Wednesday, December 31, 2008

JibJab - 2008 The Year in Review

Well, many folks are saying good riddance to 2008. It did bring some people to consciousness, if only for a little while. It was a personal and national roller coaster of a year for me.

I'm just thankful that I made it to the end of the year. I had four or five life events in a row and that is three too many.

The year went by me so quick I never got a good grip on it. Kinda like this video from the good folks at JibJab.

2008 had a wow finish and the cliffhangers that get to play out in 2009? Don't know if I want to know but it is like a good thriller. Must turn the page.

Slide into it easy folks,


Friday, December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt on the Finally Friday Freakout

Eartha Kitt was fierce. In mind, body and spirit she was a hell of a woman. I mean that in as a honorific statement. She survived childhood neglect and abuse. Eartha survived a lot of misfortune, and, by her own admission, gave a bit of misfortune to others. Eartha triumph in her chosen profession during one of the most racially contentious times in United States history.

Eartha at 40 something years old looked damn good in a cat suit. Which is probably when I was first introduced to Eartha Kitt, as Catwoman on the 1960s live action Batman. That purr, growl and that look of mischief. Her voice, both spoken and her singing voice cannot be imitated.

Later, I learned of her history. She was in deed a character or, as the young folks say today, “she was a hot mess.” In her 81 years on the planet she had ups and downs. Eartha made mistakes but come hell or high water she survived her detractors. Miss Kitt always found a way to get off the floor and get back to the stage where she belonged.

A person of persistence and endurance with a good chunk of humor and sensuality mixed in for spice. I couldn't choose just one clip so to begin this tribute let's look at a little ditty from 1962 called I Want to be Evil.

There was a time when by necessity and being blackballed in America Eartha spent time performing in Europe. In the late 1970s she came back to America and reclaimed her place in the entertainment industry.

But she did return to Europe often. Eartha had disco hits on the UK charts. I had no idea that she made music videos. This is a reveling rendition of I Don't Care.

Finally, this is Eartha, at 81 years of age on the BBC program Later, Live singing Ain't Misbehaving with Jools Holland on piano. In the middle of the interview there is a moment where a clip of one of her early performances is played. Eartha explains that she basically is a shy person.

I believe her that when she was not on stage that was probably true. But it is a hard sell when she proceeds to rock the house with this Fats Waller tune.

I think Heaven just got to be a little more interesting place. St. Pete is looking over her chapter in the Big Book and scratching his chin. She gives him one of her purrs. He tells the angels to open up the gate and personally escorts her in to her new digs. Rock on Eartha!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Creativity Over Dogma - The GINA Prototype From BMW

I am not a car person. I'd rather look at the specs on a graphics card than the ones on an automobile. I spend most of public travels trying not to get hit by Los Angelinos who think they have the skills necessary to operate a motor vehicle. They don't.

Special shout out to the f*cker who was turning his head in the direction of his Bluetooth ear mike and could not see the people on the opposite side of his head that had a green light to cross. Your time will come buddy boy.

Anyway, I was over at Creative Generalist blog and there it was. How could I not watch a video of a car with my name except is is misspelled. If the big three automakers had truly embraced innovation they would not be in the fix they find themselves today.

Check it out:

It is a concept car but what if having a variable skinned car could:
  • Indicate in text or graphics that the doofus behind the wheel is on the phone, sort of an instant ticket alert to the police
  • Show that is is making a left or right turn
  • Allow the owner to change car color depending on mood or driver attire.
Autotopia has more of a write up and photos of GINA as does Agostino Racing blog. For more information on what BMW is doing, has done or will do visit they video presence at BMW- Web.TV

Friday, December 19, 2008

Honey Cone on the Finally Friday Freakout

California unemployment is kicking near 8%. Many people are looking for work and it is a little hard to find. Those at work are exercising maximum CYA activities and cutting back on the Chai Tea Latte. Yes, there are many whose nerves are twitching as they keep an eagle eye attention for the appearance of pink slips and cardboard boxes.

Fear not, there is always somebody who want you. Edna Wright, Carolyn Willis, and Shelly Clark aka Honey Cone in 1971's Want Ads.

Warning, If You Love This Time of Year Read No Further!

I need to confess. I really, really don't like Christmas music. Except for the Snoopy Dance song aka Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi. I love that thing but it technically isn't a Christmas song.

