Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In-Seuss-iance and In-verse logic

I've just been passed a note (like in grade school class) that contains such a delightful and droll poem that I must pass it on. Whatever can we read but poetry that brings such a spreading of delight? It settles like sugar on warm cookies as the reading continues through the verses. Here is today's sweet delight!

A sample few lines from the beginning of it:
The queens and grand poo-bahs
In their postmodern palaces
Had time on their hands
But no grist or analysis!
and the title of it:
Deconstructing Dr. Seuss - An "Owed"
Now, if that doesn't tickle your mind's ear and cause prickling in your punny, funny bones, then this poem might not be for you. So sad if it isn't. So glad if it is.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Nestlé Signatures Treasures "Limited Edition" Hazelnut!

Every once in a while, there comes on the world scene something that causes earthquakes in the midst of large continents. This time, I discovered it in a grocery store. The Nestlé Signatures Treasures "Limited Edition" Hazelnut candies were what happened to me on the way to grandma's house. When I discovered them, I purchased almost every bag I could find...certainly all I could afford. I've kept them frozen for several years, hoping that Nestlé would bring them back. Alas. Today I searched the Web for them, only to be disappointed. I called Nestlé with the same result.

To unwrap one of the little chocolate treasure chests and munch away at it is to be transported to some pirate treasure lagoon, waves lapping in the background and large parrots screeching in far-off trees. Warm breezes rustle through your hair as sand cradles you on the beach.

I'm sorry if you missed out on them. The last bag is rapidly disappearing from our freezer. Then...no more.

Friday, October 24, 2008

British speed to change: rocket car

Today I read a blog entry about a new Brit effort to capture the imagination of school children in order to convince them that they should pour their future educational efforts into science and engineering directions. A 1,000+ mph ground vehicle and huge engineering feats are planned.

The effort involves years of effort. Many people are involved in this endeavor (some of whom might lose their lives in the process...or gain fame; some may lose their fortunes...or gain more). The designers even think the possible future of their nation is at stake in some sense. They posit that if something like this isn't done, the country will sink into a morass of little expansion of ideas and become technologically moribund.

All this effort is based on adults' views of what the children of today are going to do with the world presented to them as they come into adulthood. It is a view that is slanted by the kids they see spending all their time with video games, growing less interested in the world around them (as represented by science) than the world of fantasy and play.

However, the world has always seen children play and use fantasies to either escape or deal with the harsh realities they see around them on their way to adulthood. I suppose these fellows see today's children as never giving up their play and fantasies in order to deal with the real world they will find as adults.

Is all this placing too much into these fellows' read of the path of growth of today's children? Will lives be sacrificed in vain? Fortunes squandered for nothing? Your comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Agglomeration of blogs & podcasts of interest

I have a good deal for you. Go and bookmark in your browser
and log in with your Google or Gmail ID and password. With that, you can agglomerate all your blog reading, including your own for quick reference in one place. I use it EVERY DAY. I recommend it to you.

Kept up with in Google Reader:


as well as these blogs

Music blogs:
Keep the Coffee Coming
Lonesome Music

PRI:Selected Shorts
60-Second Science

Writing blogs:
Keyhole Full of Lollipops
I Was the State
Irreverent Reverend
News of the Weird Daily
Strange Horizons Reviews

Art blogs:
Thick Air Gallery

Tech blogs:
MAKE Magazine
NYT > Personal Tech

The podcasts I follow via iTunes podcast agglomerator are:
APM: A Prairie Home Companion's News from Lake Wobegon
APM: American RadioWorks
CBC Radio: Words at Large
for other means
Smithsonian Folkways -- The Folkways Collection
[I can no longer find a way to the treasure trove of wonderful podcasts.]
WGLT-FM Public Radio -- GLT Jazz Next
http://www.wglt.org/podcasts/jazz_next/audio/081016_javon.mp3 <= download latest manually
NPR: Fresh Air Podcast
NPR: Talk of the Nation Podcast
BBC Radio Scotland -- Scotland Introducing
Chicago Public Radio -- This American Life
The Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour Podcast

And here's how to pick your favorite NPR program podcast

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Putting the "union" in "reunion"

