Monday, November 30, 2009

UCLA CellPhone Microscope - The Future is Calling

I'm working on an education post and I'm coming across a lot of great information that I think should have a larger audience; the kind of science that should be on the news or in popular discussions.

This is a video from the UCLA YouTube education channel about adapting a cell phone into a microscope.

I kept hearing in my head "Tricorder"and feeling a little wistful. Just want to pass along another shout out for the better aspects of our human nature.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Without Blaim on the Finally Friday Freakout

It is time again for people I have heard of but do not know their work. This is Marianne Faithfull.

I know she has fought an internal battle or two. I know she has survived them and herself. Glad I made time to find this song, Without Blaim, performed in Istanbul 2008.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Antarctica – Posts from Way Down Under

It is the Austral Summer. It is travel season for those making their ways to Antarctic research stations. There are a number of scientists, students and even an artist or two who have recorded their experiences. Yes, there are bloggers in Antarctica. You think you have a shaky Internet connection? Try blogging from Antarctica.

Making the Journey

Many of the American scientists and researchers travel to the McMurdo Station. Ice Stories, Dispatches from Polar Scientists have a number of folks blogging from both poles. In 2009, the focus is on Antarctica. On the website there are stories, photos and videos of the experiences of those that are going or have just come back from the coldest place on earth.

Heidi Roop is spending three months as a science technician at the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide. Heidi writes about how many miles she had flown and how many more miles she has to go. You can view a map video from her starting point in Arizona to her destination, the McMurdo Station.

The science community are not the only folks going to Antarctica. There is at least one artist making the trip. Elise Engler will be leaving in December 2009. Her task will be to document the work and social life at the station.

Things To Do

Shilpa Gulati, is working on her doctorate in Mechanical Engineering. I learned from her University of Texas at Austin Mechanical Engineering department page she is in the West Lake Bonney area working on the Environmentally Non-Disturbing Under-ice Robotic ANtarctic Explorer AKA ENDURACE Robotic project.


Shilpa also has a blog where she goes into details about the project and her experiences.

We spent the morning looking at data from yesterday and trying to debug the communications failure problem. We had some ideas but we were not sure what the exact problem was. The mission for the day involved traveling to the narrows – the part of lake that connects west lobe to the east lobe. The bot swam about 1.5 km to reach the far east – this is the farthest the bot had ever been. Much remains unknown about this part of the lake and we were very excited to see the visualizations from the sonars on the bot. We might go there again later for getting more data.

There are photos of Shilpa and her team members as they work on the software and hardware challenges of getting the robot functional.

Isabelle Brissac at Project SCINI has photos of what a blistery day can look like at McMurdo. She is and Electrical Engineer working on an underwater robotics project. The team members of Project SCINI has a daily blog page called, The Daily Slog.

Of course, somebody has to feed these folks. They Don’t Cook Penguins is a blog written by Cook On The Ice, who prepares meals in challenging conditions. It is not like you can pop down to the store for basil. What do you do when it can take a really long time for a food delivery?

Coming Home

Sarah Rush recorded her experiences on her ICELilly blog posts at TravelBlog. This is one of her posts on the Dorm Room and the Humidifier:

In 24 days, I will be packing up my stuff, throwing it onto a C-17, and flying away to New Zealand where I'll finally see my Nate - and the whole Antarctica experience will be in the past. When a little blurb in a chapter of life ends, I'm left wondering what will happen next. What's next? When will I get a chance to feel that anxious/excited/nervous of the unknown feeling again? I think that when you're in the middle of an experience, a little reality is lost because you're so wrapped up in what is happening in front of your eyes. No matter how hard you try, you just can't imagine it ending and what it will be like to say, "When I was on the Ice....."


There was one of her posts that is always amazing to me no matter how many times or ways a Dream Comes True can happen:
Today was better than opening a Christmas present. Today was something of pure luck, something that I want to believe only my Mom made happen. She made so many things happen for me when she was alive, I owe so much to her and her only; but this was a gift I've been waiting for for since I set foot on this continent.

