“… The Essential Phone ships September 1, starting at $699. You can buy it subsidized from Sprint, or unlocked from Amazon and elsewhere. (You should buy it unlocked.) It is the first in a line of products that Essential believes will bring innovation back to the smartphone market and give people a brand to love in the same way millions love Apple.
In some ways, the Essential Phone appears genuinely exciting and new. In most, it just feels like a really good smartphone. And in a few frustrating ways, it’s not yet good enough…..”
“… Technology is going faster and faster and ethical and moral debates aren’t occurring at the same rhythm. We need to be ready for a speed of innovation that we can’t control. I’m concerned, and you should be too. Should we, as a social being, force ourselves to slow down? Is that even possible?….
Brilliant and Exciting but Scary Technologies
BEST, for short (I’ve always wanted to invent an acronym). What could be so brilliant and exciting that also makes it pretty freaking scary? There are several technologies that many people can’t stop speaking about saying they are “the next big thing”:
Brain Computer Interface
They do sound pretty cool, but in case you’re not convinced, let me tell you what’s going on with each one of them and where they’re heading…..”
Last week, the household experienced a traumatic event, albeit a natural one. A blue heron found our koi pond. The greater regional area is dappled with small ponds, streams, swampland and, naturally, it all becomes a habitat for them.
The local koi supply and pond industry says such events cannot be avoided, only minimized; they suggest the use of decoys, and nets.
We didn’t have the net in place, but one friend had given us a decoy statuette of a pelican.
After the blue heron was spotted for the first time, my wife ran out and bought an expensive heron decoy. The blue heron returned, flew in to stand next to the decoy, and tapped it with its beak.
“Yes, I thought you were rather immobile; these people must think I’m stupid.”
People and dogs shooed the heron away but the game was on; it circled the neighborhood and sampled from several koi ponds in the area. The surving koi hid under the rocks in deep water and did not come out for days; even now they are reticent, but they do get hungry once a week.
The neighbor with the other koi pond brought out his BB rifle (useless), his pellet pistol (somewhat effective at letting the bird know there was a predator nearby), and his paintball gun.
When last seen, the heron had matching bright orange spots on his wings.
46 Books have been completely re-annotated
26 Books have not been annotated
3 Books need to be read and annotated
6 Books have not been read and may not be of value
The timeline has yet to be developed, and it needs to be integrated with that of my life.
The remaining 26 books will be easily and quickly annotated, and then the real deep fun begins: building the timeline, developing the order and outline, and writing.
And then editing.
For the past several weeks, the household has been engaged in nurturing a new furry “son”; a young neutered male of six months was rescued from a local shelter who had received it from a designer hybrid puppy mill in a state that does not require neutering.
He’s a Labrador retriever/American foxhound who will be a big boy and with whom we are deeply-engaged in obedience school.
We named him Remy, after the Red Sox broadcaster (RemDawg) currently on medical leave for his fifth battle with lung cancer. It’s essentially my wife’s dog, and my wife is a huge Red Sox fan and won two bouts with cancer herself.
MLB is currently tinkering with the game of baseball to make it more attractive, a disastrous interference in my opinion, and perhaps Jerry’s; he’s has already been verbally spanked for his comment about banning translators from mound visits; he’s the author of an outstanding book on how to watch the game.
We’ve been watching the game on TV and live (both of our kids were stars on the diamond) for decades.
Now we are learning to translate dog barks. And the four-legged RemDawg is now showing his hound sounds too. He chews through his harnesses and leashs, our bone and biscuit budget is waaay up, and he has an annoying habit of nipping at the hands and legs of Mrs. Blogger. The “coins in the can” trick and running the vaccum cleaner stops the incessant barking. We’re learning too…
“… People have been trying to parse how dogs and people communicate with each other for a long time. Obviously they do—but hypothetically the form and content go way beyond sit and stay—and say something broader about language and animal cognition…..”
Overactive brain circuits can often lead to bad habits, compulsive actions, and anxieties. In this illuminating read, two neuroscience experts deliver a simple four-step method to overcome these destructive impulses and live a more fulfilling, well-balanced life.
“… if you take the 14th verse out of each of John’s 21 chapters and string them together, you end up with a very interesting overview of the entire gospel–an overview that sort of rushes by you like a swift-running brook…..”
