Sunday, March 31, 2013

25 Things to be Grateful For

The Authentic Happiness website recommends that one of the most effective happiness tools is to keep a gratitude journal. Everyday you write down a few aspects of your life you are grateful for. It can be a very little event or a significant one. 

Another recommendation is to keep a daily 'that went well' journal. Here you write down three things that went well that day, but you also say why. I think this method is useful for natural pessimists like me, because it demonstrates how your own actions play a role in good fortune. 

Pessimists and optimists have an opposite thinking or explanatory style. I have to admit I was well schooled in the pessimistic view for most of my early childhood on. For example:

Something Bad Happens
Pessimistic Thinking                                                     Optimistic Thinking
Personal: It was all my fault                            Personal: It wasn't my fault
Permanent: It will last forever                        Temporary: It will pass
Pervasive: It affects my whole life                  Pervasiveness: It's a small part of my life

Luckily, you can train yourself to think differently, but it is hard. Marty Seligman's book "Learned Optimism" is a good start on the path of positive psychology. 

I try to write in my gratitude journal frequently, but it seems difficult to keep up at times. I started this gratitude journal in 2004, before I knew about much positive psychology. Here are 25 entries from 2012. 
  • I'm grateful to have a job that's stable & uses my skills.
  • I'm grateful for my Kindle.
  • I'm grateful for my friends' support.
  • I'm grateful I have E, my sister, & M. to talk to. 
  • I'm grateful I got a week off & got to travel to L.A. & see J.
  • I'm grateful that my house is clean. 
  • I'm grateful that I went to Maine yesterday & spent time with N, G, & Z. 
  • I'm grateful for S's art space. 
  • I'm grateful for Kukala the dog. 
  • I'm grateful to be meditating frequently.
  • I'm grateful that I get to work again this summer at the Belmont Public Schools. 
  • I'm grateful that it is the last day of school & I have the summer off. 
  • I'm grateful for my flowers & plants. 
  • I'm grateful for able bodied limbs. 
  • I'm grateful that I got to go to Bermuda & swim in a pool with dolphins. 
  • I'm grateful that my friends came to the Barn Bash with me.
  • I'm grateful that I have an intern to help me at work.
  • I'm grateful that I did some major cleaning & purging in August. 
  • I'm grateful for J.B.'s friendship. 
  • I'm grateful I feel confident at work.
  • I'm grateful that the recent storm did not flood my building.
  • I'm grateful for the sun today. 
  • I'm grateful for a gathering of friends last night. 
  • I'm grateful for future plans.
  • I"m grateful for my blog! 
    Swam with dolphins! Check +

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Assemblage Class

My assemblage class finished up on Saturday. It was really wonderful heading over every Saturday morning for the past month, and working in a quiet, sunny studio space. It was also really great to trade ideas with the other artists, and trade items as well. I love the Eliot School in Jamaica Plain! I will probably be taking some other classes soon, perhaps a silk screening class. 

Here are the finished or almost finished pieces of my fellow students. Hopefully I will have their names written in soon. The instructor will put our pieces on her website, which I will provide a link to. Her name is Amy Hitchcock. Anyway, I have not finished my assemblage about my grandfather yet. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Further Acquisitions in the Museum of the Baronesque

As I continue on my unrelenting quest for the weird and unusual, the Museum of the Baronesque has a few new additions worth highlighting. TJ Max HomeGoods is putting me in a tizzy, as well as various websites like Etsy and Ebay. Not to mention there's Boomerangs and a fabulous hat and accessories store in JP on Centre Street, called Salmagundi. Though I am very sad about Pier 1 closing in Cambridge and Woburn, it will probably be good for my wallet!
Fab Frames- at Target for 1.78 cents!
5 year journal
Cabinet for curios?

Two Mona Lisa switch plates

Eiffel Tower lamp base

1980 Disco Barbie

Eyeball & Mona Lisa with Cowboy Hat cufflinks


Sunday, March 17, 2013

They came, they saw, they conquered Part 2

Two years ago my nephews Gavin and Zach came to stay for the weekend. I took this photograph at the time with the caption on Facebook: "They came, they saw, they conquered, then their father came and picked them up." 

This weekend was a similar scene, as they arrived, they saw, and they quickly overtook my condo once again. I have been finding a path of destruction around my apartment since they left. My kitties have been sufficiently terrified, my i pad has Minecraft on it, there are crumbs and candy wrappers all about, dirt marks on the kitchen floor, and my toilet seat was in the most unfamiliar up position this morning. 

Last night we went to see Blue Man Group, and rode the subway, which they both loved. We also visited Harvard Sq., and Newbury Comics, and for breakfast/brunch they had McDonald's cheeseburgers, french fries, and shamrock shakes. Last night we watched "The Breakfast Club" until almost midnight. It was a banner weekend.

They are looking cooler these days, and less boyish, eh?

Renegade Barbies, For Natalia

Dear Natalia, Since I didn't get to see you last weekend, I will send you a picture of my renegade barbies. As you can see, they have scooters and a new Mini Cooper! Rev them up.

