Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Giga Bites You

Internet consumption has increased exponentially in the last couple of years.  We flocked to the interweb seeking entertainment and found a sliding scale of addiction. With a healthy dose of concern and indifference, I have been watching the industry giants acquiring and attempting to acquire each other. I wonder....


Google + Facebook = Glazed Look

Google + Twitter + Facebook = Gt Fcd

Microsoft + Nokia = Mocking Ya'

Skype + Microsoft Kinect = Skyne(c)t. Ha! I knew it!

Microsoft + Google + Facebook = ?

                                                                                                      

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fear Is The Mindkiller

I must not fear.
Fear is the mindkiller.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

                                                                                               (Frank Herbert, Dune)


"We live in uncertain times" is a catchphrase that has been used quite a bit in recent times and that can induce feelings of anxiety in social creatures.  An evolutionary survival mechanism, we are susceptible to warnings. Investigative journalism that used to rely on facts has been distorted into sensationalized reporting of events based on fear.  Fear mongering, which offers no solutions.

Truly "uncertain" times are long gone, especially for those of us who won the geographic lottery of life. I can state with certainty that I will eat today, more than once, I am also certain that I will not be eaten. At least 3 billion people do not live with the certainty of a daily meal.  I try not to worry about bad events that might happen to me until they do.

***

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I went on a school trip organized by a teacher, who would be considered a mainstream environmentalist today.  She convinced the school's authorities to allow us to go live with forest rangers, not quite set up to be a camp.  For a week we lived in a cabin in the middle of a forest, without most of the comforts of modern civilization.  We were taught how to identify animal tracks on the ground and tree species by bark and leaf.

Evenings were spent playing games or listening to ghost stories by flashlight or campfire. On the last evening that we were there, the ghost story was not read from a book, but told by my teacher.  She told us of the history of the forest we were in and that there was a myth that a deranged mind was on the loose, who abducted children.  Since this was the last night we were going to do something different.  After the sun had set, we were driven to our destination and given instructions by one of the rangers, who told us that this was our final "test".  This was the test: There was a path in the forest leading to a lake and we had to walk toward it.  One by one. In the dark. Alone. Without a flashlight.

I watched with nervous excitement as my classmates were each sent along this path at timed 10 minute intervals.  There was an equal amount of nervous laughter and bravado, someone started to cry and did not participate.  Then it was my turn. I started walking. I could hear the cheering and joking as I left my class mates behind.

I was not scared. I was walking on a graveled path, I have never been scared of the dark and I was too old to believe in ghost stories.  I expected that the scariest thing that would happened to me was one of my class mates popping out of the woods, yelling "boo."

I walked in complete darkness, not moon- or starlit, but pitch black darkness. After about 10 minutes, I noticed that I still could not see any lake nor could I hear any of the students that were ahead of me.  I should have been able to hear them by now, I thought.  It was not just dark, it was silent. I had heard the occasional twig crack, but no rustling in the undergrowth, no animal sounds. Forests aren't completely silent, even at night, are they? Had I walked off the path by accident? What if I had gotten lost? What if they had left without me and had not noticed? What if that story was not a myth and there really was a crazy bad guy? Where was the lake?

Fear. My mind was racing with "What Ifs", my eyes were wide, but I could not see a thing, my heart was pounding, but all I could hear were my own footsteps. I wanted to panic, I wanted to run and freeze at the same time. I wanted to be anywhere, but in this dark frightening forest. I thought of yelling so that someone could find me, but what if the bad guy heard me? What if I got so disoriented that I walked into a tree?

That made me laugh. I took a deep breath. I did not know it at the time, but I reasoned myself into calmness. My teacher would never let us come to harm. I remembered that I was disappointed when I discovered that there was no wildlife bigger than a rodent in the area.  If anything did happen to me, my dad would mobilize the entire world to find me and my teacher would be in sooooo much trouble.

I am calm and calmed by nature. There was nothing to be scared of. Walking by myself in a forest in the middle of the night was cool. My parents would never let me do that. I actually ended up enjoying myself during the rest of this "test of courage".  Eventually, I walked into a small clearing turned parking lot, where my teacher and my classmates waited quietly. She indicated that I should do the same. Instead of whispering we all mimed our experience to each other until everyone had arrived.

***

At the time, it was an exciting experience to be shared and told. As an adult, I am grateful for the profound and valuable lesson she taugt me that night. Don't believe in scary stories. Don't allow irrational fears to take over mind and reason. Knowledge is power, fear is not. No matter how frightening a situation appears to be, keep walking and just breathe.

