Friday, April 28, 2006

It’s my bag, baby… yeah!

We signed up for ValleySchwag today. I'll keep you posted as to what goodies come our way. Needless to say, I am totally psyched at the thought of getting geeky tech goodies in the mail every month. And SURPRISE geeky tech goodies, at that! YES! Seriously - I can. not. wait. for the first schwag shipment to arrive. I am literally giggling with glee in anticipation! Wooooo WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

"I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

This quote from Robert J. Oppenheimer, the "father" of the atomic bomb, came to mind over and over again as I watched a devestating photo essay on the Chernobyl legacy. The photos are accompanied by audio from the photographer, Paul fusco, who gives intimate details about each scene and person he photographed. These photos are not for the thin-skinned, but I think that they are necessary viewing for anyone living in the nuclear age.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Take a ride.

I grew up in the age of Sesame Street. When I was little, my mom watched her "story" at 11am (The Young and The Restless) and I watched my "story" at 12pm (Sesame Street). I love all things Muppets and adore Miss Piggy, to the point that when I got a bed that was too big for my twin size Miss Piggy sheet set, my mom had the sheets turned into curtains for my bedroom.

Today I came across this classic clip from a 1970's episode of Sesame Street that talks about the subway. I don't recall ever seeing it before, but I totally recognize all of the voices and characters. It's so subversive and clever. Enjoy.

Sanity through Satire

Today was the last day of my English class this semester. The class looked at writing in a cultural context, specifically the context of middle east relations and military culture. We read some really exciting stuff: Jarhead by Anthony Swofford, Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, and Percepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

For my final project, I developed a website that outlines in a satirical way 5 steps to becoming good American citizen. In the works that we read in class, the authors are constricted by rules and must interact with and react to their worlds through the lenses of those rules. Our own culture has rules, too, but the degrees by which we abide by them varies from person to person. My site looks through the lens of conservatism the prevention of terrorism to create a framework by which rules of civility can be derived. I use examples from and links to other websites and connect them all together to create my guide.

Please check it out if you have some spare time.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I believe the children are our future.

As such, they need to be educated in all aspects of society, culture, politics, religion, science, literature, etc. If you are looking for a good book that teaches botany to kids, look no further than It's Just a Plant. From the website:
Despite our best efforts to criminalize, restrict and otherwise hide it in every way we can... children learn about marijuana.

In fact, from the schoolyard to the classroom, kids are flooded with information on it. Unfortunately, most "drug facts" are more frightening than educational, blaming pot for everything from homelessness to teenage pregnancy to international terrorism.

Many parents are not comfortable discussing marijuana use beyond "just saying no." Some have tried marijuana themselves. Others fear that any discussion of marijuana falling short of outright denouncement may be perceived by their kids as permission to try it on their own. In short, parents have few sources of information that puts the safety of their children above political argument and moral lessons.

We believe that a child's first awareness of drugs should come from a better source than the government, the media or drug manufacturers. It's Just a Plant is for parents who want to be involved in discussing and educating their children about the effects, the dangers and the benefits of marijuana.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Good advice.

Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson has some excellent business advice that can be applied outside the business realm as well.

Note: Swanson appears to have plagarized this list from a book written in 1944. The advice is still sound, although I would add an item about not taking credit for the work of others.

