Monday, May 18, 2015

I'm just messing with you

I read an article online this morning by Time (the magazine, not Time, my online persona). It's title was "Are my devices messing with my brain?" The answer is of course they are. Duh. The biggest problem being we have become Pavlov's dog and slobbering uncontrollably when we here a beep or bell signalling that an e-mail or text has arrived or someone has updated their status on Facebook or Twitter. If you don't get the reference to Pavlov's dog, Google it. I'm tired of explaining cultural and intellectual references that you should know if the education system was doing it's job.

But I digress.

The point that most fascinated me about the article was the concept that focusing on too many apps, sites, or messages affects our ability to focus and finish things. The article quotes Dr. Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at MIT:
“Every time you switch your focus from one thing to another, there’s something called a switch-cost,” Dr. Miller. “Your brain stumbles a bit, and it requires time to get back to where it was before it was distracted.”
If you've read more than a fair amount of my posts, then you've seen the effects of "switch-cost" on writing demonstrated. I punctuate my lapses in focus with the phrase, "But I digress."

Friday, May 08, 2015

My name is not Steve

Okay, if you are older than 12 or don't have children older than 12, you probably have never heard of Steve or Minecraft. It is a video game available on PC, X-Box and Android that allows you to enter multiple worlds, and create your own environment while battling Mobs (short for mobiles who are really bizarre monsters like zombie pigs and creepers). You also mine for minerals that you can craft into tools and rocks that you can craft into buildings (thus the name Minecraft).

The main character in Minecraft is named Steve, though you can change his name to anything you want. Steve starts out in whatever environment or "biome" the game randomly generates with nothing but his bare hands. He has ten minutes of daylight before the mobs begin spawning and trying to kill him. In that ten minutes, he needs to try and find the right materials to craft a weapon to defend himself against the mobs or create a shelter to get him through the night that descends quite rapidly. The good news is that the zombies and skeletons with bows and arrows catch on fire in daylight. The bad news is that the Creepers (monsters who rush up to you and explode after an annoying amount of hissing), giant spiders and Endermen don't.

Monday, May 04, 2015

It IS all in my head

Typically when someone tells you something is all in your head they are implying that you are delusional. But if you think about it (in your head), everything you experience is technically all in your head.

This post was inspired in part by an article I just read about Microsoft's new hologram product HoloLens. It is essentially a virtual reality headset that projects 3-D holograms directly in front of the user in a "seamless blend of fantasy and reality." I am going to be so bold as to posture that creating a "seamless blend of fantasy and reality" is redundant. The human brain does this everyday.

Friday, May 01, 2015

May Day, May Day!

I understand that May Day loosely became associated with labor protests in the late 1800s, but I don't understand why it has now become a lightening rod for every fringe cause there is and the centerpiece for their protests are marches aimed at screwing up traffic. Even if I wasn't an experienced marketing person I would put two and two together and realize that making sure people sit around for hours stuck in traffic isn't the best way to win their hearts for your cause.

I also don't understand the costumes people who march in these protests wear. I passed three people sporting butterfly wings who I assume were heading to the park where Seattle's protests were scheduled to begin in. At least I think they were headed for the protest. I do work on the border of Seattle's Pioneer Square and International District neighborhoods and people wearing butterfly wings isn't really an unusual thing to see on any given day. But these three looked like they were headed somewhere with a purpose, so I'm pretty sure they were socialist/communist anti-capitalist anarchists of some kind and not the usual colorful crack heads I see.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Profoundly lost

"Vanity of vanities! All is vanity."
One of the beauties (and sad things) about getting old is my memory isn't worth crap.  Why this can be a beautiful thing is that I can read blog posts I've written from a few months ago and not remember I've written them. And then I can marvel at how profound they are. So profound, that I originally going to title this post "Lost and profound," but then discovered I'd already written a post called "Lost and profound" back in September 2006.

See what I mean about the memory?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Living in a digital world

Living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl

 --Peter Brown & Robert Rans, "Material Girl."
 I think Madonna should remake this song with these lyrics:
Living in a digital world
And I am a digital girl
You know that we are living in a digital world
And I am a digital girl
 Because material things no longer matter. No one wants a big car, big home, fancy watch, diamonds or designer clothing any more. Prestige now depends on how many followers, virtual friends, likes, retweets, favorites, hits, views, click-thru's, and pins you have.

What the fuck is wrong with the world?

I say this as I type on my laptop streaming my latest binge watching on Netflix (Gilmore Girls...don't judge) and check my Smartphone. I've got Twitter, Facebook and two e-mail accounts open. I'm bartering on Craig's List, watching on eBay and finding the cheapest deal on Amazon with free shipping with Prime. I pause to like a photo on Facebook posted by a friend I haven't seen in person for at least five years.

