Monday, August 31, 2009

True friendship is abiding, not fleeting

There was a wonderful story in the Chicago Tribune today about how poetry is pulling a former English teacher out of the depths of depression.

A clergyman's English teacher of many years ago had a stroke, and the reverend has been spending time reading poetry to him. In his sermon the pastor told his congregants: "True friendship is abiding, not fleeting; it is deep, not shallow. It includes giving of one's self to another and receiving what another has to give." The latter concept is particularly important. Sometimes we do quite well at giving, but not at receiving. Friendship is a two-way street.

The ex-student, who had been turned onto poetry by his teacher, is spending time reading Matthew Arnold, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Milton, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Robert Browning and Dylan to his former teacher. Indeed, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" seemed particularly appropriate:

Do not go gentle into that
good night,
Old age should burn and
rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dy-
ing of the light.

Now the teacher is beginning to eat and even to communicate. What an amazing turnaround the reading of poetry has caused. I look below (in my Blog) at that post where a reader said nobody reads poetry anyway, and I really hope he read this amazing article.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And yet...

I know people who always think they are right. Even if you prove them wrong on one thing, they will take the conversation in a different direction so that they won't have to admit they're wrong. I don't think I am like that, though sometimes we come across differently than we think.

Anyway, pertaining to yesterday's post, I think I came on too strong. Firstly, I don't know all the facts, and that can be dangerous. I particularly know very little about what happened in Switzerland. Secondly, did I look at both sides of the situation? I think not. When cooler heads prevail, we have more reasoned thinking. I still think that Scotland made a mistake. And yet, when I considered the other side written here, I saw his point. Leave it to Garrison Keillor to balance me. He says this about Scotland:

"Standing in stark contrast was the simple humane decision of the Scottish government to release the Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from prison on compassionate grounds, a man near death from prostate cancer, who was convicted in 2001 on the basis of thin circumstantial evidence and the testimony of a paid witness for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. A shaky conviction of a man for a crime that had to have involved many others who, it would seem, Britain and the U.S. have little interest in finding, what with Libyan oil in the balance. Al-Megrahi had 'patsy' written all over him. The Scots did the right thing. And caused a public uproar, and so what? Right is right."

He also says this about our sweet Brits:

"Justice is what makes a great city like London bustle and thrive, a polyglot metropolis full of minorities and escapees from authoritarian lands -- it isn't the excellent underground or the plays of Shakespeare so much as it is the expectation of justice. If you come here, this society will go to some length to do the right thing by you. You will not be snatched up and thrown in a hole and forgotten. If you're sick, you'll be cared for. Right is right."

Do I agree with him about what happened in Scotland? No. Yet, am I willing to listen? Absolutely.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What were they thinking?

The following two columns make me ask, loudly, what were they thinking? Have we lost our way in this world? Where are our values? One begins to wonder what might have happened during WWII had these cowardly attitudes existed. I suspect we'd all be speaking German.

I can't say that I am proud of my Scottish ancestry.

When Hannibal met Heidi --


Oil-for-terrorist? --

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Healthy Debate

I've noticed that in nursing we don't like debates. One always must come to "consensus." But what happens when there clearly are two sides? How do you come to consensus on that? I've wondered if it's because they are nurses...after all, in the scheme of health care nurses are not that high on the totem pole. Or is it women? About 92% of nurses in the U.S. are women. Or is it a combination?

Whatever it is, I think a well-argued, cogent debate with passion on both sides can be invigorating...exciting even! Yet, so often nurses (and others) think you are attacking them personally if you don't agree with them. What a shame.

To me, it is those with the highest intellect who will thrive on debates without feeling threatened. I truly admire those who present brilliant arguments. Further, those who passionately present their case, and listen to the other side...and then change their minds based on the data/facts are even more admirable. It doesn't happen much, but I've seen it. I suppose it all comes down to listening, when you think about it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Massacre or battle?

As you know, I love quotes. Unfortunately I lost the quote mentioned in an earlier post that I "couldn't wait" to use. It referred to transition to practice (an initiative I am working on), but I don't remember much else about it. I had written it in a notebook (therefore I didn't commit it to memory) that I have since lost. Darn!

The following is a great quote by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (link to article below). It refers to the landscape around him, which was a marshy area between Lake Michigan and the Des Plaines River: "This will be the gate of empire, this the seat of commerce. Everything invites to action." And he was is now Chicago!

