About This Blog

This is like any other Bible: People read it, and interpret it as they wish…

You should also note that I have an occasional tendency to curse… but never without good reason, always tastefully, and only when I truly  believe it is the best word, expression, or phrase at hand… ‘Language’ is both beautiful and useful; this is why rather than fear it, I honor it, and craft it.

Recently, I reread this ‘About’ page and decided it was time to get ‘real.’ It was only at that moment that I realized I didn’t start this blog solely out of reverence for the truth and in honor of “the ancestors”; I started this blog out of frustration with Facebook. Unlike many of my ‘friends,’ I don’t have a huge family. I’ve never had the opportunity to trade or display weekly, updated family photos, or experienced any great love for cats. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, and I know enough about them to know that they know more about love than almost any human I’ve ever met. In fact, most cats adore me… My problem with cats is that I’m violently allergic to them…

This is a “dark” blog. It’s “dark” in that much of the discussion goes on behind the scenes, in the shadows. I’ve chosen to discuss, here, topics that many would either rather not discuss, or would discuss — if they didn’t have to put their names on the discussion. The result has been that I have had “visitors” from Australia, China, South Africa, and Georgia (as in The Soviet Republic of…). I’ve learned a great deal by being able to share so many different perspectives, and have discovered that the “kindness of strangers” often exceeds the “love,” i.e., attention  (not meant at all sarcastically), one gets from friends. As such, my readers may choose either to publish their thoughts on this blog, or to email me privately.

I’ve had more than one FB account in my life. The first one I had, I started only because a tech-savvy friend was worried about my lack of engagement with social media. After opening it and inviting about seven ‘friends,’ I eventually forgot the password and couldn’t seem to convince the folks at FB that I was myself. I was devastated. Psyche. I actually got some momentum going with my second FB account. I even acquired a few more friends. But one day, in a fit of pique, I deleted the entire account because of just one person. Yes, I could have simply made her posts invisible, but I was unnerved by the fact that everyone responded to them and began to think, “I really do need some new ‘friends.’ This woman would post something like, “My ass hurts. Wow. My ass has never hurt so much as it hurts today.” Then, the next thing ya’ knew, absolute waves of people would “like” the statement (and I still don’t understand that…), or they’d say things like, “Oh, poor, Dimwitia! When my ass hurts, I usually…” Sometimes there’d be as many as 30 responses, or more, and I would scroll down the page, having one of many of my Apocalypse, Now moments, thinking, “The horror… the horror…” So, I cancelled that account.

I’m now on my third and final account. I consider it final because I probably won’t delete it again because I have about 40 ‘friends’ now, and I must admit, j’Adore the News Feed. I learn so much from the contributors, and the frenetic back-and-forth of it all suits my news-gathering style when I’m in my “fun” mode. But I’m still not quite happy with FB. I’ve found that whenever I try to engage in social commentary, rage against the machine, or explore issues of race, sexuality, or any politic outside the Demo-Republican framework, there’s just silence — except for a quiet “like” or two, and the responses of a very few whose engagement I’ve come to enjoy, not to mention, value, a lot. It’s not that there isn’t that kind of give-and-take in Facebook — it’s just that you have to have acquired a “following.” Generally, it appears that if you want to have a generally guaranteed “response rate” of at least ten people to any given post, you need to have about 800 “friends.” With my 40 or so “friends,” I’d be lucky to get a ‘response’ to a suicide note. And just in case you didn’t know it, people have posted suicide notes or ‘threats’ on Facebook and received no response. This is a frightening thought when you consider that many people really believe that FB “friends” are true ‘friends.’ If anything, my Facebook  experience prepared me for the business of a “dark” blog.

Even when I have posted something timely or controversial, or whatever, and not received a response, I’ve noticed that someone on my News Feed will post a different article about the same topic — never the same one… I can’t help but think of something the inimitable and irreplaceable Gore Vidal said, “Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies…” I have “friends” who are extremely ‘competitive’ (for lack of a better word) in that way. Rather than admit you’ve made a good point, or challenge you as having made a bad point, they simply ignore you, i.e., they don’t respond, at all. Or if they say something on their page, and you offer a thoughtful response, they either ignore it, or your response disappears… I’ve learned to keep it ‘light’ because the minute I don’t, I’ve got to start building my ‘frivolous brand’ all over again by posting pictures of cats applying underarm deodorant, or even, by inventing a fictitious boil on my own ass…

I’m not famous; I struggle to make a living; I question people I oughtn’t (PhDs, males of every color, people with full-time jobs); and I write for the worst reason of all — I simply need  to write. Here’s my Brief Bio.

