Archive for the ‘Analysis’ category

Intellectuals Love Pop Culture

February 14, 2016

I had a great learning experience at the 2016 Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA) Conference thanks to scholarship funds. If I can’t find outside funds to attend this conference again next year, I would gladly pay my own way. I thought ARMA San Diego was the best conference I had been to until SWPACA. I love being around like minded intellectuals. There is really nothing like it. I do want a PhD someday.

I made it a point to keyword search the program (which was close to 150 pages) for the words archive(s), culture, history, and New Mexico. I focused my time at the conference on those sessions for the greater good. I love learning things to benefit both my knowledge and my agency. Everytime I could, I supported New Mexico professors and students by attending their presentations. There was so much great research presented during this conference. I also made a presentation there.

I did attend a small handful of sessions that were chosen because of personal interest. One was a session titled “Myth and Metaphor in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien,” which happened to be delivered by a University of New Mexico (UNM) professor. Another awesome presentation gave an analysis of “Penny Dreadful,” which I love, by a teacher from Texas. That session featured another presentation on the research of a UNM professor and student on violent video games and children. There was one on how Batman’s suit employs STEM!! Then there was one on fetishism and the villainess. You know I went to that one!!

The mission of SWPACA is “to promote an innovative and nontraditional academic movement in Humanities and Social Sciences and to celebrate America’s cultural heritages. To provide an outlet for scholars, writers, and others interested in popular/American culture, to share ideas in a professional atmosphere, and to increase awareness and improve public perceptions of America’s cultural traditions and diverse populations.”

Amazing…

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Rise of the Women: Mad Max

May 30, 2015
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••Imperator Furiosa and The Wives••

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road today and it was awesome! You have to love the twisted minds of the writers. George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris created an interesting, post-apocalyptic world. The world was filled with all sorts of mind-blowing things. I love writers who can surprise me. This movie was action packed!

I don’t love Tom Hardy (who played Mad Max), but I absolutely adore Charlize Theron (who played Imperator Furiosa). Charlize is such a versatile actress. She isn’t scared to play non-glamorous roles even though she is smoking hot! I love that about her. I remember being so impressed by her role in Monster. She kicked some serious ass in Fury Road.

There are many themes which permeate the film. There were at least five that I clearly saw. I felt that the three most powerful themes which drove the storyline were love/sacrifice and the empowerment of women. Other themes which I observed were home, retaliation and redemption.

The story was about love of self, love of others and the transformative power of that love. This was yet another tragic love story. A woman and a man die for love in the midst of gang wars. It is a tragic story because in the end, Max and Furiosa fall in love, yet they part ways. For these characters, it was enough to know each would be ok following a battle.

These three male writers are awesome for focusing this story on the empowerment of women. From a one armed female warrior who can drive a big rig while kicking ass in a fight to release women from sex slavery, to denouncing the objectification of women, to a gang of all female bikers who fight to reclaim the Citadel… Miller, McCarthy and Lathouris covered it all. Symbolically, the women were the holders of the the seeds of life (child bearing and actual heirloom seeds).

The movie is worth a watch. Aside from all the trippy characters, crazy costumes, cool weapons, tricked out rides, and desolate landscapes, there is much more to this movie on a symbolic level. I had one favorite quote in this movie coming from Mad Max himself. He told Furiosa… “You know hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane.” I agree Mr. Mad. I totally agree.

Sapiosexual: A Fetish for Intellect

January 7, 2015

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It is good to be sexual, sensual beings. The science of human attraction is indeed intriguing. You know… pheromones, scents, body language? This can be stuff from the big screen like a muscular, shirtless Thor or a leather clad Fish Mooney with a sexy, evil smile, heels and long nails. At times, it’s odorless pheromones, the smell of sweat, or the seductive scent of perfumes and colognes? All these things can trigger reactive attraction in any normal man or woman. I am surely a fan of all of that, but there is much more to be said about the psychology of attraction.

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~Digital composite by Felicia~

When I was in high school or even college, I have to say that I would have laughed if somebody called me a sapiosexual. It is a relatively new word and the etymology is not clear, still I know I am a sapiosexual. So what is a sapiosexual? In the simplest form, it is a person with a fetish for intelligence. Can I explain how my fetish has blossomed? I would assume that as my personal need for, and my interest in the consumption of knowledge has grown, so has my attraction to the same. I now find intelligence in both women and men equally attractive.

