Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why is Cthulu in my water?

A: Because some Japanese toy company thought plastic jelly fish would
make bottled water more fun.

I wonder if Japanese bloggers write about wacky American products?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cold, Clear, Crisp, Christmas.

It's a beautiful Christmas morning. There are eagles in the trees and
dogs leaving presents in the frosty grass.
And I'm home with my family.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Early Gift

Major Thunder knows what he wants. And he wants it now.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saw Avatar on the BIG Screen

Evelyn took us all to see Avatar on the big IMAX 3-D screen at the Pacific Science Center.
The visuals are stunning. The action is non stop. The plot is a little cliched, but don't let that stop you. After all, the plot to Star Wars is cliched, that hasn't stopped us from loving it all these years.
With the 3-D going and all the aerial shots, I was actually getting kind of air sick. But wow! The visuals are fantastic. I wished I could stop the film and look around some more. I especially liked the forest at night, it was like being at the bottom of the ocean.
I am kind of looking forward to see this film again without the giant IMAX and the 3-D because it was a little overwhelming and disorienting. I'd like a chance to see some of details of the design a little better because every shot was packed with intriguing details.

Thanks Evelyn--We had a great time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Do Cowgirls Dream of Efficient Asset Allocation?

An appropriate investment model
Gives a girl comfort
And pretax savings
That makes a painless rollover
A guaranteed part
Of your short-term horizon*
*All investment schemes involve risk.
You should consider all the factors before making important decisions.
Past performance is no guarantee of future performance.
Besides, she just may not be that into you.
Echoes: Don’t ask me—Ask Google.
I know it has no pentameter, but that is no reason to downgrade my verse.
And you know it’s a collage.
So if you walk out that door, you will never find free verse or collage like this again.
I’m just saying.

Chani's Spiffy Solo

Chani was a baritone soloist at her high school winter concert last
night. She sounded great and looked spiffy and splang in her tuxedo.
We are proud of you, Kiddo.

Late but beautiful

With Solstice just around the corner, sunrise isn't until almost 8 am.
But they are lovely.
The sunsets at 4 pm, on the other hand, are just dark.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Much Everyday

5-Star Reviews
Highly Recommended
A Must See Hit
Direct to You
Eliminate the Middleman
As Seen on TV

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Breaking Some Things...Saving Others

It's the end of the year mad dash.
Try to fit a whole month's worth of work into three weeks.
Cut our expenses but try and get clients to spend more.
Do without those things that we have broken or cut off.
Convince our customers that they can't live without us.
Days are getting shorter.
It feels like we are running out of time.
But renewal is right around the corner.
Out of the darkness a new year will be born.
Time to take stock.
Time to throw off the truly unnecessary.
Time to take comfort from simple things,
the things that give you warmth and joy,
like holding hands beneath the blankets.
Solstice is almost here.
Fill up the darkness with inner light.
So the sun will be drawn back to us again.
Solstice is almost here.
Turn and engage with another year.
For it is a new year,
no matter what we have saved,
no matter what we have broken.
Solstice is here.
Echoes: Photo Montage by Erik Johansson
Bottom photo of my home last Christmas
Happy Holidays to Everyone
Solstice, Yule, Hanukkah, Christmas, whichever ones you hold dear.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Is it a hoax if it results in something real?

"recall the Ern Malley hoax. In the 1940s, two Australian poets bearing a grudge against Modernism in general, and against an avant-gardist named Max Harris in particular, spent an afternoon crafting Ern Malley and his "tragic life-work"--a purposefully bad product of collage and other Modernist technique. Ethel Malley, Ern's equally nonexistent sister, sent his poetry, along with a brave biography ("As he wished, he was cremated at Rookwood") to Harris's magazine, Angry Penguins. Harris adored and printed Malley's work. The mischief-makers, James McAuley and Harold Stewart, outed Ern as fake and the poems as jokes. Hilarity ensued.
And yet--as David Lehman
wrote in Jacket magazine--Max Harris and his colleagues insisted to the end that the poems were good. "The myth is sometimes greater than the creator," Harris remarked. Lehman noted that the 1992 "Penguin Book of Modern Australian Poetry" includes all of Malley's writing. A sample:
Where I have lived
The bed-bug sleeps in the seam, the cockroach

Inhabits the crack and the careful spider

Spins his aphorisms in the corner. . . .

There is a moment when the pelvis

Explodes like a grenade."

That cracks me up!

