Click The Shutter…

There is a program on PBS on the brain (episode 2 just aired this week) and it has been interesting. i have been thinking about a lot of things lately and since this show was on memory, I was reminded of how badly I wanted a photographic memory when I was in school.

I thought it would be the greatest thing in the world. Eliminate the need to study for tests or classes, just look at the materials and they would be available for recall upon request. I would ace all my classes, be able to spend more time doing what I wanted (rather than homework and study) and generally impressing the snot out of people.

Didn’t happen, at least not in the way I had imagined. For, while lying in bed this morning, I came to the realization that I was indeed granted a photographic memory…that of the prototypical amateur photographer. Fuzzy, blurry pictures, usually over-exposed or under developed, off-center, out of focus, with the heads of most of the people cut off. Time has caused much of the colour to fade. They are scratched and bent, some of the corners are ripped off.

Then there is the method of storage. They are stuffed in unlabeled boxes (remnants of other uses, such as shoes) and tossed in the back of the closet, where they are (at best) incredibly annoying to get to or (at worst) likely to be bumped without intent and exploding into a horrific mess, scattering all over the place and requiring extra effort to grab them and stuff them back out of the way (where this scene can and will be repeated in the future).

On the (increasingly) rare occasions when I actually sit down and attempt to review the stack, I find enough time and distance has elapsed that most of the images are filled with people I don’t know at locations I can’t remember. Sometimes there is a clue of context in the image to make a guess as to who, what, and when (holiday decorations, a birthday cake, a calendar on the edge of view), but far too often there is just the vague feeling of uncertainty  regarding why this image was important enough to keep. And the perverse understanding that I can’t possibly toss it away, that someday someone will either fill in the needed background or that it will be essential to solve some mystery puzzle, providing information only this exact picture holds. So it is put back in the box to gather another layer (or six) of dust until it gets drug out again.

Some people have successfully transformed their images into attractive scrapbooks, organizing related materials and adding additional text, allowing others to easily enjoy the experience of sharing the past. A great idea in concept, the closest I have come is shuffling pictures into several heaps, partially organized by geographical proximity or temporal separation. Aggregations spanning states or decades is essentially not sorted, so the work eventually gets shoveled back in the box in the closet for future archeology students to sift through.

Perhaps the weight of time will compress my memories into something useful…coal…oil… natural gas (wait, that is happening now, so perhaps an open window is required)….

Phred

post 76 of n

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Organic Obstacle Course

It’s spring in mid Michigan. Today it rained since before I awoke to the evening news broadcast. We got about 1.5 cm (half inch and a skosh more) of rain, a steady light rain most of the day with a few stronger showers early in the day. Much needed both to wet the ground and to flush some of the tree pollen from the air.

I went to town to pickup a library card and to participate in the local election event at the fire station. On the way home, I noticed a certain sign of the end of the winter season, the beginning of the Olympic organic obstacle course from the parking lot to the apartment building.  There is a concrete walkway consisting of segments about a meter long and the same distance wide (it was poured in one piece, but there are “lines” sunk into the surface to help prevent buckling and should a break occur it will me more likely to split along the lines). As I left my car early in the afternoon (about 5-7 hours after the rains began) I noticed the earthworms had left the safety of the grass and were migrating down and across the walk. Lots of worms, each square had at least 2 and there were a couple with more than 25 squirming creatures slithering along the rough top surface.

Now let it be said that I am not a particularly cruel person. I don’t take pleasure from needlessly ending the lives of lesser creatures in the great chain of existence. I am not a master student of zen where I avoid harming any and every living creature (do these more zealous adherents eat yoghurt?) and I am not a maniacal slaughterer of any and everything that moves, crossing either line on the road to hit any and all targets within range. For the most part, I hold a middle of the path point of view. I like spiders but discourage them from living within the center of my space (corners and unused areas are fine). Now that I no longer deliver propane I have become more tolerant of wasp and hornet nests (at one time I carried nerve agents to take the battle successfully against these monsters). I allow anthills to rise unmolested in the cracks of the local sidewalks (when I would walk my son to the bus stop, it was a daily competition to see who would wipe current building progress off the face of the Earth… it never seemed to have any effect as the next day the course was rebuilt for that day’s event.)

