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The absolutely best thing about this page is that almost nobody but me ever reads it or sees any use for it.
ThEdBlog9 spelled & pronounced "Thed Blog" but in red and black and gray with no spaces.
Intimate Stories + Odd-duck Photographs by J R Compton
This is where I work out my demons. So much easier here,
because nearly nobody reads it, so I can say anything…
When if first thought I might have Alzheimer's, I got out my dragons. I'd had most of them in my closet for a couple years. I'd let them hide in the dark cave of my closet for as long as it took. Some few special ones stayed out for anyone to see, if they wanted or needed to. But nearly nobody perused them.
Probably most people thought they were a little strange. For years, I wanted to believe in Feng Shui, but like everything else there is to believe in, I took some and left the rest. In churches, while I was still a young Catholic, I enjoyed the architecture or the windows. I still love stained-glass. I've always wanted one of a dragon for the apex of my house to turn on for parties, so my house would be easier to find beyond the forest that is my front yard.
For many years, I collected dragons. I liked their transcendence out of the ordinary into the extraordinary. They were mythical beasts and I, generally, am ordinary. They were totems, but I liked many different sorts of dragons. I have only one painting of a dragon — and that one by Arleigh Stark is its own special kind of magic. I have many clay and stone and plastic and wood and paper dragons.
I have one stainless steel dragon that was a lighter. A real fire-breathing dragon, although I have not lighted it in many years. It was the symbol for The Dragon Show my friend Margie and I curated at the downtown public library in 1988, a Year of The Dragon.
Perhaps when I brought my dragons out to fight off my Alzheimer's or its threat, I should have lit that stainless steel dragon. I got it because a dear friend saw it somewhere, knew instantly that I would love it, gifted it to me, and I have always loved it.
Just having them out and in plain sight once again felt good soon as I freed them. I don't do incantations, I light candles and think positive thoughts. But I didn't even light any candles. I just let my dragons out, and I believe in them the same way I believe in feathers.
I got into birding after being into feathers for many decades. I always knew feathers were magic. I still do. I pick them up when I find them at the lake. Even though I knew that, very often, a bird died to leave this feather.
Magic is life and death and revivification. So are dragons.
When I told people at the VA I thought I might have Alzheimer's, they tested my thinking and told me I do not have it, and that my mind works like most other people's minds work. Which was a relief. Then they told me, however, that I am on the Autism Spectrum, which just feels right. My IQ is still just where it's always been, right on the solid sharp edge of genius. But I'm lousy with meeting new people.
Flying Hands Out The Slider
After my recent story [below] about me starting to believe I might be heading toward Alzheimer's, I had me tested — special thanks to Nurse George in the Dallas VA's Diabetes Department, who, when I told her that I thought I might be getting senile, said I only thought I was. So she set up a neuropsychological evaluation — and the diagnosis, after the test a couple weeks later, was: "No neurocognitive disorder." I hadn't quite lost faith, but it had been quavering.
My Language, Attention, Visuospatial, Processing Speed, Memory (learning, storage and retrieval) and Executive Functioning are like most people tested with the test I took, according to the test result's bell curve. Those tests did not grade my intelligence (IQ), just how my mind works. And the test-givers' conclusion was that my mind works normally. Like most people.
The first thing my doctor told me was that I do not have dementia. That was a major relief, and I am very happy with the diagnosis, although I still have plenty issues I can and shall deal with.
The tech didn't like the word "tests," preferring to call them "assessments." I think they were probably both; I took the tests; and they made the assessments. First, he briefly showed me some pictures (line drawings), then he hid the pictures and asked me to draw what I had seen. Sounds easy, and the easier ones were. Later, more complex ones with doubled and gridded drawings were much more difficult. I kept wondering how anyone could keep all those lines and figures in mind, then duplicate them. I could not, but I bet many artists used to drawing or sketching from life or from memory could.
Then he told me stories, instructing me to, when he finished, tell him all I could remember. I thought I failed that one miserably, because I remembered so little. Then he read the same story again, and I remembered a few more details, but not many. Later, he read two different lists of things involving in several categories. I thought that should make it easier, but I couldn't even remember all the categories. While I was stuttering around not remembering, I wondered how one could keep all those things in mind, while I gracelessly did not.