This space, unlike Facebook, is where I come to be myself. Kinda’. And part of being myself entails discussing other important matters, besides understandably beloved cats and families, beloved or not, that have to do with what’s going on in the world, and how people are treating each other. Nonetheless, I do realize a Web site about the ‘face’ of things, i.e., Facebook, was probably never meant to be used in the way I’ve tried to use it.

And whether or not we believe in a Supreme Deity, we should all bow our heads and give thanks that we still have the ability to express our views in this, however imperfect, great nation of ours. Our brothers and sisters in China, and all over the world aren’t so lucky. So, please, continue to rage against the Machine, and the dying of the light, that would try to silence, edit, or censor our fair, truthful, and reasonable freedom of speech, keeping in mind that all of those terms are open to interpretation, and thus argument.

It’s not the challenge  that’s dangerous, but rather, its quelling and quashing by cowards, liars, incompetents, racists, sexists, xenophobes, homophobes, “God’s appointed,” the clueless, the privileged, and those who have anything at all to lose by open discussion or examination.

Have a nice day.
===============
…because there’s nothing like good information.®


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Dark Acts Bible: Glass Half Empty, Base Cracked by Vivien E. Zazzau is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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22 Responses to “About This Blog”

  1. Thank you for “Liking” the post, “My Life In A Hole”. Streets Of Our World, on my photography blog http://www.throughharoldslens.com. On behalf of the Through Harold’s Lens Creative Team, my trusty sidekick Mr. SLR Nikon, his brother Mr. Pen Pal and myself, we truly appreciate your enjoyment. We hope you continue to join us on our journeys.  

    Best Regards,
    Harold

  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s reported a psychologist at UAlbany to the APA and who found out the APA isn’t terribly concerned about unethical psychologists! The victim-blaming waivers the APA wants people to sign are particularly outrageous.

    • Yes, the APA “reporting process,” itself, is a violation, for sure. Talk about adding insult to injury, huh? I wish I had some words of wisdom, here, but I don’t. All I know is that we sometimes find, if we are lucky, that we’re much stronger than we ever suspected. Thank you for going forward as you did, to the APA (the first three letters of the word ‘apathy’); and thank you for coming forward as you have, now. We are certainly not the only two. Saddest of all, there are actually online reporting mechanisms for offending “mental health practitioners,” but they’re only reported after having ruined several lives, or having darned near killed someone, all with the tacit permission of their colleagues…

      • I’d reported primarily Jeanette Altarriba. She’s a piece of work.

        UAlbany’s Psychology department is… interesting? Best avoided?

        Brownstein, Andrew. “UAlbany suspends implants research.” Albany Times Union. August 25, 1999: B1.

        Brownstein, Andrew. “Implant researcher goes on paid leave.” Albany Times Union. November 12, 1999: B1.

        Parry, Marc. “Another administrative change at UAlbany.” Albany Times Union. November 8, 2007: D3.

        UAlbany Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Edelgard Wulfert, “Director of the Clinical Doctoral Program (2001-03) and [former] Chair of the Department (2003-07)” has seemed to be an obstacle to a *real* ombudsperson office for all UAlbany graduate students (i.e. an independent one, not a biased one made up of UAlbany staff) and she has evidently done nothing to even help the pseudo-ombudsperson office for undergraduate students come to fruition.

        UAlbany Provost Susan Phillips, member of the NCAA Division I Athletics Certification Process committee and professor of counseling psychology, as the member of the department in the highest position in the UAlbany administration arguably is responsible for the most harm done of any psychologist there. Not just there, but nationally: “has led the American Psychological Association Committee on Accreditation – one of the largest accrediting agencies in the nation […] was also appointed by the New York Board of Regents to their policy advisory group, the Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching, in 2005, and continues to serve on this board. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, a licensed psychologist, and was named the 1998 Distinguished Psychologist by the Psychological Association of Northeastern New York.”

