Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Metolius maintains its reputation, and I mine

Got a river tour with our kind host on Monday. He pointed out stretches that he traditionally fished, up which sides of the banks, which time of day, etc. He even took me to some private land with some beautiful stretches of fly fishing water. It was just after the heat of the day, so not the best time to be fly fishing. I wasn't exactly expecting to catch anything under these conditions, on this river, and sure enough I didn't.

It's well known amongst my group of fishing friends, that the Metolius in fact may not have any fish in it whatsoever. Our normal invitation to go fish it is, "Hey, want to go get our asses kicked at the Metolius?" We can see the fish at times, always monsters, but we sure as hell can't seem to catch them. The grand majority of the time we just fish and fish, mezmerized by the beauty of the river and the potential of all these hides and spots we're casting to, and go fishless. (Before they jump on and defend themselves, I will qualify that a few fish have been caught here by my fishing cadre, but it sure as hell isn't the norm).

My history with this river has been solidified -- I can only catch fish here by cheating. My very first day here, years ago, I rigged up a pretty standard deepwater nymphing outfit like I'd use on the Deschutes -- two flies, plenty of lead, strike indicator. That day, I caught two big beautiful trout, and was thinking "hey, this place isn't as hard as everyone says it is," right about when one of my fishing buddies walked up and said "Uh, you aren't allowed external weights on your line here. Better get them off before you get a ticket." Whups.

On this trip, I've caught a few fish. But I've caught them all at a spot that our gracious host deems so easy as to be unsportsmanlike, and calls The Kiddie Pool. It is the spillway for the little dam they have on their property. There is a small phalanx of young, gullible trout that hang out in the bubbles there. Once I figured out that this was the notorious "kiddie pool" I had to try a few casts, and sure enough I missed a few strikes and hooked a small rainbow. My host insists that if I mention having caught fish on this trip, I announce where. I'm not ashamed, at least I caught a few.

Enjoy getting your ass kicked,


It's not you, it's me

It has now been determined by anecdotal evidence repeated daily, that it is not in fact the Macbook that doesn't like me. It seems to be any particular computer's connection to the wireless that doesn't like me. At all. I've only been staying connected for a few minutes at a time the last few days no matter which computer I'm using.

It doesn't happen to anyone else, I'm considering having my friends here take dictation.

Today is rehearsals with the actors and tonight the plays the kids have written will be performed, for those of you following that part of the story.

I'll attempt more posts later, things are looking unusually stable at the moment.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Shadow Art

A friend here turned me on to shadow art yesterday. The picture below is by Tim Noble and Sue Webster and is called Dirty White Trash {with Gulls} -- it is made with 6 months' worth of artists' trash. Check out this New Shelton wet/dry post for more photos and links.

Enjoy new ways to make art,


[photo credit Tate online]

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A deeper look into Lotus Land

There are many factors that lead me into a nearly constant state of psychic disbelief about my current circumstances. Many reasons why I spend a generous amount of my time sitting a bit aside from the group, staring out over the landscape, dazed, wondering what the hell planet I'm currently living on.

For one, I really don't know anyone here. I had only met two of the folks working this retreat before I came here. I drove out with a professional clown, in a car that is covered with chalkboard paint and chalk graffiti. I'm surrounded by strangers -- smart, talented strangers.
And yet everyone greets me with a smile, and offers me assistance and advice like we're old friends.

In the mornings, people are roused awake from their various tents and sleeping platforms by a woman playing Reveille on a trombone. After breakfast we caravan to the Camp to work with the kids. I find myself sitting in a circle with experienced theater people, doing warm-up games, and then sitting down to work as coach and scribe for some amazing kid. One on one we work out a series of surrealistic characters, none human, that will give this young person a place to clear out their soul just a little bit. Give them a place to tell their story in metaphor, in code -- through art.

I feel like I snuck into some dream job, having faked my qualifications. Like the people around me are so comfortable in this position that they don't see how out of place I am. Wasn't it about a month ago that I was graduating with a degree in Biology? That's science, right? That was me, right?