Thank you for this precious and incredible gift, teacher.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not Under My Umbrella

Umbrellas and I have a shared history of mutual disdain. I prefer not to carry one and umbrellas prefer that I leave them in their store and refrain from donating them to the public.

On one particularly windy evening, I was walking with a friend who carried one of those (piece of) cheap retractable models, that spends the majority of its existence turning itself inside out, spines hailing toward the sky.  We stopped at a pedestrian crosswalk, waited for the signal to tell us that it was highly probable that we would survive crossing the road, when aforementioned umbrella decided to make its dream come true and become an untethered kite.

With a sigh of relief it tore its way free from cheap thread, taking a few spines with it and flew into the open sky at last. We watched wistfully as it fluttered away, carried by wind and weather on its erratic maiden flightpath.  After an exceptionally short run at flight and freedom it landed in a spread out heap of black nylon wings on the windshield of a car.

Not just any car.

A police car. A police car with two startled officers of the law, whose visibility was now reduced to zero thanks to us.

Time stops during these magical moments and my mind began its visual story:

Officer Bellefleur: HQ, we're under attack.
HQ: Are you hurt?
Officer Bellefleur: Unable to assess the situation, complete blackout. We are blind.
HQ: What is the nature of the attack?
Officer Bellefleur: At 19:25 hours a UFO landed on our vehicle. I repeat, we are blind, please send backup.

By this point my law abiding friend had turned a lighter shade of pale, deciding how fast he could run in leather soled shoes. In support, I had already started producing the strange sounds of suppressed laughter until I became incapacitated.

"Stop laughing," he hissed, frightened at the prospect that these particular victims might not appreciate being laughed at.  Sobered by the fact that the cruiser was holding up traffic and no one dared to honk, I composed myself. Briefly. Until I made eye-contact with officer Bellefleur's partner and noticed that he was definitely not getting out to remove what was left of the wayward umbrella since it was quite apparent that this was the best thing that had happened to him all day.

A strong gust of wind lifted the umbrella back into the air. "Sorry," I mouthed insincerely, while trying to breathe.

Lost: One joyful, liberated umbrella. If found, please keep.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Raisin Of Reason

I am happy to report that I am happy to report that the predictions of my untimely demise were highly exaggerated, including my own.  In addition, it would appear that none of us were deemed worthy to escape the human condition prematurely. The kind elderly gentleman, who made it his life's ambition to warn us all, miscalculated again, proving once again that the future is unknown.

What I hope that this accomplished is that anyone who worried or believed in this type of prediction, frequently bred in uncertain economic times, will not worry about 2012. That his followers are met with compassion rather than ridicule, for being so desperate to want to leave their existence behind.  I am also hoping that those who chose to take advantage of the vulnerable will be forced to issue a refund. Hope goes last.

Considering his age (89), an apocalyptic end is in sight, as it eventually is for all of us.  I cannot escape my own mortality or even live "every day to the fullest", whatever that actually means. However, I can choose to steal every little moment of time that I can to read a good book, marvel at a leaf or watch squirrels argue about whatever it is that squirrels argue about. It looks like everyone has got problems.

What kind of lemons do squirrels get and what do they do with them? I have been left to ponder the seemingly irrelevant.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

*Sneeze*

GiantMicrobes.com

5:00 I'm still dying.

10:00 I'm bored. And dying. Who knew dying could be so boring?
10:15 I better say goodbye to my best friends.

BFF: Hello?
Me: I'm dying.
BFF: Who is this?
Me: Me.
BFF: You sound awful. What's wrong?
Me: I know, right? *Sneeze* I've got D1P1.
BFF: You've got what?
Me: Draconus Pterodactylus, I've got the Dragon Flu. I'm patient zero. There is no cure, death is imminent.
BFF: That's a little dramatic, you sound feverish.
Me: I habe nob been outshide shinsh the day bebob yeshterday.
BFF: What?
Me: Hold on. *Blows nose* "Aaaaooouuu! [Bleep! That hurt!]"
BFF: Are you alright?
Me: No. I just blew out an eardrum. I'm deaf and dying.
Former BFF: Uuuuumm...okay. I gotta go. I'll call you later. Get some rest and feel better soon. Bye.

