Here we go again....
New year promises more of same, new stuff too!


Is that a buzz word I hear?
Or, have I got a mosquito in my ear?

Linked In has posted the ten most overused words and phrases in their members' work life profiles... 
Yeah, so? I think maybe all ten fit me...

Dynamic, Motivated Team Player with Proven Track Record of Fast-Paced, Results-Oriented Problem Solving, seeks position to utilize his/her Extensive, Innovative and Entrepreneural Experience.

Can you spot them all?
Happy Holidays
A fine Christmas greeting story, well-told

From T-Minus: the race to the moon, by Jim Ottaviani, drawn by Zander and Kevin Cannon

T-Minus is a terrific graphic account of the race to the moon. They call it a work of historical fiction; it is largely set in the NASA of the 1960s, and seen through the eyes of the engineers. I especially enjoyed the depictions of the NASA procedures.


I believe that those are not French Fries
but rather Freedom Fries to which you are referring.


For the sophistic and law-savvy traveller
Awesome skivvies...

An outfit called Cargo Collective is selling metallic printed 4th amendment underwear. Protest the TSA scatter searches without opening your mouth. The perfect Christmas gift. Sadly, it looks like most of the styles and sizes are sold out already.


It was a party we'll never forget
..and guess who stopped by.

Everett Hiller takes pix of his annual holiday party and before he shares them with the attendees, he adds celebrities... "I must have been wasted; I don't even remember Obama being there."
The words just won't come
A true-to-life depiction of the dilemma

Writer's block 

newly replaced link!


Crime, Punishment and Gettin' Your Face Smashed In
Justice and injustice on America's Indian Reservations

From Mother Jones. One in three American Indian women will be raped in her lifetime. On some reservations crime levels are 20 times the national average. The story of vigilante justice that may be the only justice available.
And, as for those rumors that all Native Americans are getting rich off the tribal casino interests:
A quarter of American Indians live below the poverty level; Ruben is on food stamps. His casino royalty check last year was for $8. "I'd rather they send a midget to my house to knock on the door," he says, "and when I open it, have him punch me in the nuts and say, 'Thanks for bein' Pawnee.'"
Mac McClellan covers human rights for Mother Jones.


Things required for Thanksgiving Day
1. turkey, 2. Alice's Restaurant, 3. cranberry sauce

A big shout out to Metafilter for giving us the lyrics to Alice's Restaurant in their entirety

At left, Arlo and family


ican going to graduate to now
A grad student thanks her professional term paper writer
The Chronicle publishes a guy who makes over $60,000 a year writing term papers for struggling college students. Best part is the comments section where educators line up to claim no responsibility for the problem.
He offers a free sample sentence that will work in any paper you write,
A close consideration of the events which occurred in ____ during the ____ demonstrate that ____ had entered into a phase of widespread cultural, social, and economic change that would define ____ for decades to come.


Viva Linkdump!
Here's some stuff I been carrying around in my pocket...

How home runs happen,,.that anyone can even hit a big-league pitch is a wonder in itself. That some can hit home runs is practically a miracle. On paper, at least, the feat seems impossible.

The Navy has figured out how to turn a stream of sea water into an antenna... Damn, those guys at NRL are frickin clever...

Sick of waiting for red lights? Buy your way through.

to Mollie: sorry the packhorse librarian program ended in 1943.

S.O.S....S.O.S.... uh... nevermind.
A tale of Ed White...
I don't know if this story is true, but it ought to be...

From The Lampshade by Mark Jacobson

"Weird tattoo you got there," I mentioned to Skip, referencing the image on his right bicep depicting an astronaut, wearing a NASA suit, floating free beside a Gemini space capsule. "Who's that?"
"Who?" Skip replied, ever peeved at the ignorant, poking an index finger at his upper arm. "That's Ed White, my hero."
"Ed White, the astronaut, is your hero?"
"First American to ever walk in space. Ed fucking White."
It was at this point that Skip's version of the Ed White spacewalk diverged from the official NASA account. As per many published stories at the time, Skip believed that when White made his historic jaunt on June 3, 1965, the astronaut was subject to a condition know to scuba divers as being "narked," or so one theory goes. This occurs when the change in external pressure makes nitrogen more soluble in the body tissues, causing the diver, or in this case the spacewalker, to experience sensations not unlike ingesting several drinks or breathing nitrous oxide. In other words, while floating amid the boundless expanse of the universe, Ed White was stoned out of his mind.
He was enjoying himself so much that he refused to return to the space capsule. When fellow astronaut James McDivitt signaled that the walk should conclude, White replied,"No way." "McDivitt had to drag White back in," Skip recounted. When White was finally pulled back into the ship, he said,"This is the saddest moment of my life, coming back in here."


