Browsing the archives for the blog tag

Merely Changing the Mask

Change, Life as it is

Recent visitors will see a new look to merewisdom.org as I updated the theme for the first time since 2006. This is a change to the outward appearances of the site, much like changing masks. The outside changes, but the inside stays the same.

Mask by Tim Pratt

In addition to the change in the theme, I am trying a few things to make who I am when I am not typing here become more visible to you. In effect, showing more of my footprints as I wander the web, making mistakes sometimes, and trying always to learn from them. I am also trying to put into practice something I have been learning, that is that constant improvement must mean constant change.

Changes have been made in the comments now as well. You may now not only reply to what I have to say, but also to one another so that you may converse and share wisdom between yourselves rather than merely interact with me. And trust me, the wisdom of some of the people who have honored me with their visits and their comments is great indeed. so take a moment and comment on something you like – either from me or from another visitor.

Sometimes the search for a right outward appearance takes a while, but when it works, it can help transform the inside as well. Consider for a moment this poem by Tim Pratt:

Mask

Feathers and paint, kohl sticks and smeared
pigments, cerulean blue beads, scales
and links of chain mail heaped on a rough
wooden table in a narrow room, four
hurricane lamps lighting it up. This is
the maskmaker’s workshop on the avenue
of greater dreaming, a place only open
at night.

I have come to find a new
face and body, a truer expression
than the one I see in the mirror. Here is
the Lakota ghost shirt, feathered and white
and clacking, and stone jars of pale
face paint. Here is the zippered leather
mask of a fetishist; it gives me a chill
because I think it can only destroy
identity, not reveal a deeper one. I move on, to
Carnival masks, a crocodile headdress I linger
over but know is not mine, a harlequin’s
cloth face of fixed hilarity, a beautiful
smooth gold mask of the sun. These all have
power, but none are mine.

Then the maskmaker
enters, a lush woman serene and regal as
the moon, her eyes blue and lively behind
a simple silver domino mask. “You want
to be a serpent,” she says, picking up
a length of python skin and putting it down
again. “Or an angel, above everything.” She lets
white silk run through her fingers. “Or
a manitou, with a face that shifts like the sky or
water, changing to fit your needs.” She shakes
her head.

“But you are not those things.” She lifts
a bundle wrapped in gray cobwebs. “You are a
spider. Lonely architect. Thought-maker. Weaver.
Moving in two worlds. Poison-head.” She unwraps
the webbing. I see segmented legs, glossy
black mandibles, and something scuttles under
the trapdoor of my heart. Not a lion, then, or
an eagle, but this feels right. She holds out the spider
mask, sticky filaments still trailing, and eases it
onto my face. I see with spider’s eyes, geometry
and possibility and vibrations in the air, corners
and spirals and prey. The legs on the mask wrap
tightly around my head and I

wake in my dusty bedroom,
looking at the corners where the ceiling meets
the walls, thinking

“I’ve never noticed how much
a spider’s eyes resemble diamonds.”

May these changes help weave a better community, and possibly break free our inner thought-maker as they are intended. May you find some glittering changes along the way as well. And please, if you find any comments left here as having helped you, or at least made you think, please leave a note to tell that visitor. And if I broke anything, please let me know as well. 🙂 Thanks!

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Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

Life as it is, Mistakes, Twitter

I have been busy lately. Lots of things have been happening, and so of course I have been making mistakes and learning from them.

  • My photography class on wildflower photography was a success, but an uncalibrated monitor taught me a lot more about post processing than I ever imagined.
  • I won a $1 bet with a friend of mine about redecorating and designing my home computer room. What I learned about 10-year old dirt in the corners is not sharable on a family-rated blog. (My teens read this, I fear.) I also got a crash course in vacuum maintenance.
  • I found an unexpected sunset hour to photograph birds in Brazos Bend State Park, and learned not to look away from alligators that are within six feet of me

But there has been another learning mistake as well. I mentioned previously the White Bread Warning, that if I use the same recipe, I will get the same bread. And I am finding that to be absolutely true in regards to this blog and my Twitter feed.

Time and again, I think of something interesting to write, and decide instead that it can wait a day because at least my Twitter entries, or tweets, are still being posted for that day. And then days become weeks, and the weeks start to stretch on as well. Pretty soon, I have the same result of empty blogging – a blog made up of tweet entries. And my main thoughts and ideas that I want to share being put off again and again.



