Archive for June, 2007

The Mississippi Delta Was Shining Like a National Guitar

Posted in Music, Movies & Entertainment on June 28, 2007 by weirleader

Just got through watching a tribute to Paul Simon last night (no, not that Paul Simon – this one). He was awarded the first annual Gershwin Prize by the Library of Congress – for contributions of “a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.” I knew I liked Paul Simon, but I’d forgotten just how much ’til I got a chance to hear many of his best performed by Simon himself, as well as by many other musical greats.

It turns out, the ceremony was held back at the end of May, but wasn’t broadcast until last night. I’m grateful to my father-in-law who told me to turn it on (he knows I enjoy Ladysmith Black Mambazo – and they were, of course, among those performing), because I watch so little television that I never would have seen it otherwise. I didn’t get to see all of it, but did get to see Ladysmith, Lyle Lovett, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder, the Dixie Hummingbirds, Alison Krauss, some great video footage of a few of Simon’s memorable moments… if you ever get a chance to check it out, I think you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve added a few clips I could find on YouTube below… enjoy!

Confession of a Gadget-Junkie

Posted in Technology on June 26, 2007 by weirleader

Yes, I love gadgets.  The only thing saving me from blowing endless quantities of money on the numerous “very cool toys” out there is the fact that I don’t have endless quantities of money.  But, thanks to the internet (yes, and you too, Al Gore), I can install all manner of freeware add-ons, etc. and fiddle with them.  Mostly, it ends up blowing large quantities of time (hmmm, if time = money …..  let’s not go there).

In any case, I just found a gadget that saved my butt – or, at least, my bookmarks.  I downloaded/installed it a long time ago.  So long ago that I don’t really remember doing it.  But today my Firefox profile started going goofy on me.  Pages I normally access without a problem started wigging on me – telling me they were inaccessible – only partially loading.  What to do?!  I checked the Firefox forums and one knowledgeable and very nice soul suggested I go to Start –> Run…  and run ‘firefox -P’.  I created a new profile, which fixed everything, and I was in business!  YEEEESSSSS!  😉

And then it hit me – all my bookmarks were gone.  Lots of bookmarks.  Sure, some were frivolous, but I count on several of them to relieve me of the need to think too hard during the day.  And I couldn’t recall which ones I’d need until I needed them!!!  Can’t let that happen.  So I’m looking into my options for exporting them, when **BANG** I notice a menu option entitled ‘Foxmarks‘.  I click on it, it asks me if I’d like to sync with my data on the server, and I tell it to upload my current bookmark configuration.  I open up my new profile (created moments before), install Foxmarks on this new profile, say “yes”, I’d love to sync my bookmarks with the server, and ta-da!!!  it’s done.  So freaking painless!

If you value your bookmarks, just do it!!!  It’s like life insurance – you don’t want to have to cash it in, but when you need it, you’ll wish you had it (or someone else will, at least).  ;-P

Sometimes, It’s Easy Being Green

Posted in Science, Technology on June 11, 2007 by weirleader

A good friend is starting a business supporting the establishment and use of renewable energy. I’m somewhat tempted to try to explain the company in detail, but perhaps it’s best to let them do that in their own words – after all, they went to all the trouble to create a website for their company (ChooseRenewables.com).

Perhaps I could just summarize. From their site, you can:

  • investigate the suitability of harnessing renewable energy in your area
  • investigate the cost of installing a renewable energy system
  • install said system, if you wish to
  • purchase supplies to make your home more energy-efficient
  • purchase energy credits (for those who don’t have the opportunity, but have the desire)

If you, by chance, know anyone who might be interested – or maybe even somebody who’s in the business, be sure to share this site with them!

And for those of you who don’t know to whom they should send this, consider buying a diesel vehicle and investing in some BioWillie. 😉

On the Virtues of Merit Pay

Posted in Education on June 11, 2007 by weirleader

America believes in education: the average professor earns more money in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole week.
Evan Esar

Came across this a while back – I like it for the sleight-of-number trickery behind it…  and for the all-too-sad reality it mocks.  It makes me think of a 22-year-old guy who, in addition to being born large, has as his greatest skill the ability to toss a sphere through a toroid – and who will make more money this year than I will in my entire lifetime.  Sometimes it seems we greatly value the abilities some are born with (that, perhaps, no amount of sweat and labor can match – despite the fact that they took little effort) and despise those things that are the result of years of toil.

