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I don’t know what got me thinking about hair color — but recently I had a flashback to the first (and only) time I colored my hair. Now, I’m fair — Medium Ash Blonde, I believe is about right. In the closest thing I have to a baby picture, I’m 2 or 3, and my hair is almost white blonde.

But in my mid-20’s I decided (for reasons which I will keep to myself – although they had more to do with proving a point, and nothing to do with Goth or anything) to dye my hair black. Yes, black. Not dark brown, not chestnut brown. Black. It was a box of drug-store color, and it said “temporary – will wash out”. [Anyone who finds themselves snickering right now, go ahead — you probably already know what I’m going to say].

Well, I thought it was pretty successful – at the time. As the weeks passed, the color did NOT come out. It DID fade to a really terrible shade of something, though. With light blonde roots starting to grow out. So off I went to the hairdresser for a bit of assistance. She politely told me that I (apparently) have fairly porous hair, and that the color would have to be bleached out. BUT she would not be able to do it right away, because the color had also dried and damaged my hair. She sent me home with a tube of “Paul Mitchell” hair-repair, and told me to come back in a few weeks.

So I spent the next few weeks looking more and more like a skunk — dark roots in dyed blonde aren’t that attractive, but neither are blonde roots in a dark bland shade of yuck! After a few more weeks of “WHAT was I thinking?” (although I don’t regret it), I trekked back to the nice hairdresser, who proceeded to “fix” my hair.

Step 1:
Bleach ALL the color out. Yes, ALL. Including natural pigmentation. My hair was, literally, white.
Step 2:
Look in the nice big books of hair-color-samples and pick a color that was PROBABLY close to my natural color
Step 3:
Return for a few followup visits to see if we guessed my hair color properly

Fortunately, we guessed fairly closely. I DID let her talk me into “highlights” on a subsequent visit — you haven’t really lived until you’ve had sections of your hair painted with a brush, and tinfoil triangles sticking out of your head. Really. It took another “touchup” to compensate for the highlights which started growing out.

It’s been years, now, and my hair is all the same color, right down to the roots. It naturally got a bit darker over time, now it is lightening up again. I’m seeing a few strands that look suspiciously lighter than the rest. But it really doesn’t bother me. I hope everyone else is OK with that — ’cause I am.

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habit-forming becomes habit-forming; beginning a pre-planned habit is a bit like falling into a memory that hasn’t happened yet but just did
[9:36 AM May 11th 2009 -lisaLJL]

truth and reality are very often not the same thing. reality is what it looks like. truth is what it is. [8:49 AM Apr 8th 2009 -lisaLJL]

i’m not where i wanted to be, but that doesn’t mean i’m not going to get where i’m going. [3:40 PM Feb 24th 2009 -lisaLJL]

“i get it” means further explanation is not required. if you “get it” and require further explanation, you don’t get it. have a nice day. [8:44 AM Feb 11th 2009 -lisaLJL]

what the heck is “amicable resolution”? is that like when i wrote in a status rpt one time “resolution of dysfunctional code” ie BUG FIXES [2:19 PM Jan 7th 2009 -lisaLJL]

time is just a conceptual dimension that has been defined to try to make things “orderly” and “understandable” [11:17 AM Dec 30th 2008 -lisaLJL]

what I re-learned from Franz Schubert
about mental self discipline

Well, I sat down at the piano last night for the first time in a very long time. Despite the numerous compositions I have learned and played and perfected over the years, I tried to recall a piece to play, and drew a complete blank. And it bothered me. It bothered me a lot. There was a time and a place where I could play for stretches of time with my eyes closed — fingers placed with absolute certainty, each note and tone reflecting flawlessly the intended emotion, each subtle variation of intricate notes or pattern in a seemingly repetitive measure perfectly memorized and performed.

