let’s at least get a blog out of today

Tuesday 2 March 2010

So today was a particularly unproductive day, but I decided I should at least get a blog out of how I spent my day, so here are some suggestions on how to spend your (extra) time:

Last night I rediscovered the website MyLifeIsAverage.com (abbreviated MLIA on the site).  People write short little quips about random things that happened in their lives that made them giggle a bit, and hopefully make you giggle a bit, too.  But be warned — it can become addicting!

One post on MLIA took me too this great youtube video:

Also, after watching the TV show The Big Bang Theory last night, I had to find out if this t-shirt really exists, and I’m happy to say, it does!  Personal Soundtrack Shirt

The website with the soundtrack shirt also had a Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock t-shirt, which got me thinking about possibilities for RPS type games with any odd number of possibilities, and that took me to a website by David Lovelace which has RPS games of 7, 9, 11, 15, 25, and 101 choices to choose from!  There is even an online flash game to play, solo or with a friend!  (Unfortunately, it only goes up to 25.)

And finally, the site cleverbot.com was suggested at one point, where you can apparently have a conversation with a robot/artificial intelligence, but I didn’t have any luck: In fact, I asked it “How can I be more productive?” and I simply got the response, “You are not real.”  Obviously, MLIA.

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a math blog in the NY Times!

Tuesday 16 February 2010

I’ve had a lot of web pages opened and saved on my computer for a few weeks I’ve wanted to share with people but just haven’t gotten around to it, but I want to try and use these next few days to share.  I hope you can keep up!

First, two weeks ago I stumbled upon the creation of a weekly featured blog entry in the NY Times related to Mathematics!  I was so excited to see it and read it and share it (so now I’m doing part 3).

There have been 3 posts so far, with 15 total planned, and while the idea was exciting first — with the declared goal “to give you a better feeling for what math is all about and why it’s so enthralling to those who get it.” — I’ve felt a little underwhelmed with the results thus far.  While the topics thus far have been somewhat interesting for me, I don’t know if they’ve done a good job sparking a “better feeling” for math itself for those so inclined.  However, I also am probably not the best judge of that.

So, three weeks in, my excitement and joy of sharing this with you is a little muted, but maybe I’m selling it short, too.  I do enjoy work by the author, Steven Strogatz (also often featured on a favorite radio program of mine, RadioLab), so there’s no telling where it can go and I continue to keep reading.

Whether you’re a math person or not, check out the first three entries (links below) and see what you think.  Maybe I’m totally off and they’re much more accessible and enjoyable to non-math people than I realize — or maybe not.  Either way, at least now you know about it and can decide for yourself!

From Fish to Infinity (about the idea of counting and why numbers exist — includes a Sesame Street video clip!)
Rock Groups (dealing with adding and patterns)
The Enemy of My Enemy (a bit on subtraction and the idea of negative numbers)

List of all blogs on NY Times by Steven Strogatz


the purple (ticket) line

Thursday 22 January 2009

If you didn’t know already, I was one of the multiple millions who was in DC for Barack Obama’s inauguration on 20 January 2009.  I hope to share a few stories but lets get started here.  It almost seems a bit redundant after reading and hearing many similar stories already (see links below), but I feel a bit of need to share my experience, too.

I was initially uncommitted to venturing to DC for the festivities, but I had put in a request with my congressman Bob Latta (OH-5), the morning following the election, and when it was confirmed that I would be receiving two “tickets” to the inauguration ceremonies, I committed to go, bringing with me my brother Adam to use the other ticket.  We didn’t know exactly where the tickets would get us until picking them up Monday morning at Latta’s (after a half hour wait outside a congressional office building).  Then we got our programs (great memento, notwithstanding) and learned we’d be in the purple section.  (See this map for ticket holder sections.)

Adam and I debated arrival times based on where in the section we wanted to stand (about 1/2 of it seemed to be obstructed by trees) and gueses on ambitiousness of others with tickets, and we arrived near the purple ticket gate around 7AM, with security scheduled to begin at 8AM and actual section opening at 9AM.  When we took a look at the entrance and found the apparent “line” we were to get into, which extended down the block, turned, and then turned again to enter the tunnel which goes under the mall area between 2nd and 3rd streets.  A police officer asked to see our tickets to get into the tunnel.  (See here an interesting map of the situation.)  After walking for about 15 mintues (to put is now at 7:15), we reached what was then the end of a line (I don’t want to say “the line” because I’m guessing there were more, based on future occurrences), about 80% or 90% of the way down through the tunnel.

