Looking Ahead

On Sunni in Spring, (Tumalo Reservoir, 2012)

Monday, April 25, 2022

April “Pink Moon” Waning Crescent @28.5%; Next Full Moon, May 15.

This morning, I’m to open the store. That means leaving earlier than usual, and saying just a quick hello here.

It feels hard to get going, maybe because working yesterday was stressful. We were busy, and I was alone in the departments I had been assigned to cover. There was heavy traffic to see or buy chickens, plus multiple phone inquiries, in-person product seekers, and shelves needing frequent tidying.

I have been working nearly full-time. Today, I’ll speak to the store’s managers about changing my schedule so that I work only three days weekly.

Dear Friends: Longer daylight and summer weather change everything. Diana

Altering Views

Sunday, April 24, 2022

April “Pink Moon” Waning Crescent @38.3%; Next Full Moon, May 15.

Today’s local temperature will reach 70 degrees, and customers will pack into the store where I work. Yesterday’s warmth drew customers; they seemed to pour in, and during the busiest times, I operated a cash register helping to reduce checkout lines.

This lovely weather draws me outside, too, but not to my job; I want to ride my horses. I’m considering asking for fewer weekly workdays. It seems a tough call, for although I work part-time, the store needs its good workers, and I’m one of them.

There’s also a moral consideration. Last fall, I was job hunting, at an advanced age and without retail experience. Not a highly-desirable candidate, but the store needed more employees and hired me.

Working there has introduced me to the retail world. I’ve learned to operate an electronic cash register and grasp the concepts of inventory, backstock, warehousing, and E-commerce. I’m reminded, I’m good at selling. I’ve felt grateful for a gig that provides a leg up for seeking other work in the future.

The moral issue is that I feel indebted. I’m dithering over reducing my working hours or even departing an environment that’s provided marketable knowledge. The store needs and supports good employees. From the store’s perspective, and it’s a no-brainer, I’d be replaced relative to fewer hours or a total departure. The store will survive.

I’m asking myself what it is I really want. I enjoy working; it’s my social time. Meanwhile, the pretty days crowd in and are bothersome.

Dear Friends: All Central Oregonians are hungry for actual spring weather. Diana

“Petite Maman”

Actors: Joséphine and Grabille Sanz

Saturday, April 23, 2022

April “Pink Moon” Waning Crescent @49.2%; Next Full Moon, May 15.

A film reviewer for NYT, Anthony Lane, says, “Céline Sciamma’s new film taps into our secret wish to learn what our parents were like when they were young.

Recently, I wrote about her previous excellent film, “Portrait of a Woman on Fire.” Sciamma is a genius filmmaker. The movie “Portrait” illustrates her unique applications of lighting and sounds, choreographed movement, and self-created tight scripting. Her design of “Portrait” introduced a little-recognized aspect of art, e.g., historically there have been women who achieved success as creative artists (often having fathers who were recognized artists).

“Portrait” should have received the Oscar for Best (or, at least, Foreign) Picture.

Fortunately, Sciamma has earned lots of attention. Her new film, “Petite Mamam,” receives sensitive reviews in critical publications. Sciamma does informative interviews because her genius extends to an ability to articulate details about her creations, from how they’re planned and scripted to how they’re designed, cast, and filmed.

“Petite Mamam” is a memory film inspired by Sciamma’s grandmother’s story. The two young actors are twin sisters. In the movie, in mutual fantasy, they discover each other. Eventually, they recognize themselves, while still children, as mother and daughter. Sciamma in childhood was influenced hugely by her grandmother. This film seeks to understand how that early relationship contributed to the mature director’s interests, appreciations, and artistry.

I hope to find this film streaming somewhere. Sciamma’s interviews likely are on YouTube. I’ll tune in to learn how she conceived and created her latest achievement and where its success might be leading.

Dear Friends: She’s a great filmmaker; I can’t say more or enough. Diana

Coop Drama

Friday, April 22, 2022

April “Pink Moon” Third Quarter @60.8%; Next Full Moon, May 15.

Yesterday, I released three fledglings from a holding pen centered in the chicken coop. All went well except for my two hen turkeys. I’ve never seen those gentle creatures, clucking and whistling while following me around, bother a chicken. Nonetheless, each was set on killing the new flock members. I saw a turkey expertly grab one of the babies by her neck.

That trying episode conflicted with my morning plan. I wanted to fledge three more younger birds from their start in my garage.

After herding away the turkeys, I stayed watching the flock for a long while. It seemed safest to return the three youngsters to their pen. That pushed me toward a difficult decision about the garaged birds ready to fledge. Could they be penned with the current holding pen residents?

The question was, would these allow others needing release to join them? Flocked chickens are close and territorial. A flock needs a gradual introduction to new birds or will consider them intruders and fight. I decided to try adding the birds, one by one. Maybe those already in the holding pen still were immature enough to accept new residents.

