Old X Wing Fighter, New User

Using the force apparently causes one to purse his or her lips in a rather pronounced fashion.

X Wing Fighter Lips _MG_0029

Vacation Day One: A Golf Lesson

On the Green_MG_0011

It’s vacation 2013!  Spouse and I have been off since the beginning of July. Up ’til now, we’ve been stay-cating; we’ve been doing some (but only some) of the (many) chores that need doing around the Juniorvanian estate.  That’s been mostly successful -  financing arrangements had to be made as the end of a car lease approached and decisions had to be made about whether the National Vehicle Fleet was to be augmented;  extensive yardwork needed to be done (the People’s Weed Whacker in particular was called into heavy service); general tidying and decluttering throughout the house was in required, and I even tackled the monstrous mess that was (and to a certain extent, still is) the garage.  I have installed an amplifier and an old pair of speakers in the garage, so I now have a rock and roll outdoor work area, which allows me to spend a little more time organizing, sorting through clutter and tidying.  I still have designs on using some of the airspace above the garage door to store the rear bagger assembly for the People’s Lawn Mower; there’s a pulley already in place in the general area that is just begging to fly the whole awkward contraption so that it doesn’t take so much valuable floorspace.

But staycations such as these are only so restful, so we’ve packed up the truck and headed off to Sudbury to visit Nani and Appa.

Upon arrival in Sudbury, we took a quick trip over to the golf club to which Nani and Appa belong. Ben was excited to play golf with Apps, and was very pleased to get a putting lesson from him on one of the practice greens. He was even MORE interested, once we got there, in the golf carts. After the lesson was concluded, staring at the carts lined up below the clubhouse deck, he asked me (with his usual hilariously enunciated emphasis on the interrogatory commencing the sentence) “What can we do with those golf carts, Daddy?”
I explained that WE couldn’t do anything with them, and that they were for the benefit of golfers only.
He considered that for a moment, then confidently told me, “I can practice my golf, and then we can drive one.”

Growth and Change

Ben Learns to Use the Hose

Ben has learned to use the hose; mostly to shoot daddy in the face with it.

Change: the incremental grows fundamental

And all around is new

I looked away for just a minute

Now looking back at you

I could have sworn you were so much smaller

Now squeaks and sleeps are memories

Setting like the son on the horizon of my mind.

Inspirational

Wow. The more I read of his stuff, the more upset I become that David Foster Wallace is no longer around to think about things and then tell us his thoughts.

TV-watching as a malignant cycle doesn’t even require special preconditions like writerly self-consciousness or loneliness. Let’s for a second imagine Joe Briefcase as now just average, relatively unlonely, adjusted, married, blessed with 2.5 apple-cheeked issue, normal, home from hard work at 5:30, starting his average six-hour stint. Since Joe B. is average, he’ll shrug at pollsters’ questions and say he most often watches television to “unwind” from those elements of his day and life he finds stressful. It’s tempting to suppose that TV enables this “unwinding” simply because it offers an Auschlanderian distraction, something to divert the mind from quotidian troubles. But would mere distraction ensure continual massive watching? Television offers more than distraction. In lots of ways, television purveys and enables dreams, and most of these dreams involve some sort of transcendence of average daily life. The modes of presentation that work best for TV – stuff like “action,” with shoot-outs and car wrecks, or the rapid-fire “collage” of commercials, news, and music videos, or the “hysteria” of prime-time soap and sitcom with broad gestures, high voices, too much laughter – are unsubtle in their whispers that, somewhere, life is quicker, denser, more interesting, more … well, lively than contemporary life as Joe Briefcase knows and moves through it. This might seem benign until we consider that what average Joe Briefcase does more than almost anything else in contemporary life is watch television, an activity which anyone with an average brain can see does not make for a very dense and lively life. Since television must seek to compel attention by offering a dreamy promise of escape from daily life, and since stats confirm that so grossly much of ordinary U.S. life is watching TV, TV’s whispered promises must somehow undercut television-watching in theory (“Joe, Joe, there’s a world where life is lively, where nobody spends six hours a day unwinding before a piece of furniture”) while reinforcing television-watching in practice (“Joe, Joe, your best and only access to this world is TV”).

From “E unibus pluram“, an amazing essay on what it means to watch TV. It is difficult to put in perspective the clarity of insight in this piece and the importance of its conclusions, but it blows my mind to think that Wallace was writing in 1992 – before the curiously ironic, but undoubtedly atomizing and isolating effects of widespread Internet use had become apparent to just about everybody.

