What’s with clowns?

Frosty morn
Frosty morn

This is another picture that I took on a cold spring morning. Once again, it looked just as good in black and white as it did in color. The grass is starting to turn green now, so I have hopes for more colorful photos.

I’ll be submitting this picture to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. She will be posting it Wednesday in Australia (Tuesday here in the States). Check it out for some excellent pictures from around the world.

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I started to write a post on coulrophobia, a fear of clowns, but quickly realized that I had very little to say on the matter. Except, it is one of those things that I don’t understand because I have never experienced it. I started to do some Internet research but quickly became confused. For instance, the term coulrophobia has only been in use for a few decades. In fact a few people think that it was made up for the Internet. I saw one statement that said most young children don’t like clowns. When did that start? As far as I can remember, all kids liked clowns when I was young. Perhaps there were a few who didn’t, but I never met them.

Wikipedia, the reservoir of all current knowledge, led me to the term “uncanny valley,” which deals with people’s reactions to robots. More specifically, how lifelike a robot looks. And then I got lost, or bored, and didn’t go on with the reading.

I’ll admit that I want to know more about fear of clowns, but I don’t want to start reading technical papers on the subject. If anyone who experiences coulrophobia is reading this and wants to explain it from your point of view, please  fill out the form below and submit it. I will keep your information and comments confidential. If you want to share your comments, just comment as you normally would.

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Norm’s Reading Challenge, Update #2

Puddle in the field
Puddle in the field

I took this picture yesterday morning. The brightness of the sky reflected in the puddle caught my attention as I turned on to the county road. I don’t believe that the picture does reality justice. Or perhaps it was just my reality at the moment. Perhaps it was similar to a false epiphany; one that seems important at the time, but fades away as time passes.

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I’ve finished three more books in my 2015 Reading Challenge. That makes six of the seventeen. Here they are:

Theft of Swords
Theft of Swords

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan is the book I chose for the Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel category. This is Fantasy or Sword and Sorcery. It is the first of three books in a series. Each book contains two full stories. My first reaction, when reading the first few chapters, was that it was going to be a ripoff of Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser stories, but these characters are just similar on the surface. There appears to be more depth to Sullivan’s characters. But Fafhrd & The Gray Mouser are darned good characters to start with! I’ll be going back for the next book in this series, and probably the third as well since I’m a bit of a completest.

Band of Brothers
Band of Brothers

The next book is Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest by Stephen E. Ambrose. Yes, it is the book on a Historical Subject. You may have seen the mini-series based on the book that was on HBO a few years ago. I admit that I only watched the first episode. When I saw this book on sale late last year I bought it, but hadn’t found the time to read it. The Reading Challenge kind of forced me into opening the covers and reading. The book is quite readable, so I finished it in a week, and could probably have cut a couple of days off of that time if I had skipped doing other things. The bravery and tenacity of the soldiers is well documented and is praiseworthy. But I had trouble understanding how widespread looting by our soldiers could be excused as souvenir gathering. Rape, while not condoned, seemed to be treated as fortunes of war. Perhaps I misread those sections, but it bothered me.

Cry, The Beloved Country
Cry, The Beloved Country

The novel, Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton, is the third book in this update. It was first published in 1948, the year after my birth and fills the category of being published in the first decade of my life. I first read this novel in grad school a year or two after I was released from the Army. It was in a class on Twentieth Century Literature. I know we were reading it mainly because of the way it dealt with race relations in South Africa. The events in this novel take place a few years before Nelson Mandela went to prison, so there has been widespread change in that country since the publication.

This novel deals with much more than just race. It also deals with generational differences, differences between city and country, economics, the power of words (spoken and written), the feelings of parents and grandparents, and it is a quest novel. I’ve probably overlooked some other themes. Some of the writing is lyrical; so much so that you can’t break away from those sections even if you want to. When I finished the book I had to ask myself why it had been so long since I last read it. I won’t (read can’t) wait another forty years to read it again.

Sports, among other things

Two levels of tracks
Two levels of tracks

I took this picture from the parking lot of a restaurant/bar on the north side of Lafayette.

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I mentioned in an earlier post that around a week ago, I was going in for a checkup with my ophthalmologist. As I hoped, things were fine. The AMD was stable in my left eye, and my right eye had improved slightly. So it was a good day for me.

While I was sitting in the dimly lit area, waiting for my eyes to dilate, I overheard a college age man talking to a person who appeared to be his father. The younger person said that he was going to a concert in Nashville, Tennessee. It was going to be held at the Ryman Auditorium. He had never heard of it, but a friend told him it had something to do with Country Music. For those who live outside of the U.S., and for those few who know nothing about Country Music, the Ryman is the original home of the Grand Ole Opry. When I visited the Ryman’s website (http://ryman.com) I found out that it had been around long before the Opry came to town.

I stopped listening for a bit while I played Sudoku on my phone, waiting for the screen to blur from the eye dilation. When it did blur, I picked up on their conversation again. This time the young man was talking about a friend in school. He was saying that his friend was devoting his time to honing his skills so that he could become a professional ultimate Frisbee player. It was then that I realized that in the States, anything can be turned into a professional sport.

Frisbee, of course, but also hot dog eating. Who could imagine devising a professional sport where people stuff food into their mouth and keep a bucket for vomiting by their side? The sport has evolved from hot dogs to also having competitions for chicken wings and other foods.

On the other side of that equation is the professional cooking competitions. There are all kinds. You can find ribs, cakes, pies, steaks, and the list goes on. Some competitions are for individuals, and some are for teams. Our parents, often our mothers, used to cook to please their families. Now they can do it for money and to say that they are a better cook than their neighbors.

And then there is competitive fishing. My dad used to get real pleasure in going out on a lake in a rowboat (in later years he added a small motor) and leisurely tossing his line out and wait for the bobber to indicate when a fish had taken the bait. He enjoyed sitting out there, often with a friend or my sister, perhaps drinking a beer or two, and catching something that we could eat. Now people have their fancy boats with fancy gear in order to catch, and release, as many fish as they can in an allotted amount of time. They don’t even eat the fish, or give them to hungry people, for gosh sake! And this is considered sport.

What’s next? Professional bird watching? I dunno.