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Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Saturday, January 29, 2005
Movie: Beyond the Sea
Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin. Spacey also directed and gets a writing credit. Darin seems to be an obsession of his.

The most amazing, utterly incredible thing about this movie is that Spacey is one helluva pop singer and dancer. Ebert said he was better than Darin (then he took it back but still...). If you like Spacey, you'll want to see this movie.

Otherwise, not a great film. The concept of your boy-self as a guide for exploring your adult life just doesn't play that well and frankly, it's not that interesting. (We just watched De-Lovely, the Cole Porter biopic with Kevin Kline, and they employ what seems an angel as a guide for Cole to explore his path.)

I did not know that Darin wrote and performed Splish Splash, a throw-away song about taking a bath that became a teen hit. That song got him on American Bandstand and branded him a pop and rock singer in the very early days of rock-and-roll. He didn't like that. He wanted to be a crooner like Sinatra.

Darin also performed Mack the Knife which is a great Bertold Brecht/Kurt Weill song.

Check the IMDB trivia section for some interesting stuff (rumors? facts?). Supposedly Tom Cruise (and several other hot male properties) were offered the Darin part.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005
World of Ends
What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else.

via Ongoing.

Yard Sales Online
Via William Gibson's blog, Disturbing Auctions, with a decomposing UPS driver for sale.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
iTunes This Week
iTunes has another new free download type that is somehow connected to AT40 with Ryan Seacrest. (But I went to the AT40 site and could not find a mention of Brie Larson.) It's called an Out of the Box Download. This week it's Brie Larson
with She Said.
Genre: Pop

Discovery Download
Genre: New Age
American River by Jonathan Elias

Single of the Week: Gotta Get Up from Here by Ellie Lawson.
Genre: Pop

Sunday, January 23, 2005
Robert Maynard Hutchins
The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It
will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.
Robert Maynard Hutchins, educator (1899-1977)

Hutchins was president of the University of Chicago beginning in 1929 and advocated some controversial changes in curriculum. He believed passionately in a true liberal arts education and saw the current (in 1920) course of academia as providing classes in whatever was popular at the moment. He called it "the service-station conception of a university."

Hutchins' Idea of a Liberal Education
The LIBERAL ARTS are not merely indispensable; they are unavoidable. Nobody can decide for himself whether he is going to be a human being. The only question open to him is whether he will be an ignorant, undeveloped one, or one who has sought to reach the highest point he is capable of attaining. The question, in short, is whether he will be a poor liberal artist or a good one.

The liberal artist learns to read, write, speak, listen, understand, and think. He learns to reckon, measure, and manipulate matter, quantity, and motion in order to predict, produce and exchange. As we live in the tradition, whether we know it or not, so we are all liberal artists, whether we know it or not. We all practice the liberal arts, well or badly, all the time every day. As we should understand the tradition as well as we can in order to understand ourselves, so we should be as good liberal artists as we can in order to become as fully human as we can.
Robert Maynard Hutchins, president/chancellor of the University of Chicago (1929-1951)
The University of Chicago has a web with more information.

Matthews Park Sliding
Grandson #1
Grandson #1
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

PF and Robbie ready to go down the hill in a sled.
PF & Robbie
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

Matthews Park sliding hill
Matthews Park Sliding
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

We went sliding today with Grandson #1. There is a nice hill at Matthews Park and it's in our neighborhood. The hill was saturated with kids and sleds and saucers of all kinds including things that looked like they would be more comfortable on water than on the snow.

Sun was out and the temperature was around 20F but the wind was chilling down to 6F.

Kids don't seem to use parks here much any more. Organized sports in the schools have taken over for some, video games and TV for others. So it was great to see all these kids, all ages, out in the snow.

New Snow

New Snow
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.
The first real snow storm finally reached us Friday. I grabbed this photo from the back porch which really shows the snow falling.

With New York City getting 18+ inches of snow Saturday, the maybe 12 inches in Minneapolis is not big news. Consider that according to the NY Times, New York City has 6,300 miles of streets. I don't know exactly what we have here but it's likely less than 3,000.

