March 31st, 2006

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Good Morning!!

I wake this morning, feeling more calm around the radiation room experience, and there is some excitement there, too. What will it be like? I, again, see the balance on stimulation and curiosity, and overload and fear.

I am reminded of the book A Whack on the Side of the Head.

I google it to see what is up with the book and take this from the Unlimited, Inspiring Business website.

In 1983 Roger von Oech wrote A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can be More Creative. In the book, revised in 1990 and reprinted every year since then, von Oech knocks down 10 myths (he calls them “mental blocks”) stopping us from being creative. Here they are:

1. The right answer. Our education system teaches us to look for the one right answer. Trouble is, in business, as in life, there are often several right answers. “Many of us,” says von Oech, “have a tendency to stop looking for alternative right answers after the first right answer has been found. This is unfortunate because often it’s the second, or third, or tenth right answer which is what we need to solve a problem in an innovative way.”

Tip: Ask questions that solicit multiple answers

2.That’s not logical. Logic is great at the implementation phase of an idea, but when you are searching and playing with ideas, excessive logic can short-circuit your creative process.

Tip: Try some “soft thinking”. Ask “what if?”, “why not?”, "what rules can we break?”, “what assumptions can we drop?”, “how about we look at this backwards?”

3. Follow the rules. Most organisations have rules that were once sensible but are now obsolete. We tend not to challenge them because “that’s how it’s always been”. Breaking the rules won’t necessarily lead to creative thinking, but it’s one avenue.

Tip: Have rule-inspecting and rule-discarding sessions within your organisation.

4. Be practical. Most people have a natural tendency to be critical of new ideas and focus on why they won’t work.

Tip: Try evaluating a new idea, not on its practical merits, but as a provocative stepping stone to come up with other ideas, some of which might eventually work.

5. Play is frivolous. Some good ideas emerge from necessity or deadline pressure. Just as many come over a boozy lunch, or when you aren’t thinking about the problem too seriously.

Tip: Introduce humour or wackiness into a meeting to stimulate the flow of ideas. Make your workplace a fun place to be.

6. That’s not my area. Many exciting ideas have come from transferring knowledge from one area into another. But most people don’t consult colleagues in other disciplines to get answers to problems. The more specialised you are, the less likely you are to explore other fields.

Tip: Develop the outlook that wherever you go and whoever you talk to, there are ideas waiting to be discovered.

7. Avoid ambiguity. Many cultures use the concept of an “oracle” to take advantage of our ability to make sense out of ambiguous situations. The oracle gives its pronouncements in an ambiguous way, and leaves its hearers to come up with a creative interpretation. Trouble is, these days we tend to avoid ambiguity, seeing it as a potential cause of communication problems and time wasting.

Tip: If you are giving someone a problem that has the potential to be solved in a creative way, try, at least initially, to pose it in an ambiguous way, so as not to restrict their imagination.

8. Don’t be foolish. The classical “fool” was an antidote to the yes-men surrounding the king. His role was to parody the common view on an issue and force the king to re-examine his assumptions and entertain alternative ideas.

Tip: If you are in a rut about a problem, try freeing up your thinking by taking the contrary position or disagreeing with the common sense view.

9. To err is wrong. From an early stage we are rewarded for the right answer and punished for the wrong one. We learn to keep mistakes to a minimum. Actually there are two benefits of failure: you learn what doesn’t work, and you get an opportunity to try a new approach.

Tip: If you aren’t making many errors, ask yourself, “How many opportunities am I missing by not being more aggressive?”

10. I’m not creative. A major oil company hired psychologists to find out why some of its engineers produced more creative product than others. The answer: the ones doing creative things thought they were creative; the others didn’t think they were.

Tip: A major factor differentiating creative people from the rest is that they believe their small ideas could lead to something bigger and build on these ideas. Do it.

Von Oech's website can be found at

May today be one of creative thinking and fun, all ways, all days!! For myself, I am trying to see the color in this ever-changing array of grays. Rain continues. It does amaze.
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April is Poetry Month in the US!!

I'm letting you know today, because if I posted this tomorrow on April Fool's Day, you might think it was a joke, since poetry does not have the best reputation in this country, but APRIL IS POETRY MONTH!! Yay!! Check out readings in your area, and celebrate. Write a poem. Read a poem. Post a poem.

I love Jane's image of poems as bandages. What a lovely way to see them. Use them for what ails. Protect your wounds.

By the way, Jane is on her way to Spain. She will try and check in, but we all know how vacations go, and she and Jim have a stupendous trip planned.

Enjoy this day, whereever you are, because "Wherever you go, there you are!"
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Jon Carroll today -

Jon Carroll writes in his column today about the conspiracy theories on 9-11 that are making the rounds.

I present the last half of his column, since the first half is about conspiracy theories and coincidence.

Jon Carroll today:

But the main question I have about the Sept. 11 conspiracy is -- why bother? We have a conspiracy to undermine the Constitution of the United States. It's in the papers; it requires no knowledge of engineering. We have a conspiracy to secretly spy on citizens of the United States. That's in the papers too. There was a conspiracy to steal the 2000 presidential election, a conspiracy that involved all three branches of government, and that's out there too.