The rest of that crap? Nuke it! 24 hours of mush. In every store, in places it got no business being like walking by a Quickie Lube joint and there is Bing singing about White Christmas in sunny California. Again. Or hearing the Little Drummer Boy blaring out of Victoria's Secret. That is just wrong.

Ok, before you light the torches on me let me try to explain this revulsion. If this is about the birth of the Christ Jesus then should there be mention of him every once in a while?

And I'm not even Christian. I'm a 2nd class Heathen and proud of it but dang all of the radio stations are playing Christmas music without any Christ in it. Ok, the actual Christian radio stations probably are playing context appropriate music.

I have a mutual non-aggression treaty with CJ that says I'm not to blame him for stuff people do in his name in exchange of a semblance of civility. I can't listen to most of that music and be expected to remain civil. It is just blah to my ears.

The second thing that makes me loopy is ok, you only want to play secular Christmas music. Fine. There has got to be more that 10 songs that you can play. Damnation if it ain't something white, chestnuts roasting or "baby it's cold outside"; which I don't get the connection to Christmas unless we are going the fertility route and last I heard there was no tactile hanky panky involved in this particular event.

For the love of God can't they play newly written Christmas music? One new song an hour, is that too much to ask? One song that hasn't been heard or variation of the same 10 freaking songs played for the last 40 years?

My third and finally rant. People who work in places where you can't turn off the music or radio. There is no way to ask if they could please not turn up their favorite songs. Or I'm in the store trying to find something for dinner and that frigging "sleigh bells ring are you listening? is coming out of the store speakers"

No, I am not listening. Not when I have to decide between the 30% markdown and the 55% marked down chicken. I just don't want to walk in a winter wonderland. Did you ever have to try to get to work in said winter wonderland? Ice burns on your knees ain't all the fun it is cracked up to be, let me tell you.

I have hit a toxic level and I need it to be 26th. Ok, I'm going to put on my meditation tape now. I'm not a bad person, really. But when the day comes when the music dies, let Christmas music be the first to go.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Year of Personal Narratives – Storytelling on Ourselves

In literature the personal narrative is the factual or fictional recounting of an experience. From identity politics to Twitter tweets this has certainly been the year of the personal narrative. It is the search for your story told by another being that shares or reflects your thoughts, feelings and, at times, pain.

It is the need for connection. If we can’t find someone standing next to us then we search for them in magazines, books, music or online. I can honestly say that when I’ve had a few of my dark nights of the soul experiences I search to find a post, story or recording that sustained me until the next day.

Personal narratives transmits information from one person to another person. It could be factual or it could be the world we so desperately want to run to and embrace. I want to share with you some of personal narratives that I have found that not only could touch your heart but cause you to think beyond the surface of the story.

Sometimes Words Are Enough

Melissa Acedera writes about just how hard it is to make it through a day, week or her life.

My last employer used to tell me that I go through a lot of hardships in my life. I never argued with him on this, since it is absolutely true. He saw me through my worst of times… the loss of my father, growing pains, finding proper moral and financial foundation in real adulthood, etc.

It is a short post but Melissa has a lovely writing style. By her own admission, she has a lot going on right now but this specific post hits a spot of recognition with me.

Here at BlogHer I have been captivated and amazed at the honesty and beauty of Always Beginning The World blog posts. This is an excerpt from Chapter 3:

When I was a little girl, I couldn’t speak. I was old enough; but for some reason, every word to pass through my lips was unintelligible. Over and over I would try – planning ahead, thinking the words out in my mind first, then slowly enunciating them more carefully than any little girl should. All I needed – all I wanted – was to be understood. I was not.

There have been 15 posts and Chapter 15 is a doozy. You have to start at Chapter 1 first to understand the full impact of Chapter 15. It has been too long since she has posted but her narratives about medical incompetence, moving through her life and the compromises she thought she had to make and unmake are incredible. I hope ABTW is doing well and globe hopping her new opportunities.

Teaching Others By Sharing Experience

Next I want to introduce you to Albertina Shimwe.

She has a story to tell you about a teacher and the name of her story is The Day I Made Him Stop. The video is subtitled.

Londiwe Msibi from Swaziland has a tale of mother loss in My Mother’s Hands. Both of these ladies are participants in the Just Associates (JASS) Digital Storytelling Project. The project seeks to empower and educate via storytelling in Latin American, South East Asia and Southern Africa. In this instance it is important to be able to see the women as they communicate not just their feelings but as living representations of survival and transformation as well.

Jung Hee Choi and her family came to America from Korea for opportunities and a better life. Jung’s father endured difficult times but found a way to provide for his family.

