Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nick Cave: a Master of Illusion

In one of the most creative segments of the News Hour on PBS is the work of Chicago artist Nick Cave. He has always been fascinated with items that have been cast off by others. He assembles thrift-store finds into life-size creations, which he calls "Soundsuits."
“Part sculpture, part costume, Cave's Soundsuits have been exhibited in major museums throughout the world but have also been worn by dancers who perform in them on stage and in the streets. Cave says the idea is to meld sculpture with dance to create a living, breathing canvas.” Many of his soundsuits use fake fur and raffia to create whimsical characters.
“Cave also often works with high school students. He recently conducted a workshop at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill. Cave provided the costumes; the students devised the choreography.”
His work is brilliant; the fluid flow of the actors in the costumes undulates and fascinate. His “horses” gyrate, the dancers on pogo sticks surge up, down, and sideways. You really have to see his work in order to believe in his “magic.”

Truly a dance step apart.

More Rain More Green

Our backyard has really come alive with the rain and dispite the cold.

Reporting Streetlight Outages

  There have been several reports in the Morning Sun Sound Off column of Mt. Pleasant streetlights being burned out.
  If you notice such a light, or one that is flickering, or on during the day you can contact Consumers Energy. Visit www.consumersenergy.com. Click on “Your Home” and select “Outage Center” on the left side of the page. Then click “Streetlight Outages” to fill in the report form. Describe the problem, the two closest cross streets from the outage, business or building names if possible, and the side of the street (north, south, east, or west). It can take several days to fix the problem.
  If the streetlight is a decorative one such as those along Main Street and downtown, report the outage to Downtown Development Director Michelle Sponseller at 779-5348, or email details to www.downtown@mt-pleasant.org. For more information contact Public Works at  779-5401.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shadows on the Wall

During a recent afternoon, sunlight reflected on a wall. I shot a photo and played with it as the light played with the wall.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Curious Happenings in the Life of a Chipmunk

Yesterday morning I observed a curious behavior of Willow, our chipmunk down below the family room, a crawl space she considers her palace. The day was bright and so was Willow. Brisk as a bee, she made a number of runs to the ground feeder, stuffing her mouth until her cheeks nearly burst with her greed. When she thought she had had enough, she hopped to the edge of the water pan, her darting tongue making ripples across the otherwise smooth surface. I have no idea how she does this with her cheeks so full. She deposited the seeds in the Palace and returned to its gate.

  Now it was time for her toilette. She sat on her haunches and, like a cat, licked her paws and rubbed them over her head, ears, and face. She nibbled loose debris from her legs and sides, scattering granules of this or that in every direction.

  Then she did the most curious thing. There are patches of moss at the edge of the sidewalk beyond the family room. She used her sharp teeth to slice open a section just a bit longer than her body. She lifted the edge of the moss, and slide beneath it, like into a blanket, or rather like a towel. She rubbed her body against the underside of the moss, which was free of dirt. She continued this exercise for the time it took to work her fur completely. Then she hopped over to the gate of the Palace, and dove out of sight.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Breaks Applications Record

It’s official. A record total of 15,201 high school students have filed applications to attend Rensselaer this fall, according to numbers released by the Office of Admissions. This year’s total represents a growth of more than 4 percent since last year at this time, and a 172 percent increase since 2005.

“For seven consecutive years, Rensselaer has set records for freshman applications. Since 2005, applications have grown by 172 percent,” said Paul Marthers, vice president for enrollment and dean of undergraduate and graduate admissions. “It is exciting to see that our around-the-globe outreach efforts have translated into unprecedented levels of popularity among prospective students.”
Marthers noted that for the second consecutive year, the average SAT critical reading and math score for the admitted group is 1400.

The 2012 applicant pool also represents a continued expansion of the national and international profile of the student body, as well as a significant increase in applications from women, underrepresented minority students, international students, and Rensselaer “legacies”—students with relatives who attended the university.

In addition, the group includes students who have been nominated for the Rensselaer Medal, a scholarship awarded to the top math and science students at almost 3,000 high schools around the world.