I am most grateful that I am no where near a place that requires three digits to express a wind chill factor. I am also grateful that I got a chance to peep in on extraordinary life experiences and photography. I hope you can find time to learn about the projects at the Antarctic research stations.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Life Walking - VloMo 2009

The Yahoo Videoblogging Group 30 Vloggers, 30 Day Challenge is that each person draws inspiration from the video created the day before. Adam Quirk created Death In the Morning

Death in the Morning from Adam Quirk on Vimeo.

In honor of (Inter)National Videoblogging Posting Month this is my contribution to Day 21 for November 2009. This is my answer video, Life Walking 2009:

This video is a mixture of what my original goal was, to get out and see life. Pulled in more directions but I hope to get back to doing more point and record slice of life videos.

It is not the video I envisioned. It is ok. I'm good with it. My butt hurts, I've sat in this chair too long. It is a mixture of current and past videos I created.

My main goal was to get out of the Bone yard. I don't like death. Not worried about the beyond because I'm good for an adventure or two whether it is a flicker of last light or a new dimension.

I don't hate it or fear Death. I just don't like the process. The pain that is required to grow and go on as a human being is often too much. But what are the choices?

Perhaps a ramble for another time. For more independent and not corporate videos check out the action at

Friday, November 20, 2009

Koop Island Blues on the Finally Friday Freakout

Here I am waiting on a man. Time is ticking and the truth is out there, so they say. Time to jump off the grid and try a new stroke. Never heard of these folks before so that is as good a reason to have them on the Freakout. This is Koop and Koop Island Blues.

Actually I just want to kick back and stop being a grown-up. Past couple of weeks it has been a drag. Worst part about today? That fracken radio station jumped the gun and started that dang blasted Xmas music. It is in the stores. Office radios. Unexpected places.

November 20th is not anywhere near Turkey Day. This is evil, pure and simple. I'm not in the spirit. I haven't even had any Corn Bread stuffing or gravy or had the lumpy versus smooth potato debate. I'm not sure I even want Turkey.

I'm thinking some ribs or a shrimp bonanza or something. Plus veggies or maybe a Bittman recipe or two.

So yeah. I'm watching videos like this because I'm mentally moving to the Island of the Blues baby. If I can find some chocolate in the cupboard then I'll feel better.

I think I scarfed the last of it last night. I need 65% cacao or more. Or some Rumi, yeah I love that guy's poems. Let me suck up some Rumi instead.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Becerra Coffee Response to Stupak Amendment Question

In this video a woman is asking questions about the Stupak amendment that would not allow a woman to have an abortion even if she is paying for it with her own funds.

This is an extract from a video I recorded at the Coffee with Congressman Xavier Becerra meeting, November 14, 2009. To check what I was being told I went to and looked at H.R. 3692. Here is the short version of the Stupak amendment:
The amendment prohibits federal funds for abortion services in the public option. It also prohibits individuals who receive affordability credits from purchasing a plan that provides elective abortions. However, it allows individuals, both who receive affordability credits and who do not, to separately purchase with their own funds plans that cover elective abortions. It also clarifies that private plans may still offer elective abortions.
Personally, I feel that the amendment should not have been allowed in their in the first place. Why waste time striking it when you could have bounced it from jump street? Anyway, this is a summary, you should read the full text for clarity.

As I read more about the pork, misinterpretations and the usually shenanigans by both sides of the political parties and vested interests I'm going to have to get my glasses updated with a cootie filter.

I want in on this health care conversation and I am willing to listen to alternate points of video. This is not a common trait as I learned at this meeting.

Now there were babies at this event. I saw a teenager or two. Honestly, the room was packed with all kinds of people. I can say with certainty that those misbehaving were over 40. Some were leaning over kissing age 70 kind of hard.

One elderly woman was escorted out of the event because she kept interrupting asking questions. Now I do support feisty women as a rule. This woman was verbalizing her discontent, shooting out questions and was disruptive. You won't see her in this video but the shushing will be noticeable.

When people are shushing you I think you should take the hint.

