2005-11-29

i'm running about one and a half

UPDATE: greasemonkey. oh yeah.

You can't tell, but Firefox 1.5 is now a reality on my notebook. So far so good, not like when I installed the beta version.... give me a minute... had to shake those memories away.

Okay, so the only drawback I can see immediately is that greasemonkey hasn't caught up yet. I sincerely hope their nightly build will work with 1.5 some not too distant morn.

Other than that, it looks pretty much the same. Here's the page where they tell what all is new.

Check on what others are saying via this technorati search

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it's all about efficiency

Clive Thompson says that genius is all about being mentally efficient.

No, really, that's what he says...

The more efficiently the subjects' brain worked, the bigger their memory capacity.


Yes, yes, I know genius isn't all about memory. But new research shows that...

our awareness is not determined only by what we can keep 'in mind' but also by how good we are at keeping irrelevant things 'out of mind'.


So all I have to do to increase my genius quotient is stop thinking about irrelevant things.

I'd have to change careers for that, I think. More on that later.


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it must be introvert season

I revisited my admttedly tongue in cheek thoughts on introversion/extroversion only yesterday.

Today, we learn that there's some scientific backup to the claim that introverts have more active brains (in other words, are smarter) than certain other types of people.

And! And! I was always told, though perhaps Nicole could say otherwise, that the Myers Briggs personality type indicator measured preferences, in other words that scoring as an introvert on the Myers Briggs test indicates a way one chooses to be in the world. I've always suspected that this was at least partial hogwash. Now I've been vindicated...

Introverted children enjoy the internal world of thoughts, feelings and fantasies, and there's a physiological reason for this. Researchers using brain scans have found introverts have more brain activity in general, and specifically in the frontal lobes.


Knew it!

Thanks to slashdot for the find. And no offense slashdot people, but your pages are in desperate need of a general redesign. Maybe you need to hire an introvert to think this through for you. I'm available.

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2005-11-28

coming soon: ms sets the (sub)standard

Internet Explorer 7 is coming soon. I know you're delighted.

UPDATE: And widening the margin, in usability if not in number of users, Firefox 1.5 comes out later today, says Macworld via Yahoo.

I know some of you are still happily living in IE land. Some may even be, dare I say it, fans of explorer. Rest assured, Microsoft will certainly deliver another product that is overdue yet performs poorly while simultaneously looking awful and taking up too much space on your machine.

Here's what PCWorld has to say...

IE's changes are long overdue, and the browser remains a work in progress, with final code not slated until sometime in 2006. But as it stands, many of its new features still don't match functionality already present in the other browsers.


Read the entire 5 page article here.

So tell me again, why anyone would bother with it? Sentimentality perhaps. Some people enjoy it. Sort of like how some people still use casette tapes.

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that's mr. real person consultant to you

From now on, you may think of me as the official SEO (that's Geek 2.0 for Search Engine Optimization) poster child. It's because I make it look so easy, you know.

How I do it is: I see a little something on the web telling me, for example, how to become an extrovert. Smartypants that I am, I decide to do an alternate post about how to become an introvert. But, and here's the trick, I title it "how to become a real person," since extoversion is completely overrated, as everyone knows. Well, okay, not everyone.

Somewhere down the line, some unknown websurfer does a search on google, titled "become a real person" and clicks the first item that comes up. Of course, he (or she) is disappointed to find my blog at the other end of that click, that goes without saying. But it's still one more hit for me, and because of Mr. (or Ms.) Unknown Searcher, and countless others like him (or her), I'm on top.

With tactics like this, it's no wonder my daily hit count is in the very high single digits!

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2005-11-27

no country for old men: review

I brought Cormac McCarthy's new book, No Country for Old Men, with me over Thanksgiving. In fact, I read the entire thing through on Thanksgiving Day, it was that absorbing. Not only could I not put it down, I could barely stand to take my eyes from the page. No Country grabs you by the throat, shakes you like a rag doll for three hundred pages and leaves you exhausted. I loved it.

McCarthy is not light reading. He's a spare writer who loves conjunctions, especially 'and'. He does not shy from brutality and in this book he seems almost to revel in starkly gruesome violence.

Anton Chigurh (pronounced so that it can be confused with sugar) is a killer. We don't know much else about him and we don't need to. The opening, vicious murder of a Sheriff's deputy by which Chigurh makes his escape, gives us almost all we need know of this guy.

Llewelyn Moss is a hunter who stumbles upon the bloody aftermath of a dope deal gone bad. He's a good tracker and it is these skills that will get him mixed up with Chigurh.

Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is tracking both of these men throughout the book, a step behind them to the end.

It is Bell who gives the book its voice, he is one of the old men of the title. Moss and Chigurh are much younger. The book is a study in the way the world has changed, though only the older characters can describe this. In doing so, Bell even gives us the cliche about the old problems of kids chewing gum in schools versus the new problems of rape and murder. In the hands of a lesser writer this kind of thing would kill the book, but McCarthy employs cliche here because this is how someone like Ed Tom Bell talks, and thinks.

