Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reader Question

A reader asks:

"Hey, you haven't done jack-squat on your website in the last couple of weeks! What gives?"

Answer: You are right. Two reasons: 1) I was in Tallahassee for a week-long work trip. 2) I have been focusing on writing for my other blog, Cindi and Mary Beth's Holistic Enneagram Agency. Check it out.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Studies in the New Causality

A court awarded $200,000 to a man who claimed that being in a car accident made him gay. This incident inspired Steve Martin's essay "Studies in the New Causality."

Sometimes the political process works

Last Thursday, Tim Westergren from Pandora visited Nashville and held a little town hall meeting before heading out to the clubs to look for new artists. We met upstairs at Bongo After Hours, and that very small space was completely filled -- they figured out how to let us all in, which included seating us on the floor of the stage all around Tim as he talked. It was standing room only -- for him. He was extremely charming; he kind of reminded me of the drummer in That Thing You Do! (only more mature, since that character was in high school.) He is the very definition of down to earth. He talked about what the company's all about, and some of the challenges they've faced, and he talked to us about our experience of using the service. (If you don't know what Pandora is, read this post.)

Tim used to tour with a band himself, and it shows. He is extremely proud of being able to provide good jobs for musicians (who he hires to analyze the music's "genes") and also of the way his service hooks listeners up with music they will like that they wouldn't otherwise have heard. He asked for cds from the crowd (this being Nashville, some audience members represented labels and many were in bands.) That music will be listened to for quality, and analyzed for the genome project if it makes the cut. The breadth and sheer amount of music on Pandora is truly impressive.

Pandora almost had to go off the air this summer, along with every other internet radio station, because a change in the way they pay the artists was poised to go into effect that would be four times the amount of airplay on a regular radio station. I kept reading about this all through the spring and summer, and heard about it on NPR, and then, miraculously, the deadline passed and internet radio is still on the air. What happened was the people cried out! As the deadline loomed, people faxed and called their representatives, jamming up the fax machines and phone lines. Congress decided something was wrong, and the rate change was held up, and a new agreement is now being negotiated.

I have mentioned before that I usually have mixed feelings on most political issues; not this one. Radio in this country is abysmal; now all of a sudden it's not and let's keep it that way! I think small labels love internet radio.

The last time I remember such a wonderful outcome from the political process was when four more weeks of Daylight Savings Time were added. That is the Bush administration's most (only?) positive legacy.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

More about turtles

An article in today's New York Times about adopting a turtle. Interesting comments section. Common themes seem to be: turtles and tortoises live so long that they outlive their owners, small turtles grow to the size of dinner plates, turtles are reptiles not amphibians, whether or not pet turtles are fond of human beings, and adopt your turtles from a shelter rather than buying them from a pet store, because as it turns out, there are plenty of people looking to get rid of them because you are not supposed to put them back into the wild. I doubt our animal shelters here in Tennessee will give out turtles because I believe it to be illegal to keep a turtle as a pet -- it varies from state to state. Here is a link to a turtle adoption agency (they are looking for homes for unwanted pet turtles.)

In the late 60s/early 70s, little turtles were commonly sold in stores, stores like Kmart. My grandmother bought me two little turtles and an aquarium. They were the diameter of a tangerine. I was way too young to look after a pet, and I liked to take Bellybutton and Spot out and play with them, then just walk away. So they were always "escaping." Then the whole family would search, and they'd be found behind the refrigerator or under the ledge of the pantry.

One day my Mom told me we were going to visit our cousins, and get Bellybutton and Spot. I was very suspicious. Then we let them go in a creek. Turns out, the fact that turtles can carry salmonella had become a hot news item and parents were encouraged to get rid of their kids' turtles. Stores stopped selling them. Letting turtles go back into the wild is illegal now, because turtles that don't belong to an area breed and edge out species that do belong, so I don't know whether setting them free was considered the appropriate method for getting rid of them back then or not.

Meanwhile, here are some turtle facts: all turtles, including tortoises, are considered turtles. Turtles are reptiles, not amphibians, and their eggs are laid on land. Most turtle species are adapted for living in water, and tortoises are the subset who are not and only go into the water to drink or bathe.

The turtles I met at the Hickory Aquarium seemed friendlier than my lizards. The comments section under the New York Times article referenced above is full of stories of turtles liking people. One person mentions that his turtle's favorite musical genres are folk and classical.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Loose Ends

The polls have closed. On the dreams issue, 6 voters do not remember their dreams. That leaves a tie between anxiety dreams/ one damn thing after another, and some other way. On the terrorist issue, "I feel threatened by Islamic terrorists" was solidly trounced, 72% to 27%. Remember, if you give in to fear, then the terrorists have won! Thanks, though; you have confirmed my suspicion that more of my friends live in Ron Paul's America than Tom Tancredo's.

To participate in another poll (Who is more famous, Stephen Jay Gould or Michael Jackson?), see pictures of my lizards, and take the "What is my daemon" quiz, go to Cindi and Mary Beth's Holistic Enneagram Agency. We have 17 posts already!
There is an interesting discussion going on in the comments for the Republicans have better mental health post: Is mental health defined by being able to sincerely describe oneself as happy, and also not be driving other people around you crazy, or do you also have to be a productive member of society?
Also, a friend of mine went to a party last night and talked to people about dreams. He reports that "it was uniformly tolerated and in most cases enthusiastically embraced." He did "follow Beje's 3 sentence rule pretty carefully though." Good work, Beje.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Happiness Project is already working for me

This morning I visited The Happiness Project (the site referenced yesterday.) The post for today is entitled Try to do one nagging task each day, or better yet, avoid having a nagging task. I tend to let tasks pile up in a big way, so upon reading that post I decided to stop everything (i.e. surfing and blogging) until I'd completed a task. It was to simply be cleaning out the lizard cage, but my eyes didn't have to stray far before I realized that cleaning my desk would lead to greater happiness. Now I've cleaned the desk, cleaned out the drawers, changed the months on the wipe-off calendar and changed the lizards' dirt. So far, no happier, but I have hope that the happiness will build as I continue to see the clean desk. I needed to do it anyway, so, the Happiness Project blog's still working for me whether this makes me happier or not.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Happiness Project

Check out The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin's blog about finding happiness. Here is her description of what the blog is about:

I'm working on a book, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT--a memoir about the year I spent
test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find,
whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS
PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what
doesn’t. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I
grapple with the challenge of being happier. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will hit the
shelves in late 2009 (HarperCollins).

One feature I especially like is her lists of tips that she writes every Wednesday. Here's an especially relevant one entitled Seven topics to avoid if you don't want to risk being a bore. Number one on the list: a dream.

Here's another interesting, related one: Quiz -- do you make other people unhappy?

Note: most of her lists aren't so negative -- these just happen to appeal to me!

I really like her writing -- she's sincere, writes often, and brings in material from a wide range of sources.