Thursday, December 25, 2008

Peace on Earth and Good Will to Mankind

About 12 years ago my daughter Leigh came home with a white pine seedling from her school's Earth Day celebration. I planted it just for fun. The tree is now almost 20 feet high, and is the winter decoration highlight of our neighborhood. It's getting harder and harder to get to the top to light it, it grows about two feet a year. This time I backed up the Volvo, climbed on the roof, and on tiptoes used a rake tied to a long pole. I joke that someday this tree will be in Rockefeller Center.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's Chia Time!

I run across this little critter in the basement a few times a year. We bought it over a decade ago at Christmas time, and it hung around for a while longer. My wife tried to throw it out one day, but I was lucky to see its little head forlornly sticking out of the garbage. I immediately rescued it! Well, I had to scold her a little bit, and tell her the Chia was important, while she snickered at me.

There were "Chia-Chia" commercials every year around this time, but I have not seen one yet. I can take the easy way out and Google chia, but I'd rather be kept in suspense, and learn if they have survived through that old medium...non-interactive television. So I'm waiting for those commercials to show up.

There has always been something fascinating about the Chia Pet. I think I have nailed it down, it looks an awful lot like that timeless Giza Sphynx, when viewed from the right angle.
I just brought little Chia up from the basement, rinsed him off, and put him up on my bookshelf near another Christmas toy, our Furby. Yes, he opened his eyes, woke up and said a few words when I picked him up, though I have not touched him for many months.
It's coming up on that magic time of the year!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What a long trip it's been

Today Barak was elected president. It was moving seeing generals like Colin Powell, and tough negotiators like Condy Rice, crying when they spoke about it. Tonight I decided to take my after-dinner walk, I like these drizzly nights. As I walked out of my house a strong memory came back that occasionally surfaces.

It was 1968. After graduating and working all summer, my college roommate, Norman "Spider" Hirsch and I decided to go to San Francisco and be part of the Summer of Love. We delivered a Caddy from New York City to Florida. This got us to warmer weather for free and provided us with a bit of extra spending money. We then hitchiked to San Francisco, which took about 3 days. The best ride was from a stock race car driver. We got through Louisiana at about 110 miles per hour, in a couple of hours, in the middle of the night. Never did see much of that state!

Spider and I got settled in San Francisco, and found an apartment on Haight St, a block from Ashbury St, right in the middle of the action. However, the Summer of Love started turning into what I call the Winter of Discontent. But that's another story. We hung around a lot, living off our summer savings. We decompressed from the rushed world we had lived in, waiting for the Vietnam draft to catch up to us.

One night I remember being in a group of half a dozen young people. A black youth in his teens spoke about how badly Negroes are treated, and how small and insignificant he deeply felt. Speaking from my heart, having experienced some discrimination myself, I spoke to comfort him, saying something along the lines of "we are all the same under our skin" and "your color does not matter." Well, this young man acted like he had never heard those words before! He was wide eyed and astonished, and asked if I really felt that way. I confirmed it. In a matter of minutes, though we had never met, he latched on to me and started treating me like I was a superior being, and had all the answers to the world's problems. He asked "what do we do now?!"

I felt bad, but had nothing else to offer him besides my original comments. I was no saviour, civil rights leader or activist. He was looking for more, something I could not provide. I believed what I said, but could take it no further. He wanted to follow me, but I gently discouraged it, and told him to he would be ok. I had my own problems to deal with, and left him with a very lost look on his face.

I remember that event occasionally, thinking of my limitations then and now. I'm still not an activist. I hope that hurt young man found his way in life. I'm glad that Barak has come along, he probably could have done a lot more for him than I could have.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Picture Colin Powell Was Talking About

Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan was an American, born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could serve his country and he gave his life.

(Photo by Platon)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Training the next gen women sailors

There was a nice picture of my daugher, Leigh, in The Day a week ago, she loves kids and is getting the young ones started. I bet that little girl will remember the experience of helping tack the ARGIA. There is always something magical about touching a ship's wheel when a vessel is underway.