By explaining his life and experiences Jung is able to show you why she has chosen her path.

Poetry Narratives Old and New

Poetry is one of the oldest forms of personal narrative. Caroline Keane at Stone is using mobile phones to record story and poetry podcasts. It is blend of the old and new. It is a new blog but there is quiet a bit of content. You can read or listen to her poem called David and reflect on either a sense of loss or of waste.

I found some powerful poets at IndieFeed such as Kelly Zen Yi Tsai and her poem Aftershocks or Linda M. Hasselstrom's poem Carolyn, Miranda and Me if you want to spend time with two women helping to birth a cow and the worlds that revolve around them.

At you can read, watch or listen to poets talking about poetry or sharing their work. At poet Mary Jo Bang’s page you can read her bio, read or listen to her poems. This is a stanza from Catastrophe Theory III

Now we sit and play with a tiny toy

elephant that travels a taut string.

Now we are used and use in turn

each other. Our hats unravel

and that in itself is tragic.

To be lost. To have lost. Verbs

I’ll wrap this up with Sharon Olds in a video entitled The Autobiographical Self.

It still kind of makes my heart pound to say it: "Of course my work is autobiographical." I don't have an imagination. I don't! I have an image-ination, but it's not something I have—I have a bottle of water—but the simile has me, in a way.

I hope that by showing some of the folks above I’ve help to make at least two connections. One is that the telling a personal narrative is not or does not have to be a vanity exercise. It is a form of giving back to the larger world when you share what you know and feel.

You might not believe it but there is a person on the other side of a story. There must be, otherwise the story can’t exist.

The other connection is that by experiencing personal narratives, in whatever form you choose, you expand your world by one more person.

You are not alone.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer, where I am a Contributing Editor.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

If Super Heroes Could Be Science Bloggers

After all, super heroes seem to have a lot to say but a word balloon just doesn't tell you everything you need to know. So I'm thinking. Could I match up a super hero with a real world blogger? Yes, and maybe. First I had to do a bit of screening. I wanted the super hero to be female. So that chucked out 75% of the known comic/graphic novel universe. Next, the hero could not a derivative of a male hero, hence no Bat Woman, Spider Woman, She-Hulk or Lightning Lass. I was looking for dames that had their own powers and identities. Finally, and I had to loosen up on this one, the main power or skill of the super hero had to connect in some way to the real world blogger. Looking good in a skimpy outfit was not one of the criteria. Coming close to matching a keyword search helped a great deal.

DC Comics Black Canary

Diana Lance aka Black Canary. Martial arts expert but her main power is her Ultrasonic scream. There are many, many blogs that are talking about their ultrasound experiences. Not really what I was going for but it is a good way to get family and friends connected by posting photos of the new bundle of joy. So I needed to make a conceptual shift from ultrasonic to sonic to SONAR and that lead me to Jennifer Ouellette at Cocktail Party Physics wrote a extensive post on the history, law and verifiable and unverifiable effects of the military testing of SONAR on sea mammals.

The Antarctical Blog from the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition has more information from their prospective about whales and SONAR.

Marvel's Jolt

Hallie Takahama aka Jolt can convert her essence from human form to living bio-electrical power. She can issue energy blasts that flat out hurt the ones she doesn't love. On the first go around there seems to be a lot of concern about body fat and how bio-electrical impedance can assess the percentage of body fat. Feh. All I have to do is try to put on a pair of pants at a certain time of the month to know I'm up a couple of pounds.

This not to say that I couldn't find a post or an article. I did at the PLoS Computational Biology Journal at the Public Library of Science. This is a relatively new project that aims to be an open source version of a peer reviewed science library repository. Stochastic Differential Equation Model for Cerebellar Granule Cell Excitability does contain the word "bio-electrical" but I would need a science interpreter or 15 additional years of higher education to begin to understand what was written.

I take a different path. Sandra Porter over at Discovering Biology in a Digital World. Sandra is a microbiologist and molecular biologist turned tenured biotech faculty turned bioinformatics scientist turned entrepreneur. (Whew!) So I'm thinking from a molecular biology standpoint she sees all kinds of energy forming and dissipating on a very small scale. Sandra's writing style is easy to understand.

She and I share a love of gadgets; you should check out her Molecules application on her iPhone.