Massacre or battle? --

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Google Scholar

When I have to do some research but am not able to get to a medical library, I try Google Scholar. I am sure some academic snobs think it's too much of a short-cut, but I rather like it. It's also nice to see how many others have cited the piece of work you are reading. So, I looked up "epicaricacy" in Google Scholar tonight, and found it here and here. The latter is a research paper at Cleveland State University, and here is the quote (in a footnote):

"159 “Schadenfreude” is a German word, usually capitalized, signifying a malicious or perverse pleasure in the misfortune of others. 16 Oxford English Dictionary 611 (2d ed. 1989). It has been imported to English directly in its German form, as it is often said to have no true English equivalent. But see Peter Novobatzky & Ammon Shea, Insulting English 51 (2001) (defining “epicaricacy,” an English word of apparently similar mean-ing, but appearing in few modern dictionaries). In some of its earliest scholarly usage, Schadenfreude focused upon considerations of interpersonal relations. See generally Fritz Heider, The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958); Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals 127 (Walter Kaufmann ed., Walter Kaufmann & R. J. Holl-ingdale trans., Vintage Books 1989) (1887). In more recent scholarly usage, it has moved beyond the interpersonal to the broader context of intergroup relations, particularly where there are feelings of scorn or superiority held by one group towards another, and for this reason, it has a particular piquancy in the context of some mainstream white atti-tudes held about poor, black Katrina victims. See Russell Spears & Colin Wayne Leach, In-tergroup Schadenfreude: Conditions and Consequences, in The Social Life of Emotions 336, 336–38 (Larissa Z. Tiedens & Colin Wayne Leach eds., 2004). Spears and Leach argue that Schadenfreude is an important aspect of group social identity because of the way that it implies both “psychological distance” from and “emotional divergence” between one..."

The former cite has this quote:
"When a theoretician conflates the axes of intentionality and rationality is ignored, it is expected for him or her to conflate malevolence (spite) with selfishness. To wit, the sociobiological [e.g., Wilson, 1975] and the economics literature [e.g., Hirshleifer, 1987; Levine, 1998] uses the terms “spite” and “selfishness” more-or-less interchangeably. In light of the TAE hypothesis, we should be able to distinguish them. Spite or malevolence is probably a more complex form of “schadenfreude” (from German) or “epicaricacy” (from Greek). Schadenfreude is probably the basic element of “class envy” or, what is called in Australasia slang, the “tall poppy syndrome” 43 [Feather & Nairn, 2005].12 Evil is probably the most extreme form of schadenfreude [Khalil, 2007d]. An evil act is defined as the “joy” experienced by the principal at the sight of the misery of others, when the principal need not have benefited from the act. In contrast, selfishness is an act that the spectator can understand because the intention is to enhance the wellbeing of current self, but when the optimal choice is to take care more of the interest of future self or of the interest of important other. As such, the spectator, or judge within, expresses unsympathy towards selfish actions—while still empathetic with them. This differs from the spectator’s expression of rejection towards schadenfreude—where the spectator cannot even understand (i.e., cannot empathize with) the principal’s action. Schadenfreude or, its more extreme forms, envy, spite, and malevolence are emotions/acts that the spectator find revolting."

I need to read more about the "tall poppy syndrome."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time to get serious

One of my readers keeps me on the up and up sometimes, and I'll probably hear from that person.

I am thinking of not writing limericks anymore if I don't win at least a mention in the WPSI. After all, I've been entering those lousy contests since 2004 for heaven's sake. I've seen some pretty mediocre ones getting mentioned. The Empress doesn't have perfect taste in limericks. So how about letting one teeny tinsy limerick of mine slip right by?

If I don't get a mention, I am thinking of pulling out of limerick writing altogether. There are still haiku and DDs, after all. Heck, Shu has been challenging me with "dipsomaniacal" which is a great DD word.

I hate to say "never" so I won't. But I really want a mention!!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What good is peanut butter?

Someone commented on my Blog about the title of the entry "What good is poetry?" That title came from a rather funny family story. I was in church with my family one Sunday, a long time ago. Suddenly my younger brother looked up at my dad and, big as you please, asked in a rather loud voice that could be heard all over the church, "Daddy, what good is peanut butter?" It was out of the blue, and of course everyone started laughing. "What good is peanut butter?" has become a family phrase we use when we're don't know something and are trying to be funny. Try it sometime!

Monday, August 10, 2009

William Carlos Williams

So I looked up Williams and I like his work. I particularly like this one:

First Praise

Lady of dusk-wood fastnesses,
Thou art my Lady.
I have known the crisp, splintering leaf-tread with thee on before,
White, slender through green saplings;
I have lain by thee on the brown forest floor
Beside thee, my Lady.

Lady of rivers strewn with stones,
Only thou art my Lady.
Where thousand the freshets are crowded like peasants to a fair;
Clear-skinned, wild from seclusion
They jostle white-armed down the tent-bordered thoroughfare
Praising my Lady.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What good is poetry?

This question, from a reader, appeared in Parade Magazine today:

"Why are my tax dollars going to pay a poet laureate when nobody reads poetry?" (emphasis mine)

What??? Nobody reads poetry? Why is it that people generalize their preferences to others? I bet, being from Nebraska, he thinks everyone loves a good beef steak. I sure don't.