There were more accessible opportunities, most of which I have since forgot. That may be a blessing.
According to what I've since learned on the Internet, the aspects the assessments addressed, included:
Language - I usually do especially well with word tests, because — like many writers — I have an unusually large vocabulary. But these tests tested how my mind works, and the testers' conclusion was that my mind worked normally.
Attention - According to Neuropsychological assessment of attention and executive functioning by Melissa Lamar and Amir Raz, "attention is one of the oldest issues in cognitive neuropsychology; its role in assessment is equally as historic and remains integral to the successful evaluation of a presenting patient. Attention is the process of selecting for active processing specific aspects of the physical environment (e.g. objects) or ideas stored in memory (Raz, 2004). Originally, attention was thought of as a unitary concept akin to a filter (Broadbent, 1958) or a spotlight (Shalev & Algom, 2000). More recent theories suggest that attention is a system of disparate networks including alerting, orienting and selection (Fan et al, 2002)."
from Visuospatial Construction on PMC (US National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health
Visuospatial - was the most fun of all the tests, and it involved duplicating printed two-dimensional patterns printed on paper with three-dimensional DAS Cubes (illustrated above in black & white, although the cubes used were in red and black on white). I found myself racing to complete each duplication in the tops of the three-dimensional cubes with the patterns printed on the test sheet. I liked the tactile feel of the cubes and the fact that they were fully three-dimensional, so I could turn and flip the patterns to fit the printout on on my desk.
Processing Speed - I'm not sure how this test was executed, but many aspects of the several-hours-long test were carefully timed and noted. I watched with great interest, but I was kept very busy responding to the technician's many questions.
Memory (learning, storage and retrieval) - The technician read two lists of words. He read the first list — of several categories of words, including animals, furniture and oh, something else I never quite paid enough attention to, so I don't remember) once, then again, then several more times again later, sometimes interspersing those lists with another list. Then he read me a long series of true/false questions about the words in the lists, which words were included in which list and what categories were listed.
I was often baffled by those lists, and I thought I was retaining very few of the words from the lists. But I was wrong. I did, as the doctor later explained to me, "about as well as everyone else who has taken the test." I'd wanted to ace it, but by being about as good as everyone else, I did.
Executive Functioning - I have often heard there is no test for Alzheimer's or neurocognitive disorder, but this certainly was one. And it took a very intelligent technician several hours to administer — and me to plow through it. I found it fascinating, and though I thought I had not done well at it, I was told that I had actually done well. As well as most of the people who have taken the test.
Of course, I always want to do better, and although I have long been overly proud of my IQ (intelligence quotient) rating, I used to know a guy with an IQ of 160 who put me to shame in theoretical knowledge and retention thereof, but he had even more trouble dealing with life's little vicissitudes than I do, although I haven't seen him for decades. So I don't know how well his life turned out. Probably about as well as average.
I have enjoyed most aspects of my life. Overall, I am happy. Or happy enough.
Some of the Tests Commonly Used - Neuropsychological Examination
According to Wikipedia, Executive functions are an umbrella term for a various cognitive processes and sub-processes. The executive functions include: problem solving, planning, organizational skills, selective attention, inhibitory control and some aspects of short term memory.
In my research for this story, I found an article from the Journal of Experimental Psychology from 2001 called How Are Visuospatial Working Memory, Executive Functioning, and Spatial Abilities Related? A Latent-Vriable Analysis.
Two other online pages I found helpful specifically relate to children in school, but by substituting me for the whatever-aged kids, I recognized many symptoms in my life, as well. On cbirt (The Center on Brain Injury Research & Training)'s School-Based Assessment of Executive Functions and the Child Mind Institute's How Do I Know if My Child Has Executive Function Issues?
The two sources of online information I found to be most useful in a preliminary study of this testing were from the UNC (University of North Carolina?) page called Neuropsychological Evaluation FAQ and the much closer to home, local UT Southwestern Medical Center's Mental Health (Psychiatry) page on Neuropsychology.