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Some define a sapiosexual as “a person who is sexually attracted to intelligence in others.” The word as an adjective versus a noun means “of, or relating to, finding intellectual stimulation sexually arousing.” I love smart people. Maybe years of being around scholars and like minded professionals has contributed to my admiration for the mind? I like to think so. I am a career driven woman after all. However, don’t let all my career driven, brain-e-ack adoring jibber jabber fool you… there are also smart people in my home away from home, the gym. Check out two PhD touting muscle heads I adore if you don’t believe me.

Those who are both physically and intellectually attractive are indeed blessed. It’s rare to be aesthetically pleasing in more than one way. I am not saying my attraction is tied to wit and wit alone. I will confess that more often than not, physical aesthetics comes first for me. Still, what use is a physically sexy person with no brains to back it? The pursuit of knowledge is in itself…sexy. Well hey…if you happen to be smart with a great set of shoulders and traps, a good smile, and nice hands, then consider those things physical perks to intellectual sexiness.

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It’s true. I am getting older, but I really am getting better with age. The me I know today is much smarter and sexier than the me I knew way back when. My mind and body crave knowledge in all types of intriguing ways. It is so stimulating to partake in intellectual conversations. It is awesome to engage with knowledgeable individuals. It is refreshingly sexy for people to care for and be passionate about what they do and how they make a difference. Arousal by intellect is a completely different experience. It is a mature minded experience.

It is good to be sexual, sensual beings. Human attraction is scientific, but it is also psychological. For me, true seduction is much deeper than a great ass or ripped abs. These physical things trigger reactive attraction in most, but mature sexuality undoubtedly involves the mind. I know that now. Of course I can appreciate both, but this isn’t high school anymore. I’m proud to be a sapiosexual now. I appreciate my fetish for intelligence which compliments my personal need for, and my interest in the consumption of knowledge.

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Tonight when I searched the internet for definitions of sapiosexual, I came across two very interesting things. One is a quote and the other was a test. My test results are below. I did take the test even though I was sure I was a sapiosexual. I was right…of course! I scored a 92% on the test. Funny that I couldn’t help but think of Stephen Hawking with regard to the one test question about being “much more likely” to “fall in love with a highly intelligent cripple, than a dull-minded athlete,” because I do love me some Hawking. I also love me some smart athletes. Even though Hawking is the bomb, I’m still *far* from sure about a “strongly agree” on that answer. Haha.

The quote by Kayar Silkenvoice read… “I am sapiosexual. I think geeks and nerds are sexy– I often want to rub my clit against their minds.”
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Unique Identifiers: A Closer Look at Biometric Technology in New Mexico

December 3, 2014
Biometrics_by Felicia Lujan_December2014

|Biometrics~ A digital composite by Felicia Lujan. This composite is composed of 13 layers, 8 masks, 3 color overlays, and a Gaussian blur. The composite includes images of binary code and components of ocular, palm vein, and voice recognition scans.|


**NOTE: This research was
not intended to promote or
renounce the use of biometric
systems, though I do find the
technology extremely interesting
and useful in most cases. I
understand that the use
of this technology is considered
controversial by some. I intend
to continue my exploration into
how biometric technology is
being used around the world
for the greater good.

________________________________
I am an archivist with a deep love of technology, which is one reason I pursued a masters level certification in digital information management. A little over a week ago, I was in a meeting that reignited my interest in biometrics. I must admit that I was naïve in my assumption that my state was not a pioneer in this industry. First off, I didn’t know that the central nervous system of New Mexico state government (aka the State Data Center at the Department of Information Technology) utilizes biometric technology as a method of security. After that meeting I came home curious about how involved New Mexico is when it comes to biometric research and implementation. The writer, the researcher, the analyst, the special agent in me took over and that night I added biometric engineer to my list of dream jobs that I would love to have. So…what type of education does a biometric engineer need? Most commonly, a biometrics engineer has: a computer science degree; a computer language certification like Java or C++; and good problem-solving, people, and technical skills.

