Monday, July 06, 2015

Unsafe and insane

Is it just me or did anyone else notice the unusual number of news stories of people killing themselves over the 4th by trying to set off fireworks on their heads? It is sad in a very stupid kind of way. And all of the stories I read mentioned their may have been alcohol involved.

You think?

Now I'm as big as a pyromaniac as the next guy. But it never really occurred to me to place a cardboard mortar on my head and light it. Logic, even liquor fueled, dictates that this would not be a good idea.

Not that I necessarily believe in an accounting of our lives, but could you imagine having to approach St. Peter or whoever else checks you in after you die and when asked how you died you say, "I put a 40 shot, mega mortar on my head and lit it. Blew my head off."

To which St. Peter would likely reply, "That was a dumb shit thing to do."

Could you imagine back in prehistoric times a caveman looking at a flaming tree that was just set fire by lightening and grabbing a blazing branch and placing it on his head yelling, "Hey Og, look at me!" Then, "Ouch, " before running off into the night screaming.

You know, life is really short enough as it is. It is just pitiful to waste it. And word to the wise, living your life to the fullest doesn't mean popping an explosive on top of your head to either prove how much of a man you are or to entertain your friends.

In this case, you can't even say, "Live and learn."


Monday, June 29, 2015

My own riddle of the Sphinx

Riddle of the Sphinx: What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?
Answer (Spoiler alert): Man 

Although I wrote a post called Riddle of the Sphinxes back in 2006, I am not repeating myself. I have just been thinking about the stages of life that the riddle refers to (crawling on four legs as a baby, walking on two legs as an adult and hobbling along with a cane as a senior citizen).

First, the Sphinx oversimplified a great deal. I think there are quite a few stages in between but the riddle would have become quite long if the Sphinx had tried to cover them all (i.e. What is the creature that lies there crying most of the wee hours of the morning and smiles when it has gas, walks on four legs in the morning,  stumbles along on two legs at mid-morning, has awkward hair and bad skin just before noon, walks on two legs at noon, sits on it's butt in front of the television mid-day, is still in front of the television eating from a TV tray at early evening and walks on three legs in the evening before stumbling and calling out, "help I've fallen and can't get up."

Oedipus would still have replied, "man."

But I digress.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Food for thought

Okay, I confess, I'm one of those people who post photos on Instagram of the food they are about to eat. And as pointless as that seems, there is a method behind my mundaness.

First, I think that presenting a well-plated meal is an artform. If you want to scarf down mounds of shapeless globs of food on a platter, go to a buffet. A sign of a great restaurant is how the chef places the food on the plate.

When I take a photo of my plate, I am paying homage to the chef artist. Or I am shaming a hash slinging hack if the plate is unappealing (like most meals served at our local diner, Claire's).

Friday, June 19, 2015

It's nothing impersonal

I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say the Internet has made over sharing a National pastime. I'm just as guilty of it as the next person. Although I don't write much about work and I try to respect the privacy of my family, I still open up about more than I probably ever would have shared with anyone but friends, family, or a private journal prior to the Internet.

Part of it is the semi-anonymous nature of it. I can blather on about my various insecurities safe in the knowledge that the odds of anyone I know reading it are about the same as if I'd written the crap on a note, placed it in a bottle and cast it out into the ocean (unless I've invited someone I know to read my blog).  But it is also a way to put yourself out there without the awkwardness of watching the other person glaze over and look at their watch (which is why I don't like to go to parties and make small talk).

But it occurred to me this morning while I was standing at the train platform killing time before my train arrived by making up unflattering nicknames for the other people waiting for the train (in my head of course), that so much personal information is shared now via the Internet and social media that everything has become impersonal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A vacation from vacations

Every year I try to take my family somewhere memorable for a vacation. Last year it was Puerto Vallarta. The year before that it was Cabo.

Now I am planning this year's big family vacation that will include Legoland and Disneyland. In doing so, I am violating my own guidelines to never go to a place that has "Land" in the title.

It's not like I have never been to Disneyland before. I must have been there at least ten times since I was 15. I even took my kids there three years ago when they were probably too young to appreciate it. We made the mistake of taking them in the Haunted Mansion and the minute the lights went out in the initial "is this room getting bigger or are you shrinking" introduction, my then two and a half year old son burrowed into his mother and cried out, "I want to go home."

Friday, June 05, 2015

The good ol' days

Anticipation, Anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting  
And tomorrow we might not be together
I'm no prophet, I don't know nature's way
So I'll try to see into your eyes right now
And stay right here, 'cause these are the good old days. 
--Carly Simon, Anticipation
It is human nature to wax poetic about the past. After all, what else do we have? The future is tomorrow (despite all the hype about the future being now). And very few people spend much time in the now. Because that's where we reminisce about the past or wonder about the future.

I watch with bittersweet fondness as my children live their now. It reminds me of my then and how permanent it seemed at the time. But I know that the cliche about the fleeting nature of youth is cliche for a reason. It is truth. But we don't accept it until we are plodding the path of our parents.

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.