According to the Office of Admissions, this year’s overall increase in applications was also driven by greater numbers of students visiting campus, a higher conversion rate from the inquiry to the application stage, and new student life programs designed to enhance the overall student and educational experience.

“Rensselaer also continues to register growing interest in new areas of an expanding curriculum—such as cognitive science; design, innovation, and society; sustainability studies; and the new concentrations in management—beyond the Institute’s traditional strength in engineering,” Marthers said. “Here on campus, we know that Rensselaer has historically been a top producer of future leaders and innovators, so it is very encouraging to see external evidence that more and more students value the high-quality academic and co-curricular programs that we offer.”

Rensselaer will host its annual Accepted Student Celebration event on April 14.

Republican War on Women

House Republicans are pursuing the most comprehensive and radical assault on women’s health and reproductive freedom in our lifetime. Over just the last year, Republicans in Congress have voted repeatedly to limit women’s access to health care and reproductive services.

They voted to redefine rape in order to limit women’s access to health care. They held a panel on denying access to birth control coverage with five men and no women. They voted to give corporations the power to deny women access to contraception. And last year, they nearly shut down the government in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.

As you know, Planned Parenthood is a critical provider of preventive services to millions of women in need of health care, including cancer screening, breast exams and HIV testing. Mitt Romney has already said, “Planned Parenthood, we're gonna get rid of that.”

On the state level, numerous Republican governors have already forced through radical anti-women legislation.

We cannot back down in this fight. We must stand strong for women’s health. Will you join us?


Thank you,


Kelly Ward
DCCC Political Director

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Editorial Board Meets with Senator Levin

The members of the Morning Sun Editorial Board met with Senator Carl Levin this afternoon from 2 to 3 pm.

The senator discussed the impact of the recession on Michigan, emphasizing the importance of saving the auto industry. While there has been job growth, banks need to inject funds more easily, particularly to small businesses.

He reminded us that the recession was much deeper than those of the recent past and so employment will take time, and those not working should continue to receive help while retraining to become more marketable.

When asked about Afghanistan, the senator indicated that the Afghans hate the Taliban, and want to defeat them. NATO should help their military to take on the burden of becoming a freer society. Al Qaida should not be allowed to re-group in that area of the world.

He believes that Iran is a much greater security threat than North Korea. Economic sanctions have hurt the average Iranian: fewer goods cost more at every level. The country must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, because they would threaten the entire Middle East, and nuclear materials could end up in the hands of terrorists.

On Universal Healthcare, he pointed out the existing benefits: insurance companies cannot deny coverage for preexisting conditions and cannot drop coverage when people get sick. Many parents want their children covered under their policies until age 26, because they cannot find work. Demands on emergency rooms have decreased because more people have coverage with doctors.

He made a point that reducing the deficit is crucial. Presidents Reagan, George Bush, Clinton, and G.W. Bush all increased government income as well as decrease spending during recessions. The Republican budget devised by Rep. Paul Ryan makes little or no effort to provide additional revenues.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teacher Retirement at Risk

I received the following information this afternoon:

I spent this afternoon at a retired teacher meeting in Farmington.  Frightening!  A colleague and I usually go to these meetings once a month mostly because we get information about what is going on in Lansing.   If you are a retired teacher or public school employee, currently a teacher or public school employee or a believer in public education, you need to be aware of this latest bill in committee.   In the last year and a half the current government has already started to destroy collective bargaining units and changed the rules of our current retirement pension. This bill will cut even more!

If this bill passes, current retires will pay double their current health care costs immediately!  This is just the beginning of health care issues.  Current pensions and the future pensions of current teachers are in jeopardy.   If the current government gets their way, teachers will have to retire after 30 years in the profession or be penalized for staying longer.   If you graduate from college at age 22 and work 30 years, what kind of job will be available to you at age 52?  Read this bill!