It wasn't that she couldn't ask questions. You just had to put you name in the bowl and take your chances. It wasn't like she was the only one in the room that felt like her. I was sitting next to two people who passionately did not like what the congressperson was saying.

I know this because the guy kept thumping the table with his fists. Causing my tripod and my camcorder attached to it to jump. Making me very unhappy. And constantly watching my back.

I'm not kidding, it was nerve wrecking. I do not want to give the impression it was tea baggers run a muck. It was not. Everyone, except that little old lady, was behaved.

Not well behaved but bordering on civil. I think it was the vested interest and passions that I was picking up on. The frustrations too. There was only an hour and folks wanted to get busy and talk about issues, not just about health care but about the budget, mass transit and other concerns. The great thing was that they wanted to talk.

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon. That was amazing in itself. I'm gonna take a chill pill. The democracy is fine.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brahma Nandam on the Finally Friday Freakout

You take a step. And another. If you keep doing that you can find yourself in unexpected places. Happens to me all of the time. This is not a bad thing.

I need a bit of soothing. Something non-toxic and coming from a heart centered place.

This is Deva Premal and Miten in a 2005 performance of Brahma Nandam.

Representative Xavier Becerra Meet Up in Eagle Rock

Just a heads up for those folks near northeast section of Los Angeles/Eagle Rock that Rep. Xavier Becerra is having a Town Hall meeting at Eagle Rock High School. I don't know if I can make it. Hopefully it will not be a shouting match but a discussion of the House health care bill.

Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Eagle Rock High School
1750 Yosemite Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90041

I'm not getting my hopes up about civility. But for those in neighborhood, no matter your persuasion, I hope you can attend. Hopefully civil participants will out number the disruptors who may or may not at a fool.

Bring your camcorder, just in case ;-)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Seeking Biblical Scholarship over Biblical Hubris

On Halloween, 2009 Pastor Grizzard of Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina planed to burn versions of the bible, music and other objects that are not in alignment with his church’s belief system. One of the definitions of hubris is pride of presumption. Here are the exact words copied from a cached version of the website:
Come to our Halloween book burning. We are burning Satan's bibles like the NIV, RSV, NKJV, TLB, NASB, NEV, NRSV, ASV, NWT, Good News for Modern Man, The Evidence Bible, The Message Bible, The Green Bible, ect. These are perversions of God's Word the King James Bible.

We will also be burning Satan's music such as country , rap , rock , pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel , contemporary Christian , jazz, soul, oldies but goldies, etc…

…There will be BBQ Chicken, fried chicken and other fixings.

Crystal at Slaughter of the Sheep doesn’t much care for non-Christians. She feels that Christians are different people. That is her opinion and she has a right to express it just as I have every right to disagree. Crystal feels that this (bible burning) is going too far:

Hey, I’m all for getting together on Halloween (if your church decides to do that) and give the kids a night of Christian fellowship and good food. No problem. But this is nonsense (which is turning out to be my favorite word in these last days).

Lori Stanley Roeleveld at Deeper in Jesus in Rhode Island is equally concerned. She make it clear that she is absolutely against book burning. My understanding of her reading her full post is that she is looking inward to herself as to not being afraid to take a stand or live in action instead of fear. Her desire is to turn folks away from the dark side to the light. Lori doesn’t approve of this act but doesn’t like what she is seeing in the world:
…however misguided the action at least they church is acting on their convictions. Again, I am opposed to book burning and think these brothers and sisters are misguided at best but every day I sit by and watch people opposed to God make what I believe is true look like a lie and dress up the things God says are detestable to look as beautiful and appealing as a harem of Victoria Secret models.

The Balancing Act

Pastor Grizzard has the freedom to express his thoughts and opinions; like his belief that country, jazz and contemporary Christian music is a “perversion” or “Satan’s” music.

Not sure that in his role as pastor has the freedom to ignore facts. You can’t ignore facts such as the English language did not exist during the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Or that there are other English language bibles that pre-date the King James version by three hundred years.

