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Tuesday, February 05, 2008 at 9:19 PM

Voting Musings

So I took my 8 year old with me to the polling place. I get to vote on the candidates as I am a registered Republican because that is the only party that matters here in terms of local politics. We started talking about the rules for voting. "Kids can't vote, can they?" "No," I answered, "you have to be 18." "Or older," he added, "because then a lot of old people couldn't vote." I thought it was an interesting concept. How would things be different if only 18 year olds were allowed to vote? Would kids be groomed and courted for the big day? For how long? Would Bob Dole have ever made it? One could guess voter turnout would be much higher. Chances are, there would never be talk of a draft. One might also predict the drinking age would be lowered. I guess I am kind of a romantic, believing that the younger you are, the lower your threshold for bullshit is. Then again, I think back to getting my bachelors a few years ago. The kids in my classes were a tremendous disappointment to me in their expressed political views. Who knows, but it's kind of entertaining to think about.

By adriennelibrarian at 9:19 PM

Wednesday, October 03, 2007 at 10:21 PM

Creativity for the Lazy

Just got home not too long ago from seeing zefrank in the flesh at RIT. All sorts of educational institutions from everywhere send libraries all sorts of fliers telling about all the stuff they have going on, which is how I got wind of this particular program. I said, "Hey, he's the guy that never blinks!" So of course I had to see him and find out if he really never blinks, but I forgot to pay attention to that because he was just so darn entertaining. He talked for an hour and a half, and the time just zipped by. He's also a lot taller than he is on the Internet.

The chart he kept coming back to showed how with an increase in acceleration, there is an exponential increase in anxiety, and tied this to both his fear of flying and the explosion of the Internet, devices with which one can consume media/information and so on and so forth. Stuff most of us have heard before in less entertaining deliveries. He briefly covered his foray and history of creating content on the Internet and having people actually pay attention. He mentioned Web 2.0 only once. (It's been a big thing in the library world over the past year, and very difficult to avoid.) One of his main points was the question of how to get people to interact in a ways that do not produce crap or drawings of penises on the tablecloth, to use his analogy about facilitating dinner conversation. It's certainly understandable for him to be interested in the topic, as he has had some success in doing so.

What struck me about it (and I am far from being a hard core fan of ze? [I guess this is what people call him but it just sounds so weird] having probably only seen a few dozen video casts out of a year's worth) were the parallels I could draw between what he's done and what I perceived to the best UUism had to offer when I was in high school. There's this summer camp called Unirondack that my sister and went to for a few years. Actually, she never really stopped going, but that is another story. Some years were better than others. One year was really right and I felt very welcome, like I was part of a unique community. Any and all creative endeavors were encouraged and I was made to feel like I had something to offer. Plus, I thought it was way cool that on a hike with 7 to 10 other kids we sang the White Album from "Back in the U.S.S.R." to "Good Night."

Zefrank seems to have managed to facilitate creative responses from thousands of people and provide a forum of sorts that they want to be a part of. One such instance were the folks who contributed to the dressed up vacuum cleaner thing. And creating stuff feels pretty darn good, even God said so. (Adorning household appliances must be at least as satisfying as creating slime mold.) Once one is finally past adolescence and into the "real" world, you get bogged down in paying the bills, maintaining some level of hygiene in one's living quarters, and dealing with various levels of stress in the work environment, not to mention stresses induced by even marginally paying attention to all the depressing events of the world at large, it's easy for any and all creative acts to go by the wayside because it's not considered important. So he provides creative fodder to get the juices flowing, a jumping off point.

But more to the point, most of us are too cheap and lazy to go to the trouble of setting up and maintaining a web page. I have no idea what goes into that, and moreover I have not thus far been inspired to learn how. So let's say an audience member is inspired by the blinkless guy to dress up a vacuum. The amount of effort required is minimal. 1. Dress the appliance. 2. Take digital photo. 3. Plug camera into your computer. 4. Send email. That's it. I don't know if he posts everything he gets, or if he picks and chooses. If it is the former, then the participating audience member is affirmed and rewarded by now being able to boast a 1x1.5 inch claim to fame. If indeed he picks and chooses, then there is the element of anticipation and surprise. Should your contribution be accepted, you are then part of an elite group of people who submitted stuff that was published on zefrank.