I need to make this clear. The PLoS Computational Biology Journal and Discovering Biology in a Digital World are two different types of science writing. Both are good, very good. I just don't have the vocabulary or the education to understand a peer review science paper. I think even Hallie would have a little problem with it. Sandra would probably sail through it in 10 minutes.

Well, since we are on the micro side of the fence you should also check out Tara at Aetiology. Tara is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and writes about the things people and animals can catch such as viruses, infections and Helicobacter pylori. If you have gastritis or a stomach ulcer that little bug-a-boo is in the neighborhood.

DC's Wonder WomanDiana Prince, Princess Diana of Themysira aka Wonder Woman has super strength, speed, the ability to fly and can hunt bad guys with the best of the boys while able to talk to the animals. Not to mention she has got that way cool invisible plane.

Diana navigates her plane both through Earth and space to get to the Justice League of America Space Station. Her blogging counterpoint might be Engineer Maria Bualat who is working on robots that will journey to other planets to gather information.

You can watch a video of her and Corey Ippolito describing the make-up of the robot and how they plan for when things go wrong. Janet Stemweldel who is a philosopher and has a Ph.D in physical chemistry. The Adventures in Ethics Blog has a section devoted to the the ethics of animal research.

Janet also blogs about astronomy and astrophysics, the intersections of pop culture and science and "Ask A Science Blogger" posts where you can learn from a philosophical and biochemical standpoint why you should eat organic produce whenever possible.

Well, this is my not so sneaky attempt to get more people to check out the diverse world of science bloggers. Or to help you catch up on your comic and graphic novel mythological histories.

Originally posted at BlogHer where I’m a Contributing Editor.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Learning The Difference Between Getting An Education and A Degree

My one clear memory from Sociology 101. It was an evening class from 6 to 9 p.m. at my local community college.  My classmates were adults who worked during the day, part-time students and a back row of older women who refused to leave the planet without their degree. It may have taken them twenty some years and literally had to wait for their children to be grown or their husbands to die or leave them in order for these women to take classes. Those old girls meant business, no matter how bad their feet hurt, they came to learn.

The instructor looked at the class and said something that sounded like the following:

“Most of you will only advance one or two levels beyond your current class status. This can be proven statistically. So if you are a lower middle class person you might be able to advanced to a middle or upper middle class person. No matter what you do or the education you obtain you will not, statistically speaking, move more that one or two levels beyond your current status.”

Sitting next to me was an auto mechanic with grease in his nails. Other students who were hanging on for dear life with whatever jobs they could scrape up during the day. There were a few clerical workers. Some of my classmates had just gotten back from New Jersey where they earned day labor wages for picking vegetables.

That statement was not setting well with my classmates. There was anger. There were challenges and examples given of Americans who had succeeded and prospered beyond anyone’s statistical curve. The older women gave him a litany of non-sports or entertainment figures that put a lie to his statement.

The instructor agreed. “There are always exceptions to the rule but as a whole the numbers don’t lie. There is not that much aberration from the statistical norm.”

At that point I started to tune him out and listen to my classmates. They were hurt. At the time I hadn’t heard the expression “lies, damn lies and statistics”. The older ladies were muttering under their breath. The younger men were telling the instructor that they “will prove that they are the aberration” so they didn’t give a damn what the statistics said about how far they would go.

Eventually folks simmered down and the lecture continued.  I made a mental note not to believe anything this guy said that I couldn’t verify elsewhere.

My classmates and I wanted an education. We put a lot on the line to show up for school only to be told it did not matter.  Many of us were not middle class. Some of us were just a few steps away from being called “Trash.” Some of us, even while working, couldn’t reach the official United States level of poverty. 

For many of my classmates there was an unspoken definition of education that implied freedom from financial pain and oppression. Get the degree and you will be protected.

The California Budget Crisis Affects All Income Class Levels

I bring this up because in California there is discussion of eliminating 10,000 freshman admissions due to the California budget crisis.  The talk is currently on removing admission spaces, raising tuition and the elimination of classes at the Community College level.

What typically happens is that if there is an tuition increase or a cut in admissions at the college or university level students will migrate down to the community colleges to pick up classes and transfer later. It is an excellent idea and it will save students a lot of money. Many of the instructors and adjunct professors are the same people they would have met at the four year colleges and universities.

