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4 kittens

Hotel Room Door Propped Ajar

Posted on 2018.04.08 at 21:34
So, how's it going?

I saw one of these on my way to work:

That's not my picture. From here.   It's called a Crested Caracara or a Mexican Eagle. It's a weird looking bird, what with that distinctive toupee and mini-toucan bill.

Via. Apparently they're clumsy flyers but dexterous on their feet.

I drove to Dallas for a conference this weekend. It was unremarkable except that I got myself elected to be the Ceremonial Figurehead of the regional organization of math nerds. I'm told it's not actually too much work. It's one of those things where the first year you're observing, the second year you're in charge, and the third year you're advising.

Watch out, team, prepare yourself for me to revolutionize nothing and stick to basic norms and conventions.

Via. They scavenge alongside vultures, which is was mine was doing when I spied it: eating roadkill.

On the drive up, I chatted on the phone with my mom, and asked her when she started wearing glasses. She said she'd worn them as a child. I never knew that! I thought she started wearing them after she turned 40. She said no, she wore them through college, and then less and less. Now she only uses them for driving at night.

So basically, her vision got better and better, and is almost perfect at age 72. There you have it.

Via. They live in North and South America, but in the US, only in south-central Texas, and a few in Florida that have been cut-off from the rest of the crew for 10,000 years. Aside from the isolated Florida few, they're not rare though.

I visited with some extended family up in Dallas. My aunt told me the following story:

When my cousin was in 7th grade, she would sit and help him with his homework while cooking dinner. It was a disaster.  She is infinitely patient and measured, and he'd get flooded with frustration over his homework, and project an imagined slight, and start screaming at her. It was a disaster, every night.

If I were asked for advice in such a situation, I would say something like this: that my aunt was eternally calm and rational on the content of his homework, but that she needed to stop and be more attuned to his emotions.  That they needed to have an ongoing conversation observing his frustration level, what are the triggers, and so on.  That mastery of academic subjects is only half of what's being taught, and the other curriculum is self-regulation and learning about oneself. It's a very 2018 answer, and not at all how they solved it in 1993.

Instead, in 1993, my uncle suggested this:  that they videotape themselves every afternoon. They worked at a kitchen table, and there was a TV with a VCR set up right there. Then, when the situation deteriorated, they'd pause the camcorder and pop the tape in the VCR, and my cousin could go back and watch the footage himself.

So they tried it. My cousin was convinced that he'd find vindication in the video - a moment where my aunt had been mean or insulting. He'd watch the video a few times and realize that there was no slight. During this time, he'd calm down, and they could resume working.

Basically, they did the domestic version of this:

that is, the Spaceballs scene where they fast-forward through the movie of themselves to find out what's happening now-now.

After a month or so of this, it did actually change their dynamic for the better. My cousin got used to the idea that the scene had usually played out the way my aunt said it did, and stopped taking his anger and frustration out on her. I suppose this is basically CBT.

(To me, I see this as a weird and unsatisfying resolution - no deep character insights were ever understood! No profound moment of self-recognition and insight! But whatever. Lots of paths to truth, etc.)

Via. It acts like a vulture, but is actually most closely related to a falcon.

Anyway, Dallas was fine.  The conference was regular. I got back to my hotel room on Friday night and realized I'd left my hotel door propped physically ajar since that morning. I panicked and rushed inside. My purse was there, my computer was there, and I had a rush of goodwill towards humanity.

We stayed in the fancy Magnolia Hotel, with ceilings like so:

Out one of my hotel windows was this:

Which showed through my window all night long (because I didn't draw my shades) and reminded me abstractly of the movie The Thin Blue Line, which is after all about the Dallas police force.  (Not the Martin Lawrence movie about Love and Hate.)

This was out my other hotel window:

Eyeballs gonna eyeball.

Here's that famous dome thing:

which I'm told is Reunion Tower and is always in the Dallas skyline photos.

Pokey's tooth looked like so:

That is one snaggly son of a gun.

Now it looks like so:


We went to a later-Seder at our friends' house. This was our kids' first Seder dinner. I was glad for them to experience it without me having to be the impetus. It was lovely.

Via. They have to take a few running steps to get airborne. I'm told.


(Anonymous) at 2018-04-09 15:09 (UTC) (Link)

That's totally deep character insight!

Your cousin came to understand that when he had a feeling of having been hurt or attacked by your aunt, that feeling was generally something internal to him rather than evidence that she was objectively maltreating him! Once he knew that about himself, he could then use that knowledge to work past his immediate emotional reactions in a more productive way!

I'm amazed it worked, but that's a fantastic story.

heebie_geebie at 2018-04-16 03:13 (UTC) (Link)

Re: That's totally deep character insight!

I suppose you're right! I think I meant that there was no "why" or "how" to his insight. Why was he transferring his frustration onto his mother - what was the underlying frustration, and what meaning did he assign to his mother's words when they tipped him over the edge? What framework about the world did he see her as confirming when he flew off the handle at her? It's true that these things don't have to be articulated in order for someone to loosen their grip on them. It's just that I'm curious about what narrative people assign behind the scenes, and there was none of that brought to the surface.
(Anonymous) at 2018-04-09 23:20 (UTC) (Link)
I love caracaras so much! I dressed up as one for Hallowe'en one year as part of my 'birds but in fancy dress' costume idea. It's basically I wear a too-fancy dress I love with various bits to make it relate to a real bird. That year was a caracara-painted mask with a sleeveless black velvet dress, and yellow tights with fishnets over top. One of these years I'm going to go all out with a bird-of-paradise.

Also their face colours change with their emotions.

heebie_geebie at 2018-04-16 03:14 (UTC) (Link)
Omg, that's such a wonderful costume. I would truly love to see a photo.
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