Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Astrology Is Fake

I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I just today learned that astrology does not totally follow observable astronomical data. 

Astrology has always been a hobby of mine, but this year I've been getting more and more into it. Because this is a safe space and no one reads this blog anyway, but especially if anyone reads this, I wanted to dive deeper into it first to explore my past lives. Now, I don't know if I totally believe in that, but like a lot of the woo-woo I enjoy, it helps with self exploration. Then, I thought it would be beneficial for me to learn how to apply the transits (the daily positions of the heavenly bodies) to my own natal chart and just read my own horoscope. Lastly, I thought how amazing it felt to know where Jupiter was, to know that there is an astroid out there in a certain place, right now as the world feels like it's ending on Earth.

But, the astrological charts don't reflect actual, observable astronomical charts. For example, a scientific astronomer and an astrologer (and anyone who can see the moon) will report that the moon's phase is waning Gibbous right now, but the former will tell you based on observation that the moon is in the constellation Virgo while the latter says it's in Libra on its way to Scorpio. 

For weeks I've been following what Jupiter and Saturn are telling us from the constellation Aquarius, what they have in store for big changes and how we should manage them. Only, they've been in Capricorn. Yet the Great Conjunction, where the two "generational" planets appeared next to each other from our POV on Earth, was very real in late December 2020. And, all this time, I was born under the sign of Virgo, not Libra. Yet, I am diplomatic, idealist, and non-confrontational just as a Libra is expected to be. Well, it's time I've had a talking to me about astrology.

Like most of the people I've come across in astrology groups or astrologers I follow online, I discovered it as a kid and was smitten. I've always been drawn to New Age-y, woo-woo, and "weird" stuff. You'll find many articles about how astrology has made a comeback among the "self-care" millennials, and it makes sense. These are really hard times; some, maybe most people, need something to believe in, something predictable in a mercurial climate, they want to ride along with the rhythms of the cosmos in all this chaos.  I'm absolutely one of those people. I want to believe. And, I totally knew it's freaking fake as fuck. Now, I know even more so how much of a creation it is. Not unlike so, so very much in our world - like the myth of America that has pushed people away from traditional faith and into communities like astrology.

So, I wonder why is this practice, pseudoscience, cult of magic thinking following outdated math and the beliefs of ancient Greeks? Probably because it's easier, more predictable, just esoteric enough, more convenient? But, why not Vedic (from India) or Chinese astrology? Because it's Western? Because astronomers still refer to the Greek constellations, even though in other parts of the world at the same time as the Greeks, the same stars had different takes on them?

So today, after learning about what February and this year has in store for me, which is in a nutshell that I'll have the opportunity to challenge my life's work, either in my everyday job or in a bigger sense. Yes, vague, but that's astrology. I may be compelled to challenge old thoughts within myself or my periphery. 

I have to admit I was a little shook just how scientifically fake astrology is. I at least thought that it simply applied a prescription of meaning to what is going on out there way out of our reach. But it's not even that. It's not even completely made up. It's half-wrong, following an old, old, old out of date map that was made before people really understood that the Earth wobbles like a top.  

So, there I was having challenged some of my personal beliefs. Just saying.

All those questions I ask above, perhaps that's what I can follow this year as part of my purpose exploration. I can't keep going with the daily horoscope if I very well know that the planets aren't where the charts say they are. What a bummer. But, what's not a bummer is that there's always something to learn. It's not frivolous to want something to help guide you through tough times or even good times, and it's certainly not frivolous to explore why something like astrology has survived since ancient Babylonian times in the way that it has. 

We'll see what the stars have in store for me on my journey.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Welcome to the Insanity Den

Are you a serial killer movie or TV fan? Read on.

Credit: Crazy Walls

Recently, I started a fun creative project to document and comment on the "insanity dens" of fictional serial killers. This will take place in short form on Instagram and will be backed up and potentially expanded here.

Insanity Den?

My sig other and I were watching an episode of Criminal Minds, the one where Kevin from The Office is alone in his private, dark, dungeon-y space. Maybe the basement of his home or the workshop at his job. The walls are coated in collages of Ancient Greek myth imagery, sunlight tip toes through gaps in shrouded windows, clutter fills every surface and crack. Kevin-not-Keven is triggered by a poster of a Greek seashore, a long held fantasy of escape, a life plan he failed miserably at achieving before being diagnosed with a fatal illness. He has an explosion of rage and operatically tears down the carefully curated collage. That's when my husband said, "Insanity den!"

