Adventures in the Garden of Owl
We’re exploding with too much information these days: too much Sheen, too much Apple angst, too much LiLo, too much Trump, Palin, Google, Facebook. Tiger Mom’s and Dad’s and TigerMilk drinkers are busy Tweeting about their activities, Fb socializing about the bar mitzvah/wedding/dog birthdays. Job hunting on Linkedin, photo blogging on flicker,yfrog, and iPhone/Androided instant updates of what some would call “unessential” media. Occasionally, the merit of this stuff is useful. For the most part, the extension of the mind to the world through these devices is not much more than steam rising from the sewer grates. It’s there, but you don’t really notice it until you’re engulfed in the cloud. And then someone’s dead pet is a cry for animal welfare, a soured job hunt encourages empathy, a gig in a faraway state elicits “wish i could be there” – most of these thoughts we kept to ourselves or used as chit-chat over dinner – but now our chit-chat is our Status update. There’s a lot of this stuff and no-one -esp if you have a cache of 100 friends who like to chit-chat, responds to everything posted.
This is totally expected, we don’t have time to truly edit our thoughts and images distributed so instantly and globally. It’s easy to make slight mistakes and it’s just as easy as to rush to judgements over unsubstantiated postings.
We often enhance these posts with sidebars and tidbits to postings. I try not to discredit the author, nor attack a political position (aggressively), however a little ribbing goes a long way in getting through a menu of what floats or deflates someone’s daily balloon. Folks who simply read tweets or FB posts without occasionally commenting or posting are not getting the clear picture. This is the stepping stone off the old phone call/letter in the mailbox method of communication used for the previous 100 years. Just as we’ve seen telegraph turn to telephone and radio turn to TV, we are seeing communication drift up into a cloud of accessibility that will enable many devices- not just a smart phone or a tablet- to extend the realm of communication. Our appliances will communicate much like our friends communicate- often small esoteric comments on the road of life, responding to the community of friends at large. For instance, my friend the Refrigerator suggests that I pick up some more coffee and a half gallon of milk when I enter the Shaw’s Supermarket. Or the HouseManager tweets me about the need for toilet paper, or the EnergyManager turns on the lights and the air-conditioning in the room I just entered.
The BIG TOWER COMPUTER in your office is going away and it will be replaced by thousands of small computers all talking, communicating, extrapolating and performing services for you while interacting with you – learning how you prefer things to come to you. The only way this process of learning can happen is by social interaction divining the objects that you interact with daily. So this is why learning to interact with Twitter and Facebook and other Social Media sites is important. It helps pave the way to achieving a relationship with the next generation of computing/communication devices. We’re not going to get away from TMI but we will be able to condition the Information so that it’s more useful than our current deluge of tweets, posts, and personally social news. -oh btw, don’t forget to pick up a bag of coffee.
Thanksgiving is a time when American families and friends gather ’round the dining room table to break bread together while contemplating our American way of life, the long history (good or bad) of becoming what is modern America. Since tradition fuels the holiday spirit, here’s a traditional little song you can sing after dinner, while waiting for coffee, pumpkin pie- I bet even Grandma will join in the chorus:
This song is called “Alice’s Restaurant.” It’s about Alice and the
restaurant, but Alice’s Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant; that’s
just the name of the song, and that’s why I call the song “Alice’s restaurant.”
You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant. You can get anything you
want at Alice’s restaurant. Walk right in, it’s around the back, just a half a
mile from the railroad track; You can get anything you want at Alice’s
Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago–two years ago, on Thanksgiving, when
my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant.
But Alice doesn’t live IN the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the
restaurant, in the bell tower with her husband Ray and Fancha, the dog.
And livin’ in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of room downstairs
where the pews used to be, and havin’ all that room (seein’ as how they took out
all the pews), they decided that they didn’t have to take out their garbage for
a long time.
We got up there and found all the garbage in there and we decided that it’d be
a friendly gesture for us to take the garbage down to the city dump.
So we took the half-a-ton of garbage, put it in the back of a red VW microbus,
took shovels and rakes and implements of destruction, and headen on toward the
Well, we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across the dump
sayin’, “THIS DUMP IS CLOSED ON THANKSGIVING,” and we’d never heard of a dump
closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes, we drove off into the
sunset lookin’ for another place to put the garbage.
We didn’t find one till we came to a side road, and off the side of the road
was another fifteen-foot cliff, and at the botton of the cliff was another pile
of garbage. And we decided that one big pile was better than two little piles,
and rather than bring that one up, we decided to throw ours down. That’s what
Drove back to the church, had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat,
went to sleep, and didn’t get up until the next morning, when we got a phone
call from Officer Obie. He said, “Kid, we found your name on an envelope at the
bottom of a half ton of garbage and I just wanted to know if you had any
information about it.”