Which brings me to the best reason to read McCarthy: language. The man is a master of painting in English (though it's helpful in reading many of his books to be literate in Spanish as well, which I'm not).

As with other great writers, what he doesn't say is as important as what he does. McCarthy leaves a lot to the imagination, but describes some things (boots, the inside of a truck) with precision. Watch his use of the words "serum" and "matter" in allowing the reader to imagine present or recent violent scenes. Or a phrase like "God's own distance" to instantly render the country where a character is, unfortunately, not. There isn't a single wasted sentence in the book. Think that's not an accomplishment? Even Gilead had one or two.

Contrast McCarthy with a writer like McMurtry or, better yet, a filmmaker like Clint Eastwood. Eastwood likes to illustrate redemption through violence. McCarthy's violence--in this book and others such as his Border Trilogy--is often not redemptive, sometimes it is capricious. He may be suggesting that the world is largely random, and in fact a few of his characters have said as much. This insistent randomness confronts characters who seem to crave order with catastrophe. McCarthy almost never lets them off the hook. The characters we like best in his books often don't live to the end. Sometimes they meet their doom quite suddenly, and even "off screen." We only learn about it later through the eyes or ears of another character.

It is this fierce resistance to contrivance that I especially appreciate in McCarthy's work.
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2005-11-26

certain of you should not read this post

Depending on your personal fear factor, you may not want to read this.


"I was once told that we ingest up to 2 lbs of bugs per year"


I told you.

Just great! I had to check bloglines once before going to bed. As the author of the Damn Interesting article says, "sweet dreams."

Yuck.


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corning: what more do you need?

We went to Corning, NY yesterday. Yes, I did in fact go shopping on Black Friday. But wait, it's not what you think.

Corning on the day after Thanksgiving (in years when we're in Upper Dialup, PA for the holiday) became a tradition with us some years back. We were bored and frankly in need of some calorie burn off after the feast that year, so we drove to Corning and walked around for a few hours. We discovered an oldish downtown with some great little places here and there. In the town square a crowd of people awaited Santa. He arrived (in a police cruiser!) to great fanfare and began receiving visitors in his little Santa gazebo.

As years have passed, the downtown has endured a great deal of turnover. There are still a few more empty storefronts than I would have liked, but the must-stops are still there. Since Corning is still a well kept secret, we didn't have to fight crowds at all, but there were enough people around to lend a sense of life to downtown.

While enjoying some ice cream (25 degrees outside? It's never too cold for ice cream) at the Old World Cafe in the town center, I turned to Joy and said, "The only thing this town needs is a free wireless hotspot?" I've sinced realized that it also needs a decent bookstore.

Later I asked a shopkeeper who had satellite radio in her store about wifi access. "There's a hotspot right across the street in the town center." So I had been sitting in it when I made the observation. A quick scan of the blurb about the hotspot on the Corning Chamber website reveals this:

"Laptop users lacking an appropriate wi-fi PC card can borrow one, free of charge from the Information Center."


Nice! One suggestion for business owners and Corning chamber of commerce members: more and better web pages. Maybe start a blog while you're at it.

2005-11-24

is it a nightmare if you're awake?

We interrupt the interruption of blogging for an announcement:

I just got a look at this blog in internet explorer for mac. on dialup.

Frightening.

We now return you to your interruption, already in progress.

2005-11-23

this is not here

This blog is hereby suspended by unilateral order of the Thanksgiving Celebrators Union Local Pottstown #1.

Publication of utter nonsense will resume no earlier than Saturday.

Happy Thanksgiving. Peace to all.

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the gospel according to my birthday

Because it's a meme.

How come I never think of these things myself?

You take your birthday and look up the corresponding verse in each gospel. Of course, it's a so-very-subtle way of letting you all know my birthday.

Matthew 1:19 - Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

Mark 1:19 - As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.

Luke 1:19 - The angel replied, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.

John 1:19 - This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"


I guess these are kind of appropriate given that Advent is almost upon us.



H/T: Nouslife
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2005-11-22

i'm only sleeping, not

when i wake up early in the morning
lift my head, i'm still yawning
when i'm in the middle of a dream
stay in bed float upstream (float upstream)

...unless of course, I can't get to sleep in the first place.

I don't feel like watching court TV either, though I may have to resort to that soon.

So if you see a nearly incomprehensible comment from me on your blog, you'll know why (actually you'll probably just say to yourself, "what else is new.")

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this one's lost its flavor

The neo-classic line "All your base are belong to us," from the game Zero Wing is being overused.

Please stop it already. Please.

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2005-11-20

myst-y mountain hop

Stop it. Stop it now. Stop laughing.

I'm still stuck in noloben.

In fact, I've reached dead ends in all four ages.

I told you to stop!

