Salvador Dali & Rhinoceros

The rhino is a homely beast
For human eyes he's not a feast
Farewell, farewell you old rhinoceros
I'll stare at something less prepoceros
--Ogden Nash

Albrecht Durer's Rhino

FreakingArt.com's take on Durer's Rhino

Rhinoceros come in five different species: Black, White, Indian, Javan, Samatran. Two native to Africa and three to Southeast Asia. Indian and Javan varieties have one horn the Black, White and Samatran have two. All are herbivores and even the smallest can reach well over a ton in weight.

William Scheele

Maria Ryan

Xavier Cordata

Memorial Day 2011

Private Horace J. Keller 
was killed in action 
on November 16, 1944.

Saturation Saturday: Aqua

Aqua: halfway between green and blue

An African Aquamarine

aqua = water = agua (sort of)

I like the chairs, wonder if I can do clear as a color?


umm, well, uh

an marine aqua fish
mostly because I couldn't leave you with the image
of that football dude

Oxford English Dictionary

I don't remember when I got my OED, I think it was a gift for ordering something or joining something else, maybe a donation. I got the compact two volume set with the magnifying glass in the little drawer at the top. I had no idea what I was missing before becoming the proud owner of an OED. It's stored with my other books in Ohio these days. But even in the age of the internet, there are many times each week I wish I had it sitting on a nearby shelf, the etymology alone is worth the weight of moving those monster tomes from place to place.

Recently I discovered some of the newer additions to the OED. I admit to being a bit surprised but then I remembered just how comprehensive it was. The OED now includes: LOL, FYI and yes even OMG!

Also added: donut hole, happy camper, la-la land, muffin top.

Further new entries include the five (or two, or three, or ten) second rule for retrieving and eating food that has fallen on the floor. Apparently, jelly side up has not made the cut yet, despite being a very important corollary to the ten second rule.


One might say that the definition of dichotomy presents a dichotomy. The simpliest definition says that it is the division into two parts or a subdivision into pairs or halves. But you can sense that this is not how we use the term. Looking further we find additional constraints - the division into two mutually exclusive, opposed even contradictory groups. Such as a dichotomy between motion and stillness.

One definition suggests an original whole which is cut in two; the other a divide that can never be a whole and never was. Still something is missing.

Our use of the term dichotomy is heavily influenced by the notion of a false dichotomy. Also known as black & white thinking, a false dichotomy draws a bipolar comparison that is not necessarily true. For example:

We had a lot of rain this spring. The crime rate was higher this spring. Rain is conducive to crime.
Guns and hammers are made of metal and both can be used to harm someone. It makes no sense to regulate the sale of hammers, so it makes no sense to regulate gun sales either.

There is something in the examples of the false dichotomy that creeps into our understanding and use of dichotomy. The oppositional definition seems to be dominant.

There is something to be extrapolated about separate but equal logic mixed in here somewhere, but sometimes my brain hurts and nothing will do but another cat picture.

You might have wondered at some point - where do the ideas for a blog post originate? Well this one came from a picture. No, not the kittens. The photograph below of an art work titled: Dichotomy by Eric Franklin.

I didn't say I understood it.

Constructing a Personality

"I am just a bundle of reaction formation responses."

I don't know if I love my friends because they are my friends or if they are my friends because I love them. But I do know I love the wonderful things they say. So much laughter, learning and blog fodder.

Reaction formation refers to a coping mechanism (Freudian defense mechanism) by which we replace unacceptable or anxiety producing behaviors and emotions with their direct opposite. Or at least what is perceived to be the opposite. Different flip-sides for different folks as it were.

Of course, as with all psychological theory it all gets much more diffuse and complicated as applied to various personas and personalities. For instance, if you are reacting to a parent who is often angry then you might avoid anger yourself by overly compensating, being always agreeable, never oppositional. Perhaps trading one dysfunctional behavior for another. How then does someone express an emotion like anger when reacting to a pathological use of that same emotion in parents or peers?

Well fortunately we are not just a bundle of reaction formations. We really do have free will; we actually can break free of whatever traits our childhood imposed upon us. Our maturation allows us options other than reaction formation. Still buried down deep or not buried at all lurks the remanent of all we have been and might have been. All twisty and turny (psychological terms) yet changeable, malleable and unique.

All my friends are nearly normal and I love them for exactly those qualities.