When we get back from camp, and after we debrief our work with the kids, immediately someone hands me a gin and tonic and says that I'm expected out at the horse shoe pits. Somewhere, there is meat slow roasting on a mesquite bbq, and our host is setting up for some incredible dinner. I rarely have a second drink, but since they're served in pint glasses, and are strong, I rarely need a second drink.

And I wander around to look at the geese on the pond, or to watch the stars come out as the last of the sun goes away, and I wonder how the hell I got here. Who the hell are all these people, and why are they all being so nice to me. How in god's name am I pulling off being a writing coach for these complex and vibrant kids.


[Painting: Robert Duncanson, Land of the Lotos Eaters, 1852]

Apparently, this Mac Book hates me

I am the only one on this retreat that is having problems with this Mac Book. Within a few minutes of working, it decides it's going to go off line and not be able to find the wi fi here. This happens to no one else, only me.

I am a hero of anti-macintosh chemistry, sheesh.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Reflections on working with these kids, and living on the river

As I mentioned a few posts back, I'm working with teens this week with Playwrite, Inc. We are working with kids at Camp Caldera, and so basically are working like sub contractors. During this same span of time, there are other arts workshops in subjects like photography, film-making, and fiber arts going on.

The kids that signed up for our workshop are great, intense, and working their tails off. Every day their moods and attitudes change, so you really don't know what to expect next. One day kid X is reticent, and quiet, and goofing off during the exercises; and the next they are excited to get writing, and fully engaged. Today had a particularly good energy about it, and we think it's because all the kids at the camp were allowed to sleep in. At this point in the immersion program, Camp Caldera staff figured out that a good long morning can eliminate a lot of behavior problems.

So I'm finally getting paid to work one on one with kids. It takes a lot out of me, and after only 3 hours I'm ready for a nap. We spend more time back at home base going over the work produced from the day and discussing various strategies that did or didn't work with each young writer.

There already is some impressive material coming out in the character sketches the kids have developed. I'm excited to see the short plays once they've been polished, and then performed (under the direction of the kids) by professional actors at the culmination of the workshop.

Living here on the river has put me into some la-la land. My brain doesn't seem to be firing on all cylinders, I trip up on my words, and I'm taking lots of naps. It is a life out of time -- quite surreal.

I have discovered that I am truly my grandfather's progeny, because I am picking up the game of horseshoes quickly. Grandpa was a handy player himself. I had a hell of a streak a couple days back and was undefeated. The wins have slowed down a bit lately, but my throws are still looking quite classy and artful despite the fact the they aren't always scoring. Who knew.

I'm also discovering that, for blogging, my home desktop sure is an enormous help. I have a real-sized keyboard (trying to type on diminutive laptop keyboards feels like trying to speak through a ball gag), and I have all my handy blog subscriptions to cruise for material to keep the juices flowing. Even if I don't post everything I come across, the process is now part of how I warm up to write and seems to help.

I'm off to stare at the river a bit.

Enjoy unexpected circumstances, and making the best use of them you can,


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Salmon return to Vancouver river

Here is a very cool article about a salmon restoration project in B.C. that is starting to work. Sockeye are coming back to the Coquitlam River, and the locals are very pleased.

Thanks to my Canukistani Operative Yuri for this story, warms the heart.

Enjoy the success stories, even when few and far between,


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Quick followup from the river

So it turns out that Bruce, the executive director of Playwrite Inc., who is hosting this little shindig on the Metolius river, is an accomplished chef. Like, bigtime.

So we finished off our evening meal with hand-cranked organic ice cream -- Port and Marionberry ice cream.

We worked with the kids today for our first day of playwriting. They did great, and it is definitely hard work to coach them. Challenging in a good way, but challenging nonetheless. I'm loving it so far. And, I'm a newb.

Off to the sleeping platform, I'll post pictures of that in the next few days. I woke up from an afternoon nap yesterday to a mule deer stag grazing about 50 ft. away.