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tears and hugs

This was a busy week. Since the bosspastor was on vacation I had my plate full. On top of that, I'm trying to get together an advent devotional for our congregation. It's a long established tradition in this church, but you really have to keep after folks to write a short little something. That didn't help in the workload department.

So it was delightful to see Kay in church this morning. Kay is still terminal. But right now she's experiencing an upturn in her condition. She's decided to forego any treatment and "let the Lord take me when he wants to take me."

Becuase she was feeling pretty good this week, she asked her son-in-law to bring her to church. Alice, who wears an eye patch now after her accident left her with double vision, shed tears when she saw Kay enter the sanctuary.

I found a lot to complain about this week at church, and still think most of it was justified. But seeing Kay embraced by so many people, and Alice's tears reminded me what this ministry thing, as painful as it is, is supposed to be about.


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2005-11-19

how the other half gives thanks

Just doing a little non scientific fact checking. You can help.

**Too bad, it looks like yahoo took the story in question below out of their rotation as I was finishing this post, but you can still find it by following the link below.**

First, go to my yahoo (without signing in to your account, if you have one).

You should notice that the "today" box right below the "sign in to access..." contains one of four rotating stories. Eventually, a story about mail order thanksgiving meals should appear. Or you can click on the small text in the box that says, "Is Mail Order Thanksgiving Dinner..."

The lead in says:

(Yahoo! Finance) This year more than half of all Americans will mail-order their Thanksgiving spread. But will it taste good? We tested 5..


Now, I've read the article that appears when you follow the "more" link, but I don't see any mention of the amazing assertion that more than 50% of Americans will mail order thanksgiving dinner.

So, I want to know, gentle readers, am I missing out? Have I lost touch with American society so completely that I did not know that Thanksgiving is no longer Thanksgiving unless you have a Harry and David Cajun Style Boneless Stuffed Turkey delivered by Fed Ex?

Please verify, if you will, whether you are getting your Thanksgiving in the mail or not. I am in distress here, feeling so out of touch.


2005-11-18

he apologized on TV, so it must be genuine. or something.

My wonderful, beautiful, talented, amazing wife...

has a long standing crush on this loser.

Okay, so he can act. Big deal.

Today, he pleaded guilty to assault and posession of a weapon (a telephone!). The charges resulted from a failed attempt to reach his wife by phone. Because he was aggravated, he threw the phone at a hotel clerk. It hit the man, cutting his face.

He said the outburst was the result of "jet lag, loneliness and adrenalin"


...and not because he's a jerk.


via Findory.



google analytics: why bother?

I've decided to remove the Google analytics tracking code from my template as well as my google analytics record, for two reasons.

1. First, as Eric points out, there is a real privacy concern raised by this "free" service. I don't think Google intends to go after the very bloggers it likes to benefit from, but the way is open with the terms of service for this tool. Here's a short sample:

You will have and abide by an appropriate privacy policy and will comply with all applicable laws relating to the collection of information from visitors to Your websites. You must post a privacy policy and that policy must provide notice of your use of a cookie that collects anonymous traffic data.


Here's the full deal.

I don't have a privacy policy. All traffic to this site is tracked, I think you knew that, but until just now I'd never mentioned it. Furthermore I, like Eric, am not sufficiently informed about privacy law to know whether agreeing to these terms would be a wise move on my part or not. Are you?

But the biggest red flag that these terms raise for me is summarized in my Coalition of Unpaid Bloggers manifesto (read: justification for putting a neat looking button on my blog), and expanded upon here. I prefer to remain unbeholden, at least as far as is possible. Google Analytics applies just the kind of restriction I'm eager to avoid.

I still like Google, and still wish I had bought shares last year, but I'm not ceding any more to them or anyone else than absolutely necessary. As the apostle Paul wrote, "all things are lawful for me but I will not be enslaved by anything."



2. It never did work! Not for me, anyway. This is actually the more important reason. When I sign up for a service, free or not, I expect it to work. 'nuff said.



So, moving on...


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egermency! egermency! ewrybody to get from street!

(Trivia points if you can guess the origin of the post title... if not the movie, then maybe the actor who spake said line).

A woman walks into a fast food joint, orders some onion rings to go with her cholesterol sandwich, and finds them too cold.

So, she does what any self-respecting, onion-ring-loving American taxpayer would do...

SHE CALLS 911!

I've often thought that people who eat fast food should be locked up, but I didn't mean it literally.

Be careful out there, folks.


Hat tip: Obscure Store.

2005-11-17

google underestimates it's own popularity

One thing was obvious to me the other day when I learned via Micro Persuasion that google analytics was available for free: it was going to be overrun with signups.

I was correct. I signed up immediately and still don't see statistics telling me the massive numbers of readers and visits I do not have. I guess my humiliation will have to wait for Google's servers to catch up to demand.

Apparently Google was surprised, as this article at PC World suggests.

That Google fumbled the launch of this service is hard to believe, given the company's profile and resources, Extreme Software's Kawira said. "They should have known they were going to have a huge amount of people sign up," he said.


