Christmas Blog Post 2008

Last night I read Uncle Bill’s Christmas letter. He mailed it, but he apparently doesn’t have my postal address so I got the electronic version. Woohoo! His letter recaps the year for his family. Do any of you have such a tradition? Or a family member who does? Oddly my blog doesn’t provide much basis as it is devoid of personal information.

So here goes….

Family

Mom went off to Houston in January to consult with one of the best doctors in the country about a health issue. How things fell into place to allow her to get better amazed me daily. I got to grandparent sit for a week where I made Nannie tell stories so I could post them on Youtube. 😀

William married Nicole, his high school sweetheart. I finally have a sister. It rained on us briefly, so if you are into superstitions, that means either: 1) kids, 2) money, or 3) good luck.

I met Dad’s girlfriend, Sally, this year. She is definitely very nice. I’m happy with the match.

Friends

My only New Year’s Resolution for 2008 was to read 25 books this year. I completed that goal back in October. I’m thinking for 2008 to do a similar resolution. This time I’ll count up the number of pages and set a goal to read 20% more pages.

Some fellow Flickr users started an Athens Flickr Meetup. I’m hoping this is something to continue in 2009 as the weather improves. (Though who knew Georgia would be 20 degrees Farenheit above normal in December?)

RingsAdrianne and Britt asked me to be the photographer for their wedding. I spent hours looking at professional photographer portfolios for ideas about what I should capture. You see, while I do have a camera, I had never really taken photos at a wedding. Heck, few people invite me to weddings, so I was a little unclear what happens. In the end, I think it all turned out pretty well. Adrianne is happy. So I am happy. Working in computers became a profession because it was a hobby. Maybe photography will end up the same in the end? Posted 840 photos to Flickr this year. Started freelovephotography.com to show off my photography.

Las Vegas in July? Dumb. Star Trek: The Experience made my geeky heart soar.
NCC-1701-DNCC-1701-D @ ST: TXP

Fine Print

One of the employees at Last Resort Grill was mutually entertaining a toddler. Overheard her talking about it, “He’s totally flirting with me.” I found it funny. When she happened by my table, I asked her about it.

She said entertaining the kids is part of the fine print of the job. Additionally, people have asked employees to take kids to the restroom, watch the kids for an undetermined amount of time, sanitary napkins on clothing, etc.

In answer to how all these experiences will help her career, she related dealing with all these issues to learning how to deal with unexpected circumstances.

Is there a job worth doing where we don’t have to think about what is being done? If someone cannot make creative decisions, then isn’t the job better done by technology?

Insect-ival

Got some pictures down at the botanical garden today. Reviewed a few and posted them over at Freelove Photography (tagged Insect-ival). I’ll get everything on Flickr eventually.

Insect-ival was cute. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but 400+ screaming kids wasn’t it. The best part was the butterfly release where the few stragglers who could not escape the kids who got to play with them.

Saw a familiar face I had only seen from afar wielding two SLRs and a utility photograper’s belt. I have yet to sink that far down the photography rabbit hole. Only got his first name, but I think this is his blog: fotodave. Amazing stuff!

Causal Stupidity

Everything Bad Is Good for You
Image via Wikipedia

I remember as a kid, my parents restricting television and video game use because they would both make me stupid and violent. They worked too hard, so I had plenty unsupervised time to violate the rules. Plus no force would make me do homework.

The past half decade has seen a resurgence of blame on making kids dumber: the Internet. If I were a kid today, then certainly my parents would be trying to limit my time on it. Comics and radio were also accused of making kids dumb during my parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

What I don’t understand is… If we are becoming so dumb from the current media sources, then how is it possible we can invent new technology to make us even dumber? Perhaps Mark Bauerlein and Lee Drutman should read Everything Bad Is Good For You? (a review) Mike Wesch has an engaging video regarding how kids use these technologies called A Vision of Students Today.

These “dumb” kids know something as despite their involvement with media as they still significantly outperform their parents on IQ tests to the degree the grandparents would qualify for the “special class” taking the same tests. These gains are centered in our ability to create better expansive and interconnecting cognitive maps. I suggest What is Intelligence?: Beyond the Flynn Effect for more about this.

Zemanta Pixie

Nature Photography Day

June 15th is Nature Photography Day (and Father’s Day).

  • Purple ConeflowerTake your kids and grandkids on a nature trek and give them a single-use camera to use. Then print some of their photos and present them, in a mat or frame, to those young photographers.
  • Pick something in nature that you’ve never photographed before, and then make plans to photograph that subject on June 15.
  • Select a subject in nature that is small or common and thus easily overlooked. Then photograph it in a way to make the ordinary seem extraordinary.
  • Look for and photograph something that detracts from the beauty in nature – images that show how human beings sometimes adversely affect our environment.

