Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Photography and Writing

© 2011 Kae Cheatham (previously published on the Get It Together blog)

My chosen occupations are artistic, and both are continually experiencing technological advancements, leading to consumer/public indifference: Writing (as an Indie Author) and Photography. These different endeavors have both been clobbered by modern advancements.
I embrace new technology, but recognize how it makes my artistic activities difficult.

Let's start with Writing. I am considered an Indie Author because I publish for ereaders, I have my own imprint and produce my own dead-tree books. Many articles, forum discussions and blog posts have expressed opinions on the Indie-produced products and authors. The technology that enabled this influx of tens of thousands of new authors (and even more titles) is not a fad (and in most cases, it's free!). Every month a new innovation is put on the market. In addition, the proliferation of social networking, especially blogs, encourage people that their words can be read by everyone (forever!). The Indie Authors who have for decades honed their Art of Writing and have been producing since before the electronic revolution, can easily be lost in the increasing number of people publishing anything and everything with varying degrees of writing expertise.

The same is true with Photography. Early in this century, when digital cameras became a public consumer item, they fostered a plethora of shutterbugs. Today, taking pictures is no longer a costly activity of film purchase and development. Sharing with family and friends--and the world--is an easy upload. An actual stand-alone camera isn't even necessary. Almost all Internet-geared devices, from laptops to smart phone and tablets, have a camera built in, and social network sites encourage photo uploads. As with writing, professionals who developed their Art of Photography prior to the digital age--who were once considered having an elite talent--are now some of the billions who daily take pictures.

From a social development standpoint, I find all this fascinating. From an artist's point of view, it's troublesome. I'll be contemplating some of the ramifications in future posts.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Field Guide to Happiness - Review

Linda Leaming, who has made her home in Bhutan for more than twenty years, has written another fine book about her life in this isolated small county wedged near Indian and Tibet. Where in the first book Married to Bhutan she described her new life and how she became connected to the people and culture (including marrying Phurba Namgay), this book A Field Guide to Happiness presents more of her views about how and why the Bhutanese maintain Happiness.

Happiness is the mantra of the country, almost a directive from the government itself; but Linda shows that happiness is ingrained in the culture and individuals. The book is charmingly written, in that Linda presents her own foibles and Western-culture attitudes as examples of how to (and not to) live happily.

In a straightforward, to lecturing way, I gained more insight into kindness, meditation and self-awareness. I also picked up a few recipes :-).
I wish there had been some pictures of this place. Linda's descriptions are splendid, because she is a very creative and eloquent writer. I like the cover art, by Phurba Namgay, and I often visit Linda's web page where she often shares pictures of Bhutan and of Namgay's work.

Linda's first book, Married to Bhutan is a well-received and popular memoir; it has been published in several different languages and I have no doubt the same will happen with A Field Guide to Happiness.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Brain Health, Good Food

Several articles and education shows suggest that brain health can be helped by regular “exercise” and specialized thought. It’s believed that simple things, such as brushing your teeth while wielding the toothbrush in your opposite hand from normal, are helpful. And so is trying new foods.

I didn’t have any of this in mind when I created a new culinary experience for myself last night. The dinner was prompted by Linda Leaming’s A Field Guide to Happiness: What I Learned in Bhutan about Living, Loving, and Waking Up. In several chapters Linda mentions the foods she eats in Bhutan, and red rice is a staple in her household. I’d never considered that rice could be anything but brown or white.

Then, Lo, I’m shopping, and there in the bulk grain selection of my favorite health food store is “Bhutan red rice.” I decided to try it.

After contacting Linda (she’s a long-time friend) and asking for cooking tips, I prepared this dish for dinner. I prepared the rice according to Linda’s directions, and topped it with spinach, garlic, sliced mushrooms (organic, of course) and chopped onions—all briefly steamed and drizzled with olive oil. I capped that with a fresh tomato from a neighbor’s garden (she gave it to me, I didn’t pilfer it).

Yum. It probably wasn’t Bhutan style, but it was quite good. The rice was a bit nutty, sort of sweet; I liked the texture. The flavors of my quickly-fixed topping blended nicely with the red rice.

I had cooked more rice than I needed for dinner, but I think it will be good chilled and mixed with yogurt and fruit.

It’s nice to have a healthier brain.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Wish This Book Were Electronic

I have an eReader, but that doesn't mean I don't still read old-style books. I went to my Public Library today and brought home three new titles. I decided which one to start reading, and when I opened it I thought, 'Wow, I wish this were on the eReader.' Two things that really struck me: 1) the traces of perfume wafting from the pages; 2) the print is very, very small. I know at the library they wipe down the books when they're returned, but that doesn't reduce the smells from someone else's house, and it's especially bad if the previous reader were a smoker. Once, I actually sprayed a book with a fabric freshener in order to get rid of the awful smell. 

In this book I started reading today, the font was nice, but it was very small.  Similar to this little print. The book is 303 pages long, and if a more usual font for print books had been used, the book would probably be closer to 400 pages.

So if I had this book on an eReader, there would have been no residual smells, and I could have enlarged the font to be more comfortable to read. As it is, I'm using a ruler to scroll down so I don't lose my place with this tiny print.

Recent studies have been done about people's preferences of old-style books to electronic books. Most often, I just want to read, and I don't take the format into consideration. But this is one time I would've preferred an electronic version. As I leaf through the pages, the perfume smell is dissipating. I will squint at the small type and slide my ruler down the text, because in the first 10 pages I found this very interesting. I'm pretty sure I will finish this book, and if I don't it won't be because of the limitations of the physical book.