Saturday, February 21, 2009

Give those Books some Links!

Andrew Sullivan points me to a prediction of the books of the future: now with movies and links!

Perhaps it's the luddite in me, but I'm just not sure i'm ready for movies in my books. Links, sure! (It would have been *really* nice to be able to see color versions of the paintings mentioned in the Picasso biography I just finished.) But movies? No thanks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Initial Shock

One of the things about being unemployed that always catches me off guard is the sense of being overwhelmed by time. With an office job, you know what you're going to be doing for 8-10 hours of your day - you don't need to question it. However, take that away and all of a sudden you realize how much time absorbs. Trying to find a new job obviously takes a good chunk of that time, but you can't look for a job all of the time. So now there's a lot of time to fill.

I mention this because i've been unemployed a few times in my life and every time there's been a transition period that I have to get past, filled with guilt and a bit of soul searching. The guilt arises because I was raised to believe that one should always be doing something productive, and so it's hard for me to relax and enjoy this free time knowing that bills are piling up (Hunter's day care doesn't pay for itself) and there are about a million chores waiting for me.

One thing I keep telling myself is that it's important to take advantage of this time to sit back, smell the flowers (or whatever the winter version of that cliche would be).and to "fill the bucket", an important idea I picked up from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Her book, dealing specifically with the creative process, talks about needing to restock your images, or words, or whatever though careful observation and thought about the world (done mainly through the "morning pages", a daily stream-of-consciousness journal you write in every morning). Unemployment is the perfect time to do this, as long as you allow yourself the time, without stressing out about what may be. (The ironic thing is that taking a moment to recharge yourself is probably the best thing you can do towards finding yourself a new job.)

I'll blog some more about these thoughts as I have them, but this has been what's been floating through my mind the last few days as i've been adapting myself to my new situation.


Dubai is crashing down:
Local police have found at least 3,000 automobiles -- sedans, SUVs, regulars -- abandoned outside Dubai International Airport in the last four months. Police say most of the vehicles had keys in the ignition, a clear sign they were left behind by owners in a hurry to take flight.

Smashing Telly tells us that "the reason for this is that if you default on your Dubai mortgage, you can end up in a debtors prison."

Nicely Expanded

I don't really watch the Simpsons anymore, but their HDTV opening credits did give me a chuckle. They've raised self-referential irony to an art form.

Who watches the Watchmen promos?

The marketing has started for the movie version of the Watchmen. Check out this fake news clip depicting events from the comic.

I used to be scared of movies of this as a rule, but as technology has made for better and better special effects, comic adaptations have gotten better and better. See specifically the Hellboy movies and the Iron Man adaptation. Here's hoping that Hollywood can do Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' wonderfully realized vision justice on the big screen.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The New Ending of the Mist

Came across Eddie Campbell's thoughts about the new ending of Stephen King's The Mist in the recent movie, a movie that, until the end, was most excellent. Campbell thinks that the new ending is

a classic example of Oscar Wilde's description of sentimentality as the desire 'to have an emotion without paying for it.'

Can't argue with that!

How NOT to Spend your Stimilus Check

Barry Ritholtz tells us how not to spend our stimulus check:

Below is some helpful advice on how to best help the US economy by spending your stimulus check wisely:

If you spend that money at Wal-Mart, all the money will go to China.
If you spend it on gasoline it will go to Hugo Chavez, the Arabs and Al Queda.
If you purchase a computer it will go to Taiwan.
If you purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala (unless you buy organic).
If you buy a car it will go to Japan and Korea.
If you purchase prescription drugs it will go to India.
If you purchase heroin it will go to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
If you give it to a charitable cause, it will go to Nigeria.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Blogs as Release Notes

An example of a company using their blog to cover details of their latest release.

Blogs and Wikis are the next generation of user documentation.

Pondering the "site that shall not be named"

My new Facebook account was the source of a heated debate that Kelly and I have been having a debate recently about social networking. In short, she she bemoans the loss of face-to-face interaction that social media engenders, and I can't entirely blame her. My time on the phone with people has definably diminished recently, and while I feel in touch with people more then before, I see much less of everyone than I used to.

Kate has many of these same reservations, but notes that "I don't think it's Twitter [or other social media] that's the problem, it's that there are some people in general that don't know how to keep a balance [between social media and face-to-face interaction]", which is probably the most accurate summation of the issue. For example, I know people who will literally not pick up the phone when you call them, preferring to SMS you after they get your voice mail to ask "what's up?" It's another layer of protection, which can, at times, be necessary in this media-saturated age, but also insulates you from the uncertainties and challenges inherit in face-to-face conversation.

However, I recognize that times change and the younger generations will be growing up their entire lives with these tools for staying in touch. I personally try and look at social media as a way to enhance my in-person interactions rather than a replacement for them (although there are some people with whom I would rather keep all of my interactions online...) FB has been essential for keeping in touch and networking with people that I wouldn't be doing so otherwise, so at least that site is worth my time. LinkedIn is another site that has proven to be extremely useful in my job searching.

But I'm just not a whole-hearted convert yet. As a parent that wants to spend a lot of time with his son, I just don't have the time to keep up with everything. Plus, I hate being tied down to my computer, nor do I have it on all of the time. I value my unplugged time and actually look forward to those times when I don't need to worry about being in touch.

I'll continue to post on this because it's a subject I find fascinating. And i'm not the only one: the Boston Globe published an article by Neil Swidey that lightly lectures one about the values of not being connected all of the time under the dramatic title of "The End of Alone"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kirk vs. Frankenstein

The idea of the Star Trek characters going back in time to deal with contemporary or historical figures is pervasive in the original series. This, however, doesn't mean that there's any reason for Kirk to confront (and kick!) the Frankenstein monster.

I still remember the first time I saw the classic Kirk recital of the Pledge of Allegiance in The Omega Glory: "ONE. Nation. UNDER God, indivisible. with. Liberty and Justice. for ALL." Long live Shatner.

Reindeer Love 'Shrooms

This article about seven animal species that love to get high is hysterical.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Through a Glass, Smudged

Hunter kicking it at the local pool. The pix isn't great because I was taking it through the glass.

Quote of the Day

Andrew Sullivan points to an old Obama quote to emphasize that his consensus building isn't going away anytime soon just because the Congress continues to play political games:

"The political debate is now so skewed, so limited, so distorted... What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them? As an elected public official, for instance, I could bring church and community leaders together easier than I could as a community organizer or lawyer. We would come together to form concrete economic development strategies, take advantage of existing laws and structures, and create bridges and bonds within all sectors of the community. We must form grass-root structures that would hold me and other elected officials more accountable for their actions."
- Barack Obama, 1995.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quote of the Day

One of the things that I've always joked about is that, when faced with adversity, things will work out a ridiculous amount of the time as long as you worry about things and do your due diligence. However, Lucille Ball of all people, expresses this sentiment better than my poor words:

One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.
-Lucille Ball