I simply don’t like walking on worms. I don’t have an excessive love for these builders of healthy soil, having sent many generations of them to a watery grave to feed the fishes. (Occasionally a fish would mistakenly BITE the worm and come home for lunch, but that was a rare event.) With my disability, I try to avoid sticking my cane tip into anything nasty that will follow me home onto the fluffy carpet I walk on barefoot. Tips, actually, as I have a quad-footed cane that will stand in the corner unattended (but has 4 times the opportunity to squish crud into the floor), so it is more of a challenge to find wormless sidewalk in the rain. Coupled with my limited mobility, and I deserve at least bronze in the trip to and from the car. Silver when I carry bags from the store (or library, hint hint).

Much as I find snow a distraction, at least it discourages insect infestation. Ladybugs are fine, box elder bugs are neutral (but very annoying), but some of what’s out there is just nasty. One year when I participated in the Chesanning Showboat Choir, a show of local and national talent that performed on a faux paddle-style riverboat (the paddles were fake, the river and boat very real), the mayfly hatch was worse than usual. There were so many of the 1-3 inch bugs flying around that night the stagehands had to sweep the stage between acts to keep the performers from falling down. Street lights on the drive home attracted so many bugs the effective visibility was down to a couple dozen feet. The road got slippery from dead bugs.

Then there’s the “June bugs” coming later this month. They are a kind of beetle that spends the first part of it’s life as a white grub that destroys lawns before morphing into brown, crunchy flying irritants. They are attracted to area lights, so they will accumulate on the screens of outside doors open to allow cool breezes to come indoors on warm evenings. They have tiny claws on their feet, so if (when) they fly and land on your clothing (hair) you can’t easily brush them off. Add the fact they just look creepy and click and buzz when flying around the porch lights, I get the shudders just thinking about them.

Most of the year, I like living here. Summer brings micro pets (I habitually give back rubs to any mosquito that comes by) and brilliant sunny days (vinegar was mom’s go to for dealing with sunburn). Thunderstorms bring natural firework displays (and intermittent power outages). Temp and humidity will often be 90-90 during the dog days of summer (and will bite you in the [REDACTED] if your air conditioning goes out). All in all, spring in Michigan is just about perfect, Except when it’s not…

Gold medal for living here awarded after successfully keeping worms on the sidewalk!

Phred

post 63 of n

Silly Season Holiday Edition

So just another brief rant about artificial holidays, but this one is definitely an artifact by marketers. The geek in me should rejoice in Star Wars Day, but the pragmatist just can’t achieve buy in. Too campy, too contrived.

Ill, I am. Sick, it makes me. (Channeling my inner Yoda)

Sweetest Day, Secretaries’ Day, and Grandparent’s Day were bad enough. Artificial celebrations created specifically to generate additional revenue. How many people took the day off work to do a movie marathon watching them all? Maybe 6 or 7?

You could make a similar argument for Pi Day in March, and you would be right. Except for the point Pie day is a once in a millennium  occurrence. When the next one comes around, You, your children, grand children, and their descendants of several generations will have come and gone. I think there is no way NOT to celebrate such a rare event with at least a nod to its propriety.

And it continues tomorrow. I have to go out and get chips and salsa for the party tomorrow, though I still don’t understand.

Why American recognizes the importance of a sink full of mayo…

Phred

post 62 of n

Updated Definition Of Insanity?

“Doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome” is one working understanding of what insanity is (maybe not a clinical term, but a working one for us non-medical people). I know deep in the dark recesses of my inner self that, unless I make real, significant changes in my way of thinking, I will continue to exhibit the same, reoccurring pattern of self-defeating behavior and the physical and psychic decay that marks my current state of existence.