And I said, “Yes sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie. I put that envelope
under that garbage.” After speakin’ to Obie for about forty-five minutes on the
telephone, we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and he said that we had
to go down and pick up the garbage, and also had to go down and speak to him at
the Police Officer Station. So we got in the red VW microbus with the shovels
and rakes and implements of destruction and headed on toward the Police Officer
Now, friends, there was only one of two things that Obie could’ve done at the
Police Officer Station, and the first was that he could’ve give us a medal for
bein’ so brave and honest on the telephone (which wan’t very likely, and we
didn’t expect it), and the other thing was that he could’ve bawled us out and
never to be seen’ drivin’ garbage around in the vicinity again, which is what we
But when we got to the Police Officer Station, there was a THIRD possibility
that we hadn’t even counted upon, and we was both immediately arrested,
handcuffed, and I said, “Obie, I can’t pick up the garbage with these here
He said: “Shut up, Kid, and get in the back of the patrol car.” And that’s
what we did–sat in the back of the patrol card, and drove to the quote SCENE OF
THE CRIME unquote.
I wanna tell you ’bout the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where this is
happenin’. They got three stop signs, two police officers, and one police car,
but when we got to the scene of the crime, there was FIVE police officers and
THREE police cars, bein’ the biggest crime of the last fifty years and everybody
wanted to get in the newspaper story about it.
And they was usin’ up all kinds of cop equipment that they had hangin’ around
the Police Officer Station. They was takin’ plaster tire tracks, footprints,
dog-smellin’ prints, and they took twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy
photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one
explainin’ what each one was, to be used as evidence against us. Took pictures
of the approachm the getaway, the northwest corner, the southwest corner–and
that’s not to mention the aerial photography!
After the ordeal, we went back to the jail. Obie said he was gonna put us in
a cell. He said, “Kid–I’m gonna put you in a cell. I want your wallet and
I said, “Obie, I can understand your wantin’ my wallet, so I don’t have any
money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?” And he said,
“Kid, we don’t want any hangin’s.”
I said. “Obie, did you think I was gonna hang myself for litterin’?” Obie
said he was makin’ sure, and, friends, Obie was, ’cause he took out the toilet
seat so I couldn’t hit myself over the head and drown.
and he took out the toilet paper so I couldn’t bend the bars, roll the toilet
paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape. Obie was makin’
It was about four of five hours later that Alice–(remember Alice? There’s a
song about Alice) Alice came by and, with a few nasty words to Obie on the side,
bailed us out of jail, and we went back to the church, had another Thanksgiving
dinner that couldn’t be beat.
and didn’t get up until the next mornin’ when we all had to go to court. We
walked in, sat down, Obie came in with the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy
pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one,
Man came in, said “All rise!” We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the
twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures, and the judge walked in, sat down,
with a seein’ eye dog and HE sat down. We sat down.
Obie looked at the seein’ eye dog–then at the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored
glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each
one and began to cry.
Because Obie came to the realization that it was a typical case of American
blind justice, and there wasn’t nothin’ he could do about it, and the judge
wasn’t gonna look at the twenty-even 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures with the
circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each
one was, to be used as evidence against us.
And we was fined fifty dollars and had to pick up the garbage–in the snow.
But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about. I’m here to talk about the
They got a buildin’ down in New York City called Whitehall Street, where you
walk in, you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected and
I went down and got my physical examination one day, and I walked in, sat down
(got good and drunk the night before, so I looked and felt my best when I went
in mornin’, ’cause I wanted to look like the All-American-Kid from New York
I wanted to BE the All-American Kid from New York) and I walked in, sat down,
I was hung down, brung down, hung up and all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly things.
And I walked in, I sat down, they gave me a piece of paper that said: Kid,
see the psychiatrist, Room 604.
I went up there, I said, “Shrink, I wanna kill. I wanna kill! I wanna see
blook and gore and guts and veins in my tereth! Eat dead, burnt bodies! I
mean: Kill, Kill!”
And I started jumpin’ up and down, yellin’, “KILL! KILL!” and he started
jumpin’ up and down with me, and we was both jumpin’ up and down yellin’, “KILL,
and the sergeant came over, pinned a medal on me, sent me down the hall, said,
“You’re our boy!” Didn’t feel too good about it.