He enables a creative outlet for the lazy because he does all the organizational work. Contributors feel like they have something of worth to offer because their stuff gets posted and have these sense they are a part of a self-selected community of people who appreciate the quirky stuff available on the site.

Plus, it's just damn entertaining.

By adriennelibrarian at 10:21 PM

Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 9:59 PM

The Mind of an Eight Year Old

I am driving the car the other day, and from the back seat I hear my son talking to himself,
"Business is booming.
I am business."

I think it would make a hell of an advertising campaign for somebody.

By adriennelibrarian at 9:59 PM

Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 8:47 PM

What I Didn't Read

Junior high is such an odd period in life. When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I had two favorite authors, Stephen King and John Steinbeck. I know, I can't really see much common ground between them, either. The weird thing about me and Steinbeck is I never read anything the rest of the world reads. Never read Cannery Row, or Of Mice and Men, or East of Eden. What I did read was The Wayward Bus and Travels with Charley. Unlike most books, I read Travels with Charley several times. I think I had to read The Moon Is Down for an English class at some point. This summer, I stopped by a church rummage sale and looked through the books because I cannot help myself. I found Sweet Thursday.

I can see why it's not on high school reading lists across the country. Among other things, it may have something to do with the highly entertaining aside about growing marijuana on government property in Los Angeles. This novel is not heavy like the other ones that made him famous. There is respite for those of you who find pages and pages or landscape description tedious. The ending is fairly predictable, though I suppose most happy endings are.

The setting is Cannery Row. The cast of characters include the eccentric Doc, Fauna the madam of the local brothel, and Suzy, who's new to the neighborhood and just got a job at said local brothel. There is also a whole cast of colorful supporting characters. The crux of the plot is that ol' Doc is going through a midlife crisis and everybody in Cannery Row thinks it is their bound duty to cure him of his malaise. The plot is alright, it works. What's entertaining are the tangents concerning the side characters. For instance, there is Jesus and Mary, the owner of the general store in town, who figures there has to be a way to cheat at chess, and eventually comes to the conclusion that honesty just might be a good way to scam people. The trials and tribulations of the inhabitants at the Palace Flophouse are also good for a laugh.

The thing with "literature" is that it is wrought with grand themes about what it means to be human. It makes the reader assess one's place in the world, one's ideologies and assumptions, the relationship between society and the individual and so on and so forth. Not that there's anything wrong with those things. I find reading these sorts of things is generally a good practice, and it adds to my understanding of the world. I enjoy well written pieces, but am not always interested in high drama and big questions. Sweet Thursday is a good answer to that sort of mood. It's literature lite; good enough not to make you ashamed to be reading it in an artsy-fartsy coffee shop, but mindless enough to let your brain go on vacation for a few days.

Now all I have to do is figure out what the next Steinbeck novel is I should read that no one's ever heard of so I can be really pretentious and esoteric at the coffee shop.

By adriennelibrarian at 8:47 PM

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at 9:06 PM

People Can See You In Your Car

So I was sitting at a traffic light in our area Mallville with six to eight lanes of traffic. I casually looked out the window to the SUV stopped next to me. A middle aged man was behind the wheel. His middle aged wife had a pair of tweezers and was plucking out the hairs on the end of his nose. At the time, I thought it was funny as hell. On the other hand, I can't imagine allowing anybody do that to me, much less in public. But there could be worse things.

By adriennelibrarian at 9:06 PM

Friday, April 27, 2007 at 8:37 AM

Strange Brew

Don't get me wrong -- I think it is way cool that my kid knows Cream. It seems strange though, to hear a seven year old walking around the house humming the riff of "Sunshine of Your Love" to himself.

By adriennelibrarian at 8:37 AM

Friday, February 09, 2007 at 8:56 AM

Really Bad Comics

As further proof that my taste (or lack thereof) is indiscriminate, check out www.ep.tc. It is a collection of old comics that have been scanned for your viewing pleasure. They are simultaneously really weird and really bad. The "Comics With Problems" section is my favorite thus far, but as I am on dial-up, it is painfully slow going. Enjoy!

By adriennelibrarian at 8:56 AM

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