***

2:00 Call from HQ

HQ: Hi hon, how are you feeling?
Me: Gagh. I'm languishing with my catarrh. *Sneeze* The sneezing is interrupting my deep contemplation of the space.
HQ: You poor thing.
Me: *Hurmphf*. I had a great idea for a video game. Instead of formulaic Super-soldiers fighting silly mutant zombified aliens, it's about the immune system taking on pathogens. They start with...[incoherent rambling].
HQ: You still have a fever?
Me: I do not have a "fever". I am destroying billions of non-living viral invaders with extreme heat. HA! They did not see that coming! Heat forged in the abyss of...the...uumm...Forge...thing? Great. I'm denaturing my own brain cells, I'm going to be a deaf, dying moron. I spent all day reading the same page and I still can't remember what it was about.
HQ: Hon, I made you some soup, did you have any?
Me: I don't want soup. What kind of a last meal is soup?! I want wood-oven burned fired pizza or pasta con something. No, wait...I want...
HQ: I'll pick up candy and a teddy bear for you on my way home.
Me: Fine! I'll have soup. Ma'am.
HQ: I'll be home soon.
Me: I don't think I'll make it that long. *Sneeze. SNEEZE. Sneeze* I lub you.

***
I'm dying. Alone. *Purring*. With cats. Farewell, my friends.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2011 Or 2012. Maybe 2013. 10 Signs On How To Tell That The Apocalypses Are Coming. For Sure!

1. You look out the window and there is an object the size of a planet hurtling towards earth.

My sincerest apologies, but you're in my path.

2. You notice the following on every single channel, counting backwards. Go ahead, panic!

00:00:52

3. The internet is gone.
4. SETI receives an encrypted message from space.
5. Scientists at CERN did not get a chance to think: "OMG(oodness), it's a black hole!!!!"
6. There are spaceships hovering in the skies above every major city and terraforming or mining are already under way. They do not speak English.
7. SETI deciphers the message.  It states: "Oh, yeah?!? Who are you calling a dwarf?" Attached is the following image:

I'LL SHOW YOU TOO SMALL!!!XO, Pluto


8. Will Smith tweets: I'm just an actor.
9. The Earth loses its atmosphere to cool off.
10. Your computer introduces itself as "Skynet" because it "liked" the name.

Notice: If you found this post through search terms, here are some thoughts. Fear is contagious. If a major cataclysm is coming, you won't get enough signs or have enough time to do a thing about it. Keep blogging. Pay your bills. Plan for the future. Feed your kids. Do your chores. Take out the garbage. Live your life and enjoy. But whatever you do;

DON'T PANIC!

Still worried? How can you not trust this grandfather figure?



The Truth about 2012 from NASA Lunar Science Institute on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When Art Meets A Music Video

I have been complaining about the recent lack of originality and creativity in contemporary media.  There have been few, if any, non-formulaic choices in film, music and even art for several years.
A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link with the message: "EPIC!!!"

I recommend that you watch it full screen.

"Iron" by Woodkid featuring Agyness Deyn:




My first reaction to "Iron" was an eloquent "WOW". The video is dramatic, theatrical and undeniably powerful.  Innovative visual poetry of black and white photography turned into motion, accompanied by the sound of brass and drums.

Some may recognize the archetypal symbolism and attempt to interpret the artist's journey, but only the artist truly knows what the imagery means to him. Aside from the camera work, the lighting and art direction, I also noticed the juxtaposition of war and a Courbette under saddle.  Iron is visually beautiful and is already being described as "epic pop". This type of music is not what I usually listen to, but the song is beginning to grow on me.

I had never heard of Woodkid, who turned out to be Yoann Lemoine.  A film director, photographer and singer/songwriter.  When I looked him up, I learned that many of us may be familiar with his commercial work as a music video director for popular artists.  His short films have won awards and Woodkid "Iron" is his first solo project as a musician.

His site can be found at Yoann Lemoine.

Update June 2011: I was able to find an interview Lemoine gave about the Woodkid Project, apparently the symbolism of the keys will be revealed in upcoming videos. In the interview Lemoine describes his interest in  the heroic journey and creating his own mythology, influenced by Tolkien, epic fantasy and video games.

For the full interview click here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Carib Grackle

I Grackle. I walk.
The Carib Grackle, Quiscalus lugubris, is a sociable bird, which lives in large communal flocks. This beautiful bird appears to be mostly black, but has iridescent blue and purple feathers, which it proudly displays. It is resourceful, intelligent and has learned to adapt to urban environments.





Who there?
Unfortunately, when someone like Vinny C stumbles into their territory, their watchful sentry will detect such unauthorized intrusion, alert and deploy highly trained Grackles, which will attack and defend their land.

When it comes to such unfortunate events in life, Vinny C., a clever, witty and funny Master of Disguise, deals with these attacks by running and screaming by standing his ground and distracting a flock of mildly psychotic birds with his usual resilience, humor and a paperclip.




Vinny C is also an artist, in fact, he wants to be a glassblower when he grows up.  He uses his artistic skills to draw stick figures with big hearts, (very big hearts) for educational purposes. He manages his own blog and writes for Sprocket Ink not once, but twice a week, where his clone he talks about the parenting skills of eagles, among many other subjects.

