Sunday, April 25, 2004

Iraq looks like a quagmire of hideous proportions. I am so sad when I watch the news. Both candidates for the presidency seem like choices I don't want to make. It will be a hard decision in the face of the state of the world. Troops abroad take the heat off the desperate situation of America's workforce. People's attention is diverted by committees looking into this and that past happening, while happenings NOW are sidetracked from the public view.

But then I came across a chart examining the life of a blog, and it was somewhat humorous in its depiction of the topics common on blogs - bashing the Millennium Copyright Act (and with good reason), political diatribes, tech futures philosophizing - all things that of course we do blog about because they are all on our minds, whoever "we" are. More and more hits on Google are blogs, and some of these are the more intelligent webmatter. So, to make it short and sweet, I intend to continue along those veins with divergent routes off into the side-roads.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

On a completely different note, "Lucky Jim" by Kinglsey Amis offers a cynical look at academe in the forties and fifties, well before the radical sixties. Yet, the ambiance of the book, the complete and utter cynicism and the attitude of Jim Dixon, the protagonist, all give what should have been a scent on the wind of the 60s. Jim is completely the opposite of the "engaged" employee. He is, in fact, more like the crew of "Office Space" than like anyone around him. He is not playing the game for rehire very well, and he constantly shoots himself in the metaphorical foot. I laughed a lot. Some of the funnier stuff here came as a quick blow of surprise, and was as contemporary as could be. If you work in academia you will enjoy the irony even more. I had seen the BBC production of a few years ago, and enjoyed that, but I thought perhaps the humor was colored by a contemporary slant. Nope, it was all in the book.

I do think that "Pictures from an Institution" by Randall Jarrell is a more artfully crafted and more compassionate look at the academic scene, while being bitingly ironic as well. Oddly enough, both novels appeared in 1954.
As alluded to earlier in this blog, I was reading "Deaf Like Me", by Thomas and James Spradley earlier in the month of April. I finished "Deaf like Me" last weekend. A moving journal of the early life experience of a girl born deaf and her struggles with the Oral Method, and her eventual introduction (thank goodness while she was still quite young) to signing and an integrated approach to learning language and communication. Having an education in teaching ESL, with an emphasis on linguistic theory, I am interested in the linguistics aspects of language acquisition, and the communicative adaptations of the deaf child. It seems so very important that all children learn as soon as possible to communicate, and I spent some time gasping and even shed some angry tears as I read this book. To keep the children from learning sign, and even from making gestures to each other seems the height of arrogance and cruelty. It was only natural that deaf children seemed to have emotional outbursts. I can't even imagine the frustration of not being able to communicate at all, and having the adults around me enforce a draconian system of control over my every impulse. That this little girl grew strong and was able to lead her life happily was the miracle of having parents who dared to inquire further than the "experts" wanted them to look. I would recommend this book to everyone. It is not only a window into the life of a family with a deaf child, it is a window into the lives of any family confronted with a child for whom the educational system has decided upon a "recommended plan." It is important to remain a questioning, informed and brave advocate for yourself and your family.

I read the book as a balance to the materials (propaganda) put out by the proponents of a totally Oral Method of educating the deaf. There are as many opinions as there are theories, but in the final analysis I would think that any method of communication which will enable a person to learn, live, communicate and enjoy life has to be welcomed, along with any other methods that help as well. I am the grandmother of a deaf child. Perhaps "hard of hearing" is a better designation, as he can hear better than his original prognosis, and hearing aids seem to be a great help to him now, at the age of two. He has worn them since he was about one year old.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Several of my earlier archived blog entries have typos in them. I have been compulsive enough to go back and edit the mistakes out of the old posts. It is amazing to see how much blogging I have done in such a short time. Only nine months. Lately I have read more blogs I come across while searching for information of one kind and another. There are a number of worthwhile blogs being kept up on Mac subjects, techie things in general and on practically every other subject. More and more search results lead to a blog, and somehow this movement seems to reflect the earlier days of a more personal and intelligent internet world. Yes, there are lots of vacuous "journals" also, but the lasting blogs will be the ones with some content which as been motivated by thought.
Among the less important situations in the world, my mouse is acting rather sluggish. I tweaked the settings and hope for the best. It is really a travel mouse and probably not meant for repetitive games of Mah Jongg running into the thousands. But, it is such a nice little mouse. Nice white and clear acrylic which blends with the eMac superbly.

Oh those Burning Monkeys. I did register the game, and happily. So many fun hours de-stressing with those characters. Burning Monkey MahJong is very well crafted. The backgrounds themselves are lovely graphics, and the music is truly nicer than most short repetitive music "scores" to games. Most music files become annoying, but the Monkey-music is a longer lasting pleasure. Optionally, one can chose ones iTunes as a background.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

As a former USAF Nurse who served in the Vietnam Era and cared for many of our troops newly arrived back in the States, wounded and in pain, both mental and physical, I am sad this evening.

Today the news was confirmed. Another several months in the sand for our troops in Iraq who have already served the promised year. In the sand, in extreme danger and in the line of fire because of what the president tells us is "democratization." I think several extra centuries might be needed for that. How about a peaceful political turnover and get the heck out of there.

No Western political perspective can be injected into the region, but we can expect to leave the impression already set a long time ago of the empire building of the West. Try reading up on the history of the region in the 20th century. Europeans who now hold themselves up as paragons of peaceful non-intervention (like France) were involved with Great Britain in a carving up of the region into the "countries" we see today.

