Stacey, the not-so-delicate flower

What is it with me and blog titles that should be the names of children’s books, anyway?

Mike gave me a present yesterday night.  It arrived on our doorstep sometime during the evening without either of us noticing – he had to wake me up to give it to me.  It’s very pretty, a little unusual, and very, very delicate.  The spring ring clasp itself is about the size of a sesame seed.  Not easy to put on when you can’t really see what you’re doing.  I was afraid to wear it to bed last night, and a little timid about wearing it to work today, though I eventually overcame my fear.

I shared these fears openly with Mike, saying how I might catch the delicate chain on a fence and tear it free from my neck, thus losing his lovely gift.  His response was simple – “Don’t get it caught on a fence.”  For some people, that advice would be easy to follow, but not generally for me.  I am not a accident-prone as I was during adolescence, but I still have stupid things befall me.  I still end up stepping into puddles that are three times as deep as they seem.  I still break things.  I think I’ve dropped and broken three glasses thus far at work in 2008 – there are more that didn’t break.  I am, after all, not really a delicate flower.  I’m more of a hardy rose – trim me back for the winter, but don’t expect to need to take me inside.

How does this all fit in with the new image of the female, and my current exploration of more traditional female roles?  I can do mannish things like build my own house or fix the garbage disposal.  I’m also still a nerd – I like tech stuff and sci fi and I have allergies that make me blow my nose a lot, which is something of a pansy sort of thing.  So maybe that makes me a female-male-female.  I now pay someone to cut my hair and actually style it sometimes and have had my nails done and (GASP) my legs are actually not hairy, in preparation for warmer weather.  Mostly this means I’m spending more time and money on things I didn’t used to bother with.  But maybe these things are also turning me into someone a little more sensible, a little more pretty, and maybe even a little more delicate.

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I feel the need to comment.

WordPress is constantly about the innovation-ness.  Every few weeks, there’s some new posting about what fun, cool new stuff they’re doing with our blogosphere.  This time, the new feature is called ‘possibly related posts’.  Possibly related, you say?  I wonder if that should be in small print, like a disclaimer.

The core of this new feature is a new way to link content.  I’m not sure how the content of a post is analyzed (possibly through keywords, tags, or other markers?), but it is in some way analyzed and compared with other pages, first of your blog and then throughout WordPress.  At the end of each post, there are now three or four additional links to blog posts that have something to do with the topic of your post.  This can be a way for new readers to discover your blog, or for you to share content on your own blog more effectively, especially if you write about the same sorts of topics frequently.  I’m all for that.

Unfortunately, the “possibly” related content is sometimes just that – only slightly or very minorly related.  Especially if you ramble in your postings – which I do – the end results may not be quite what you’ve hoped for.  Take my recent post titled “The Art of Craft“.  It deals with the way people in a variety of industries don’t get to express their true skills and abilities and even artistic talent due to various restrictions and limitations on said profession.  This was, for some reason, linked to another post of my own, “It’s a Ballooooon.”  What is the connection between the two?  Both mention teachers – the first, as a profession, and the second, my world history teacher specifically.  Other than that, I can’t find any really connection between them.  Anybody else want to give it a go?  I’m sure there’s something more there…I’m sure of it.

The Art of Craft

One of the reasons I got out of the architecture field after my undergraduate studies (other than the realization that I would never be the type of grade-A professional my perfectionism wanted me to be) was my experience as an intern at an architectural firm.  It was not a bad experience.  The work I did gave me a very true picture of the profession as a whole.  I enjoyed my co-workers and spent a good deal of time that summer with the other interns at my firm.  But it made me realize that the true joys of my schooling would be even fewer and further between once I got out into the ‘real world’.  Hampered by dealing with a variety of contractors and businessmen and even other architects wanting to do things their way, and hedged in by building codes and various zoning laws, I would never be able to reach over to a client and come up with a solution thi their problem that merely suited us both.  I would never be able to express the extreme edge of problem-solving that comes from a truly artful and delicate solution – something that works in addition to being beautiful, or is beautiful for the way it works so effectively.

Is this not true in every profession?  Are we not all weighted down by some nameless, faceless redundancy that seems to make all our effort for the greater good, or even the focused, honest use of our skills, in vain?  Doctors and nurses deal with the insurance industry, teachers deal with various administrations and school boards, and even librarians must deal with the furor of local politics.  The complexity and density of modern life requires that we have certain structures in order to interact with each other.  These bureaucracies are often handicaps when immediate action is needed, but I think we would ultimately fair little better without them.  If so, how can we do the best for our world?  Pushing forward, one mired step at a time?  Individually or in small groups bucking the various systems in place?  What is progress, and how do we move forward from here?  I would like to think I could do a little more than give money to a good cause.  I would like to think that by doing what I loved, by taking my skills and using them, by making the world a little more beautiful and therefore perhaps a bit better, that I am accomplishing something with lasting meaning.  But I don’t have the scope to understand my own actions on a daily basis, let alone the true worth of one human life.

The Predator-Prey relationship.

The history of conservation and preservation in America, especially of animal species, has been a constant teeter-totter.  First there was the competition for game resources and the hunting off of predators like wolves and coyotes.  Then there was the destruction of habitat for those game animals as well, occasionally marked by the wholesale slaughter of the animals themselves, as with the bison herds.  Of course, we realized our mistake here, and tried to ameliorate it by protecting deer and elk from hunting on certain public lands.  Then they overpopulated and started starving themselves to death, without any natural predators.  Finally, the use of chemicals in farming and industry, which had unintended consequences on a variety of species, such as the bald eagle.  Now that we’ve banned DDT, everything is hunky-dory and they’re coming back.  In each of these cases, we ‘learned our lesson’.  We are now preserving threatened predators – wolves have been reintroduced to Yellowstone, and more mountain lions added to the existing population to sustain it.  But finding the delicate balance between managing a population of animals, preserving something of the wilds for future generations and our own enjoyment, and complying with the needs of man and economics.

Take this recent tussle between preservationists and ranchers near Yellowstone.  On the one side, you have people sorry for the madcap (and, from all written accounts, visually disturbing) slaughter of the bison herds, and on the other you have cattle farmers trying to preserve their livelihood.  But it’s not only a case of man vs. beast.  It’s also a case of how much.  How much land should the bison be given?  They have no natural predators, and they are big animals that it takes a fair amount of pasture to feed.  Are 500 bison enough to preserve, and how much land to they realistically need?  As naturally wandering animals, they are not easily contained in one area, even an area as big as Yellowstone.  Does that mean we should go ahead and kill them off to preserve the grazing land and health of cattle?  Does it mean that we should designate ever-widening areas of preserve? Does it mean the bison should be allowed to roam free – even across private property and at the expense of others?

There are no answers to these questions, no real solutions.  As best we can manage an unsteady balance.  Bravo to the Parks Service for doing so thus far.