I thought back to the last time I sat down to play, and one at a time various pieces started to come back to me…

“Moonlight Sonata” – my hands knew exactly where to place themselves. As I started to play, I remembered how I had worked on refining the muscle-control in my right-hand finger #5 (ie. the “pinky”) so that I could properly emphasize the upper melodic line (controlled by the pinky) separate from the rest of the notes being played by the right hand. I could still play it – a bit clunky, but still there! Then I hit a wrong chord, and that was the end of that – all I could remember without the music.

“Jump” (by Van Halen) – not exactly classical, but definitely a classic. Not particularly difficult chords, but it took a bit of practice initially to simulate the bass and lead guitar and keyboard parts and get the left-hand bass beat and right-hand riff and chord changes together properly.

“Do You Know Where You’re Going To” (by Dianna Ross) – great vocal piece with beautiful accompaniment – I could remember the words but not the music – had to go digging through the sheet-music pile to find it. It goes through several key-changes throughout the piece – can’t play it from memory any more.

the list went on…

Now, while I was digging through my sheet music, I came across a piece that I wanted to learn when I was in my senior year of high-school, but never had a chance to before graduation – Franz Schubert’s “Impromptu #4 in A-flat” [from Four Impromptus, Op. 90]. It is a fairly complicated piece (Grade 9 or 10, I believe, by Royal Conservatory standards), and to be appreciated properly needs to be played at an insanely quick tempo (in order to sound somewhat like an ‘effortless, trickling waterfall’ – I remember my old piano teacher saying something like that). As I looked at the piece of music in my hands, I thought – rather spur of the moment – why not learn it now?

And so it began. I spent about half an hour learning, practicing and repeating the first 4 bars. Right hand – get the notes right, then the fingering, then the speed. Left hand, get the chords right and the timing. Put it together. Repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat. And repeat. I can almost play it properly [just the first 4 bars], but not twice in a row with no mistakes. Not yet. But I will learn this piece of music. It is 13 pages long, with approximately 4 bars to a line and 4-6 lines per page – I estimate that if I were to learn 1 line a day, it would take me 65 days to do a “first pass” on becoming familiar with the entire piece.


So, what does Franz Schubert have to do with my mental self discipline?

Well, it’s not like Franz walked up to me and said “So, Lisa, howz it goin’?”. But beginning to re-learn intricate, difficult piano music, even for a mere half an hour, had some hidden benefits I wasn’t expecting. It reminded me that:

  • working on complex issues in discrete chunks works quite well
  • the details make more sense when you can, and do, imagine the end result
  • there is beauty and empowerment in simplicity as well as complexity
  • the sum of the parts can indeed be greater than the whole
  • my hand and finger muscles appreciate a good workout
  • consistent routine, albeit boring, achieves a desired result
  • my thinking and typing both become faster after playing the piano
  • a mental muscle is just as valid a concept as a physical muscle
  • I think I will continue to learn this piece. Will I learn it in 65 days? I don’t know. Will I practice daily? I don’t know. Will I benefit in other areas of my life by allowing myself to do something I enjoy? I don’t know. What I do know is that half-an-hour a day is 3.5 hrs a week.

    “I’ll take ‘What are perfect cruisin’ conditions’ for 1000″.

    Driving is very therapeutic. I like driving when I am happy. I like driving when I am sad. I especially like driving when I am pissed off. There is just something deeply satisfying about occasionally grinding first..second..third.. [maybe more depending on traffic conditions] rather aggressively. Oh yes.

    And I like driving alone. Except for the radio, of course. The radio is funny. The radio makes me laugh. Sometimes I get fixated on a song – I’ll either pull out the CD or go buy it. And play it repeatedly. It’s a good thing I drive alone – I think it would drive most people nuts.

    I don’t mind being a passenger – as long as the driver doesn’t talk much. Seriously. It’s not that I’m anti-social. It’s just that most of the time I enjoy thinking more than I enjoy talking. Hmm. OK. Maybe I’m a BIT anti-social. Whatever. What makes a good road trip? Fast car. Open highway. Awesome tunes. Yup.

    later dawg… 🙂

    There’s not much these three things have in common. Not directly anyway. I don’t own a ferret. I never did. But a friend of a friend did. Two, actually, if I remember correctly. I remember visiting once, and being told “Check your shoes when you leave. They like to sleep in shoes.”