        In a nutshell (pun intended):

        “the State is not an insurer or guarantor of the safety of SUNYA students”
        McEnaney v. State of New York, 267 AD 2d 748 – NY: Appellate Div., 3rd Dept. 1999.

        • I don’t know anything about Dr. Altarriba, but I am familiar with Susan Phillips. She’s quite the politician. We like to think that psychologists, of all people, would be at least a tiny bit warm and fuzzy, but that’s not necessarily the case (as I’m sure you’ve noticed). The APA is little more than a club, or clan (spelled with a ‘c’), that acts as a ‘professional back door’ for its least intellectually slippery members. In fact, it is not at all uncommon for “therapists” to be in therapy while they are treating their own clients. Almost anyone can become a “mental health professional,” and once they don the mantle, they grease the way for ‘almost anyone’ else…

          Your comments reminded me of an article I read, earlier this year, by psychologist Kevin Dutton, author of “The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success.” Dr. Dutton, an expert in the “science of social influence,” created two lists: the first is a “top 10″ for jobs that attract the most psychopaths, and the second, a “top 10″ for the jobs least likely to attract psychopaths. Much to my amusement, “therapists” appear on the list of jobs “least likely” to attract psychopaths, along with nurses, teachers, beauticians and doctors (except for surgeons). Let’s just say I’m sure Dr. Dutton will have a wildly successful career — even if he never does another bit of “research.” Add to that his ivy league education, and it’s a done deal. Here’s a link to the article: http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/top-10-jobs-that-attract-most-psychopaths/

          That said, from what I have seen and heard, Hannibal Lecter isn’t such a phantasmagorical character, after all…

          Finally, I took the time to read the references/documentation you provided, and am not unfamiliar with the history they revive as I was employed by SUNY during much of that time. And though these truths, too, may be held to be “self-evident,” who’s looking? And that’s the problem with most of our problems (on both the societal and ‘individual’ levels). “We” would much rather turn away, close our eyes, and asphyxiate other people’s problems with our silence. As sophisticated as we are, the herd instinct still rules: If enough people ignore “you,” or “the truth,” or whatever, it simply ceases to be true, or even to exist… (unless “it’ knows better)…

          • How’d you find the library there? A lot of great staff, but problems there as well.

            I’d been offered, in writing, a private individual assignment if I didn’t like how the so-called group assignment worth 1/4 of the final grade for one of Trudi Jacobsen’s courses worked out, provided I didn’t tell anybody else:

            “Prof. Bobish and I have been in touch about the team remix project potential problem. Participate in the meeting tomorrow evening, and see how the resulting remix turns out. If it is not something you are satisfied with, you may create and submit your own, with a due date to be determined, but probably by the weekend. We just ask that you not share this back-up arrangement with the rest of your team.” Trudi E. Jacobson, April 25, 2011 9:32 PM.

            She’d developed a very interesting course, potentially very worthwhile, but unfortunately she had a wrongheaded devotion to Team-Based Learning (which she wasn’t even using properly) and doing whatever was necessary to make it seem like TBL is a good thing. The ITLAL office on campus has actually offered professors monetary bonuses (I’d call them bribes) to use TBL. Where does ITLAL come up with so much money that they can just throw it around like that?

            “Many instructors choose to alleviate student concerns about grades by directly involving students in customizing the grading system to the class. Students become involved by participating in setting grade weights (Michaelsen, Cragin, and Watson, 1981; Michaelsen, Knight, and Fink, 2004). Within limits set by the instructor, representatives of the newly formed teams negotiate with one another to reach a consensus (all of the representatives must agree) on a mutually acceptable set of weights for each of the grade components: individual performance, team performance, and each member’s contributions to the success of the team. After an agreement has been reached regarding the grade weight for each component, the standard applies for all groups for the remainder of the course” (Michaelsen and Sweet 2008, 17).