But that academic migration downward will stop some economically deprived students that need a second or third chance to “get an education.” They will be unable to get the classes they need. At the community college level here in California that could mean the instruction loss of:

  • Remedial English and Math classes to make up for what was not taught at the K-12 level of of education,
  • English language classes for foreign students who attend community colleges as a way of becoming accustomed to the American education system,
  • Vocational Education in fields such as construction, health care, computers, law enforcement and culinary instruction to name a few,
  • Academics programs for Pre-Law, Pre-Med, Science and Technology programs and Teacher preparation and so many more.

It has been said that what California tends to put into place the nation eventually follows. This would be a bad, bad thing to spread throughout the country. More educational opportunities lead to smarter workers, attract good employers and increase the tax base.  We need more educated (technical, vocational and academic) people, not less.

So What Does An Education Mean?

Well there is the classical definition that has nothing to do with a degree, vocation or enhanced employment opportunities. Judy Yee at Teacher’s Mind Resources has a full breakdown of The Meaning of Education, what it was and what it could be.

Former Homeschooler Tammy Drennan writes:

Education involves entwining wisdom and discernment with knowledge. It means making judgments about knowledge. Education requires learners to ask why, not just what and how. And when they answer the question why, it requires them to ask, “In light of why, what now?”

Education involves time to ponder. It involves searching and wandering (and wondering) -- and conversation, too – with wiser individuals than ourselves. It involves relationships – with real people, the real world, real books, and above all, with oneself. It involves imagination and creativity, both cooperative and lone.

That is what I thought an education was until I started getting mixed up with other people’s expectations. It was like a manta, “get the degree, get a good job.”

There is the late 20th century definition that seems to imply that an education is a group of skills necessary to perform at a certain level of performance. It could be vocational. It could be a profession. You learn it, prove that you know it and get a piece of paper.  With that paper your life if perfect. 

Naw, I don’t think so. There is a post at Her Bad Mother’s Basement called Where I Wish I Was where a mom writes about the choices she made after the degree that didn’t end up financially like she planned. Sherri, guest writing at her sister’s blog Weebles Wobblob writes about how her life changed dramatically when she moved away from “the path”:

I spent the first 30+ years of my life creating and living a life of illusion. I was following the path that had been laid out for me: college education, professional job, getting married, and having kids. As I took each step, it seemed like I was moving ahead, but in looking back, I realize that each step took me into a deeper trance-like state. It took the very emotional crises of divorce (which shattered the illusion) to get me to “wake up”.

Like pantyhose, one type or size of education does not fit all people. I understand that standard colleges and universities have little to do with feeding the brain and everything to do with passing the final and creating an alumni base of donors.

It took a long time for me to know that I have the power to satisfy most of my intellectual curiosity without having to shell out thousands of dollars. Being open to the possible takes care of the rest. The older ladies that I shared the stage with as we got our diplomas would agree with me. But it was cool to flip the tassel for the first time with them, their collective bad feet and all.

I leave you with a potentially contentious question. What does an education mean to you?  Do you feel like you have put your education to good use?


This post originally appeared on BlogHer where I am a Contributing Editor.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Playing For Change - Stand By Me

I'm still tearing up and I don't mind. Hat tip to Sumner at Meaningful Life for posting this video. This is a selection from the documentary "Playing for Change: Peace Through Music. This is a world wide collaboration of Ben E. King's Stand By Me.

I lost it when I saw the guy from New Orleans. When the brother from Amsterdam started wailing I was a lost cause. Everybody else in the video damn near broke my heart. Music can do that to you, hurt and heal at the same time.

There is a web site you can visit to get the full scoop.
I don't know much more than that. When I can stop sniffing, I'll give it a look see.

5:43pm Update: Just learned from the Tweets that Bill Moyers interviewed Producer Mark Johnson about the documentary.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

White Gold and the Calcium Twins on the Finally Friday Freakout

I was very concerned. Late at night I’d wake up thinking about comedians who was trying to find something to work with after the election. I had sympathy for all the political junkies on the left, center, right and those forever on the fringe who were going into detox and it wasn’t going well.

Sure the automakers kept them busy but they were use to a high level of juice, if you know what I mean. Governor Palin did what she could with the pardon of one turkey as the ones behind her were beheaded. It helped but it wasn’t enough.  Even the one last effort to invalidate the citizenship of the President-Elect didn’t even get the need abated. It was only mumbled as a hope forever dashed in a day. (Yeah!)

Then, one day in December, came a man from the great state of Illinois, a man who united the people and caused them to utter in unison, “Naw, you are kidding right?” Americans invoked the coast to coast collective gasp of “Damn, for real?”