I have honed my ADD to be able to flit through my Twitter stream stopping only briefly to see which childhood star has aged poorly (duh, which hasn't). Come to think of it, has anyone truly aged well?

I don't read books anymore. I download them on my Kindle Fire. I still don't read them because I'm too busy playing the weekly Angry Birds Friends Tournament. And then only when I'm not respawning on Mindcraft (using pointers given me by my six-year old) while listening to my Amazon Prime music from the Cloud (because Spotify makes you listen to commercials and Pandora is so 2010).

It is hard to believe that I am Baby Boomer.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Mind fog

The airport of my mind is socked in with fog right now and not too many planes of thought are landing. It is one of the symptoms of whatever crud I have come down with, likely spawned on a 5 and a half hour flight from Washington D.C. last Friday. Thus the airport analogy.

I am normally a pretty healthy person. My two young children are constantly coming down with coughs and sniffles bred at the Petri dish of a public school. But up until now, I have managed to avoid coming down with anything serious.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I'm not bringing you down, am I?

"I'm not bringing you down, am I?
--Marvin the robot, "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"
I will confess that I have this fear that deep down (or not so deep down) I am a Marvin, especially in my blog. I harbor paranoid thoughts that people become regular readers and then irregular readers (readers who stop reading my blog very often, not readers who have a touch of constipation) because they get turned off by negativity.

Now granted Marvin had the brain the size of a planet and I'm not saying I have the brain the size of a planet...well maybe Pluto now that it has once again achieved near planet status although a dwarf planet. I don't consider myself superior to other people except for most Republicans and right-wing Christians. Oh, and people who shop at Walmart on a regular basis. I also consider myself superior to anyone who would wear a Utilikilt.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On being cool

At the risk of repeating myself, yet again, I've been thinking about being cool. I wrote about it several years ago in a post called "Way Past Cool." And I made it pretty clear that I don't think it is possible to be cool by design. But I have always wanted to be cool.

I grew up in Idaho in a lower-income, working-class family. Neither of my parents had gone to college. We lived in a small rambler build in the early 1950s. I had two brothers. Although I wasn't aware of it at the time, there wasn't a great deal of discretionary income. My father worked in a  hardware company warehouse and my mother juggled a variety of jobs over the years (school lunch cook, house cleaner, convenience store clerk and several years working at a company that produced plywood panels for mobile homes).

Friday, February 20, 2015

Ten things never to say or do in an elevator

I have made it clear on many occasions that I am not big on small talk. I tolerate basic courtesies such as saying hello and asking someone how they are doing (provided they don'take this as open-ended invitation to actually tell me how they are doing). But that's pretty much where I draw the line.

 Unless there is a hurricane or tornado headed my direction, I don't want to talk about the weather. And after the Superbowl, I don't want to talk about the Seahawks for several months.

 But it is in an elevator that I really don't want to engage in small or large talk, especially with strangers. The only worst places I can think to strike up a conversation with a stranger is when you are sitting in a toilet stall or changing your clothes in a locker room at the gym.

An elevator is a small, enclosed space that is intended for vertical transportation, not conversation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Write like there's no one reading and other tips to achieving obscurity

Since my forays into social media began, I have woefully found myself pandering to the trends and topics that I thought might increase my followers, likers, friends, readers, pokers (which is a bit disturbing) and whatever else you call strangers who interact with you on the Web. I have done so thinking I would engage the masses and become THE next blipping hashtag trend. And I have failed miserably.

Maybe it's because I am a Baby Boomer and not a Millennial. Though according to a quiz I took on Facebook, I am more Millennial than Millennial's are. Or maybe I came to the social media party late with a box of wine. More likely, I think it is that I have begun thinking of my blog posts as content versus me just writing whatever the hell I feel like and not caring whether anyone reads it or not.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Magic moments

"This moment isn't going to define this team."
--Pete Caroll, Head Coach of the Seattle Seahawks
Not to belabor the fated final call of the Seahawks on Superbowl Sunday, but I was struck that both Pete Caroll and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson have made public statements that they weren't going to let their lives, futures, or careers be defined by that one moment when they passed instead of running the ball. Pete Caroll even went so far as to state that it wasn't a bad play call, just a bad result (i.e. the ball was intercepted and they lost the Superbowl).

You've got to love that kind of point of view. As Caroll pointed out, if the pass had been successful, no one would have given it another thought. The Superbowl would have been won. The Patriots would have slunk away whining about them being the better team anyway and we wouldn't have to rehash that one moment over and over. And if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.