Enjoy short, unillustrated, somewhat disjoined blog posts,


McCain Sucks -- bomb Iran?

To be clear about the whole McCain Sucks series of posts -- I understand that the grand majority of folks who read this blog are not voting for McCain. Some may be undecided, but most are anti. So, it would seem to be preaching to the choir to make these posts. However, I want folks to have specifics to mention should anyone challenge their stance regarding McSame. That way we can be educated and intelligent in our responses. Also, for the undecided folks, these should be good food for thought.

Just in case you missed this particular McCain Sucks tidbit, here is a video of him singing the jaunty "bomb bomb Iran" song.

And here is Grampy defending himself -- completely asinine. Yeah, "lighten up" about bombing other countries, sheesh.

Enjoy Grampy McSame shooting himself in the foot repeatedly, and with vigor,


[via Muse]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Live blogging from the Metolius River

Posts will be emitting over the intartubes from the shores of the Metolius River in Camp Sherman, Oregon. Until August 1st or so. That picture there isn't mine, but it does give you a start. I'll snap photos and share as this job with Playwrite progresses.

More later, it's dark out and folks other than me need this computer,

Bp out

Southern Culture on the Skids -- Camel Walk

I love this song. It's not totally stuck in my head, so it doesn't qualify under that category, but I wanted to share it's genius with ya'll regardless.

Enjoy the song that gives you the spectacular term "horny boots,"


Sunday, July 20, 2008

My first teaching gig -- Playwrite Inc.

That's what a degree in Biology will get you, a writing/coaching gig with marginalized youth. [I really don't like any of the terms for these kids, "at risk," "troubled," etc. -- maybe just "teens" is the best.]

I'm now part of the Playwrite team. You can get lots of information about the program by clicking the text link and surfing around a bit.

I'd say going to this page and clicking on the OPB Art Beat video would be a good introduction.

The kids go through a two week workshop where they write stage play material, assisted by coaches. The assistance is very specific, and doesn't include ANY material or words whatsoever -- meaning they do every single bit of the writing themselves, it's all theirs. We're more like scribes and questioners -- asking questions to help keep the kids on track and producing good material for their story. At the end of the workshop, professional actors perform their pieces. They direct these actors, and have creative control over how the material is performed.

There is solid research behind the Playwrite model. I will go into it in the future. For now, I'll say that when folks write through trauma, they heal from it much more successfully. It helps them digest the experience and move on with what they've learned. Freewriting, specifically, gives these benefits.

Got to cook the Canukistanis their breakfast so they can head back to the land of Ice and Snow with a full stomach.

Enjoy finding out that gigs fun enough to be SURE to be volunteer are actually paid,


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Stu having an Apocalypse Now flashback

Here is Stud Farmhand doing his best Captain Benjamin L. Willard impersonation in the middle of a wheat field. I love this shot. Muse is a great traveling companion for stuff like this.

Enjoy live-action movie references captured in time, and in the bald,


Friday, July 18, 2008

Canukistani operative spots waterfall ninja at Latourelle falls

Although top secret, a small but elite force of Canukistani nationals are visiting the house. Among them MAY be Yuri, my prize operative.

We were reviewing the grandeur of the Columbia River Gorge on an undisclosed day in the near past, when Yuri spotted a man in a wet suit coming down the trail toward Latourelle falls. He looked at us, and said "we're going back to the falls, we have to know." We turned around, and Muse the official tour photographer gathered this data. I love that picture above... very cool.

Here is the waterfall ninja in his tentative, dangerous approach. Imagine what would happen should a pebble, or even a small boulder, be in the water flow.

Enjoy nutbags unintentionally entertaining your international visitors and proving that Portland is, in fact, staying weird,


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Result of sleep deprivation/torture

Here is a video from Guantanamo that shows the effects of sleep deprivation and humiliation on a teen-aged inmate. There are some details presented in the accompanying video as well.

