Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sellouts drive for free

In Australia and some European countries (Austria, France), residents can drive for free (or cheap) a car plastered with the advertisements of some savvy companies (Coca Cola, Nike).

A small, city-friendly car (say a Citroen or Smart Car) is covered from nose to tail with a colorful, large advert depicting some well-known consumer product or service. In exchange for driving around their (usually large) city in this mobile billboard, drivers pay little to nothing for the use of a completely maintained vehicle.

Carvertising is not a bad bet for students or young professionals who need a vehicle, cannot easily afford the accompanying costs, and don't mind advertising impotency medication or cellular service while driving to the grocery store.

And now, a word to our sponsors:
Oh, large and clever corporations of the world, please get with the program. See what a viable and powerful advertising vehicle (pun intended) carvertising could be in the U.S. Bring it, and we broke-but-brilliant twenty-somethings will come!

Seen anything worth sharing lately?

Have you ever seen something and desperately wished someone, anyone, was with you to share the experience?

A "They've just GOT to see this!" kind of moment?

1) Stick a yellow arrow to the nearest inanimate object.
2) Send a text message to the Yellow Arrow Web site with a tid bit of info about the place or perhaps a direction to action.
3) You can also take a picture of the arrow in its new home.
4) When someone sees your sticker, they send a text message to the Web site with the sticker's code number.
5) They then immediately receive your previously posted tid bit via text message (from the Web site - you need not spit out clever turns of phrase for complete strangers at all hours of the night and day).
6) Finally, you revel in the knowledge that your experience has been shared.

See, the Yellow Arrow project is an effort to merge grassroots initiative, Internet-fueled connectivity, community interest and public art/notable sights.

Simply, you order some yellow arrow stickers from the site and keep an eye out for interesting, beautiful, horrible or otherwise "shareable" places and things in your neck of the woods.

And/or, keep an eye our for someone else's yellow arrows around town and feel instantly connected.

A way for us to share the profound and mundane moments of life with others. Progressive. Youthful. Sure, it's all of those things. But, mainly, it's cool.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Beware of parking bumpers!

Watch where you walk at all times, especially in parking lots. Parking bumpers will seek you out, position themselves in front of your feet, and take you down in a thunderous fall of glory.

And, yes, it will hurt like a bugger. You will holler, consider vomiting, collect your thoughts, and thank the heavens you did not swallow your tongue. Then, you will look at your ankle, see it has doubled in size in all of 60 seconds, and again thank the heavens - this time for not seeing a bone inappropriately sticking through your skin. Then the feeling sorry for yourself begins.

It should be mentioned that ER doctors are the best of the best. Should you truly need your life saved, you will once again be thanking the heavens for their expertise. However, at the lower half of their priority lists will be those walk-in patients who are not bleeding from the ears, experiencing cardiac arrest, or suffering from a steering wheel stuck in their foreheads. And that's OK, but you will want to bring pillows (for your injured limb) and patience. It will be a while before you are seen by the doc, if you are at all. Make friends with a kindly nurse - she will be your salvation.

In some cases (and do not ask how I know these things), the ER staff will want to discharge you before you are even diagnosed or spoken to by a doctor. Be sure to mention that seeing a doctor is why you showed up. When he or she comes to your room, remember to ask all you want answered as they more than likely will not be seen again after leaving.

Be sure to follow up with a specialist as soon as humanly possible, because occasionally these superb ER doctors (no sarcasm) will miss things. After all, they specialize in being generalists, not specialists. These docs can miss breaks, especially those that are hairline fractures or otherwise not obvious.

Also not known to happen at an ER is the implementation of appropriate treatment. That is, in some cases, you will need a splint or even a cast, but you will instead be sent home with an ace bandage and some ibuprofin. OK, for now.

Of course, when you get to the specialist a week or so later (the appointment secretary says this is, in fact, as soon as humanly possible), he or she may not have the bedside manner you had hoped for. That can mean a lot of things, but often upsetting to some know-it-all patients is not having their injuries and treatments thoroughly (if at all) explained. Make sure to ask, ask, ask. And while you are at it, ask the doc to stay in the room for another minute or two and tell you some more.

Yes, casts and splints will stay on the sprained ankle for quite a while (say two to six weeks), swelling will remain for days or even weeks, and your ankle will be purple and green and ugly from bruising. So, be prepared to master crutches and hope you have some sick days left at work.

Meanwhile, feel better, and try to get used to being waited on by loved ones.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Who knew prison could be so stressful?

The prisoners at Gitmo have it made in the shade, living in what Dick Cheney calls a tropical paradise. But the guards, well, that's a different story.

According to DefenseLINK News, military personnel working at the camp are so stressed by their jobs and surroundings that they feel the need to drown their sorrows three times over. Living and working in what some describe as one of Dante's Seven Circles of Hell can cause a guard to increase his alcohol consumption by 300%. (Yes, you read all those zeros correctly.)

Wow! Now that's a lot of booze. Are we to assume they are doing this on their own time? Should we believe that having alcoholics watching over your every move has caused the prisoners no ill effects? Do the labels on the rum bottles tell drinkers to not operate heavy artillery while under the influence?

But, then, who cares really? As long as the guards are enjoying their party.

Here's Wonkette's recipe for the Gitmojito –
www.wonkette.com.

DefenseLINK News will likely inspire a bit more sympathy –
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Feb2005/n02222005_2005022207.html

Thursday, June 23, 2005

This I Believe

Now is the time to speak your mind for (nearly) all the world to hear.