A recent writing prompt exercise built on the word “boat”
My legs are not sea legs. Looking back over seven decades from within the experience of hip arthritis, muscular issues that are related to a motor stroke and a weak heart that cause me to walk slowly and awkwardly, I think that sometimes it’s all because of an internal balance mechanism that was damaged by an inner ear infection as a child, or perhaps that time when I was six that I fell face first onto the edge of a concrete step, but my first realization that I was not going to be a boatsman was at camp when I flipped the canoe. Flipped the canoe and the counselor too.
Luckily it was shallow, summertime, and he had long legs and some experience; I moved on to archery and capture-the-flag.
My second encounter with a boat was in Florida at the age of nine or so after my step-mother, brother and sister and I drove down to see some rich old distant relative about some family business and we got the treat of a sport fishing trip out of Boynton Beach, Florida. We were going to catch a boat load of swordfish and whatnot.
The rig we were on was bigger and heavier than a canoe and much more stable, and under the command of a bonafied cap’n with one name and some other fellow who handled the rods and the bait. As the youngest, I waited and did what I was told, sat in the seat, buckled the belt, and watched the fellow put something on the hook. He stuck the rod into a metal pipe that I straddled in my seat and out of the harbor we chugged on a cool sunny morning through the briny breezes out into the Gulf Stream. Big brother and sister were ready too, and Mom, and before you knew it, we were way out beyond the ability to see land, looking for fish.
As a nine-year-old, I had no clue about how to look for fish. I could barely see over the side of the boat, the stern’s gunwale, and anyway the fish were in the water.
But someone could see the fish and knew where and how to find them and find them we did. Lots of them. Pointy sleek little buggers, not much to them… Not at all like those big spear-tipped things whose pictures you could see back at the dock with the lucky person who caught it, big smiles on both the man and the fish, though I couldn’t understand what the fish had to smile about.
At least they were. I had one bite but not much more.
The one-named cap’n and his mate were cheering us on, telling the rest of my family that catching bonito was okay, that they could be sold for money at the dock, and that where there were bonito, there was gonna be a swordfish, or mackerel, or maybe barracuda.
They were capn’s and such, and they knew about these things, so I kept reeling and bobbing and getting a fierce sunburn. We had four or five white buckets filled with bonito and some were flopping around on the decks wet with seawater and bait.
Then we found ourselves in some waves. I don’t know what or where, but the cap’n was in charge and we drove on, up and down. Soon enough as the boat went up and down, so did my stomach, and breakfast came up when the boat went down, and whatever I had for legs turned into jell-o, and soon enough I was curled into a ball of seasickness and tucked back into a dark corner under an old blanket, to ride with the future catfood back into the harbor. I was a complete wreck and had to be helped back to the car; they lay me down on the back seat and I woke up somewhere in North Carolina.
The next encounter with a boat was way up north. We’d driven forever on some highways until, finally, we crested the hill and you could see — way down at the bottom of the hill — a river and a town. Soon enough, we were on the docks and getting on a polished mahogany “heavy cruiser”. I was the guest of a classmate and his older sister, given the opportunity to spend a few days on an island in the middle of about a thousand other islands, some big, some small, some with glorious houses, this one a sizeable estate of a very wealthy family.
We played stickball on the clay tennis courts in our bare feet and I ripped the toenail off my big toe trying to get to second base. In the afternoon, we paired off in St. Lawrence skiffs. Everyone in the islands had one, or two, or three of these little boats, and afternoons up there in the summer were devoted to sailing and playing a game of shipboard tag.
The skipper of the boat sat in the back and handled the rudder and the sail; the cap’n’s mate had three and a half tasks. Being the landlubber with no experience, my responsibility was to pull the centerboard up or down according to the cap’n’s commands, to get out of the way of the boom by ducking under it, and to keep my weight (the ballast) tucked down into the well somewhere close to or ahead of the mast. Moving around to either side on the the cap’n’s commands was a secondary method by which he steered. He steered with several purposes. The first was not to get run over by the big freighters.
