Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Depression

I got a great email the other day why a good friend of mine thinks that this depression we are going into is going to be very different than the last one, regardless of all the doom and gloom. He said he didn't need to be credited by name and didn't mind my sharing, but I just want to assure you this isn't my own work. I'm not that economically savvy! However I thought his thoughts on our current situation and his prognosis was worth sharing.

As we discussed, we are already having a depression.

But this depression cannot play out like the last one for the following

- We do not currently have a drought causing dust bowl conditions and a
mass migration of agrarian workers ("Okees").

- The proportion of our economy dependent on an agrarian work force has
been vastly reduced.

- The national highway system did not exist then.

- The rural electrification program hadn't happened yet.

- We did not have our modern transportation systems.

- We did not have our modern communication systems.

- We did not have the Internet.

- We did not have such an interconnected global economy (it existed but
nothing like today).

- We did not have the general level of affluence that most people can
take for granted today (hot and cold running water for everyone, flush
toilets, a highly efficient food production system).

- None of those things are going to break down to any significant degree
under current economic conditions, no matter how bad things get.

- It would take a war of some kind to produce the type of conditions we
had to endure then.

- Remember, Europe was bombed to rubble, and recovered within 20 years
(really less) and is on par with the U.S. today in terms of general

- By the way, the "Marshall Plan" to reinvigorate the European economy
after WWII cost about 1/4th of what we are spending today, in today's
dollars, for us to bail out our financial institutions, car company's
etc. AND the new economic stimulus package that has just been passed.

- Sadly, the Bush administration has already spent as much on the war in
Iraq, as we are now spending on the above two packages (over 2 Trillion
dollars, more or less).

- Currently Japan has a larger national debt with respect to their GNP
than we do.

- Currently England's financial crisis and bank failures is even worse
than ours.

- The whole world is in this together, so whatever happens, we'll have
to do it as a world.

- The biggest question is... how bad are governments going to fuck up
what needs to be done?

NOBODY knows the answer to that.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Sky is Falling

I believe that even people that believe in global warming don’t believe it.

I believe the world is in deep environmental doodoo up to our haunches and yet here I am sitting around drinking a cup of fair-trade organic joe while blogging away. If I really truly believed in the imminent demise of the world I should be running around like Chicken Little screaming “the sky is falling” because it, very probably, is. I am surrounded by many people just like myself: liberal, believers in sustainability, local, fair trade, and organic and not only are they not running around tearing their hair out or huddling under the darkening skies like the poor hapless citizens of Pompeii as they saw their world ripped apart in fire and ash, but they are debating FDA organic food standards, whether they should buy tropical fruit in winter, or unbleached diapers for their infants. Some of them are swelled with pregnancy.

If there is one thing that all humans share in common, from hippy organic farmer to greedy corporate CEO (stereotypes are like keyboard shortcuts), is the love of their kids. We want the best for our children. We want them to live long lives and give us grandkids. There is no better proof that even some of the most hardcore far to the left liberals don’t actually believe in climate change than the fact that they are breeding like mad.

I think it’s akin to the belief in death. We all know about death, we all know it will happen to us one day, and we’ve seen it happen to the people around us, but no matter how true we know it to be, we spend the greater portion of our life believing it will somehow skip us. Seriously I think more people well and truly believed in the Y2K bug and the idea that the world would collapse in the ensuing chaos than believe in global warming today. Billions was spent to upgrade computers. People stocked up on food and water.

Instead of acting like Chicken Little we’re all acting a little like the proverbial ostrich over climate change, sticking our heads in the sand, hoping it will go away. Of course a lot of that might be due to the immensity of the problem, but I do believe, considering how people are still bitching about the price of gas while popping out more kids that we, collectively and worldwide, simply do not believe in climate change.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Memory is a pretty trippy thing. I'm not really sure why I remember what I remember or how my brain chooses stuff that is unimportant and dumps it like yesterday's trash. I have had a lot of cause to ponder the issue because I have a classically bad memory and have had since high school. At first I attributed it to all that pot smoking back then (yes, I inhaled, but no I don't smoke it now), but as I have gotten older and have that much more to remember I am still pretty selective about who and what I remember even once I passed my little hippy drama crowd stage.

I have had reason to reconsider this question of late because I got all hooked up on Facebook. My mother made me do it because until recently I didn't see the point. She was all excited because she'd managed to bump into some old acquaintances online and wanted to add me as a friend so I wandered over and lo, there were a lot of people there I hadn't seen or connected with in ages. There were the people from Middle School, the ones from High School, and then, thanks to the mater, the ones from my twenties in England. Holy cow! More alarming, however, was the fact that clearly there were tons of people I just couldn't remember.

And yet I can remember lots of obscure little events. I was listening to some folk music today and I remembered about the time I went to see a band with my friend, Nick, and what he was wearing and who was the lead singer in the band, and their weird little detail of having a member of the band who was into this crazy freestyle dancing in front of the band but no other musical contribution. Why do some details just stand out in your mind and others slip away? I never followed the band. I didn't meet anyone special that night. I also saw a lot of bands and acts and many of them I forgot and others I remembered.

Sometimes I forget good stuff and sometimes it's bad stuff. Some people I have forgotten until I met them again and was forcibly reminded who I was quite close to. It took me five weeks to remember one woman's name who had been quite a buddy for a while when I first moved back to Vermont. What makes something stand out and another thing slip entirely away? I suppose they have done studies on it, but I have never read anything that satisfies me as to the vagaries of my own weird selective memory.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Green is Good

I have always considered green to be the color of God. I’m not talking about some particular vision of God, but my sense of the divine All That Is. It seems to me, like Darwin said about beetles, that God really must favor green. Science calls it chlorophyll but whatever the biological dynamics involved the result is great swathes of green, immense canopies of green, a blue-green incandescence of sea, and a planet like a great blue-green marble with soft swirling swatches of white.