National Public Radio has revived "This I Believe," a 1950s radio show hosted by Edward R. Murrow. Listeners are to tell about the beliefs they live by, and host Jay Allison will read them on the air.

The goal of each entry is three glorious minutes of air time, free of editorializing or preaching about things the writers do not believe in. The original show is said to have been positive, encouraging and uplifting, and today's version ought be no different.

In his introduction in 1951, Murrow said:

In this brief space, a banker or a butcher, a painter or a social worker... will write about the rules they live by, the things they have found to be the basic values in their lives.


Harry Truman, Helen Keller and Jackie Robinson were contributors to the original show, and Bill Clinton, Drew Barrymore and Muhammad Ali are some of today's participants, according to USA Weekend. The magazine also wrote:

The producers of "This I Believe" have an ambitious goal: to encourage people of different beliefs to listen to one another.


Sounds great. What could be a tenuously lofty goal for most other members of the media, seems attainable for NPR. Listen in to find out. Visit the Web site to find a local station and to submit your own belief.

FYI: An essay from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is scheduled to be aired Monday, June 27. (This is going to be interesting!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

To read or not to read?

I have heard good things about or otherwise stumbled upon a handful of books that are now being added to my To Read list. They are:

"Horn of Africa" - Philip Caputo
"Acts of Faith" - Philip Caputo
"The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life" - Steve Leveen
"A Lotus Grows in the Mud" - Goldie Hawn
"The Remains of the Day" - Kazuo Ishiguro
"Never Let Me Go" - Kazuo Ishiguro
"Knitting: A Novel" - Anne Bartlett
"Bangkok 8" - John Burdett
"Bangkok Tattoo" - John Burdett

To read or not read? That is the question. Have you read any of these?

The Onion gets sci-fied

The Onion, a very popular and usually pretty entertaining site, today posted as though it was June 22, 2056. The site has a stereotypically futuristic look, complete with that voice found only on rides at Epcot and in 80s vehicles that told you "Your door is ajar."

Despite all of this, or more likely because of it, the information and photos contained therein are quite fun to read and look at. So, skip on over and take a gander - but only if you promise to peek again on a "normal" day, too.

(Psst! Yeah, you! Avert your eyes a few inches above these words. See there, the headline "The Onion gets sci-fied?" That is the link to the Web site. I know, I know most of you were aware of that. But I realize some of you are new to blogs.)

Worthwhile journey

“It is not the goal but the way there that matters, and the harder the way the more worthwhile the journey.”

—WILFRED THESIGER

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Freedom of speech in China

It seems the discussion about truth telling continues. The Chinese government has found a way to severely censor its citizens.

According to USA Today, Microsoft has agreed to block words like democracy, human rights and freedom from its new Internet portal. Should users type in those words, this message will appear: "This item should not contain forbidden speech, such as profanity."

Last year, Google launched a new search engine in China, but its users get different search results than Westerners do. Links to Web sites such as BBC and Voice of America will not appear, because the Chinese government does not approve of some content on those sites.

In 2002, Yahoo China signed what is called a pledge of self-discipline, meaning it will not post "pernicious information that may jeopardize state security."

Is the money that can be made by expanding business in China worth placating a suppressive government and leaving behind the democratic ideals that allowed these American companies to thrive?

Of course, these companies should (as we all should) learn about and acclimate themselves to the cultures in which they are doing business. But true appreciation of a culture usually is born of a genuine interest in the welfare of its people.

These actions show no appreciation of culture or interest in the welfare of the public. It is simply selling out.

  • Podcasting News article


  • CNN article
  • The Church of the Divine Wisdom


    The Church of the Divine Wisdom was built in Instanbul, Turkey in 537 AD. In Turkish it is called Ayasofya, in Greek it is Hagia Sophia, and in Latin it is Sancta Sophia. Thirty million gold tesserae, tiny mosaic tiles, line its interior.

    Live8

    Since we are in a truth-telling state of mind, let's talk about how much the poverty crisis in Africa has changed in the last 20 years.

    If you were around in 1985, even if you were a youngster, you likely have an inkling of a memory of Live Aid, a concert/fundraiser focused on poverty and famine in Africa. Hugely popular musical acts performed at dual shows in London and Philadelphia and raised $100 million for poor Africans.

    On its 20th anniversary, the concert's founder, Bob Geldof, has found that apparently $100 million was not enough. This time around, there will be no fundraising at the six simultaneous concerts put on around the world (London, Edinburgh, Washington, Berlin, Paris and Rome) on July 2.

    Live8 will be solely about building awareness of the G8 conference July 6-9. Government leaders (from the USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia) will sit down to discuss many issues, with the challenges facing Africa at the top of their agenda. British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be leading this roundtable.

    The goal of Live8 is to remind those at the G8: the world is watching, and we have high expectations.

    You can buy tickets, listen to the concerts on the radio, watch them online, and learn more about Live8 and the G8 at www.live8live.com.

    You can also find out more about the issues, make a donation (if you wish), and receive a white latex bracelet (of the Lance Armstrong ilk) that reads, "Make Poverty History," at www.makepovertyhistory.org.

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Rising Moon


    A time-lapse sequence of the moon rising over Seattle. (Shay Stephens)

    Speaking and Listening

    Hansell S. Duckett said, "What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to."

    But better still, Kin Hubbard said, "The only way to entertain some folks is to listen to them."

    Perhaps, in this life, we can participate in a healthy mix of both - speaking freely and listening honestly.

    Sakura


    Sakura (cherry blossoms) in Japan.

    Saturday, June 18, 2005