We have plenty of conspiracies to worry about. We have a whole government that prefers to act in secret, that prefers to use conspiracy as its dominant tactical mode. These conspiracies have been pointed out, and distinguished men and women have risked their reputations to fight the imperial presidency, and so far: not much luck. The country seems to be catching on, but that may not matter, because the electoral process has been so badly jimmied around that the party in power may remain the party in power no matter what. Or, equally plausibly, politicians follow the money, so we are being governed by plutocrats not very well hidden behind the curtain, so which political party wins does not make a difference. Or maybe it's not that hopeless. Don't know. Might be worth spending a lot of time thinking about it, instead of, you know, the other thing.

I think we enjoy diverting ourselves. I think we want to avoid thinking about the hard problems. Medicare: hard problem. Influenza pandemic: hard problem. Poverty, infant mortality, global warming, decline of biodiversity, decline of education, dead forests, dead oceans, malaria, drought, the rise of China, the descent of Africa -- they're all bewildering and scary. We can't get a handle on them, and we're not sure that a handle even exists, and yet we know, we know, that someone ought to start paying attention.

With great wealth comes great responsibility. In relative terms, everyone reading these words has great wealth. We are the masters of the universe; we can think globally and act locally; as near as I can figure out, that's our job just now. Recreational dot-connecting really doesn't cut it. Looking for fun? Play canasta.

When the Franco-Prussian War broke out, Flaubert wrote: "Whatever happens, we shall remain stupid." Maybe; it would be pretty to think that something else might also be true.
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News Update!!

Now, don't get too excited. Bush is not yet waking up to problems with the environment, but, this is thrilling news for me. I HAVE HAIR!! I usually don't pay too much attention, but I looked in the mirror this morning, and there is a fine fuzz there, not everywhere, but, certainly on the top, and I don't even need a magnifying glass to see it. I can not only see it with my own eyes, but I can feel it. There is hope. I am so thrilled with each new hair. Right now, they are just standing up, cuz they are too small to bend in a bow to the excitement of feeling air, but, maybe they will whirl in joy, or maybe they will just reach like redwood trees straight up to the sky. Yay!! My hair returns. Yay!! Joy sparkles in me!! I am grateful to know my hair survived. I figure that augurs well for all my other parts. Yay!!
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Ellen is reminded of the words from the musical Hair. I place them here to bring back the past, and also, offer the words of Abraham Lincoln. "I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends."

Hair Lyrics

She asks me why
I'm just a hairy guy
I'm hairy noon and night
Hair that's a fright
I'm hairy high and low
Don't ask me why
Don't know
It's not for lack of break
Like the Grateful Dead

Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

Let it fly in the breeze
And get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas
A hive for bees
A nest for birds
There ain't no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Of my...

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

Oh say can you see
My eyes if you can
Then my hair's too short

Down to here
Down to there
Down to where
It stops by itself

They'll be ga ga at the go go
When they see me in my toga
My toga made of blond
Biblical hair

My hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it
Hallelujah Mary loved her son
Why don't my mother love me?

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair
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I allowed 45 minutes to get up the freeway today because of the rain, and, then, when I saw 101 was a parking lot at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon, I knew I had made the right choice. I took the first exit, and arrived on time for my 2:15 radiation appointment, though they were running 45 minutes behind so it probably would have been okay either way. There was a new puzzle on the table, and the rain was lovely in the garden. The outside trees are just beginning to get leaves, just like me. We are on the same schedule.

I did feel scared again today, as this was the first real radiation day, and the set-up is so precise, and the breathing so important, but I did "great," and held my breath the whole 36 seconds, and it was only four times, two in one place, and two in another. The whole thing took about 30 minutes.

When I went into the dressing room to change back into my clothes, Shelley, also in a wool cap, introduced herself. She just had the four times of AC as she was so sick from that she couldn't stand doing the Taxol, and because the cancer wasn't in her lymph, it only gave her a 2% increased chance anyway. So, she told me about the support group which she says is great fun, and they don't allow any whiners. She introduced me to Diane, and so, I am now signed up to do the horses. It is eight Fridays, and starts next Friday, and sounds wonderful. It seems my pattern is common, no energy for anything until chemo finishes, and then, in feeling a little better, needing a little more support, so, there, they are. Also, I can do the horses anytime, so if it is too much right now, I can sign up whenever I want. That feels good to know. I thought I had missed my chance.

It feels like quite a synchronous day. I am delighted to feel better, and also, to have support in knowing that there is still a long, long way to go. Diane has been through this too. All three of us had Allison, Jenn, and Francine, and think they are great, so we are united in our medical team. So, that's the news. 1 radiation down, and possibly only 32 to go. I learned today that they do so many on the whole area, and then, they zero in on the scar area, so 33 isn't a total given. It may be more. I am hoping 33 is enough for me. Only 32 to go is my mantra for the weekend. Yay!!

Oh, and Shelley is four weeks out of chemo, and she has some hair too, enough to touch, and it is very soft.

Also, a clothing catalog came today, and it features a "mature" model with short, white hair. She looks lovely. I am happy to see that. I think it is time to change our ideas on beauty. We all are beautiful!! Yay!!