Is there hope for a cure?

I have been suffering since I was a teenager, but I thought I was alone. I did not realize that millions of other people are lying awake at night, thinking (as I did) that nothing could ever be done about this problem. I am a sufferer of restless cat syndrome.

If you do have restless cat syndrome (RCS), you are not alone. Up to 10% of the U.S. population may have this felinic condition. Many people have a mild form of the disorder, but RCS severely affects the lives of millions of individuals. In order for you to be officially diagnosed with RCS, you must meet the criteria described below:

  • You have a strong urge to move your legs but you are unable to. The need to move is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. Some words used to describe these sensations include: “full bladder,” “kneading,” “rolling,” “purring,” “poking,” or “meowing.”
  • Your RCS Symptoms start or become worse when you are resting. The longer you are resting, the greater the chance the symptoms will occur and the more severe they are likely to be.
  • Your RCS symptoms get better when pay attention to your cat. The relief can be complete or only partial but generally starts very soon after starting an activity such as petting, scritching, or feeding. Relief persists as long as the motor activity continues.
  • Your RCS symptoms are worse in the evening especially when you are lying down. Ignoring your cat at night bothers you much more than doing so during the day.

Still have questions? So do many of us. Won’t you please help us start a support group or develop a drug?

The Light Bulb Challenge

[Note: this is part of a webwide series of blog posts about compact fluorescent lightbulbs. January is the darkest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere (December might be a bit darker, but with all the candles, trees and dropping balls, we work hard to light it up). To fight off the darkness, bloggers everywhere are invited to create a post with their own riff on why CF bulbs are cheaper, better politically, harder to market or just plain cute. Your choice.]

I was slow to adopt compact flourescent light bulbs. I still have trouble spelling fluorescent. I use flour over fluor. But floury speech alone will not change our approach to light. We knead to recognize what it is that keeps us in the fold of the incandescent bulb. It may be a bad idea to stir this issue up but a challenge was given and I dough not shirk that easily. In fact, I eat it up. Any facts I come up with will just be icing on the cake.

Buy those bulbs or I will continue.

New art, new trends

Global art prices grew 27% in 2006. That is an incredible figure, especially when you consider how quickly they have grown in preceding years (2005: 10.4%, 2004: 19%).

That simple phrase took me down a path of memories through my own experiences in the world of art. Now I’ve never had the pleasure of being directly involved, as subject or creator, with any art that has been sold to anybody for any price. But this might just be the time for that to change.

When I was a college student I became friends with a talented photographer by the name of Barbara E. Cavin. I had the pleasure of being her primary model for a series that explored aspects of light and dark. The image to the right is one of her untitled works from that period, which was quite an exciting experience for me. I was an art model! I went on to model for a number of art classes that needed figures to record in ink, paint, and charcoal; I can’t say how many renditions of me might exist. I’ve always felt that the human body is both beautiful and sacred, so if nothing else I was making a few bucks in keeping with my values.

I went on to try my hand as an art student, but became frustrated by petty concerns like rules and talent. Creation of art requires some amount of each. However, the rules given to me chafed as much as the predetermined definitions of talent. One semester in one class made it obvious to me that art as a career wasn’t going to be my destiny.

That didn’t stop me from wanting to create art, though! As stupid as I thought the rules were, as sure as I was that my talents did not lend themselves easily to creating art, I found myself . . . creating art. It took a lot of time (extremely peaceful time, I found) and a fair amount of encouragement from Barb, but in 1990 I was accepted into the annual Juried Student Art Show at SUNY Potsdam. At left I’m pictured at the opening with my composition The Effect of Reaganomics. Almost as an afterthought, I entered the piece Titled in the competition as well, and its stark simplicity likely spoke the the juror in contrast to the cacophonous imagery of my other entry.

My interest in art was renewed by these successes, and I began exploring sculpture with earnest. Never having been particularly good with tools, I worked with any number of transient media, including glue, thread, croutons, and guitar strings (a material that proved to have stunning successes, such as G-String Dragon and Small Furry Decisions, as well as many failures). After much soul-searching I realized that my successes came from the layered, solid technique I had initially tried; it reminded me of what I imagined the creation of an archaeology dig would be like. The dig is created by time adding layers of material that records history for the people that are willing to destroy it in order to unlock its secrets. For me, art worked best when I knew that there were secrets inside my creations that no one would ever see without destroying what I had created.

Retroarchaeology was born in 2001 when I returned to my candles and created Job’s Lament, the first of what became a series of pieces that reflected on the events surrounding September 11 of that year. The term itself didn’t catch on until sometime in 2005, some fifteen years after the first piece was created. I’ve seen a number of different materials used, including fabrics, adhesives, and packing supplies. These pieces take a long time to create, encouraging a thoughtful construction and intense dialogue between artist and composition.

New Year, New Resolve

Today is the first day of 2007, in the year of our Lord and in the Common Era. On January 20 those that follow Islam will celebrate El-Hijra, new year for their calendar. February 18 is the Chinese New Year, February 3 by the Hebrew Calendar, the Discordians inexplicably align with the Gregorian calendar, and many Pagans celebrate on May 1 or October 31. Two things come to mind about this cycle of celebration.

Ablution. A new year is a time to put the pain of the past behind you, to commit the lessons to memory and action, to make peace with whatever has come to pass for good or ill and accept it as part of your total experience. It really doesn’t matter if you celebrate today, as I do, or on one of the many other days available on the many calendars, or if you just make up a day of your own. What matters is that you should have a day each year that you finish this chapter of your life and begin the next. It’s as important as blinking.

Irrelevance. The many calendars and cycles highlight the diversity of human experience. Our many cultures take a huge number of important dates for a large number of reasons. Just about any day of the year is going to be important to somebody, whether it be St. Swithun’s supporters of those who would see all stray animals adopted as pets. So when I see that New York City was declared a low terrorism threat for New Years’ Eve, I am bemused.

Why do the media and governments take extra care to alert us about holidays and anniversaries? Terrorists, at least the ones that we’re concerned with, don’t use the same calendar that we do. And they’re smart enough to notice that we get into a habit of tightening security on Election Day and the Fourth of July and New Years’ Eve. Isn’t the point of “terror” to be unexpected? Do people really think that planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11 because 9/11 uses the same digits as 911? Or that the trains were bombed in Spain on 3/11 to “send a message” to the Western world?

Well these acts do send a message, but it’s not calendrical. Terrorism is apparently a force that only a Discordian can understand, and thus truly loathe; it uses the principle of destructive chaos to spread fear and, so it hopes, destabilize civilization. If terrorists timed their attacks to coincide with any date of significance they would be limiting their own effectiveness. It is the randomness of the violence that makes it truly horrifying.