Proceeded on down the hall, gettin’ more injections, inspections, detections,
neglections, and all kinds of stuff that they was doin’ to me at the thing
there, and I was there for two hours–three hours–four hours–
I was there for a long time goin’ through all kinds of mean, nasty, ugly
things, and I was just havin’ a tough time there, and they was inspectin’,
injectin’ every single part of me, and they was leavin’ no part untouched!
Proceeded through, and I finally came to see the very last man. I walked in,
sat down, after a whole big thing there. I walked up, and I said, “What do you
want?” He said, “Kid, we only got one question: Have you ever been arrested?”
And I proceeded to tell him the story of Alice’s restaurant Massacre with full
orchestration and five-part harmony and stuff like that, and other phenomenon.
He stopped me right there and said, “Kid, have you ever been to court?”
And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored
glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each
He stopped me right there and said, “Kid I want you to go over and sit down on
that bench that says ‘group W.’ Now, Kid!”
And I walked over to the bench there, and there’s–Group W is where they put
you if you may not be MORAL enough to join the army after committin’ your
There was all kinds of mean, nasty and ugly-lookin’ people on the bench there
–there was mother rapers–father-stabbers, father-rapers! FATHER-RAPERS
sittin’ right there on the bench next to me!
And they was mean and nast and ugly and horrible and crime fightin’ guys were
sittin’ there on the bench, and the meaniest, ugliest, nastiest one–the meanest
father-raper of them all–was comin’ over to me,
And he was mean and nasty and horrible and all kinds of things, and he sat
down next to me. He said, “Kid, what’d you get?”
I said, “I didn’t get nothin’. I had to pay fifty dollars and pick up the
garbage.” He said, “What were you arrested FOR, Kid?” and I said, “Litterin’.”
And they all moved away from me on the bench there, with the hairy eyeball and
all kinds of mean, nasty things, till I said, “And creatin’ a nuisance.”
And they all came back, shook my hand and we had a reat time on the bench
talkin’ about crime, mother-stabbin’, father-rapin’, –all kinds of groovy
things that we was talkin’ about on the bench, and everything was fine.
We was smokin’ cigarettes and all kinds of things, until the sergeant came
over, had some paper in his hand, held it up and said:
And he talked for forty-five minutes and nobody understood a word that he said
. But we had fun fillin’ out the forms and playin’ with the pencils on the
bench there. I filled out the Massacree with the four-part harmony.
Wrote it down there just like it was and everything was fine. And I put down
my pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there–on the other side
–in the middle of the other side– away from everything else on the other
side–in parenthese-capital letters– quoted-read the following words: :Kid,
have you rehabilitated yourself?”
I went over to the sergeant. I said, “Sergeant, you got a lot of God-dammed
gall to ask me if I’ve rehabilitated myself! I mean–I mean– that you send–
I’m sittin’ here on the bench–
I mean I’m sittin’ here on the Group W bench, ’cause you want to know if I’m
moral enought to join ther army, burn women, kids, houses and villiages after
bein’ a litterbug.”
He looked at me and said, “Kid, we don’t like your kind! We’re gonna send
your fingerprints off to Washington.” And, friends, somewhere in Washington,
enshrined in some folder, is a study in black and white of my fingerprints.
And the only reason I’m singin’ you the song now is ’cause you may know
somebody in a similiar situation. Or YOU may be in a similiar situation, and if
you’re in a situation like that, there’s only one thing you can do:
Walk into the shrink whenever you are, just walk in, say, “Shrink–
You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant.”
–and walk out. You know, if one person, just one person does it, they may
think he’s really sick and they won’t take him.
And if two people do it–in harmony–they may thing they’re both FAGGOTS and
they won’t take either of them. And if THREE people do it! Can you imagine
three people walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s restaurant” and walkin’ out?
They might think it’s an ORGANIZATION!
And can you imagine FIFTY people a day? I said FIFTY people a day–walkin’ in
singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’out? Friends, they may think
it’s a MOVEMENT, and that’s what it is:
THE ALICE’S RESTAURANT ANTI-MASSACREE MOVEMENT!–
and all you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes around on
the guitar. With feelin’:
You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant, exceptin’ Alice, You can
get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant; Walk right in, it’s around the
back, just a half a mile from the railroad track; You can get anything you want
at Alice’s restaurant.
Thank you Arlo for giving us this song at Thanksgiving.