American Business Coops
Profits!? We don't need no stinkin' profits

Calvin Coolidge once said, it is said, that the business of America is business. Business can have more than one model thoough... we don't all have to work in LLCs, or other manner of corporate legalistic structures.
Coops offer a different way of doing business...American Worker Coop, sporting the new ".coop" domain suffix (is that what those are called?) links to a ton of useful assets about the history and formation of coops.
Like the Hoedads...
It all starts with a mission statement...
The goal of the site is to assemble a contemporary history of the worker cooperative movement in the United States, first by accumulating an inventory of people, organizations, writings, media, and eventually through some sort of synthesis.   \
On being a snob
Book and language snobs....

It is really not worth it. Snobbishness raises its ugly hackles in me about math in the news... I become a calculator pounding, scratch pad filling ideologue when I come across a headline the doesn't make mathematical sense. I admit it, I am trying to be better...

Here, though, are a couple of thoughts on snobbishness in books and language...
British maven and raconteur Stephen Fry's words ride upon kinetic typograophy to demonstrate his annoyance at grammar snobs.
66 Days to A New You...
Science knows how we make habits...good and bad

It takes a little over two months to develop a new habit that operates automatically in your psyche, that from recent University College-London research. 
The average time to reach maximum automaticity was 66 days, although this varied greatly between participants from 18 days to a predicted 254 days (assuming the still rising rate of change in automaticity at the study end were to be continued beyond the study's 84 days). 
From the birthplace of your Filet o' Fish
Yeooow! On the C/P Alaska Ocean, they sure work the fishermen hard...

From the At Sea Processor's Association website...
All crew works a minimum of 7 days/week.


That thumbdrive you use...?
Sitting in your pocket because...

...you are too lazy or busy or whatever, to stow your files online so you can access them where you need them?

Well, America,here's your 1956, 5-gig model.
The pen is
is indeed mightier than the sword

Dong Jiansheng,  
Using the Pen as a Weapon to Denounce (Counter-Revolutionary) 'Black' Culture
Poetry in Motion
a couple of transport blogs that are much more than logs in the fog...

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a thing about the business and technology and methodologies of transportation. There  are a couple of blogs I regularly follow that report on matters relating to ships and aircraft. The bloggers bring a lot to the table in terms of knowledge and lore, reverence and irony, incredibly good writing and pathos.

Here, GCaptain's John Konrad discusses the most dangerous hour of the day in shipping, and why. (Spoiler: It is around bedtime). GCaptain covers the maritime industry and has recently had some great coverage of piracy and the issues it raises.

Guilty pleasure #225: My favorite channel on the in-flight music on United is the aircraft radio chatter...to me, there is a lot of fun in listening to the controllers and pilots, especially at a busy airport like ORD. What I do is sit back and close my eyes and envision the planes as they react in concert, yet individually, to the directives of the ATCs. Captain Dave lives the life on the line and does a poetic job of relating his workday in Flight Level 390. He also manages to include commentary on the state of American business management, his favorite cities and much much more.


You ain't one of them...?
Are You?

From The Neglected Book, a blog

In 1939, Rollo Walter Brown was 59, a former Harvard professor of literature, a popular lecturer, and a dangerous man. In I Travel by Train, he recalls some of his many trips across the United States through the depths of the Depression...On more than a few of these trips, he seems to have found himself in conversation with some businessman, industrialist, clergyman, or other establishment figure. As Brown recounts it, at some point in each of these exchanges, he found himself accused of being a trouble-maker:
The other four smoked and looked toward the floor out in the center of the room, but their spokesman squinted at me, turned his cigar over in his mouth a time or two, and then demanded: “Say, are you a socialist?”
“Why? Does a man who believes that people ought not to starve have to be a socialist?”

