Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

I hope everybody's holiday feasts were as spectacular as mine was! I judge a feast by its gravy, and let me tell you... It was divine. That's right, divine gravy. I said it. ; )

Wikipedia says that the term "Black Friday" was coined in Philadelphia in 1966, in reference to the heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic that the city experienced as a result of the beginning of the Christmas buying season. Since then, it's become the money slinging free-for-all that we know it as today.

I first heard the term in the early 2000's from a friend that worked in a camera store in the Tucson Mall. I had known that lots of people started shopping for Christmas gifts then, but I hadn't realized that it was a national phenomenon with so much notoriety.

Further research indicated that "Black Friday" and subsequent "Cyber Monday" are local phenomenon. They have spread to other english speaking countries (Canada, England, and Australia) slowly over the course of the last couple of decades with the expansion of websites like Amazon and Apple.

A newer interpretation of the term defines it as the shopping day that puts everyones profits back "in the black".

My impressions of the holiday are far from positive. To me Black Friday is the epitome of consumer gluttony and decadence. It represents a social sickness that infects western culture. It is an orgy for big business. Sneaky corporations and producers of defective goods cheating sheep-like, lemming-consumers out of their savings, wages and assets. A couple of years ago people were killed and sustained heavy injury as a result of this ridiculous display (look here and here). Is a day of discounted shopping spree really worth human lives?

To not be robbed, to not participate in this event, is to be a rebel and an outcast. To not participate is to declare oneself "poor" and stingy. The way this is expressed can vary. I've noticed that if one does not take advantage of the sales, one is labeled a frivolous spender, because clearly, not taking advantage of sales means that one can't manage one's finances. I think people should be praised for buying gifts throughout the year, when one can afford them. Why have your budget take a giant hit for Christmas when you can easily find more meaningful presents all year long for friends and family? Why is participating in a consumer mania far more important than money management and thoughtful gift giving? I can only guess; it makes no sense to me.

Of course, for me, gift giving happens all year long. I don't confine the act to birthdays and gift-heavy holidays. Usually if I find something I like for someone, and I can afford it, I'll buy it and give it to them right away. Sometimes I have the presence of mind to check on when their birthday is or consider an upcoming holiday, but I usually forgo it in favor of not forgetting that I have bought the item. I'll call it a belated birthday gift or and early Solstice present.

If I had my way, and there was less stigma attached to the forgoing of gifts, I'd give only a couple of gifts per year. The need never strikes me to get gifts for everyone I know. I may send a card or salutation or bag of cookies, but that's usually as far as it goes. I trust my friends to know that I love them, even though I skimp on presents. I'm not stingy, but I am financially decrepit and forgetful. Luckily I surround myself with people who consider those reasons adequate excuses, and are sensitive to them.

The point is, that the act of giving is cheapened by holidays and social events of this kind. If you want to give a gift, do it! Don't worry about cost and sales and holidays and brands and trends. If you find a thoughtful trinket that you feel displays your gratitude for someone's friendship and support, get it and give it. Simply. Better yet, make it yourself! Paint a painting, knit a scarf, crochet a hat, sew a plushie, sculpt a chochkey, bind a journal, put a piece of yourself into the gifts that you give and have it be a labor of love!

Happy holidays to all. I hope your gift giving is heartfelt and genuine and filled with the affection you feel towards the receiver. Love!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is a kind of tendonitis. In my family, it is par for the course at around 50 years of age. Guess who got it early?

The treatment is an injection of steroids directly into the effected area. I hear it's painful. I hear it may or may not work. I'm thrilled.

Other than that, things are well.

I finally sold the car! This is awesome! It's presenting some interesting transportation concerns, but I'm taking them in stride.

I'll be moving into a house with room mates by mid December! Also awesome!

This all saves me mountains of money every month! So full of awesome!

I also have a place in Winslow to show my work! I'll be taking it down there before Christmas. I hope.