I found an informative link online titled “Become a Biometrics Engineer: Education and Career Roadmap.” Hum? Well, according to this plan, there are only 7 “popular schools” specializing in advancing a career in biometrics. The page said that “biometric technologies include complex equipment designed to analyze personal identification markers unique to each individual, such as fingerprints, ear lobes, vein patterns, voices, and iris shapes.” Through this research, I discovered that the technology is not limited to “individuals” or people here in New Mexico. I did know that biometric engineers were software developers, but there was a lot that I didn’t know before I embarked upon this research over the Thanksgiving break. Ear lobes? Veins? Hum? Didn’t know those were used as unique identifiers? We are all well aware of the TV shows touting the sexy use of biometrics, like CSI and most recently my beloved Scandal, but that’s just on TV right? A dead guy’s index finger couldn’t possibly be used to confirm his identity? Could it Shonda? Maybe I should ask Chien Le?

The most information dense white paper I discovered was written by Chien Le of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Washington University in November of 2011. Le wrote A Survey of Biometrics Security Systems and his research introduced biometric security systems. It also outlined application fields for biometric technologies, solutions, middle-ware and software, advantages and disadvantages, acronyms, and the future uses of biometrics. Damn! Chien Le beat me to the punch didn’t he?! Here it was…all laid out for my thirsty mind. Le’s paper says there are “seven basic criteria for biometric security systems.” These are “uniqueness, universality, permanence [hummm?? Do I hear digital preservation?], collectability, performance, accessibility and circumvention.” I don’t completely understand some of the criteria, but it was very useful to read over the types of biometric solutions outlined by Le. Current technologies include: facial recognition detectors, fingerprint readers, voice recognition, iris scanners, vein recognition, DNA biometric systems, and 2D barcode scanners, among others.

This technology can have good uses, but there are many privacy advocates who are against the use of any biometrics. In December of 2013, Scientific American published Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks by Oliver Munday with a byline which read “without explicit safeguards, your personal biometric data are destined for a government database.” The article starts with the sentence “security through biology is an enticing idea.” Yeah it is. Is that all it is though? An idea? I think not. Maybe I’m not worried about privacy as much as I should be? The article is basically a call to United States Congress for “lasting protections against the misuse of biometric data.” Munday quoted an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who seems to fear that biometric data will be used genetically to test for criminal predisposition. I’m actually not sure that’s a bad thing? I guess my only concerns at this point would be relative to health information and insurance coverage. When it comes to physical security and data security, personally, I think that biometric technology is necessary. It is a way to uniquely protect data, which in the end equals the preservation of knowledge and heightened security.

Over the weekend I started whittling through what I found. I read a great deal of articles and a few white papers before I started to look at projects going on closer to home. The more I researched this topic, the more information I found. I was most interested in how biometric systems actually work, so I focused my mind on the technical aspects. I had questions like…what are the major components of a biometric system? Who uses these systems? One of my questions was answered in Le’s paper. I have a sore throat now, so last night I wondered…what if a person needed to use voice recognition and something was wrong with their voice? How is that accounted for in designing a successful system? According to Le, there was no solution. A voice recognition system will not recognize a hoarse voice wave. So now that we have some background on the basics of biometrics, let’s take a look at what I found going on right here in my state. I was able to locate information on at least ten concrete areas where biometric technology is being used in New Mexico from at least 2003-2014. I’m sure there are many projects I missed, but frankly, this could be a thesis and maybe even a dissertation. This is just a quick look at highly visible projects I came across over the last week.

We will start with the New Mexico Department of Information Technology (DoIT) since it is a meeting with this office that rekindled my interest in this technology. DoIT is “responsible for infrastructure IT services provided 24x7x365 which includes: the State’s telecommunications system, two-way public safety radio, digital microwave, the State’s core data network and internet connectivity, and the State’s Data Center.” It is here, in the State Data Center where biometric technologies are being used for data security. I felt impressed with my state when I learned that and tomorrow I will get a tour of the center. “The State’s Data Center provides a secure facility with redundant power and cooling which houses many of the State’s critical IT systems including the State’s mainframe and agency servers. This division also provides enterprise system services which include the State’s consolidated email system…” It will be interesting to see what type of biometric security the agency is using as of late. I am guessing a finger or palm scanner?