Saturation Saturday: Chartreuse

the color half way between yellow and green

illustrating an article - 
"Chartreuse plants to make your garden memorable"

name any food that would look good on these?

most often described as "an acquired taste"

but it looks so much like absinthe

a chartreuse creek

Vanessa in a Chartreuse Dress
by Mickey Cunningham

halfway between yellow and green

Upon Not Having an Accent

I don't have an accent, which is unusual because common thinking is that everyone has an accent. Linguists differ on just who does and does not have an accent but their estimates are all very high (96%+) on just how many of us do have one. I do not. I learned this from someone who would know.

In 1968 I was a student in Germany. My professor there was a wonderful gentleman named Guenther Spaltmann. He was a native german, an accomplished artist and an truly gifted linguist. He had taught himself over a dozen languages; he was an interpreter at the peace negotiations after World War II, where each speech had to be translated live into English, German, French, Russian and Italian.

On our first day of german language class, Herr Doktor had us each introduce ourselves in german. 

"Guten Morgen, Ich bin Tim Lavalli."

Dr. Spaltmann would then tell us where we were born or at least where we lived during our language acquisition years. When I spoke, he said: "You were probably raised west of Detroit but not in a close-in suburb or in eastern Iowa just over the Illinois state line." Apparently those are the two areas of the U.S. that have a complete absence of accent. What was called flat accent. 

One might think this is a good quality for public speaking or commercial voice work, but in fact the absence of accent makes one's voice a bit monotonous (as in monotone). You need some inflection and rhythm. When I began teaching in L.A. in the 70s, I added a kind of a cadence to my speech pattern to shake off the monotone. I never really mastered an accent or a dialect but the irregular up and down changes in my voice kept the class awake, most of the time.

For an overwhelmingly cool map of dialects in the US 
with clickable pronunciation guides - look here.

M&Ms in Las Vegas

Yes, there really is an M&M World on the strip in Las Vegas. And since it is right next to the MGM Grand where we were staying, several trips were made to capture the panorama and panache that is Las Vegas in chocolate. Again many thanks to Mike for the photography and playful spirit.

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

The sacred M&M wall, where pilgrims gather to leave messages to their long lost waistlines.

The aroma of cocoa can be overwhelming. They do have emergency supplies of insulin.

I was as diligent as a non-shopper can be in my attempt to fine any item I could tolerate in my apartment. Alas, the $34.95 beach towels drove me screaming from the store.

This is Mike (on the right) our intrepid photographer. The guy in blue with the white glove scares me a bit.

Las Vegas Boyz Trip 2011

We had one of our Poker Boyz trips to Las Vegas last week. Mike, as always, provides great photos for us and seemingly doesn't mind the intermittent nagging - "Get a shot of my with the stripper!" He also wanders around early morning and late at night for shots like this one. We did stay at the MGM this trip.

If you don't show up for a Poker Boyz trip, you get your head put on a stick and rude sometimes evil photos are produced. Viewing of those more seedy and salacious snapshots is restricted to bona fide PB members and blackmail.

OK, maybe not completely restricted.

Poker was played. This is me making a final table at Binion's. Two-tiered seven-way chop for the poker players out there.

Matty with Chihuly art at City Center.

Me, also with Chihuly.

Amy at our annual visit to the Cat Condos at the LV-SPCA.

me with kittums at spca

Upon Being Trained by a Cat

I apologize if this story is a repeat. There comes a point, apparently somewhere around five hundred blog posts, where you just can't remember all the tales you've told. I don't think I have written this one up before but if I have - well enjoy again.

This was back in the early 70s, I was sharing my place in Michigan with a couple of roommates, two dogs and three cats. My favorite was Sam, a big black cat who slept with me every night.

On one particular night I was unable to locate the land of dreams. I was awake and apparently I was going to stay awake. Sam, on the other hand, settled down by my left hand got a good dose of ear rubs and was sound asleep in minutes. I laid there for an hour, then two... somewhere in the middle of the night I was drifting a bit, not asleep yet. Sam woke up, stood up, stretched then walked across my chest and laid back down with his head in my right hand and I reflexively started petting him.

At that moment I realized he did this every night, maybe more than once. He had me trained, the paw impressions on my chest made my sleeping conscious aware of him without waking me up and when he put his head in my hand I would subconsciously scratch him until he fell back to sleep.

Trained by a cat while I was asleep. And they say dogs are smart.

Saturation Saturday: Red

a Japanese Red Maple

that would be a redhead

Yes you vegans and vagans - Red Meat!

Mmm, red hair.

Amsterdam's famed Red Light District

Red Candles - Valentin Popov

a very red cardinal

a flock of red cardinals

I know, I know!
I can't help it.

probably has red hair too . . .