This place still exists.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Boing boing, testicle talc, and intarweb community randomness

First off, I have been remiss in my side bar and left out a really great site that I check often -- Boing Boing.

This brings us to the testicle talc (smooth segue, no?). The Good Reverend sent me the link to a Boing Boing post about nut powder, and suggested I follow the comments for some pure comedy. Specifically, comment #5 and the link therein.

How the North American Subaru Impreza Owners Club discussions boards happened to collect such a concentration of smartasses, and how the subject of nut powder managed to spawn over 32 pages of discussion hints at the sometimes-genius capacity of online communities to elicit art and humor from the "general populous."

For instance, in expounding the virtues of Gold Bond powder, one poster stated:

as someone put it once, it's like a 1,000 little gnomes with icey hands massaging your boys.


Enjoy watching the generation of a thousand inside jokes by hundreds of strangers in the intartubes,


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What a weenie

I avoid talking about W much, since he's really just a mouthpiece for the interests that back him and put him in power (like every other president, by the way -- Obama is no exception, more on that later). But, this one just got me going and I had to post.

This as he was leaving the G8 summit --

President George Bush signed off with a defiant farewell over his refusal to accept global climate change targets at his last G8 summit.

As he prepared to fly out from Japan, he told his fellow leaders: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

My god what a weenie.


[via VA Momma, photo credit in linked article]

Monday, July 14, 2008

A new favorite blog -- Indexed by Jessica Hagy

There is a new blog I check all the time, (which I need like a hole in the head) and it is called Indexed. It's simple, humorous, and endlessly amusing.

And another:

Enjoy new internet finds,


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bonobos are free-love hippies

I ran across a brief mention in a recent National Geographic about how Bonobo society was matriarchal, had less aggression than many other primate societies, and exhibited pan sexuality. It mentioned lots of sexual play, including sexual play being used in reconciliation and to ease tension. I thought I could write up a brief and humorous post based on this. It turns out I had stepped into a bit of politics by accident, and now have to address that as well.

Regarding the claims that Bonobos live in a low-aggression (not without aggression, mind you), sexual, free-love society -- see an excellent piece by Frans de Waal. His paper takes into account both zoo observations and wild, and depicts the highly-sexed Dionysian society I expected to find (ok, Dionysian is inaccurate and a stretch but it sounded good at the time). Sex is not only used for pair bonding, but also to resolve tensions after conflicts, and to settle down before meals -- grand!

Now enter a New Yorker article that attempts to bash this view of the primates. As is typical for New Yorker articles, it is lavishly written with a tonnage of nice prose about the place and the trip and the people and the animals, etc. It sets itself firmly in the politics of the situation (of which I was completely unaware), and pushes against the grain with depictions of violence amongst Bonobos. It is 12 pages long, and written by Ian Parker, a writer -- not a scientist.

It is a nice piece, but people are using it to "prove" that the former view of the primates was wrong. Apparently, conservatives reacted to the idealization of Bonobo society by some groups (lefties, feminists, back-to-the-land types) as a good model of ideal human society. The conservatives hated that idea, and loved this article. They believe it refutes the original claims by the scientists -- which of course it cannot, with only circumstantial evidence. There was a brief row over this which is covered well in this Primate Diaries post.

Last but not least, here is the original author, Frans de Waal, refuting all the bullshit wholesale. You go Frans. Let the observations stand, for crissakes.

In the end, this blog author feels that roving bands of pan-sexual matriarchal primates in the jungles of Africa are a happy thing -- screw the spin doctors.

Enjoy learning more about hairy primates in remote forests,


[photo credit (Frans his'self) in linked article]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wallet guide to pesticide levels in fruits -- avocado surprise

The Environmental Working Group has published a pocket pesticide guide that shows the results of their studies of common fruits used in the U.S. There is a clickable picture at the top of the linked page that produces a PDF you can print out and keep if you so choose.

Interestingly, avocados show up at the bottom (cleanest) part of the list. I assume this is because of the types of pesticides used, and their hard skins. This was a surprise to me, because I had assumed non-organic avocados were a health risk for quite some time now.