Here was Parade's answer, which I thought was far too kind to him:

"'It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there'

wrote the great American poet William Carlos Williams. (We hope you'll look him up!) While it's true that not many people read poetry, they'd probably get a lot out of it if they gave it a try. The current U.S. Poet Laureate, Californian Kay Ryan, earns all of $35,000. But fret not. Her stipend is funded from a private endowment, not tax revenues."

I might have been harsher in my reply.

I need to look up William Carlos Williams...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Google images

Whenever I present I look on the Web for new quotes that fit perfectly (I have a new one that I am just dying to use) and I look for great images for my PPTs that portray what I am trying to say. For example, I use this one for my transition to practice initiative. Audiences love it because it so perfectly explains how the new nurse feels. They are supported in their nursing program, with tight clinical groups. Then they get their first job! They're alone, often isolated and without much support.

Tonight, I decided to look for images for "epicaricacy," completely thinking that I'd find none. Instead, look what I found. Interestingly, there's a link to my own Blog there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


In looking up "compete" in the OED, the etymology is surprisingly long, compared to other words:

"[repr. L. compet-{ebreve}re, in its post-classical active sense ‘to strive after (something) in company or together’, f. com- together + pet{ebreve}re to aim at, go toward, try to reach, seek, etc.: see prec. No such sense is recognized by Littré for mod.F. compéter, but Cotgrave has ‘competer, to be sufficient for, sutable with, agreeable vnto; also, to belong or appertaine to’ (= prec. vb.); also, ‘to demaund, or sue for the same thing that another doth’ (which corresponds to this). Florio 1598 has It. competere ‘to contend or striue for any suite, office, place, or dignitie,’ [1611] ‘to contend or striue with another for maistrie’; Minsheu has Sp. compéter ‘to be meet for, to agree with’ (= prec.); ‘to sue with another for anything, to content or striue for any suit, office, or dignity’. The early related words in Eng. are competitor, competor; cf. also

COMPETENCE, COMPETENCY, sense I. Though in occasional use in 17th c., this verb is not in Johnson, nor in Todd 1818, Seager 1819, Jodrell 1820; it is given by Richardson (without quotations) as ‘now not uncommon in speech’; by critics, in 1824, it was styled ‘a Scotticism’, and ‘an American discovery’.] "

I think it very interesting that it wasn't defined in Johnson, Todd (1818) or Jodrell (1820) and then in Richardson it is called "not uncommon in speech" and in 1824 called "an American discovery." Maybe! It does sound very American. Not being a linguist, it's not as easy for me to analyze this etymology, but its derivation seems more complex than other words, though "competition" is simply described as deriving from "agreement, a judicial demand, rivalry, n. of action f. compet{ebreve}re."

Wherever it comes from, I've always been a competitor. I loved sports as a kid and excelled at softball. However, I wasn't all that good in my favorite sport, basketball, because I am too short, so I chose to cheerlead, rather than to play something I stink at (as my son says). To this day I really can't watch a basketball game because I have a fit when the other team gets a basket. My husband says, "What do you want, the other team to be skunked??!!"

But of course it isn't only in sports. Indeed, I am not an avid sports fan (except for the Bulls). I hate football for example and while I like the Cubs, they lose too much. However, competition is around in my personal and professional life, too. I am sure I inherited it from my mom's side. She and her father were worse than me...slamming the table when they'd lose at cards. My family all loved hearts, bridge and euchre. I remember I was playing bridge with my parents and my boyfriend (newish), and my mom had to have my boyfriend for her partner. I knew why. She wanted to cheat! So, she got dealt a typical short club opening bid, but not everyone plays a short club...and you can't ask after the hand has been dealt or it gives everything away to your partner. Never fear. My mom knew I'd not challenge her with my boyfriend as her partner. So, big as you please, with her first bid after the cards were dealt, she brazenly said, "Do you play a short club, honey?" Grrrr! That gave the whole hand away, and of course they won it. Now, one would think I might forget that since I was 18 at the time. No way!

When I get off the train and go down the steps, I cannot stand it when people in back of me beat me. I make it into a race, and I've beat 6 foot tall, young men down the stairwell. Not bad for a short, not so young lady!

And of course on Wordcraft there are the limerick and bluffing games. When we kept score in the bluffing game, I was a wreck. Now that we don't keep score, I am much better, though I get peeved when people don't choose my daffynition. With limericks? Well, I'm not the world's best limerick writer, and I know that intellectually. The meter and rhymes I get right. However, the content could be more clever, and others are much better at that (particularly my husband, who has every once in awhile helped me write something that wins). But in my heart? Oh, I hate not winning!

Professionally? I am not sure I'd call it competitiveness, but I surely strive to be the best. Of course, I am not the best, but I work very hard at it. So, in the end, there are some positivenesses to being competitive. I think it helps you in your work. However, it can make you downright crazy!

[Don't I have the best blog going????]