Monday, April 27, 2009

Falcon Cam

View the next generation of Falcons. This is right across the street, SJ City Hall, from my library. What a joy to watch!!! The pidgeon population declines a little bit each day though . . .

5/1/5/09 UPDATE: the babies were all banded this morning. Mom was flying overhead screeching at the top of her lungs (I went outside to hear it). All is well now.

NOTE: All the babies have fledged so this webcam is gone until April 2010 when we welcome Clara back again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

I remember my first Earth Day celebration in high school in April 1970. The entire student body was assembled in our football stadium and told it was a day to reflect on our planet, our environment and what we could do to keep them healthy. At that time many of us were also involved in the Vietnam War protests (called "teach-ins") and saw Earth Day as the same type of protest except on behalf of the environment. At least I did. I was always looking for a good protest back then.

At the grassroots level, Earth Day organizers were able to tap into the environmental concerns of the general public and infuse the student anti-war energy into their environmental cause, thereby forcing the issue onto the political agenda and finally into the national spotlight. Smart cookies, they were.

In the comics section of a local newspaper, “Baby Blues” showed the lighter side of Earth Day:

“It’s weird … Green is good when you’re talking about energy, but not bananas.
A green lifestyle is good, but green water is bad.
Green corporations are good, but green meatloaf will make you sick.
The world is a very complicated place.”

So what did I do for Earth Day today, I went home and watered my roses. I know, pathetic.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why I Don't Twitter

Since I deal with a lot of students and faculty, I try and keep up with the latest crazes but I definitely don’t have time to add another life-sucking activity like Twitter to my life.

I like what Brian Williams said on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, that he will not use Twitter until he has something “interesting enough” to say in 140 characters or less. Even Beyonce admits that when it comes to Twittering, she just “doesn’t get it” and she’s not on Facebook either. That makes two of us.

I love technology, but I have to draw the line at Twitter.

The official Twitter website says: “Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?” Sounds more like a cross between blogging and instant messaging and enabling today’s attention-deficit disorder sufferers doesn't seem a like a particularly good idea to me. What am I doing? It’s 1:30pm on Wednesday, what do you think I’m doing? Does anyone care that I’m sitting at my desk flossing the chicken salad out from between my teeth? Or that I’m on my way to the bathroom for my second bowel movement of the day? (Shall I take a picture as well?)

We are losing the art of conversation by reducing it to abbreviations and emoticons for anyone to read. What about crafting a thank you note or the impact of a well-written sympathy card after a loved one dies. Remember letters? When was the last time you sent one? And I don’t mean a Hallmark card.

Twitter devotees claim that the value of Twitter is in the quality of those you follow. To make it interesting you need to have interesting people to follow. If you don't follow interesting people, it’s just a big pointless waste of time. But do we all really want to be connected to each other in this kind of giant kumbaya?

I guess what I really want to know is: Who in the hell has time for this stuff???

I’ve come to the conclusion that Twitter, or micro-blogging, is for people who want a blog but don't want to blog. Maybe Twitter is the latest manifestation of an undesirable trend. Remember when it was people checking their e-mail 50 times an hour, and phoning you to say, "Did you not get my e-mail? I sent it almost an hour ago." Then it was instant messaging, cell phones, and text messaging, all offering improved opportunities to "be in touch all the time," a fate I'd do almost anything to avoid.

Now it’s "social networks," like Facebook, My Space and Twitter. I suppose there’s value to each of these -although I suspect that the value drops over time- but it seems to me that each “new tool” seems to be taken to sillier (or stupider) extremes than the last one.

I also recognize that it isn’t going away anytime soon. Tell you what, why don’t we all just meet at the Pub and raise a pint or two?

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Susan Boyle Phenomena

I refuse to watch reality shows of any type because of the bad taste they leave in my mouth. Let's not forget that this is television where the letters NBC stand for 'No Butt-ugly Characters' and Cinderella stories don't just happen randomly. Producers seek out the unusual because that's what sells, but a friend sent me a link to the YouTube video of her performance on “Britain’s got Talent.”

I’ll admit, when she first walked onto the stage, I felt sorry for her, not because of the way she looked, but rather that the audience was already snickering and jeering at her before she even opened her mouth. Apparently, they expected her not to be able to sing simply based on her appearance. I was especially upset when I saw one specific woman in the audience rolling her eyes, shaking her head, and laughing -this is the same mentality of people who are now judging overweight people in the airline industry with financial penalties, but that’s ANOTHER blog rant- but it was when I saw that slow, well-known smirk come across Simon Cowell’s face, I knew poor Susan was going to become the butt of some sort of cruel and terrible joke. I didn’t want to watch.

Susan Boyle appears to be a regular person, maybe a neighbor or a co-worker, not a movie star with all the makeup and fancy clothes. She has heart, and it shows. She has kindness, and it shines through her. Her beauty inside and out is what makes her shine with talent. She's got great stage presence. Her face is strong and dramatic, which is an advantageous quality to have, especially in the theater. Susan’s performance was stunning, amazing, breath taking; I even got tears in my eyes (how could you not?) The fact that everyone keeps referring to her as a dumpy, middle-aged woman is bizarre to me. She’s a hero to all of us who aren't a size 0, with perfectly done make up and hair.

I say Congratulations Susan, you GO GIRL!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Uses For Old Business Cards

In the spirit of Going Green (it's a slow day), here are a few suggestions:

Cleaning the spaces between your computer keyboard (use the sticky side of a used Post-it to get any crumbs)

Cutting the ends off to make labels for your hanging file folders

Attaching to CD cases to identify them as yours

Luggage tags

Making short grocery lists on the back

Entering "free meal” drawings at your favorite eateries

Makeshift bookmarks (instead of folding the corner of the page down – I HATE THAT!)

Getting that last little bit of chicken salad out of your teeth

Putting personal notes in the lunch bag of someone you love

Fingernail cleaner

Use as a wedge to balance a wobbly table in a restaurant

Noisemakers for your bike (remember clothespining playing cards to the fenders of your bike so they would struck by the spokes on the wheel creating a motorized sound?)


Build a card castle

Shred them to make confetti

Tape them together to make drawer liners

And my personal favorite:

Use as a Tool Of Deception For People You Don't Like. Carry a few old business cards belonging to someone else in your wallet. When you encounter someone you wish you hadn't, hand them one of them as you leave