In other words, "duh!"

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don't let anyone look down on you because of your youth

This story is old, I guess, but it just appeared on Findory and it's news to me.

Britney Gallivan is the kind of young woman I stayed far away from in high school: way smarter than I'll ever be. (Somewhere along the line I dropped that rule as my wife will doubtless attest).

She figured out how to fold a paper in half twelve times (conventional wisdom states that more than 8 times is impossible) using single or alternating direction folding, I don't know how she did it. I can't even decipher the webpage on which the whole thing is explained. But there is a picture on it of Britney herself with what looks like A PERFECTLY FOLDED FITTED SHEET!

...although I guess it's paper. She's got the math all worked out. Apparently she's no slouch at economics either; if you want her explanation of how she solved the problem it's gonna cost you.

Way to go Britney!

2005-11-16

you knew it was coming, didn't you?

Google. Free Wifi. Mountain View, CA.

Come hither, google!

via Findory
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jim needs meme

Actually, that's the last thing I need, but Matt picked up on this meme that's spreading around the b'sphere like Kudzu on Jimmy Carter's back porch.

You type your name into google followed by "needs" and post the first ten hits.

For me, it's...

Jim Jannotti needs...

  1. serotoninrain (yes, I do)
  2. for young people to make a commitment to sexual purity (especially my own two girls!!)
  3. to get Paul Hartman, Jim Petro, Tim Pritchard,...
  4. music weed file directory (I always thought so).
  5. Upper Room|Devotional (no thanks, I already got one)
  6. network layer support for overlay networks (huh?)
  7. network layer support for overlay networks (I guess I REALLY need that)
  8. truth in justice's message board (truth is in short supply, as you know)
  9. bibliography (I think I need to get some books published first)
  10. **the tenth one made no sense at all so I'm taking the 11th**
  11. overcast reliable multicasting with an overlay network (alright! Criminy! I'll go out and get it tomorrow!)

Well, I feel better now. How about you?
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pottstown parking problem

Following a frustrating morning at church in which I found out that there is no silk purse that can not by sheer force of stubborn willfulness be turned into a sow's ear, I decided to pursue my sermon writing task down at my favorite coffee shop.

This next bit, though a detour, is important. When I picked up my American Tourister bag in which I keep my essentials: notebook, wireless adapter, books, etc I noticed that it was coming apart at both the upper corners of the notebook shell. I soldiered on over to Staples where a new Swissbag happened to be on sale! I left the store, so says the receipt, at 10:32am.

Back in town, I parked across the street from Churchill, which I hardly ever do and probably will not do again. There is a three hour parking limit througout our downtown. The time would now have been approximately 10:40, give or take.

Inside the shop I found Tanna the owner, Scott her husband, Alain the chef,and Erica the counterperson all happily going about the business of making Churchill the town's "third place."

After spending lots of time making almost no progress on my sermon, I left. The time: 12:46. As I approached my car, there it was flashing goldenrod beneath the driver's side wiper: a parking ticket.

"Parking time limit violation," it proclaimed. In the margin was written "tire chalked at 9:01am."

"Now wait a minute!" I'm sure you're saying to yourself. "Jim made a point of telling us he didn't arrive there until 10:40, give or take." That's right.

Fortunately for me, I was standing right outside Boro Hall. I simply marched in there and told the cashier my problem. She said, "Go down to the police station and tell them." So I marched down to the police station.

They gave me a hard time. The captain refused to believe me. He insisted that there could not possibly have been a mistake.

I forgot! Police officers don't ever make mistakes. How utterly foolish of me.

Well, after going back and forth and getting nowhere with Captain Parking for 15 minutes (you've noticed of course that it is now approximately 1pm and I still have not exahusted my three hours), I finally prevailed upon him to write my name and address down on the ticket so he could talk to the officer who wrote it and get back to me.

If I never see the ticket again, I'm in the clear, says he. If I receive it in the mail, I'll have no option but to pay the fine and then perhaps contest it.

I'll tell you one thing. I'm not paying that ticket.

You know, a few years ago I would have simply paid the fine and been done with it. I don't know what it is but I'm not as tolerant of incompetence compounded by willful ignorance as I used to be. Not in myself or anyone else.



2005-11-14

quick evil before bed

Stebe Rubel at Micro Persuasion had this post listing "the ten evilest and mostly unethical blogging hacks" as one of his links o'the day.

The last one is a scream, but the whole list pokes a lot of fun at the link lust (not to mention search engine optimization overload) that currently permeates the blogosphere.

"The best way to get free traffic is to steal someone’s credit card and buy a bunch of ads on Adwords, you don’t have to pay for it and its a sure fire way to end up with a lot of traffic and in jail."
--liberalcowboy @ jackofallblogs


Priceless.

open the box, pandora, let the tunes out.

Wow.

That's my initial reaction to Pandora, relatively new web2.0-ware.