Each morning I leap climb crawl out of bed with the vision that today will be the day I am successful in [INSERT PET IDEA OF THE WEEK HERE]. Each evening (or more likely, several hours past midnight) when I slip crawl collapse into bed and review the day’s events I am forced to conclude that I have totally failed at [INSERT PET IDEA OF THE WEEK HERE] and will have to try harder tomorrow (or more likely, later this morning).

Apparently I’m insane, as I do this daily.

Take my computer activity for instance. I know if I start working on a project I tend to get so focused that I can easily spend a couple of hours straight at the keyboard without ever moving more than 8-10 inches. When my vision drifts toward yellow and the needs of the flesh become insistent I am reminded remaining stationary for extended periods is NOT a good way to live with arthritis.

[Insert commercial for Depends here.]

There have been several “get up and move” assignments for the PET IDEA OF THE WEEK with the “expected” result (or lack of same). As I pointed out in an earlier post, ” I am only a good intention. I am a really, REALLY bad implementer of change.” So I guess I must submit the plea “not guilty by reason of insanity” for my actions.

Except maybe today can be different. With the death of my I-Pad, I have broken out my Palm Pilot again (mostly to use as as calendar app; my cell phone version is worse than my old Franklin Planner after dropping it in the toilet a few times). One of the apps on the expansion card is a program called PocketDoan that can be used to signal the passing of a series of time periods.

I think it was made to assist people in meditation / prayers / yoga / psychic activities, giving a gentle tone to start the next activity. [2 minutes pass here.] By shifting the burden of keeping track of how long you are doing [INSERT ACTIVITY HERE] from your conscious mind, you can better focus on  successfully accomplishing [INSERT ACTIVITY HERE].

My “Computer Work” program is a 20 minute period of productive work, followed by 2 minutes of “rest eyes” time (when i stop looking at the screen and either do distance vision exercises or just palm my eyes). This cycle repeats twice and after a third work period I get a 10 minute “get up and move” notice. So I get an hour of work time every 74 minutes with an “enforced” break to stretch and keep the joints from freezing up.

This post is being written in the third cycle tonight. So far, I have gotten up twice in the last couple of hours and this is two times more than I would have earlier in the month (week) [day]. And my eyes have been allowed to “rest” more than they do in a week of normal life (sleep not included).

It is way too small a sample to determine if here is a repeatable pattern or change in habitual behavior as a result of this experiment, but I am cautiously optimistic about the future. I will try again tomorrow and see if I can keep up with this new “program.”

Except…

What if I make a successful change in activity but there is no change in results? The presumption inherent in the initial paragraph is “if A implies B” (same action generates same results). The thought is if I change the action it should change the outcome or “if NOT A implies NOT B” in logic form. What if this is invalid logic? What if it really doesn’t matter what I [10 minutes pass here] do, that the outcome will be the same if I try or not (Yoda not withstanding)? What if another working definition is “doing different things but experiencing the same outcome”? What if Pavlov’s legacy is no longer valid?

I am fearful, but will press on. Perhaps tomorrow will be better and the signals from my Palm will allow me to breakthrough my current rut. I can be hopeful.

And Dilbert was right, the pellets are excellent.

Phred

post 61 of n

Glimpse Of A Vision

I believe I am spending too much time wandering through various addictions within the internet. To my limited frustration, I have discovered looking at some of the pages I check daily are sponsored (or actually made) by Lay’s (the potato chip people). Bets that I can only eat watch just one are all off. The worst two offenders are Facebook (which I really don’t understand) and YouTube.

I don’t do too much on FB as a participant, but will look down the home and news post lists, only to find an hour passes before I am aware of it. Kudos to Travis for posting some of the craziest and funniest links I have seen. (It would be nice, though, if you could limit them to less than 20-30 a day so I can get some actual work done.) Occationally I find something I can relate to too much and add it to my page / wall / whatever it’s called (told you I don’t understand this place).