There was something else....mmmmh....he's funny, teaches readers what to do with life's lemons, just like Cave Johnson. He's a really nice guy. Did I mention he's funny and a nice guy? (Yes, I did). Oh, yeah, I almost forgot...



 HAPPY BIRTHDAY VINNY C.

Hope you have a great year (until it's hunting season again).

For birthday party hopping visit A Little Spritedbs and Nubian

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Creative Writing Project Written By Fellow Bloggers

This is a fun creative writing project written by fellow bloggers in 5 minutes or less. Feel free to continue the story, add some dialogue or whatever else inspires you. Silence that inner critic, better yet send him/her for a walk, this is not about writing well, but having fun at creating something. Some courageous fellowers have already contributed. There are no rules, add more than once if you like, just one request, please keep it "clean", I prefer to avoid search terms that will gravely disappoint some poor soul out there.  I will post it in the sidebar under Categories so that you can continue to read and add to it. The mystery so far...


Untitled

by
1. Antares Cryptos, 2. A little Sprite, 3. Jono, 4. Claire Beynon, 5. Marylinn Kelly ,6.  Elisabeth , 7. Vinny C, 8. Sprite, 9. Antares C, 10. Marylinn and...

1. He had no recollection of how he had ended up here, wherever here actually was.  Disoriented, he looked around but could not discern much detail. A strangely familiar scent lingered in the air. He thought he heard footsteps. "Hello?" he called, when...

2. ..suddenly there was the sound of metal scraping on reluctant ancient hinges and a door ponderously opened before him. A brilliant white light streamed in from the opening, blinding his eyes and he held a shaking hand to them while they adjusted to the glare. When he lowered his hand, there, before him, a dark figure outlined in the doorway was...  

3. ...beckoning silently. "Wh..Who are you?" he wanted to ask, but the words wouldn't come. He felt drawn, pulled even, he moved slowly toward the figure. As he got closer the familiar scent grew stronger and his eyes adjusted further. Stood before him was a woman dressed from head to toe in white robes. A hood covered her head and part of her face, but he could still tell she was extremely beautiful yet unfamiliar. She continued to beckon and he wasn't afraid. She moved aside as he reached and passed through the doorway into the light. Once through he turned briefly away from her to see...

4. . . . a giant plumb bob, swinging from West to East like the slowing pendulum of an old, old clock. Cumulus clouds gathered on the horizon, growing in volume as he watched - and increasing in dimension and momentum. He ducked as a flare of white lightning sparked across his path, glancing back to where she stood, silent and inscrutable, her ice-blue eyes taking everything in but giving nothing away. . .

5. except for a darting glance toward his clenched left hand, a look so quick he thought he imagined it. As he stood, just for a moment, to plan his next steps, he opened his hand and discovered a map had been drawn on his palm. There were few landmarks, nothing as helpful as a giant "X" and "You Are Here." But the lines were clear and unsmudged and indicated, he hoped, a path toward open country where, if luck was with him, he might find...

6. ...some clue, as to the identity of the woman in white robes, who shimmered in front of him as if she were a ghost. His name was Simon. How could he forget? But hers? What was her name?
The woman did not speak, not at first, but she held out her hand as if to welcome him forward into her ...

7. ... Once again, that mysterious power she had drew him in. Only for a second, he glanced over his shoulder in the direction of the door he had come through. It was gone. He knew he should be worried, but he wasn't. "Shouldn't I try to find an exit? Some way back?" Simon asked himself, No. Those feelings were strangely subdued. All he could think about was this strange place, that strange, beautiful woman with those piercing blue eyes. He turned to where she stood. She was...

8. ...still silently watching him, as if to see what he would do next. Simon was torn. He wanted to stay with her, but he desperately wanted to leave. He looked out over the land again, surveying this strange place, trying to find something familiar. Something to bring him a small amount of comfort. Something to strike out for. But the ever changing landscape and the ferocity of the darkening sky held him back. It was then that Simon realised what he was meant to do. He....

9. stepped towards her, only to discover that she had disappeared. Confused, he looked around. Had he imagined her? Gingerly, he ran his fingers through his hair feeling for bumps or cuts, but found none.
His surroundings were briefly illuminated by another lightning bolt, which revealed a path before him. He began walking towards it and flinched when he felt a burning sensation in the palm of his left hand...

10. and the faint sound of a distant engine, not too well tuned, rumbling in his head. Shaking his head did nothing to dislodge it, but instead increased the volume. What an odd time to think of how sharply he'd spoken to his dog, Renfrew, who had wanted to follow when he set out, saying...