In a week or so Apple will begin to unfetter people from the chains of their laptops and the eyestrain of their iPhones with the controversial and inevitable iPad. My “geek muse” whispers softly:
“You knew it was coming, you saw how newspapers and book publishers failed to initiate comprehensive ways to deliver their materials. You saw how laptops and desktop machines tied people down with complicating rather than enhancing their computer work. You believed there were better ways to address the basic functions of modern day communication. You saw how the portability of personal media- music, video, documents and the accessibility of the cloud would merit the coming of a new device, and you felt that someone, somewhere, could deliver the device that would help mediate the bits into tangible media.”
Shut Up- Muse!
I’ve already seen glimmers of this tool: Apple’s Newton, Fuji’s tablet running Windows, HP handheld devices running Java, OLPC XO, Kindle etc. and the iPhone and the subsequent touch devices. Until recently, The groundwork (cloudwork?) was too unpaved for such functionality to really work, and the various pundits surrounding the acceptance of some devices is as as divisive as American politics.
Slowly, Apple has built on its own path toward delivering a solution while others relied on existing and/or third party infrastructure. The iPod and iTunes store, the MobileMe cloud and the iPhone have fomented a new device to drive down this highway of data. My iPhone travels this road and so does my iMac, and I can access the truckstops- my “home cloud” of music, news and video, and my “world cloud” of addresses,email, social media and calendar events- in a variety of ways from a variety of devices not limited by which operating system I’m using.
The other issue is that lots of traditional media: publishers of magazines, newspapers, journals, music and moving image companies have changed, lslipping in their grip on how to deliver media directly to a consumer. It’s a hard thing to replace a book, newspaper or cd and I think the Publishing industry has balked in fear of replacing ink with bits. They aren’t sturdy in the device creating business because we need a device that’s a little larger than a pocket sized screen, can access many types of media, has better “readablity” behavior and has the ability to interact with the content right there in your hands rather than making you scurry to a larger computer or change devices to see enhanced content (I suppose the absence of Flash riles the anti-iPad crowd in its exclusion but that’s sidebar issue).
I need my iPhone, I need my iMac -because I rely on these devices to do certain things with a certain amount of predictable power, function and behavior.
(in my case, my iPhone makes phone calls and keeps a small camera near- My iMac edits images and I use Logic Studio and manage a bunch of other things)
The iPad will only enhance the interaction between these devices and that big old cloud that exists between my home and out there in the world.
I think the appreciation of the iPad will grow over time as more and more people get it: -Folks, Eventually all devices will interact with each other and YOU!
This is a Car that will help you travel down the various access roads to your media rather than a Subway that moves you directly one point to another.
The iPad will bring Books, Newspapers and Journals into the arena of personal media (and the stuff your iPhone does) – slowly but surely. You won’t HAVE to have an iPad but I think you’ll see how useful it is once you start using your iPhone apps on a bigger screen. It doesn’t supplant the stuff you have. It might just help you communicate a bit better than you do now.
One day, you’ll be sitting on the couch, with your phone in your pocket and the laptop in the kitchen and, like Goldilocks, say “this one is TOO SMALL and that one is TOO BIG” and you’ll pick up the iPad and say “This one is JUST RIGHT”.
This is the time of year where folks say ” Wow-it’s December already, where did the time go?” and then you realize-crap! it’s January and
and you’re still writing last year’s date on your checks.
Right now – it is still December and I’m reflecting on the little things in 2009 which made it what it was. I suppose this should start with Barack Obama, who
galvanized the public with hope, intellectual discourse, and a remarkable contrast to the previous administration. Rome wasn’t built in a day and America can’t recover from the recession, the wars, and the ignorance of the poorest people in the richest country in a year.. Slowly, slowly we can rebuild our strange nation of democratic conflict, despite the rampant greed of corporate and individual self protection, distain for compassion toward the poorest edge of our society, and the recovery of an economy based on lies and fluffed up balance sheets. America needs Universal Health care – even if YOU don’t need it. America needs to extend the transportation infrastructure too. No one in America should be homeless, hungry and without the opportunity of a decent education and/or employment.
I think this is where Obama is going- and it’s a rougher ride than anything Teddy Roosevelt rode on. When you add the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan into this, Obama has produced more honest and upfront policy in his first year, than W did in all his 8 years combined 9/11 not withstanding. The neocon “war on Muslims”
was and is misplaced, misjudged, and absurd in its execution. America does not need this senseless war and Obama actually has a plan to get out. But it won’t be easy- and it may not be as soon as we’d like. But it’s a plan.
Other things troubled me this year. A good friend died, a good cat died, the shock of celebrity deaths and the ongoing media circus around that stuff would have us question our fragile existence. Personal issues – wanting to buy my own house, trying to find time to be more artistic, socializing beyond the internet all took a back seat to the daily goings on with life. Steady as she goes, but sometimes the pace isn’t quick enough o r rather the sweet grapes are hard to reach so we grab for the sour ones.