Pandora is a customizable radio station that builds a playlist based on your preferences. You can tell it what artists you like and it will pick music to play for you based on those choices. Furthermore, for every song played you can click on a "guide us" button and tell Pandora whether you liked it or not. It will then not play that particular song again while simultaneously noting your choice in refining your preferences.

Click once on the song icons in your Pandora window (which you can make smaller with one click) and vote for, purchase, or get other information on that song and artist.

And since this is web2.0 stuff, you can share your station and listen to others. Excellent. I'll email you mine if you like. Contact me at jvjannotti[at]gmail[dot]com if you wants it.

My chosen artists so far have been The Beatles (of course), U2, and Collective Soul. I've heard songs by Live, Neil Young, and the Beach Boys that I liked and Starman by David Bowie, which I didn't. Right now Peace of Mind by Blue Cheer is playing.

Check it out. It's ad supported, or you can subscribe and keep your Pandora ad free.

Thanks to Jake Tracey for the tip.

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when black friday comes...

From a website called DollarHacker comes a set of tips for shopping on Black Friday (aka "the day following Thanksgiving").

A relative of mine (whom I shall not name) actually likes to go shopping on Black Friday. She dutifully gets up at 5 am. 5 A M! to hit the long, long checkout lines.

Check out DollarHacker's list.

And since you've got some time on your hands otherwise you'd wouldn't be visiting my blog, here's the serotoninrain list of shopping tips for Black Friday:

1. don't.




h/t: LifeHacker



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the label says "use by 1976" -- dig in!



Ick! Stuff like oatmeal can stay edible for decades. Personally, I think eidibility and palatibility are synonymous.

75% of the people who had to test the 28 year old food said it would be acceptable in an emergency. Depends on the definition of emergency I guess.

Maybe I won't clean out that pantry after all.

The article contains my pick for understatement of the year: "It's really unique to have food around that long,"



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2005-11-13

an interview with rand miller, international man of myst-ery

I haven't read this interview with Rand Miller yet but I knew you wanted to see it. I myst go play his game now.

Bye.


via: Myst & URU obsession

the perfect antidote to bliss

This business is selling some seriously funny stuff.


Thanks ever so much to my buddy Matt on the upper left coast for pointing this out. I've just spent the last 30 minutes laughing myself silly. Now if you'll excuse my I have to run to the little boys room before I laugh anymore.

Check out their faq. Read closely.

Favorite poster tag line:


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with apologies to those with refined sensibilities

Seems the picture on my last post was beguiling or shocking depending on who you were.

So as an intermezzo to cleanse the palate, I offer a serene image.




Feel better?





*Find lots more like this at heartlight's PowerPoint resources

2005-11-11

no more lightheartedness

So, we have no winner in this quiz, though Zalm and Eric did correctly identify Ron Perlman. Seems nature movies from the eighties aren't your thing. This highly recommended film and the answer to the quiz is The Bear (1988). Check out that cover photo. It is the story of an orphaned bear cub who befriends an adult male (played by Bart the Kodiak Bear). They are the stars of the film. The human actors are on screen for maybe twenty minutes total and there is very little in the way of dialog even then. The two Kodiaks carry the movie. It's a comedy, tear jerking drama and thriller all rolled into one.

***

Looks like I have a stumper here. Neither one of my readers could get it so here's a hint: The fact that the bonus question was about an actor who once played a beast was, in itself, a clue to the subject of the film.

Because that last post was so light hearted, I thought I'd moderate things with a bit of seriousness:


The serotoninrain Film Quiz #2

Try your hand at this. Answers in the comments. Yes, of course you could Google or IMDB the answer, but don't. okay? You'll just spoil the fun... I mean, the seriousness.


Here's your question:


The director is Jean-Jacques Annaud. The star's first name is Bart. The movie is....?





Bonus question for trivia experts(as if there were a prize or something): Annaud also directed Enemy At The Gates and The Name of the Rose. Both films feature a particular character actor who at one point in his career was in a rather beastly television series. Any guesses as to the offscreen identity of this person?

2005-11-10

dearest pat does it again

You'd think the guy would learn when to stuff a sock in it, but NOOOOOO!


Pat Robertson:


"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city, And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there,"



Yep. I can hear God now. "You buncha jerks voted the supporters of Intelligent Design off the school board, so I'm takin' my marbles and goin' home. Harrrumph."

My goodness Pat, do you think the LORD is as small minded as you?

Well, I don't.


*For those who are interested, I believe in a Creator and I believe that there ought to be culturally sanctioned ways for the stories of the Creator's action in history to be shared and passed down. I also believe we live in a democracy where the public has the right to vote. Sometimes you're not in the majority and you lose. Mr. Robertson doesn't seem to have grasped that fact.

testing ecmanaut

This is a post that tests out ecmanaut's tasty del.icio.us greasemonkey tagging javapalooza.

