Oct 12

September 2017 – Quote of the Month

“This is the sense of the desert hills, that there is room enough and time enough.”

~ Mary Hunter Austin

Sep 28

Seasonal Candy

Halloween candy spotted in a store.

So what? – it’s September 28th! ‘Tis the season!“, you say.

The photo was taken on July 31st. (I kid you not.)

On second thought, maybe it was just very late candy from last year…

Halloween Candy in July

Sep 13

August 2017 – Quote of the Month

“I think some of the funniest and most artistic people I know are the ones who had a hard time at school. They often have humility and artistry. So, as much as I feel bad for kids who have to go through a rough childhood, I believe that if they can turn it around, it’s going to make them better people later on.”

~ Drew Barrymore

Aug 18

Monumental Mistakes

Since Dear Leader Trump’s recent comments regarding the Charlottesville demonstrations and related violence, I’ve seen many people on my social media channels offering a defense of the Confederate monuments. (Supplemented with bogus stories about the Confederate flag.)

First, an overview of where I stand on some related matters:

  • I’m heartfelt advocate of freedom of speech, and that means unpopular speech, even speech that qualifies as ‘hate’ speech. Now, there are nuances to be explored here, such as: speech that incites violence and concerns about censorship from public media companies such as Google and Facebook that would be worth a post by themselves. It isn’t popular speech that needs protecting, it’s unpopular speech that needs the protection. But in short: I support the right of the KKK and similar hate filled groups to peacefully protest, write and speak and the best way to eliminate this speech is by the propagation of better ideas.
  • I’m against the mob actions where confederate statues are pulled down and destroyed, in ignorance or willful disregard of the civilized processes of a democracy You may be right, that a statue is offense, or you may be the taliban. – Be cautious in forcing your ideas onto others: you might be right today but you might be wrong tomorrow and then your mistakes are doubled.

Remastered Ghosts of the Past

Those points made, these monuments that celebrate the Confederacy and those who lead the rebellion need to be removed or at least recontextualized from their places of commemoration.

History cannot be erased, only our memory of it and it’s very fair to be concerned when we look to modify or update markers of the past. But similarly, we must evaluate if those markers are accurate, or just. Such is the case with the heroic depictions of Confederacy.

There were certainly brave people within the Confederacy. And there were no doubt many who fought from a sense of family and a type of tribalism. But the enterprise of the Confederacy as a whole was evil: it existed with the goal of continuing some 245 years of slavery in North America and any attempt at beatification of this monstrous, generational crime is the real attempt to whitewash history.

Jefferson Slaves

At Trump’s press conference he rhetorically asked: “This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself: ‘Where does it stop?‘”

Jefferson (one of my favorite founders, I’ll note) was a slave owner. So, how do I square that with memorial’s to Jefferson? (Or Washington, etc.)

The difference being: there aren’t memorial’s celebrating Jefferson as a slave owner. In fact, if you visit Monticello you’ll find lessons acknowledging this fact and this miscarriage of his ideals.

Jefferson failed on the question of slavery when peers of his time did not, (including one of my other favorites, Thomas Paine).

But we don’t celebrate Jefferson for owning slaves. We celebrate Jefferson for the formulation of ideas that were better than the individual. – We don’t rebuke history, we look at it with a steady eye and honest heart: the good and the bad, so that we can learn from both.

History Lesson

At the end of World War II, the Germans took down the memorials of the 3rd Reich, placing them in museums and providing education around others.

We can learn from this. – Take the most noteworthy pieces, and place them in museums or grounds that provide context. Explain the history of the Confederacy, their leaders and the root cause: Slavery. (Those that aren’t of note can be stored for future consideration.)

The German’s don’t have Hitler Highschool, and neither should we.

Still disagree? What about this Kentucky memorial to Confederate General John Hunt Morgan. – It’s a nice looking piece of sculpture: cutting a nobel figure, complete with a plaque  giving the visitor a synopsis of his history. What else would want to know? Why be such sensitive snowflakes about this harmless statue?

The John Hunt Morgan statue on the lawn of the old Fayette Co. Courthouse on West Main Street in Lexington, Kentucky.How about the fact that the statue stands on one of the largest slave markets in the South? – How many people were torn from their homes, their loved ones, shackled and held as lifelong forced labor prisoners who’d committed no crime on this very ground? And what do we see? – A handsome depiction of a nobel Confederate General on his mighty steed – an enforcer for slave masters. Imagine if your grandparents, and their parents and their parents had been slaves and you had to walk past a statue celebrating their captors on the very grounds where they’re lives had been sold. Many of our fellow American’s don’t have to imagine.

Don’t kid yourselves, these statues tell lies but it’s not too late to set the record straight.

Aug 09

July 2017 – Quote of the Month

“The crucial test of ethical values is whether they apply to strangers, and those afar, not just in our midst.”

~ Bernard Crick, Essays on Citizenship, 2000

Jul 27

iPod Sunset

In 2014 Apple announced that it would stop supporting its professional photo management software ‘Aperture‘. Since then, I’ve been in the slow (and painful) process of migrating my photos to Adobe’s Lightroom. As such, today, I finally got around to importing a batch of old photos from October 2005 and came across this picture.

In 2005, I’d taken this photo of my, then new iPod (3rd Gen, I believe) and all of the CDs I’d ripped to it. It was a marvel.

Completing the circle of obsolescence, today, Apple announced the discontinuation of the iPod. And like the loss of Aperture, I find this regrettable since I’m partial to creating highly tailored, custom playlists as opposed to streaming mixes formulated by some unknown DJ or cold calculation.