The man is so certain in his faith that when other people point out to him that there were earlier bibles in other languages like Aramaic, Egyptian, Babylonian, Hebrew and then Greek and Latin it does not phase him one bit. This is the response from the church, again from a cached copy from the website:
One does not need to know Greek or Hebrew to understand God's Word. God has promised to preserve them, not man. If the preservation of God's Word was left up to man than we would mess it up. That's what we have with modern versions. But divine preservation is God's promise to give us his pure words and we have that in the KJV. God's Word is not lost or hidden somewhere. We have them today for the English Speaking people and that is through the KJV.

The balancing act comes in when I need to point out factual errors but not intentionally or unintentionally disrespect another person’s faith. There is a strong part of me that cannot believe faith requires self-induced closed mindedness. It seems like there are stories that are rushing up to meet me every day to try to prove me wrong.

The women that I discovered working in the area of academic biblical scholarship provide interesting entry points to questions that are not always easy to answer. The difference is that they love the questions.

Biblical Scholarship Blogs and Websites

Julia M. O’Brien is a Hebrew/Old Testament scholar who mixes the relation between contemporary life and the many biblical connections. In her post on Growing an Audience she wonders about how to outreach beyond the university and religious institutions. I also learned a new form of illiteracy, bible illiteracy:
Every year in the mainline seminary in which I teach, I encounter more aspiring pastors who have never heard of Daniel or the allegorical reading of Song of Songs. If I want to challenge a traditional interpretation, I have to teach it first. My colleague in New Testament doesn’t face quite the same level of biblical illiteracy: he can still count on most people having strong opinions about Jesus. But even he reports that students’ knowledge derives far more from pop culture and pop religion than from the Gospels.

April DeConick at The Forbidden Gospels is a professor of Biblical Studies at Rice University. Her post, Creating Jesus 24: Transmutative Soteriology had me hunting for the dictionary. Soteriology is the study of salvation. April writes about another perspective of salvation. How God and Jesus met as one as a means of modeling what humans could emulate.

This is my understanding of what I read. It may not be what Professor DeConick intended to convey:

Because we have here a christology in which God and the flesh meet, forming an extraordinary human being, the goal of this paradigm is for all humans to experience this same transmutation, a perfecting that alters their humanity in the same way that it had altered Jesus'. This is a process called theosis and it is captured in the words of many of the church fathers from the east, "God became man so that man can become God."

Suzanne McCarthy has a series on the women who have made contributions to the translating of biblical text such as Francis Siewart and Helen Spurrell. What caught my attention was her posts about gender exclusivity and the use of male pronouns to represent all of humanity. Suzanne is concerned about proper translation from the Greek language and the inclusion of all people found in the original source material.

One more for the road. Over at the Society of Biblical Literature – visit the podcast page where you can hear an interview with biblical scholars like Shawna Dolansky, and other professionals in the field of academic biblical study and research.

Other Resources:

Biola University’s The Unbound Bible – a database collection of various versions of the Christian bible searchable by language, publisher, publishing date and other variables.

Codex Sinaiticus – from the 4th century contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament.

From Papyri to King James: The Transmission of the English Bible a collection of early materials from the University of Michigan Library.

God Didn’t Say That – A forum for discussing translations and mistranslations of the bible.

In conclusion, you can’t always take a negative situation and derive a positive value. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make the effort. If you know of other academic biblical scholars pop them in the comments or put in your drachma on what I have written.

Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer and a version of this post originally appeared on that site.

Confession of A Spokesjerk for the Insurance Industry

Yeah. Ok. It is not like I didn't know. I knew the health care disinformation campaign started years ago. I don't generally hold rank and file actors accountable for taking jobs that pays cash money.

Because if you think every actor who has done a commercial for Mr. Clean or Tide actually knew how to use that product then there still might be some part of the Brooklyn Bridge for sale.

I'm trying to pace myself for the final versions of the health care bill because I know they will be pork fat and trapdoors embedded so that the insurance industry makes money no matter what.

I said it before and I'll say it again. I don't give a rat's ass for health insurance reform. It is almost impossible with the vested interest collecting IOUs in Congress. Check out this bit of commentary from Senator Packer.

I want health care reform and access. Single payer for me. I'll tolerate a public plan but I don't think it is the way to go.