As you were.

swan chaser

Ronald Pagodin, Sr. died this week. He was the father of my closest friend from high school (and college, and post college). His son Ron and I were bike riding, songwriting, music making, hanging out partners. When my mom phoned to tell me Ron's father had died, and though I haven't been in touch with Ron Jr. much since leaving New Jersey in 1993, I decided to attend the funeral, which was held today.

Ron Sr. was an intimidating man. I didn't dislike him but he frightened me so I avoided him whenever possible. It wasn't always possible. Driving to New Jersey today I remembered one such time; a moment I consider to be one of the most significant from my youth, a gift. And it was given to me by Ron Pagodin, Sr.

It happened like this.

Ron Jr. and I along with our friend Bill liked to camp in Swartswood State Park. Sometimes we would decide on the spur of the moment to drive up for the night and if we didn't want to bother with a tent, there was always the camper Ron Sr. kept up around there. On this occasion we arrived tentless to find the camper with Ron Sr. in it. He had donned his typical camping attire: a pair of cutoff shorts, a beer for one hand, and a cigarette for the other. "When it gets dark we'll go out on the lake in the canoe," he said. "Okay," we said. He left at that point to pursue whatever it was he was pursuing.

Later on, Bill and Ron got into a game of cards. I don't know what I was doing. Staring at the wall maybe. I hate playing cards, always have. Ron's father returned, throwing open the camper door and saying, "who's going out on the lake!"

I eagerly called out, "Me!" fully expecting two other "Me's" to chime in as well. They did not.

"You two pansies not up for it?" asked Ron's dad (I'm not sure if that's exactly what he said or not, though it is certainly what I was thinking).

Looking at me for perhaps the first time ever, Ron Sr. said, "Let's go." Minutes later, he and I--just he and I--put that canoe in the water.

There was a partial moon and plenty of stars. The quiet was deep and almost unnerving, the sound of the oars cutting the water, welcome. We paddled around for a few minutes, Ron Sr. wondering aloud why anybody would choose to skip a night like this for a game of cards. I wondered the same thing and said so.

There was a loud splashing from the other end of the lake, behind us. We turned in time to see a large white swan landing on the water. Ron turned the boat with a single deft stroke and sent us skimming toward the swan with no wake and almost no noise.

The bird knew we were there of course, but she did not fly off. We stopped maybe forty feet away.

"Let's chase her," said Ron and without waiting for my answer we were off, as was the giant bird. Her wingspan had to be ten feet, or maybe I was just smaller then.

"Paddle as hard as you can!" Ron hissed.

"Okay." I wasn't bad with an oar, Boy Scout merit badges and numerous camping trips being part of my past.

We cruised after the swan. She toyed with us, maintaining that forty feet of water whether we slowed down or sped up. Neither boat nor bird made any more noise than was required for motion.

"You know, if a swan is threatened it'll attack you with its wings. Those damn birds can really put a hurtin' on ya," Ron Sr. said at one point. It sounded as if he might be speaking from experience.

There was one other thing he said again and again, "Just breathe it right on in. Just eat it right on up." I assume he was speaking to me, or maybe to himself. Perhaps both.

We never caught up with the swan, indeed never closed the gap to more than forty feet. We stopped after a while and so did she, both of us floating as neighbors on the lake. Then she flew off, the report of her wings muffling numerous other night sounds that I hadn't noticed until they were briefly gone. Spectators.

During the car ride back to the camper Ron told me to hang on to it, not to tell Ron Jr. and Bill.

That I did. In fact I never told anyone about it until I gave the story to Ron Jr. and his two sons this afternoon. "I always wondered what happened," Ron said. "Dad never said anything either."

"To this day," I said, telling them the truth, "whenever I am struck dumb by the beauty of creation, which happens all the time, I hear Ron Pagodin Sr.'s voice in my head: 'Just breathe it right on in. Just eat it right on up'."

my friend amy w is right...



I AM KERMIT!





You are Kermit the Frog.
You are reliable, responsible and caring. And you
have a habit of waving your arms about
maniacally.

FAVORITE EXPRESSIONS:
"Hi ho!" "Yaaay!" and
"Sheesh!"
FAVORITE MOVIE:
"How Green Was My Mother"

LA

ST BOOK READ:
"Surfin' the Webfoot: A Frog's Guide to the
Internet"

HOBBIES:
Sitting in the swamp playing banjo.

QUOTE:
"Hmm, my banjo is wet."


What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Quick, almost invisible flash of the tongue to his bad self.

2005-11-09

quote of the day

Okay, back to the light hearted posts. Here's a quote from the new blogger at Paulicus Maximus. He's responding to the iMonk post I told you about earlier.

If giving is down we don't say it's God's cursing or a lack of God's anointing. We say its "spiritual warfare" or "a test of our faith." Our mentality is so messed up. It's funny, we're commanded to be in the world but not of it. I think that the church of today is of the world but not in it.

iMonk: no reply

Randy McRoberts referred to this post by Michael Spencer, aka iMonk.

What can one say. There's so much in his post that I feel applies to me as well. The system he is trapped in is very sick and needs to be changed.

