the Earth.")
The main conference was held at The British Medical Association building situated near Euston Station. My Hilton Hotel accommodations were right across the street. A shout-out of thanks to my travel agent, Jeff Doris, at the on-line travel agency, Vacations To Go, who situated us in such an excellent spot.

The British Medical Association Building

Cal experiences difficulty with walking and stairs, and I do too on occasion; Uber proved to be an excellent alternative to the Tube to getting around London to other sites.
A couple of other historical sites functioned as the meeting venues - The Royal College of Medicine that I mentioned earlier and The Royal College of Surgeons. I loved all the history and experienced goosebumps stepping where some greats in medicine had walked.

The Royal College of Surgeons Building

The Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons features collections of anatomical and pathological specimens of humans and animal, as well as models, instruments, and art of surgery from the 1800's to the present. Perhaps the museum is a little gruesome for nonscientists but informative for everyone. I recommend a visit.

The London Eye

The day after the conference was Mother's Day and Cal treated me to the London Eye. It's a tourist attraction that I can unequivocally recommend. The pods are spacious with excellent visibility. It's very comfortable with plenty of viewing room and moves slowly, so those with vertigo have little to worry. We'd missed visiting it on our last visit to London.
The day was complete with a trip to The British Museum, a site of great wonders neither of us tires of visiting. Well, that's not strictly true. Emotionally, the collection is fascinating; physically, for our feet and legs, it's fatiguing.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sustainability, Travel, Scrapbook Pages and My Podcast

I have been thinking about sustainability. It's scary to think that some human beings do not care about the planet. I also feel that some people who deny climate change in public, in private think the decline of a healthy environment for humankind is inevitable. I think they do not want public alarm and just want to make a profit and enjoy those benefits as long as possible. I know that is a cynical point of view but when you know they have been presented with the facts and otherwise seem reasonably intelligent what else can you believe. There are plenty of unscrupulous people around. On the other hand, I do see that many businesses and individuals believe a sustainable approach makes sense both for the world and for the bottom line. I hope they are the majority and end up winning. I was encouraged today when I read that public opinion is for sustainability and investing is committing to green technologies and not fossil fuels.
Sustainable creative approaches interest me. I just got a badge in an introductory class in biomimicry sustainable design and I think of studying this more. One of my concerns is the health of our local environments. I took a class for EcoDistricts certification but have had little time to study to take the exam. It's on my to-do list. I'm also considering attending another GreenBiz sponsored meeting. I learned a lot at the last one I attended.
Right now I'm planning a trip to San Diego and another to Great Britain and Ireland. Travel is stressful and exhausting many times but the thrill of learning and experiencing new things more than makes up for the inconveniences. I'm trusting myself to a good tour company in Europe to make the most of the brief time I can spend. One of these days I'll take a semester abroad and actually learn about a foreign land in depth while I study art. It is not easy to travel when you have some physical limitations but I'm always learning how to adapt and I allow time for recovery into my plans.
Of course, the experiences and photos should make for some exciting scrapbook pages as I recount the stories of my travel. I am also considering taking my podcast on the road and talking about my trip. It's a creative approach to my podcast, introducing travelogues.
Speaking of scrapbooking, I've used my travels to inspire some of my recent page design stories. Here's one from my recent visit to Arizona.

And another from my visit to Coit Tower in San Francisco.

Do visit A Creative Approach Podcast and listen to some fun episodes including this latest one with Elena Lai Etcheverry.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Why Mt. Etna is a natural phenomenon that inspires me

Photo Shutterstock.com
 Why Mt. Etna is a natural phenomenon that inspires me is a question I needed to answer for a class. A quiz in my biomimicry on-line course wanted to know what in nature inspired me and why. Mt. Etna at night is exquisite. Even when not erupting in a dramatic way, rivulets of lava can be seen running out of fissures and down the mountain in glowing red ribbons at night. The area of Taormina and Giardini Naxos is a beautiful tourist spot in Sicily and romantic and lovely in its own right; but, the views of Etna at night add to the wonder of this place. The fierce power and great beauty fill me with awe. I love Niagara Falls, the forest canopy in Ghana, the powerful surf of the California coast, and the breathtaking view of the Rockies as they spring into sight out of the foothills just a very short distance west of Calgary. All these inspire me. Mount Etna with lava flowing down its slopes at night is the most exhilarating. Perhaps it is because in an area of natural beauty with a magnificent shore and steep cliffs, as well as man-made wonders, like Roman ruins and a medieval city, the destructive volcanic power of Etna looms like the tension of romance and intense passion.