            From the above: TBL involves changing, during the semester, the grading criteria that had been on the syllabus at the start of the semester. It involves students in the class coming to an agreement with the professor about how they would like the grading criteria to be changed. That’s not exactly consistent with UA policy on grading:

            “Students must be informed (see section on Course Syllabi) of the criteria for determining final grades at the very beginning of each semester. The criteria may not be changed while the course is in progress.” http://www.albany.edu/undergraduateeducation/grading.php

            “The grading process is not, and should not be allowed to become, one of negotiation between faculty and students.” http://www.albany.edu/undergraduateeducation/grading.php

            Deviations, especially in grading criteria, cannot occur during the semester (Regulations of the Commissioner of Education). http://web.archive.org/web/20100527113414/http://www.albany.edu/undergraduateeducation/policy_reminders.html#grading

            “Academic policies applicable to each course, including learning objectives and methods of assessing student achievement, shall be made explicit by the instructor at the beginning of each term.”
            Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Title 8 Chapter II § 52.2 (e) (4) http://www.highered.nysed.gov/ocue/title_8_chapter_ii_regulations_o.htm#§ 52.2 Standards for the registration of undergraduate and graduate curricula.

            TBL can also make for a psychologically disturbing experience: “intense emotion,” “emotional tension,” “emotional words and frustrated confusion” “can be emotionally upsetting for many students, and the memory of it ‘haunts’ them, guiding their future behavior” “something emotional is at stake”; “moments of accountability are when students risk losing face and possibly even marginalization by their group”; “lasting socioemotional effects”; “emotionally laden,” potentially nerve-racking experience of public accountability”; ” experienced whatever emotional consequences that accountability brings”; “intense, socially charged”; “emotional power”; etc.

            Sweet, Michael and Laura M. Pelton-Sweet. “The Social Foundation of Team-Based Learning.” Team-Based Learning: Small Group Learning’s Next Big Step. Eds. Larry K. Michaelsen, Michael Sweet, and Dean X. Parmelee. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass-Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 2008. New Directions for Teaching and Learning. Ser. 116.

            Of course, the emotionally haunting experience TBL seeks to create doesn’t necessarily happen in the way they promise. Students won’t necessarily become invested in the course at all when they don’t have to do work to get a decent grade and may never see the classmates they sponged off of ever again. As one of my “teammates” said at the end of the semester to my complaints: “No worries,” he grinned, “I’m a senior: I’m outta here!” And indeed, Ms. Jacobsen had earlier excused my group’s behavior to me as “senioritis” on their part, as if that would excuse anything.

            She’d also said the quality of the groups was the luck of the draw. However, she literally had no reply to my noting that after they’d announced we’d count off by threes that some people rearranged themselves so they’d wind up with their friends. How two(!) professors could miss having seen that happening in a small classroom in the basement of the library when there was only about fifteen students(!) I don’t know.

            After complaining to both professors Jacobsen and Bobish, my department advisor, in the course evaluation, and to the Disability Resource Center about TBL and how Jacobsen’s class was conducted and the students’ behavior in it, Trudi Jacobson was appointed “Distinguished Librarian” by Chancellor Nancy Zimpher: http://www.albany.edu/news/13451.php It’s those little things Zimpher does undermining the integrity of education in America that make her so very precious, don’t you think?

            • It’s interesting that you should ask how I found the library. I was once a member of their faculty, so I am well acquainted with the individuals you mention. In fact, when I was hired there, in 2002, it wasn’t until some time later that I discovered that there had been an ‘internal candidate,’ Greg Bobish (whom you mentioned), who had applied for the position for which I was hired, and who was supported by that department’s supervisor, Trudi Jacobson (whom you also mentioned)… The then-Dean, who always has the final say — no matter what other faculty or members of the search committee might think or want, supported my candidacy, which made me quite unpopular with some folks before I’d ever met them.

              And once I moved to Albany to begin working in the University Libraries, I was placed in a small cubicle office located in between Prof. Jacobson’s and Prof. Bobish’s offices… This was, shall we say, awkward, because had Mr. Bobish, who had been employed by UAlbany prior to my arrival been hired for the position, he, and not I, would have become a member of the “permanent” faculty.

              It is to Greg Bobish’s credit that it was not he who told me I’d gotten the position for which he’d applied, and for which Trudi Jacobson had endorsed him. He is one of the hardest-working, kindest, and most dedicated professionals with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working. Trudi is also very dedicated.