Ministry is not a calling, not here, not anymore. It is a mouth.

Please, I know there are exceptions but that's all they are. Don't placate yourself by telling me it's like this everywhere, start doing something about it. Start now.

P.S. I wish Michael had closed his post to comments. A few of them are so trite they make me sick. Be the church, people. Stop talking about it and do it.

2005-11-07

yeah, and their clocks were all blinking 12:00

Also from Allan Bellows at Damn Interesting: this scary piece of news.

Yaaaa...

We can all rest easy now though, they've been reset to the coordinates of all those socks I've lost. (Actually, the weapons were reset in 1977, well before I began losing my own socks).

skipping time

There's a theory that, believe it or not has some adherents, which proposes that the years 614-911 AD never happened.

Here's a summary of the theory from Damn Interesting (that's the name of the blog, the author is Allan Bellows).

DI comes to the conclusion that this theory is not worth the air it takes to explain it. I read the article with great interest, hoping that I could maybe find a way to wipe out my 30's. Alas, they remain.


via Digg

2005-11-06

when i was a kid, the bullies used to call me...












Sally

Wishy-Washy: 71%, Mental: 84%, Physical: 37%

Sally is Charlie Brown's little sister and has an unrequited love for
Linus. Alternately amazed and terrified by the world of school, she
gets by on pure stubbornness. If you're feeling a little down about
life, remember you can always talk to the school wall.












My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 96% on wishywashystuff
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 86% on brainstuff
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 24% on physicalstuff




Link: The Peanuts Character Test written by timberlineridge on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test



----



on account of my longish hair.



Thanks Nicole. This was just the ticket since I didn't really feel like posting anything else.

are you literally going to read this?



Here's a fascinating history on the use of "literally" by at NPR. Seems people are complaining about the use of the word literally when actually speaking figuratively.

But people have been saying what they don't mean for ages. For example, as Mr. Sheidlower points out there are literally such things as contranyms. "Dust" is one. Contranyms are words that are used in seemingly contradictory ways. Dust can mean either to remove dust or to sprinkle dust.


"And why don't we also complain about using the word
really to refer to things that aren't real?"


Yeah! What he said.

Hey, I don't really care either way. As long as you don't use "impact" as a verb on my blog, we'll be just fine.


(this post written with writely).

2005-11-05

most icky

Update: Y'all are coming up with some good ones (in the comments). Keep at it. I'm not going to chime in yet as I don't want to unduly influence the recitation of ickyness.



Last night's post was titled "ick" and was inserted into the theology category which prompted questions from one commenter about ickiness and theology. I responded that there's a lot of ickiness in the bible and gave an example.

So then, we start sharing most icky biblical slayings and I think, "Hey this is a participatory, conversational medium here and I don't want the rest of you to feel left out." I also realize that a few of you know your bibles a little bit and could probably, wihout too much extra research messing up your Saturday, contribute your pick for the MIBS, that is, the...


MOST ICKY BIBLICAL SLAYING


Said slaying can be carried out by a human being, an angel, or the LORD himself (this is an equal opportunity award).Please leave your pick in the comments of this post and be sure and cite the approximate scripture reference so we can all look it up and say, "Eeeeewwww."

Here are the contributions so far from last night's ick post:

My pick is Jehu's slaying of Jezebel, though in fact it wasn't he who did the slaying but... well, read the prophecy here and the icky fulfillment here.

Eric picks Jael's display of camping skills.

Zalm goes for this bit of ickiness, also from Judges. The link goes to the NLT version because Zalm says it increases the ickiness factor. I have to agree.

So you're contributions are welcome and encouraged.

Anyone? Anyone?


technorati tag:

2005-11-04

ick

Tomorrow night is our church's Charge Conference. Despite the energizing name, it is anything but.

So, if you pray, please do. Mostly for my attitude which is none too good right now and probably needs some adjustment.

So, okay... that's all I have for now.

2005-11-03

name that film quiz no. 1


UPDATE:
Eric wins. How he managed to fast forward his DVD to all those quotes so quickly is a great mystery. The film is Silverado, starring such luminaries as Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, Jeff Golblum, and Rosanna Arquette. Next time it won't be so easy.

No, I don't know if there will be a No. 2, but it pays to be prepared.

In commemoration of nothing at all, here's the first serotoninrain film quiz. Ready?

It's easy, all you must do is guess the title of and name at least one star of the film indicated by the following quotes (it would be fun if you could name a star and match him or her to a quote below!). Winner gets a ton of respect. If this goes well I may resort to actual prizes.

Quotes from todays mystery film:


---

"You idiot, he's hit everything he's aimed at."

"I needed to get up anyway."

"You better watch your a**, or these guys'll shoot it off."

"Now we're gonna give you a fair trial, followed by a first rate hangin' "

---


Surely, you don't need more than that, do you?


youth is [not] wasted on the young


rather than using the internet as their parents do - as an information source, to shop or to read newspapers online - most young people are using it to communicate with one another
."





