Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cognitive Surplus in the 21st Century

Don't be boggled by the polysyllabic title, I haven't suddenly raised my IQ. It's just a very interesting little speech transcript about changing uses of our intellectual and creative free time. The shift from TV to internet is particularly telling, I think. This link was given me today in Second Life by Kamillah Hauptman, while we listened to a presentation by some Nokia representatives. Nokia is definitely trying to ride the "latest technology" wave, and showing a great deal of intelligence.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Taxi

Gordon's old warhorse, Taxi, left us for that battlefield in the sky last weekend. After fighting with Blogger for a few days, I finally managed to get his eulogy posted. I found some pictures on my computer, but I'm sure I have more somewhere.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


...or not. Weebles don't fall down, but my little Rhode Island Red hen Sophie does. Maybe she has an "inner ear" problem, because at least once a day (on average) she falls or is knocked over (by another chicken), rolls onto her back, and can't get up. The inability to get up from the toes-up thing is apparently a chicken thing. Like a turtle, once they're on their backs, they can't easily right themselves. This is handy to know if you ever need to immobilize a bunch of chickens for a few minutes. Of course, you have to catch them first.

Anyway, poor Sophie has had this problem for months. The other birds pick on her when she's down, so she hides from them. A lot. Which means it's sometimes hard to find her to check up on her. It also means that she's easy pickins' for a predator if she capsizes out in the pasture or the neighbor's yard, where they sometimes wander. I don't have their run completed, so they just free-range around the property.

I have to be away from home today, and didn't want to worry about her all day long, so I took a wire dog crate, took the tray/bottom out of it, and put it in the grass for an instant "chicken tractor" for her. Food, water, a stick jammed through for a perch, and some plywood over the perch for shade if she wants it. Perfect. She's in there eating her grain and scratching in the grass. Now I won't worry all day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Picking on Palin

Is it just me, or is there an inordinate amount of out-of-proportion hyperbole being directed at Sarah Palin? Keee-ryminey! The people who support her wax rhapsodic, and the people against her seem to have degenerated into sandbox tactics. Are folks here in the USA just bored and looking for something to get all het up about? Call me bland, but I find especially the irrational ire a tad embarrassing.

Mind you, my observations are purely from watching my Twitter feed, Facebook feeds, and various other internet sources like blogs. I don't watch TV or read the newspaper, and I listen to a radio station that eschews what passes for "news" in this country for actual informative and educational content, so I'm constantly out of the popular infotainment loop.

For example, there's an application on Facebook called "Pieces of Flair", which is basically a virtual bulletin board where you can pin little virtual buttons (like the ones pictured above). It's very easy to make your own custom buttons, and entering "Sarah Palin" in the search window reaped a boat load of options. Anyway, the majority of them seem to be anti-Palin, and 99% of those are mind-numbingly irate, spouting pithy slogans such as "Sarah Palin is vile!", "Palin hates women!", and the always erudite "I hate Sarah Palin!". On the pro-Sarah side of things, there's not much good to be found, either. Mostly just cut 'n pasted official campaign artwork, along with some gushy enthusiasm. Some of the buttons are suspicious. Is something saying "Vote for McCain...because Sarah Palin is HOT!" supposed to be enthusiastic or ironic? If I were Palin, I'd have to quote one of my favorite lines in one of my favorite movies, The Abyss: "Stay off my side, ok?" My personal favorite is one depicting Palin as "Rosie the Riveter", from the famous WW2 poster. It shows determination of the common person, and I think we need more of that in government. Whether or not Sarah truly embodies this sentiment is not something I can answer. We'll see how things pan out.

Update: I was just fooling around on the TizMe site making a little avatar of myself. The options, as per usual on these things, really don't offer me many choices that have anything to do with how I dress my hair or the kinds of clothes I wear, so I really have to fudge a lot. This time the end result was cute...but I think I just turned myself into Sarah Palin. With a cat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's Pants!

What can I add to this? Except to say that it kind of sums up my experiences teaching English in Japan many years ago. Yes, it can be that surreal. Japan as a whole can be that surreal.

For instance, this photo (also from the same guy's blog) illustrates one of my fonder memories of life in Japan: the Japanese 7-Eleven convenience stores. If you look carefully, you can see the glass humbow steamer sitting on the counter by the cash register. Anytime I wanted a steamed bun, I could dart into a 7-Eleven and grab one for a few yen! This shot is really evocative for me: the tile-esque pavement of the sidewalk, the diamond-deck ramp over the rain gutter, the skinny girls in short skirts. At least they're not little boys in tiny shorts! This was probably shot late at night, not too long ago, and I can just feel the humidity and smell the sewage. Yes, you catch whiffs of sewage even in downtown Tokyo. Lots of different smells, but that one was always a reminder that Japan is basically the world's most overpopulated "village" in the world.

But anyway...


Thank you. Won't you?