“Well,” and he squinted his eyes and the whole of his big face into deeper lines as if he were trying to think and to be amiable at the same time, “it always looks a little suspicious, doesn’t it?”


Mama, mama, please don't make me go downtown
It's full of scary monsters that pull little children into the sewers.

ScoutingNY is a great blog by Nick Carr, who searches high and low throughout New York City to find great spots for filming motion pictures. It's one of the blogs I check regularly just for the architectural oddities he uncovers in his work. This past summer he went across country and filed marvelous travelogues of his journey.

This weekend New York held OHNY!, Open House New York, and Nick took the opportunity to explore the sculpture studio of Tom Otterness. While the studio tour looked interesting enough, I fell completely in love with the sculpture shown above (borrowed from Flickr user Nick Sherman) showing a monster coming out of a NYC sewer manhole cover to snatch away a toddler in his teeth. The work is installed at 14th Street and 8th Avenue, New York, NY


Seventy years of ready, aim, fire

Photos of woman returning to carny shooting gallery 

 This from the photography blog lens culture, a new book about a woman who, starting in 1938 managed to hit the bull's eye at a carnival shooting gallery, triggering a camera which took a photo of her.
Ria van Dijk is 88 now, and the subject of a new book, In Almost Every Picture #7, compiled by Erik Kessels and Joep Eljkens and published by Netherlands publisher KesselsKramer. The Almost Every Picture series are a collection of books that show the same subject over a period of time. The company's catalog portrays a pretty compelling collection of interesting and challenging photography books. A selection of the photos can be found here.
Big engines for big ships
Japan rolls out Godzilla-sized motor

Thanks to seafarers blog gcaptain for this amazing photo of the engine built in Japan to power the container ship, Emma Maersk. 
 The engine is available in sizes ranging from 6 to 14 cylinders. Each cylinder has a bore of just under 38" and a stroke of about 98" creating a gargantuan displacement of more than 111,000 cubic inches per cylinder. 
The Emma Maersk is no slouch herself. With a length of 1302 feet, capable of carrying 11,000 TEU's (twenty foot equivalent units, which are those sea-cans you see on the highway all the time, each about 1360 cubic feet), she sails with a crew of just 14 mariners.
Drink. A lot. With everybody.
Sage travel advice from the host of "No Reservations"

Anthony Bourdain has been travelling the world, filming for his Travel Channel program "No Reservations." where he jumps into local cuisines with respect, humor and flavor.
Here he imparts some of his best travel food advice... learned over five years, 100 episodes and three quarters of a million miles. To noone's surprise, he recommends sleeping on the flight, avoiding airline food and saving your appetite for the yum-yum local delights.


The business of America’s states is business
The worst, the best, the rest

The website 247wallstreet.com released its list of the rankings of how well states conduct the business of their business. For their rankings, analysts and writers examined hundreds of datasets from a myriad of sources to determine the rankings of all 50 state.

This caught my eye because Vermont, of all places, considered a hippie liberal never never land that never says no to the perceived needs of its populace, placed fourth. The twelve or fourteen rich people in the state are taxed pretty frickin hard to support the dental and mental and reproductive care of the half million of the rest of us.

To anyone who looks behind the headlines, though, this ranking probably won’t come as a surprise. Looking at the grinding gears of government shows a rock solid democratic legislature, working beside an executive of pretty moderate (at least by the 2010 standard) republicans. They exist in a dynamic tension, a balanced ballet of power and money. Very little happens that doesn’t seem like a pretty good idea to most of the people.

So, I decided to look at the other states in the Top 5 of the 247WS rankings, to see what if anything served as a common thread through the winners. Lo and behold, who were the other states joining Vermont at the upper tier of these rankings.

Was it our spendy neighbors to the south and west, Massachusetts and New York? No.

Was it our woodsier and more conservative neighbors to the east, New Hampshire and down east, Maine? Nope.

The winners (and our compatriots in this matter at least) were the northern Midwest and plains states… I mean we are talking about Wyoming and North Dakota at number one and two. Iowa in third, (Vermont, four) and Minnesota at number five. What on earth do we share with them besides some pretty hard winters?

Incidentally, the bottom five, the worst run states in America, represented the traditionally poor south, Kentucky and Louisiana (50 and 46), the nouveau poor rust belt Midwest, Michigan (47) and this week’s bankrupted west, California and Arizona (49 and 48).

