Archive for the 'Life' Category

Jeff Jarvis, prostate cancer, and me

11 August 2009

Yesterday, Jeff Jarvis wrote about his diagnosis of early stage prostate cancer, and then again today about (a) living la vida publica and talking about prostate cancer in some detail on the Stern show, and (b) his incredulity that Don Imus is treating his prostate cancer with peppers.

I always thought I’d write something about Jarvis one of these days – been reading his brilliant, irritating, lateral-thinking, proselytizing, reality-based posts for years. Who woulda thunk that I’d end up blogging about his prostate cancer instead? Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday Dog Blogging, 7 August 2009: Good food, big mouths, and the sublime

7 August 2009

The theme of the day: food, or maybe mouths, or mouthing off, or some combination therein. Part of the reason  food’s on my mind right now is that I’ve been working on an event we’re planning for November with New York Times food blogger Mark “Bitten” Bittman. It’s shaping up to be a really good time, Mark’s a real pleasure to work with, the food, drink and conversation is going to be terrific, and I’ve got a hell of a lot of work to do…Consider yourselves the first to know about it, so if you’re interested in joining us in November, let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

But speaking of things mouth-based (besides food) what would Friday Dog Day be without Mingus the Super Dog? Here he is on our NorCal/Southern Oregon (SouOr?) vacation last week, doing one of the things he does best: turning a simple rock into an oral object of pleasure. He’ll do this for hours, grab it, push it around with his snout, bury it, find it, and start all over again. Usually in a altered state of canine awareness: that rock, it’s aliiiive. P1030165 Read the rest of this entry »

Friday dog blogging 24 July 2009

24 July 2009

Mingus the Super Dog and I took a lunch break to walk over to the hardware store. One of his favorite places (can’t you tell?) because they let dogs come in, and give them treats. He’s very well behaved. DSC01661Well, MtSD and his parental units are headed up to Ashland, Oregon on Monday to get some culture at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We’ll see how the Dog does on an extended road trip. He’s not the only one looking forward to it.

Friday dog blogging 10 July 2009: one of those days, y’know?

10 July 2009

Ever have one of those days where, midway through, you realize, oh yeah, I shoulda spent it mostly like this:

DSC01608Yeah, that kind of day.

That big writing project?

Didn’t happen.

Anyway. One more thing to do tonight, and that’ll be that.

Tomorrow I’m headed down to #sppc09 at The Farm. Pretty amazing collection of people attending. More from that, later on.

Friday dog blogging 26 June 2009: walking the dog.

26 June 2009

Mingus the Super Dog and I are back from our early morning spazier up the hill and down again. Is there anything about walking (the dog) that is not virtuous? (Oh yeah: “hiking the Appalachian Trail”). That’s what I was thinking about while MtSD did his morning smell-everything-in-our-path routine.P1030115Two books came to mind:

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Dog Day 19 June 2009: Squirrel! Plus: why money is like water.

19 June 2009

Mingus the Super Dog and I took our lunch break out the door and up past Marin Stables along Wood Lane Creek – here he is doing his best imitation of Dug (“squirrel!”) from the Pixar movie, UP! – and then over the ridge and back down again along Deer Park Creek (these out-the-door hikes being yet another reason I love this town…).

Squirrel!

Squirrel!

Those creeks got me thinking about today’s report from the conservative Philanthropy Roundtable (paid for by the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation), which disputes the right of “governmental authority to regulate the activities of American philanthropists.” (h/t to @sharonschneider – you can read her stuff here). This is but the latest salvo in a spitting war ignited by a recent report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, which had the audacity to suggest that foundations ought to straighten up and fly right or risk greater scrutiny from the federales. Imagine that: a watchdog organization that committed the inexcusable philanthropic faux pas of being impolite! Quel horror!

Read the rest of this entry »

Friday dog (and cats, and frog) days 12 June 2009

12 June 2009

You know this look, right? Mingus the Super Dog is doing his “get-yer-fricken-shoes-on-and-let’s-get-going” hairy canine eyeball thing…can I just explain that I slept a little later than usual today – the typical Friday morning reaction following a Mother Jones board meeting marathon? P1030101

Which by the way was a great couple of days, devoted to thinking about opportunities, new projects, how to respond to the crazy world of journalism, but also about what to do if things don’t quite work out the way we want them to…really good conversation with our board (unsung heros!) and terrific presentation from Ludivoc and Jim from Insight’s Closing the Wealth Gap Initiative.

Meanwhile, over at the mother ship, our new gang of incredibly overqualified interns are giving Kevin Drum’s Friday catblogging a run for the money with their “This Week In Frog.”  And we have a winner: the judges have determined that our frog’s new name is Mudraker.

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26 May 2009

I spent the summer of 1971 working as a maintenance guy at Camp Takajo, a summer camp for wealthy east coast kids. My high school friend John’s father owned the place at that point, and helped me get the gig (I didn’t want to be a camp counselor, looking back at it now, because the kids reminded me of a me I didn’t much care for at the time).

My daily routine involved hauling the garbage to the town dump in a 56 Dodge dump truck (it dumptruckkinda looked like this: nothing like learning how to drive a stick and double clutch at the same time), brushing the tennis courts, cleaning out the storm drains, mopping the dining hall kitchen floor after all three meals – you know, maintenance. After hours, we got to canoe on the lake (there’s really nothing like the sound of a loon at twilight), or swim, or hang out, or head into town for beer.

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Sontag, reconsidered

25 May 2009

Two ways metaphor can be of use during times of ill-health.

Own the metaphor/metaphor as social force.

Sontag wrote about how the dominant cultural ideology imposes meaning onto disease, transforming it – and the patient – into a cultural object. But it’s also more than possible for the patient to be the creative subject, actively deploying metaphor as a weapon or tool in his/her own self-definition of health and its absence. One step beyond that: when politics intersects with individual trouble, c.f. here C Wright Mills and how individual  troubles turn into public issues, metaphor can be a social force, too.

Manage the ultimate life paradox through creative metaphor.

Sontag and Cousins were so right in approaching ill-health and disease with as wide ranging and clearheaded insight as possible, even if that means looking foolish or departing from convention (or conventional authority, bound up in the drama of the white coat). But even the most benign of health troubles carries with it another layer of meaning, a confrontation with which I think is ultimately unavoidable: that being the fact of our own mortality. And that seems to me to inhabit a land that can best be given shape and contour through metaphor, rather than its absence.

Sontag, Cousins

24 May 2009

The past few days I’ve been thinking about 2 books, Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor, and Norman Cousin’s Anatomy of an Illness (As Perceived by the Patient). I remember reading Sontag’s book when it was published back in the 70s; of all her work, this one has stayed with me over the years. I was more puzzled by why my memory jumped to Cousin’s book; if I read it when it came out in the early 80s it didn’t make as deep an impression as Sontag’s – but here it was, neurons firing in their mysterious way, surfacing the title. I’ve wandered around the Intertubes to remind myself what each of these books were about, and the more I’ve read, the more it begins to make sense. Read the rest of this entry »