Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Morning

Up before light, but not early, oddly enough, so I cracked my laptop and read. I was rapt with the notice that today’s For Better or For Worse was the last new one. It was beautiful, and as graceful an exit as one could wish for. I then spent a good chunk of time reading Anthony’s bio on the website. That’s a well done piece. I felt amazingly attached to this fictional character. He was well crafted, indeed. I do wonder if there is a heaven for ideas. That we will have a chance to meet with these characters we love in the afterlife. I can think of many story-lines that I wanted to see the rest of. How many people, both fictional and historical have I wanted to do a Vulcan-Mind-Meld and fully, deeply know and understand?

I think that is something that many of us hope for upon our demise, that our questions will be answered, that we will see the entire story. Of course, many of us dread the same. Perhaps, though, that is the ultimate connection; to know each other’s details, all of them. Including those nasty, ugly things we keep buried deep within us. Those things about us we dread, but learn that, upon their revelation, only make us more connected, and those around us love us more.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Morning Musing

It is dark this morning, right now shortly before 6:00 am. One part of the darkness is the clouds, certainly, but another part is the season’s evolving from summer to fall. Autumn’s delights are sneaking in. The hints are there to the watchful eye. Of course, for me, it’s not so dreadful a thing. This is my favorite season. For so many, it is summer, with its warmth and, I guess, lower clothing requirements. Me, I love jackets and sweaters, as well as the cool crispness of the air. This light chill is a delight, though the burning pain of bruising cold winter is less delightful. Perhaps it was my early childhood in New England, as I remember the red maple and oak leaves. Perhaps it is because my birthday is in October, and I’ve been operantly conditioned for a pleasurable response to autumn (oh, B.F. Skinner, how you’ve taken the delight out of life!). Forgive me, if you will, the delight I take in the change, dear friend summer. I wish you no ill, and look forward to your return next year.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This Sunday Morning

Quiet, fan buzz, odd white fuzz of noise, just low. It sits, droning, not asking for attention, no demands or connection, mindlessly spurting sound. Leaves flicker, a quiet bounce, the lighter leaves only move, the heavier branches of fir and pine stay, nearly, still. Though the friendless sun has risen recently, the calming grey of elevated moisture diffuse the abusive rays. Tranquility sits with us, amidst the moisture, the amazing gentleness of morning dew. Today a few trees bare foreshadowing of the month to come. A japanese maple gains hints of orange, dreaming of the coming slumber.

My mind, being what it is, loves to race. I try to consume Snyder's work, but that over-active mind hurries. Much like gulping down a 5 star meal, prepared by a master. A crime, it is, to cram this down one's gullet, a race to consume the next item, to find some other nonsense for our limited attention. Perfection demands attention! True perfection, that is, not the abused notion of over accomplishment and the doom of overwork. For this mindset, time is god. How much have I done? Measuring one's worth in the length of a to-do list. Noticing the leaves move, a gentle, wandering dance, lost. As the leaves move, maples faster, but all of them together, each leave at the same speed as the others; firs and pines also, just slower. Enslaving myself to the modern mindset sacrifices these moments.

Is it any wonder, then, that we are engorged? We can not consume enough. Our bellies expand, trying to capture that empty place where our souls should be. As our legs give out, we have forgotten so much. Bodily bulk weighs more than the dense soul, which not only adds not bulk to our beings, but lightens life.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A comment on my friend Tracey's blog reminded me of some of my youth's delights. As a wee lad, I loathed them shoe thangs. Luckily, I spent many a year in warm climes (such as California and the Philippines), where I was able to imbibe this lifestyle choice and reinforce it into the deepest habit space. My move to Virginia was awkward, though (first grade-ish), as wearing sandals in the snow (my compromise with my mother) just wasn't feasible. I was dedicated enough to give it a whirl, however. I'm sure that's the reason I settled in Seattle, Birkenstock capital of the globe. No, it had nothing to do with my parent's being from here, meeting at UW, blah blah. It's all about me, blast it! *ahem*

Funny, though, how this hasn't changed, even as I approach my advanced years. Decades of opportunity to modify, of Skinneristic efforts to force my conversion (blue toes; not from an overdose of nailpolish), and still, my favorite shoes my Birk Milanos, though my Tevas come a close second. Though I don't walk barefoot much (once or twice experiencing the wrong end of the poochy digestive system), I still enjoy shoe-free-ness...and my flip flops. Viva sandals!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NASA

In some ways, I’m still the geeky kid who is easily absorbed by all things space: rockets, planets, comets, stars. These emails I signed up for at NASA still make me a bit giddy.