While TV Tropes calls it a Room Full of Crazy, as a copywriter I find "insanity den" more appealing.
It's punchy and there's something about the connotations and intonations of the word "den" that evoke the silliness of many "room full of crazy" depictions. Especially for outrageous shows like Criminal Minds, which depends on pop culture's serial killer trope: the tortured and broken person who is compelled to bring hideous yet specific violence on others that are a manifestation of intricate, nuanced, and often implausible logic that they may not even be fully aware of. In other words, so many things about Criminal Minds are silly, and there's something silly about the words "insanity" and "den" together. (I have to say, there are a lot of things I love about CM and it's helped me through 2020. Because I'm one of those weirdos who chills out to true crime and crime fiction.)

What am I defining the insanity den as? It's where serial killers can be themselves, can dream, can make plans. Where they can shout it out either to the ether, a broken mirror, or to an unfortunate victim dead or alive. It's where they can page through their scrapbook of death, caress stolen locks of hair and other much grosser tokens, pour over newspaper clippings picturing their Eliott Ness-like arch-nemesis, have full-on conversations with their delusions. Delicately place fragile furniture just to knock it over in a juvenile fit of rage. All for the camera.

Buffalo Bill found an outlet. So did I a long time ago: writing. Notably, writing without a deadline or anyone to answer to. Writing for fun and writing about fun-to-me topics. I've spent the last 11 years writing copy for major retail brands. My work has been translated into dozens of languages and read by millions. No byline of course, but that's Okay. What I need now is to nurture my all-time favorite creative outlet, writing, in the truest way I always used to enjoy it. Having worked so long in the private sector where "they expect results" (Ghostbusters anyone?) my writing has been way too tied up in marketing and too dependent on what executives need for it to feel deeply rewarding. 

And so, my thoughts on insanity dens coming your way to a blogger and insta near you. Mostly from Criminal Minds since that was the inspiration and that has the most fodder I know of right now. I will explore film, other TV, and will gladly take suggestions. And, while aiming to be thoughtful and sensitive to real mental health, I will have fun.

Now, won't you come inside?

The Problematic Buffalo Bill. Credit: IndieWire

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's Not the Squid Fishing Fleet: Part 2

In my last post, I shared my personal reasons for naming my hand embroidery shop Squid Fishing Fleet. I wrote:

To me, the phrase "squid fishing fleet" has come to represent the mixed nuts of UFO studies: its fringe intrigue, its Americana lore, its kitsch, its rainbow of personalities shining in shades of respectability, sympathy, amusement, curiosity, and actual bullshit. 

It also stands for legit wonder. That adolescent passion for believing impossible things.

But, it's not just me connecting fleets of squid fishing boats with UFOs. It's REAL.

Earth Observatory

As recent as 2014, the International Space Station capture images of dense light off the coast of Thailand. From a distance on the water, as pictured above, these same lights could seem otherworldly. To flip the words of Dr. Bruce Maccabee, it's actually the squid fishing fleet.
According to NASA's Earth Observatory: "Scientists first noted such night-lighting of the seas in the late 1970s and early 1980s, while compiling the first maps of Earth at night."

At night, fleets of fishing boats cluster over nutrient-rich, southern Pacific waters. Rigged with LED lights to lure a small species of squid, the boats light up the absolute darkness.

It's all very magical seeming when you see images like the above, but a common place for these suckered squid to end up is in an air-locked package like that of popular Japanese snack.

Squid Jerky!

Unless one knows about the squid fishing fleets, with their bright clear lights that seem to hover still and silent, it may rightly freak a person out.

That's why in the documentary UFO's Are Real Maccabee talks about his studies of the December 31, 1978 sighting off the coast of New Zealand. The former Navy physicist talks about thoroughly and as dryly as those jerky treats, but there's a tasty morsel of the quirkiness, facetiousness or innocence, that is what always draws me in to these kinds of stories.

Maccabee's site reads:

         Subsequently, Philip J. Klass published the squid boat explanation in his book, UFOs, THE PUBLIC DECEIVED (Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1983). After citing his reasons for agreeing with Ireland and Andrews, Klass wrote, "If the bright object photographed in Pegasus Bay was not a squid boat, the only plausible alternative is that it was an extraterrestrial craft from a distant world."

         Could that be true? Is it possible that the light was not from a squid boat and therefore was from a ET craft?
         The following paper shows why it was not a squid boat....unless it was a

flying squid boat.

I can only take Maccabee's word, with his serious math and stuff, on what the New Zealand footage shows. Or not. But whether it's a real unidentifiable space craft, a hoax, Venus, Jupiter, mating mutton birds, or the squid fishing fleet isn't the point to me.

It's random pictures of a guy in a row boat staring at a glowing light on the horizon, taken out of context. It's what I said about the off-the-record, off-center cultural meme and all the characters playing a part.