The addiction to YouTube is somewhat more problematic. I use some of my subscriptions as a learning tool for my Blender education. So I can’t really afford to stop wandering around the site, but some of the links are more practical than others. Some provide useful information while others are simply eye candy, useful for a distraction or to unlax if needed.

One of the less productive sites is my Adult Swim subscription. Or so I thought until today. I don’t watch this channel much, but today it showed up on my “we think you’d like or should see this” list and I started watching an episode of Food|Off the Air and the part with the banana mask (about 15 seconds in) was really funny. I kinda lost interest shortly afterward and started fast forwarding through the rest of the episode until I got to the Western Spagetti segment (at about 4:18). I was totally fascinated by the segment and fast forwarded (after watching it 3 or 4 times) to the credits to find out who made it.

The  PESfilm channel in YouTube has 44 videos involving stop action animation. Since one of my year’s intentions is to become a CG artist, learning animation is a part of the task I am working on. Stop action uses a series of still pictures where items are moved slightly between frames. I ended up watching over a dozen back to back before I needed to leave (late as it was for my meeting, but I didn’t care). When I got back home I continued where I left off.

Spaghetti Western is one of my favorites. It is really well done (as are most of the films archived) and I would highly recommend it for a smile. I’ll link to it on my FB page to share the joy with others.

Later I will post more about my artistic progress so far this year, but I can’t just yet.

There’s still a couple of unread emails and several vid’s to watch….

Phred

post 59 of n

Celebrating The (Bio)Rhythms Of Life

This week has been a rough one, both from a productivity and physical point of view. Starting early this past Sunday, I have had a severe bout of pain from my arthritis thingy. For the most part, I’ve been either in bed or on the couch every waking moment since, until today. Three truly bad days with little to look forward to. The meds weren’t doing very much, and as long as I was reclining I was fine, sitting in my wheelchair at the computer for more than 10 minutes led to the (near) impossibility of getting up and collapsing back on the couch.

Today things seem to be getting better. I can move around the apartment without the horrific pain of earlier in the week, and am able to spend some time at the computer (as this posting is proof). The week has not been totally non-productive as I have been able to view the blender documentation and tutorials on the TV (thanks to YouTube and the PS3 web browser apps), so the 14+ hours on the couch were not constrained to endless reruns of 70’s-80’s sitcoms or the Judge Judy marathon that shows up on the local Fox channel. Still, there is a limit to how much “book lernin'” you can absorb without actually getting your hands dirty. Today was a pleasant change of pace.

I know there are a number of reasons for the pain to wax and wane, but I have not been able to identify specific causes. Sometimes a change in weather will trigger a bout, as will an unusually diverse (and extensive) selection of goodies over and above my normal dietary needs. Historically I have been treated for gout, never in my big toe but my major joints (knees, hips, and shoulders). Since that’s what hurts it seems possible it exacerbates the symptoms. I am not convinced, based on 20+ years of experience. The kinds of activities triggering gout in the past were absent this last cycle.

For giggles, I powered up my Palm Pilot m130 to run a biorhythm program, to see what my cycles showed for this week. Surprise! Both my physical and intellectual cycles bottomed out this week (emotional critical day was Sunday as well).

Now, how reliable is this pseudoscience? The idea that our lives pass through cycles of ups and downs is pretty reasonable (ask a woman…). That there is different cycles for different life elements also seems like a valid idea, and that they have different periods is entirely possible. But did they cause a spike (or rather a crash) in my life this week?

I don’t know. I really don’t care. In my “younger” days I tracked my biorhythms closely and decided there was at best a slight correlation between the cycle and my daily functioning. The theory remarks that it is more significant on the critical days when a cycle passes through the “0” point on a chart than to peak or valley. These critical days are times when you can do either very well or really poorly, more than you might expect on either border day. On the rare occasions when two  (or more so all three cycles) were critical you were to be especially careful, lest a horrific “catastrophe” should take place. I did, and “it” never happened.