Overall, taking the various tests was fascinating, and like I keep saying, I did about as well as the average bears who also took it.
prayer flags behind blinds
My mother wanted to know whether I thought people should be happy. That was easy. Sometimes, yes, of course. But not always. If we were always happy, it'd be boring. I like different much more than I need to be happy all the time. I do a pretty good mad. Some people are or were afraid of me, almost always without reason IMHO. But I have kept grudges going long past when I knew I should drop them, and I fully believe that making other people unhappy for selfish reasons is just plain wrong.
But I'm human. I do stupid things and only sometimes learn from them. We all do those things and many of us don't learn what we've done or how or why. We don't ask ourselves those questions.
It's certainly not happy-making but it's not unreal. I like to be honest. In the past I sometimes thought that meant I should be brutally honest. Not anymore. Brutal is always selfish and usually stupid. If I catch myself at it, I stop. But I'm human.
That's the rub. Catching ourselves is difficult, especially when we've made a habit, whatever it may be. My brother told me recently that I "always say what we (meaning the rest of my siblings) later wish we'd said." I felt honored, then I cringed. I have made a habit of saying as directly as I can what comes not first to mind, but second. After brief attenuation. I've always thought I thought pretty fast. So I can get angry, slow the heat a couple hundred degrees, see more sides, then say what I think needs saying.
I have practised not blocking my notions, just letting myself spew. But I cannot — and should not spew automatically or all the time.
I have to enjoy pleasant spells between spews. Days, weeks, months, years, even decades sometimes, while I wonder what I meant by that. Or what should I have said. If we are truly meant not to be happy all the time, as I believe, and my mother agrees, perhaps a little more honesty would be good.
When I don't like some thing or some treatment of others or me, I let someone know. Not always the person who could do something about it. Not that I always know who that is or was. But I like to keep it as directly honest as I can manage. Sometimes that's appreciated. Sometimes not. I understand.
Shoes, Pants, Rug
I have incipient Alzheimer's. All my accumulated forgettings I passed off as having lasted most of my life (true) are still there staring at me and wondering who we all are and where we belong. I had assumed that since both my father and my mother had and have it, respectively, I'd get it, too. But since both my parents' parents died in their sixties, and Mom's 95 and Dad was 101, I assumed I'd last till my 110s or so, but perhaps not cogently.
I do still think. Some of my thoughts are intelligent. I have always tended towards the snotty (Though not snooty; it has been sorta a secret.) about having an oft-tested IQ of 130, right over the edge of genius, and I think that shows best in my words sometimes and my photography. So I keep writing about art and photographing it, birds and everything else. Some people seem to share my opinion. Others simply assume I have always been the dolt I probably will become.
I have watched friends sink into this unenviable malady. It's not so bad at first, but it seems inevitably to slow to near a stop, then trip over the edge into nothingness. I used to believe I'd want to suicide, like ten or more of my dear friends have, over the years, for much less provocation. But I like life as I know it, and knowing it will change fascinates me, but there will come a time when the fascination turns to utter insipidity.
Fifty years ago in college my girlfriend, later wife, long ex — as others have since — whispered who this or that approaching us at parties and social events was and gave a little context so I could converse intelligently. More recently, I developed the notion that I had name- and face-blindness. That just having known someone's name or identify did not always mean I would continue to know either for long. I probably now recognize about three, maybe five dozen people whom I consider friends I might invite to a party, but I still appreciate those whispers some friends know to provide. Some friends talk, others just hug, and both are greatly appreciated.
If I see someone often, like my birding friends, I recognize them and actually use their names when we talk. Same with old art friends. Old as in long-term. Old, too, in age, and some of the older ones show the added joy of knowing what it's like to not remember all the details.
I've been thinking of getting letters to stick on my black T-shirt uniform to the effect that, "If I repeat myself, tell me." So you all don't have to endure the repeats, or run screaming.
I still drive most days, but I assume that will slow and stop. A lot of what I do will. At least twice a week someone calls or writes asking me to sell them The Slider (my precious Prius) for less than I think it is worth. And even more people want to buy my house, which I paid off by working so constantly during four years and three months in the early Eighties that I rarely recognize 80s music. It is still a fixer-upper, but my heirs will get both.