It got me to thinking: what if there was an entirely subjective ranking of the states, based completely and unembarrassedly on my assumptions, prejudices, travels, and just my mood for the day? First, I double checked Google to be sure that there were no published polls of my rankings of the states. To my relief, there were not.

Then I got to work determining the metrics I would use. Before long this puppy had legs. I didn’t have a team of writers and analysts so I was forced to do all the work myself. After a few hours of that… it was sleep time.

Coming soon: 
The Chant Institute ranking of the BEST STATES IN AMERICA.


OK folks... Here's your new "The Office"
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret 
IS THE BEST new workplace comedy
Making its debut on IFC (Independent Film Channel) last night and available in full episode format on the internets (takes a few click throughs, then you are there), :The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" is the best new workplace comedy I've come across since Office and 30Rock. It shows on IFC (Independent Film Channel) which is probably channel 1038 on most cable systems. It stars US actor David Cross (who also writes and directs the show) as the likable low energy bullshit artist Todd Margaret who stumbles into his new job as the British sales rep for the energy drink Thunder Muscle.
 Once in England, the hapless (and clueless) Margaret plows his way into and out of a raft of messy situations with all the diplomacy and aplomb of Mr. Magoo. Of course, low energy bullshit artists and energy drinks don't mix well together, but Cross puts together a character who is likable and hilarious, even when, jacked on sugar, caffeine and guarana, he is aggressively touting the sexual benefits of Thunder Muscle to a cafe full of elderly, appalled British women. 

My understanding is that the show only exists as a six episode season, initially airing in the UK but now moved onto the American satellite arena. Here's hoping that someone picks up this gem and brings more of this fable to light.... 



Now available at fine restaurants everywhere 

It's been 40 years since the Royal Navy eliminated the daily rum ration for its sailors. One of the last casks has been recently tapped and bottled. One American restaurant is charging $80 for a shot of the stuff. They warn that no cocktails will be made from the Black Tot Rum, named in commemoration of that day that the ships went dry.


I have a problem with vegetables.
We have a problem with vegetables.

I have a problem with vegetables. I just plain don't like them. I don't like fruit either, but vegetables are even worse in my view... My fundamental issue is that I only like about four or five varieties of veggie, and some of those only in specific dishes, or preparations.
It is nice today to see in the NYTimes an article that I am not alone... that I am part of an American trend. The article details how, despite all the government's efforts to get us to eat our veggies, like our own stubborn youth, we will sit at the dinner table 'til bedtime rather than force down another forkful of spinach.
For my weight, the government suggests I eat nine servings (NINE SERVINGS!!??!!) or four and a half cups of vegetables a day. Four and a half cups is more than a quart, right? That is a huge pile of veggies to plow through each day. In all honesty, I dont think I am getting even one serving a lot of days, and never more than three.
I understand that every journey begins with a first step... but as vegetables go, I really don't see much of any way to incorporate them into my daily routine. I can throw some lettuce on a sandwich, or eat some baby carrots or order the yummy maple squash when I go out, but to do that on the order of nine, or even six or even four times a day is difficult to imagine.
But I guess the answer, for me at least, is to just frickin pay attention to what I eat, and if an opportunity for a veggie comes up, then at least consider it.
Here's a link to the article in the Times... it really is quite interesting.
Sorry for the Saturday morning rant...
not meaning to ruin anyone's appetite.


One July day in 1982...
taking myself back to when I was half as old

One of the very cool things about sorting through boxes of old papers is the occasional gem one comes across that brings a shock. I think back to 1982, still in the Navy, I was 28 to my 56 today... just half as old. Ariel was two, almost three. I was in Nevada on temporary duty on the high desert (hence my squint). I believe that my flight and this photo occurred on the day Ariel broke her arm, falling off a dock back home in Maryland.
I had begged, borrowed, cajoled and stole my way into a ride in an A-4 Skyhawk, the light attack bomber version of the aircraft that the Blue Angels used at the time. It was really a swan song for me and my naval career. I was on my way out the door within weeks, looking forward to returning to Vermont. The flight lasted right around three hours, if I remember correctly and included a little of everything the aircraft was capable of... we shadowed F-4s and F-14s, we went low and fast across the desert sand. The pilot, who I only remember was named "Tom" tried to get me sick with the old "this is how we used to do it in Nam" maneuvers.
Most memorable of all was shooting through a ravine high in the mountains south of Lake Tahoe, clouds overhead, rocky cliffs to the left and right, and on one promontory, on the right side, a little bit above use, a couple of mountain goats...I don't think they even looked over at us.
How awesome to remember back to that day. I wish there was a more major, cosmic message I could impart from this, but it was just nice to relive it for a moment... and then return to today.


