|Updated: 4/29/2004; 4:41:09 PM|
3rd House Party
The 3rd house in astrology is associated with writing, conversation, personal thoughts, day-to-day things, siblings and neighbors.
Sunday, February 29, 2004
I’m back from house- and dog-sitting. Amy called tonight and said they had a great time in
They took a trip in to
Did I mention my own two dogs are buried in their yard? I live in a condo, so Amy’s yard seemed the best place for them. The sun came up every morning right over their graves when I was staying there. In the spring, the daffodils I planted over Molly 3 years ago November (Amy calls them “Molly-dils”) will be coming up, along with the Siberian lilies I planted over Silke this past May (“Silka-lilies”). Good yard for dogs.
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Friday, February 27, 2004
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Well, I tried setting up Mail-to-Weblog and it kinda sorta works except not the way I’d like. So I’m abandoning that plan and just taking a few days offline. I have to return to house-sitting this evening through the weekend, with dialup access but alas no Radio blog posting capability (one of these days I’m moving to TypePad. Then again, that's been so slow lately…).
I’ll leave you with a few good links:
From – Here’s a great writing exercise: Open the dictionary and take a word with many meanings (the poem here uses from) and create your own examples.
How Media Changes Cultural Identities – as a result of global communications, can you live in one cultural physically and another mentally?
Give the Bush administration a new slogan – (via Atrios) TBogg has a contest going for a perky (make that snarky) new slogan to replace “Steady Leadership in Times of Change.” Already suggested at Atrios: “Don't Switch Horsemen Mid-Apocalypse.”
Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us – (via Boing Boing) Something else more important than trying to exclude gays from constitutional rights. Oh wait, these are religious conservatives – we’ve brought this on ourselves with our evil hedonistic lifestyles (i.e., sex not arrogant over-consumption). For more, see the interesting commentary at Boing Boing.
And to end on a more positive note…
100 days of commitment and curiosity – Curt Rosengren has lots of good recent posts if you're looking to jumpstart your passion for your work. I like this take-off on the National Novel Writing Month’s “get moving” approach. 100 days too much to chew? Try the 30-day version.
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Josh Marshall thinks Bush’s call for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is a sign that he’s worried about his reelection chances. See several recent posts. Marshall also links to a Newsweek column by Patti Davis and comments: “Look at the picture which leads this column in Newsweek on gay marriage. I think it helps explain what this issue is about.” The photo reminds me of the punchline of the recent animated cartoon by Mark Fiore, “The Gay Agenda,” in the SF Chronicle (thanks for the link, Jim). Newsweek also has a companion article that says, “If marriage is in trouble, don't blame gays. Straights changed the rules.”
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Tuesday, February 24, 2004
This week while my friends Amy and Paul are vacationing at a villa in
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Monday, February 23, 2004
Linguist George Lakoff sheds some light on the same-sex marriage debate by looking at the language being used on both sides. He says, “When conservatives speak of the ‘defense of marriage,’ liberals are baffled. After all, no individual's marriage is being threatened. It's just that more marriages are being allowed.” But conservatives feel their core values are threatened by it (their model of society uses the "strict father family" metaphor - see Lakoff for more). They also use the term “gay marriage” rather than "same-sex marriage" because gay marriage means gay sex and Americans are squeamish about that.
On the liberal side, Lakoff helps explain the marriage vs. civil union debate:
Reading the stories of gay couples getting married in
So here are all these gay people clamoring to get married – people who actually hold the institution of marriage sacred. But the conservative right doesn’t want to allow it. On the other hand, they apparently can’t pay heteros enough to get married. Over at It’s Not Me, It’s You, Leslie derides the Bush administration for trying to pump $1.5 billion into programs and initiatives to promote “traditional” marriage “to an apparently uninterested heterosexual public.” She has a better suggestion for promoting marriage to heteros:
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Friday, February 20, 2004
I finally had a chance to read through the entire excerpt of Mind Wide Open by Steven Johnson that I posted about a couple of days ago. In the excerpt, Johnson describes getting a functional MRI to see if he could see an idea forming in his brain. The fMRI experiment would measure and compare periods of time when he's not thinking, time when he's reading something, and time when he’s ruminating – when an idea might form.
A number of things jumped out at me. One was when he was trying not to think: “you stuff your brain into a physical situation that should by all rights overwhelm it, and you tell it explicitly not to think of anything, and yet still it churns away in spite of everything…here my brain was riffing away...” This reminded me of my own brain sometime in the middle of last night when I woke up and couldn’t shut my thinking off for a good two hours (I checked).
