Wednesday, May 30, 2012

End of May list

Once again, things I have wanted to say are piling up, and now I am going to throw it all down at once.

1. Talking to my therapist as if I were writing a blog (non-interactive) is tedious for all involved.

2. The choke in artichokes is not dangerous, and the word actually comes from the Ligurian word for pine cone.

3. Choosing between online degree programs and in person degree programs is not easy, especially if it is not exactly the same program. The University of Massachusetts, Boston, has an online degree in Applied Linguistics, while Rhode Island College has a Master's in Teaching of English as a Second Language. The first is ostensibly more geared toward theory, and the second toward practical, sociological and historical classroom issues. At first glance, the applied linguistics degree sounds more interesting for me (always love the geekier side of things) but here is a negative review. Positive one here, and discussion here.

I am taking one class from each place this summer, to compare my experiences. I'll get back to you on that one.

4. I have recently taken two weekend classes with the Providence Shambhala Center.
The first was a class called Dharma Arts, where we read parts of True Perception, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I am still reading this and enjoying it now. A quote from what I just read while nursing Emile:
We do not accept our individuality. We would prefer to have a prepared menu or a travel guide so that we could take the journey without being hassled by our own individuality.... When individuality exists, as what we are, there is a sense of confusion, uncertainty, and chaos. But there's more room to explore the world and experience the given world and its relationship to ourselves personally.
This feels particularly relevant as I try to find my place in the world. First I tried to see myself as classy gallery artist, then funky art teacher, then quirky mathematician, and now cat-loving linguist with crazy jewelry. So much easier to try to follow a pattern, but ultimately unsuccessful.

Two weekends ago, I took the Shambhala Training Level V, Open Sky. I felt unconvinced that being in touch with reality would not just lead to immensely more intense pain when my seasonal affective disorder swings back in gear (months from now, I know.) Even Buddhists have numbing vices to keep the pain at bay, so why would I want the pain to be more present? Still a question. We will see how this, our last year (I think) in Rhode Island, answers that question.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Improving on the fiddle

I had my first violin lesson when I was about ten or eleven. I loved the violin. But I was really terrible at it. No one at home played any instruments, and I only ever practiced the day of, and maybe the day before, my lesson. My violin teacher once told me that I "looked right" playing it. Another later told me that maybe I should try the viola, because it was easier to hit the right notes... But what I always really wanted to do with it was to play the fiddle in a blues band. Or just sit around and jam in a Celtic Ceilidh (pronounced kaylee). It is a real pleasure to have my weekly fiddle classes with Cathy Clasper-Torch and five other students. It feels almost like a jam, aside from our extremely slow speed. This week we worked more on Soldier's Joy (earlier post about that here), trying to find a way to play it fast without being sloppy, and to drone on the D string or the E without sounding to labored. Haven't mastered either of those yet.

Here's my teacher playing Soldier's Joy for her class - learning purposes only!

For more of my posts on fiddle tunes: Giraffes and, well, fiddle songs about drugs,  Ashokan Fall, and House Sings Saint James Infirmary

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crow flight animation

I think having two children at home is getting to me. I keep filming crows flying. And here's my animation study on that flight:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012