“When we review the calamities which afflict so many other nations, the present condition of the United States affords much matter of consolation and satisfaction.” George Washington, Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of 1795
I believe this is as true today as it was in 1795. But what would it mean if we couldn’t honestly conclude that this still rings true? It’s a scary thought. It might mean that our country and our lives as we know them would be very different, and we might not be blessed with all of the fortunate opportunities and circumstances that provide us with so many things to be thankful for.
I guess I’m trying to say that I have lots of things to be thankful for – yes, material things like a home, car, and an unstoppable fantasy football team, but more importantly, immaterial things like my family, my health, and my freedom - lots of things that I otherwise might not have if Washington’s statement were no longer true.
And this Thanksgiving I’m especially thankful for the staying power of Washington’s statement because it’s a reassuring thought to consider as we work through some uncertain and tough times.
OK, that’s more than enough “food for thought.” Now let us commence with the “food for belly” part of Thanksgiving!!
The New York Times recently posted a video from photojournalist Robbie Cooper’s Immersion project, which shows kids playing video games. Entertainment is entertainment. I have no problem with the fact that violent video games exist and that many people enjoy them. However, I think its important that young kids aren’t exposed to violent games, like Grand Theft Auto, for example. It is great that the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) exists and assigns “Mature” ratings to the most violent titles, but parents, more importantly, have to do their job. All rantings aside, I’m a bit disturbed by Robbie Cooper’s video because the kids are so young…too young for some of the games that I assume they are playing. At the same time, the video is interesting to watch – these kids are definitely immersed. Check it out.
On the other hand, Robbie Cooper’s “Alter Ego: Avatars and their Creators,” gained a bunch of buzz last year that I took note of. The project/book is a collection of photographs of gamers alongside images of their avatars – a character that gamers design and use to represent themselves in online virtual worlds, such as World of Warcraft and Second Life.
It is fascinating to see how people choose to represent themselves online. Many select characteristics for their avatar that mimic their own in real life, but others seem to rather live vicariously through their avatars and will, for example, choose a female character even though they are male. I pulled out a couple examples from The New York Time’s Alter Ego slideshow below:
From NY Times Slideshow: NAME Choi Seang Rak BORN 1971 OCCUPATION Academic LOCATION Seoul, South Korea AVATAR NAME Uroo Ahs AVATAR CREATED 2004 GAME PLAYED Lineage II HOURS PER WEEK IN-GAME 8 CHARACTER TYPE Dwarf Warsmith SPECIAL ABILITIES Craft siege weapons, whirlwind in battle
From NY Times Slideshow: NAME Andreas Fischer BORN 1980 OCCUPATION Designer LOCATION Vienna AVATAR NAME Zero Cold AVATAR CREATED 2005 GAME PLAYED City of Heroes HOURS PER WEEK IN-GAME 17 CHARACTER TYPE Human SPECIAL ABILITIES Controls ice and storms
From NY Times Slideshow: NAME Kimberly Rufer-Bach BORN 1966 OCCUPATION Software developer LOCATION Clarksville, Tenn. AVATAR NAME Kim Anubis AVATAR CREATED 2004 GAME PLAYED Second Life HOURS PER WEEK IN-GAME 70 CHARACTER TYPE Content creator SPECIAL ABILITIES Building interactive objects
Incredible pictures of Viper Company of the 1-26 Infantry in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Click the picture to see all 31 images.
A strategic passage wanted by the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley is among the deadliest pieces of terrain in the world for U.S. forces. The Korengal Valley is a lonely outpost of regress: most of the valley’s people practice Wahhabism, a more rigid variety of Islam than that followed by most Afghans, and about half of the fighters confronting the U.S. there are homegrown. The rest are Arabs, Pakistanis, Chechens, Uzbeks; the area is close to Pakistan’s frontier regions where Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other Al Qaeda figures are often said to be hiding out. The Korengal fighters are fierce, know the terrain and watch the Americans’ every move. On their hand-held radios, the old jihadiscall the Americans “monkeys,” “infidels,” ‘’bastards” and “the kids.” It’s psychological warfare; they know the Americans monitor their radio chatter.