Also interesting were the brain scans of his two rumination periods, which showed two distinct patterns. In the first, Johnson has a panic at realizing he has to perform, to come up with some interesting hunch or idea: “For forty seconds of this $2 million machine's time, I think of absolutely nothing worthwhile. I think about trying to think about something. If there is a cognitive version of flailing, this is what I do for the first scan.” For the second rumination period he’s prepared; he “writes” in his mind a description of the experience he’s having inside the machine.
The scan of Johnson’s cognitive “flailing” shows scattered activity across his brain: “my brain looks cluttered.” The second, where he’s focused on "writing," shows high activity in one part of the brain while all other areas had almost none: “It was the overall orchestration, the clarity of the pattern, that stood out, the lack of mental clutter.” I’ve experienced both of these states – the mental flailing and the intense focus. I suppose it’s not surprising that fMRIs would show clear pictures of it.
Once I wrote some narration for an animation of sleep neurochemistry for a company that makes an insomnia drug. After that I used to picture my little neurons over-firing when I’d lie awake at night. Maybe now when I’m struggling with a scattered brain I’ll picture it – as well as what it looks like in the bliss of focused functioning.
This is your brain if you are the Dalai Lama
See also the interesting research being done in a collaboration between the Dalai Lama and some top psychologists and neuroscientists on how medidation changes brain chemistry to reduce stress and promote positive moods.
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Nice poems today at Poetry Daily:
And now I have to run off to a meeting...
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Thursday, February 19, 2004
I am on hold again. This afternoon I spent 1 1/2 hours trying to work through a support issue on my Dell laptop. Next week I will be house-sitting/ dog-sitting/ chaperoning my 16-year-old godson while my friends are off in
So I called Dell support this afternoon to try to fix it. Very nice gentleman walked me through various tests, but of course he hung up just seconds before I was about to try re-connection (He: “Oh, you won’t have any trouble now. I’ll call you back in a half an hour…” Me: “No, I have to run out. Try me in an hour and a half.” He: “Okay, I’ll call you in an hour and a half to be sure you were able to connect.”). Of course he never called back. Just as well, I had to prep dinner for a friend who was coming over. Now she’s gone and I’m back on infinite hold…
Okay, support picked up. But now it appears there’s nothing wrong with the dial-up modem – so support guy #2 suggests to try calling AOL support. (No, this is support guy #3. Guy #2 put me on hold while he went to "research the problem." I waited 30 minutes and he never came back.) While I still have a person on the phone, I ask if he can also help me solve my intermittent wireless connection problem on my laptop. Of course, support guy
I don’t think I can deal with this any longer. Wireless help – must try another day. AOL support – well, will have to try in the morning. I'm considering whether I can just drive to a Starbucks near my friends’ house next week and sit and use their wireless all day, all week. Maybe I should just commute home to my house every day. Easier. But that wouldn’t allow me to connect at night. I couldn’t survive without blog access at night. Nah-uh. Guess I’ll have to try AOL support in the morning. Good grief. Anyone have any other ideas?
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Wednesday, February 18, 2004
I would really like to have seen that.
The book sounds like something even a non-scientist such as myself would find fascinating. In the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to work on several training and communications projects in the biotech and pharmaceuticals fields, far outside the high-tech area I started in. The workings of the human body seem way more interesting than those of a computer – and so much more complex. In fact, that’s what’s kept me from going back to school to get educated in the sciences so that I could specialize in medical or science writing: starting from square one, it looks too overwhelming. Also, I think I’m a generalist at heart; I like learning new things and working in a variety of areas and not necessarily getting too deep into them. I’ve joked that I could get by at a cocktail party talking about almost anything for about 2 minutes before I’d max out my knowledge.
Anyway, Mind Wide Open is now added to my wish list. After I get through that big pile of unread books I already have, my weekly New Yorkers, my daily newspapers, my blogroll, etc. I'm going to write my own book, Mind Completely Cluttered.
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Eating chocolate not enough for you? Perhaps you’d like to be stewed in it? This morning’s Globe has a feature on the chocolate spa at the Hotel Hershey in
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Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Because I'm always concerned about your health...
Mars (the candy company not the planet) has been sponsoring research into the health benefits of chocolate. As today’s NY Times article says, “Industry-paid research raises alarm among public interest groups, but Mars stressed that it had published its research in more than 70 peer-review journals.” A couple of 2003 studies reported:
Yeah, and it tastes good, too. Mars is testing out its high-flavanol CocoaVia brand online.
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My new stash has arrived.
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Somehow I find this all too easy to believe.