              Nonetheless, I completely understand your aversion to TBL, or rather, to how it was orchestrated in the University Libraries. There was a great deal of “push back” from students, particularly those lacking a natural ‘group orientation.’ We, as “information literacy librarians” or any members of the “teaching faculty,” have an obligation to be especially sensitive to our students’ different learning styles, e.g., some students are visual learners; others are more auditory; some are tactile; and some are kinesthetic. When a certain “style” of teaching becomes popular (or mandated), somebody (students, that is) always gets left in the dust. I, myself, had students complain to me that their classmates didn’t want to work with them because they were gay, or Muslim, or “of color,” or spoke English as their second/third language, etc. And I can tell you, for certain, that many of the faculty members in the libraries were aware of these issues, but as most of the ones providing instruction were non-tenured (when I was there), it was much more difficult for them to ‘take a stand.’ When “the boss” says you like TBL, you like TBL.

              It’s truly disheartening to hear of your negative experience, particularly in view of your familiarity with the concept of TBL. It is not uncommon for one student to get stuck doing all, or most, of the work in group situations. In fact, that’s probably one of the hallmarks of “team” work…

      • From an e-mail sent some time ago:

        Might any of you be able to explain the form http://www.apa.org/ethics/complaint/form.pdf the American Psychological Association requires victims of unethical APA members to sign? The form itself struck me as unethical, as it seems to require victims to sign away many of their rights while it also fails to extend rights to victims.

        The first release “I hereby give the member(s) against whom I am making this complaint permission to give the APA Ethics Committee any confidential information regarding me, including any records of our interactions, and to answer all questions the Committee may have concerning such information” appears to encourage victim-blaming. They’re empowered to send even entirely irrelevant confidential information (perhaps even false information?), and it’s especially problematic in that it requires that privacy rights under FERPA, HIPAA, the Constitution, etc. be waived. The second “I hereby give the APA Ethics Committee permission to send to the member(s) against whom I am making this complaint, copies of any materials submitted by me or on my behalf concerning this complaint” isn’t quite so bad, but it does’t require the unethical APA member to permit the APA to provide all materials submitted by the unethical APA member to the victim. The last release, “I hereby waive any right to subpoena from APA or its agents, for the purposes of private civil litigation, any documents or information concerning this matter” is astonishingly bold, and would seem to encourage the unethical APA member to send everything they have, so that their crimes might never be prosecuted successfully.

        Any one of the releases would seem to discourage victims from signing the form, and all three of them together to discourage it that much more. Consequently, it would be surprising if many complaints get formally filed and if much is ever done about unethical APA members. How many such complaint forms had all three releases signed in 2011 and 2012? How often did the APA take action against unethical APA members in 2011 and 2012?

        Some of the paperwork that gets sent does at least seem to indicate the APA may proceed on a complaint on the basis of anything sent, regardless of whether the form is signed, if I understood it correctly. I continue to hope (and to sadly doubt) the APA will do that.

        I’d provided the APA with documents concerning APA members at a university who at best refused to do anything about academic dishonesty, faculty ethics violations, sexual harassment, and retaliation that had been reported to them, and at worst who assisted in the retaliation. All of them remain at the university and as far as I know have not been stripped of their APA membership. They are a deep disgrace to their professions; the APA ought not to want to retain them as members. That is, unless the APA approves of academic dishonesty, faculty ethics violations, sexual harassment, and retaliation – which I really hope is not the case.
        [...]
        Some friends of mine still at the university are afraid that merely communicating with me might result in the university retaliating against them as well, because the university also sent me a threat in writing, which they sent not just by e-mail but also to my mother’s home by Certified Mail, that they might sue me if I communicate with anyone there other than the judicial administrator. I’m thus prohibited from even contacting the Registrar for my own official transcript, despite graduating summa cum laude. I can’t communicate with the counseling center, or interfaith center, etc. While those anxious friends have not broken off communication entirely, it’s dropped off significantly. Others are unafraid to continue communicating with me, though they are afraid to help and fear retaliation if they do. Beyond that, this is a university where two female students have disappeared, both cases that remain unsolved. Does anyone really find such a state of affairs acceptable?

        Also, why does the APA seem to consider faxes a more secure form of communication than e-mail? That doesn’t strike me as particularly likely. Requiring people without easy access to a fax machine to send the complaint in print through the US mail seems unfair, and could cause delays potentially causing further harm to victims, couldn’t it?

