victorisiavale

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A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend

talkingthisandthat

Dear Friend,

I was not always this way.

I did not always hide away from the general public for months or weeks at a time. Once I was quite confident. I occasionally felt happy. I had a full time job and I could face customers with no concern. I would chat to people over the phone, make an effort to see friends, be interested in daily life. I could cope with negativity. Overcome it, even. I wouldn’t let anything bring me down because I had something inside me that made me keep going out there, into the world, facing it all.

But sometimes, Friend, things happen. Sometimes just one thing. Sometimes many things. The courage to face these things is strong at first, at least stronger than now. But depending on luck, or coincidence, or fate, or opportunity, eventually the voice of that courage for some people is quieter. Weaker…

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Burning Books

Of Books and Bugs

18777516955_317332837a_k Creeping Charlie in our yard, sprayed by our neighbor – June 2015

For close to a decade I’ve been documenting the plants and the animals that can be found in our yard, a rectangular lot in the city of Northfield, Minnesota. This is not a grand project, but a small, cumulative task, providing a lot of enjoyment and many surprises. Dragonflies, butterflies, bumble bees, mining bees, orchard bees, leaf-cutter bees, great golden digger wasps, grass-carrying wasps, ichneumon wasps, braconid wasps, stoneflies, caddisflies, soldier flies, gall flies, hover flies, crane flies, tree crickets, tiger beetles, may beetles, fireflies, ground beetles, long-horned beetles, lady beetles, jumping spiders, crab spiders, orb-weaver spiders….the list goes on. Just the number and diversity of moths attracted to a light on our garage astonishes; over a single year, well over two hundred different species visited.

Last year a newly married couple moved in next door. One of the first…

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Working Big

Sketch Away: Travels with my sketchbook

I rarely post about the commissioned pieces I work on. But this triptych was so much fun, and I learnt so much from it, that I had to share it.

I usually work small: an 8×10 or 11×14 inch piece is as large as I work. So when I got asked to work on a set of 3 18×24 inch pieces, I did wonder about what it would take to work that large yet keep the loose lines and mixed-on-paper washes of my smaller works. But I was also excited at the possibility of working outside my comfort zone, trying something I wouldn’t normally try.
sky_test On the left are the colors I decided to use for my twilight sky. On the right, my first piece, edged with frisket, just before I painted in the sky.

It’s hard to see the detail on pieces this big, but I’ve tried to compare bits of the image I shot…

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The Root of Economic Injustice

What is economic injustice? We live under a financial system that constantly prints more money, which devalues the cash and savings of every Kenyan.  Year after year the prices of basic goods and services go up – this is called “inflation”.  It isn’t unique to Kenya.  We inherited this system from the Bank of England, and it has been replicated in every country on Earth.

Inflation Eats Your SavingsThe elite are able to protect themselves from inflation by investing their money into real estate, stocks, forex and small businesses.  But average Kenyans, the wananchi, have no defense against rising prices because they do not have access to the types of assets that the elite use to protect their wealth.

If your savings are losing their value over time, there is no incentive to save at all!  This causes the gap between rich and poor to grow each year in Kenya, and in most other countries as well.

We think that is economic injustice.

As a private company there is little we can do about the root cause of inflation, because that is a political problem.

What we can do is give the people in the base of the pyramid access to the same kind of quality investments that the elite use to protect themselves and make their wealth grow: real estate, equities, commodities, precious metals and forex.  We believe people should be able to park their savings into appreciating assets – or at least assets that hold their value.

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A Friend Remembers

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Hair and Boobs

Zsofi Writes

On the morning of my 39th birthday, I was grateful for two things: my hair and my boobs.

There were other things too, of course – the way Sam buried his little face in my hair at 5:30 in the morning. The way he and Drew planned how to surprise me with breakfast and cake and presents.

But my hair and boobs were on my mind the most because in the week leading up to my birthday, one friend had to shave her head and another friend found out she might be losing her breasts.

I sort of hate to feel gratitude like this—it seems like such a selfish feeling. Like by being grateful I am saying that I am grateful that YOU have this horrible disease and not me. I am grateful that I have my hair, but too bad about yours. That’s clearly not what I want to…

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Paul’s Body Politic: Striving for Individualistic Unity

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The Internet of First Responder Things (IoFRT)

the Chief Seattle Geek blog

IoT-toasterThe “Internet of Things” or IoT is a common buzzword in the technology community these days.  It refers to the increasingly prevalent distribution of sensors throughout the natural world, and the connection of those sensors – as well as other machines – to the Internet.

The running joke is that IoT is about putting your home refrigerator, thermostat, washer, dryer, microwave, range, TVs, computers, smart phones and even toasters on the Internet, or at least connecting them so they can talk to each other.  Now what a toaster would say to a TV, or what the conversations between a washer and a dryer might include, could certainly make for a lot of talk show jokes and lists on a David Letterman show (should he return).

But clearly creating such an “Internet of Household Things” or IoHT would be quite useful.  Take, for example, the urgent water crisis in California and…

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Learning to Feed My Hunger

An Honest Mom

I will never let another pair of pants tell me I’m fat again.

This from the mouth of my friend Rachael, as she speared another piece of perfectly roasted cauliflower off of the plate in front of us. We met for drinks, Rachael and I, and as the fathers of our children readied our kids for bed, we ordered another cocktail.

I eyed that tiny plate of cauliflower with resentment. It was so good. And there was so little. What a tease tapas can be.

R’s declaration convinced me of what I already knew—I must go buy new jeans.

IMG_4217 Familiar, anyone?

Oh, the ever changing expanse of the post partum body. I’ve been rail thin with huge boobs to very squishy and everything in between. The rail-thinness was the product of exhaustion, depression, and breastfeeding in my first four months with Jo. I remember being stunned by the sight of…

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Going Rogue

undercoverBAT's Blog

playground

They’re not my kids anymore, but they’ll always be mine.

True, I don’t see them day in, day out like I did the year that they were in my classroom. But there are still snatches of time during the day where we can reconnect–a quick conversation as we pass each other in the hall, first thing in the morning when my classroom has more former students than current students.

In my mind, they’re just slightly taller versions of the child I saw every day for ten months, maybe with a few more teeth and a different hairstyle. But then I’m reminded that they’ve been thrown into a whole new existence.

The testing world.

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