1: Learn to say, "I don't know." If used when appropriate, it will be used often.
2: It is easier to get into something than to get out of it.
3: If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much
4: Look for what is missing. Many know how to improve what's there; few can see what isn't there.
5: Presentation rule: When something appears on a slide presentation, assume the world knows about it and deal with it accordingly.
6. Work for a boss to whom you can tell it like it is. Remember, you can't pick your family, but you can pick your boss.
7: Constantly review developments to make sure that the actual benefits are what they were supposed to be. Avoid Newton's Law.
8: However menial and trivial your early assignments may appear, give them your best effort.
9: Persistence or tenacity is the disposition to persevere in spite of difficulties, discouragement or indifference. Don't be known as a good starter but a poor finisher!
10: In doing your project, don't wait for others; go after them and make sure it gets done.
11: Confirm the instructions you give others, and their commitments, in writing. Don't assume it will get done.
12: Don't be timid: Speak up, express yourself and promote your ideas.
13: Practice shows that those who speak the most knowingly and confidently often end up with the assignment to get the job done.
14: Strive for brevity and clarity in oral and written reports.
15: Be extremely careful in the accuracy of your statements.
16: Don't overlook the fact that you are working for a boss. Keep him or her informed. Whatever the boss wants, within the bounds of integrity, takes top priority.
17: Promises, schedules and estimates are important instruments in a well-run business. You must make promises — don't lean on the often-used phrase: "I can't estimate it because it depends on many uncertain factors."
18: Never direct a complaint to the top; a serious offense is to "cc" a person's boss on a copy of a complaint before the person has a chance to respond to the complaint.
19: When interacting with people outside the company, remember that you are always representing the company. Be especially careful of your commitments.
20: Cultivate the habit of boiling matters down to the simplest terms: the proverbial "elevator speech" is the best way.
21: Don't get excited in engineering emergencies: Keep your feet on the ground.
22: Cultivate the habit of making quick, clean-cut decisions.
23: When making decisions, the "pros" are much easier to deal with than the "cons." Your boss wants to see both.
24: Don't ever lose your sense of humor.
25: Have fun at what you do. It will be reflected in you work. No one likes a grump except another grump!
26: Treat the name of your company as if it were your own.
27: Beg for the bad news.
28: You remember 1/3 of what you read, 1/2 of what people tell you, but 100% of what you feel.
29: You can't polish a sneaker.
30: When facing issues or problems that are becoming drawn-out, "short them to the ground."
31: When faced with decisions, try to look at them as if you were one level up in the organization. Your perspective will change quickly.
32: A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person. (This rule never fails).
33: Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, an amateur built an ark that survived a flood while a large group of professionals built the Titanic!
Postscript: The qualities of leadership boil down to confidence, dedication, integrity and love.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Memory by Hayden Carruth

A woman I used to know well died
A week ago. Not to be mysterious:
She and I were married. I'm told
She fell down dead on a street in
Lower Manhattan, and I suppose
She suffered a stroke or a heart attack.
The last time I saw her was in the spring
Of 1955, meaning forty-four
Years ago, and now when I try
To imagine her death I see in my
Mind a good-looking, twenty-nine-
Year-old woman sprawled on the pavement.
It does no good to go and examine
My own ravaged face in the bathroom
Mirror; I cannot transpose my ravage-
Ment to her. She is fixed in my mind
As she was. Brown hair, brown eyes,
Slender and sexy, coming home
From her job as an editor in a huge
Building in midtown. Forty-four
Years is longer than I thought. My dear,
How could you have let this happen to you?

Pigeons by Lisel Mueller

Like every kingdom,
the kingdom of birds
has its multitude of the poor,
the urban, public poor
whose droppings whiten
shingles and sidewalks,

who pick and pick
(but rarely choose)
whatever meets their beaks:
the daily litter
in priceless Italian cities,
and here, around City Hall—
always underfoot,
offending fastidious people
with places to go.

No one remembers how it happened,
their decline, the near-
abandonment of flight,
the querulous murmurs,
the garbage-filled crops.
Once they were elegant, carefree;
they called to each other in rich, deep voices,
and we called them doves
and welcomed them to our gardens.

For My Lover, Returning To His Wife by Anne Sexton

She is all there.
She was melted carefully down for you
and cast up from your childhood,
cast up from your one hundred favorite aggies.

She has always been there, my darling.
She is, in fact, exquisite.
Fireworks in the dull middle of February
and as real as a cast-iron pot.

