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Monday, February 20, 2012

Connections

We've been on Maui for several weeks. Unfortunately, we didn't make connections with the couple of friends we know on island from past trips. But we connected with a wide variety of other folks. Some connections were only momentary but still memorable.

At the upcountry lavender farm we meet Deborah who just started working there again. We discuss the art work they have on display, the plein art painters and art festivals on Maui. She writes the name and contact info for one of her friends in the plein air group. I call his studio and he returns my call the next day. To tell me he had tried to send me the schedule but somehow had been given my email address with a mistake in it. He invites me to paint with the group any time I want. Unfortunately, it's near the end of our trip and the dates don't work for me. He sends me an email and suggests I join them next time we are on island.

On Valentine's Day we stop to share shave ice in Kahului. A couple who also are eating shave ice readily agree to take our photo with my iPhone: one of the nicest photos of us on this trip. They come to Maui every year. It's where they were born.  They now live in Washington State. Another man, also enjoying a shave ice, tentatively strikes up a conversation with us. His manner is reticent: he doesn't want to intrude if we don't want to talk. But we are happy to chat. He shares that he's a firefighter who lives in Hana. Spending a couple of days on this side of the island for SCUBA training. He describes some of the variety of rescues firefighters are involved in on island. He waves at us to end our conversation as he answers his cell. We hear his happy greeting:"Happy Valentine's Day." He misses his Sweetie on this day. Later that day we hear of a daring, successful rescue in Haiku by firefighters from Hana and Kahului of a young man who has fallen 40 feet from a waterfall. We wonder if the firefighter we met is among the rescuers.

Then there's the couple who share some of the shade from their umbrella during the Whale Day festival. And the tall Hawaiian man whose shade I stand in while waiting to buy Italian ice. He notices my pale skin and graciously offers to let me go ahead of him if I'm worried about getting too much sun. I thank him and say I'm happy to stand in his shade. The Italian ice seller, who despite the line of customers, takes time to offer me a sample of flavors and assures me all are gluten free.  No one in line appears to mind the delay. I've bought  a couple of extra "script": the young couple with a baby  graciously thank me when I give them the unused food tickets.

A little connection with the guitarist / singer who performs with John Cruz on the evening of Whale Day. We go to  the evening concert at Stella Blues. After getting cleaned up, I wear my lei from Valentines Day. From the stage the accompanist asks me if it is my birthday since I'm wearing a lei. I suppose that is the traditional decoration to wear on your birthday. I deny it's my birthday, just reusing the lei from Valentine's Day I say. When he and Cruz finish their performance and leave the stage, he gently taps my shoulder and says, "Happy birthday, anyway."

This morning I help a woman who looks like she needs a steadying hand as she climbs down a few rocks to the beach. She invites me to join her in painting. Maybe next time--we are leaving tomorrow. She gives me her card, tells me she is on island every year about the same time we are. She and her husband live in San Jose. That's the same city where we stopped on our way to Maui to visit an old friend from college. We talk about San Jose and staying in touch with old friends. Strange how you find connections.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feathered friends

One of my favorite entertainments is watching and listening to birds. I enjoy the birds at home in Louisville.  Given the weather extremes during much of the year, that means watching them through kitchen windows while they play in the birdbath or poke around in the yard. Few days in Louisville are neither muggy nor frigid. So mostly the windows are closed. Nevertheless, I can recognize the Cardinal's call, the robin's tweet and the mockingbird's song. I also can recognize a dozen or so species by sight.

In Hawaii, with windows open, we awake to the chirpy, whistle and tweety sounds that make up the feathered choir outside the condo. Throughout the day, birds engage in a variety of intriguing vocalizations. I wish I could decipher their songs.

As afternoon converges on evening and the sun prepares to dip into the Pacific, a spectacular sunset is not always guaranteed. But an avian orchestra always accompanies the event. The heightened bird calls just at dusk remind me of my childhood. The mothers would call their roaming offspring home just as night would fall.

 This morning we twice had to clean the car windshield. We are lucky enough to park in a nice shady spot. The birds appreciate the monkey pod tree that shades our car as much or more than we do. Just goes to show you there is a price to pay for all the bird songs.

I've researched online the birds of Hawaii: lots of photos with descriptions of the various birds that inhabit the islands. But what I really would like is to recognize the species by their calls. And know what their calls mean. Wouldn't it be cool to sing to the birds on occasion.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Technology 1; Humanity 0


I just finished reading Walter Isaacson's bio of Steve Jobs.  The book is as much about the technology as it is about the man.  Or maybe Steve Jobs was as much about technology as he was about humanity.

Even though Jobs was not an engineer and not particularly good at software, he nevertheless, was the key player in creating some of the most people-friendly, technological products ever developed: the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod, for example.

From Isaacson's authorized and well-documented bio, Jobs also was the person you would be least likely to want to know. There's neither need nor space for illustrating Jobs' regularly obnoxious, ill-tempered, and downright brutal behavior.  If you want examples,  Isaacson's book abounds with them.