Love, Carolyn 

First Sound Recording

Scott's Phonautograph 1860
What is odd about history is that certain people end up being famous throughout the ages for accomplishments, whereas others are soon forgotten. If you were asked who recorded the first voice, most people would reply 'Thomas Edison'. 

But Thomas Edison was not the first scientist to record a human voice. The first voice recording, in fact, was made in 1860 by a Frenchman named Edouard-Leon Scott de la Martinville. This was almost two decades before Edison's recordings. 

I think what distinguishes Edison from others was that he was a keen businessman and a promoter as well as a genius inventor. He was also an American, which may have made a difference as well. Americans believe in enterprise and entrepreneurship, as my French friend Claire once said to me. Edison's time was also a time of rapid advancement and mass production of goods. Most of Edison's inventions were very successful ventures. 

Here is a version of Edouard-Leon Scott de la Martinville's recording of a girl singing "Au Clair De La Lune." I like this version because of the later digital enhancement of the voice.

Edison's Graphophone 1899
Edison's first recording was on the phonograph in 1877, of Edison reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb." 

Edison was the most successful inventor to not only record but reproduce sound.  Later versions of the phonograph were perfected and honed.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Profile of the 'Jack the Ripper' Suspect

by j.a. taylor

The Whitechapel murders took place within a one square-mile area consisting of three police jurisdictions in the east end of London in the Fall of 1888. The serial murders may have started as early as August 1888 if the Martha Tambram murder is to be included with the "canonical five." I do include this earlier murder for reasons I'll discuss, which would bring this murderer's total number of victims to six.

Whitechapel Area, London 1888
The murders took place within a four month timeframe although he did not strike in October. At the time in this area there was an uneasy mix of old Londoners and Irish and Jewish immigrants living in tight squalid conditions. The victims were women who worked the streets in desperation for lodging, food and drink.

I think it should be noted that these were streetwise women aware that a killer of a type unknown at the time was prowling the streets at night. I think this supports the possibility that this was an individual that would not be their idea of a "mad man". This man would not be suspicious to them and was most likely regularly seen at night in the bars and around the lodging houses these women would frequent.

All of the victims of the Whitechapel murders were poor street prostitutes in their 40s with the exception of the last, who was 25. All were known to drink in bars in the area and most if not all were reportedly alcoholics. They would all be considered very high risk victims as prostitutes are often targeted for accessibility and vulnerability. They were all murdered between the hours of 12 AM and 6 AM on or close to the weekend.

I do not believe the women were selected and followed for any lengthy time period. I do not think the victims mattered as much as what "they" represented to this individual. It is more likely to me that the murderer drank in the same bars, walked the same streets, probably nightly, and took opportunities for attack as he found them. These women were in horrible living conditions in the most feared and dangerous place in London at the time. It is unfortunate that they crossed paths with this murder in their effort to survive.

The following is my assessment of the offender characteristics most likely present in this case. This was a white heterosexual male age 20-30 who lived alone and answered to no one regarding his living habits. In at least one of the murders, Martha Tabram, the first victim, he would most likely have been covered in blood as it appears from the autopsy report interpretation he did face her during the attack. This may have prompted him to alter his method of operation or M.O., which is common, as the killer learns during the progression of serial murder. All of his other victims appeared to be lying supine at the time of the attacks with severe neck injuries that would have rendered them unconscious and dead within moments, thus limiting his exposure to blood spurting and spatter.

I also think he stored and possibly cannibalized organs and tissue he took as "trophies" from several of the victims. This would necessitate his need for isolation and privacy. I strongly believe he lived and worked possibly at the same place as a tradesman within the square-mile in which these murders took place. He knew the streets very well. I would assume that he would appear to others, particularly women,  as quiet,  ineffectual and nonthreatening. He most likely used drinking to embolden himself for the minimum amount of interaction he needed to have his victims lead him to their demise or employed his blitz style attack on women he found alone.

The exception to this was the last victim Mary Jane Kelly who interacted with him enough to go through her usual preparations for her trade. Her clothes were found folded by the fire and she had apparently gotten into bed wearing minimal clothing. I think when she initiated the encounter he attacked. This could also be evidence of evolving M.O. where he finally had the time he "needed" with this victim. Her condition when found reflected this only too horrifically.

These murders reveal a killer who desired power and control over his victims. He most likely did not have a lasting relationship with a woman and engaged in prostitution well before the killings began. His disgust with himself, his adolescent curiosity of the female body, and his hunger for domination together resulted in quite a rare type of lust killer.

To be continued....

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Reading Challenge Update

I've been far more disciplined with reading this year. I'm making progress and thoroughly enjoying the reading I've completed!
2013 Reading Challenge 
Carolyn Taylor
You have read 4 books toward your goal of 12 books.
Awesome, you're 2 books (15%) ahead of schedule!
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Bones: A Forensic Detective's Casebook
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks