Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Blog!!

Since it's now nearing... 400 days as a VISTA and I only actually spent 365 days as one I have a new blog.

And there are already new posts on it. :)

So check it out!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Move to TX

After a 13 hour drive Leo and I made it to Texas on Friday evening without much trouble, minus a couple of arguments with Worthington (the garmin) about some unnecessary departures from the highway.

Saturday the plan was to head over to the apt complex, view the apt, sign the lease, call the mover, and get unloaded. So after a delicious breakfast of texas shaped waffles we headed over to the complex I had thought looked the best.

There we met Amanda… Amanda is around 18 years old and did not strike me as a the most competent of leasing agents when she tried to have me sign the lease before showing us the apartment, but it just got better from there.

The apt looked ok… not really classy with beautiful manicured lawns but it was alright inside, has old brown cabinets and a fireplace that someone without interior decorating skills painted white. It didn’t look dirty or too bad and really I didn’t have many other options so we went back to the leasing office where I signed the lease. Amanda didn’t read through it like we were expecting her to and was over all unimpressive. We needed to get a money order to secure my first months rent so we were directed to a nearby gas station.

Since I couldn’t get a money order with my debit card we ended up over at my bank, when I discovered that Amanda, my new best friend, didn’t give me my id back so I couldn’t withdraw the money. At this point I was ready to pack it in and find a new apartment because after a 13 hour drive the very unprofessional leasing agent was the straw that broke the camels back.

Instead of going back to get my id we stopped at a much prettier apartment complex to see what their availability was. It looked like it would take a few days to get in and they couldn’t show me anything without my id, besides the fact that I had already signed the lease with dear Amanda and the movers would be showing up in an hour with my things.

So we retreated back to the original apartment, retrieved my id from Amanda, and returned to chase with my tail between my legs to get the money order. It tool Leo and I about a half an hour to get the things in my car unloaded and discover that while my new apartment appeared clean it was not all that clean after all and was probably maintained more than a little shoddily.

I called the movers, who apparently broke an axel and wouldn’t be getting into Arlington until after 10pm.

Needless to say this day was just getting better and better.

So we got some cleaning supplies, unpacked what we could, and set up the Wii for a little bit of Wonder woman verse Bat man boxing.

Around 11:30 Leo and I were both pretty tired and still hadn’t heard from the mover, who I called to discover he caught bad traffic and was not going to be there until 2 a.m.

So we ended up sleeping on the floor since my bed was with the mover with the one throw blanket I didn’t pack. The perfect end to a craptastic day right.

The mover arrived at 8am and we finally got everything unloaded in time to set up my bed and get Leo to the airport for his flight back to Indiana.

From there I thought I would just unpack and try and get things organized, which was what I did until nightfall and discovered my new roommates.


I have never seen a roach before… now I have seen… 6… and I am disgusted.

So I captured them and put them in a box and brought them to the leasing office, alive…. I hope Amanda enjoys them. The lady who was in the office told me she would put me on the pest list… which I’m not sure what that means so I’ve taken matters into my own hands.

Right now all the food is housed in tupperwear and there is pepper lining my shelves since roaches wont cross it. Once dinner is done cooking I’m gonna go to walmart and get some traps because these freeloaders won’t be staying much longer.

And the moral is… thank goodness I only have a six month lease.

Other then the apartment chaos TX is good and if anyone wants to come visit I am within a half an hour of six flags, Ripley’s believe it or not, madam Tussads wax museum, and IKEA. Plus it was 80 degrees today, wooo.

Also since I've finished VISTA I need to create a new blog and would love name suggestions.
Let me know what your thoughts are and I'll post a link to the new blog once I create it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Its negative 11... brrrr

I have less then one month to go before I'm done with my VISTA year and today is a day I'm very happy I'll be moving to a warmer climate.

The -11 today, was -3 yesterday and theres frost inside the windows of my car. To top it all off our heater, that has never heated the house about 55, is actually, literally and really broken. Needless to say I'm probably spending the long weekend crashed at someone elses house, someone who has heat.