The two strangest projects I found information on were tied to the use of biometrics on kids and animals in New Mexico. On April 3, 2013, there was a news release put out by KOAT (channel 7) titled Los Lunas School Offers Biometric Scans at Lunch. What? Seriously? Yes. Seriously. The school apparently tried to implement a palm vein scanner in the lunch room instead of good old meal tickets or cards. Parents were not happy about the suggestion of using infrared wavelengths (electromagnetic radiation) during the lunch hour to ID their children. The parents fought off the proposal which would have allowed scanners to recognize a unique vein pattern in the child’s palm and they won. I wasn’t sure which seemed stranger…scanning kids or scanning animals? I also read about how the New Mexico livestock industry is using Retinal Vascular Pattern (RVP) for livestock identification. RVP is the pattern of blood vessels at the back of the eye. It’s is being called the new way of branding animals. I wonder how ranchers feel about that since they must prefer the old burn and freeze methods? What’s a brand without cowboy symbology right?

I discovered that the national labs and the air force bases are also using biometrics. Of course, this was no surprise. I read a white paper Chris Aldridge prepared for Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in June of 2013. Sandia Report No. SAND2013-4922 is titled Mobile Biometric Device (MBD) Technology: Summary of Selected First Responder Experiences in Pilot Projects. This report was concentrated on the use of MBDs to enroll individuals in databases and perform “identification checks of subjects in the field area,” for “military, law enforcement, and homeland security operations.” The report was a multi-agency/multi-state project with 3M Cogent Systems and involved: Iowa, Colorado, California, D.C., Texas, Washington (Seattle), Arizona, Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Idaho. I think the most interesting part of this study used a “mock prison riot” for first responders out of West Virginia. We all know how critical that information is given New Mexico’s prison riot history. Many of the agencies studied for this report are using “Fusion devices.” Fusion was developed by 3M Cogent Systems for the Department of Defense. A large part of studies in this field are tied to law enforcement, but currently the technology trend is leaning towards cyber security.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) says biometrics are important because they: secure facilities, protect access to computer networks, counter fraud, screen people at our borders, and fight crime. The NIST says this technology is used to manage identities for: first responders at the scene of a natural disaster, border patrol, soldiers in theater, and police officers on the street. It makes sense that the following projects are closely related to the projects cited in the Sandia report. In New Mexico, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uses the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) to support criminal justice DNA databases. The National DNA Index System or NDIS is part of CODIS. The FBI uses biometrics to analyze data from DNA databases and for latent print analysis. Holloman Air Force Base is using the 49th Security Forces Defense Biometric Identification System which is comprised of hand-held scanners. The scanners are used to screen people entering the base to verify the access authorization. Identity is established using barcode technology and fingerprints. In February of 2011, it was announced that Santa Fe County was using biometrics to “remove aliens convicted of a crime.” It can also be noted that between 2003 and 2005, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) researched the use of biometrics in handgun grips while working with a New Mexico biometrics company. The NAE was interested in developing biometric grip sensors, but a 2005 report declared the tests a failure.

I also located evidence of the health care systems in New Mexico using biometric technology. The University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) offers Biometrics Screening Services as part of Employee Health Plans. These screenings are said to align with recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Ommmm…Maybe this is where my privacy fears rest? In 2013, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine released a Joint Consensus Statement on Biometric Health Screening for Employers. According to the “statement,” the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines biometric screenings as “the measurement of physical characteristics such as height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and aerobic fitness that can be taken at the worksite and used as part of a workplace health assessment to benchmark and evaluate changes in employee health status over time.” I am a fitness freak, but that seems crazy? What if something is wrong with me and I don’t know? The statement outlines the “purpose of screenings” and I found it kind of scary. What if they find out I experience shortness of breath or I’m genetically predisposed to cancer? Will they drop me from my insurance plan?