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One of the pleasures I would miss if I didn’t get the paper delivered is Donald M. Murray’s column in the Boston Globe. The Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist is now in his late 70s. He often writes movingly about aging and about caring for his wife, who has Parkinson’s, while reflecting back on moments in his life. He has a wonderful knack for sharing anecdotes that are very personal and specific and yet are the universal stuff of what a life is. I think his columns are a great model for writers of personal essays. He’s also our own wise village elder showing us how to grow old fearlessly, and how to embrace our lives while we’re still young.
This morning ("Grateful for life's twists and turns") he begins by remembering when as a boy he found a way to enjoy even the sleet, then he meditates on how the changing patterns of our local weather are like the patterns of his life. A couple of passages:
fyi - You can find past Donald M. Murray columns here.
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Sunday, February 15, 2004
Last night I saw the American Repertory Theatre’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. My favorite part of the production was the aerial fairies floating and somersaulting over the stark set (see Boston Globe review). Very enjoyable.
The last couple of days I was looking for something poetic to post for the Valentine’s Day weekend. Tonio posted his own wonderful green valentine. And I discovered this morning some thoughtful quotes on love by bell hooks at Never Neutral. But the ever-changing passions in the play last night reminded me most of one of Pablo Neruda's poems in 100 Love Sonnets / Cien sonetos de amor. (In English followed by the original Spanish.)
I do not love you—except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
from waiting to not waiting for you
my heart moves from cold into
the fire. I love you only because it's you
I love; I hate you no end, and hating you
bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
is that I do not see you but love you
blindly. Maybe January light will consume
my heart with its cruel
ray, stealing my key to true
calm. In this part of the story I am the one who
dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
because I love you, Love, in fire and in blood.
No te quiero sino porque te quiero
y de quererte a no quererte llego
y de esperarte cuando no te espero
pasa mi corazón del frío al fuego.
Te quiero sólo porque a ti te quiero,
te odio sin fin, y odiándote te ruego,
y la medida de mi amor viajero
es no verte y amarte como un ciego.
Tal vez consumirá la luz de enero,
su rayo cruel, mi corazón entero,
robándome la llave del sosiego.
En esta historia sólo yo me muero
y moriré de amor porque te quiero,
porque te quiero, amor, a sangre y fuego.
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Thursday, February 12, 2004
Habañero chocolates anyone? Or maybe you prefer yours beer-filled?
I was trying to find an article I read awhile back in the NY Times about
The Spanish connection in the chocolate article, by the way, was this: "The most unusual chocolate flavors are coming out of
Spanish food has probably always been about fusion. Here’s an interesting page on Spain as a “culinary crossroads,” deriving foods and cooking methods from its melting pot of Arab (sugar, almonds, eggplant, apricot, cucumbers, lemons, oranges), Jewish and other European cultures, plus foods brought back from the New World (chili peppers, allspice, sweet potatoes, corn, string beans, pumpkin). They neglect to mention chocolate.
I did find an article in Slate that profiles the same Catalan chef as the Times article: Ferran Adrià, who serves “shrimp broth in a pipette, foie gras that has been frozen and ground to a powder, and a mushroom appetizer spritzed with a custom-made woody fragrance.” Don't try this at home.
More approachable Spanish food, both in the eating and in the cooking, can be found in a recent post at A Chef in My Kitchen. Donna’s tapas menu (all recipes from My Kitchen in Spain, which happens to be on my wish list) features tomato and pepper salad, deviled eggs with shrimp and olives, crispy potatoes with hot sauce, and a chicken sauté with garlic and sherry. There’s also a nice-looking dessert of lemony cheese custard squares, although my preference for Spanish dessert is always flan. Or maybe something chocolate, flavored with a little fruit, cinnamon or caramel…
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I had dinner with some girlfriends the other night and of course the Janet Jackson thing came up at some point. One friend was wondering why no one seemed to be talking about the general inappropriateness of the MTV-produced halftime show. Actually I have seen and heard a lot of that. I’m not for censorship and I dislike having moralists decide for the rest of us what we can see and hear. But there’s a time and a place. CBS was stupid to have MTV produce the halftime show because the Super Bowl is for everyone, families included. I can’t blame parents for objecting to having any more trash than there already is thrown in their kids’ faces. It’s not the sexuality so much as the commercializing, trivializing, exploitative, manipulative packaging of it that bothers me.
Judith Lewis: “Marianne in Delacroix’s day was a symbol of freedom and fairness, a woman warrior on the democratic front. Back then, women carried on their chests nothing less than mighty mounds of power.” Indeed. Although I must say "mighty" is not a word that's ever been remotely used in association with my chest.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2004
I always enjoy reading Jonathon Alsop’s In Vino Veritas newsletter. He’s a great writer, frequently amusing, and of course he knows a lot about wine. This morning his Valentine issue, In Love With Wine, arrived and so I thought I’d post it here for your reading and/or sipping pleasure. (Fyi, his website is here.)
