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Month: June 2012

the conditions that foster creep

  “Yet the big cat— whom wildlife experts call “the Rolls Royce of North American predators”— also had a noisy chorus of defenders. “The slaughtered cougar,” wrote one angry reader about the Times‘s coverage of the Fike attack, “had more sanctity, honesty, and beauty than any of these blood-lusting humans.” The previous spring, after 40-year-old Barbara Schoener was killed and partially devoured by a female…

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other time-honored activities



Activities are a way of structuring time that deal with external reality and are commonly thought of as work, getting something done. Activities are often what people want to do, need to do, or have to do:

collecting stamps
preparing homework
milking cows
balancing the ledger
getting dressed
answering the mail
programming a missile
cooking dinner
weeding the garden
unloading a ship
building a birdhouse
sewing a dress
drawing blueprints
building bridges

When some of the above and other time-honored activities come to an end, a person frequently feels empty, restless, or useless. 'Born To Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments.' By Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward, Human Relations and Communications Consultants (Addison Wesley, 1971).

from Born to Win, by Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward

Some days you wake up and find you don’t feel like programming your missiles. Down in the dumps, my grandmother called it. Now, she was a gal who could sew herself out of despair. All she needed was the right pattern and a few yards of fabric. That was functional sewing, while it lasted. She made clothes for her grandchildren and we wore the clothes to school. But we preferred to shop at J.C. Penney, and she stopped sewing for us. At which point her sewing became a hobby.

I have always had a fear of hobbies and the empty time they imply. Sundays, in particular, can be hard. The poor pioneers in the Old West had to sit on a hard wooden bench every Sunday and do absolutely nothing. Not one thing. Couldn’t read or talk or whittle.

Today, Sundays mean Sixty Minutes.
TV people are so amazing. They really know how to stay busy. Acting, producing, directing. Fabulous.


wash it clean

  “In giving the Furies their place, we may come to recognize that they are not such alien presences as we think in our moments of evading them. In fact, far from being alien, they are part of ourselves, like all gods and demons. The conspiracy to forget them, or to deny that they exist, thus turns out to be only one more contrivance in…

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a waste of energy

“Heat is inherently untidy. It is the most disorderly form of energy. However, all the other forms of energy, when used, are converted into the energy of heat, so that the tendency is for all the energy in the universe to fall into a state of disorder. Because of its random nature, heat, even when it is in a concentrated form—say in the boiler of…

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forgiveness of the birds

[flowplayer src=’’ width=640 height=360 splash=’’]     “One may stand perplexed before some thought, especially seeing men’s sin, asking oneself, ‘Shall I take it by force, or by humble love?’ Always resolve to take it by humble love. If you resolve once and for all, you will be able to overcome the whole world. A loving humility is a terrible power, the most powerful of…

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but someone has to do it

    “one’s position determines one’s feelings. And yet to walk on top of a thing is not to prevail over it— it is more the opposite, a disguised dependency, by which the slave completes the master.” Louise Gluck       In which Barbara Ehrenreich goes undercover as a maid and writes an exposé of the horror of the working poor. She then returns…

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Who ate the bread crumbs?

 “The most important cartographic innovation of the last 500 years is that the maps now have you on them . . . it’s very ego-reinforcing. We are literally the center of our world. In the future, reading maps won’t be a separate activity from moving around. In fact, we won’t call them maps, they’ll just be representations of the world around us.”   —Eric Rodenbeck,…

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  “There is a moment in a sales pitch when an arm around the shoulder or a hand on the back will help swing the deal. . . But you must know that moment! Try it too soon and you kill the deal—too late and you’ve lost your opportunity.”   Julius Fast and Meredith Bernstein, Sexual Chemistry   The man in the yellow cigarette boat…

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muckrakers and reformers need not apply

[flowplayer src=’’ splash=’’]   “Fellow workers, this is the Continental Congress of the working class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism . . . .The aims and objects of this organization should be to put the working class…

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a suit for a benjamin

  “My unexpected Appearance surpriz’d the family; all however were very glad to see me and made me Welcome, except my Brother. I went to see him at his Printing-House: I was better dress’d than ever while in his Service, having a genteel new Suit from Head to foot, a Watch, and my Pockets lin’d with near Five Pounds Sterling in Silver. He receiv’d me…

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calculated exaggeration

“In that most attractively adhesive of Russian novels, Oblomov, the protagonist devotes his life to finding more and better reasons for not getting out of bed. He finally stops going to the coffeehouse to see his friends because he knows that they will want to argue about the current situation in Turkey, and since none of them has ever been to Turkey, what they will…

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