Too bad June 14th is Free Day in the Parks for Georgia State Parks.

My photos will be tagged “Nature Photography Day” on Flickr.

(Photo is my Purple Coneflower picture hosted on Flickr.)

From Dead and Buried to Reaching the Stars

What is the American fascination with Tutankhamun? Personally, I favor Ramses II. Actually, Ramses II was one of my first obsessions. I knew everything there was to know about him at seven years old. Decades later, I’ve forgotten most of what I knew.

We share the phoneme “Ra”. Ra was an Egyptian sun god probably a tie for my interest in other sun gods and goddesses such as Helios, Sól, Amaterasu and Apollo. Unlike Icarus, I longed to fly too close to the Sun. Other kids thought about becoming police officers or fighting fires. I longed to travel to inside the orbit of Mercury near our Sun. Also, I thought about traveling to other stars.

As a child, my doodles were small to fairly large battles of militaristic or science-fiction themes. I especially liked strong, impenetrable bases. Later, in high school, the doodles changed into massive dungeons and mammoth castles. The builder expressing itself?

The dreams of my childhood seemed unattainable in my youth. Certainly I gave up on them too early. However, I like where and who I am today.

Are Books the Only Way to Learn?

Is the Internet really a bad invention? According to Doris Lessing, yes.

We are in a fragmenting culture, where our certainties of even a few decades ago are questioned and where it is common for young men and women, who have had years of education, to know nothing of the world, to have read nothing, knowing only some speciality or other, for instance, computers.

What has happened to us is an amazing invention – computers and the internet and TV. It is a revolution. This is not the first revolution the human race has dealt with. The printing revolution, which did not take place in a matter of a few decades, but took much longer, transformed our minds and ways of thinking. A foolhardy lot, we accepted it all, as we always do, never asked: “What is going to happen to us now, with this invention of print?” In the same way, we never thought to ask, “How will our lives, our way of thinking, be changed by the internet, which has seduced a whole generation with its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that, once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging etc?”

Very recently, anyone even mildly educated would respect learning, education and our great store of literature. Of course we all know that when this happy state was with us, people would pretend to read, would pretend respect for learning. But it is on record that working men and women longed for books, evidenced by the founding of working-men’s libraries, institutes, and the colleges of the 18th and 19th centuries. Reading, books, used to be part of a general education. Older people, talking to young ones, must understand just how much of an education reading was, because the young ones know so much less.

We all know this sad story. But we do not know the end of it. We think of the old adage, “Reading maketh a full man” – reading makes a woman and a man full of information, of history, of all kinds of knowledge. A hunger for books

Certainly I understand the perspective. We take the astounding availability of knowledge for granted. Instead of stuffing our brains with more and more information, we are content to waste our time online. I think creating a love of life long learning should be the goal.

Books are great. I love to read. Reading is important, yes. I also love to talk to others about what I’ve been reading. The prevalence of books created the Intellectual Movement in which people published books to discuss ideas. Except for Divine knowledge, ideas are refined through challenging weaknesses or problems. The printing press made it easier for people to publish books and get these ideas to the masses so more can read them and respond by publishing their own books. The Internet and especially blogging has improved the response latency from day to years to minutes.

Collaborative philosophical inquiry helps kids at an early age. These skills serve them well even into high school. This strikes me as similar to how the Intellectual Movement worked. Should this be adopted more broadly, then maybe our kids won’t embarrass Doris?

Deeds of Gaijin Occupiers

My grandmother has recently started telling everyone she owns a house in Japan (gaijin cannot own land?). In the 1950s, my grandfather was stationed in Japan. He went over by himself, acquired a house, and sent for his wife and six kids to come. The most common story my grandmother tells is this trip over there. It has several humorous elements to portray the personalities of all the kids. They stayed there for almost 3 years (typical of a deployment) and came back to the continental US. Since, the military base where they live was closed. Someone found the deed to the house and showed or gave it to her. This is what sparked the owning a house story.

abandonment: in law, voluntary, intentional, and absolute relinquishment of rights or property without conveying them to any other person. abandonment

Typically one maintains one’s rights to property by occupying or having others occupy even once in a while. Paying taxes helps as well. By just abandoning the house about 50 years ago, I am pretty sure whatever rights the deed conveys are lost.

My favorite of the stories about Japan is one about an earthquake opening a crack in the ground. The military found a number of previously unknown tunnels underneath the base. Presumably these were dug during World War II with the intent of covert troop movement during a US invasion. Its probably fortunate the US was not forced to invade Japan proper.

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