Plowing is always an issue. Someone left their car parked in front of our house, illegally parked under snow emergency rules. It was ticketed but not towed until after the plow came by. So our portion of the street can't be decently plowed. I led our family crew out to shovel our portion and bury the cause. Then the tow truck shows up and tows it. We still shovelled. The plow came again after we finished.

Without snow my seasonal rhythms are off. I'm not a big winter sports fan but I have lived in Minnesota most of my life and for most of it, winter means lots of snow. I like it. Snow is clean and snow is quiet.

More PF snow pictures at flickr.

Thursday, January 20, 2005
iTunes Downloads
No Discovery Download!

Single of the Week:
Genre: Pop (as in Power)
Breakthrough by Hope 7

Street Official Mixtape Vol. 3 is still available (free) in the hip hop rap section.

Monday, January 17, 2005
New Macs
I was an unofficial Mac evangelist and I still love the product and use it as my main OS at work and home. I like Mr. Job's new Mac Mini and I tried hard to fit one in my life as a reasonable choice. My Favorite Wife was not convinced. I will drop the Mini Mac Mini idea and go back to trying to convince her why it would be good to get a 12-inch Powerbook.

Tim Bray has a nice post about the new Mac and the possibility of buying one for his mom. (Seems Tim's brother is promoting the Dark Side.)

The New York Times (1/17/2005) reports that Smeagol, the Gollum from Middle Earth, has been diagnosed by a team from the Royal Free and University College in London.
He meets seven of the nine criteria for schizoid personality disorder, including a preference for solitary activities and an excessive preoccupation with fantasy.
Full (free) text from the paper available here.

Mississippi River

Mississippi River, Franklin Ave. Bridge, Minneapolis, MN
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.
I took pictures of the Mississippi River on Saturday, Jan. 16. It was very cold out: -17F. This image is from the east bank and shows the Franklin Ave. Bridge, in my neighborhood.

You can see more Mississippi River images in the tagged Flickr photostream. This will conceivably include photos by others beside myself but today there are only my photos.

I plan to initiate a project (with blog) that's currently named the Mississippi River Documentation Project. I have discussed it with the boy (six-year-old grandson, Robbie) and he is interested. He said that if everyone is photographing the river, someone may get a photo of the Merwyn which is our local river monster.

My basic plan is to share photos (maybe a Flickr group) of the Mississippi River by using the keyword 'MissRiver'. If I can find folks to participate, we can document the entire length of the Mississippi. I would like to also add the approximate latitude and longitude where the photo was taken. This would lead to learning how to get that information or how to find yourself on the Earth. This will intersect with the Degree Confluence Project.

This is the first call for photos and ideas. If you are interested, post photos to Flickr and tag them with MissRiver. Comment to this post to start the conversation. Comment on the photos in the Flickr stream.

Sunday, January 16, 2005
Looking South Down Erie Street

Looking South Down Erie Street
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

You can't photograph the cold very well. Temperatures are at or below 0 F. One clue is the lack of melting snow and ice in the street because it's all frozen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
iTunes This Week: Discovery Download Returns
The Discovery Download is back!

Genre: Inspirational (Christian?)

Song: Disappear by Denison Marrs

Blurb from itunes:
Denison Marrs draws comparisons to Jimmy Eat World, Sanctus Real, The Cure, and Switchfoot.... inspirational blast of alt-rock angst.
I have never heard of any of the comparison groups except The Cure and then only the name.

Plus, another free download from the iTunes Home page...

Street Official Mixtape, Vol. 3

A hip hop mix with all the songs used in the mix available for download. We are talking serious Hip Hop and Rap here. Runs 22:24. I don't know the genre so I can't really judge but I like it. Take heed, you may not consider this appropriate for all ears. (Actually, they do clean it by distorting the bad words but you still get 'em.)

I'd love to hear from someone if this is a good mix of hip hop. I like it enough to consider shelling out the $16.83 for the 18 tracks.

A little investigating and I found that there had been a Vol. 1 & 2 along with free mixtapes but they no longer seem to be available at iTunes.

And, of course, the Single of the Week, Every Ship Must Sail Away by Blue Merle.