So I find myself obsessed with the question of how such a personally nasty human being could come up with so many devices designed to serve people so well.

Was nastiness a necessary part of his creativity. If his parents had required he behave in a more well-mannered fashion would they have destroyed his creative spark? I don't know. 

I do know, based on the discussion of Jobs' constant mistreatment and apparent disregard of people as individuals wit the feelings there is a huge contradiction in Jobs' insight into the human psyche.  Jobs somehow knew the design many humans would want before they even know they wanted it. How could someone with that much insight not be more of a mensch? 

I write these comments on an Air Mac. the perfect laptop for someone like me with shoulder and arm issues who has trouble carrying anything that weighs more than a couple of pounds. I keep track of my schedule on my iPhone because it is simple and also lightweight.  I use my iPhone to take photos. My $300 digital camera sits at home because I no longer bother with a camera when my iPhone takes nearly as good photos. And again, it is simple and lightweight. The iPhone camera also allows me to take better photos in terms of composition: I can see what the photo will look like in advance. I don't need a music player because my iPhone holds over a thousand songs on it. And so on.

I don't need to belabor how Apple products have changed many people's lives. You already know. 

If Jobs had learned to  keep some of  his incredibly untactful, unpleasant, or unnecessarily harsh judgments to himself, had treated his family members, co-workers, employees and friends as any decent human being should, would I now be typing on a clunky, heavy, laptop, trying to navigate through DOS on my computer. Without Jobs' bad behavior would the world be without the iPhone?

I don't think so.  In my work experience, people often worked better together when there was a cooperative spirit. But then I haven't created anything as elegant as an iPhone. I'm not one to be superstitious but for some reason, the more I write criticism of Mr. Jobs, the quirkier my laptop seems to become. the highlight and edit functions now are no longer working. So maybe I will end with an obvious concession to his genius: since the Renaissance no has created a device as elegant as the iPhone.

This is the particular part of my post which I cannot seem to edit : "Jobs was proud to describe his essential personality trait as an "asshole." He said that it was his job: to be an asshole."

Maybe I need to leave those two sentences just "as is."

Here's some of what the FBI files say about Steve Jobs.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Dog Is On the Roof Again

Gail Collins is spot on again. She does not rant and rave, as I would like to, about antiquated church doctrine driven by theologians from the middle ages. Under Catholic teachings the use of birth control is a mortal sin. So, according to Catholic teachings, most of the Catholics in the US are going to hell. If heaven is filled with the self-righteous know-it-alls, it can't be much fun.

But there is one problem with Gail's article. She failed to include even an oblique mention of Mitt Romney's drive to Canada with his dog on the roof of the family car. And there is no good reason for not including it. Driving to Canada with the dog on the roof shows about as much prior planning as having health insurance without coverage for birth control.

So why don't we just call the push against Obamacare's (and yes, let's be proud to call it that) inclusion of birth control coverage the "Dog on the Roof" provision.


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/opinion/Collins-tales-from-the-kitchen-table.html?scp=2&sq=gail collins&st=cse

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Steve Jobs


I just finished reading Walter Isaacson's bio of Steve Jobs.  The book is as much about the technology as it is about the man.  Or maybe Steve Jobs was as much about technology as he was about humanity.

Even though Jobs was not an engineer and not particularly good at software, he nevertheless, was the key player in creating some of the most people-friendly, technological products ever developed: the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod, for example.

From Isaacson's authorized and well-documented bio, Jobs also was the person you would be least likely to want to know. There's neither need nor space for illustrating Jobs' regularly obnoxious, ill-tempered, and downright brutal behavior.  If you want examples,  Isaacson's book abounds with them.

So I find myself obsessed with the question of how such a personally nasty human being could come up with so many devices designed to serve people so well.

Was nastiness a necessary part of his creativity. If his parents had required he behave in a more well-mannered fashion would they have destroyed his creative spark? I don't know. 

I do know, based on the discussion of Jobs' constant mistreatment and apparent disregard of people as individuals wit the feelings there is a huge contradiction in Jobs' insight into the human psyche.  Jobs somehow knew the design many humans would want before they even know they wanted it. How could someone with that much insight not be more of a mensch? 

I write these comments on an Air Mac. the perfect laptop for someone like me with shoulder and arm issues who has trouble carrying anything that weighs more than a couple of pounds. I keep track of my schedule on my iPhone because it is simple and also lightweight.  I use my iPhone to take photos. My $300 digital camera sits at home because I no longer bother with a camera when my iPhone takes nearly as good photos. And again, it is simple and lightweight. The iPhone camera also allows me to take better photos in terms of composition: I can see what the photo will look like in advance. I don't need a music player because my iPhone holds over a thousand songs on it. And so on.

I don't need to belabor how Apple products have changed many people's lives. You already know. 

If Jobs had learned to  keep some of  his incredibly untactful, unpleasant, or unnecessarily harsh judgments to himself, had treated his family members, co-workers, employees and friends as any decent human being should, would I now be typing on a clunky, heavy, laptop, trying to navigate through DOS on my computer. Without Jobs' bad behavior would the world be without the iPhone?