Everything is becoming more difficult. The complexity of posting pages of pictures and words to the Internet has always seemed complex but not entirely impossible, though it's tending toward more of both lately — and that's what I do.
I have not been officially diagnosed. This is conjecture. Getting an appointment at the VA is slow and surly. At my last appointment with my civilian doctor, he tricked me into letting him charge my insurance company $2,700 for useless blood tests that the VA had already done, by telling me I needed a physical exam, which he did not do. So I'm reticent to bother him.
But even I can see some signs. Then I got tested, and after the test, the psychologist gave me an official diagnosis. See story above.
Knuckles, Mirror, Feathers, Dashboard at The Latino Culture Center
ISO 800 1/1,000 at f9 5:14:25 PM, January 13, 2016
My Art Ennui lasted longer this time than ever before, I think. I don't really keep track of them. I'm 71 years young, and I keep thinking I should play more and work less, but it's so difficult to tell the difference between those two sometimes.
This photograph was taken after looking for art at an art center that didn't have an exhibition when I was there, but I found a photo-worthy reality I thought worth taking another photograph of, then when I got outside and into The Slider, saw the sun shining through my feathers, and just had to make another photograph. Probably why I carry a camera so often, even if I was hoping to take pix of art. Except, of course, this is art.
The feathers are getting a little raggedy.
I keep promising myself I'll review some local art, then when it comes right down to doing it, I don't.
Instead, I do an end-around and write about an event that prominently shows art, but in a different setting. The first of the series, although I may remember others, was the estate sale of prominent teacher and painter Ann Cushing Gantz. That worked out so well, that when I was notified there'd be an estate sale for popular Dallas artist David McManaway, I knew just what to do and say to pitch it to the people in charge.
The most recent … found myself on a new path of writing about art that I like. Just that I haven't initiated any of them. Which may be the best thing about it. Oddly true also is that my friend Debora Hunter has provided the impetus twice in a row of the few episodes I have so far engaged in this off-topic pursuit of art in people's lives and deaths.
First tip I got was that the late Dallas Artist David McManaway, who died some time ago, would be the subject of an estate sale everybody was invited to. I put the notice on the cover of the DallasArtsRevue that used to be the number one seen page on this site. It may still be. I'm just opposed to doing things simply because people like to read it. I'm more interested in one I'm more interested in doing.
And lately, that's been to find non-official art events, places, ideas, etc. that artists, like everybody else, get involved with.
The ThedBlog Index of all things Thed & Blog
Thed Blog #9
Thed Blog #8 [from the top] - An obituary for my friend Margie | My 48-hour EEG results | The Sleeping Man, a photograph in a show | uncommunicative communications | My knack for words | Photography as a Potential Art Form | Me whining about nobody reading my reviews (but they do) and me compensating by writing How to Photograph Art | a story that had got stuck in my craw until I wrote it out | I am swimming again (and, in fact, I am again in September 2012 | Something about a white chair | Reconnoitering downtown | Thinking in a lens' focal length | Somebody wanting a studio visit for a show I didn't want to be in | detonating confidence or some such | telling stories | how much longer can I keep up all these ruses? | some indeterminate story under a pile of apples and a plum, peppers and a pear | writing a story | the flurry of writing | calming the f down | invitations to art shows by artists who won't show me any of their art | something confusing under a chameleon on the orange door in my office that is turning orange | Other People's Stories | entering competitions — I think I say I was gonna, but I haven't, but maybe it's about something else. I don't know. I suppose I'd have to read it to find out what it is about | writing about something, anything | How much is art worth? | Am I being vague enough yet? | me whining about AT&T, Times Wormer and other "communications" entities | started off with printers, then wound through cameras | On Traveling Alone and Free | more whining about webhosts | The DallasArtsRevue logo | What is a vacation? | Stoney Burns | my mother's 90th birthday | blah-blah-blah art stuff | Self-Promo | Clicking pictures all the way. | Me being dismayed and perplexed (again) | Me in the unusual status of holding my tongue | There are times when I can actually make a semblance of sense about some art | Me not being ready to release those notions | some success | I'm learning again that if I don't write down the first head-long rush of feelings and opinion from a night or day of art, they get lost in the miasmas | winter | feeling all superior and other odd journeys | transferring data | little reminders | what I didn't do for a year | fresh flowers | process | drying clothes without a clothes dryer | inevitabilities | losing pictures and my mind | putting my office back together again | slowing and stopping | Life As I Know It | a party | on photographic composition | I knew it when I did it, and I did it anyway. | An plagiarizer who wanted to steal money from a nonprofit fund to pay her debt | cleaning up the ACC | visual memories in my new office | rearranging idiot histories | The real trick with websites is to keep updating pages. | Why anyone would want my advice is baffling. | I just re-registered www.DallasArtsRevue.com for twenty more years | my new office | the empty space that was and will be my new office | The Sky Is Falling! | Blood on the Bathroom Floor | no telling what this one is about. Surely I don't have to read it again, right? | Ooo! Yum! Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill Cockroaches | My new right foot | Right now, the whole world is slurring around me. | Copyright and Copy Wrongs | too many juggler thingies in the air at once | Starting a new thed blog
ThEdBlog #7 - Henderson Art Project winners strung down Henderson Avenue in East Dallas from Ross Avenue to Central Expressway | Hecho en Dallas at the Latino Culture Center | Sarah Williams - Outskirts and others at 500X | Corazon at the Bath House, Dallas' only Community Art Center where budding and pro artists alike can show their work — until the City in its infinite stupidity closes them down, because all they have money for is more concrete, not the arts or anything that might serve the community | Modern Ruin at an new bank building that was never a bank building but for three and a half days was a very interesting exhibition of rather strange art by some of Dallas' best artists | The Dallas Art Fair downtown with art from everywhere and here, too | And the grand opening of The Dallas Contemporary with art by an LA artist who put airplane wrecks in their hangar-like space
ThEdblog #6 - Concludes with a list of the most popular pages on DallasArtsRevue in July 2009, and a couple other statistics | on being famous | trying to get how to submit information to this site to people who submit information to our calendar | my neighbors | "friends" who want to use my photographs in their photography book, but they don't want to credit my photos | how Ken's and my story, Witness to an Apparition got collaborated | images that stick in my mind | the difficulties of entering digital-entry competitive exhibitions | On confusing ThEdblogs with Art Here Latelys | what's worth seeing in Art in America | idiot Facebook | my bird photography as art | hit counters | sometimes I'm certain I am an artist — other times I wonder | scaring myself with my art | choosing your art to show | engagement book vs. artists | stealing DARts page for self-aggrandizement | explaining about critiques and not critiquing | the Missing page | hit counters | the calendar | site stats |
ThEdblog #5 - Starts with a disorienting blank (gray) image, which stands for the half terabyte of data, images, letters and everything else I lost that week, and other stories, including: Not the DO's art critic (I blogged while they blithered) and my unDO stories — as un Dallas Observer
ThEdblog #4 - It's almost not fair | plagiarizing art | se finis | Kim Cadmus Owens | Pix2 at UTD,
ThEdblog #3 - Crit Loose | strange interview| Valley Birds | up | denoue | panic | reindeer games | damn | prince | Fierce | pro | prints | that word | fierce | numbers | dawn | arghhh | fri | locating links | making the Pelican Feather Amulet for The MAC's ornament sale | who knows what else
The Second ThEd - the Fort Worth Art Dealers Association's tour just before the DADA art tour. If I'd had an Art Here Lately page then, this page would have been there, but it's here instead.
Curate | Revisionism | Offline | Hecho | Talk
II | ViDemise
| In us | nearly all the mastheads this site has employed for identification
and navigation over this century | art movies
| illustrations | CSS | Public
Speaking | In The News | Wild | A
Gathering of Dallas Artists | Join | Dorks | 3
Concepts | Pix2 | Spam | iNTRO
an earlier attempt
I used to illustrate these abstruse and personal issues with images by anybody I had art by. Now I restrict the imagery to my own photographs with some of Anna's who's usually there. Seems more personal that way.
since Sept 12 2012