One by one, I carried a fledgling into the holding pen; I held it on my lap and reassured while observing bird behaviors. On releasing each baby, all went well, except that turkeys threatened from outside the cell. After hanging around and feeling somewhat reassured, I went up to the house for a short bit. Within minutes, I heard rain. Within more minutes, looking outside, I saw a total hailstorm.

I could only hope that the first set of three were allowing the second set to join them in the pen’s single shelter.

After the storm, I went outside to the coop. The holding pen hadn’t any outside chicks. I glimpsed through the shelter door a white body; the single white chick had just been added.

Later on, again checking, I saw that all six chicks were in the shelter, nesting in deep hay. Whew!

Dear Friends, Releasing the youngsters will need adapting turkeys to change. Diana

Gettin’ There

Thursday, April 21, 2022

April "Pink Moon" Waning Gibbous @71.5%; Next full moon, May 15.

This city has changed dramatically. There’s an ever-increasing population, and everywhere, new construction. Higher traffic is causing lots of street-changing.

Twenty years ago, on first moving here, I could drive across town in seven minutes. Today’s drive takes thirty-five minutes or more because of traffic, road closures, and detours. Thus, it’s no small matter that my bank has moved. It’s no longer nearby on the east side of town, but now it is a cumbersome drive away on the west side.

Understandably, land options and high rents will cause businesses to consolidate and move. For those reasons, the local feed store where I work is the last in town. The others have moved away to nearby cities, more cumbersome drives away. So, the local feed store is a benefitting survivor.

I get it why my long-time bank has moved across town. Not enjoying having a longer, more difficult drive to reach it, I’m thinking about changing my bank. That doesn’t feel easy as banking regulations have changed. Choosing a bank or credit union means knowing which might be best.

The jury is out, but deliberations are continuing. My current bank in a high-rent area might decide to close its local branch entirely. Banking online or by phone are inconsistent, for systems fail, impeding service, causing delay and heartburn.

Maybe I’ll stop deliberating and get into action.

Dear Friends: Well, finally, and likely the best idea, is changing where I bank. Diana

Boot Stories

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

(April’s “Pink Moon” is Waning Gibbous @82.1%”; Next full moon, May 15.)

A guy comes into the store’s shoe section, looks around, takes off his boots and tries on new ones. Here’s the thing, he loves his old boots; they’re comfortable, dependable, real friends. Yeah, they’re pretty beat up, the soles are splitting off, but they’re the best.

This gets repeated all the time, especially among men and even non-ranching types. Men love wearing old, dilapidated, and faithful boots. I’m not counting out women; many work hard wearing and loving a pair of worn boots. But men take the cake when it’s about continuing to wear awful-looking beat-ups. “New boots aren’t as comfortable, haven’t as much appeal as my old ones.”

You can’t judge books by their covers nor individuals by their footwear. Boots can tell their own stories. Their looks conjure up probabilities as to histories and wearers.

People can be teased a little about wearing old boots, but not too much. It’s a matter of personal preference and pride.

Dear Friends: In the details, we’re often unique and exciting. Diana

Fantasy & Experience

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

(April’s “Pink Moon” is Waning Gibbous @89.8%”; Next full moon, May 15.)

This is our last freezing day for a while; it’ll be a rainy one. Tomorrow will introduce a string of rising temperatures. I don’t complain about the wet stuff. Our area is desperate for lots of it, but a break will make caring for my property easier.

I spend many days away working part-time but in a full-time mode. My job is less interesting than in the beginning, when each day challenged me to learn. Now, knowing how to perform the necessary work, I gather knowledge while talking with customers and selling chickens.

Knowing is one thing, but understanding is another. Customers communicate from the individual perspective, with most seeking days-old baby chickens from romantic feelings. They wish to love chicks, see them grow and become a flock, and they want to gather eggs. There’s a backside called learning. Chicks can become sick and even die, which is disheartening.

Moreover, baby chicks need attention and care for weeks, with lots of cleaning, feeding, and watering. Finally, they need a coop adequately protecting against predators. I hear of chicken losses from hawks, raccoons, and, more sadly, destructive loose dogs.

Recently, a policeman came in to choose replacement chicks for someone who has lost thirty mature hens to loose dogs. The policeman said they knew to whom those dogs belonged but couldn’t prove it. I should have asked how the chicken owner planned to prevent another attack. I’ll save that question for next time.

People’s fantasies and learning experiences become a unique body of knowledge. The tiny chicks encourage imagination and anticipation. Indeed, real-time experiences may be surprising, disappointing, and disheartening. Even for me, a seller of chicks, hearing some customers planning to use adorable babies as meat birds.

Fantasies reveal an individual’s wishes for pleasure and gain. People with varying worldviews have inclinations that are agreeable or arguable. I try to avoid those that feel disagreeable.

Dear Friends: Unlikeable elements mean having to “learn on the jaw.” Diana

Pink & Gray

Monday, April 18, 2022

(April’s “Pink Moon” is Waning Gibbous @96.1%”; Next full moon, May 15.)

Last night, a full Pink Moon, glorious in the sky, lit my path home after work. After becoming busy with the animals, I didn’t manage to photograph the moon.