In the mid 90's, there was a brief spate of announcements from the FDA stating that due to heavy metal content in avocados, consumption should be limited to one a month. This is the same type of regimen that has been suggested around mercury contamination in Swordfish and other large oceanic predators. I heard exactly one of these announcements on the radio, on a public radio station, then never heard about it again. Soon afterwards, the California Avocado advertising campaign started.

It makes sense that avocados could be loaded with heavy metals for a couple reasons. For one, heavy metal fungicides are used on the orchards. For two, avocados are fat laden, therefore fat-soluble heavy metals would naturally bioaccumulate there.

So, I'm attempting to find out more information about the safety of non-organic avocados. Apparently from a pesticide level, they're doing well. But the study that produced this guide doesn't address my concerns about heavy metal contamination. I'd be quite happy to find out that they're safe, because avocados are one of my favorite foods, and I don't always have access to organic ones.

Enjoy learning more about what you put in your body,


[food guide link via Shady]

Friday, July 11, 2008

Forgotten English -- couch a hogshead

couch a hogshead

To lye downe and sleepe. Peddelar's Frenche.
--Thomas Harman's A Caveat, or Warening, for Common Cursetors, 1567

To go to bed. -- B.E.'s Dictionary of the Canting Crew, 1699

Hogshead, humorously applied to the head [couch meant to lie down]. -- Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1893

Enjoy old phrases that are harmless enough but really sound like taking a B.M. ,


[From: Jeffrey Kacirk Forgotten English 2008 Calendar: A Calendar of Vanishing Vocabulary and Folklore]


Big 'ol Rock Star show

Can't recall the last time I went to a big stadium rock and roll show. Leave it to The Wife to drag me into these new and interesting experiences. We went to see the Foo Fighters at the Rose Garden Arena last night. I really enjoyed myself.

Not a ton to say, and it's early, and I have a light rail to catch -- but it was a grand show. Dave Grohl has charisma enough to carry the whole band on stage. He runs around, jokes with the audience, shakes his hair around in big-rock-star fashion -- but all the while you get the impression that he's just a normal guy enjoying himself. How he portrays that in an arena full of people is kind of mind-boggling, but he truly does. I came away with the feeling that he was just a normal guy who loves his job, and that job happens to be rocking the fuck out.

Grohl isn't the only showman on the stage, Taylor Hawkins has his back in the big rockstar department. He's a superb drummer, but also banters and goofs it up with the best of them.

I'm glad I went, and I'm glad this huge, sold-out Arena rock and roll show didn't feel like an ego-fest by the band.

The best thing about the show, however, was the people watching. We had a chubby little guy in the row in front of us, with his sister, older brother and Dad in tow. The kid looked about 11, with coke-bottle glasses, and for sure got picked on at school. But this kid ROCKED THE FUCK OUT during the show, it was the cutest thing ever. He threw the Corna during most of the songs, and did an admirable head-banger head-nod as well despite his short hair. It was adorable.

His dad, a few seats down and in a tye-dye'd shirt was grooving on the show as well. I realized at some point during the night that The Foo Fighters first album came out before the little guy was born, and when the Dad was probably in the prime of his head-banging life. We are definitely getting older.

I've always thought this song would be really great live -- and now I know, it is. It really is.

Enjoy rare experiences, especially if at first you think it will be a cheese-fest and are proven wrong,


[photo via Pride of Manchester site]

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Exactly when can we nail their balls to a board?

[Note, this blog title is metaphorical and is meant to convey "calling them to justice" -- this blog author in no way supports the actual nailing of Karl Rove's genitals to a piece of wood with large, possibly spiral-patterned nails for what he has personally done to degrade the United States and the rule of law.]

Well, Rove said fuck you to Congress and refused to testify. He said he would in writing, with attorney approval, blah blah blah.