All but one of the Speakers Bureau Participants will have given a speech by the end of the month and the last volunteer appreciation event is taking place on Feb 4th.

Its nice to have everything lined up and rolling for the rest of my year of service and know where I'm going when I'm done.

I was hired last month by Tri-Delta and I will be a part of the communications team beginning the first day in March. All I have left to do is find somewhere to live so if anyone knows anyone renting a room / needing a roomate in the Dallas - Fort Worth area let me know.

I'll miss Indianapolis, my new friends, the art museum, living in the same city as Leo and everything else I've found I love about being here, but right now an average temp of 50 in the winter, plus everything else, looks really promising.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ok Larry Page, haven’t you watched Terminator?

Imagine the G-800, a metal exoskeleton that is transported to the past to protect Conner Johns, because the G-801, who looks a crap ton like the Governator, wants to make sure he doesn’t grow up. Maybe that’s just my imagination getting away from me.

Google was launched in 1997 by a Larry Page and Sergey Brim who at the time probably had no idea that 11 years later their ‘math equation’ would have a profound effect on research, marketing, communication, etc. They clearly didn’t watch a lot of Terminator when they decided that the search engine they created could potentially ‘learn’ from all of the information we input into it.

Now they’ve launched the “G1, Android.” Does that sound a bit too much like the T-800 that chased Sarah Connor through a fictional 1984?

Now honestly I’m not into the whole conspiracy theory thing but really it’s a creepy coincidence considering that Larry Page actually stated he wants Google to eventually become a form of artificial intelligence.

“The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people—or smarter,” Page said in a speech a few years back. “For us, working on search is a way to work on artificial intelligence.” In a
2004 interview with Newsweek, Brin said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” Last year, Page told a convention of scientists that Google is “really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale.” Is Google Making Us Stupid? - Nicholas Carr

Plus did you know that Google 411 is actually being used to gather information for voice recognition soft wear development. Too creepy for me so I refuse to use it. I don’t need skynet knowing what I sound like.

I stumbled across the article that spawned all of this after reading Beth Kanter’s blog post about how social media has changed the way our minds work.

To an extent I agree with Kanter. It’s particularly obvious when comparing the how a 10 year old and a 60 year old learn how to operate and electronic gadget. Children are being brought up in this technological world and as a result have a much easier time figuring it all out, which leads to the possibility that technology is changing how our minds work and store information.

Carr’s article questions if Google and other similar technology is in essence making us dumber. Carr sites specifically how difficult is has become for many people to practice in depth reading, because blog posts and tag lines have been designed to be read quickly and without much thought.

I can’t remember phone numbers because they are all stored in my phone. Does that mean I don’t know how to memorize a phone number? No.

The accessibility of technology is changing world views and social conceptions but I don’t think it’s limiting our intelligence.

We need to continue to practice skills to keep them intact. Reading a journal article and interpreting the research is no different from riding a bike. If you don’t attempt it for a while you’ll be rusty and you’ll need practice but your brain hasn’t forgotten how to fire those synapses unless you never learned it in the first place.

What it comes down to is we need to be a little less dependent on Google or Wikipedia and we need to remember that knowledge is only gathered when you work for it.

And Google, I’m watching you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Team Edward

At some point in time I'll make an update on the past two months but not today. Today I want to talk about teeny bopper books. The ones I started picking up in 5th grade and have not yet grown out of. I just finished reading an article in The Atlantic Online about young adult-girls fiction that just blew my mind. The article questions what draws girls into story lines like the one in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and how that relates to the lives teenage girls live today.