Yes, Governor Blagojevich you were the dream anointed to those of us that wanted to aspire to our higher natures but spent precious time reading 76 pages of pure industrial strength politicking not seen in almost 30 some years.

Sir, I ain’t hating on you. You got enough trouble on your plate. Karma didn’t come to visit. It snuck up on you in the shower and said “pow-dow!”

For you and your hair, mainly for your hair cuz I’m still working my way through the criminal complaint, I had to find a special video. One that really captured what I believe is the core of your motivation.  The essence of narcissism put to good use, mainly for your benefit.  It all comes back to the hair. 

So I present to a country re-united temporarily in befuddlement of stupidity so profound it cant be measured on a normality scale, courtesy of the California Milk Producers Board. White Gold and the Calcium Twins in their powerful rendition of “Is it Me, or Do You Love My Hair?

A Wee Bit of Explaining To My Overseas Friends

Many states have public relations and advocacy boards for state produced food products. One of the most successful campaigns was the one produced for California Raisins because the more you liked the singing raisins the more likely you would pick up a box or two from the market.

This is a video produced by the California Milk Producers Board to subtly or proudly (I’m not really sure) the virtues of drinking milk in order to have long beautiful ash gold healthy hair.

I'm gonna have get back to you on that one cuz me and the Calcium Twins, well yeah. Oh, wait, I get it. Healthy hair, no matter its birth orientation. Yeah, that's it.  There is a series of commercials (advertisements) that have run on television for the past couple of months based on a mythical rock star who gets his glory from the wonders of drinking milk. It is assumed that it is milk made in California but what the heck.

Anyway, I just thought it was a bunch of quirky commercials. No, no, no. There are actual music videos about the adventures of White Gold and the Calcium Twins. There is also a web site a virtual wonderland of milk and White Gold. Talk about your interactivity.  It is also an example of social networking on a corporate level and an opportunity to observe the many avenues to partake of the cow juice.


The night before the news broke about the Rodster, I saw the complete video of Is it Me or Do You Love My Hair? I felt surreal. Changed. Mystified of what I had witnessed. The next day I was getting the Blagojevich story from Bus TV, Elevator TV, newspapers, radio and the Internet.

I was sucking it up like milk and Lorna Dunes cookies. I like Lorna Dune cookies dunked in milk, I use to anyway.  And then I understood the joining of the ying and the yang. It was by a golden thread. Now I could have gone with Heavy D with Mr. Big Stuff, Jean Knight with Mr. Big Stuff  or Peter Gabriel with Big Time Peter was almost perfect. At the end of the day this was not a time of understatement. I needed a man with maximum hair attitude to get the job done.

Enjoy and please know that we are better than this throwback to backroom politics. Also those with milk allergies or choose not to ingest the stuff I do understand and respect your position.  If the spirit is willing laugh, cuz in the end it is a healing thing to do.

Telemarking That Has Gone Too Far - Fighting Back Against (304) 369-0968

The calls are to consistently remind me that my vehicle warranty will expire and in order to, well you can guess the rest and it involves money. I’m flipping beyond mad about this phone spam. Now by the time this is posted the phone number and area code will probably be changed. I don’t care.

(304) 369-0968 Do not call me. I am to the bone serious. You see, I don't have a car. I don’t have an auto warranty, whatever that is so there is no reason for you to have my contact information. None. There is no relationship. Zilch.

Which has not stopped this company located somewhere in West Virginia (and it isn't that hard to find out where) from calling me and a few thousand other people repeatedly.

I'm not the only one having a problem with this particular phone number. Over at Caller Complaints there is a growing list of folks that are testifying that this phone number is one toke over the line. 458 at the time of this post and many more checking out the action.

Time for a review of the Federal "Do Not Call List" If you have a land line or cell phone, iPhone or whatever you are yakking on you are protected. If you haven’t you might want to register your cell phone number, PDQ (pretty darn quick).

Per the Do Not Call web site:

Yes, you may place your personal cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. The registry has accepted cell phone numbers since it opened for registrations in June 2003. There is no deadline to register a home or cell phone number on the Registry.

You may have received an email telling you that your cell phone is about to be assaulted by telemarketing calls as a result of a new cell phone number database; however, that is not the case. FCC regulations prohibit telemarketers from using automated dialers to call cell phone numbers. Automated dialers are standard in the industry, so most telemarketers don’t call consumers on their cell phones without their consent.

This company did not get the message. I will help translate. “You do not and never had my consent. Do not call me!”