It’s also Chocolate Obsession Week at the Food Network (via Twilight Café, where there’s also a link to the Bittersweets (tm) heart candies from Despair.com, for the more cynical among us). But my favorite Valentine’s link thus far is Abe’s at Abstract Dynamics. I couldn’t say it better myself so I didn’t – just go there!
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Monday, February 09, 2004
Why is it that when the moralists get going about something they consider indecent they always just end up putting it in the spotlight? I mean, look at the whole Bill Clinton - Monica Lewinsky thing where they insisted on dragging out every sexual detail for public consumption so your basic family newspaper was printing the equivalent content of a Penthouse Forum letter. And was it really their intention that parents be forced to have to explain the concept of oral sex to young children?
Now we have Janet Jackson’s 1-second-long breast exposure that’s gotten way more than its 15 minutes of fame. I hesitate to add to that, but Lance Arthur has a great post that puts it all in perspective. See Ten Things: Tits (via All About George). Be sure also to see #10: Breasts, Tits or Jugs? A Primer along with its comments - pretty funny.
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Sunday, February 08, 2004
Yesterday I saw my blog, and much of my recent freelance work, flash before my eyes. My housemate got this iPod for Christmas and since neither of us has a Mac she bought a FireWire card and asked me if she could install it on my computer since mine is newer and I have XP. Unfortunately not only did it not work but I could only run my computer in Safe mode after that. I left her yesterday afternoon trying to figure it out when I headed out to the movies.
When I came back around 7 pm, she'd pulled out the FireWire card and uninstalled the software, but my computer was still unusable. Dell support told her to reinstall the operating system, which thankfully she didn't do. I thought of all the downloaded software I have, including Radio Userland, plus all the stuff I'd have to back up and... Well, I was having a quite nice time last night making dinner with my date so I just put it completely out of mind until today.
In the movie I saw last night, "In America," which I sorta enjoyed but somehow just couldn't get absorbed in, there's a young girl who uses up each of her three wishes just when she needs them. This morning when I woke up I made one of those wishes: Please let my computer work! It's my livelihood. Plus it would be a royal pain in the butt to try to backup and reinstall everything. On the first startup this morning I got the same blue screen with error messages. So I shut everything down and pulled off all the wires and opened up my Dell system, pushed at all the cable connections to be sure they were tight, and closed it up again. Et voila - success! I think one of the cables did push in tighter, so maybe it had been jostled loose.
At any rate, we didn't re-try installing the FireWire card. I was a little too freaked out by my near-computer-death experience to push my luck. I think she's shipping the iPod back to her ex (who gave it to her) and having him load up some music for her and send it back. Phe-ew.
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Friday, February 06, 2004
2. The Bush administration’s obsession with tying 9/11 to
3. Global warming could bring on radical climate change – i.e., an ice age – “sooner and harder than we ever imagined,” reports that radical publication Fortune magazine. Even the Pentagon is worried.
4. Federal debt – “the most bloated federal budget in the history of federal budgets.”
5. Janet Jackson’s boob. Clearly we’re all going to hell in a handbasket. ;-)
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I thought of skipping this week's Friday Five on risk because I figured my answers would either be too boring (haven't jumped out of any planes or hitchhiked across the country) or maybe too revealing (when you grow up shy just meeting the neighbors is daring). But then I got intrigued. (BTW, you can thank that adventurous Tonya for the questions.) So here they are:
1. What's the most daring thing you've ever done?
I suppose you could say it’s going out on my own to freelance 11 years ago with no idea how I was going to pull it off. I don’t think of it as daring, though. Something I had to do. It was one of those things where some switch goes on and I’ve already made the leap emotionally before it’s even a physical reality. Then I just have to ride it out wherever it takes me.
2. What one thing would you like to try that your mother/friend/significant other would never approve of?
Probably living in some foreign country for awhile. I suspect that would only bother my mother.
3. On a scale of 1-10, what's your risk factor? (1=never take risks, 10=it's a lifestyle)
Not big on physical risks – maybe a 2 or 3 – no bungee jumping for me (born that way – as a kid I wouldn’t even step off the curb without someone holding my hand). Other risks, depends on whether an intuitive push overrides my natural caution, then I know it’s worth taking.
4. What's the best thing that's ever happened to you as a result of being bold/risky?
I’m working for myself, doing what I want to do.
5. ... and what's the worst?