        The e-mail excerpted above had been sent to, among others:

        APA President Donald N. Bersoff at both Drexel and Villanova, Mark L. Greenberg at Drexel, Kail C. Ellis at Villanova and to Norman Anderson, L. Michael Honaker, Cynthia D. Belar, Ellen G. Garrison, Nathalie Gilfoyle all at APA.org and to apa(at)psych.org.

        How much do you suppose I received by way of response from any of them?

        • I couldn’t agree with you more with regard to the APA’s Complaint form. It is, as I said earlier, like being ‘violated’ all over again. It’s akin to joining the Service and finding yourself in line being asked to “bend over and spread’em,” or perhaps a more accurate description might be that it’s like “consensual rape.” You have to really “want it,” place yourself in the most vulnerable position you’ve ever been; trust “them,” and then get screwed anyway. I would imagine this is exactly why so few who are victimized by APA affiliates choose to traverse the APA’s optical ‘delusion’ of feigned interest.

          No one wants to be “made” to look crazy simply for making the very sane decision to seek “expert advice,” from a “trained professional.” As you have indicated, friends and colleagues, and even family, actually, can be limited in how much time or effort they can (or are willing to) give to your own problems. Nonetheless, do not think that you are alone. True friends are so very rare. Additionally, your former friends, colleagues, etc., (those who either abandoned you, or look like they soon might) are afraid of becoming, like you, an outcast. The Change.org petitions usually don’t start until someone is dead, or an ideal photo-op presents itself alongside the issue at hand. Being the ‘wronged party’ can be an isolating, debilitating, and stultifying experience; so, most people try to avoid, as much as possible, landing in such a position, and “mental health professionals,” understanding the pressures under which being in such a position places people, *use* it, *work* it, and benefit from it.

          Well, so much for being “succinct.” What I’m trying to say is that though I’m no “mental health professional,” I do “hear” you and understand that what you have experienced is not unusual, singular, or unheard of. You have slipped through “the crack” and are experiencing one of the under seams of life. Adversity teaches us who our friends are, and who they are not; then, keeping in mind that we must learn how to be our own best friend, how we deal with this ‘truth’ determines what we do next. I actually either wrote, or cc’d most of the people whom you mention having contacted, and I received no response from them, either — outside of the form letters, refusal to communicate via email, and the use of the mythological fax machine. These “mental health professionals” simply do not care — and those of us who have fallen victim to their callous, unprofessional, incompetent practices, though we outnumber them, those of us willing to face criticism, censure, alienation, and ridicule are in the minority.

          Finally, this brings to the fore another vital issue: Unlike you, not everyone taken advantage of by these “mental health professionals” is informed, articulate, educated, and capable of discerning, much less analyzing, the language and ramifications of the APA’s Complaint Form. This form, supposedly structured to “clarify” matters, is little more than a minefield of lowbrow legalese and ‘psychobabological’ jargon. To understand it is to shiver and roll the dice; to not understand it is to throw up one’s hands and walk away. Now that I’ve become a betting woman, I’d wager that unlike the two of us, most people just walk away. And that’s why the psychopaths are running the asylum…

          So, angry, happy, concurring, or not, you’re welcome to respond to this, but please just do it on a post already addressing the APA. You’ll notice that the posts are getting narrower and narrower — this is part of the space problem I mentioned earlier… This particular page/post is about hating Facebook — and that, too, is a worthy cause!:-)

          All my best, and yours, always, in the cause! –Vivien

  3. I love it!!!! So great.

  4. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    I have nominated you for “The Shine On Award”! Thank you for being such a support to me!

    Lots of love, Emily

    “The Light-Bearer Series” Novelist
    http://emilyguido.com/2013/01/12/shine-on-award-thank-you-all/

    • Dear Emily,

      I am so grateful for your support and confidence in me! And please forgive me for being so scarce lately; I’m preparing to go to court… I can’t wait to be able to once more immerse myself in your site!:-D

      Love always,
      –Vivien

    • Thank you so much! I can’t begin to tell you how surprised and touched I truly am! But most of all, I am honored because these nominations are from you, dear Emily! Your art has touched my life so deeply. Truly, I never know if you’ll have me laughing or crying — and today, you’ve brought tears to my eyes.

      What you have already accomplished in your life is so amazing — and what you have yet to accomplish, is, I’m certain — unlimited! As I’m only a couple years older than you, I know how young we still truly are. So, take my word for this: You just hang in there because the best is yet to be!