And we waited.  Sitting there for an hour without moving was expected, and we slowing moved up in small surges, trying to estimate if we actually were moving fast enough to make the assumed 11:30 cutoff we anticipated for entrance.  We chatted with people around us to pass the time, Adam and I read a bit as well, and we moved ahead.  About 10:30, getting close to the exit of the tunnel but losing hope, the mother of a girl standing near us returned after doing some investigating, with the girl leaving and us learning of the apparent shutting of the gates and no one getting in at this point.  Adam and I decided to stay in line, actually able to move out of the tunnel a bit before 11 as the people were really surging forth to get out of the tunnel and near the entrance.

A bit after 11, Adam and I decided it was most prudent to ditch the line and seek viewing/listening elsewhere — and it seems like that was a good choice based on videos and reports of the non-successes of those who stuck around.  In a bit of luck and irony, after an epic journey walking/jogging for 30 minutes (which I may speak of later), we found what I can only assume to be a breach of security at the 3rd Street entrance to the mall (which means, yes, we did walk all the way around the capital) to allowed us entrance to the mall, with no security to clear, to view the ceremony (post-Biden swearing in) almost directly above the tunnel we had spent about 4 hours in.

In reality, the tunnel experience wasn’t that bad, but the outcome was indeed horrible.  Adam and I were extremely lucky and fortunate to end up with the view we finally held for this historical event, but thousands, likely tens of thousands, who had received tickets they believed (with no reason not to) would grant them access to history.  Instead, many were left to watch it on tape or find a TV to watch it on instead.  I intend to share my disgust with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies at feedback@jccic.senate.gov and invite all others who had similar experiences to do the same!

Did I mention there were no police or security in the tunnel with us either?  That could have been disastrous.

Here are some of the MANY pieces I’ve found online relating to this fiasco:
An NPR story (similar to on Adam and I heard on our drive out of DC): A Frustrating Inaugural for Many
Two Washington Post articles: fiasco and subsequent apology and statement by Sen. Diane Feinstein (head of inaugural committee)
A bit from the NY Times: Guided Into Tunnel, Ticket Holders Missed Swearing-In
Politico article: Inaugural woes have members ticked
Two other bloggers: the purple tunnel of doom and Cursed Purple Tickets

YouTube has been a great place for some great video evidence (hundreds more than this if you keep looking):
My favorite: The Purple Ticket of DOOM! (An experience very similar to mine, except for the exact time stamps.)
A close second, a funny, amazing song!: Purple Tunnel of Doom — a Song
One man’s rant: Long Live the Purple Ticket Holders
Near the Purple Gate, probably close to 11:30: People With Purple Tickets Chanting and Useless PURPLE Tickets

And of course, the Facebook group for all of us who were left out in the cold (literally!): Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom


a few videos

Saturday 20 September 2008

First, I must make a correction (for the better) about my last blog — one of the things I said I could put up as my status was that I left my spinach at the store, but as life should have it, that ended up not being the case at all!  Thus, my spinach (except for the bit that I’ve already eaten) is now safely stored in the refrigerator.

So let me tell you what happened:
I woke up the next morning (Friday) and was thinking about my cereal choices, thinking how I had also purchased some cereal at the store, though I didn’t see that around either.  Had I left it, too?  I wondered.  Then I thought how I had rearranged my groceries to bike back home, and I recalled putting the cereal box in my plastic bag with a bag of chips, which, too, weren’t to be found.  However, I distinctly remembered having the plastic bag held down in my left hand as I carried my canvas bag on my shoulder.  So I had to have brought it, right?  And then the light bulb went off — so I took out my keys, walked out the back door of basement room, and there I found the plastic bag with the missing cereal, chips, and, thankfully, spinach.

So all’s well with that, and I didn’t lose $1 on misplaced spinach.

But as the title of my post says, this is about videos, not spinach!  I recently found the digital/computer copies of the short video projects I made in a few of my film classes in college, and I decided I’d put them up on YouTube to see what (if any) response I get.  I still need to get up the copy of “Call Me Al,” my favorite of the bunch about the great Al Parcell who was a card swiper at my college dining hall and passed away this past winter at 92, but it’s coming.  For now, enjoy the following!

The Applicant
My group-made video project.  A fun, satirical look at the noir, 60s detective film genre based on a script about a weird job interview.  I did a lot of the editing, which I love.

Killing You Inc.
The second group project, made with the same people.  I wrote the script for this fake commercial, which I’m really proud actually got made.  I did a good portion of the editing, too, and though we all co-did everything, I was the guy who lit the bit where she’s playing video games.

Living in America: International Students Talk about Iraq
My first project for my documentary film class.  I did it all in this project, since it’s all based on sit down interviews, so you can give me credit or blame, depending on your take.