Easter Sunday meant few customers in the store where I work. Some were looking for chicks, perhaps inspired by the holiday. Many intending to become first-time chicken-keepers were fun to chat with. I enjoyed taking them on tours, explaining breeds and what’s unique about each.

I’m still thinking about drafting a “chicken story,” maybe a fantasy from a chick’s viewpoint or mine. Just think, if the latest, most powerful artificial intelligence software were available, I could suggest high points, and cyberspace would write out my ideas, creating an entire story correctly punctuated, and applying grammar rules. Instead, writers these days still must slug it out, word by word and line by line, linking thought fragments logically to compel a reader’s attention.

Yes, I would seek a computer’s assistance with my work. Anyway, the future will have that happening for us all.

Imagine a customer calling a feed store to inquire about chickens with a computer voice responding. That voice will reveal what kinds of and how many chicks are available, their prices, and if a caller wishes to know more, how to care for baby chickens. That voice will eliminate a phone-answering human role.

Adding a self-checkout kiosk will eliminate a cashiering role. Adding a mechanical robot will eliminate physical work by humans. Soon, driverless cars will be familiar road companions. The possibilities are endless and already taking us into a world of ever-increasing cyberspace technology.

Imagine saying, “Hey, computer, write a fantasy about baby chickens.” Imagine receiving a 2,000-word printout with an appealing start and satisfying conclusion. I wonder how fiction readers might react.

Does reading pleasure come from sensing a companionship to another’s brain?

Dear Friends: All fun to consider and scary to wish for. Diana

Journey

NYT photo, 4/8/2020

Saturday, April 16, 2022

(April’s “Pink Moon” is Waning Gibbous @99.2%”; Next full moon, May 15.)

Although I saw it clearly, I didn’t photograph last night’s full moon, beautifully positioned in the eastern sky. I hoped to capture it early today but became sidetracked by an article in the NYT.

That article describes advances in artificial intelligence (AI), which is fantastic stuff. The advances challenge our brains; they raise questions about humanity’s future.

Open AI’s GPT-3 is a neural net system. It can create original prose and poetry and has mastered other complex linguistic challenges. The article includes examples of queries to AI and explains how it develops logical responses. Reading is mind-boggling. It forces us to focus on understanding how our brains work internally and how they thread through knowledge for the logic to communicate accurately.

We already accept much from AI. Examples are our ease with internet search engines, including our routine interactions with such as Alexa and Seri, and our appreciation of software’s abilities to complete sentences we’re typing. We have become accepting and now think little about utilizing common AI attributes.

Now, AI is being elevated to the level of creating original manuscripts. It’s raising frightening questions about the future of humanity’s social structures. Advanced AI can impact how we learn and think; it could put many out of work. For sure, used correctly, highly advanced AI offers learning and assistance, but used wrongly could become a destructive force.

Examples today are controversies surrounding Facebook and Twitter. A huge problem has been the capability of these AIs to spread disinformation to the extent of influencing national politics. They and other commonly used AI processes are capable of changing how we understand politics and affecting the public’s voting now and in the future.

It’s essential to have an awareness of significant advances in AI. This long NYT article requires close reading and careful thinking. It’s predictive, suggesting social changes for humanity’s good and evil. It’s an appealing and cautionary read.

As a writer comparing my thought processes to OpenAI’s GPT-3, how that system is trained helps me recognize that AI’s ability to process is similar to how my brain creates logical responses to questions.

I ask myself, if OpenAI’s processes were fully developed and available, would I use them? The answer is yes. Just as I have learned to use Wikipedia and google search. I also ask myself, what might happen regarding my brain’s abilities to investigate internally? The answer is some diminishment, at least, and much diminishment, at worst.

Learn, think, and answer from your perspective. Here’s a link to the fascinating article, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/15/magazine/ai-language.html

Dear Friends: Even dependable moon phases can’t always re-ground and reassure us. Diana

Ideas

Saturday, April 16, 2022

(April’s “Pink Moon” is Waning Gibbous @99.9%”; Fullest “Pink Moon” tonight!)

Early today, snowing, and no visible moonset. Last evening, a cloudy sky yielded only a hazy circle. Let’s hope tonight it’s more apparent, and give the moon a salute even if it’s almost invisible.

Today, again, I’m too short of time to create a blog. I became involved with another writing project and got sidetracked.

I’m trying to write creatively. I’m considering starting to work on two stories at once. One would be based on reality, and the other would be pure fantasy. Maybe not pure fiction, for all ideas begin somewhere in fact.

Yesterday at work, the store wasn’t busy with customers. We didn’t receive an anticipated shipment of baby chicks that would have brought in many people. I thought of how the chicks attract, the fantasies and hopes they create, and their offerings of returns on investment, at the very least, eggs. There’s a story, and I’ll write it.

Today, if the chicks arrive, we’ll be busy. Otherwise, to avoid the boredom of trying to appear busy, I’ll take refuge in the “chick room.” I’ll start drafting a story on my iPhone.

Dear Friends: Two stories at once give more options for applying ideas. Diana