Tediously enough, we are inheriting the same job - defending our oil interests as well as trying to set up a better governmental form. Both of these efforts are worthwhile until the death toll mounts to a level that brings horrible chills of remembrance of the days of the early period of Vietnam buildups - first "advisors", then "a few troops to help" and then all out involvement and thousands of deaths and injuries leading to thousands of veterans living out their lives in hospitals - forgotten by the general public, and remembered only by families, and by those who cared for them and still care.

As I write, planes are bringing the dead home from Iraq but the press is forbidden to cover this story - forbidden to photograph this story. Our men and women are on the lines. You won't find the old men who sent them there in the trenches. The ancient Greeks took war seriously. If the occasion warranted it, they voted to go to war or not to go. each man who voted knew he himself would go if the vote was yes. believe me this made the process a bit more up close and personal. A bit more responsible.

Our troops deserve more. They deserve to have had a Plan B in place when they were deployed back in 2003 under Plan A. They got rid of Saddam, and they deserve to come home with that job well done. One promise broken leads to many more promises broken, and morale cannot but reflect this. Keeping faith goes both ways.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

iTunes works so well. I redeemed my Pepsi caps for four Michael Feinstein tunes, and of course I added a few others as well. Hopefully so have many others, making the iTunes promotion a huge success?

Michael Feinstein, what a voice, but even more than that, a style that epitomizes Manhattan Glamourous, remembrance of things passed, my memories of the piano bar music, the shows, the twinkling glitter of Broadway, even visible in the early 1960s, my time in the Big Apple. I remember seeing Rosemary Clooney with Michael on his PBS special, Michael Feinstein and Friends in 1991. What a wonderful show that was. I loved Rosemary, and I met her once. She was a warm and compassionate human being. I watched the Feinstein special to see her perform and ended up a fan of Michael Feinstein.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

MacJournal deserves a donation, as noted before, so donate I did.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The iTunes Music Store freebie with Pepsi caps is over this month. 4/30/04 is the deadline for redemption, so go for it. I have three caps in my desk drawer, and keep meaning to get those downloaded. So hard to pick from so many fine tunes!

My eyes were treated to the sight, and my hands held and touched the sweet little iPod Mini only last week. In gold, it was a sight to behold. As gadgets of technomania go, this one is easily the classiest, while also proving fun and useful. Did we really use those clumpy tape players? (Oh, I still have one at work, my own personal tape cassette player with earphone. After all, I still have my personal tapes.) I don't think I've used that since the XP box hit my desk with the capacity for my own playlists. And of course at home, the luxury of iTunes, and the wonder of my iPod (not mini).

Altogether different topic with a rush back to the literate world of books. I realize the incongruity of my present circumstance. My reading life has taken a crazy yaw and landed in a pile of books in progress. I have at the moment undertaken the following titles: From Rags to Bitches by Mr. Blackwell; Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis; Deaf Like Me, by Thomas and James Spradley; and still working on Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence. Assuredly an eclectic jumble. Time will have passed before any reviews of these titles are forthcoming, except for my previous words on T.E. Lawrence. Seven Pillars is truly a marvelous and fascinating journey.
Uploading to Blogger from MacJournal worked flawlessly. I am tickled pink. YEEHAW. It is always so great when something really does what it promises. And when you get the something FREE, it really does add the ginger to the spices of life for that little bit of techie time. Blogging could take the place of the website very easily, probably because it is easier. Perhaps a donation to the developer of MacJournal is in order.

The web interface for Blogger is terrific though, and I especially like that you can edit the templates in Blogger, thus enabling blurbs on the right side of my chosen template as well as the blog entry area.
I just downloaded and installed MacJournal 2.5. I hope to use it to Blog offline and then load to Blogger, and you never know I might find it useful for other logs and lists. it looks like a fine program, and it sure comes with loads of positive reviews everywhere you look, including the Apple site. I must admit that blogging gets addictive, but the danger is a lot of extraneous bilge seeping into the web. I have been trying to keep that to a minimum, but since last July when I set up my Blogger site, it has been more and more appealing to use the blog as a compendium of my own thoughts. Given the fact that not many folks are reading this, that is probably a valid use.

Monday, April 05, 2004

WOW...way past fun is Burning Monkey MahJong. Hours of silly fun in this game! That I will register. I love to relax with several games of solitaire every chance I get. The game is stable on the Mac, no visual weirdness, and the background art is very classy. The stupid little jokes are even fun.

This weekend has been a MacFest. I registered Photologist after trying it out for various photo manipulations. It has some little features that others do not. For example, nifty little vignette shaping. It works in a rather simple and mostly intuitive fashion - you do have to read and concentrate just enough. On the other hand, I love my GraphicConverter. The learning curve for GraphicConverter takes a lot of concentration because it is such a rich program. It can do anything from freehand creation of your own drawings to photo tweaking any way you need or want to, and of course save in any graphic format you can think of. I like the folder display in GraphicConverter and use it to organize my graphic folders. I never use iPhoto. I guess I came to the Mac way after I was on that level. I organize everything on my Mac in hierarchical folders. You can use GraphicConverter and Photologist more or less in tandem - what one does better or the other does better - use them both.

The only annoying thing about Photologist is the multiple windows but you get used to that. The developer has done a great job and I look forward to even better versions to come. I like to support shareware development by the "lone programmer" or programmers out there in the small way I can - which is to try out and register those programs I like, and to try to get the word around about said programs.

Which reminds me that I love MacJanitor and Cocktail and use both. Cleaning out the assorted crapola that accumulates in any PC's system is so important. So many times I have helped someone out with their "computer problem" only to find that a good cleanup is the cure. And of course the old reboot.