Let's face it, I have been momentary.
A luxury. A bright red sloop in the harbor.
My hair rising like smoke from the car window.
Littleneck clams out of season.

She is more than that. She is your have to have,
has grown you your practical your tropical growth.
This is not an experiment. She is all harmony.
She sees to oars and oarlocks for the dinghy,

has placed wild flowers at the window at breakfast,
sat by the potter's wheel at midday,
set forth three children under the moon,
three cherubs drawn by Michelangelo,

done this with her legs spread out
in the terrible months in the chapel.
If you glance up, the children are there
like delicate balloons resting on the ceiling.

She has also carried each one down the hall
after supper, their heads privately bent,
two legs protesting, person to person
her face flushed with a song and their little sleep.

I give you back your heart.
I give you permission—

for the fuse inside her, throbbing
angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
and the burying of her wound—
for the burying of her small red wound alive—

for the pale flickering flare under her ribs,
for the drunken sailor who waits in her left pulse,
for the mother's knee, for the stockings,
for the garter belt, for the call—

the curious call
when you will burrow in arms and breasts
and tug at the orange ribbon in her hair
and answer the call, the curious call.

She is so naked and singular.
She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
Climb her like a monument, step after step.
She is solid.

As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

In rememberance of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake

One hundred years ago today, the city of San Francisco crumbled and burned to the ground. An estimated 3,000 people died and several thousand more were left homeless. Chalk it up to the tenacity of a great city that just 3 years later, nearly 20,000 new buildings had been erected on the rubble.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
by Robert Philips

I, Rose Rosenfeld, am one of the workers
who survived. Before the inferno broke out,
factory doors had been locked by the owners,

to keep us at our sewing machines,
to keep us from stealing scraps of cloth.
I said to myself, What are the bosses doing?
I knew they would save themselves.

I left my big-button-attacher machine,
climbed the iron stairs to the tenth floor
where their offices were. From the landing window

I saw girls in shirtwaists flying by,
Catherine wheels projected like Zeppelins
out open windows, then plunging downward,
sighing skirts open parasols on fire.

I found the big shots stuffing themselves
into the freight elevator going to the roof.
I squeezed in. While our girls were falling,

we ascended like ashes. Firemen
yanked us onto the next-door roof.
I sank to the tarpaper, sobbed for
one-hundred forty-six comrades dying

or dead down below. One was Rebecca,
my only close friend, a forewoman kind to workers.
Like the others, she burned like a prism.

Relatives of twenty-three victims later
Brought suits.
Each family was awarded seventy-five dollars.
It was like the Titanic the very next year-
No one cared about the souls in steerage.

Those doors were locked, too, a sweatshop at sea.
They died due to ice, not fire. I live in
Southern California now. But I still see

skirts rippling like parachutes,
girls hit the cobblestones, smell smoke,
burnt flesh, girls cracking like cheap buttons,
disappearing like so many dropped stitches.

Poem: "Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire" by Robert Phillips from Circumstances Beyond Our Control: Poems. © Johns Hopkins University Press

Monday, April 17, 2006

More odds and ends

For someone who loves musicals as much as I do, you might be surprised to hear that I had never seen nor listened to the soundtrack to Rent. Last week I finally rented the DVD to the movie, and now I am using Cdigix to listen to the soundtrack at work almost every day. What the hell was wrong with me? Why didn't I jump on this bandwagon before? The music is fantastic, the story, the cast, everything - just wonderful. Plus, listening to the music makes me think of Adam, whom I haven't heard from in a while. I wonder how he is doing today, because it's his birthday. Happy Birthday, Adam.

I got a new 14-inch iBook from work on Friday. What a freaking nice piece of equipment it is, too. I'm gonna get one of those girly bags to carry it in. Speaking of Macs, I have a podcasting seminar to go to in 30 minutes. What a bundle of excitement that will be, I am sure.

I have to start getting allergy shots again ASAP. This whole stuffy/runny nose and sneezing thing is getting ridiculous.