    At that time in my life, academics and studying consumed the majority of my time. I didn’t go out much – which didn’t bother me much. I had “clumps” of friends – as different from each other as dusk, dark, daybreak and day. One was a small group of friends – people I hung out with on more of a casual than a social basis. I was getting restless and bored – I was due for a change. I’d been invited out with this group before, but had always declined. However, this particular evening, I was in the mental mood for something different. And different is what it was. It was like someone was holding a mirror up to my life and everything was happening backwards. If it had been an aerial view, it would have been 180 degrees off course.

    We went to places I didn’t normally go. I met people I wouldn’t normally meet. I think I drank too much. Much of the detail of that night and the next morning are dim. Foggy. There are fragments which are tucked away just below the surface – little pieces that connect somehow – a seemingly unrelated collection of emotional moments as varied in intensity as Freddy and the boys belting out “Bohemian Rhapsody”. And I met a forgotten friend. Time has passed. Names and faces have gently faded. But I clearly remember making an odd emotional connection with someone. Perhaps his life had a mirror held up to it at the same time. I don’t know why we didn’t keep in touch. We should have. So somewhere out there, I have a forgotten friend. Perhaps one day we’ll bump into each other again. Would we even know it if we did? I’d like to think so.

    I used to really dislike black-and-white photography. I don’t know why. It was boring. Old fashioned. When your thoughts are traveling a million miles a second, the flash and splash of color provide an anticipated sort of framework for shaping your interpretation. Most of it is deliberately placed to highlight a face, a place, a product, a logo. Even though the message may not be immediately clear, it is crisp and controlled. Precise. Designed to capture and provoke a thought.

    Recently though, I have been trying to slow down my thought process. Every once in a while, things seem to get too busy. Too chaotic. I lose focus. So I doodle. Usually in pencil. I like the way the graphite seems to absorb itself into the paper with each stroke of the pencil tip. Firmer pressure for a darker crisper line – a finger-tip smudge to add some depth and dimension. When I look back at my creations later, they seem to give back to me the same emotion I was feeling at the time. It’s almost like a tiny bit of myself got absorbed into the paper along with the graphite shadows. I’ve started to see this same depth and dimension in certain black-and-white images.

    I never could figure out why they called it “black-and-white”. It’s not. It’s “Shades of Grey”. Without the blaring distraction of glossy color, the photographs seem to offer up the most subtle hint of emotion. Some stronger than others. Crisp contrast blends into subtle silky textures. Instead of boldly declaring it’s message, it whispers. Rather than constructing a thought for you, it invites you to explore the thought it is trying to portray. It’s almost sensual. But you have to slow yourself down enough to hear it. Feel it. Sometimes it is as subtle as a warm breath.


    VIDEO:
    How to Successfully Fail at Portal
    sometimes you have to interpret the message yourself

    HINT: watch it with your eyes closed

    Now THAT is what I call a frying pan! It says “OLD MOUNTAIN” on the bottom, along with a lovely scene of a few mountains and fir trees. It weights 8.5lbs [I just weighed it]. And you have to wear oven mitts ’cause the handle gets VERY VERY hot.

    It needs to be seasoned occasionally – which means bacon occasionally. TIP: For cooking bacon, you can’t beat a cast-iron skillet. Set your oven to 350 degrees F, lay the bacon strips in the skillet, and place it on the middle rack. It doesn’t spatter nearly as much as you think it would.

    I made some corn muffins once in non-stick tins, and when I pulled them out after they cooled, about 30% of the the non-stick surface came right off attached to the muffins. It was one of the grossest things. I wonder if they make cast-iron muffin tins… maybe I’ll go google it.