Is it time for the government to stop printing money to throw in the Money Hole? You decide.
Ha Ha! Ha. Huh. Hmm. I’d be laughing harder if this wasn’t effectively true.
Oh, and to go along with this tongue-in-cheek video on bailouts, how about a tongue-in-cheek sentence of the day on the same subject: “The seepage of government into everywhere is, we are assured, to be temporary and nonpolitical.” Well, now wouldn’t that be somethin’?
Over the past week I’ve learned something new about myself – I don’t know a guy. You know, a guy – a guy that can hook you up and help you out, do you a favor that will either save you time or money.
I’m pretty sure my dad has a few guys – he knows a lot of people. Our friend Brad has a guy (actually, he’s got a few too). His Uncle, I guess, is the ultimate “guy.” Need new tires? Forget about it, he’s got a guy. During one of the Red Sox playoff games in Florida this year, he, all of a sudden the night before, had access to a plane ticket from Boston to Florida and tickets to the game at a near-nothing rate. One of my co-workers TOTALLY has a guy. This past week, he got hooked up with tickets to the Celtics game AND the Patriots game on Thursday. Even Dan Buzz knows a guy – he’s got a bakery guy. Yes, a bakery guy.
So the moral of the story is, if you ever need something, I am probably the last person that can help you out. But, I do know a couple of guys that know a guy
Quick story about how an awesome dip, once lost, was found again: My friend and I tried this dip a few months back at a party and we agreed that it must at least be in the conversation about best dip ever. Unfortunately we never did find out what brand of dip it was, and as the weeks passed by I totally forgot about it.
Then, a couple weeks ago, that same friend left me a message saying “he had a present for me.” My first thought was, “that’s weird, why the hell is he giving me a present.” Normally, man-to-man, non-obligatory gift giving is highly discouraged among peers. It’s one of those unwritten rules. But, so long as the gift is delivered in a standard-issue brown paper bag and involves alcohol, horseradish, or iron works, it is acceptable. It turns out he had spotted the distinctive hexagonal shaped jar in a storefront window in Salem, MA and knew right away it was the dip. Per protocol, the dip was delivered to me in a plain brown paper bag – sans ribbon or a tag – and as such, was graciously accepted without awkwardness.
Anyway, it has great flavor and a darn good kick from the horseradish – I like it with pita chips and vegetables.
It may seem early, but two Boston radio stations are already kicking off the Christmas tunes. WROR (105.7 FM) and WODS (103.3 FM) started playing Christmas songs around the clock on Thursday, and will continue to play them through Christmas Day.
My older brother is a sculptor and one of a number of artists that live and work in The Distillery, a community of artists located in a mid-19th century converted rum distillery in Southie. According the the website, the building has been a center of the arts in Boston for 20 years and houses three galleries as well as 140 tenants.
Every year, The Distillery holds its “Open Studios” event during which artists open their doors to visitors for a couple days. I’ve attended the past few years and it is always a pleasing experience - especially since I get to see what new projects my brother has been working on.
As a life-long Dungeons & Dragons player, Jason’s sculptures are primarily influenced by his experiences with this 30+ year-old “pen and paper” role-playing game. His sculptures take the form of fantastical creatures, critters or monsters and most of them are wonderfully terrifying, but a few are actually quite friendly, such as his “moop” characters. I’m lucky enough to have one of these (a very generous gift from Jason). This photo doesn’t do the moop justice:
Jason first sculpts each figure out of brown wax and then, when finished (which sometimes takes months and multiple re-iterations), he creates a mold. From this mold, he casts the sculptures in bronze at a foundry. He can explain the process a lot better than I can, but here is a snapshot of Jason’s work-space:
And one of his newer projects (not yet casted, this guy is still a work-in-progress):
Jason has also dabbled in duct-tape. Yes, duct-tape. Years ago, he created a human-sized duct-tape creature that he always puts on display outside his apartment during Open Studios. This year, however, the sculpture was placed in the main Distillery gallery, slightly hidden towards the ceiling, watching over visitors…