Learning Things: Grammar, Words, Crafts, Biomimicry

Do you use Grammarly or have you thought about a grammar checking program? I have used  Grammarly for about eighteen months and am delighted that it now works in applications like Blogger and Facebook without the need to copy and paste to check my writing. I like the weekly stats I get with the app. Grammarly lets you know your standard errors and compares your vocabulary to other users.
I love words. You may notice that I post Visual Thesaurus updates to the blog. I like that site because of the interesting stories about words, the pronunciation guide and the word maps that can help when Grammarly notes redundancy. It's especially useful when you need a carefully nuanced substitute.
I can follow up on my last blog post and report a successful paint night and an excellent white coat project. I never did finish my personal white coat project. My Wishblade failed, so I bought a new Cricut Explore Air 2, only to discover that it was challenging to use. My laptop solid state drive is full, and while I copied files to an external drive, I'm nervous about what files I can safely delete. Loading new stuff is impossible until then, So, when I have a chance I'll try to hook the machine up to my Mac and see what progress I can make in cutting my paper lace.
I do love crafting and am looking forward to today when I will spend the day in Dixon at It's All About the Scrapbook enjoying a class with friends. A chance to Cre8time. I think, May Flaum, the teacher, and a friend is a force behind my deep dive into crafts and art. My natural love of learning is a factor, too.

Speaking of learning new things, while at GreenBiz in February I was introduced to the field of biomimicry. It's very fascinating, looking to how nature solves problems and seeing if we can apply those solutions to our challenges in the design of structures, buildings, and processes. I'm taking a class right now from  Minneapolis College of Art and Design called Biomimicry: A Sustainable Design Methodology
It's a free on-line course which is an introduction to the master's program offered at the school.
As much as I love learning, I'm not sure I'm ready for yet another degree, though this is a field that is
very intriguing. The badge from the class is a sufficient goal for now. I think I will explore this subject more on the podcast. I'd love for you to join me at A Creative Approach Podcast and listen to all my exciting guests. (Links to an external site.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Jumping In

"...if we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin." - Ivan Turgenev
"If we wait until we are ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives, let's go." - Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
"Just Do It" - Nike slogan

Whether it's a 19th-century or 21st-century writer, or a 20th-century ad campaign, the sentiment is the same; this idea has been quoted by a lot of people in my universe recently. I am increasingly ready to embrace this philosophy.
I plunged into podcasting without much preparation when starting on The Digiscrap Geek Podcast, learning on the job. I had been a guest on podcasts but doing one is a whole different ballgame. When that show went on hiatus, and I decided to start A Creative Approach Podcast, I had this foundation but still was very unprepared for the task of doing it alone. Now, three months in, I've learned a lot and am pretty proud of what I've accomplished. The web page is still a work in progress. Like most beginning podcasters without a professional broadcasting education, my interview skills need to be honed. Marketing is coming along. I am so grateful for my professional contacts who are teaching me a lot and helping me to improve the podcast experience for my listeners. I think my web page will be up-to-date within the next week, or so, I'm finally feeling relaxed during interviews, and I love the pearls of wisdom about creativity that come from the shows.
My guests are amazing. Even when I've known some guests for years, there are always surprises.
Kit from Royal brush

I am trying to apply the idea of just going to a lot of things. I'm taking part in the American Medical Women's Association annual meeting soon. I've planned a paint night which sounds easy enough. I mean, theoretically, everyone participates in producing a piece of art that allows room for some personal interpretation but involves the same paint and canvas and a guideline to reproducing something pretty close to what the original artist has designed. It's pretty much a project designed for socialization and "spirits," but I have heard doubts about the idea from some young artists. The arguments I've heard include, "too much like a class," "might not allow enough individual expression," "might not fit with a theme (white coat) focus." I just want to have fun and show other people that art can be fun! I'll report back how it goes. I'm just going to just do it and not analyze too much. I have these fabulous ready to go Art Instructor Painting Party Packs from Royal Langnickel. Royal Brush sent me some sample products after the AFCI Creativation show in Phoenix, and I placed an order for 9 more of these kits to use for our AMWA Paint Night.

My ad for AMWA program

Marketing is another area where I have questioned just what I need to do. I'm pretty much an extroverted introvert. Are you saying, "What?" Here's a link to an article about this because we all fall somewhere on the bell curve of these personality types. However, I think that may not be a good analogy because I think that rather than the middle, I bounce from end to end of the curve! So, in this case, my thinking went, "Ads? Well, of course." Then, "Gulp! OMG, my photo is part of my podcast logo, am I calling too much attention to myself?" I decided to go ahead and put an ad for A Creative Approach Podcast into the program for the AMWA meeting and not worry too much about it. I also decided it would not hurt to put a Patreon section on my podcast web page. I love Jess and Elsie from She Podcasts. They admit that it is not the primary source of income for their podcast and that it took a while for people to sponsor them. Nonetheless, they had no problem including a Patreon sponsor link. So, I did it, too. I mean, even $1 a month is significant to me. It's a way you can encourage podcasts you enjoy. I support Jess and Elsie at a small level because I really want to say thanks for their show, it's helped me a lot. I hope some of my listeners will feel the same.