escaping the family pt 2

things could always be worse… you could be a teenager.

when i was younger i hated any and all time spent with the family. i had nothing to talk about. they didnt get me. i would certainly never have the option of talking on the phone with a friend during a family dinner. not unless it was a dire emergency! such dinners were meant for socializing with family, not friends.

as i got older i made fun of my younger cousins who would sit in the corner tapping away at their phones all night. what could be so entertaining?

but now i understand. anything else was entertaining.

what wouldve happened if texting was really around back in 1996? i wouldve had a whole other way of escaping the drudgery of family functions!

even though my generation has made texting popular, it is the new brood of kids who have absorbed mobile technology as part of their upbringing. even if i could text back then, i wouldnt be using it in the same way cousin steve does. even today, in my 20’s, texting hasnt nearly been as engrained as it is for him.

however, in many ways the heavy use of texting by teenagers can be seen as another extension of normal teenage tendencies. true, i wasnt sending 160 character messages to my best friends during christmas while the relatives from florida were visiting. however i was in my room with the door closed playing street fighter 2 most of the time instead. both are activities meant to isolate oneself from an unpleasant experience. texting is more social. but then again, i could never play video games on christamas unless it was with my cousins.

texting, facebook, social networking, they’re all just different ways of communicating. the positive fact is that new technologies give these interactions more privacy. mom could always overhear what i was saying on the phone. but she can’t overhear what buttons i’m pressing. and in the end, isnt it the goal of most teenagers to escape their parents and enjoy being social on their own terms?

of course texting wouldnt have solved the problems of not having a car. or the fact that i lived in the boonies and the only point of interest within walking distance was a forest.

escaping the family pt 1

why is it that everyone always looks forward to the holidays, excited for the opportunity to see their family… only to realize, mere hours later, that they cant stand these people? when i go home i feel happy about seeing my parents. i can let them know that they did a good job, and that i appreciate them. but soon enough my dad is having a one-way conversation on things about which i dont care, and my mom is harassing me about why i dont have a girlfriend. is it my hair? the way i dress?

of course the one person i can actually talk to without wanting to run to the hills, at least most of the time, is my sister. we used to hate each other growing up. what happened?

okay, so its not really all that terrible. i think they just have all this pent up stuff to talk about, and you only have limited time for them to squeeze it in.

family is just family. and thats how it goes. they make you sick. the end.

why jon stewart rules

because he always seems to make perfect sense in a senseless world.

one time i saw jon stewart in new york. he came into a bar with his son and asked if they could use the bathroom. afterward, he came out, handed the barkeep a $20, and took off. a very nice man.

one time i met john king. also a very nice guy.

one time i met wolf blitzer. he looked at me like i was insane. i always thought he’d be really short. he’s actually normal human sized.

taking issue with how issues are issued

why is it that every dilbert strip seems to encompass some facet of my life?

dilbert 11-17

and in similar news, a couple newscorp-owned newspapers published op-ed pieces friday saying that courts would strike down fair use, and basically render google illegal (link here).

isnt the point of writing an article so that it gets out to the public? so that you do a service to everyone? who cares if it gets picked up by a ton of bloggers and reiterated. personally, i’d be pumped if i wrote something and it made so much of an impact that it circulated widely and became a point of global discussion. thats something to be proud of!

as for people who want to get paid every time something is repeated online… well, did you ever get paid every time someone tells somebody else about a story you wrote? bobby talked to franky about that shooting that happened yesterday. i wrote an article about that. bobby, sorry your pal got shot. but you owe me 5 cents per mention. best wishes!

no, it’s not joe public’s fault that news organizations are losing money. if rupert murdoch, or some other ceo’s had looked ahead, they would have realized this was coming and planned for it. there’d be a new economic model already to lessen the blow, and keep your employees doing what theyre supposed to be doing. reporting. not complaining about bloggers or, better yet, worrying about if they’ll have a job.