Many of the retirees at this meeting today were unaware of this bill.  PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS TO LET THEM KNOW YOU OPPOSE THIS BILL!  Frank, (the retiree who reports this kind of information at our meetings) said that he was told by a Republican Senator that only ONE PERCENT of the people that this will affect will contact anyone in Lansing.  ONE %!!!  The Senator said that when that comes to votes that is nothing so they pretty much ignore the one percent and figure others will still vote for them.  YOUR CALLS, EMAILS and LETTERS MATTER!!!!


 When I went into education I knew I would never be making a six digit figure salary.  I did know (or thought I knew) that I would have a pension and health care when I retired.  Now that I've been retired less than 2 years, the rules have changed and continue to change.  After paying into the pension plan for 36 years there is a chance I may be left with nothing.  This hits every public school employee!  Make yourself aware and be heard!!!

I'm sending this to some of you who no longer live in Michigan but are still receiving your pension. You need to be informed as well.

Please send this to your public school employee friends.  Thank you.

Upset and stressed in Michigan,


Last Opera of the Season at Celebration

  Hi, on Saturday, April 14 at 12:55 p.m. at Celebration Cinema, we will see our last opera of the 2011-12 season.  Willy Decker's highly acclaimed production of La Traviata was premiered on New Year's Eve 2010 and returns for a second season with Natalie Dessay as Violetta, Matthew Polenzani as Alfredo, her lover, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Alfredo's father who interferes with their love.  Fabio Luisi, the new Principal Conductor, will be conducting this opera. 

  Lest you get depressed at the prospect of this being the last opera, I thought I'll have you look forward instead to the next season when we will be seeing 12 operas, 5 of which will be new productions and 2 will be Met premieres.  Since a printable or downloadable line-up was not yet available, I copied the listing from the Met's website for your perusal.  Starting times and duration will have to be added later when they become available.  But for now you can pencil in the entire season in your calendars and plan your trips around them (as some of us do!).  Enjoy the attachment.  See you Saturday. 

Gisela Moffit

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Water Witch and the Wanna Bee

  Catnip Nevermoon, the Water Witch swirled the liquid of the whirlpool with her extended hand. Faster and faster the liquid wall spun, the downward funnel echoing a fearsome howl. The witch had never been to the bottom of the terrible void and believed it went on forever.

   You and I know that couldn’t be true, because if it were, the seas would have drained dry a week ago last Thursday. A maelstrom is caused by the swirling currents of the ocean colliding with a rocky, jagged shore, so the witch’s work was mostly done by the elements. Nonetheless, this was her duty to keep the pitch at peak with the brush of her hand, her voice at the pitch of the angry sea; she did it with zeal, and a fine sense of accomplishment.

   In her youth, a thousand years ago, she must have been attractive, in a witchy way. Her hair had been auburn then. Now, tangled with kelp and gulfweed, it was the color of rust and yesterday’s tea. Beneath the scaly sheath of crystal brine on her cheeks, there may have been smoothness centuries ago. Her eyes, though, were still clear and sharp, two radiant sapphires missing nothing.

   She was particularly pleased whenever a careless sailor steered his ship too closetoo close to the lip of the underwater tornado. The sailor, his ship, and all who were on her began to spiral, slowly at first, but as the witch increased the movement of her hand, ever faster. Then, at the crest of the terrifying tube, the ship would flip sideways and plunge out of sight, flotsam, jetsam, hull and all.

   One fine day (it was a Friday afternoon, and almost time for a coffee break), the Water Witch became bored and slowed her hand just a bit. Far off she heard a faded, fretful cry, “Hellup!” She pulled her head away from her work and saw a small raft of reeds heading in her direction.

   At first she thought it was far away, but as she focused her crystal eyes, she realized it was quite near and very small, just a few twigs bound together. Sitting in its middle was a tiny creature clutching a few belongings, and very frightened. To get a better look she swept it up with her dripping hand and held it close to her face. “What have we here?” she mused to herself, not expecting a reply.

   A small shivery voice responded, “I am ME. I was over there,” the creature nodded to the west, “and I wanna be over there,” it now nodded to the east.

   “Well,” the astonished witch replied, “I don’t know what kind of creature you are, but you seem spirited enough. What was over there,” she nodded to the west, “and what is over there?” Here she waved her hand, still holding the raft, to the east.