And while I’m sharing videos, I was also part of a video sketch comedy group — NSTV — my last two years of college, helping do camera, lighting, and sound on quite a few sketches.  Here are the ones on the NSTV YouTube page that I was a part of.
Spoons and Puzzles — Offbeat but hilarious (in my mind).  I did the camera work for the montage.
Murder Mystery — I wasn’t scheduled to help out with this one, but I showed up anyway because I knew it was going to be cool and got to do the racking (which means I changed the focus on the camera as it moved between people and parts of the scene).
Mr. Kriegel — Not one of my favorites, but I was a part of it.
(And my favorite NSTV sketch of all time, though it was made before my time): Ben & Jerry’s Socially Conscious Ice Cream

Enjoy!!!


away messages

Thursday 18 September 2008

When I did most of my away message writing, it was pre-facebook (pre-2004), though I also did some away message writing before the “status” thing on facebook that tried to put a semi-long-term spin on the away message theme.  AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) was always the biggest and best way to chat online with people (and from what I can tell it still is, though I’m not very apt in it anymore), and even when you weren’t chatting, you left a little message for people to read while you were gone.

Now the content of those messages fell into a few main categories, at least from memory (again, I’m going off things that happened circa 2006 and prior).  And even though it my still be current practice, I’m going to treat things as historical and write in past tense.  Though from my recent AIM pseudo usage, things haven’t changed too much, except that maybe people use AIM a little less now that facebook is around to help them waste their time.  But I digress…

One way to use away messages was to tell people where you were and/or what you were doing. This might also include the fact they one would “brb” (be right back) or such that you were reading but would take a break if someone wrote you.  I think I did this on occasion, but I almost never used the away message for the purpose it was most likely intended for.  There’s plenty of “maybe it is, maybe it isn’t” cyber stalking happening out there (and the advent of facebook added to that possibility — thank you very much Mark Zuckerberg), and I really didn’t feel like adding to the possibility of people knowing where I was at any given time.  I’m sure no one probably cared and I’m making myself up to be more important than I am, but regardless of the reason, it wasn’t my practice.

Another similar practice was to share with people either something that had already happened or something that was to happen in the future. Sometimes this would be a promotion to attend a certain play or event someone was in, or it might have been some past event with significance that seemed interesting or funny.  I would sometimes advertise an event, but I rarely did this.

One way I used away messages that I suppose would fit in this category is when I would vaguely sharing my emotional state or feelings with some kind of esoteric statement that really I only understood and knew the meaning to.  Not that anyone cared, but this led me to try and read into other people’s away messages, thinking they might be trying secretly expressing some inner feeling, maybe even speaking directly to me (as I was doing at times).  But probably not.

People might also just say general statements about life or their beliefs. Saturday night be filled with general statements about a football team winning or losing or about something someone had on their mind.  This category is the approach I read a lot of when I’m looking at facebook statuses (though people do write a lot of actual “status” information there, too).

People would share links to websites or online videos.  ‘nough said.

The final general category is pretty much contains any and everything else you could possibly think of. A lot of people would do quotes or song lyrics.  I would sometimes try and write something clever or cute or sarcastic — maybe like (I just thought of this 10 minutes ago), “If the early bird gets the worm, ten just be the worm that shows up late.”  I remember someone from camp telling me one summer they had enjoyed reading my away messages during the school year, even though we hadn’t really known each other during that time.  It was a way to entertain and be entertained and take a short break.

On a side note there, I remember that when my computer crashed after college (but while I was still using AIM), one of the things I was saddest about was the fact that I lost so many of the saved away messages I had loved to use and held dear to me.  I still kind of wonder what they were, but they are gone forever.  Such is life.

Now why did I write all this (which, I must say, is far below par for me and blog posts)?  Well, I thought that instead of a blog post (obviously that part didn’t happen this time), I might share some possible away messages that I thought about during the day — though as I was thinking more about them, I relized that my mind has started thinking about facebook status options instead of in terms of AIM away messages.  And I remember how for so long I never even put a status into my profile.  I guess, just as it happened with the cell phone, technology seems to such me in eventually (and that’s not always a bad thing).

So without further ado (or any more words), here is a part of my day in possible away messages/statuses:

eric left his spinach at the store.

eric is on YouTube!  (See my first upload.)

eric loved riding a bike to work again.

eric really wishes he could get his facebook profile name to be in lowercase letters.

eric will go to bed before midnight!

eric’s couch is also his bed.

eric still needs to unpack (but that’s what the weekend’s for).

eric wrote an extremely long blog but is too lazy to edit or cut any of it.

I’ll be back soon, don’t you worry!


