Showing posts from August, 2016

Mind War: Part Seven -- Beware the Narrative

Narratology was birthed in the mid-60s as a spinoff of linguistics. The field started with a structuralist or definitional approach (universal elements or themes of narrative, definitions of narrative elements, etc.). In the past couple of decades however, the field has become more pragmatic with an applied and culture-specific approach (stories in difficult cultures, storytelling as an activity, modern storytelling in media).

I'm not a narratologist (nor do I play one on TV), but I have a long-standing interest in the power of story to shape thought and belief and even reality. I use narrative in my professional life, for job hunting and career advancement, for inter-personal communication (like parenting skills), and -- naturally -- for magic. I think the concept of narrativizing your own story arc is an extremely powerful way of interacting with the universe and integrating a sense of the liminal and numinous into your daily life.

So, recently I was at a conference (for career …

Sustain-ability: Redundancy Case Study

By the way, this is officially my 100th post!

Our house came with a new, but very cheap, electric coil stove. After six year of heavy use (including a great deal of canning, which involves large heavy pots full of water and glass jars filled with stuff) it began to fail. We'd replace electronics and burners and put up with increasingly erratic oven behavior. After my last batch of fruit preserves, the large front burner didn't just die again, but actually cracked into the stove top. It was time for a new stove.

A glass top stove isn't recommended for canning (and so was a non-starter) and another coil stove just seemed depressing. So after some debate we decided to take the leap and have natural gas piped to the house so we could get a "real stove" in my husband the chef's words.

This is quite a production. The gas company has to run the line and install the meter, another company has to install the internal piping (with the attendant permitting and inspectio…

PMPM -- Case Study: Project Ivy (and Important Announcement)

TL;DR? Skip to the end for an important announcement regarding the price of my Tarot readings.

In my very productive session with Magus, I expressed that this natal year was feeling really important and meaningful. However, my initial thinking was that this meant major changes or huge elaborate workings. The feedback I got though was slightly different. Magus indicated that my chart and the cards were pointing to a much more internally focused effort this year. Not working on big external changes, but on myself. And doing so in a very regular, persistent way. The image that came to mind is water wearing the stone.

Sigh. Of course he's right and what he said resonated deeply. He also gave me some very good pointers on where to focus, on the vision and goal, and on some weaknesses that I needed to overcome. But fortunately or unfortunately, this isn't the right time to kick that off. No, right now I need to focus on some external clean up and the kind of detail-oriented mundane …

Stars in the Desert

I've just returned from another week in the desert. It seems like longer than 13 months since I was there last.

There were all the same problems as last time (bad food and water, too much corporate chaos to truly take a full vacation, reminders of childhood that are sometimes challenging). But there were also some really powerful things that struck me this visit: the silence of the desert, the number of stars, the sheer space and emptiness.

We drove over to Roswell for a day trip. It's a beautiful drive and, at the kid's request, we stopped at every mission, chapel, and graveyard we passed.  Nothing like a NM RC graveyard. Those people know their ancestor worship.

If you have the chance, visit the International UFO Museum... especially if you like to read old news clippings (lots of old news clippings). Of course, I have it on good authority that it was not a weather balloon and "those bodies I saw weren't manikins." So for me there isn't a lot of mystery…

The Deep Occulted Secret about Planning (That I'm Totally Just Going to Explain for Free Right Now)

The only constant in this world is change. Best laid plans o' mice and men and all that. It's a near certainty that whatever plans you make are going to get shaken all to pieces by the forces of chaos and that your road is going to be a crooked one.
It's an open secret among project managers that plans are nearly 100% likely to go awry at some point. In the field, plan is always a verb. It's a thing you do -- an ongoing action you take -- and not a thing that you ever really finish. Many a PM has found themselves updating the final plan after the project is complete -- a record of what, in the end, finally happened.

You'd think this might drive people from the profession, the way that tech writers are discouraged by the fact that people don't actually read manuals. But in fact, it's kind of the key to project management as a career. After all, if all you needed was a single starting plan to make things come right, you wouldn't need a PM past the few cou…

Planning Time / Timing Plan

As someone with a probably dysfunctional love of planning, I'll look for any excuse to plan. I'll plan for the new year, I'll plan out the summer (though I didn't this year, it was seat of the pants all the way). And I'll particularly plan at the start of autumn.

Growing up in New Mexico, I always felt like autumn was really the start of the year. In part it's because it was the start of each new school year, in part because the summer months are kind of dead months there (everything dies, the weather is miserable). But it was also because I happened to be born near the start of August. This year, as I approach that benchmark, I happened across several valuable resources -- or they happened across me -- that are proving prescient in giving me the information I need to make my next year's plan happen. Things like books (Pieces of Eight among others), references online, answers to key questions.

I also had the opportunity to experience a conjure coaching sess…

Review: Pieces of Eight and the Unwriteable Fourth Book

The other night my husband made an amazing pasta sauce for dinner. It was very richly flavored, starting with a mirepoix and including roast chicken meat, pancetta cubes, green olives, artichoke hearts, and tomato sauce and paste. It was superb and very flavorful, but when I tasted it there was a hole in the middle of the flavor.

"Ah," he said, "needs salt." I wouldn't have thought that, as it wasn't at all bland, but he was right. A pinch of salt and the flavor was whole again. Of course he is the chef in our family. This got me to thinking about the flavor profiles of mixed dishes like these (soups, stews, casseroles). Herbs and spices and acid flavors, like lemon, are the top notes. Umami like mushrooms, tomatoes, and the delicious results of the Maillard reaction are the deep base flavors. Vegetables -- with their sweet and bitter flavors -- come in from the sides to round out the dish. In the middle is the pinch of salt that brings things together.