Girls and women alike battle magazine covers and find advice on sex, romance, makeup fashion, and love from women whose lips, hips, eyes, and skin have been perfected by the magic wand of Photoshop. Mixed messages bombard us and adulthood is forced at younger ages every year through a combination of hormone enhanced foods and cosmetically enhanced dolls.
So how to girls cope? Some build up their circles of companions, some brood in their bedrooms, some wear all black and some explore sexuality. Looking back at my teenage years, and the blog posts from then are painful to reminisce upon, I think I had a combination of all of the above, minus wearing all black.
Twilight offers a version of romance that I believe is timeless. From Mr. Darcy and Jane Bennett to Bella and Edward we all want to believe in a brand of love that is full of passion yet pure at heart.

‘One of the signal differences between adolescent girls and boys is that while a boy quickly puts away childish things in his race to initiate a sexual life for himself, a girl will continue to cherish, almost to fetishize, the tokens of her little-girlhood. She wants to be both places at once—in the safety of girl land, with the pandas and jump ropes, and in the arms of a lover, whose sole desire is to take her completely. And most of all, as girls work all of this out with considerable anguish, they want to be in their rooms, with the doors closed and the declarations posted. The biggest problem for parents of teenage girls is that they never know who is going to come barreling out of that sacred space: the adorable little girl who wants to cuddle, or the hard-eyed young woman who has left it all behind. ‘

What Flanagan doesn’t answer in her column is when does that stop, or, if it ever does. What difference is it from being a teenager with childhood toys to being a twenty something with high school snapshots in a frame, or a forty something with her favorite music from her twenties on CD/eight track/record? I don’t think there is one.

Not everyone needs that emotional soft world that lives in Twilight, or Gossip Girl, or ‘insert bopper book of choice,’ but we all need something, and at the end of the day, that’s what makes us real.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Caffeine needed...

I used to think that sleep was completely overrated but after a couple of nights in a row of staying up late reading and a sudden neurotic fear of the street lamp across the street because it looks like its moving (in the morning I did realize that real cause was the tree in front of the lamp) I’ve noticed that maybe sleep would help me function like a contributing member of society.

I’ve been trying to put a power point presentation of the my projects to date together but am struggling to find the key points in the ten minute time limit. Ten whole minutes to sum up my 8 months of service, it’s really quite daunting to think about in this sleep deprived state.

In 2 hours I can take a nap before heading off to the library to hear the ‘Ghost Stories of Indianapolis’. Yup, that’s going to help with the street lamp issue.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A New Community

Robert Putham wrote book several years ago titled “Bowling Alone” where he examined the deconstruction of society and community as a product of the rise of the digital age. Putham’s analysis looked at the how there has been a decline in attendance at civic events, group outings and the like in recent years which has resulted a loss of social capital. Overall It’s a pretty long and painful read that will most likely make you worry about society and the world we live in but Putham does have a good point. People don’t go bowling every Monday with their co-workers or Euchre on Wednesday with the neighbors. Society has changed, drastically.

I’ve become fascinated with research about social media and social networking and what implications that has on society and community and the world. It is amazing how while people don’t meet for the neighborhood watch they will log into the internet and start and entirely new type of community.

I stumbled across this lecture by Mike Welsh, an anthropology professor at Kansas State University, and was absolutely floored by huge impact that YouTube alone has created of society across the globe. Its 50 minutes long but defiantly worth listening to if you are curious.

One example Welsh gives is the song “Soulja Boy” that hit the top of the billboard last year. Now honestly I really hate Soulja boy, it’s annoying, and the dance is ridiculous, but when you get right to the heart of it, it is kinda catchy.

Soulja boy was created by a 16 YEAR OLD BOY using digital sound looping software and posted on youtube. Following that dozens, hundreds, and thousands of people copied, remade, and satirized the video posting their responses to youtube. Eventually Soulja Boy was picked up by a record label and was nominated last year for a Grammy… How crazy is that.

Youtube is has become an outlet, a ground for discussion, a home for creativity, and a community for those who participate. Just like… myspace, facebook, twitter, blogs, etc…

So really who’s to stay that community is declining, its certainly changing and who knows what it will become.

(P.S. All of the Links go to YouTube)