Monday, January 10, 2005
iTunes Free Sampler
iTunes new music sampler, Universal Motown edition. It's not really what I think of as Motown but it's free and there are thirteen songs. (At least one was the single of the week in the past year.)

Thanks to Roy for pointing me here.

Photo Truth
Daniel Okrent at the NY Times does a nice job discussing how photos are picked to represent stories and the nature of truth in photography. His reference is the front page Time's Tsunami image, Dec. 28. (You may need a subscription (free) to see this.)

Thanks to Tim Bray at Ongoing for the pointer.

Sunday, January 09, 2005
Blog Games
Talk about multi-tasking. Now you can play a game of Connect-4 (with another blog author) while you write your blog entries.
Two blog authors compete with each other in a game of Connect 4 by including text right within their blog. For example the text In game 12, move 3, I choose slot 5. would move the counter in game 12 to slot number 5.

You win by connecting 4 counters of your color in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal row.
Connect 4 Blog Games

Thanks to Justin Pfister for pointing to this. You can view Justin's game.

Saturday, January 08, 2005
Hector Villa
Hector Villa is exploring the future of education communities in a very thoughtful manner.

He is integrating the blog and CMS world in an effort to create a safe environment for the students. Maybe a CMS can be useful? Of course his CMS, Segue, is open source, developed by his school (Middlebury College), and combines a webblog (WebCT, are you listening?).

Mr. Villa's blog is at:

Thanks to Will Richardson at Weblogg-ed for the original post.

Sixth Grade Blogging
Welcome to the M&M Online Magazine, a collection of weblogs written by 6th grade students at Brandon Middle School.

Explore the life of sixth-graders in Virginia Beach, VA. Bonus feature: check out their radio show.

Thanks to Will Richardson at Weblogg-ed for the original post.

Thursday, January 06, 2005
Communities of Practice
Mary, the Favorite Wife, is involved in an apprenticeship that will lead to her certification as an ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreter. There are three apprentices in the program (actually, they call them proteges but I think apprentice fits the position better).

This sounds like a perfect scenario for establishing a community of practice (COP) and I told Mary I would find some resources for her.
Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and who interact regularly to learn how to do it better.
Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: A Brief Introduction

That is a really beautiful and concise definition by Mr. Wenger. It's really a simple concept that should universally apply to all learning yet, in practice, the process is often derailed by any number of conflicting elements including egos, bureaucracy, and a perceived lack of implementation time.

A COP has three elements: the domain, the community, and the practice.

Members have a committment to a shared domain of interest, in this case interpreting and deaf culture.
In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other.
Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: A Brief Introduction
That's the community part and it should be noted that all participants, experienced and less experienced, will learn from the other participants. COPs need to be careful of hierarchal structures.

The practice:
Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction.
Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice: A Brief Introduction
I would add a fourth element to this and that's attitude. While COPs can develop almost transparently within some groups, you can also start looking at your job or education as a COP and begin sharing information (as opposed to hoarding to gain advantage) with co-workers and classmates and expecting the same in return. This kind of attitude starts to cut through personal and political ego trips. Often, work processes will become more efficient and fulfilling and the job will become less stressful. I don't have any quantitative research to back this up but I do have personal experience.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Cold Here, Colder There
It's +9F here (Minneapolis) but feels much colder. For consolation, I can check this post at Pharyngula (also Fahrenheit).

Tuesday, January 04, 2005
iTunes This Week
NO Discovery Download for the second week! What gives, Apple?

Single of the week is Undone by Owsley.

Monday, January 03, 2005
Our Blogging Life
The State of the Blog Report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project:
Two surveys by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in November established new contours for the blogosphere: 8 million American adults say they have created blogs; blog readership jumped 58% in 2004 and now stands at 27% of internet users; 5% of internet users say they use RSS aggregators or XML readers to get the news and other information delivered from blogs and content-rich Web sites as it is posted online; and 12% of internet users have posted comments or other material on blogs. Still, 62% of internet users do not know what a blog is.
[My emphasis. I think that's pretty funny.]

Define: Blog
Merriam-Webster set the blogosophere buzzing this week with its announcement that the word “blog” was among the most looked-up words of the year. The curious hordes were likely puzzled, however, by Merriam-Webster’s definition: “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks.”