If Both Your Land and Cell Phone Are On The Do Not Call List

Swing on over to the Do Not Call complaint page. You can also call toll-free number at 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236). Per the FTC to file a complaint, you must know either the name or telephone number of the company that called you, and the date the company called you. Your phone number must be in the system for 31 days before they can take action.

If You Are Not On The List You Still Have Rights

You can tell the company representative or salesperson to remove your name. In this case of this company and from what I learned at Caller Complaints, they are hanging up on people before they can say the magic words “Remove my phone number from your call list.”

And another thing, besides trying to get people to re-up their warranties look at how much money, time and lost opportunities for good will you have deliberately ground in the dirt. If you were a legit company, and I’m not saying that you are not because I HAVE NO NEED OF YOUR SERVICES, why do you want to engender this much documented bad will?

There are reasons for the Do Not Call list and it does work. I will get my other phone protected. Make sure you do likewise.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I Have Entered the Electronics of Hell Zone

Crummy electronics be danged and double danged! 32 days after I could have returned the combo VCR/DVD player the DVD drive breaks. No fooling.

I put in my DVD copy of Long John Silver. No, not that guy! This was a movie and then a TV show from the 1950's. It was on sale at the beloved 99.99 cents only store and arrhh he and his crew is yar!

The machine just sat there. Nothing. No purple screen saying loading. No churning, chugging or chaginga chaginga. Drive door will not open. Turning it off and on gets me zilch. I just bought the dang thing 32 days which is 2 days past the take it back date.

20 minutes I spend trying to engage the drive into functioning. I get mad. I gentle pry open the drive to get the DVD out and the whole drive holding unit thingy comes out. I got a gaping hole where the drive cover use to be.

On the positive side the VHS side works great. No problems, Gargoyles never looked better.

In two months I have replaced a computer, a prior VCR, a prior DVD recorder that went bad after a year of limited use and purchased updates for software.

Oh yeah, let's not forget the digital converter that only picks up 1 channel and it is a Spanish language channel that I can't connect to the TV and combo unit at the same time. I had to buy an RF modulator and that kinda sorta solved my problem but not with the converter. I have great analog static on the TV.

That didn't bother me cuz I stopped watching regular TV anyway. Which is why I was digging the VHS and DVD player. I ain't digging it anymore.

I still have to buy stuff to transfer data from SATA drive and IDE drives and my DSL modem is getting finicky. Look, I'm all for stimulating the economy but this stuff is adding up.

32 freaking days? And what am I to do with all the electronic waste that I do have? I know not to throw it in the trash but I have no way of getting it to the recycling places. I want to be green conscious but at the same time this junk is piling up.

Sigh. Well, I'm waiting until after January 2nd for any further non-necessary electronic purchases. I will research the heck out of the next combo unit that I buy and me and Consumer Reports are going to be skin tight in agreement before I plunk down another cent for something I plug in.

Hey manufacturers, want to pull yourself out of a recession? Quit making shoddy product that die within 32 days of use. If you can't make it work at the price point you set then don't sell the piece of crap.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Marvin and Tammi on the Finally Friday Freakout

I have never seen Tammi Terrell. Heard her voice a thousand times as I was coming up thought the ages. I will always love Marvin before and after "What's Going On". I give thanks that I am able to see this video. I did not know it existed.

When I saw this and it was an actual video I said that is it. I gotta go with an amazing song and two powerful singers that raised and sustained me and millions of people over time and space.

I present to you Mr. Marvin Gaye and Miss Tammi Terrell in A'int No Mountain High Enough.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Teens Use of Social Media Change Their Parent's World

Do you really know your teen? Do you have a functional relationship or is it just a culinary or financial one? Are you able to communicate your values and experiences and have a young person be receptive to listening to you? Don't be too quick to answer.

Last week I tried to explain how adults consciously and unconsciously transmit cultural values to the next generation. Some of those tools available involved dance, music, theater, books and movies. Adults use this type of content to show examples of our aspirations, goals and values. Adults are living beacons or transmitters of cultural knowledge and community, whether you have kids or not.

This might become an increasing battle to transmit what we know to young people who are  learning, adaptation and in control of technology and social media. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is exploring how digital media is changing young people.

Young people are developing and using online social networks.  They are developing their own peer valued communities. Some of these online communities teens visit have provide more of an emotional connection than they have to their parents. This is more than “cliques”, is is the establishment of communities that serve their intellectual, emotional and entertainment needs. Teens create and have their own self-defined cultural benchmarks. They may not be the same as yours.