The other day, my 11 year old daughter decided to make Halloween cards for everyone in the family. She went online, found graphics for each of the cards & downloaded them. When she finished she attached all the cards to one email and sent it from her account to mine. There is no printer attached to her computer, so she needed to email those files so they would be printable via another desktop, which she used to print the cards.

When she opened up MS Outlook to do her emailing, she received a few messages from a friend of hers whom she met at camp this past summer.

She's 11.

She's a content creator, though she doesn't have a web page yet, she knows what a blog is and was just asking me last night how a person gets one.

John at Freshblog posts today about the Pew Center's findings re: young people's internet usage. Not surprisingly, youth are not passive users but content creators and in some segments they are more savvy than their parents. Their chief purpose is connectivity, relationship.

We are only now discovering this information, but this has been happening for some time. It is a trend which will significantly change the way we communicate and connect across the board. I hesitate to make predictions about the character of those changes, but I wouldn't be surprised if there comes a further push toward easily usable, technologically sophisticated, web based software that enhances quick multi-user converstaion. In other words, the next wave of "web 2.0" innovation will be driven in some signicant way by adolescents.

The Pew results page is here. The page includes links to the full report in PDF format, as well as many other resources and related articles.

Incidentally, thank you John for pointing at Nouslife. I will be bookmarking him post-haste.

today is world usability day

Here's an easy to access article at USA Today (which I found via Techdirt, via Findory).

End-users of the world unite! Oppose those products that come with an instruction manual, which...

"If it hasn't been written by geeks, it's been translated, verbatim, from Korean or Japanese. Too many gadgets pay scant attention to ease of use."

Today, this very day, is your day to stand up and be counted. That's right, it's...

the first World Usability Day by the Usability Professionals' Association (made up of product testers, designers and others). The aim: to promote "user-centered design and every user's responsibility to ask for things that work better."

The article offers a sampling of today's events around the country (it didn't mention what might be happening in other countries, I don't know why). Like this one...

At Michigan State University, real usability success stories will be displayed. Example: a Whirlpool washer that lets blind users speak commands to the machine


That's awesome. Is it okay to use it if you're sighted? Cause I might get me one of those.

The poster child for good usability, according to the article is, not surprisingly, this. I'm sure certain usability watchers will rejoice at the news.



"It really is hard to be easy,*"





*Keith Karn, Xerox. As quoted in the article.


Technorati tag:

2005-11-02

he calls them copywrongs. i like that.

The quote below comes from an article at Raving Lunacy*. At first you may think it is just that, but read on please, if you have any interest in the written word or intellectual property, or rights pertaining thereto.

The Head Lemur, as his URL refers to him, begins with an observation that may sound somewhat Lyonsesque (this is not a post about that, as I promised):

There is a lot of debate surrounding the efforts of Google and Microsoft to scan the books of the world and make them available electronically. I say Scan Them All!

I say don't stop with what is sitting on the library shelves of the world, but start a World Wide Effort to get every scrap of information that resides on paper and make it electronic. Books, Magazines, Brochures, Handouts, Catalogues, and the entire output of every local copy shop on the planet. All those announcements about bake sales, rummage sales, and lost pet posters.


Keep reading because, unlike Lyons, Sir Lemur goes on to make sense. At least he does to me. If you don't think so then perhaps you will see this as an invitation to a long overdue discussion that we probably will still refuse to have, or, barring that, as a shot across the bow. We will need to have the talk someday however, so you might want to prepare yourself.


I can't possibly be the only one that remembers the late Keith Green making his albums (a long time ago, eh) available for whatever price one wanted to pay. That was a different world.


*Many thanks to Doc Searls for the fresh link. The good doctor linked my humble blog the other day. Much obliged, sir.


Technorati tag:

i'm not breaking my promise, this isn't really a post...

it's only a link to Kn@ppster's take on Attack of the Blogs.


Technorati tag:

shades of Gattaca

This story which is in the ascendant on Digg, is intriguing.

"The boy, who was not named, started the hunt for his biological father by rubbing a swab along the inside of his cheek, putting it in a vial and sending it off to an online US DNA genealogy service, with a payment of 289 dollars (240 euros)."
Sounds like the only one who gets to remain anonymous is the kid. He should start a blog.

it's live... no wait, dead.

Eric must have heard about this. He's just being kind, I'm sure. The incident is conspicuously absent from the MS article Eric mentioned yesterday in his post on the subject.

Beautiful.

2005-11-01

the sequalizer

Got tagged on this one and posted it once before.

I'll add:

5 things I thought I'd never hear myself say:

1. Go. to. your. room. Right! NOW!

2. This computer sucks.

3. Could you say that again, slower?

4. Could I have some more of those brussell sprouts?

5. Oh, snap!

you're no jack kennedy

but I guess I am.



Increases my what?

Thanks to Mr. Bleak Mouse for the tip.