Dear iPod, your click-wheel may be lost, but it’s not forgotten. Play on!

iPod and CDs, October 2008

iPod and imported CDs, circa October 2008

 

Jul 27

Lettuce Spellcheck

I’ve never been a great speller, but c’mon!  – Eat ‘n Park missed the pun, “Salad Bar, Can’t be Beet! Let-Us Eat”!

Eat 'n Park Signage Misspelling

Jul 17

June 2017 – Quote of the Month

“Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it I never will. The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

Jun 27

This is in My Basement

Skeleton corpse with babydoll homemade Halloween prop

Everyone has to have a hobby.

Jun 21

May 2017 – Quote of the Month

“The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”

~ George Orwell

May 30

Fluffy Pillow or ET Arms

Shopping at a local Sears Outlet, my eye was caught by a comfy looking pillow.

contour-pillow

Looking closer, I see that the manufacturer was kind enough to provide an illustrated guide on how to use the pillow.

contour-pillow-use-illustrations

Looking closer yet, I noticed the girl with the E.T. Arms.

contour-pillow-close-up

Ouuuuch…

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Fingers Touching

(PS. * Yes: I know, the pillow is supposed to be just that fluffy…Still, it’s disturbing.)

May 01

April 2017 – Quote of the Month

“Belief can be manipulated. Only knowledge is dangerous.”

~ Frank Herbert

Apr 07

Who Needs a Donation When You Can Like, Share and Pray?

Because I have brain cancer nobody wants to pray for me

I spotted this on a Facebook “wall” and found it nauseating. It made me angry. The post is exploitative and cynical on such a scale that it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t purposefully, carefully, engineered to be as misanthropic as possible.

I did a little searching to see if I could uncover the story behind this particular image. – So many posts like this are old and / or have aren’t even remotely accurate (in terms of what is actually depicted or their source).

I didn’t happen across the backstory (it appears to be a new meme). But I did come across this excellent article.

The essay makes several points:

When it comes to posts like this, one share does NOT equal one prayer. One like does NOT mean you think the baby with a physical disability or difference is “still cute.” One comment does NOT mean the sick child or abused puppy “will be saved.”

Here’s what you’re actually doing when you type Amen or share the photo on your wall:

  1. You’re exploiting what is most likely a stolen image of a child whose family has no idea it is being used.
  2. You’re making the owners of the page that posted it or the twisted people who stole the photo and created the post a whole lot of money.

Don’t get me wrong: I think there is value in sharing articles and raising awareness on issues. But the vast majority of these memes are bogus (and/or painfully out of date.) Even if this case of Bella with brain cancer is real, sharing it isn’t akin to raising awareness of a cause that gets little attention. “News flash: Cancer = Bad”.

And in what alternate world is a child with a brain tumor not receiving prayers? (The efficacy of prayer aside.) “Sorry kid. You know how it is. A brain tumor is a sign that god has marked you for damnation. I just can’t be seen praying for you. It wouldn’t go over well with the big guy.” Come on people! Do you really think a kid with cancer had to mock-up a graphic for facebook to get somebody to pray for them?! YOU ARE BEING PLAYED FOR FREE ADVERTISEMENT!

I’m confident that those who click, “Like” or share are people of goodwill, but besides the dubious source and quality of these memes, there is something of a cynical escape clause in every click.

It’s easy to hit the little thumb icon and feel good about oneself, but if you want to help a cause, REALLY help – consider a donation of your time and your money. – Don’t “Like” don’t share – you’re just chumming the waters for the cynical sharks of fake news and lining the pockets of the unscrupulous.

Care to help somebody suffering from cancer? Want to share something? Start here.

Apr 07

March 2017 – Quote of the Month

“Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ’d only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…”

~ Jonathan Swift

Mar 31

Google Home-Freshner

I noticed this sitting window sill at the office.

Air Freshener on WIndow Sill

Google Home

 

Don’t let anyone kid you. The Google Home isn’t nearly as good as the Amazon Echo.

I must have asked it 20 questions and it didn’t answer me once. I do have to give it credit though: the office never smelled fresher.

Mar 09

High Security

As posted via the Twitter feed of Deadville and spotted on a locker in a public gym.

Combination lock with security code sticker still on the back

Save

Mar 09

February 2017 – Quote of the Month

“A good deal of tyranny goes by the name of protection.”

~ Crystal Eastman

Feb 12

Explorers Club of Pittsburgh Podcast

For lovers of Pittsburgh and / or lovers of adventure sports, I highly recommend giving a recent Fitness Lab Pittsburgh podcast a listen. And hats off to the ECP president Ron Edwards on a great interview that really provides perspective to those who might not have the experience but want to learn more about mountaineering and climbing.

Ron Edwards has a long history with the Explorers Club of Pittsburgh (ECP); he has served as the club’s President since 2015.  He is also an instructor in the ECP’s Mountaineering School, Rock Climbing School, and Backpacking School.

 

Feb 07

Dive Right In

The fact that signs like this are deemed necessary is exactly why I avoid public swimming pools.

 

Report all conditions involving vomitus, fecal contamination or unsafe conditions to the management immediately,

Report all conditions involving vomitus, fecal contamination or unsafe conditions to the management immediately,

Do you think someone chose the term, ‘vomitus’ because it sounded more, classical, more Roman perhaps than just straight, ‘vomit’?

Be sure that it’s fecal contamination and not just plain-old feces that might be just laying around the pool.

How about urine? Is blood okay for swimming? I guess only scoopable body excrement is worth a special sign shout-out.

Come to think of it, doesn’t this sign apply just about everywhere?

Feb 05

January 2017 – Quote of the Month

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