Generally this was not a problem. They stayed in their lanes, and we stayed out of them. But they couldn’t turn easily or stop suddenly, and they were a lot bigger. In our little wooden boats, we theoretically could turn easily and, if the wind was right and the cap’n knew what he or she was doing, we could scoot to safety.
The second reason to steer was to avoid getting hit by the tennis balls. All those old tennis balls from tennis and stickball went to use.
Each boat was given two of them, and a pole with a net. At the beginning of the inter-islands pre-teen pick-up regatta, called to order perhaps with a couple of blasts on an air horn by some grown-up in a motor boat at precisely (or approximately) 2 PM, one of the boats was designated “it”.
In this game, unlike tag on land, you want to be “it”, because when you were “it”, either the skipper or the mate inn other boats could stand up and throw one of their tennis balls at your sail. If they succeeded in hitting the sail, they were “it” and everyone would now aim for them.
But throwing a tennis ball with any kind of accuracy while you are standing and trying to maintain balance in a narrow boat is not an easy task. You missed a lot. And you ran out of balls quickly.
No problem. All those misses were bobbing in the water in their bright yellowness against the background of blue with white foam, just waiting for you (or perhaps the better, faster boat) to sail over there and scoop it out of the water with the net.
Sometimes if you were very lucky, you could stand up, avoid falling in, and use your net like a lacrosse goalie to fend off approaching yellow bomblets.
Remember, though, I had a balance problem, so I stayed pretty much safely tucked in under the boom, clutching the mast. The waters were not choppy so there were no problems with nausea and vomiting; I just didn’t want to fall in.
Oh, I could swim, and we all had life-jackets anyway. But the skipper’s job of skipping is much more difficult when the ballast is floating overboard and he has to maneuver around so it can be recovered, losing precious time not spent throwing or retriving bobbing wet yellow rubbery furballs.
Now the object of the game, which was over when the air horn blasted again at precisely (or approximately) 4 PM, was to have collected the most tennis balls. The bottom of the winner’s boat was awash with bright yellowness. And everyone got a good suntan, and a lot of experience handling a sailing boat. After dinner, everyone crowded into a motor boat and went over to another island to roast marshmallows and watch the Northern Lights.
The last encounter with a boat started back down in Florida. We’d won one of those quick out-and-back cruises because we said we’d sit still long enough to hear the sales pitch for a time-share. Weakly we finally succumbed and bought a week in October on the inner eastern edge of the Everglades; it took us close to two decades to finally dump the sucker, never once having been visited, traded, shared or even given away. It was like detaching a blood-sucking leech, but I digress.
We parked the car and grabbed the bags and smiled at the photographer on the gangplank. We found the room with a small porthole, dropped the gear, and did the mandatory “abandon ship” drills. Then we explored the boat.
As you probably know, cruises are mostly about eating, and so we ate and drank our way out to the Bahamas, never getting off or even seeing them in the dark, and then turning back in to the south.
In the morning, we awoke to a half-day onshore in Key West. I spent a lot of time on deck. Very stable, and slow… Pulling into port and docking was a trip. We saw a bunch of islands owned by big-named celebrity types, did the tourist-y thing downtown, and passed the first test of not misssing the boat when it departed, again in a slow and stately fashion. Then the cap’n picked up the pace and we waved at the Dry Tortugas on the right, Cuba way off to the left, and settled in as we drove deep into the Gulf (pre-Halliburton blowout and Corexit spray). We had a day on Cozumel which we spent taking the bus down to Tulum and getting the full tour.
We experienced hot, several iguana, and a good dose of Mayan pride. The bus ride to and from was at least 90 minutes. The trip back to the dock in Cozumel to the mainland was aboard a fast catamaran that, despite its double-hulled stability, was a litle choppy. We got an evening to stroll around the tourist shops in Cozumel. The trip back on the cruise ship was a day of sunny delight. After dinner, we turned in knowing that we’d be docking again in Fort Lauderdale in the morning. The big ship had massive hull stabilizers but we hit that same spot offshore where the bonito swam, and there was a spot of queasiness made worse if I peered out the little porthole.
But we landed without incident, debarked, got our luggage loaded, and headed north in a nice stable wide-stance Pontiac TransAm. I got my backside into a bucket seat with a steering wheel in my hands and all was well. There was no motion sickness at 75 in the passing lane back then.