Do I believe the number of days I have lived have a direct effect on the mundane events of my life, more or less so if the number is divisible by 23, 28, or 33? Not really, I guess. I suspect it’s more coincidental than causal but it is fun to look at. Not that I would use it solely to make any life critical choices. And with an intellectual level at -100, I’m SURE not buying a lottery ticket today.

Not for at least another 16 days…

Phred

post 57 of n

Introduction To Econ010: Economics For Normal People

I am not a very observant person (you need to smack me in the face 4-5 times with a dead mackerel before I realize you have a fish in your hand). I don’t really make a point of watching other people when I go anywhere but lately I’ve been listening to talk around me. The people discussing next week’s election proposals on taxes, millages, proposals, and other conversations on minimum wage and inflation, interest rates and the economy in general has led me to an obvious conclusion: the average [American] knows nothing about economics.

Long, long ago in a galaxy college far, far away, I graduated with a BBA in Accounting. The following year, the dean at the school decided I could help to repair the damage to universal karma by teaching a couple of courses as retribution. I agreed to the sentence and was assigned to teach Basic and Advanced Algebra (not unexpectedly, as I was the only tutor for Calculus in the college and had a couple of students travel 60-90 minutes each way to come to my tutorial sessions, along with the countless others assisted in all math classes locally). Then she announced (with a strange gleam in her eye) I needed another class to fill, and casually announced I would take the 10:00 AM slot in Macroeconomics.

I thought I would choke to death. My protests of inadequacy and that I had only just completed the course the year previously were brushed off without a thought. “You’ll do fine” she announced and it was settled. I would teach mornings Monday through Friday and have office hours from nine to noon on Saturdays. There were over sixty victims in the two algebra courses and only 2 fatalities in grading.

The Econ group consisted of just seven brave souls and a terrified teacher. The principle truth of the education process is that you don’t necessarily need to know MORE than your students, just that you need to learn FASTER than they do. Eventually we finished, all much wiser (and at least fractionally smarter) than when we started. I felt we had accomplished a great task, that there were at least eight people in my local area that understood more about how the world worked that when we started.

Recently I discovered my notes from that class and, with the above mentioned observations, I have decided to write a series of posts to help others get an overview of this topic. I will setup a table of contents page (not sure where it will be or what it will look like, but I’ll get it worked out for you) listing articles as they come out, including a glossary with terms used for review. All relewant postings will start with the title ECON010 (based on the numbering system of schools where 1xx classes are first year, 2xx are second and so forth…while 099 is normally used to do remedial classes like refresher English or Math, I think the current level of general knowledge requires a remedial class to take the remedial class…). The goal is to post an article a week to this topic (a new Category and Tag will be made just for these postings) and there is at least a dozen lessons to cover. I suspect some (many) [most] {all?} will need to take a couple of posts to cover the materials, so eventually it will probably go to several dozen posts altogether.

I expect the first will come next week, the first full week in May. Of course it will depend on the available alternative choices and ultimately where the greatest utility lies (teaser) but I hope to have at least a small input in the lives of several people over the next year. So that (perhaps) the next time I hear a discussion at the mall I might hear something other than pointless drivel spewing from the participants.

Then again, maybe I need to move further away from the cell phone sales area…

Phred

post 56 of n

49 Shades of Gray

I guess it was inevitable. I got a question from a friend about the use of the “strange” numbers in my book and movie reviews. Why not just use a 1-10 scale or something like that?

There are several reasons, actually, but it should not really be a surprise for anyone that has read many of my posts. One of the many reasons is that the odd values is just plain fun (maybe plane fun is more appropriate in this context). It has a kink, a twist that appeals to my sense of honor.

A more practical reason, though, is to dodge a (potential) flaw inherent in most surveys of this kind. For example, I went to the IMDB site to check out the Ex Machina movie before attending the other day.  It gives the movie a rating of 8.1 and encourages me to add my voice to the mix. However, My choices for rating the movie is to give it 1 star, 2 stars, and so on to a maximum of 10 stars. I presume the X.X rating is a mean average of all people voting for the movie (the total stars given divided by the number of people voting). And there is a subtle but important error in this method.