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human centric

in a speech before the ted, david kelley describes modern design advancements as being more human-centered than hardware-centered.  i have to ask… isnt that pretty much how things have always been?

i think particularly about video games.  certainly there are plenty of games out there that only focused on getting the most mind-numbing graphics out there.  and certainly, the eye candy sold like hot cakes.  however if a game played like crap, or the usability faltered, the game will wind up dead and buried in a new mexico desert.

i think the two go hand in hand.  without believing theres some solid technology behind it, theres no way i’m about to get nude behind some glass door that turns opaque.  i’d be worried the thing would break and i’d be unwittingly giving a peep show.  it certainly took some hardware advancements to get there.  lots of hardware is developed because a user need is identified, then the solution is invented.

necessity is the mother of invention.  but we dont necessarily need every product that comes down the pipe, sometimes a product is developed in conjunction with the need for it.  thats where you make something human centric.  by creating the product that gives a user an enhanced experience, they’ll buy it like hot cakes.

in modern times, where almost everyone has access to a computer and such a large portion of the population are cynics and critics, it has become a lot more difficult to come up with something that is completely new.  thats another reason for focusing on the user experience.  by giving users that extra sumfin sumfin, it gives an experience that will make them want to come back for more. usability. now thats an idea atari couldve used.

eggplant parm


so, here’s how to make this jam:

first, make your sauce

1 clove garlic, sliced and diced (or more if you’re feeling saucey)
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
olive oil
crushed red pepper (to taste- i use a lot)
1 bay leaf
1 can crushed tomatoes with basil (i prefer Tuttorosso brand)
red wine

heat your oil over medium heat.  add your italian seasoning, red pepper, and bay leaf. toast it up for about a minute. add the garlic. keep toasting another minute or two. stir frequently this whole time.

add the can of crushed tomatoes. watch out, it’ll probably sizzle a bit and splash up right when you pour it in.

this part is essential to making italian sauce:  take a swig of the red wine (from the bottle). pour some in the sauce. then take another swig.

stir it up, cover, and let it simmer on low for 20-30 minutes until the flavours marry. take another swig of wine.

you’re done with the sauce! use this to make your red sauce all the time!

the eggplant parm part:

preheat oven to 350 degrees. put a layer of sauce along the bottom of a cassarole dish. add a layer of frozen, breaded eggplant slices. add a layer of grated parmagiana or provolone cheese. then do a layer of sauce, another layer of eggplant, then cheese. repeat until you’re all out of eggplant, sauce, or cheese. try to have the cheese as the top layer, if you can.

bake in the oven until the sauce starts bubbling up, about 25 minutes.

take another swig of red wine.

badda bing! you’re done!

it out and serve it with plenty of bread. take another swig of red wine, and enjoy!

you can also do this recipie by substituting fresh or frozen breaded veal or chicken for the eggplant. cooking time will be about the same.

i may have caught something

i remember a time when if something was called viral, you’d avoid it at all costs. you would take that pinto you were driving and pull a “u”-ie on the information super highway.  you’d surf as far away as possible.

but now the term viral is something that draws people in. websites have sections for viral links. television news programs feature segments on ‘viral videos’ daily or weekly.  today, calling something on the internet viral means that it is entertaining, worth looking at, and is totally the cat’s meow.

i suppose this new definition is suiting. finding something really awesome on youtube is kind of like, say, the h1n1 virus. it spreads like wildfire, everyone talks about it nonstop, and it stops kids from doing their schoolwork. but in the end, they’re both a lot of nothing.

it’s pretty interesting to read what dan greenberg had to say about making viral videos. it is pretty telling that the majority of viral videos out there are mostly pushed through marketing strategies and manipulation of online networks. of course, greenberg has since backed off from some of the more explicit and questionable claims of paying bloggers for favorable reviews, it is plainly obvious that it is already in the bag of advertising tricks.

as greenberg points out (in the follow up), it is all a part of the brave new world companies are embarking on to try and solicit customers. as robert scoble and shel israel discuss in their book naked conversations, the basic conversational tool of the internet has become the blog. and unless a desired product or service has infiltrated the blogosphere for replication, the internet is not truly being used as an advertising tool.

it’s pretty obvious that “the man” would try to use something inherently representing freedom to enslave the masses to corporate consumerism.  look at what happens in music.  for decades, rebellion has been prepackaged yet made to look like it hasnt. in my mind, the only thing worse than that practice are the kids who are too dumb to realize it.