So it is time to take the bull by the horns and turn off the feature that took tweets and made them blog entries. It’s a neat feature, but I am falling into the same trap I fell into previously. I will still keep the Twitter sidebar up of what I am recently doing, but those tweets just won’t become posts.

This forces me to write and to write regularly. And trust me, I need the practice! And well, I always have some wisdom to share that I learned from some recent mistake.

This way, when I next want to share with you how I learned that sandals offer zero toe protection from “stubbing impact” because of my error in not looking where I am going – well, now I will have to really blog about it and not rely on the tweets catching it anyway….

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Twitter and I

Mistakes, Twitter

As a part of admitting my error in letting my blog become only an echo of my tweets from twitter these past months, I thought i would start in looking at Twitter itself.

A little over four months ago, in a small forum for local photographers, someone brought up Twitter, and how many of us were using it.  I know that previously phone numbers would be made available on links at twitter.com to reach people for gathering together – but that was almost all that I knew about twitter.  Well, ok, that’s not true.  I did also know that it was getting bigger – because more people i knew were using it, and i was seeing all sorts of integration tools for twitter as well.

So I decided to ask the group a question:

How do you use it, what do you get out of Twitter? What does a twittered life have that is so cool?

And I got all sorts of answers that mostly seemed to say, “try it and see”.  I researched it further and found the professionals equally perplexed at Twitter’s success.  In fact, Twitter seems to have been a spin off of a larger tech startup where this one small piece had greater value than the whole.

Even the reviewers did not seem to have good answers:

So why has Twitter been so misunderstood? Because it’s experiential. Scrolling through random Twitter messages can’t explain the appeal. You have to do it — and, more important, do it with friends. (Monitoring the lives of total strangers is fun but doesn’t have the same addictive effect.) Critics sneer at Twitter and Dodgeball as hipster narcissism, but the real appeal of Twitter is almost the inverse of narcissism. It’s practically collectivist — you’re creating a shared understanding larger than yourself.
Clive Thompson on How Twitter Creates a Social Sixth Sense

So I created an account and tried it out.  I soon was able to put together a model in my head for what it was – but it didn’t answer for me the question of what it did.  It reminded me of IRC – the old Internet Chat standard – except everyone was starting “muted” or silent and I had to find and turn on each one to hear them.  I also had to get my friends to join in, and there were concerns for what a time-sink this could be.

And so that is how i ended up letting merewisdom.org become a twitter echo only.  I found myself listening to my friends navigating their days.  Small details – never more than the 140-character limit of Twitter – of my friends’ lives surfaced.  Listening to a couple of friends planning dinner with one another, or someone else sharing a new web site, or being able to tweet a question to my group of friends and get many answers back.  That’s what Twitter did for me.

A sonar ping only carries so much information about where ships or obstacles are at that moment, but over time it can paint a detailed landscape of information about what each ship or obstacle is doing, and who is on or off course.

Of course, Twitter is still a part of my life and this blog.  i just won’t let it replace my own landscape imagery.  You deserve more than just a sonar map of my life and my errors and my occasional lessons i have learned.

You deserve a guided tour….

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Empty Blogging

Life as it is, Mistakes, Twitter

At a recent Twitter meetup, I was commenting on how my tweets were the primary source of content for merewisdom.org. That I had resorted to it so my blog would still let visitors have a rough idea of what i was up to lately, without blogging regularly. In fact, it had been so successful that I had not written an entry in some time.

“Isn’t that just “‘Empty Blogging’?” came the reply.

And the more i thought about it, the more the label seemed to fit. I mean, it’s not nearly as empty as months of no content, but on the other hand the idea behind this blog – that is a place to admit mistakes and learn from them – was also not being fulfilled at all. Having a daemon copy my tweets for me is not at all giving me a forum for learning from my mistakes, nor does it pass on anything i learn along the way.

So from the view of the reason for this site – filling it with only tweets is certainly empty – I agree.

There is a lot happening in my life and a lot of mistrakes I’ve been making, and even a desire to hide some of those mistakes – and that is an attitude that never works towards my growth.

So the tweet-only phase of merewisdom.org was a mistake.

What i learned from it is that if i am making the sharing of myself simple, brainless and mostly painless… then i will end up with a site that is simple, mindless and of little value.

What i do next will be interesting to watch – for me at least…. Will you join me on that journey?

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