    My Palm IIIe still works fine.
    Love the stylus and “Graffiti” – bought it and still use it for that reason.

    I’m tactile. I enjoy the sensation of using written hand-motion [as opposed to keyboard-entry] to enter a “todo-list item”, be it on a piece of paper or an intelligent touch-screen. I find that I use my left and right hands almost equally to pick up my Palm, tap to the list I want, and create a “written” item or note.

    The rational side of my brain is telling me that one of these days either the laptop or the PDA will cease to function – so I’d better upgrade soon. The other rational side of my brain is saying “why upgrade just for the sake of upgrading”.

    Read More »


    How people choose to represent themselves when given the freedom to be anonymous has always fascinated me. With social networking sites and comment-as-you-watch interactions becoming more and more popular, it stands to reason that more and more people are coming “online” to see what all the fuss is about.

    Ah. But first you need to create an identity. An electronic you.

    Who ARE you going to be? When it asks for your NAME, are you going to be “alice_smith” or “ilovebaking”? Will your email be one you typically use, or are you now “pat588@gmail.com” ?

    Read More »


    really – like “tim o’reilly” wants to hear me babble about fractals in the middle of
    Thinking About Wendell Berry’s “In Distrust of Movements”.

    what was i thinking?

    oh yeah – i was thinking that Wendell Berry’s writings reminded me that while our processing and data-mining capabilities keep growing exponentially, the socio-economic issues we seem to love to model don’t seem to change much.

    i was also thinking about fractals… and that we need to recycle our ideas as well as our garbage… and that we live in a virtual world every bit as much as we live in a physical world…
    Read More »


    While I was typing this on one of my hello pages…

    i wasn’t sure initially if i really wanted to set up a “blogspot” – it’s kind of like getting a dog. sure. it’s all cute and cuddly when it’s a puppy – but what about when it wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to be posted? what if your life changes again and you get too busy to take it out for a nightly update?

    … it really made me miss my dog. and i keep seeing videos of dogs …

    her name was lucy … she was a black lab …
    … the older she got, the more her poor old hips bothered her …

    Read More »



    Do you think that social networking sites ARE psychotically non-linear ?

    In a previous twitter comment, I said:

    we used to think of “web-page-surfing” as “non-linear” linking – twits and other soc-media are “psychotically-non-linear”

    Really. Think about it. Have you ever had anyone ask you how you ended up following them, and you had no idea? Seriously… Read More »



    How often do mistakes spark creativity?

    Did you ever play that game where one person starts by whispering a phrase into someone’s ear, and the phrase is passed by whispering it from one person to the next – and it is very funny to see how the phrase gets distorted by the time it reaches the last person in line?

    Well, I just had a similar visual experience. I was browsing online at CNN.com, and I read a headline out of the corner of my eye. It said…

    “Satellites unearthed in ancient Egyptian ruins”

    If course, it didn’t REALLY say that. It said “Satellites unearthing ancient Egyptian ruins”. But for a split second, my mind raced through a myriad of images and thoughts [some could have made a good prequel to AVP – others a sinister conspiracy theory].

    The fact-checker part of my brain forced my eyeballs to re-read the headline. I was mistaken in what I had thought I read. And less than 3 seconds later I was back to what I was doing. If I was an author or a script-writer I would have been scribbling notes to myself. I’m not, so I didn’t [there are lots of things I DO scribble on napkins, though].

    Was it a “spark of creativity”?

    if you want to go down that path …
    … it was … a new, sensual thought experience …

    Read More »


    my first post

    with special thanks to Mr WordPress

    [LJL: “Hello world!” indeed ]
    i like my first little default message – prepared and posted for me by Mr WordPress. for starters, “Hello world!” signifies success, and is very often a starting point for something greater. it is also, quite appropriately, a greeting to a world of which i am now a part. yes. Hello world!


    [LJL] note to self: one reason i am leaving the original welcome comments is that i think it is a very good example of a self-documenting initialization process