If we take a hypothetical example, sets say we think the movie is the worst in the history of cinema, that had Edison foreseen this abomination resulting from his invention he would have slit his wrists rather than allow this creation to come to fruition. It is clear this “movie” should get a rating of “1 star.”

Now, if we take the other end of the scale, rating the perfect movie, one so great that even divine intervention would be insufficient to add an iota of improvement to this masterpiece. The only movie showing for the rest of all time and yet no one complains or desires any other movie to even be considered for creation or playing. This automatically deserves (and naturally receives) a rating of “10 stars.”

All is well, so far. But what do we do with the movie exactly in the middle? A movie so nondescript that you are unable to think (or say) a single good or bad thing about it? A truly middle-of-the-road piece of cinema that deserves an average score, right down the middle of our scale.

It can’t be done….! The quick answer is “5 stars” and that is what most people would give it, but this is actually a vote for DESPISE the movie rather than ADORE it, albeit with only a slight degree of disgust.

Let’s make the example simpler. If you were presented with the three movies above and you were asked to chose between “ONE” = “BAD,” “TWO” = “EH,” and “THREE” = “GREAT” the choice is easy. If, on the other hand, you are only given “ONE” or “THREE” (there is no “TWO” option) it is impossible to honestly evaluate the third movie. You either have to declare it horrible or great when it is neither.

The problem is tn the level of gradation in the choices. The first (artificial) scale has an odd number of choices (1-3) and when you take the mean of all choices [(1+2+3)/{3)] you get an answer that is included in the answer set (2). You are really capable of making a “middle” choice.

in the second (really third on the page, but the second “simpler” example) survey, you still have a mean average of 2 [(1+3)/(2)], but this time you can’t vote for the average value. There is only an even number of choices so the mean value falls between two of the choices (the only two here, but the truth continues in the larger world). In the IMDB rating system, you CAN’T vote for “five and a half stars” like you want to. You need to lie and either like a movie you don’t or hate it more than you really do.

Not that this restriction of choice is necessarily bad. In some cases you really would rather have people expressing slight (but overall important) levels of satisfaction when gathering data. Example: your group (company, agency, family, whatever) is trying to determine if you should make an important change. If you give people a survey with a “hate…dislike…indifferent…like…love” scale you stand the chance of getting absolutely no information at all. What do you learn if everyone is indifferent?

On the other hand, if you leave out the indifferent option (a “hate…dislike…like…love” selection) you might still end up with a tie, but some must chose plus and an equal set of people would need to select minus to balance out. This is more unlikely than to allow indifferent people to express their inclination.

Of course you could just make the survey use a larger number of smaller units but the even/odd number of choices issue still raises its head. And for practical reasons computer surveys will use integer values for the choices (whether 1-10 or 0-1000) and not give you the chance to enter a value of 4.7 as a floating number (which adds its own level of inaccuracy due to floating math rounding errors). Expressing my thoughts as a ratio of two numbers allows me to include a level of precision with an acceptable degree of accuracy. This should apply in about 72 of every 77 times it comes up.

But the real reason for using iconic (ironic?) values is summarized in the last line of an earlier posting.

Phred

post 55 of n

Today’s Forecast: There Is A 100% Chance Of Weather

It is the third week of April in mid-Michigan and we are being “blessed” with congealed precipitation this morning. Making my way to my car to commute to the bi-weekly writing session with John, I noticed there were small chunks of icy crud on the wiper blades and in a crevice at the edge of the windshield. The sky was about half overcast and half deep blue, deceptive in it’s partially jovial appearance. Clear areas were breathtakingly beautiful, hinting at the delight of sunshine and short sleeved outerwear. The cloud covered segments of the sky were ominous, dreadfully reminiscent of the darkness of November, falling leaves guiding temperatures down to the cold, barren ground. Starting the car it was not apparent which segment of the sky would prevail.