In New Mexico health circles, I also located a “Fingerprint Techniques Manual,” which was prepared by the New Mexico Department of Health. The manual had very interesting graphic illustrations on the fundamentals of fingerprints. This training tool covered from patterns to arches to loops to lines to deltas to cores to whorls to scars of the fingerprints. The machines can read all these intricate things. The Division of Health Improvement uses this technology as part of the Caregivers Criminal History Screening Program. Makes more sense than the biometric screenings. I feel comfortable with this use. This type of use can protect people from abuse or other forms of criminal activity. I was rather impressed with the 36 page manual. It reminded me that about 15 years ago I applied for a finger print technician position with the Department of Public Safety. I was crushed to learn that these people don’t make very much. I don’t know…I guess you have to be a biometrics engineer to make it out there!? What I do know is that I found a great deal of information about how New Mexico is actively participating in the biometric industry.

I gained useful knowledge through this research into biometrics and then regurgitating what I learned. My son just asked me what I was writing about and when I told him he looked at me with the curiosity that I love and see in myself. I told him “I’m writing about biometrics. Do you know what that is?” I explained with words and then decided it was easier to show a nine year old a catchy tech video with visual candy. Together we learned about the future of biometric systems. Between October and November of this year there were several videos on the use biometric technology. The National Science Foundation released information on a project by a young man studying the use of ocular biometrics in the video game industry for disabled people. In October the Telegraph out of the United Kingdom released a video declaring that we would simply kill passwords with biometrics and CBS news declared that biometric palm scans will help keep hospitals secure.

The future of biometrics is here. It is everywhere and happening all around us. Biometrics is about identifying who we are and not who we say we are. Tonight I learned that the most accurate method for a biometric reading is the heartbeat or an electrocardiogram (ECG). Makes sense ha? It’s symbolic actually. Symbolic because the heart is at our biometric core. It is the giver of life. The heart represents how we feel and who we are. That beat is indeed is a unique identifier.


Sources:

News release, Santa Fe County and All New Mexico Now Benefit from ICE Strategy to Use Biometrics to Identify and Remove Aliens Convicted of a Crime, released on ice.gov, February 15, 2011

White paper, A Survey of Biometrics Security Systems by Chien Le, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Washington University, November 28, 2011

News release, Los Lunas School Offers Biometric Scans at Lunch, released on koat.com, April 3, 2013

White paper, Mobile Biometric Device (MBD) Technology: Summary of Selected First Responder Experiences in Pilot Projects by Chris Aldridge, Sandia Report No. SAND2013-4922, prepared by Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, June 2013

Article, Biometric Security Poses Huge Privacy Risks by Oliver Munday, released on scientificamerican.com, December 17, 2013

Publication, Fingerprint Techniques Manual, prepared by New Mexico Department of Health, Division of Health Improvement, Caregivers Criminal History Screening Program, no date

Various internet searches for basic information in articles and videos

Fog: Mysteriously Scientific

November 18, 2014

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~Fog by Felicia Lujan. The digital composite includes 4 images, 10 layers, 2 masks and 1 screen.~

The Fog
by Mary Meixner

Seurat would have gone forth
on such a night
walking the mist-hung streets
dour silence
wrapping his world
in thin recessions
immediate
frames of form.
How he would chew this vapor
like a food
tasting distinctions
when all cats are grey
already in his hand, the touch
veiling in layered chalk
this passing woman
as a monument.
Each windowed structure lost
in a broad stroke
that makes perfection
of the mood of home
cubic, irradiated,
finding more truth
the more that it obscures.
_______________________

A couple of weeks ago on my drive into work, the fog was thick. I wanted to stop and take a photograph, but I didn’t. Fog rarely visits Santa Fe, but when it does, it is beautiful and eerie and magical and mysterious all at once. I started wondering what people thought about fog centuries ago when they didn’t understand what it was. I started wondering things like… What is fog exactly? What causes fog? Why does the smoke-like cloak evoke such contradictory feelings in me? Tonight I explored historic and contemporary research about the science of fog. I can’t possibly cover everything in one night. In the coming weeks, I would like to learn more about fog.

The earliest scientific account of fog I could find was published in an 1889 volume of Science. The article was titled Fogs, and the piece wasn’t very scientific in my opinion. That year in January, there was an anniversary meeting of the Royal Meteorological Society. The president of the society, Dr. W. Marcet delivered a keynote address about fog which was laced with “interesting lantern-slides.” Apparently, the address declared that “fogs and clouds are one in the same thing.” The article goes on to say “a cloud is a fog when entered into; and a fog seen from a distance, suspended in the air, becomes a cloud.” Isn’t that so scientific? No…not really.