Is that all? So what?

from Jon Udell's Strategic Developer column, 12/10/04

A New Year's Eve dinner led to a discussion of blogs with many at the table not yet familiar with the blogosphere. "How is a blog any different from a Web page?" T said.

I had a hard time answering, partly because of the wine and partly because I remove my front tooth denture while eating so I have trouble with several letters of the alphabet (s and f, to name two), and this made it difficult for anyone to take me seriously. (The denture is new and an interim fix until I get an implant.)

I tried to talk about the easy-to-update idea of blogging and how it's kind of a journal. But that's really not why I'm here writing in my blog. Blogging is really about the community.

Let me explain. Today I dropped in on one of my regular blog reads, Pharnygula. I read some posts about the Tsunami and learned that the death toll could rise to 400,000 (direct deaths from the event). Seems there are some large cities in Indonesia that are missing. I hadn't read this anywhere yet so it was news to me. I am shocked. I can't really get a handle on the enormity of this disaster. Can anyone?

Pharnygula discussed donations and linked to The Command Post's list of organizations accepting donations. This list includes smaller groups in the affected countries.

From Command Post, I found a link to a page of overhead costs for disaster relief organizations. I was considering giving to Oxfam but the high overhead cost listed is making me reconsider. I may just give to the Red Cross which has a relatively low overhead cost.

So I traveled a route, dropping by trusted sources within the blogosphere, that provided me with new facts and knowledge.

Then I turn to my own blog and write this post, reflecting and hopefully learning more by writing this. I have planned to write regularly for several years (constant New Year's resolutions, right?) and it finally was the blog that got me writing. Is it the potential for an audience, even a small audience (Hi Roy!)? It may be just getting things out of my head and getting them out beyond a personal journal to the public commons because I have to think of things like voice (and spelling and punctuation). And I begin to feel responsible to the invisible audience (Roy?) out there and I want to add new posts for them to enjoy. And I want to remember stuff for myself and I can come back here and jog my neural cells. And if your path across the Web should find my blog, I would like it to grab your interest and draw you back again to see what else I have to say.

Jon Udell (refer to quote at the top of this post) sees the blogosphere as a network made up of people. "We are the nodes, actively filtering and retransmitting knowledge."

I like that. Filtering, retransmitting, sharing knowledge. Then sifting, experiencing "ah ha" moments, and reflecting on what's now germinating in my mind. Knowing that writing it down here will help it stick in my brain better. And maybe, just maybe, someone else will find these jottings useful.

Plus it's fun. I'm a writer (at least in intention), publishing my work to the Web community. My web logs (the real logs that track visitors to the site) show that someone or something is crawling around here and traffic has increased since I began regular posting. It's a rush every time I press the "Publish" button.

"Social networks" is the new term for this world. I think there is something good here, that maybe a membrane of knowledge is coalescing around the globe that will help us in creating the global village.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
Minneapolis Snow Update

Minneapolis - Ice Storm
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

Minneapolis - Ice Storm
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

After my snowless in Minneapolis photos from yesterday, the local winter storm watch produced some pseudo-snow, really sleet and ice, very granular, very crunchy. But it looks like snow from a distance.

Saturday, January 01, 2005
Snowless in Minneapolis
Photos about a year apart to illustrate the lack of snow in Minneapolis. Other parts of the US -- even Texas -- have had more snow this year. Very unusual. It usually looks like the first set of pictures at this time of year.

December 20, 2003

Mary, Robbie and I go sledding at nearby Matthews Park. Lots of snow as there should be in Minneapolis this time of the year.

Matthews Park, Minneapolis, MN USA 1
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

Matthews Park, Minneapolis, MN USA 2
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

December 31, 2004

Pictures at (approximately) the same spot over a year later. We are snowless this year. There have been some dustings but it melts. On Dec. 30, temperatures rose to almost 50F and it rained. El Nino? I don't know.

It has been cold. Even snowless, we had temperatures below zero (F). It' much harder to live with these cold temperatures without snow.

Today we have a winter storm watch and freezing rain is falling. Temperature is 23F.

Matthews Park 1
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

Matthews Park 2
Originally uploaded by pfhyper.

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