Two hours have passed, It is time to declare the winner: ick. Either I overslept last night by about seven and a half months, or daylight saving time has expanded to move the clocks by seasons rather than hours. The sky is a mottled grey, darker where the daemons of despair have determined to drop daggers of dismay. Doh!

Somewhere there is a climatologist that will claim the late spring snow is a direct result of man-made global warming. Right…. Listening to the NOAA weather radio while in the shower, I could possibly accept some correlation for the lower than normal precipitation for the year (we are about 2.5 inches below the “average” for this year) but our local area is apparently not any warmer than usual. The accumulation of Cooling Degree Days (a measure of when the daily average temperature exceeds 65 degrees Fahrenheit) from the daily broadcast suggests we are 1 unit below the normal for this date. So we are actually cooler than “normal” this year.

The local TV stations compete for my attention when it comes to the weather forecast. There are two to choose from (there are about 6 local stations, but for some reason most of them piggyback on the two main reports), channel 6 and channel 10. Each has a staff including a senior forecaster and others to provide additional faces for the remainder of the broadcast day. Both stations claim to have the latest in Doppler radar and fancy doohickeys to help them provide the “most accurate forecast” ever. They are always similar, but hardly ever identical.

We have a weather station at the airport that reports to the national weather service. I can go to the National Weather Service web site and (in theory) get the same information available to the pros. There is radar, satellite images, hourly and daily forecast discussions and charts, and more data to download than I have storage space to hold.

So, if we are all playing with the same cards, why is there a difference in the information provided? One station might show the expected low tonight to be a couple of degrees warmer that the competitor while the other gives a slightly greater precipitation chance. Even the “current” temperature is often different. If they are using their local station sensors for the numbers a difference would be understandable (the stations are a couple of miles apart). But, when they show the values for around the state, they should both be showing the same data from the same sites, so they should match.

I have been to the airport in Charlotte (a small village south of Lansing and not the similar location several states away) and know exactly where the NWS station is collecting the data. So they should show the temp at the airport and it should match. Usually it does, but occasionally not.

Perhaps the weavers of the modern fiction that is the news broadcast really DO participate in the global conspiracy of spin, to present information filtered through the demands of the shadow government so we see the world as it is supposed to be rather than how it actually is. If this voice suddenly disappears you will understand why.

Newspeak declares rain to be white and crystalline in structure during certain months of the year. Welcome to Spring in [REDACTED].

Phred

post 52 of n

“Be Well, John Spartan”

[Movie quote: Sandra Bullock to Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man, 1993]

Today was a high pain level day. Depending on many things, my arthritis can range from annoying to debilitating. It was rather higher on the scale today than desired, so I stayed home. I was scheduled to work with my author friend, helping him to stay motivated while he writes his book. I sent him a text to not expect me to show up at the usual time. He responded with “feel better.”

While I understood what his intent was (that I should reach a point in life where I was in less agony) his choice of words offers just the opposite request. To feel “better” would suggest being able to feel more effectively, thus experiencing pain with more clarity and intensity. After all, when we express the idea of practicing a musical instrument (for example) to get “better” we desire to be more skilled and proficient in our playing. Since my friend’s desire was that I didn’t hurt so much, he would have expressed it more clearly by desiring me to “feel [pain] worse.”

No wonder English is so hard for people to learn as a second language. It has much that doesn’t make sense and has nearly as many exceptions as rules. My favorite is

I before E

Except after C

Or when sounding like A

As in neighbor or weigh

Or whenever it damn well feels like it.

(Technically the last line doesn’t belong, but I add it in ’cause it’s true!)

I found I never really understood English until after I had taken a foreign language for a while (Greek in my case). It was only after seeing how a sensible language worked that I was able to work my way through the morass of foibles that makes up my common tongue (I often claim English to be my second language, but I hardly speak gibberish anymore).

So, it seems highly unlikely that the movie quote request is for Stallone’s character to act as a source of oil, water, or natural gas as the words might suggest.

Although there IS a Taco Bell in the movie, so maybe the gas…

Phred

post 47 of n