I don't think so.  In my work experience, people often worked better together when there was a cooperative spirit. But then I haven't created anything as elegant as an iPhone. I'm not one to be superstitious but for some reason, the more I write criticism of Mr. Jobs, the quirkier my laptop seems to become. the highlight and edit functions now are no longer working. So maybe I will end with an obvious concession to his genius: since the Renaissance no has created a device as elegant as the iPhone.

This is the particular part of my post which I cannot seem to edit : "Jobs was proud to describe his essential personality trait as an "asshole." He said that it was his job: to be an asshole."

Maybe I need to leave those two sentences just "as is."

Here's some of what the FBI files say about Steve Jobs.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/steve-jobs-fbi-file-bomb-threat_n_1265519.html#s678174&title=Steve_Jobs_FBI?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Strange Encounters

Sometimes I feel like life is one series of Strange Encounters of Some Kind or Another. Most days when I worked in an office, more than half of the six people I worked most closely with would be wearing the same color that I was wearing. How is that for leadership, anyway?

And I am not talking about UK blue before some big game or red and black in recognition that U of L was playing that night. Rather, I am talking about everyone showing up in a blouse or sweater (the type of garment may vary, it is just the color that is coordinated) in an unusual shade of green. Or maybe another color somewhere between rose and purple. There are days where if you lined us up and covered our heads you would have difficulty distinguishing from the color blur who was who.

There must be some logical explanation for this matched dressing, but I have yet to discover it. I’ve wondered if most people watch the same television program the night before and a particular color has “struck” everyone, perhaps subconsciously, with such impact that we all want to imitate the announcer’s color clothing choice. But then, I seldom watched the evening or the morning news when I worked in an office. Then and now I usually bury my nose in the newspaper when I have a few minutes of quiet time at home. And I do not think I am taking my fashion color cues from the headlines.  Maybe from the funny papers.

I’ve heard there are no coincidences.  Maybe that is Ochhim’s Razor, or maybe Ochim’s Razor is the principle says the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. The statement about no coincidences sounds more like Clint Eastwood in one of his Dirty Harry movies. Anyway, there was some strange coincidence with color going on among the people with whom I worked and I have yet to determine any reasonable explanation other than we all really are in a Spielberg movie about coincidental occurrences.

And to add to the stranger than fiction element to this phenomenon, it is not just people in my immediate office who demonstrate this psychic color –coordination tendency. I attended a three-day, out of town, training course. The course specified casual dress. I knew none of the other participants. The first day, the fifty or so attendees, at least half of whom were male, wore clothes that appeared to be randomly selected at least if you judged the selections based on a color.

The second day, more than half of the participants appeared in the morning wearing a top of the same color, regardless of whether they wore a shirt, blouse, sweater, or polo, the garment that covered their upper body was of the same odd shade. And this particular color was so different that it was difficult to even describe. Maybe it was coral or salmon, or some might call it a shade of orange. Whatever you called it, we were wearing it. And many of the folks who did not have a top in that color had a scarf, jacket or something else in the same strange shade of coraly-salmon-orange.

Now maybe that was the latest fashion color of the season and we had all brought a garment in that color along because it was a new article of clothing. We did not want to look like we were trying to make a fashion statement that first day of the class. So, after meeting and feeling comfortable with our new surroundings and class members, we all reached deep into our suitcases and extracted the garment in the most fashionable color we had brought with us.  But doesn’t that feel like a stretch to come up with an explanation? Even Occhim probably would have to acknowledge that is not the simplest explanation for what appears to be some psychic connection in color scheme amongst a group of people.

Recently, as I and the rest of the group of women with whom I take water aerobics were getting dressed, we discovered almost all of us were simultaneously pulling on brown slacks.  I also had a stripey brown-orange sweater. someone else had a brown scarf and a third person was wearing a brown jacket.

So you see, the color synchronicity has survived my office and emerged full-blown into my water class.  But at least not yet in the water for the most part.  Even though some days most of us have on a blue or black swimsuit, I refuse to count that as those are exercise suits.  We all have a relatively limited selection of swimsuits; nevertheless, two participants have worn a swimsuit identical to one or another I have owned.  Not counting the swimsuits made specifically for water exercises there is a little color weirdness even in the water going on.   

I, for one, believe there are many strange coincidences in this world. Some have rational explanations. Others may have rational explanations and we just have not found that explanation yet. Other coincidences may be just that, coincidences.

But also  there may be something out there that is connecting us all, or at least those of us who get the color signal of what to wear that day. Rather than struggle with the rationale for why these things happen, I think it would be more productive to channel some of this psychic energy into a shopping trip to search for a garment in what will be the fashionable color everyone will be wearing the next time I walk into a large group. Or perhaps if I can harness this connection I can use it to figure out the next lottery winner, Kentucky Derby winner, or which color will be in vogue next year. That type of psychic ability ought to be of some use. But I still never know what to wear.