Imagine if you or I did this. Joe Blow citizen telling Congress that they'd like to testify only in writing, and that they'd refuse to show up for questioning otherwise. Just imagine the hellfire, tear gas, and tasers involved in our dear government's response.

Not only does this neo conservative cabal think they are above the law, they are asserting it in ways that create precedent. And Congress will let them, you watch.

Fuck them, fuck them all.


Laying hens produce cherries

You gotta love the N.E. Portland Backyard Barter economy in summertime.

Some of our delectable eggs,

Turned into these shiny beauties,

Enjoy bounty wherever you find it,


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Colony Collapse may have reached Oregon

Stu turned me on to this article about a Madras, OR beekeeper who got hit by CCD this season. Until this year, it had looked like Oregon had dodged the bullet of this phenomenon.

It seems it was only a matter of time, as Washington has been hit with big bee problems as well, Oregon was pretty much surrounded.

Send some good thoughts out for those working on this problem,


[photo credit in linked article]

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

And now for something completely different: Man skydives with pug

Sorry, had to,


Rotating skyscrapers generate their own power

Rotating skyscrapers -- there's the first head-turner. The second is, there are wind generators between the floors -- interesting stuff.

There are two projects set to go up in the near future, possibly in two years. I'll be interested to see if they can sustain themselves completely on wind power. If so, bravo. If not, then just another quack idea that is reminiscent of an enormous sex toy.

I mean, it's a pretty sex toy and all, but still.

Enjoy folks working to combine their passion with the remotest sense of the coming energy collapse,


Monday, July 7, 2008

Quote from The Godfather

Watched The Godfather tonight, one of T.'s favorite movies. Heard a quote that is now my favorite from that whole movie.

From one Muscle to another, leaving a crime scene:

"Leave the gun, take the Cannoli."

How rad is that,


Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents, and David Attenborough

The Wife, T. and I were watching the The Blue Planet series tonight, and caught the deep sea vent episode. Not only is it good eye candy (the whole damn series is) but the whole idea of an ecosystem that exists due to chemicals from the vents, not sunlight, is just a trip. It is a big deal. This type of system is hypothesized to be similar to the conditions under which life began on this planet.

There are these huge tube worms that live round the vents, white crabs, and even some species of fish. All of them dependent on a few specific families of bacteria which convert the chemicals produced by the "black smokers" into foodstuffs they can use (like we do with sunlight/plants/glucose).

I'll let David tell you a bit about it:

Enjoy the eye-candy of bizarro ecologies on our very own host planet,


Sunday, July 6, 2008

McCain sucks: Campaign advisor a friend of dictators

It was hard to write the headline for this post, because everything I came up with was either too long winded or too showboaty. I went with showboaty, because it is true -- Charles Black is a friend of dictators, both Jonas Savimbi, the ever-popular Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, and President Mohamed Siad Barre of Somali. O.K., maybe it's inaccurate to say "friend" -- client is more accurate -- tho possibly even less comforting. According to this Guardian article on Black, he also has impeccable far-right credentials.

This guy isn't some social or religious acquaintance of McSame's, he is a key member of the campaign staff. This is an entirely different level of association than the whole "pastor war" that went on a while back, and reflects darkly on McSame's intended policies, should he (God forbid) become president.

Here's a capper from the Guardian article:

Black's remarks to Fortune magazine that a terrorist attack on US soil would be a "big advantage" to McCain's election campaign may seem a no-brainer behind closed doors among hard-nosed political strategists. Out in the open, they seem a tad insensitive, even for McCain himself, who had to distance himself from the remarks.

So lets not forget about the upcoming election entirely (as I almost did). I mean, it would be nice, but its too important to let go.

Enjoy coming back into society,


[article via Babs, photo credit in linked article]

How Stuff Works -=- a site for those who need to know

Stud Farmhand just sent me a link to the How Stuff Works website. It's an endless series of explanations bound to excite and entertain geeks of all ages and sizes.

From scuba diving cats to how long it would take for your house to fall apart, the site is totally random and seemingly endless.