I think that might be why I love stones like chrysacolla or the wonderful mix of malachite and lapis lazuli. I have collected a particularly lovely couple of pieces of turquoise, probably dyed, that are gorgeous grass green. Grass green that reminds me of Northern California in the spring when the winter rains have soaked the soil and the spring sun awakens new life. It’s a truly amazing green that jumps to your eyes with electric vitality. Or that soft emerald carpet of Irish green grass in Eire that is the result of a wet mild climate. Or that tired eluvial green of dry peaks and ridges, or the dark green of pine, or the beautiful alluvial green of rivers and valleys. Think of the Nile with the banks rich with life, reeds and papyrus. I would love to see the green of a tropical rainforest for myself. That’s one green I have never seen in person.

Green is the color of life. I think of that every time I see a little seed burst forth from the dark loamy earth, just two delicate cotyledons breaking free on their tender stem. Green is the color of many of my favorite foods.

Green is good.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Longfellow in Twitterspace

I have been on Twitter for a couple months now. I heard about it from sellers on the Etsy forums as a great way to get the word out about your online craft shop and promote your business and blogs. I was looking at various tools to increase my visibility as a jewelry maker. Desperate to improve views at my Etsy shop I immediately signed up for Twitter, using my shop name, and plunged in, adding hundreds of other Etsy users over the course of a couple weeks as we all posted wildly about the new ‘get rich’ tool at the Etsy forums.

That’s now I started: tweeting away about my treasuries (collections of items from various Etsy sellers), my new jewelry listings, and then I read the feed. I dutifully clicked away at new treasuries, new items, and so forth, feeling a little more desperate each day as no sales resulted and the subsequent views from each tweet dropped lower in lower. No instant sales were generated, no instant success for my blog. I quickly decided to look at it from a different POV.

Did I really enjoy spending half my day clicking to everyone’s latest pair of earrings or soap set? Did I even need more soap? (I love soap and can recommend my favorite Etsy soap sellers but that’s another topic for another day) I am already swimming in handmade jewelry because I make it myself. In fact the more I thought about the more totally reasonable it was that no one was buying my jewelry from my Twitter contacts. The fact is they were ALL in the same boat as me, all trying to sell their stuff on Etsy, and consequently we were just tweeting desperately to each other: “please won’t you buy my stuff?”

I found that not only was I not that interested in blogging about each and every treasury I appeared in or every little beading session, but I wasn’t interested in reading about other people doing it either. I had already shared the magic of Twitter with other friends of mine, those with different interests and I was already seeing that there were other ways to use it, and in fact the best way to use Twitter didn’t involved endless adverts. I started studying why my second Twitter account was more fun, and more useful to me. It had diverse content from a diverse bunch of people that were genuinely interested in sharing, talking, and learning from each other. I was there when the terrible news in Mumbai hit and it spread over Twitter with everyone sharing, making it a personal event even if it was on the other side of the world.

I still love to hear about what my fellow Etsians are doing, but I urge you all – if you are reading this to expand what you are doing on Twitter, to reach out to all sorts of different people, and to really fully explore the potential of Twitter.

And please don’t put Magpie in my Twitter feed. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That is the message that is everywhere today. If it’s not global warming, terrorism, or plane crashes it’s salmonella in your peanut butter.

Right now hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs and the economy seems to be taken a nosedive as sure as Flight 1549 splashed down in the Hudson.

What am I doing about it?

I quit my job, am taking time off, and relocating!

It seems madness. I have had a lovely job, live in a great town, have lots of great friends, and enjoyed both a studio and an apartment, but I wanted something different. I have been planning and thinking about this life change for a long time, but when I started taking steps towards achieving it, burning bridges if you will, that’s when the news about the economy started getting bad enough to even get through to a hippy dippy artsy-fartsy type like me. Even wrapped up on my creative little worlds I got the picture. It’s been coming on for a long time.

I briefly thought about changing my plans and hunkering down, but then it occurred to me: the only thing to fear is fear itself.

I’m not going to stop living my life the way I want to because of dire predictions. I will eat peanut butter and spinach (I might prefer organic though just to feel a bit more reassured) but I also have to take leaps when I want to take leaps and trust in my belief in myself, my ability to create my own reality, and that ultimately whatever will be will be. At least I’ll have fun trying.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Artistic Update

Since my show I haven’t done quite as much painting as the rest of the year, and then the holidays put a crimp in my style when it comes to painting and my etching workshops. Of note however I have just completed a commissioned portrait that I’m very pleased with. I’ll take a photo of it before it goes to its home and share here. I’m also working on a portrait of a couple, another painter and his wife. It was a trade for a portrait of me and my partner. This one is significantly harder to do. Not because either of the subjects are difficult but I’m doing it in their home, which means I’m not in my element, and because of the complexity of the image. It was very important to the couple to be seen in their own environment, including details. I tend to be a simplifier that likes to concentrate on the figure.

One interesting part of the painting that does seem to be working well is that I’m using an old unwanted landscape of the sitter to paint on and it appears that elements of his original work will be left in, making it a bit of a collaboration as well as creating an unusual space. Again, before I release it to the owners, I’ll try and get a picture to share.

My jewelry creation has been on total hiatus since the Christmas shows I did, lack of sales there and on Etsy discouraged creativity. I am about to start work on a new necklace though, a choker of coffee beans using vintage beads and copper findings and chain. I think it will look very good when it’s done. I am definitely moving away from thinking about my pieces in terms of sales and looking at them as works of art in themselves. This is definitely better artistically but won’t help pay the bills!

Ok, artistic update is over.