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pass that paper



here, zipper is pretty spot on with some of the issues and practices of modern blogging. a major concern of the news industry is coming off the heels of issues in other entertainment fields- how to take advantage of the hordes of people getting your material for free.

newspaper readership has declined astonomically since the internet became a critical part of americans’ lives.  meanwhile, consumers are still reading the media through online means.  to date, however, it’s still been very difficult for media outlets to turn online viewership into advertising dollars comprable with print or tv revenue.  often, as in this doonesbury example, pieces of or whole articles are simply repurposed, not even awarding the original author with the luxury of a web hit.

attempts to create subscription services havent been very successful.  for quite some time the new york times site required readers to pay to access some content.  within the last few years the site stopped that practice.  on the other hand, the wall street journal still has numerous sections and articles on its site that require a subscription to view.

so what is the fundamental difference between the times and the journal? both are papers of record with quality journalists and writing.  if i had to venture a guess, and by no means am i an expert, i’d say it’s because the times provides general news content.  in the end, that same content can be gotten from any number of free sites.  the journal, on the other hand, gives very specific information attuned to those in the business world.  those businessmen not only have the income to spend on an online information source, but also need it to perform at their jobs.

so what will it be? clearly pop up ads dont work anymore for revenue streams (though theres still plenty of netflicks popups that seem to get around my blocker).  banner ads are consistently ignored.  subscriptions dont always work.  are digital trackers the next thing, sort of like the riaa’s digital copyright? gotta say, that hasnt stopped anyone from sharing music…

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wired in

so again we come to a class reading that predicts the future, rather accurately. neal stephenson’s story of a dystopian future, snow crash,” (or at least the excerpt we read) tells of a place called “the street,” where users can jump online and enter an expansive digital world. this world acts as marketplace, interaction hub, black market… you name it. of course this would appear predicative to the realm of second life.

there has certainly been plenty of science fiction dedicated to whether or not there will be a massive digital world that will supplement or even replace our world of the flesh. despite numerous attempts, that has not happened yet.  for a while second life was picking up quite a bit of steam. second life has even found its way into political life as people search for the “next big thing” to attract voters.  it is used to some extent, however it hasnt totally moved away from inefficacy, folly, and sophomoric humour.

i dont know whether second life will eventually be used as an entirely useful interactive tool.  it is relegated within popular culture (and not entirely without reason) to something for hyper-nerds or sexual deviants. you can draw some similarities to myspace in that regard. likewise, myspace became an astounding fad and burned itself out within a few years.

okay, so there are some differences between myspace and second life. and certainly second life has more potential for use moving forward than myspace.

it looks to me, though, that we are still quite some time away from an era where everyone is plugged in to some ridiculous and all-encompasing digital world.  “snow crash” also raises the spectre of the digital divide- in the future world of 10 billion people, only 100 million have access to the digital ’street.’ a very real problem even when our ’street’ is merely google.



here’s a little something i recorded, rather surreptitiously, but not?
it’s a japanese band called “Boris” during a stop at Heirloom Arts in Danbury, CT.i dont think they wouldve cared had they known i was recording.

this track, “Rainbow,” features the soft vocal musings of lead guitarsit Wata, and the bluesy shredding of special guest Michiro Kurihara. i tried to clean up the quality as best i could. enjoy!

boris w michiro kurihara – rainbow

Boris (copyright- nnitetheshaman)

Boris (copyright- nnitetheshaman)