20130527-115836.jpg

Howdy

A little bird tells me some folks might be coming this way via Grantland tomorrow. Don’t mind the cobwebs hereabouts, things have been a little slow since (I assume) aliens arrived in the night and used mind control and likely some sort of anal probe to steal all of my free time, come to think of it coincidentally right around the time my son was born.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the Albert stuff. If you’re looking for other stuff to read here, for some reason I seem to do well when writing about the People’s Lawnmower. I know, I don’t get it either, but it is funny. And there’s more.

You can almost see him getting an idea.

20130104-175443.jpg

2013:The Year We (Re)Make Contact

20130102-010612.jpg

Am trying to make myself spend some more time on things that aren’t work; you know, things that I enjoy and things that make life worth living.

One of those things is writing on this blog. I do like it, it makes me feel good.

Another one of those things is playing music. I hope to do more of that with this new guitar that I got for Christmas from Spouse. My whole outlook has gotten considerably more rockabilly since I opened it up – it’s a hollow body archtop – I think I might grow long sideburns and a ducktail.

Anyway, been desperately trying to grab ten minutes here and there to practice between The Boy’s naps and meals and diaper changes (he’s been home from daycare during most of the holidays). It’s hard to get into any serious effort to learn a song, or even a riff or a new technique in those quick stolen moments. But I vow to keep trying; I’m working on “Having an Average Weekend” by Shadowy Men From a Shadowy Planet at the moment.

Tonight’s gem from The Boy: Spouse had made cookies and The Boy was aggressively sampling. At one point, he had learned to just liberate cookies from the counter and start eating, a development that was interdicted by Spouse, asking him, “Just how many more of those things are you going to eat, anyhow?” He thought for a few seconds and said confidently, “Three of them.”

Good Lord There Are a Lot of Weeds ‘Round Here

Yes, so it’s been a while. [Insert excuses here].

At the moment, I am sitting on the porch in the late Sunday afternoon sun. It is a gorgeous day in May, and there’s a soft wind blowing, just enough to rustle the trees. I can hear the birds chirping and…way off on the distance, Spouse and The Boy laughing as they fill the bird feeders.

Life is good.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose – Revisited (okay, Republished)

Republished from March 11th, 2011 because this piece was linked to once by the estimable Puck Daddy and the content is kind of timely; also because this place needs to look like it has new content and I haven’t blogged at all for a very long time because of the perpetual plague that has descended upon Juniorvania ever since The Boy went to daycare and started hanging around with all the other little petri dishes.

 

I don't think whales smile like that, either.

Attention Mr. Cole: I don't think 8 birds can lift a whale out of the water, either.

 

Cam Cole wrote a ridiculous article today about social media and the National Hockey League trade deadline.

Cole mentions that during the intense discussions surrounding today’s NHL trade deadline, many people availed themselves of the opportunity to have a little fun;  some folk decided to create Twitter accounts that appeared to emanate from real hockey media personalitiesDown Goes Brown decided to spice up a dull morning by using the new media to organize the 21st century (ahem) grownup equivalent of a class clown prank.  Following the lead of an old high school classic, the  “co-ordinated, math-class-derailing pre-arranged 11:45 coughing fit”, DGB suggested that at 12:50, everyone should send the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) a tweet that appeared to refer to his “trade” to Long Island (that trade being, of course, an entirely fictitious event which had not occurred).  The tweets were sent en masse.  Lupul appears to have played along with the gag, tweeting shortly afterwards that he was “Long Island bound. So I hear…”

I didn’t see it, but apparently the “Lupul trade” was, for a time, being reported by some as an actual event.  I saw some Tweets indicating that it was briefly posted on the Philadelphia Flyers’ website, and – according to Cole’s article – Gord Miller and TSN briefly fell for it too, relaying the information to unsuspecting viewers watching their Trade Deadline Special.

At first, Cole’s article reads like a more or less good-natured look at these virtual hijinks in the social context within which they occurred.  The first two thirds of the article, at times, read a bit like a barely concealed admiration for the inherent hunour in the Lupul prank in particular:

Fake Twitter accounts impersonating hockey reporters moved April Fool’s Day ahead by a month and pranked the National Hockey League’s massively over-hyped trade deadline, briefly duping both those trying so feverishly to be first with the news and those hungering to get it — and, in the process, greatly enlivening a day of sparse activity and mostly minor deals.

Got it?  The Twitterers “pranked” the NHL and lampooned the “over-hyped” deadline, “greatly enlivening” the day.  Pretty good stuff, huh?

In the end, though, Cole ends up clucking his tongue at those involved like a disapproving schoolmaster:

The actual Bob McKenzie (TSNBobMcKenzie) has 114,000 followers. BMcKenzieTSN and TSN—BobMcKenzie? They have fooled 957 and 549 gullible followers, respectively, by attaching McKenzie’s photo to their Twitter accounts, and yes, there ought to be a law against that.