Monday, December 19, 2016

It's Not the Squid Fishing Fleet: Part 1

In the late 1970s, Dr. Bruce Maccabee, a US Navy optical physicist, studied a film shot by a New Zealand news crew that may have captured a UFO. Being an expert in optical data and other Strategic Defense Initiative work, Dr. Maccabee studied the footage and of the spasmodically moving light in it, Dr. Maccabee says this in the 1979 documentary UFO's Are Real:
"I've concluded that the film does not show Venus or Jupiter. It does not show meteors or mating mutton birds. It does not show secret military maneuvers or the squid fishing fleet. I've concluded that the film is not a hoax."

Emphasis above is my own. That's because Squid Fishing Fleet is the name of my new craft and art shop!

You kind of have to hear him say it in the documentary because he speaks in short statements with a shield over any personal bias or emotion toward the topic, as a military professional would. He also gives off a nerdy vibe.

In the context of the entire UFO's Are Real documentary, with its 70s film stock and style, its cast of charactersMaccabee, Wendelle Stevens (biographer/translator of guru Billy Meier), Dr. Leo Sprinkle, Marjorie Fish, Dr. James Harder, (how do they have names like these?) Betty Hill (genuinely my personal favorite), plus the granddad of ufology Stanton Friedmanand its clear agenda, it's kind of amazing.

To me, the phrase "squid fishing fleet" has come to represent the mixed nuts of UFO studies: its fringe intrigue, its Americana lore, its kitsch, its rainbow of personalities shining in shades of respectability, sympathy, amusement, curiosity, and actual bullshit. 

It also stands for legit wonder. That adolescent passion for believing impossible things. 

Image of Handmade Patch with Important Cats=Aliens Message

So, I feel that, without thinking about it too much, it can encompass most of the themes that inspire me to create, whatever I end up putting out there. Some items aren't or won't direct related to UFOs; I make them because I think they're cool or pretty.

A piece of advice I held onto from a speaker at the 2016 Portland Creative Conference was to not think too much about what you're creating, just to make it. Similar to one of my favorite Cheryl Strayed sentiments from Wild:

"Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig."

Another great piece of advice comes from my fellow artist pal and long-time friend Natalie. She said that if I just make what I like and put it out there, the right people will find it.

Without making myself produce products that everyone likes or if I'm doing enough good marketing, I'm giving myself permission to make what I'm excited about. I'll will talk about it in a way that feels good. And, I'm going to keep my day job because I ain't paying the rent with threads and felt. That's how the world works right now, and I accept it in a way. 

Meanwhile, for some background about how squid fishing fleets and UFOs are related, check out my next post!


Monday, December 12, 2016

How Lists & Routines Help Me WFH

Since beginning my career in start ups about seven years ago, I was introduced to the modern habit of working from home ("WFH" if you've ever read a PJ-wearing peer's gchat status). I never liked working from home, yet my current job pretty much calls for it.

In my first nine months of this job, working from home helped me become depressed.

Part of problem was that I had 0 friends as the new girl in town. Well, I changed that through luck and action.

Another issue what my offense to the fact that I believe work for an entity outside myself has no place in my home, my sanctuary. I changed my attitude toward that by reevaluating my 9 to 5 time within my sanctuary.

Remaining are my days, vast with possibility of motivation/lack of motivation.

How do I deal?

I make lists.

1. Starting with the intangible, digital realm, my iPhone helps. Included with my latest iOS are two apps, "Bedtime"  within the alarm app and "Reminders". Bedtime reminds me at 9:30 PM to get ready for 10:00 PM sleep.

At 7:00 AM, my alarm rings ("chirps" really, as I have it set to a forest of birds waking me! Not as tranquil as it sounds!). That's a total of nine hours of sleep, which is the least I need. I could, and do, sleep or lay around even longer. But, the important thing here is to have bed/wake times. Without a plan, there's no beginning or end to the days at all, thus an overwhelming pool of hours without a name.

2. Once I'm up, which varies between 7:00 AM and 8:30 AM (no later) depending on the day of the week or what I did the night before, I make coffee. I'm one of those "no coffee, no talkie" people, but it's more than that. It's part of my routine, my morning ritual. I make my coffee with my janky set up (mason jar, sieve), and enjoy it while eating cereal, starting simpler work tasks, talking to my husband, or just staring. Borrowing a clever line from Stranger Things, "Mornings are for coffee and contemplation."

That makes it a ritual, elevating it from just a routine or something I do to get through the morning. This approach secures it as a moment of grounding and simplicity.