Prop 203 passed in Arizona. And I am very happy about that.

The tendonitis in my right wrist has disappeared and so have a few inflammation related complaints I've had for the last year. I'm guessing it is due to the severity of the trigger finger in my left hand. I hope the treatment works, it's really cramping my style and making it hard for me to work.

Lastly, I've discovered I have a knack for balancing plates as they spin on sticks! I'll be working that up for a circus act, I think. It's tons of fun and I'm already balancing it on my chin for short bursts.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers! Please enjoy your parties and feasts and be safe this weekend!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pears and Diabetes Re-education

It's pear season! I love pears. Pears are my favorite fruit. My other favorite fruit is pineapple, but it's never really pineapple season in Northern Arizona. : )

My favorite breakfast lately is, a bread-thing (roll, croissant, etc.), a bit of cheese, and a pear! Which, I have learned, is exactly what my silly diabetic self should be having for breakfast.

Which leads into my trip to the doctor yesterday. I visited a diabetes educator at North Country Health Care and learned that they lied to me in my childhood. I had been taught many things about my condition that simply aren't true, and have never been true. First of all, the glycemic index, while an excellent tool for overall health, has absolutely no bearing on what I should be eating as a diabetic. It's good for helping me pick foods with higher fiber, but that's about it where I'm concerned.

I also learned that my impression of "simple" verses "complex" carbohydrates was fallacious and I have been tragically misinformed this whole time. These terms do not refer to the structure of the carbohydrate, as I had originally thought; they refer to the availability of said carbohydrate. An example! Carrots have very little carbohydrate value raw, they have complex (hard to extract) carbohydrates because of all the fiber, and one cup is about 5 grams of carbohydrate. But when you boil them to mush, they have simple (readily available, easy to extract) carbohydrates! And a one cup serving goes up from 5 to 15 carbs! This is why, apparently, nutritionists like to demonize carrots. But they're still very good for you, and the cruder the better. The more raw and full of fiber, the less available the carbohydrate, and the more "complex" it is.

I learned that fiber is a very useful tool for stabilizing my blood sugars. Something I had never thought of before. I learned that having balanced meals and burying very sugary foods within the whole meal is better for blood glucose stability too. So if I want a piece of cake for dessert, I should eat it in the middle of my meal to avoid a spike in my sugars! I'm for it! "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first." Or in the middle of the meal.

I also learned a bunch about starchy vegetables, which had been a big gray are for me all these 15 years. And at the end of the appointment, I was gifted with a brand new glucose meter that promises $30/100 test strips! This means I can start testing my blood glucose regularly and get rid of my inflammation problems, which may be directly related to my poor diabetes control (why didn't I think of that before?...).

Also, I would just like to say, that the doctors at North Country Health Care are wonderful people. It's been so long since I've had a medical professional treat me like a human being. They see I have no insurance and they turn up their nose and won't look me in the eye when they condescend. But at North Country, they don't do that. They treat me like a human being among human beings. It is so refreshing to have my faith restored in the humanity of health care.

On the art front, I want to explore the idea of taking a few days off of work to paint. The paintings are commissioned, and I know the pay-off will cover the lost days of work. Or maybe I should try to get myself in gear after work and just paint then... Thinking, thinking...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

G is for Gallery, H is for Hermit

There is a tattoo shop in Winslow that will be opening up soon. We did some work for the owner, Lance, in the print shop and after viewing my fabulous facebook gallery "Brain Babies", he offered to show my work there! As soon as it opens, I'll be able to put some of my work up for viewing and sale. Happy! I'll let you all know more as I find out.

I've been reading this really great blog called The Hermitage, by Rima Staines. It's about fairytales, folklore, artmaking, nomadic lifestyle, and all sorts of other delicious things with which to feed your mind. It's beautiful in every way possible, and you all should take a gander if you haven't already.

Before my next gallery showing, I think I shall need to make a few more paintings. Wish me luck!