 

NASA Engineers Complete Engine Test Series For Ares I Rocket
Sun, 17 Aug 2008 23:00:00 -0500

Engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., have completed a series of tests on a key component of the J-2X engine. The J-2X powers the upper stage of the Ares I rocket, which will launch human explorers to the International Space Station and to the moon.

 

One of my earliest memories is of the first lunar landing. With that, I remember my mother milking that enthusiasm for all it was worth: moon landing books, learning materials, blah blah. And it worked! More on that another day.

 

 

Monday, August 18, 2008

More Media Thoughts

I’ve been following the internet forced evolution of media for some time. Besides following Jeff Jarvis’ Buzz Machine with vigor, I finally took the time to read my friend Aaron’s blog (from his journalism grad student days). This post really got me thinking. Historically, journalism’s role was to find news as well as provide analysis. At one time, not too far in the past, in order to have an idea of the goings-on in, say, Washington, DC, you needed to have a staffer on the ground that would mail (dear God) or wire an article in. Even in the pre-web days of the 70’s and 80’s (and, really, much earlier) the web of local affiliates made such concepts silly. Of course, each network and bureau had staff on the ground in key areas (Wall Street, DC, etc) but started utilizing the power of the network to cover, say, a critical moment in Iowa.

 

The web, though, rapidly changed this. Now we have a cacophony of news, ideas, data. Rapidly, our role as news consumers (I’d rather call this data-consumer) has changed. We have shifted from needing news to sorting through the news. Our challenge (well, mine at least) is to assign value to all this stuff. Newsy types need to focus on research, on providing deeper insight, getting to the heart of any story. With this, it is even more critical than ever for journalists to focus on integrity. With so many choices out there, readers must trust the journalists to provide balance and depth. Originally the focus of media’s agnosticism, now the critical need is for transparency. Acknowledge your viewpoints (biases, whatever you wish to call it), and publicly challenge it.

 

Anyway, just a few random thoughts on a Monday morning.

 

 

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Oh, A Meeting We Will Go

This post gives me pause. Meetings, the infernal overwrought obsession of our lives. It's not just corporate America, but the various groups and org's I've dallied with over the years suffer from meetopia, too. No one I know likes the blasted things, yet I don't know anyone offering up a successful resistance.

Related to this, methinks, I have noted that I do a great deal over my workdays (check off a ridiculous number of to-dos) and accomplish little or nothing. The mass of tasks don't roll up to anything. And I've noticed a lingering sense of frustration lately. I spend precious little time reflecting on my goals, and how I can link them to what I do over the course of any given day. I'm so divorced from this, I really wonder what I really want to do, to accomplish any more.

Within a recess of my brain comes a niggling thought. Perhaps this passion for meetings offers up a substitute for reflection. Knowing that we must account, personally, face-to-face for our "deliverables" provides some external discipline. It seems we are madly replacing any semblance of reflection with meetings. Who has time for planning and reflection; we have too many meetings; mad, demented cycle. Can you resist?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Colorectal surgeon Song

A delightful ode to an unrecognized profession.

Inflatable faeces raises a stink

There is just so much here, I don’t know where to begin. Gotta love those Europeans! But envisioning those ever dapper BBC announcers saying the phrase “inflatable dog turd” is truly priceless.

 

 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thoughts on "The Myth of the Creative Class"

I’ve long followed Mr. Jarvis’ Buzz Machine, and hold him, and his writing, in high regard. He does a nice job tweaking the media traditionalists noses with this piece. He does bring up a point, though, that I felt a need to explore further. While discussing how our culture is shifting from a model of scarcity to one of abundance, he makes an interesting metaphorical mistake: “…like reverse alchemists, they turn abundance into scarcity, gold into lead.” Now, if we think about it, lead is more abundant than gold. However, I assume that he is simply referencing value. I find this deeply revealing, and an exceptionally good metaphor for this brave new world (apologies, Mssr. Huxley). We are taking the scarce, in this case creativity, and making it abundant. Truly turning gold to lead. This takes the main economic model of the creative life and turns it on its head.  This internet thing has the power, the potential to deeply revolutionize the way our culture does economics. And that excites me deeply.

 

Also, I like his referencing to destroying the influence of “priests”, making this new medium a reformation of sorts. But that is another post for another day.

 

 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pilot receives SMS landing instructions after power failure

I’ve known for years that the texting system was far more robust than humble voice. In particular, during 9/11, people in the Towers, and NYC in general, found the voice network overloaded and were unable to make voice calls. However, they were able to text each other. On an aside, it is a bit disturbing to consider how many people’s final communication to loved ones was a text “I love you”, but I digress. This story, from the Irish Times, again reinforces that principle. An important consideration before one pooh-pooh’s the notion of texting as a simple childish diversion.