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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oolong, Self-Help, Sofonisba Anguissola, Cats, and Fools

Hey! I finally posted again and it isn't an April fools joke. Although, I deeply considered finding a way to secretly incorporate a rick roll into the post. Instead I opted to make the last few paragraphs April Fools themed. Enjoy!

WikiFact
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oolong

Oolong (simplified Chinese: 乌龙; traditional Chinese: 烏龍; pinyin: wūlóng) is a traditional Chinese tea (Camellia sinensis) produced through a unique process including withering under the strong sun and oxidation before curling and twisting. The taste of oolong ranges hugely amongst various sub-varieties. It can be sweet and fruity with honey aromas, or woody and thick with roasted aromas, or green and fresh with bouquet aromas, all depending on the horticulture and style of production.

One Ridiculous Self Help Book

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/

This guy, Tim Ferris, wrote a rather smug and ridiculous book called The Four Hour Work Week. He calls himself a life style hacker and perhaps hacker is a good term. It’s like he sort of cheats his way through life. He does everything with an economy of effort and time. To me, he seems to rush headlong into life and never looks back. The book assures you that his success could be duplicated by anyone. Every one of us could work only four hours a week and jet-set around the world.

A lot of the gimmicks and programs thrown into the book just don’t work for me and probably never will. I’m not being defeatist, but more practical. The truth is the book is aimed at those people who are stuck in a nine - five job they hate. It’s aimed at helping you see around the cultural and social barriers to living the life you want. I applaud that. I’m not working a nine - five job; I’m a college student looking at going to university. There’s a lot in the book that simply doesn’t apply.

This is not to say that I could take nothing from this book. It helped me see a few things clearly. It gave me the insight I needed to break away from the mentality that plagued Mom. The idea that I should work very hard at something nice and respectable so that one day in the distant future I could do something exciting. She seemed to push the idea that I should develop some secretarial skills and get a job as a secretary until I had enough money to do what I wanted. Reading Tim Ferris’s book, I realized that if I did things that way, it would never happen.

If I hid out in a cubical in some nine - five job, I’d probably never make enough money for what I wanted. I’d slave away constantly worried about paying rent, whether or not I’d be laid off, or what the next emergency was that would require me to spend most of my savings. I never wanted to have to live like that. I wanted my very life, my main occupation to be interesting and exciting.

Sofonisba Anguissola

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sofonisba_Anguissola

Sofonisba was an artist during the 1500s, well known for her portraits. She was extremely fortunate to grow up in a wealthy family which strongly supported the idea that all their children should develop their respective talents in the arts. One of her sisters became a scholar of Latin while her brother became a musician. Born in Italy 1532, her father sent her and one of her sisters to study with Bernardino Campi. She painted one of her better known works there, a painting of Bernardino Campi painting a portrait of Sofonisba. Later in life, she became the court painter in the Spanish court and lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth of Valois. Eventually, she returned to Italy and continued to paint until 1620, when her eyesight had deteriorated too much for her to continue painting. She died in Palermo Italy at the age of 93.

Looking at several of her works, I find them all very appealing. My biggest complaint with the art of this time period is the unnaturally stiff postures, fake looking expressions, or the unrealistic contortions of fingers. Sofonisba has none of these problems and a knack for capturing some element of inner emotion. It often seems that she has truly captured a moment in time. The portrait of her mother shows a vital looking woman perched on the edge of her chair, as if she’s only sat for a moment and is already thinking of what else she has to get done. In the painting depicting her sisters playing chess, she especially seems to have caught them in all their varied expressions and actions. The youngest sister has this expression of delight that is so vibrant and real, just like I know I’ve seen on so many other girls of that age. It really just takes my breath away.

Brave Sir Robin


My little darling is always inventing new ways to entertain himself, which isn’t all that difficult. Being a cat, a penny or his own tail is often amusing enough. In this instance, it just wasn’t enough. None of the toys in the house would do, no other object was as interesting. He discovered the fact that my lovely bookmark with the 3-D image of planets and stars had a tassel. I’m not sure why, after three months, he suddenly noticed the bookmark had a tassel.

It has been an ongoing battle since, to keep my bookmark. He seeks it out and without disturbing anything else, swipes it onto the floor. I’ve taken to hiding my bookmark whether it’s in use or not. Alas, this means that I keep losing my bookmark or my book. I suppose I may have to give up and find something without a tassel to use. It’s a little odd because he doesn’t really chase it around at all, he just seems to like pulling it from wherever I put it and dropping it on the floor.

Day of Fools

I would cite sources for this, but I’m drawing entirely form my own faulty memory on this because I’m tired and really want to finish this blog entry tonight so I can post it on April 1st. When people talk of fools, my brain comes up with a few different traditions. The first is the solitary fool, the Holy Fool or the King’s Fool. These individuals are not mere jesters with funny clothes, but usually serve a cultural role as satirists of the politics. They veil themselves as idiots or Fools so that their offensive or inflammatory remarks do not get them killed. Fools are innocents in the old traditions, they trick you and mock you; some fools will help you or advise you. For this reason the first card in the major arcane of tarot is traditionally The Fool, the beginning of the journey. I think a good example of our modern Fool is Anonymous, the mysterious entity with the Guy Fawkes mask who shouts ridiculous slogans and will criticize anyone regardless of the danger. Half of what is said is nonsense, but the other half should be listened to and carefully considered.

The other thing that comes to mind is a tradition from a very long time ago, which has some mildly sinister overtones. It once was a tradition that once a year a feast would take place and a king Fool would be chosen. For one whole day, the King and all his fools could go wherever they liked and do as they wished. On that one day all sins could be excused because they were fools. The darker overtones come from what happened to the King once the day was up.

The used to be a tradition of a king being sacrificed at years end to ensure the return of the sun and good harvests and such. Of course, sacrificing a real king is more than a little inconvenient. The tradition changed to appointing a false king for one day, he was as real a king as any other and was just as legitimate a sacrifice. As time went on, even that tradition disappeared. The Fool kings rights went away and the time of year it was practiced shifted. So, once a year anything can happen. For this one day all can run amok and sometimes we learn things about ourselves in the process of fooling others or in turn being fooled.

Happy April Fools Day!

Blog Stats

I have to share this because I do find it incredibly amusing. You see this blog seems to keep track of page views by country. it wouldn't be that amusing except that some of the countries are a little surprising. I realize the page views merely mean that someone ended up at the page for a total of one second and they probably hit the back button or stumble as soon as they realized it wasn't what they wanted... Still, here's the list. I'd love it if people would leave a comment and let me know where in the world they're commenting from, it'd be interesting for me anyways.

United States 157
the US makes sense, I'm in the US and so are most of my friends and family members.
United Kingdom 21

the UK also makes sense as at least a few people who I've friended on facebook are in the UK and there's a chance that they're reading my blog. Not to mention Dollface is based in the UK and I think a couple of people have found me from the comments I've left.

Spain 5

China 3

India 2

Malaysia 2

Pakistan 2

United Arab Emirates 1

Australia 1

Denmark 1

The rest of these are a bit of a mystery. I am currently assuming they've found my blog via stumble or they clicked it thinking it was something else. There's a distant possibility that they read another blog i commented on and followed the links back. Who knows?

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