3. As I ease into getting down to business (actual work), I make my daily list. It usually looks like this:

review upcoming bills/budget
work 8:30-12:30
-edit posts
-rewrite descriptions
-clear team inbox
meditate 1
work 1:30-5:00
-Tahoe lodge descriptions
-Martha's Vineyard beach house
-Big Sky email
meditate 2

Lists within lists, vague to-dos, specific tasks. Some of these (meditate, yoga), I have reminders on my phone for, yet I still include them in my handwritten list because it's a part of my day and physically crossing it out feels good.

Some of these are obvious, like work. When WFH, though, it has been all too easy for me to get lost in the possibility of when and how much to work, when to stop, when to start, what to do when, etc. With a plan of attack, I have a structure to work through step by step. Before I know it, I've completed my hours, contributed to my next paycheck, and can move on to "me time."

That's pretty much it!

A note on handwritten vs. digital: I'm a compulsive notebook hoarder, so it's easy for me to handwrite my dailies. If you're a minimalist and can't stand clutter, perhaps one big binder or a clean stack of Moleskins will work for you.

Whatever you do, I really believe that handwriting will save us all. The physical connection from our hands to pen to paper better solidifies that thought in our minds. You may also feel compelled to jot down other things on or beyond your list: a random thought, a funny memory, a doodle, an idea. Now your day is richer because you didn't just let your phone tell you what to do.

Want to start similar habits? Here are a few things you might want:

1. Easy-to-use apps like Bedtime and Reminders to nudge you nicely

2. A notebook and pen, or a pile of scrap papers and crayon, your hand and a Sharpie, etc.

3. Ownership of your time, a.k.a. breaks from work when you need them

4. Your own permission for sitting and staring at nothing

5. Patience for practice. ...

It's not going to work the first time exactly as you expect. It's never going to work unless you just keep doing it as much as you can. You will miss days because you're on vacation, you have an appointment, you have an emergency, you're tired or bored. Trying your best to practice every day and letting the practice take its time is enough in itself. And, I believe, that when you practice, it will work out for you as it needs to.

Do you WFH? What are your tips?

Friday, October 02, 2015

This Week in Reads

I want to share what content I found most inspirational this week!

17 Incredibly Important Life Lessons We Can Learn From Winona Ryder
Buzzfeed's 17 Incredibly Important Life Lessons We Can Learn From Winona Ryder [and also, I may add, a great collection of Winona Ryder .gifs]

My personal favorite life lessons from this list are "Never be ashamed of who (or what) you love," "Go blonde at least once," (I've done that, and it's great), and "Believe that anything can happen," (only if it's followed up with "when all else fails, laugh).

As I explored the annals of Design*Sponge for a work project, I stumbled upon this piece on tips for keeping sane while working alone, which I often do (work alone, that is). My biggest takeaway from that post is what you see in the intro image above!

Finally, this little piece exposing a little-known tip for success is basically Ira Glass telling us how many years of sucky work he himself created before he finally figured it out (17 years). If you ever feel suffocated by the amount of good-looking people in their early 20s who have seemingly made it, know that the number of them are fewer and farther between than you realize and that their life could get really boring by the time they're 30. Just think of yourself as a wine or cheese - you'll get better with age. As I turn 32 in a few weeks, I'm going to remind myself of this.

wine and cheese wisdom

A little note on my process for this post:
My email has around a dozen unread emails in it from myself that I sent within the last three weeks. They each contain one url to an article that I want to follow up on or remember. If I open the email to find the link, but I'm still not done, I'll mark it as unread so that I can easily find It's an activity I hope to make a habit of!

What good reads did you find this week?

Monday, July 06, 2015

Marathon Training Week Four

Sunday 6/28 - 9 miles!

I thought that maybe last week's magic 5 miles under an hour was a fluke, but nope! Today's 9 mile run, the first truly long run, imo, during this program was a piece of cake. I was worried because this is where I start to break down. While I have happily crossed four half-marathon finish lines, I always start to FEEL it around 9 miles.

Thanks to the Springwater Trail, I was able to blow through miles 5 to 8 without even realizing how far I'd gone. If I wasn't totally in the zone, I would pull out my phone and snap pictures of some of my favorite points of interests during my route, such as the footbridge over McLoughlin/99 or this really cool building somewhere on the southwestern end of Sellwood that has waterfowl painted on it. My average pace was 11:15/mile! Woo!

One of my favorite ways to carb up.

 Tuesday 7/1 

Three miles in the morn'. 

Beer=the most fun way to carb up.
Wednesday 7/2 

Woke up at the crack of dawn to run 5 miles. Shudder. 

Eating healthy is beautiful in Oregon!
Thursday 7/3

Today I just needed to sleep in. There was no choice. Sometimes you just need to sleep off the sleeps! Took an afternoon three-mile run around the 'hood.