What would you do if you could not only dream a world but create your own virtual communities? That is happening and attention needs to be paid to this change in communication and socialization modes. This will impact all of our lives as we get older and the society is transformed. But there are so many questions.

The MacArthur Foundation has completed an extensive study on how teens spend their time online and produced a report. The Foundation looked at the importance of teen peer community, education and self directed learning. There are some clues as to how parents and adults can make connections with this group.  You can download a two page overview of the study or dive in and read an extensive white paper produced by The Foundation.

Teen Peer Communities

Were you that kid who was on the outside of the in-crowd?  You survived but you never fit in? Now what if that same kid today could find his or her peer group online? Communities that share interests that nobody around their immediate area shared.  A teenager could find out very quickly that they are not the only ones that feel the way they do.

Peer based community emotional support about body image, video games, ecology concerns or sexual orientation.  I’m not trying to say that online peer groups are better or safer than real world, I do have concerns. But teen online peer communities broaden the ability to connect with an accepting community or culture. That could be a very good thing for a lonely young person.

Education and Self-Directed Learning

One of my biggest concerns with education today is the persistence of teaching 21st century people with 19th century methods.  Teens have access to instantaneous communication via Twitter, Instant Messaging, cell phone voice and video and new technology being created everyday. Young people create mash-up projects, meet-ups and collaborate on a host of projects, some of them are even academic in nature.

Then they go to school and listen to a top down recitation of facts that will be on a test.  Then they will listen to more facts and mimic the answers on the next test. According to The Foundation, teens are performing online self directed learning, going as deep and as wide as they need or want to study. They often share their research with their peer community.  They blog, the create videos and they Twitter.

In this video, Mizuko Ito, Lead Researcher on the project, talks about how today’s teens are similar and how they are different. She also talks about how we can better prepare them educationally and, by extension, for the world ahead.

One place where there are certainly paying attention to the changes is YALSA – the Young Adult Library Services Association. It is a part of the American Library Association and YALSA looks at ways to engage young patrons to come to the library. Not necessarily by having them come into the physical building; it might be an online presence or contact with an “Ask A Librarian” resource.  

On the YALSA blog,  they talk about outreach, connections and  trying to adapt library services to fit the current interests and needs of this population. If that takes a game night or a Anime conversation in order to nurture future patrons then the better libraries might consider this a good investment. 

Help For the Dusties – Finding Help & Support

Over at Parenting Teens The Modern Teen Connection blog, Carol Taber lays out the modern predicament with 4 teens and electronic desires unfulfilled:

Our children do not see us at the epitome of electronic/car blessedness but as a decidedly underpowered family. I am kinda stunned to see all the stuff we use just to communicate, travel or to entertain ourselves.

For all of the technology teens still need a bit of supervision. It is a balance and GMN Parents blog post on Homework - The Supervision Of A Teenager makes a good case for keeping an eye on the rascals both on and off line. Sasha at Diary of A Crazed Mom is accepting the laws of reciprocity have caught up with her via her son. Not so much advice as understanding what goes around comes around.

Educationally, Amy In Education she describes an activity that had her students engaged in learning. (Hint, they actually had to perform a task and observe the results.)

Although the blog doesn’t seem to be updated anymore, Principle Kendrick offers a bit of advice on teaching teens:

Allow choice and student decisions. It may also be useful if you can be flexible about what the students do. If you can provide them with choice and allow room for their personal interests, you are likely to find it much easier working with them. You can also involve them in decisions about what you will do in the lessons and ask them to plan activities, choose texts, music and so on.

Adrian Rowe at Poiema Paideia wrote:

Studies have shown that children are prone to look for reason and intentionality behind most things. I especially have noticed this attribute while teaching adolescents. Students’ questioning about the reason behind activity is a good thing, and since much of my teaching has been activity based, I have not often enough used it to my advantage. I have thought it difficult to deal with while teaching students a skill I consider to be intrinsically valuable (especially when they do not at first agree with me). However, it should be something I actively embrace and encourage.

So, it isn’t like you don’t have enough to do but here is one more item. Know what you teen is doing online and the various methods they employ to communicate, share and access information.

Be sneaky. Ask for their help in showing you how to do something.

That transmission of cultural values works both ways.

More Resources from the MacArthur Foundation:

Digital Learning Initiative -

Futures of Leaning

This post originally appeared on BlogHer, where I am a Contributing Editor.