      You are always in my prayers, and in my heart…

      Love,
      –Vivien

  5. Dear sister,
    Thanks again for commenting on Wendy’s article in the blog, YESCuba. I was moved by your kind words and looked also at your About page to learn more about your site. Let me say first that I do not think that your blog is dark at all; in fact, quite the contrary, it is trying to shed light in otherwise dark quarters. Secondly, I think you are correct when you noted that FB is used for a different purpose than you originally imagined. I think that it is more for that time in people’s life when they just want to ‘cool out’ and take a break from the stress of daily life. To some extent also, it is trying to reproduce the days when people would just hang out together making ‘small talk’. “Modern’ western society has taken this away from most people as many go to work and then go home and remain closeted until the next day. Technology has now allowed people to re-capture those days; so you have a close friend in another State or country and you engage in the same small talk as if he/she were at home with you. FB I think is mainly about this, at least for the time being. And given the stressful nature of western culture, I think, it is understandable.
    The blog, as you may be finding, allows for a wider level of expression. It can still be about cats, dogs and other matters that require less analysis and reflection. But it also allows for the type of expression that you are doing/seeking.
    Anyway, I am going on for too long. I would have preferred to email these comments to you but didn’t find an address. Thanks again for your kind words and encouragement.
    One love

    • Dear Russell-

      How very nice to hear from you! I, myself, was very moved by Wendy’s article, and now, I’m just as moved by your response. As for the whole “relax” and “chill” thing regarding FB, all I can say is that no one’s ever explained it to me that way, or even bothered to explain it to me, at all… I’ve always figured there was time enough for relaxing when I’m asleep… This could explain my feelings of being a “bull in a china shop” whenever I’ve “entered” FB. But to my credit, I have stuck with FB, and have learned to “share” items like pictures of cats chasing much bigger dogs, or wearing little ‘human’ outfits… Yes, recovery is a process…

      And thank you so much for alerting me to the fact that I had not yet added my email address to my contact information. I just went into my “settings,” and added it. Lord only knows where it will appear, so in the meantime, at least until I find it myself, it is vezazzau@gmail.com.

      All the best, and ‘One Love’ right back atcha!

      –Vivien

    • Oops! Sorry. That’s vezazzau@gmail.com. I seem to have omitted one of the z’s. Even I have trouble spelling my name…Wow.:-D

  6. Wow! I adore that you have started this blog. That you do this because you have to write. I identified completely with your argument regarding Facebook and it’s complete superficiality. Or least of some of the respondents. Some of us are not so brave as to post what we are really thinking on FB. I have had well meaning friends, and I do mean friends from my childhood as well as acquaintances get all up on their high horse because I was expressing a political view and a need to integrate rather than separate. Or conversely, things go deadly silent and nothing, zero, zip, nada. And I have over 160 friends on FB. I have sooo much to say, and have seriously considered a blog of my own.

    We the people, the unwashed masses are for the most part so damn politically correct or at least have been trained to be. Or we have a grandiose sense of entitlement to our ideas about how we believe things should be. I think we are sitting on a powder keg that is about to blow if we don’t find our way towards one another soon rather than away from.

    Bravo for good work, indeed!

    • Dear Su Lan-

      Let me, first, begin by thanking you for your comments! I would have responded sooner, but receiving a response is such a rare occurrence, I had to check the Word Press instruction manual for how to “respond” to comments, and was only able to do that after the emergency team at the hospital had administered CPR due to the heart attack I suffered as a result of receiving your [a] response…

      You mentioned that you, yourself, have considered starting a blog. As you can probably tell, I know from experience that blogging is its own reward. I do it not only because I must, but because I can. Truly, I believe you touched on the heart of the matter when you said, “I think we are sitting on a powder keg that is about to blow if we don’t find our way towards one another soon rather than away from.” Not only are you precise; you’re poetic. Obviously, you’re a blogger waiting to be born, so “give birth, already!” :-D

      My “critique” of Facebook and its “culture” has, until now, garnered only silence and looks of astonishment. Again, and this time in all seriousness, thank you for your encouraging words, as well as your willingness to reach out. It means a great deal to me.

      All the best,
      –Vivien


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