But there isn’t. So they are free to live in their parents’ basements, plotting to bring the world to its knees with their cleverness, nibbling away at the social network’s credibility — as if it cared — one little white lie at a time.

Really?  Is there really a need for either (a) another “blogger in the basement” joke or (b) a law prohibiting the creation of  spoof Twitter accounts?
I don’t wish to position myself as a defender of mendacity, but if Mr. Cole and the rest of the world can’t stomach the thought of people lying to one another over the Internet, I sincerely hope he never has occasion to be made aware of Internet dating sites.  Also, he would be well advised to avoid taking up fishing for sport, as the ability to spin a tall tale, though far from rare, is very much a quality to be nurtured and developed among anglers.  Maybe it would be best to stay out of the “fiction” section of the library, and the cinema too, just to be safe.

Now, I’m not here to tell you that I understand why some people would get their jollies concocting fake trades to whirl around the Internet, and I’m not suggesting that DGB’s little prank is the comic equivalent of Newton’s contribution to calculus;  I can tell you, however, that people discussing things amongst each other, having fun, and taking the piss out of one another is probably nothing to be terribly alarmed about.  It’s been happening wherever people have gathered socially for thousands of years.  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that somewhere, deep in an unexplored cave in northern Europe, there is a cave painting that is now difficult to comprehend, but which – back on the day it was first splattered on the rock – was the functional equivalent of a Star Wars Kid mashup.

My point is not that I think “fake Twitter accounts” are desirable and necessary, but rather that social media platforms represent a meeting place, not just another broadcast medium.  Twitter is a conversation;  the content may be partly based in the news, but it is wholly about entertainment.  Journalists who choose to rely on it and rebroadcast it unfiltered and without any value (such as fact-checking) added – in my opinion – do their readers or viewers a disservice.

Lastly, the final point about “nibbling away at the social network’s credibility” is so astonishing I honestly don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.  It’s Twitter; it HAS NO CREDIBILITY in the first place.

The logic is so confused in this article, it’s honestly difficult to follow Cole’s reasoning as to why he feels that the legislative process needs to be invoked.  It’s very hard, however, to escape the general feeling that the Cam Cole No Pissing Around on Twitter Law is necessary solely to protect lazy journalists who are in such a breakneck rush to report the news that they’re basically just reading their Twitter feed directly into the camera without doing some basic fact-checking first.

Evidently, the Damien Cox example didn’t take. You remember the Toronto Star (now also Sportsnet) columnist who broke news of former coach Pat Burns’s death in September, two months before it happened, because of an honest mistake? Oh, the copycats who leaped on the story that day and spread it without making sure it was true were duly apologetic at the time, and a little cautious for a while afterward, but that was more than five months ago.

All kinds of highly respected, earnest reporters were duped, if only for a matter of minutes, and a lot of effort was wasted trying to chase down the truth, revealing the mean-spirited side of the pranks, which all had one thing in common: none originated with mainstream media, but rather with those trying to make the MSM chase its own tail.

Do you follow that?  Damien Cox made an “honest mistake” when he wrongly reported Pat Burns’ death, but “highly respected” and “earnest reporters” were “duped” when they failed to do the minimal checks necessary to make sure @ForREELZESPN_LeBrun – the account reporting the trade of a puck moving defenceman for a bag of doughnuts – is actually related to the hockey journalist in question.  To review: Damien Cox makes an honest mistake, those engaged in that line of work fail to learn from it, and – by breathlessly reporting gossip overheard in a virtual barroom as fact – are victims of  “mean-spirited” and socially destructive users of the Internet.  Heads I win, tails you lose.

The part I have a very difficult time understanding is how Cole misses the point.  He actually points out, in the middle portion of the article, how easy it is in most cases to spot a fake Gord Miller Twitter account merely by reading the contents of the page on which the tweets appear (Gord Miller’s Twitter account has probably been around for more than two hours, likely contains more than eight tweets, and it’s highly likely the real Gord Miller has more than 52 followers).  In other words, Cole identifies the ease with which these “frauds” can be discovered, but swerves right past the legitimate target – so-called reporters relying on random stuff posted on the Internet for Christ’s sake as accurate – and instead delivers a confusing, poorly reasoned and somewhat startling conclusion generally indicting humans for just fucking around.

Good luck putting a stop to that.

Happy Birthday, Benjamin!

One year ago today, it all changed…and it’s all for the better.  Thanks for coming into our lives, little fellow!