Just in case you have forgotten this skill...
An early 20th century bookman provides the handy instructions


Now, even the smallest of children can be pretentious, poser pricks

Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy fashion as much as the next guy. Project Runway is one of my secret, guilty pleasures, and not just because Heidi Klum is so adorable. And, I normally flip through my wife's Vogue or Nylon while visiting the lav.
But, for some reason, for many years, I have really disliked the work of Ralph Lauren, and I am not even sure why. The Lauren lines exude a smug and superior attitude that I just cannot get past. Yesterdays NY Times front page ad for RL kids again peeved me right off.
I guess the part that rips me is that the clothes are intended to look rugged and outdoorsy... sort of an LL Bean look but for people with soft hands. Forbes says RL is worth almost $5 billion, making him one of the 200 richest people in the world. The two youths I have included here... why, what a jolly pair of characters they are.
On the left is Oliver...Oliver what?!?!? Oliver Twisted? Gimme a break. The look is totally Robert Redford in the Sting from what, the frickin' 1970s? Portraying what, the 1930's? And this other numb nuts in the red plaid? What's his deal? Larchmont Lumberjack? Montauk Mountaineer? Danbury Deerstalker? Lauren is projecting this look as luxe, when it is really derivative of 1970's rural discount store crossbred with Carhart.


How I spent my summer - Part 4

For our final project we were instructed to select a media, a material and explore it. I chose to work with the UVM campus. I had developed a new appreciation for the campus and I had wandered around for project three. And the campus was certainly the backdrop on which the entire class developed their third projects. I've spent the best part of 23 years at UVM, and I found some attractive places to do art. The issue was how to convey the concepts without actually doing the art... we were on a very short timeline and I needed to utilize some of the work (location scouting) from the third project to get it done...So I did my usual ironic take on things...

The first one I am showing is a bookcase full of softcover books... my thought was to make dust jackets with marks on the spine to make comment on the contents...

The next one I call the thesis defense from hell...I found this little out of the way conference room, and I envisioned it filled with cardboard cutouts of the victim, and the inquisitors...in this case (left to right) Ghandi, Lincoln, Mother Theresa and Christ (must be for a Doctorate of Divinity)
Finally, the get lost signpost where the actual names on the signs are replaced with states of mind and such...this one would be quite easy to accomplish as the template of the sign is easily reproduced.

Grade awarded: A
Grade deserved: B

Grade awarded: A
Grade deserved: B
How I spent my summer - Part 3

After the tragedy of project 2, I was eager and psyched to get on with the third effort, which was to be site specific. I had selected my medium...colored sand...and had, I thought found the image I wanted to use... a picture of Hannah....
The Hannah picture was not able to happen, because I couldn't find a good place to do it without it being in peril of being driven on, or just generally worn upon... So, I decided to work on an idea called Bike Trails. The idea was to symbolize in sand the travels of bicycles, and to explore that idea in a bunch of different ways....first was bikes parked...

Another was a bike accident...
Then, some studies for potential tread designs (not included in the final project)...
And finally, a flourish of a parking job...
There were numerous other tests, and images, and other doings... the project consumed me for a week. I really enjoyed doing the work, and wasn't terribly bothered when they blew or were rained away. This was the project I was personally most satisfied with, and feel optimistic that I will continue with these works.

Grade awarded: A
Grade deserved: A

How I spent my summer - Part 2

The second project was based on Skin & Armature, building and covering a frame. My work was a twig and paper mache tree. The project finished very different from my original concept. The idea was to try to tie together the ideas of trees and human habitation. While there was a kind of quaint rusticism to it, overall the construction was shoddy, and I was unsuccessful at conveying my idea...
The exterior....

The interior...
Grade awarded: A
Grade deserved: C-