(And for those of you who claim that 10 years of exercise and training constitute effort, there’s a reason it’s called a “game” – it’s mostly about physical competition and having fun)

Bud-Weis-Er

Posted in Humor, Music, Movies & Entertainment on June 6, 2007 by weirleader

If I wanted to advertise anything… anything – the only people I would trust are the ones who handle Budweiser. They are the most consistently funny ads I’ve had the pleasure to watch. From the frogs, to the lizards, to Clydesdale’s with and without dalmatians, to these that’s I’ve just come across. I love them… “man!”

BTW – do not watch the first one if you are the type to be offended by mostly-bleeped-out-yet-pretty-obvious-what-they’re-saying swearing footage.

Better than Alka-Seltzer!

Posted in Bizarre on June 6, 2007 by weirleader

try tree frogs, they’re delicious! 😉

(Bradbury) – (Boob-tube) = (Books)

Posted in Education, Genre: Science Fiction, Literature, Music, Movies & Entertainment on June 5, 2007 by weirleader

Just had a moment to peruse my favorite few blogs, and Mental Multivitamin caught my eye with a piece on Ray Bradbury.  Although I’m a big sci-fi fan, I’ve only read one of his books cover-to-cover…  perhaps I was too young, or just a bit ADD at the time, but I never became a huge fan.  Nevertheless, the book mentioned was the one I’d read – Fahrenheit 451.  Surprisingly, the claim is that the book which, to me, was quite obviously about government censorship and authoritarianism turns out to not be about that at all.  According to Bradbury, it’s about his fear that television will kill books.  Now that I’ve heard that, it does make a sort of sense…  but boy that never would have crossed my mind.

My first instinct is to say that in no way will television really do that – after all, I’d take a good book almost any day over TV.  To add proof to this, I’ve gone through 3 or 4 books in the past couple of months, as opposed to spending at most an hour or two a week watching TV…  we’ve really been weaning ourselves from TV addiction, and it’s quite the relief.  It’s pretty sad how easy it is to start scheduling your week around the shows you “must” watch.   In all honesty, we do still watch movies and series, but we only watch DVDs borrowed from the library and we watch them on our terms – when we have the time.  I didn’t include that in that one to two hours a week I mentioned earlier – but I’d claim that most TV watching is of the random “flipping-channels-just-to-see-what’s-on” variety, and that’s not us.

Anyhow, while I am in no way in danger of forsaking books for TV, it occurs to me that many of my high school students seem to already be there.  One, almost proudly, informed me the other day that he hadn’t read a book in something like three years.  I have students that get frustrated with me because I won’t put their calculator away for them – they can’t be bothered to get up and walk 15 feet to the drawer.  So there’s a piece of me that sees that kids are increasingly inclined to take the quick and easy TV over the much deeper, fulfilling, and yet time-requisite, world of books.

While thinking about what I’d put in this blog entry, I was reminded of what Pete wrote a short time ago in his article Non Sequitur – how on the back of Brenna’s book was the statement “Learn to read.  Watch TV.”  I’ve got to admit, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I try to be slow to see the world as going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket, but there does seem to be some sort of problem with younger generations and commitment to things that matter – whether those things be related to education, to family, to the community, or even to self-improvement.  Still, I don’t want to be too pessimistic here – I’m sure some of this is the product of my environment, teaching the already-disadvantaged students of downtown Grand Rapids.

Alas, as happens too often, it seems like I’m beginning to get on another education rant…  so I’ll cut this off right here.  Suffice it to say that I highly recommend Bradbury’s book, recommend reading in all shapes and forms, and leave you with the statement that much of what is wrong with society today is due to the fact that many “are more concerned with their rights than with their responsibilities.”