I’m working for myself, doing what I want to do. ;-)
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Thursday, February 05, 2004
Update to yesterday's post: The vet clinic just called me. Lily is her name and her owners left a frantic message at the clinic (it was closed yesterday afternoon). They must be at work now; I left a message on their machine. Presumably Lily will be happily reunited with them later today. Maybe now they'll put a name and phone # tag on her. That's a good owner. Here's your treat.
Update again: The owner just called. Lily was out without her shock collar on (they must have an invisible fence). Coming by at lunch time to get her.
Aha, the kids don't like putting the shock collar on her. Don't think that will happen again. Now, I would just like to get back to work...
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Wednesday, February 04, 2004
What is it with people who not only let their dogs run loose but don't put tags on the collars with a name and phone number? I went out for walk this afternoon and was followed all the way home by this very friendly young dog. She has a rabies tag but the vet hospital listed was closed today. The dog officer, when I finally got through to him, told me he already has three dogs staying at his house - apparently we don't have a dog shelter in town. I said I'd hold onto her for a little while, but I can't keep her. She does look well-groomed and she responds to commands, so she must belong to someone who takes decent care of her - except of course for tagging her. Tying her on a run or keeping her in a yard with an invisible fence would be nice - she crossed a four-lane highway following me home. Sheesh.
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Tuesday, February 03, 2004
The latest New Yorker has a cartoon by Sipress showing:
And hey gals, he’s single – and looking! While campaigning in NH, Kucinich joked (we think) that he’s also campaigning for a new wife.
We all know we’re voting for the candidate, not the spouse – oh hell, let’s just say wife. But there’s still a lot of focus on the candidates’ wives in the media. I was reading at Twilight Café this morning some speculation over whether Judy Dean (aka Dr. Judith Steinberg) refuses to be First Lady (as yet unconfirmed). Ellen Goodman wrote an interesting column on her recently. Goodman thinks it’s the media that’s fixated on the wives, not the voters: “Their curiosity about the candidates' wives is balanced by a belief that each woman should choose her own way.” Maybe.
There is a lot of diversity this time around, as the LA Times reports:
One more point of interest (for those who are curious about the candidate's personal lives): There’s a story today at Salon.com (subscription required), Is America ready for the wild Kerry family? It’s a fun read: “The Heinz-Kerrys are nuts! A roiling mass of beauty, brains and bad temper, the Kerry brood is the stuff that
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Hmm. This may be how I'll be getting to my meeting this afternoon. Wouldn't you know my clients would pick today to meet - when the Patriots' parade is going on. Well, I'll be across the river - hopefully the roads over there will be okay. Then I'll just have to deal with the freezing rain due in late this afternoon. (People who work at home get to be such whiners...)
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Monday, February 02, 2004
Good game last night. Yes, especially for us Pats fans. But the Panthers were also awfully good, making it a very exciting game, especially the second half. In the very small gathering I went to – my friend Carol (interviewed earlier here), her 85-year-old and very spry dad John, and her 21-year-old definitely not spry cat Poki – we were all impressed with Jake Delhomme and how fast the Panthers could turn things around. Actually, Poki wasn’t impressed with much except the shrimp juice. Hisses were reserved for several lame commercials and for CBS announcer Phil Simms, whose commentary Carol and her father think is inane (as for me, I don’t know enough about football to say and, well, Poki is stone deaf).
Brian Baldinger of the Sporting News had a nice recap:
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Sunday, February 01, 2004
Lest you thought I forgot:
Weis is the Patriot’s offensive coordinator and, come to think of it, he kinda does look like a tree stump. This line is the lead in one of the articles in today’s NY Times sports section. My Boston Globe – newspaper of record today with the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl – never arrived this morning. I will save the rant about my ongoing newspaper delivery problems. (Do they not know that I can just as easily go online for the paper, that having to put on boots and go out first thing in the morning in 5° weather to see if my paper just might be somewhere in the middle of the driveway if it’s there at all… Oh yeah, I wasn’t going to rant.) So let me say it again: Go Pats!
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Yesterday I finally got up to the new
Anyway, when we got up there yesterday afternoon, we had no idea that a big event was going on coinciding with Chinese New Year. There were musicians, storytellers and a classical Indian dancer performing for a crowd in the atrium. We apparently missed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who is leading the Silk Road Ensemble, “an innovative, 12-day artist-in-residence program exploring the rich cultural and artistic traditions of the historic
We spent awhile watching the performances, then checked out Vanished Kingdoms, an exhibit of photographs taken in the early 1920’s “by the first Americans to reach the mountains and deserts of western
We didn’t get in to see the Yin Yu Tang house and only had time for one other exhibit, Men Plow, Women Weave – woodblock prints from
(Image from the PEM website.)
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