While I didn’t get much from the article in that volume, a few months later, a very interesting piece was published in Letters to the Editor. On May 24, 1889, H.A. Hazen (love how that surname is perfect for a study of fog) sent a letter to Science. It opens… “A great deal of discussion has recently taken place on the properties of fog and its causes.” This letter delivered some concrete facts about the composition and causes of fog. He or maybe she calls theory “entirely inadequate” and noted percent, degrees, height, and weight measurements. Hazen says “fog, it is admitted, is simply cloud composed of water-dust or solid minute spheres of water from 1/7000 to 1/1000 of an inch in diameter.”

So how did Hazen conclude the letter written from Washington, D.C.? I was curious as I read on. Hazen concluded by outlining the circumstances surrounding the formation of fog.

“The cause of fog is briefly as follows: 1. It is essential that there be no wind. I do not mean that the wind does not blow the fog right after it is formed, but there must be little or none while it is forming. 2. The sky must be clear. We often notice a cloudless sky after a fog is dissipated. On weather-maps, “fog” is entered as “fair,” for, through not a particle of sky is visible, yet it is almost a certainty that the sky is clear. 3. The air must be saturated, or nearly so. It is very surprising how rarely the last condition occurs at inland stations. A relative humidity of 95 per cent has been noted in the air, in which rain is falling, and had been falling continuously for seventeen hours. This condition almost always can occur only to the south, south-east, or north-east of a storm. At nightfall, whenever these conditions combine, there is a rapid radiation from the earth to the sky, which speedily supersaturates the overlying air; and after that, radiation from the upper surface of the fog continues the process, and extends the fog upward until the action ceases with the rising of the sun.”

The letter was a very interesting read. Will you notice any of the things Hazen pointed out next time you encounter fog? I will. I find pleasure in the fact that one thought or maybe a few thoughts can spur my mind into a foggy haze! Hazen seemed to take some of the first concrete steps to define fog scientifically.

What about what can’t be defined scientifically like the emotions and feelings associated with fog? How do writers and artists use things like fog as a tool to evoke a feeling in the reader? I have a little bit more research to do and then you will see a part two with a focus on my interest in the mystery of fog.

Sources:

The Fog [Poem] by Mary Meixner
Art Journal, Vol.25, No.1, Pg.25 (Autumn 1965)

Fogs
Science, Vol.13, No.315, Pg.116-117 (February 1889)

Fog
Science, Vol.13, No.330, Pg.429-430 (May 1889)

The Flight of Circe

September 22, 2014
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~Digital composite by Felicia~

On my way home from work, many thoughts raced through my busy head. My brain was like a swirling pool of black uselessness. Approaching 599, the state highway, I was still deep in thought when I saw a very large, white and brown, spotted, dead bird in the middle of the road. Her lovely feathers were being roughly shoved about by the wind and my heart broke to see the majestic creature deprived of life and flight. I screeched off of the road with burning rubber and instantly forgot about all of my thoughts. All that was important in that moment was getting the bird off of the road. Five o’clock traffic raced around her and I wanted to save her from being smashed under tires by all the other people who didn’t care or have time to stop for her.

I pulled over and then I noticed another car followed. It was a woman. The bird was a huge Red-tailed Hawk. One woman jumped out of the car, while her angry mother glared at me through the windshield. There were three large dogs in the hatchback. The woman had a big fast food bag ready and didn’t seem like a good person. I felt like choking her out…frankly. She ran into the road and scooped up the bird before I could blink. She spurted out over the racing traffic…”indians use these,” while she tossed the beautiful bird in the hatchback with three dogs. Indians? Dogs? Really?? So cultured and thoughtful! At that point, I seriously felt like wrestling her to the ground. I told her that she better call BLM because the bird was protected by state and federal law. I’m not sure if she knows it’s illegal to possess a dead raptor. Hopefully, she did the right thing.