My 45th high school reunion was held last weekend out in west Texas. We went out there to see what we could see of old friends and for the fun of revisiting relationships and images of the home town. Walking into a big room with a crowd of folks you've known 48-53 years and their spouses is just about indescribable to those who've never ventured to partake. For those who have, the first few seconds to a quarter hour (depending on the size of the group) are full of nostalgia and handshaking. Depending on your eyesight and the number of years that have passed, there's maybe a few backward tilts of the head to see name tags as you simultaneously smile and engage the person in conversation. It seems ALWAYS that there should be a bigger difference between the spouse name tag and the classmate tag, so you don't spin your head and cause giggles by confusing a spouse for a classmate you don't recall.

The home town has taken a few hits on downtown business continuing to flee to the west mall and beyond. That's just life in the not-so-big city. But, telling the (patient, but never-resident) wife about what used to be and where it was WHEN it was there provided some sort of closure and happiness to my elder heart.

A two gigabyte micro-SD card provided far too much freedom to snap and snap and snap digital photos. At the size I have the camera set, I was warned at one glance that I (only) had 3,000 photos left to shoot before I would run out of room! Everybody had their chance in front of the lens, though there were a few reluctant ones that only got captured in the effort to wander about during our final evening meal together and snap whole table sides of folks during their nurture. Back at home, I'm faced with manipulating all those images and storing them until I decide where and how to display them for the friends and classmates who actually care about them. I, of course, can for the nonce just dip back into my memories of the night and feast on what I saw as I snapped the camera.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kitty on the counter: Blending the solution

Thank goodness we don't have this problem with our 13-year-old cat, Rowena. She does not seem interested in climbing up on the kitchen cabinet. If we did have the problem, this article from the Make Magazine blog certainly seems to be a solution, though it does not seem to be teaching the cat anything.
Brian writes in about the Blender Defender. He writes -
Hi MAKE! I just finished the web page for my latest project: the Blender Defender. I have a problem with my cat jumping up on the counter and eating my plant up there, so I pointed a network camera at it and ran some motion detection software. As soon as my computer detects motion on the counter, it sends a signal to turn on an extremely loud blender and a strobe light, scaring the cat off the counter.
...be sure and click on the link to his Web page above in the quote and watch the three soundless video loops! Hint: it uses X-10 technology, but does not blend up the cat. I personally think it is a very high-tech, but hilarious solution to the problem. Since the video loops cover the time from July to October of 2008, it is apparent that the cat hasn't been taught much...yet.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Does anyone really know what time it is?

An email correspondent said today
Here in the library were I work we have a large grandfather style
clock (with modern, not Roman, numbers on the face) right near the
entrance. When asked what time it was, I used to point to the clock.
But I found that a huge number of library visitors, including many
I'd have thought were too old to have missed out on analog clock
faces, give me a blank look and say "I can't tell from that." They
only know how to read a digital clock, but they still use expressions
like "Half past two" or "quarter to five."

In this day and age when everyone with a cell phone has connection to almost exactly the correct time, that is mind boggling. As an engineer, I seldom think about the technology (or lack of it) that is displayed, moving from one form of display to another.

As a writer and sometimes editor and proofreader, I used to give this test to folks who said that fonts REALLY matter to the comprehension of the material. I'd say (and to you who are reading this, don't peek, just give the real answer with your eyes closed after you read the question):
Did the last item you read have the lower-case "G" with an open or closed tail below the line?

Comments and discussion welcomed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Greg Brown: the man, the music, the performance

This came to my attention today:

Keep that image in mind while you listen. The recording of his performance is after about 1hr22m into this concert.

And if you resist this whispery-voiced intrusion into your status quo, there's probably a truth in the matter of you just didn't hear it all or listen closely enough. He's aged well.

His home page. He's married to Iris Dement, lives in either Iowa or Kansas City, and can play and sing well. I recommend him to you.

The show that is represented by the above link is Mountain Stage, which has persisted for about 25 years on the radio. The longevity indicates there is something good about it. It is billed as "live performance radio from the mountain state of West Virginia". Believe it. It may be too country for you, but there is bluegrass, rock, punk and just about every other genre of music peeking out between the slats.

He first came to my attention on the Prairie Home Companion show.