I read more about the hoax at Wikipedia:

"McAuley and Stewart, it turned out, had invented Ern and Ethel Malley out of thin air. They had written the whole of The Darkening Ecliptic in an afternoon, writing down the first thing that came into their heads, lifting words and phrases from the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a Collected Shakespeare and a Dictionary of Quotations: "We opened books at random, choosing a word or phrase haphazardly. We made lists of these and wove them in nonsensical sentences. We misquoted and made false allusions. We deliberately perpetrated bad verse, and selected awkward rhymes from a Ripman's Rhyming Dictionary."

My emphasis added.

Now that sounds like how I write poetry: semi-random phrases, stream of consciousness or nonsensical sentences. But does that make my poetry a hoax? Or does it mean that McAuley and Stewart in their effort to embarass a publisher just came up with a new method of poetic construction?

Harris "re-published the Ern Malley poems, maintaining that whatever McAuley and Stewart had intended to do, they had, in fact, produced some memorable poems."

I leave you with another taste of hoax method poetry:

Now I find that once more I have shrunk
To an interloper, robber of dead men's dream,
I had read in books that art is not easy
But no one warned that the mind repeats
In its ignorance the vision of others. I am still
The black swan of trespass on alien waters.

--Ern Malley

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Like Clockwork

Academic discussions
Quickly become political battles
With interest waning
But oh so firmly entrenched
We get told that Alice
Will take her ball and go home
If we don’t smash the machine
To prove that it used to work

What a tantrum
What an unnecessary increase in volume
With no increase in content
Or in reason

Crash goes the crystal
Sprung goes the spring
Grind all the gears
Punch up the volume
Bring on the tears

Like Clockwork
Echoes: Verse and Collage by Jay Larsen

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Projection Mechanism

How does this projector work?
Why are there always so many angry alien monsters when I am in a foul
Gods, I hate it when every alien we meet is bad tempered.
Somebody turn on the bright light so we can see this thing work.
Hey! Look at that. It's my butt on the screen.
I think I've seen this movie before.
It stars a mild mannered cosmonaut, if I am not mistaken.
It doesn't end well, if I remember right.
Hey! Who is running this projector anyway?

Hoaxes are a Fraud and I don't believe in them


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

2010 Predictions

As the current year comes to a close, it is time to cast our inner eye forward into the future. And who better to make predictions for next year than Major Thunder a cosmonaut with a unique perspective—from 23 million light years away, all our problems seem small and quite frankly invisible. He has agreed to look in his alien crystal ball and tell us what he sees.

Major Thunder’s 2010 Predictions:
-2010 should be the year that the 2012 hysteria is diffused by rational evaluations of previous end of the world fears. But it won’t be.
-Next year some celebrity you have never heard of, on a reality TV show you have never watched, will do something 35% of your friends and neighbors have done, and it will be a Huge Scandal that takes up 3 weeks of 24-hour news cycles.
-A plastic gizmo will be invented that automates a task you never do manually, but it will be the must-have technology of 2010 and you will preorder it from an online retailer for 50% more than your lazy friends will pay for the item when it finally hits store shelves and fails to live up to expectations.
-Repair costs to fix your commuter vehicle will feel like a personal punishment from divine forces, and you will be astounded by the expense, even though you paid twice that much last year and the year before that for repairs you failed to anticipate then as well. But you have to go to work, damn it, so you will pay it, even though the mechanic is a highway robber.
-Political pundits will be replaced on cable television with an iPhone app that responds to any question with a huge database of phrases culled from Zen, Taoist, and Confucius sayings. “So Dan, how do you think the latest scandal will affect the Senator in the next election?” “Show me the sound of one hand clapping, Chris.” “Are you telling me, Dan, that this stuff won’t stick to the Senator?” “When one can do nothing, Chris, what can one do?”
-Some pop star will keep coming down, coming down like a monkey. But it’s alright. Cos tonight, tonight, tonight, oh oh, gonna make it right tonight, tonight, oh oh.
-Your coworkers will be completely bored by your yearly recital of how huge your latest unexpected repair bill was for your commuter vehicle, which is always breaking. But you paid it, so at least you are at work to bore your coworkers.
-You will look back fondly on 2009 as the year a cosmonaut wished you Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Holidays are coming...

The Holidays are coming...
On this planet they don't just have a war on Christmas. Christmas
fights back.
It is a good thing I had a head start and fast feet or those
falalalalas might have decked my halls. And don't even ask me about
the jingle bells. I Said Dont Ask Me!!!

Friday, December 04, 2009

What is more likely?

Monkeys are trained to put on our makeup?
Or we all wake up?

Those monkeys do wear cute tuxedos...