For the record, smokers are not evil. These are people who enjoy smoking or have an addiction to tobacco. The activities of a person who smokes can require higher future medical costs.

I don't necessarily want to be around a person who smokes because it irritates my lungs and stinks up my clothes. It does not necessarily make that person evil. Unless they blow that damn smoke in my direction.

To equate smokers with women is just barrel scraping thinking. I am a woman. I am not evil because I am genetically different from a man. I require different types of health care services.

Don't hate the Fallopian tubes baby.

Being a woman should not constitute a pre-existing medical condition.

Christian Payne Documentally One Man Inside

The great thing about Videoblogging Month is that it is much easier to find and show other people that there really is an expansive range of video content and experiences.

This is a video of a place I'd have to practice a good hour or so on how to properly pronounce it. This is part two of a trip to Knoydart.

Into Knoydart (part 2) from Documentally on Vimeo.

Christian's main website is One Man Inside if you want to see more of his vlogging and commercial work. He is also participating in the Vlomo 30 day Video Challenge and you can check out those folks posting at the Vimeo community.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Town Without Pity on the Finally Friday Freakout

The week ended kinda rough. People in denial of something being very wrong. People killing other people. Still more denial of what we know to be true because the lie is louder.

Maybe we are living in towns without pity. Is it all just about the me and my own?

I first heard this song on the radio. I'm sure it was playing on the "other" radio station when WDAS AM signal stopped broadcasting on Sunday evening. I really liked story songs as a teen so if the story was good I generally did not care about music genre.

I never saw Gene Pitney's perform until I found this video. I have a VHS copy of movie, The Man That Shot Liberty Valance and I was gronking on that song too. I have to find out more about his music catalog when I get the chance.

Enjoy, and catch you on the flip side.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Senior Health Info form the National Institute of Health

More stuff from the conference to pass on. The National Institute of Health has a website designed specifically for seniors.

Senior Health at
This is reliable health care information from the government. In addition, there is a speedy way to change the text size. There is an option to change the contrast on the page; in this case you can have a high contrast black or white web page. You also can have have the page read itself to you or your relative.

You don't have to be a senior to appreciate some of the features.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Paying It Forward - Census Job Information

I participated in the prior census and it was a hoot. It might be a tad more challenging this time around but I hear that there are a few folks looking for work so what the heck.

I attended the California Library Association Conference. Well, I could only afford the Exhibit Hall. I made my visitations and notice that the Census Bureau had a table. I like to pick up the CD copy of the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Yeah, I'm wired that way. I'll read anything. It is actually kind of cool and you can get ideas for stories and such stuff.

Anyway, I glance down and there is stuff about census jobs for 2010. The web page isn't updated as of this post but swing over to the regional office link and you will see a map. Click the map in your area and you can get the phone number of the regional office to find out if there are hiring or when it will start up.

I was told that you'd be able to put in your zip code and then you could see the positions open in your area. This probably will happen after the first of the year but get the phone number of the regional office and get the straight skivvy.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Start Out Impossible and Work My Way Up

Every Sunday I have this list of things to do. And every Sunday evening I feel like a failure. There is the home stuff and the reading/researching stuff and the fuck it I want to take a nap stuff and the when do I get time to create stuff and on and on and on.

So today, I think I am going to try something different. No list. Just time units. 10 minutes of one thing and they do something completely different. Seeing how there are sixty minutes in an hour I should be able to get six things done.

In theory. Now, I know me. I'll start in on something knowing that I only have 10 minutes and next thing you know I'm working 30 minutes and then that throws the whole thing out of whack. Productive, but out of whack.

The plan is if something takes an hour I have six ten minute opportunities between now and midnight to finish. I can lump them or space them out; especially if I have to go to the store.

The point is I need to not feel like a crumb bum at the end of the day. So my reward, if I do six out of 13 tasks, is I get to watch an episode of Doc Martin at 7pm.

The ears, the dude has wicked ears. And it is a good show too, beautifully shot and literate writing.

I can multi-task. I can be productive.

I still want a nap and say to hell with it.