   The poor passenger almost pitched off the raft, but the witch stopped when she realized what she had almost done. She peered even closer at this strange little being. “I may just toss you into the vortex, unless you can convince me not to,” the witch said sternly to the tiny occupant of the now-tangled raft.

   “Go ahead. Everyone else hates me. I’m a bee, you see, and the rest my family flew away without me. I tried to do my job: I was in charge of the Queen’s comb, but the others swarmed all over me to get it. I was allergic to the thing, too. It gave me hives. I went down on my knees to please the Queen. ‘Honey,’ she said, ‘I hear the buzz that you are never busy enough.’ I am sorry to drone on so, but my story can sting, it’s so sad.”

   “That did it,” roared the Water Witch, picking the wretched thing up by the thorax, “I don’t bee leave half of this. You are leaving for the east, because you are a wanna bee.” She flicked the insect high in the air.

   Shaking out its tousled wings it aimed toward the sunrise, and never bothered Catnip Nevermoon again.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reception for Carole Howard

Art Reach is proud to host an exhibition of the paintings  of Carole Howard in our Gallery from now through April 30. Her professional career has included 6 years in public school teaching in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor and 20 in the Physical Education Department at CMU. During those years she raised 6 children and took as many art classes as time allowed. After the last child went to college she took up painting as a serious discipline, focusing mainly on watercolor but experimenting with acrylic, collage, and other water-media. To learn more advanced techniques, which resulted in many successful paintings, Carole has studied with Zoltan Szabo, Helga Flower, Gordon McKenzie, Norma Gray, and Fran Larsen. She states, “I enjoy the magic of watercolor with its’ constant ever-changing happy accidents. My favorite topics are landscapes done in both realistic and abstract. Humor, surprise, color, drama, and mystery are components of my work.” She has also volunteered her time for the Day With the Artists program, helped begin our Native American Art program in 1986, which celebrates the art of the Saginaw-Chippewa Tribe and served as a Docent for the program in area schools.
There was a fine reception in the Gallery for this fine artist on April 5, from 5-7 p.m.

Easter Daffodils

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why Humans Join Groups

In a recent issue of Newsweek (April 9, 2012, pages 43-48), Edward O. Wilson discusses the need for human beings to form and join groups. Wilson is a Harvard biologist and winner of more than 100 awards, including two Pulitzer prizes.

Some creatures, such as ants, bees, and some species of birds and fish instinctively work within their hives, flocks, and schools. It is crucial to their survival and often requires individuals to sacrifice themselves for the group welfare.

Mammals frequently live in herds and travel together from one location to another, depending on season and weather. Lions live in family prides, and wolves in packs to make hunting easier.

Primates have more complex relationships. The patterns of violence in young chimpanzees are quite similar to the behavior of young human males. They constantly vie for status in their gangs and make surprise attacks on rival troops. In Uganda’s Kibale National Park, John Mitani and his associates have recorded a ten-year old war between factions of chimps trying to gain territory and kill enemies. When a single male enemy is caught, he is bitten to death. If they encounter a single female, they will let her alone, but kill and eat an infant.

“Our bloody nature, it can now be argued in the context of modern biology, is ingrained because group-versus-group was a principal driving force that made us what we are. In prehistory, group selection lifted hominids to heights of solidarity, to genius, to enterprise. And to fear.”

There is a visceral pleasure in familiar fellowship. Many seek out membership in schools, teams, clubs, and political parties that seem to promise much to comrades who think and act in specific ways. The current political primary season provides daily episodes of us-against-them.

Yet humans have an advantage over other species: the ability to think and reason. Can we isolate the good and bad aspects of our behavior and that of the groups that solicit our membership? Do we understand not only the benefits, but the dangers of our and our organizations’ agenda?

Research shows that tribal aggressiveness may date back 6 million years when the lineage leading to modern chimpanzees and homo sapiens split. Thinking can trump the urges of fight-or-flight and approach-avoidance and lead to a thoughtful and productive life, with less stress and agitation.