Of course there were plenty of good things too…My work didn’t suffer much. I’m happily married to my best friend, Susan. My daughter, Son-in-law and Grandybaby is a joyful happy and healthy family, my mom turned 80 and the rest of my family are well. When everything dwindles to a perspective that things could be worse – that’s a sarcastic point of view I’d rather not dwell on. Things could be better but they aren’t all that bad compared to some places in the rest of the world.
Somber blog post that this is- I’ll do a 180 here and say that there was an awful lot of great music out there- and i started jamming a little more when i could find the time. The release of Philip deBarge and the Pretty Things was pretty awesome. I am amused and confused by all the animal named bands out there: Grizzly Bear, DeerTick, Deerhunter etc etc…Dylan’s xmas album is a hoot. I listened to Tom Waits, The Black Crowes, Eno, Molly Bancroft, Sam Phillips, Mark Sandman, Peter Haviland, The Pretty Things and Captain Beefheart a lot! I started posting obscure music things-even quicky quirky songs to Reverbnation, Myspace etc and made sure that the 3 Albums I’ve constructed were available at amiestreet (not interested in a record contract folks- but I’d entertain the thought!). I think music is my drug. I started tweeting more and feel that twitter has done a lot for my “instantaneous” thought behavior (you know -when you’d like to say something but you hold your tongue)- i find i like it it a lot but it took me a long time to figure out what it is exactly.
another weird thing is that i cut way down on smoking- from about a pack a day to 4 or 5 cigarettes – maybe all of it can go away next year although that may be one of the hardest things for me to do.
Ok I’ve reminisced enough.
700 words can barely cover the the year that has passed and i’ve really just glossed over the year and not done too much introspection. I’m hoping that 2009 is a stepping stone to a bright and shiny, prosperous, humorous, joyful and loving 2010. For everyone. Without love there can be no peace. So: Love to Everywhere.
Media playback… um…. er…. Apple vs Windows playback has been a conundrum for a long time…but with the upcoming Quicktime X in the next (intel only! not PPC) Apple 10.6 (Snow Leopard) your media capture and playback on your Apple will be faster, smoother and perhaps delicious….
• 64-bit application
• New streamlined user interface
• Improved performance
• Pro and Standard versions combined into one
• Supports OpenCL for accelerated video playback
• Intel only; no PowerPC version
• Frameless window
• ColorSync support
• Syncs with iTunes, iPod, iPhone, AppleTV, and more
But you know Windows users had to deal with less consistent Quicktime for windows software so often Vista was a complete waste of time for Windows users with some content- many folks reverting or staying with XP and letting Explorer or RealPlayer deal with stuff. Aside from MS Silverlight.
Silverlight is pretty popular (the 2008 Olympics/NBC last summer used Silverlight as its “premiere showcase” and it will stream the 2010 winter olympics with Silverlight) but Vista could not deal very well with “Apple- centric” files outside of using the QT windows installer.
So FYI Windows 7 has enormously improved support for media playback, and now will play most QuickTime-exported files out of the box.
Here’s what’s new/changed (from Vista):
* MPEG-4, QuickTime, 3GPP, and AVCHD file formats
* MPEG-4 Part 2 (SP and ASP)
* H.264 (up to High, all levels)
* AAC, including LC and HE v1 and v2, and multichannel
* “DivX/xvid” AVI
* MPEG-4 part 2 ASP
* MP3 and MS ADPCM
* Program and Transport Streams, including HDV
* MPEG-2 up to 1080i/p
* H.264 up to High
* Dolby Digital, PCM, and MP2
Windows 7 will play .mp4, self-contained .mov files that are using MPEG-4 codecs, H.264 interlaced, MPEG-4 Advanced Simple, HE AAC decode, and integrated MPEG-2. And interlace ( 30i gets displayed as 60) It’s also got further improved hardware acceleration, so even Netbooks can generally play back 720p content. Most DirectX10/DXVA 2.0 GPUs will hardware accelerate all codecs.- not quite sure how QT X corresponds here(aside from the performance accelerating kick Snow Leopard is promising) but indeed it makes content a little less dependent on accumulating 3rd party plugins and various degrees of performance issues.
We’ll see if the internet gives cable tv a run for the money (and it should…) once these updates in OSes and bandwidth improves…
Streaming is again coming of age- live broadcasts should be available on your Phones soon (http streaming really simplifies this process) Those of you with iPhones…check out http://iphone.akamai.com/ on your iPhone!