Getting back on the horse

Wednesday 2 July 2008

So if you were paying attention (to my blog, that is — hopefully you’ve been paying attention to many other aspects of life), you probably realized the absence of any new posts since the month of May! Gasp, I know. I could give reasons and reasons, but I think it just boils down to the fact that I’ve been a bit removed from society since 1 June when I started work (once again) at Camp Mowana in Mansfield, Ohio. We first had two weeks of staff training and then I worked one week in Port Clinton, Ohio at a Bible School/Day Camp there and then last week at Mowana for a confirmation camp. Currently I have a (forced) week of vacation, but it’s given me a chance to visit my parents and a friend in New York (state), so aside from the loss of pay, I can’t complain. I’ve worked at Mowana in various degrees since summer 2002 (with a noted absence as a paid staffer last summer), and I’ve having a lot of fun and enjoyment again this summer.

But back to the fact that I haven’t written a blog entry in over 40 days! At first I was thinking that being away from televisions and the Internet (for the most part) while I’m at camp has just caused me to have less to think and write about, thus the lack of any blog material, but then I realized that wasn’t true. I think it’s two-fold: first, there is little (if any) time when I can sit in front of a computer and spill out some thoughts into a blog to post and share with you; if I have a free moment, I like to either be taking a break or hanging out with other staff members, as Mowana is probably the best community I can ever hope to live in.

The existence of community is much the reason why I probably don’t post much any more, too. I tend to think most of my blog posts tend to be about thoughts of ideas that I have and like to think about while I’m writing then down and then they get to be shared with you. But when I’m around such amazing people all the time who love to talk about different ideas and subjects of life, I tend to have those conversations in person, thus getting a lot of the thoughts out verbally and thus not feeling as much need to write anything down.

That being said, I think I’ll try to carve out some more time this summer (I think this post has taken maybe 15 minutes to write) to find some quite time to type up some thoughts and ideas I can share with you, especially since people actually do notice when I’ve been absent for such a long period of time! Here’s to you, loyal readers!


support

Wednesday 21 May 2008

After being linked by a few other blogs in the recent days and seeing my numbers just a bit, I figured I should maybe write a new post, since I haven’t written one (at least for my blog — the reason here) in a while and have done only a few in May. Before I get on, though, I’ll point you to one of the blogs that pointed to me (and maybe how you got here).

When I started discerning doing the work I committed my time in April and May to, I was a bit worried. I was worried about my safety, some, but probably my biggest worry was how my parents would react and whether or not they would accept and support what I was thinking of doing. (Mind you, this was way before I had a concrete date in mind and things were much more abstract — think November 2007.) Shortly after Thanksgiving, I visited the church in Chicago where I still hold my membership and discussed with my pastor (and friend) my concerns about the future but also the call that seemed to be getting stronger to really take another step in working toward peace and justice. I shared my concerns about possible estrangement if I felt a call but my parents wouldn’t support me for whatever reason, but also that I knew if I was feeling a call, I should be following that, right?

A few weeks went by and I returned to my parents’ house knowing I had to have the discussion of where I was at and what I might expect in terms of support from them. It was an emotional and tearful conversation as I shared how I was still discerning at this point in time but that I was truly concerned for my parents’ feelings, too, and was worried about fracturing our relationship and the possibility of having to choose between doing something I felt called to do and the relationships I held so dear. In the end, my parents affirmed that, though it might not be the easiest thing for them (and I might mention for me either) to accept, I should prayerfully continue to discern my call.

I think it was during that conversation that I told my mom that I knew, if worst came to worst, she’d share my story in a way similar to Cindy Sheehan, but I’d of course pray that wouldn’t be the case. I shouldn’t be surprised that even before I returned home, my parents were already sharing my story in a way that makes me more proud than I know how to express in words. I think they would say it’s an honor to have me as a son, but I certainly feel it’s an honor to have them as parents and am reminded even more so when I read words like those found in the blog mentioned above:
“Pastor Dana Bjorlin serves as a chaplain at St. Vincent and St. Anne hospitals in Toledo, and I have come to know him as a generally steady fellow. When he came to the microphone to share his son Eric’s experiences as a peace worker in the Middle East, he was overcome with emotion. When his wife, Peg, whom I’ve come to know as a generally cheery lady, observed a Circle of Truth exercise in which people role-played various folks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she was overcome with emotion.”

When I think back on it now, I question whether it was ever really “support” that I doubted or feared would be there. In 26 years I should know better, I suppose, than to question my parents’ love and support for me and my path, wherever it may lead me. I guess sometimes things need to get a little complicated for us to be reminded that there are certain guarantees in life. For me, one of those guarantees is loving and supporting family members, no matter what.

I pray the same for you.