'There hasn't been two seconds of intelligent discussion about living standards in Afghanistan'

Nieman Watchdog: 'There hasn't been two seconds of intelligent discussion about living standards in Afghanistan': "The poverty in Afghanistan is almost beyond imagining. Thirty Afghans die from TB every day; life expectancy is 43 years; per capita income is $426; only 13% have access to sanitary drinking water; fewer than one in four are literate; access to electricity is among the lowest in the world. Conditions for women are brutal. If Obama plans to address these issues, he's pretty much keeping it secret, points out world poverty expert Jeffrey Sachs. But without addressing them, can stepped-up American military involvement succeed? Or is it bound to fail?"

It is probably a safe bet that a sizable majority of Americans have not been informed by the news media about the extent of the poverty in the country that the United States under President George W. Bush selected as its first overseas battleground in what used to be called “the war on terror.” For example:
Afghanistan is the fifth least developed country in the world – 174th out of 178 –according to a November 2007 United Nations “National Human Development Report (NHDR). The U.N. global human development index, which ranks countries on individual income, life expectancy and literacy rate, placed Afghanistan ahead of only the African nations of Burkina Faso, Mali, Sierra Leone and Niger. (The next such report will be published in March 2010.)

Afghanistan has a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of $426 as of 2008, according to the World Bank, the lowest in Asia and the fifth lowest in the world after Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Liberia. (The CIA World Factbook puts the Afghanistan figure higher at $800 for 2008, which would be the 11th worst in the world.) An estimated 60-80 percent of the country’s population live on less than $1 a day.

Afghanistan is the seventh most unequal country in the world, according to the ‘Gini coefficient,’ a measure of the gap separating a country’s richest and poorest citizens. The higher the country’s number on a scale of one to one-hundred, the more unequal the society. In the most recent ratings, the most unequal societies were Namibia 70.2, Equatorial Guinea 65, Lesotho 63.2, Sierra Leone 62.9, Angola 62, Central African Republic 61.3, and Afghanistan and Gabon 60.

Life expectancy for Afghan citizens is 43 years, compared to 59 years for low-income countries worldwide, according to the World Bank. The 2007 U.N. NHD Report noted that life expectancy in the country has declined from 44.5 years in 2003.

In a population estimated at 28.4 million, one-fourth of all Afghans “do not meet their minimum food requirements, with 24 percent of households characterized by poor food consumption,” according to the U.N. NHD Report. Almost half of Afghan children under five are underweight.

More than 30 Afghans die from tuberculosis each day, according to the U.N. global human development index.

Afghans’ access to electricity is among the lowest in the world, according to the World Bank, and only 13 percent of Afghans have access to safe drinking water and 12 percent to adequate sanitation.

Afghanistan “has one of the lowest adult literacy rates among developing countries,” according to the U.N. NHD Report. Between 2003 and 2005 (the last cited figures), the report said, literacy rates for adults over 15 actually fell from 28.7 percent to 23.5 percent.

Some 80 percent of Afghan women are illiterate, 54 percent of girls under the age of 18 are married, and 68 percent of girls ages 7-13 are not enrolled in school, according to the advocacy organization Womankind Worldwide. Only half of the schools have buildings. Enrollment rates for women in the primary, secondary and tertiary levels are almost half that of men. Violence and sexual abuse against women is widespread.

Some 15,000 Afghan women die each year from pregnancy-related causes, and the maternal mortality rate is the second highest in the world. As bad as these figures are, the U.N. NHD Report cited Afghanistan’s “steady progress in improving its health services and reducing child and maternal mortality rates.” Mortality rates for children under five years old were down from 257 per 1,000 births in 2001 to a still-alarming 160 per 1,000 births in 2006, according to the World Bank. (The CIA World Factbook put the figure at 152 in 2008.)

Afghanistan’s agricultural production (not including the opium trade) fell by more than 30 percent in 2008, the World Bank reported. Agriculture makes up more than 30 percent of the country’s GDP, which grew overall by 2 to 3 percent in 2008-2009.

Afghanistan is the fifth most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International, a global anti-corruption watchdog organization.

It is against this backdrop of economic and social hardships that the United States is expanding the war. How much progress in fighting poverty and providing sustainable development can be made in a country that has been ravaged by wars for most of the last 30 years? One does not need to have lived in a war-torn country to conclude that the answer is, not much.

Another Frosty AM

And by frosty I mean 19 degrees with more on the way.
I just hope it doesn't snow.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Type, Monkey. Type.

Been super busy at work. I guess that's good. Hopefully I can check in
with the cosmonauts soon.