Archive for July, 2010

Searching For Truth, Beauty And Goodness

Posted in Discoveries, Thinking Patterns on July 26th, 2010 by Sandy – 11 Comments

The San Miguel de Allende film festival is going full bore and I attended the screening last night of The Most Dangerous Man In America, about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. An Oscar nominated documentary, it is screening in theatres across America and I strongly urge everyone to see it, because it raises the issues of the moral high ground, what we hope for in our government, and what we get. And are the same conditions repeating themselves with regard to Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran? The documentary is riveting and Daniel was present with his wife, Patricia, for a question and answer period afterwards.

As a brief refresher, Ellsberg, was a brilliant young Harvard trained Phd. working at the highest levels in the Johnson Administration planning the logistics and justification of the war in Vietnam.  He had been a Marine officer and had worked for the think tank, Rand Corporation, before and after his stint with the Pentagon.

Realizing that the American people had been lied to about the Viet Nam war and realizing the further impact on American lives he courageously took it upon himself to leak top secret information to the press. The entire episode helped set the stage for Nixon’s resigning and the war being brought to a close.  One can get a more complete summary in Wikipedia as mentioned earlier and further current activities of Daniel Ellsberg at his website.

Years ago I had had the good fortune to listen to Terence Mckenna discussing Plato’s summation that truth, beauty and goodness were one in the same. Terrence admitted that for him it was extremely difficult to know what truth and goodness were, but that his journeys on psychedelics had taken him to realms where he experienced extreme beauty and knew it to be so. James Joyce in his book, Portrait of An Artist had defined the highest form of beauty as “static art,” that condition which places us in a state of awe. In that state we are transfixed, and our minds are stilled, in effect becoming receptors, available for inspiration and or communication at our optimum levels. I have experienced that.

Last night in the question and answer period, Daniel stated that when he decided to tell the truth about what he knew, that moment empowered him with a rush of energizing and transformative energy. I flashed on Terrence’s comment that he had found the many layers of truth confounding.  With Daniel’s remark I had the epiphany that as elusive as truth may be, when we do embrace it, we are energized and  empowered. I felt that I have experienced that state also, but had not thought about it in this way.

So beauty in its highest form seems to arrest us and truth, when we can recognize it and embrace it, empowers us. Both of these are states that seem worth pursuing and achieving.

I have not yet had the “aha” experience of “goodness as it relates to this discussion. That is I have my ideas of what goodness is, but I have not yet as Robert A. Heinlein would have said, when he coined the word, “grokked” experienced it this way. I am as Terence might have said were he alive, still searching.

Practicing Intuition With Your Camera

Posted in Discoveries, Photography on July 24th, 2010 by Sandy – 5 Comments

I spent the last few days in Mexico City with a close friend from Oxford, England. We spent the time not only enjoying the sights but really practicing taking pictures with the idea of letting the picture come to us.

Fortunately Mark Powell, one of Mexico’s great street photographers was our mentor and I have taken classes from him. Mark points out that we take pictures for many different things. We may want to record a journey or family or a topical category such as architecture or flowers. As a street photographer Mark says that he looks for situations where the shot comes to him. It must be taken instantly as the transitory scene is never to appear again. It is a picture that makes you ask a question, and or reveals more than you expected to find there.

Like most everything we do, the left side of our brain rules the day. When we get ready to take a picture, we think it though, trying to get everything just right in the frame. If we are a tad better we begin to improve our composition and even become quite good at obtaining a beautifully art directed picture. But Mark urged us to begin to let the scene open to us. Not try to get the “correct” picture as much as intuitively let the situation prompt us. Shoot the picture and then see what you captured without realizing the full extent of what was there.  You can shoot on the fly while walking, maybe not even looking through the viewfinder or screen on the back of your digital. Yes, there will be a lot to discard,  but maybe there will be a gem. It is the photo that tells a story, and not one you conceived of. I had taken some photos before arriving and Mark was kind enough to critique them from this point of view.

I said to Mark that I have just written a book coming out shortly and I have proposed for conversation’s sake that instead of just ourselves living our lives in solitude, we have invisible partners making the journey with us. They have the benefit of other dimensions to draw from, and we have the physical form to express their ideas as well as ours in the material world. The goal is to improve the communication. Synchronicities, meaningful coincidences, are one way to do this. This photo exercise is another fun way. When you get an urge to take the photo, and get more than you thought you could, where did that come from? Perhaps it is another set of eyes on the same subject sending you the urge. Obviously I cannot prove this line of dialogue, but if the downside of this exercise is zero and the upside is all positive potential, why not as the Nike adds say, “Just Do It.”  As you begin to get more of these shots look for the extras that reinforce this.

I passed by this Corvette and took this shot because I was drawn to it. Mark commented that while it was technically good and it could be perfect for perhaps a stock photo it did not reveal a story, and It was a photo we will have all seen.