Yes, I'm back -- this post is live, I'll report in soon.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Christian the Lion reunion

This video went viral this year, about 20 years after the event took place. One of my favorite youtube finds, I have to say.

It is footage of a lion that had been rescued (bought) from a British department store and raised by two men until it was too big to handle, then re-introduced to the wild. The video is shot after the lion had been in the wild a year or so. You can get a bit more information and some good links from the Wiki page. The lioness present was Christian's mate, and apparently a wild lion despite her nonchalance around the humans.

I apologize for the music in the video, but believe me of all the videos I found this one had the best taste. For a laugh at both the music and the messages associated with the video, cruise the youtube search for Christian the Lion a bit.

Enjoy familial affections across species boundaries,


Friday, July 4, 2008

YGTLO: Bush tours America to survey damage done by his disastrous presidency

I really, really love The Onion sometimes.

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

[via Estu]

Enjoy the truth, wherever you can find it,


Bill Moyers on the crisis in Journalism

Here is a video of Bill Moyers speaking at the National Conference for Media Reform. It's an excellent speech, even if he does get a bit sentimental at times.
[a reminder, before the comments explode -- I'm out of town for another day so I will respond to comments but not just yet]

Enjoy veteran journalists hitting their stride,


[Thanks Micah for the tip, and Alternet for the context]

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Story of Stuff

You may have heard of The Story of Stuff. Well, should you have 20 minutes to educate yourself, click on the movie at that site and sit down with some popcorn.

Annie Leonard is a bit perky for my taste, but she's got her facts straight and doesn't bother making assertions that aren't backed up by data. It's not exhaustive, but she had to keep this movie watchable after all. How many policy lectures have you actually remained awake all the way through, right?

This presentation gives you something rare -- the big picture. She covers planned obsolescence, perceived obsolescence, "national happiness", toxics, international manufacturing, closed-loop production -- solutions as well as problems. She does an excellent job of covering the material, not getting maudlin or evangelical about it, and connecting you through the website to other resources where you can research further, and get in contact with folks doing good work regarding the environment, materials, social justice, etc. It's quite excellent.

Enjoy gathering the information needed to back up your gut instincts,


Quick Fact: 16% of US science teachers are creationists

I should say quick statistic, maybe. Regardless, I thought the point worth posting. Here is a quickie New Scientist blurb about it.

Enjoy the state of things, regardless,


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Russian Parkour -- some nice moves

When I was visiting Canukistan the last time, the kids introduced me to Parkour. Watching video after video, it reminded me of when street skating first took off -- using the urban environment as your playground.

When you first look at it, many of the moves look mundane. But just try to imagine doing them yourself -- even the most simple ones. Suddenly, it gets a whole lot more impressive.

It always seems that teens and pre-teens are looking for ways to push their body and athleticism, and yet still do it their own way, flipping off The Man if at all possible. I can see why this sport has taken off so strongly, it fits the bill nicely on both counts. You can not only trespass, but easily evade foot pursuit as well. How perfect is that?

So, although the French claim to start the sport, this video of Russian Parkour kids was sent to me by Yuri so I'll share it with you. Easy to imagine why the circumstances for Russian teens lends toward this type of sport -- wrecked urban landscapes, no money for fancy equipment, and a need to avoid trouble.

[sorry about the ad in the beginning of the video, I figured it was good enough that I'd post it anyway]

Russian Parkour - 5 - Funny home videos are a click away

Enjoy watching the kids exercise their invisible, bulletproof, ninja skillz,


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Heart -- Magic Man

I haven't posted a rocking Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special video in quite some time. I am dig the Heart performances -- between her amazing voice and the guitarist's satin karate fashion statement in the back, it's a winner. This was filmed in 1976.

Enjoy feathered -- well everything, hair, sleeves, & guitar riffs,


Annals of Creepitude: "adult android" toys

Ok, it's not very human looking, and only 38 centimeters tall, but this little robot by Sega blows kisses and dances for its owner. See a video here.

Holy creepy batman.