When I drove away. I realized the raptor was a sign for me. I could have not seen her or pretended not to see her and just driven over her like everyone else. Why didn’t I? Why was I awakened from my pool of useless thoughts? Well…because I believe in magic. The hawk is a very symbolic bird. She is a messenger. She is a power animal with a powerful totem. Ina Woolcott once wrote that “hawk’s gifts include clear sightedness, being observant…magic, and focus.” She also said… “Hawks have a broad vision, allowing them to see what the future holds. In man this is a symbol of prophetic insight. If this gift is underdeveloped, it is common for people with this power animal to have a tendency of over analyzing everything.”

Maybe I need to see things clearly? You know? With hawk eyes. Tonight I read the “Wildlife Notes” publication put out by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. I learned that “the eyesight of a hawk is 8 times as powerful as that of humans” and that hawks “have excellent color vision extending into the ultraviolet range so they see more colors than we do.” I guess it would be easier to see illusions that way? The hawk is my new totem. Seeing in the ultraviolet range? It sounds magical doesn’t it? Ahhh…yes. Back to magic. Last night I posted I Believe in Magic” and coincidentally, there was a hawk show at the Renaissance Fair while I was there. Magic. Yes. I believe.

When I thought of the symbolism of the hawk and her magic, the first woman who came to mind was Circe. In Greek Mythology, Circe was known as the Goddess of Magic and her name means hawk. She was a bewitching nymph who was the daughter of the God of the Sun, Helios. Her magic was based on herbal potions. She was the daughter of the light in the sky. We see clearly in the daylight right? Finding the beautiful hawk was a sign. Call it the “flight of Circe.” I need to wake up and open my eyes. I need to look to those who actually cherish my magic. I am a magical being and deserve to have that in my life.

Woolcott’s symbolic interpretation of the hawk “denotes union with All That Is.” She says “the hawk is a bird of the heavens, arranging the changes necessary to prompt our spiritual growth. Having this power animal can be bitter sweet. When accepting its presence in your life, you will be asked to surrender/give up anything that doesn’t honor the integrity of all life. Whether its an idea, feeling or action. Although hard work is involved, the rewards to be reaped are great, far outweighing this.” I accept this majestic creature as my totem. I am willing to put in hard work. “Work” is my middle name. “Magic” is my last.

♦*Valuing Value*♦

July 30, 2014

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“When someone can make you see
this broken world as beautiful, they
are worth keeping around.”

~~~~~• Author Unknown
________________

Have you ever contemplated the word value? It is an intricate word to contemplate. What does it mean to value things? More importantly, what does it mean to value people? We are all worth something? Aren’t we? I like to think my worth outweighs my worthlessness, but maybe other people don’t see it that way. Maybe people who don’t know me could just ignore my value, write me off, plead ignorance to my worth, but what about those who know me? What about those who you hoped would care?

The dictionary defines value (the noun) as “high quality” the “importance” of “something intrinsically valuable or desirable.” It is always disappointing when you realize that some people see you as a metaphorical rock instead of as a diamond. No matter how much value you could ever allot yourself, not everyone can see the return on an investment in you. Maybe it’s that they can’t conceive or refuse to acknowledge your worth? Maybe they simply can’t do it? Maybe in this case, value (the noun) isn’t as important to me as value (the verb)?

Value as a verb is much more complex. It isn’t just the physicality of worth, but what lies beneath our skin. It is what’s in the mind and in the heart. In this form of the word, value is the description of an action, state, or occurrence. The dictionary defines this type of value as the consideration of “someone or something to be important or beneficial” and to “have a high opinion of” that someone or something. Synonymously, one would “think highly of, hold in high regard, rate highly, appreciate, treasure, prize, and respect” someone or something they valued.

Seriously…have you ever contemplated the word value? The intricacy of this word continues to blow my mind. It is important to me. We can choose to value or choose not to value things. If valuing something…if valuing someone means you have to validate them are you ok with that? If it is something or someone you really care about, it is never a problem. I value things. I value people. If I declare your value, you will know. I do my best to nurture those things which are dear to me.

We are all worth something. I am worth something. Unfortunately, we may be worth more to some than others no matter what we do…still, I declare that my worth outweighs my worthlessness. I am worthy of love and the exploration of feelings. Yes…I am. I am special and deserve respect. I take work, but in the end, I am worth that work. I want to be cared for because I am not valueless.