The next shot is a street scene taken on the fly. You see the woman approaching, almost as if she could be curious, and the man standing there, but there is not enough of her. You want more.

The next shots are more of what Mark is talking about. They are shots grabbed at the instant where the picture surprises you. This is another shot taken by just pointing the camera as I move by. It is a blessing of a man by another holding smoking incense in direct contrast to the odor coming from the portable toilets. Here is an example of what Mark calls the story coming to you. The next shot is another example of this kind of shot. It takes place at the Roswell, New Mexico, museum dedicated to the controversial alien space ship crash in 1947. This shot Mark liked for many reasons. He said it is not a shot you see from everyone’s camera. It was taken instantly and the element of the aliens above the group below is the central focus, but the lights at the top add another dimension as if they were spacecraft and the scene is natural showing the flow of life in a museum.  The final shot is one grabbed in traffic. It came and went instantly, but after it was captured the elements revealed themselves, the cloud color, the power or phone lines and the contrast of green. So get your point and shoot camera and as you go for a ride or walk see if pictures will come to you. You’ll have fun. I promise.

copyright©2010 Sandy Sims

copyright©2010 Sandy Sims

copyright©2010 Sandy Sims

Building A Frank Lloyd Wright House-Completion

Posted in Architecture on July 16th, 2010 by Sandy – 21 Comments

I have been writing about the process of building one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s last designs. A hemicycle, it was designed in 1954 for a Pennsylvania family but never realized. In 1992 construction started on the island of Hawaii and almost four years later it was finished. John Rattenbury, the supervising architect, said that the quality of work was “A plus.” My hat went off to all of the people who worked on it. It was a very special project. People gave their very best and it showed. During the course of construction we had several earthquakes in the five range on the Richter scale. After the home was completed, there was one biggie: it measured 6.9. The house had been built on compacted gravel so the entire structure moved as a unit. Earthquake damage is usually severe because structures are designed to take vertical loads and not horizontal stress. I was in this last earthquake taking a shower in a small cottage. It felt like King Kong had picked up the cottage and was shaking it for all it was worth. Seventeen seconds felt like seventeen years. read more »

The Creativity Crisis

Posted in Thinking Patterns on July 12th, 2010 by Sandy – 12 Comments

I started off blogging because I had an upcoming book and guidebook ( collaborated with Dr. Kerry Monick), and my advisors said that I needed to catch the wave of using the internet to get the word out. Selling as an idea,  is being replaced, courtesy of social media, by  actually finding people who are looking for what you have to say or offer. The internet has made this possible and one way to achieve this is by introducing one’s self through a blog. So here I am.

My upcoming book, How Frank Lloyd Wright Got Into My Head Under My Skin And Changed The Way I Think About Thinking, a Creative Blueprint for the 21st Century is about sharing the results of various thinking patterns at different states of consciousness over a long period of time and simply reporting my results. I am not an academic per se although I did spend seven years in the college and graduate school arena. A career in advertising led me into the field of creativity. One immediately thinks of creativity as the ability to come up with novel and breakthrough ideas. It is certainly that. But creativity from that perspective is the content. The prize is to also understand the context. Think of the context as a container and the content as what goes into it. You want both.

I have been looking for articles to include in my press kit and immediately ran into Newsweek’s fresh off the press (7/10/2010) article entitled “The Creativity Crisis.” authors, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, reveal that until 1990 creativity scores among kids in the U.S had been rising as measured on the Torrence Test. But since then the scores have been slowly trending downward and particularly among children in kindergarten through the sixth grade where it is the most serious. They go on to point out that the consequences are sweeping as the necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. To drive home the importance of all of this they point out that a recent IBM poll of 1,500 chief executive officers identified creativity as the No.1 leadership competency of the future. read more »

Building A Frank Lloyd Wright House-13th Post In A Series

Posted in Architecture, Uncategorized on July 4th, 2010 by Sandy – 4 Comments

In the last post we looked at the the master bedroom and bath. In this post I will show you the daughter’s bedroom and one of the boy’s bedrooms. The current owners turned one of the boy’s rooms into an office and added an additional bed to the other boy’s room. The daughter’s room looked out of the two story prow glass facing the seasonal stream. It also allowed one to look down over the railing to the living room below. There were shutters installed for privacy. The daughter’s room also had a private

half bath. As you can see in the room with two single beds, one of the glass windows is larger than the other two. That was the only change the county required to bring this design to current code. It is a fire escape to the berm. You will note that these were clerestory windows designed by Wright to provide privacy without  requiring curtains. A picture of the daughter’s half bath is also included here. When constructing the upper floor we were quite concerned about heat gain. But none occurred. We had installed exhaust fans. They were not necessary. The one glitch we did encounter was a squeaking in the second story floor. This was corrected by installing three quarter inch plywood on top of the existing floor before covering with carpet. You can see in these photos the brick which was left exposed.

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