Below is Leigh, about 20 years ago, getting to know VOYAGER's rigging better.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

TED is the BEST

Some of the best videos I have seen online, and the most memorable, are from the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) annual conferences. My favorite used to be Sherwin Nuland's story.

Recently, a web site I check frequently, Open Culture
pointed out that TED had posted its Top 10 TEDTalks videos.

Here I found another just as compelling, by Jill Bolte Taylor (Click on her name to go to it, not the image below). Warning, it's 18 minutes long, so not when you are in an ADD mood...

Maybe I was attracted to these 2 videos due to my old training in psychology, but to me the mind and its study have always been a fascinating topic. Both videos are inspiring, and also demonstrate the impossible odds that we can ovecome, how others can save us, and how tragedy can be turned to our advantage. But then, what other choices do we have?!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars

This weekend I was up at Ithaca College, watching another group of All-Stars, the softball team, qualify for the National Championship next weekend. It was sad to miss Pangea Day. Some of the folks in the multicast community tried unsuccessfully to multicast it to the entire world, but the legal obstacles could not be overcome in time. Thanks to them anyways for trying. This is one of the clips that hit me, there are lots more on line...

Right after my short post and link to the video, I realized I wanted to say more about how inspirational this clip is.

Lo and behold, Banker White, its co-director and co-producer, posted a comment today taking the words out of my mouth. Banker pointed out the entire video is 80 minutes long, and provided its great WEB SITE. The full DVD is also available here.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pangea Day is Coming

Pangea Day looks to be a great idea. On May 10, individuals all over the earth will gather to view films made by the world, for the world, broadcast live around the globe. Great web site HERE.

A fun preview is hearing citizens of one country singing another's national anthem...

This event will help us feel connected to each other. With enough of this in the world, peace and understanding will follow.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A game of inches

Tom Kowalsik, one of the Ithaca softball team parents, always takes lots of pictures of each game. He posts them on Kodakgallery and sends us links. I thought this one distilled the game into one image, as well as it can be done.

I miss those game days, but Tom helps to keep the memories alive with all his great shots. The runner was out, but Cornell won, though our D3 team has beaten their D1 a few times.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

iPods in the War Zone

I ran across this story about iPods, and found it pretty interesting. To summarize from the article...

"As they prepare for their daily patrols around Baghdad, soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division sync up their iPods, not with songs and movies, but with a laundry list of missions and audio files containing pre-recorded phrases in Iraqi Arabic or Kurdish.

Loaded with special Vcommunicator software, the music players help them communicate with the populace and learn the local culture, and they occasionally serve as handy tools in their tactical missions, such as searching for persons of interest. The gadgets have been so useful that troops are now finding new ways to employ the technology.

The simplicity that has made the iPod, so successful as a music player also relates to its combat applications. Soldiers simply scroll through as they search for mission data or for spoken phrases. The display shows the sentence phonetically and in script, and the user can play the corresponding audio clip, which also can be synced to an avatar, or computerized character, that gestures according to customs.

Connected to a speaker or megaphone, the device functions as a one-way language translator. Prior to having these devices, troops had to wait for an interpreter before they could engage local residents during patrols.

Troops also are uploading maps and other images and content onto the video iPods to assist them at vehide checkpoints and door-to-door searches. If soldiers are looking for a particular individual, they can load a photo of their target and correlate it to Arabic script that asks, "Do you recognize this person?" Troops also can store sound clips and other pertinent information that they need to conduct mission briefs for small units, said Bright.

The most recent version of the Vcommunicator comes on the new iPod nano, which troops are strapping to their wrists or wearing on lanyards around their necks. The nano units are much faster, much smaller and more user-friendly."

In recognition of this new market, Apple has released a new color, "Desert Storm", in the nano line:

These should also appeal to the huntin' and fishin' guys.