Monday, December 30, 2013

Dolphin rescue caught on underwater camera

    Get Adobe Flash player

An underwater camera has captured the moment a dolphin that became entangled in a fishing line was freed by a diver in Hawaii.
Martina Wing, who filmed the footage, said that the dolphin seemed to "communicate" with the diver to ask for help.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast's Jon Kay and Louise Minchin from Hawaii, she described the experience as "mind-blowing".
Pictures courtesy of Martina Wing, Ocean Wings Hawaii, Inc.
 My own close encounter with a bottlenosed dolphin can be seen here.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas note and photo from Afghanistan

"Sir, This is the ornament pic I promised. Sorry for the delay. This tree is in the building we call the TLS here at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. It stands for Taliban Last Stand, and is the building they retreated to and were killed/captured in back in Dec 2001. You can see it is a bit worse for the wear. Thanks again for the ornament and the pens, and I look forward to more orders in the future. Sincerely, Chris"

My wife Lai Yee made little Angel ornaments this past month. You can see the one we sent to Chris about halfway up the way up in the center....white with musical notes fabric.

Christmas message from Bob Dylan

Monday, December 02, 2013

Amazon Prime Air

"We're excited to share Prime Air - something the team has been working on in our next generation R&D lab. The goal of this new delivery system is to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles. Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations. This is footage from a recent test flight."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

20 “Forgotten” Words That Should Be Brought Back


November 22 by Lana Winter-Hébert in Leisure, Lifestyle | 8.6K Shares

Languages are living things that shift and evolve over time. If you look at the history of the English language, from Anglo Saxon through the Great Vowel Shift to what we consider Standard English today, you’ll notice that it has undergone some spectacular changes over the centuries. Some basic words have stuck around through the ages, like “father”, “house”, “egg”, “boat” and so on, but just as new words developed over time, other words were discarded along the way.

Many others from Shakespeare’s time through to the early 20th century have fallen out of common usage, and we are undoubtedly the poorer for it. Here are 20 words that could only serve to add a bit more colour to our daily lives if they happened to come back into regular use.

1. Bunbury


An imaginary person whose name is used as an excuse to some purpose, especially to visit a place.

“Auntie Jane the cottage dweller” was my go-to bunbury whenever I wanted to take a day off to go play in the forest.

2. Scurrilous


The description of something said or done unfairly to make people have a bad opinion of someone.

Mrs. Mumford had spread rather scurrilous gossip about Miss Violet in the hope of tarnishing her reputation. Honestly, who would do that sort of thing with a llama?

3. Gallimaufry


A hodge-podge, or jumbled medley (can also refer to an edible dish).

Lydia’s casserole was a veritable gallimaufry of beans, raisins, cauliflower, sausage, cheap wine, and cabbage. Guests never asked for second helpings.

4. Thrice


Three times.

I’ve told you twice not to eat raw pork with mustard or you’ll get sick—don’t make me say it thrice!

5. Blithering


Talking utterly and completely foolishly, OR used to describe a foolish person.

The blithering idiot was blithering on about something or other, but I tuned him out.

6. Pluviophile


A person who takes great joy and comfort in rainy days.

Your average pluviophile will be in utter glory when thunder roils, as she can curl up with blankets and books while rain pours down outside.

7. Librocubularist


One who reads in bed.

When you’re married to a librocubularist, you can rest assured that you’ll have to compete with a stack of books for nighttime attention.

8. Febricula


A slight and transient fever.

Attending the opening of Twilight’s 17th sequel gave Arabella a mild febricula, but the air-conditioned cinema interior cleared it up quickly.

9. Starrify


To decorate with stars.

The student council would starrify the high school gym every year in preparation for the homecoming dance.

10. Sophronize


To imbue with sound moral principles or self-control.

It’s vital that parents sophronize children, not just expect them to behave properly of their own volition—you know what havoc they’d wreak.

11. Mullock


Rubbish, nonsense, or waste matter.

I don’t know what kind of mullock you’re gibbering on about today, but you really need to stop reading those conspiracy magazines.

12. Uglyography


Poor handwriting, and bad spelling.

His uglyography was so heinous that his essay was used as kindling, but the flames extinguished themselves rather than be tainted by association.

13. Namelings

plural noun

Those bearing the same name.

There were six boys named Jason in that particular class, prompting the teacher to address them all by their last names. When faced with namelings who both answered to “Jason Birch”, she called them “Birch” and “tree”, respectively.

14. Ultracrepidarianism


The habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge.

Child-free people who try to give parenting advice are often guilty of the worst kind of ultracrepidarianism.

15. Pannychis


An all-night feast or ceremony.

Edmund took another energy drink, hoping that its caffeine content would help him survive this raucous pannychis.

16. Guttle


To gobble greedily; to cram food into one’s gut.

The dinner guests watched in horror as Lord Penderquist guttled an entire roasted boar into his maw.

17. Snollyguster


A person, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles.

The snollyguster who won the mayoral election just lines his pockets with cash to support his drug habit.

18. Welkin


The upper sky; “vault” of heaven.

Icarus would have passed through the welkin on his legendary flight, but we all know how that turned out for him.

19. Barbigerous


Characterized by having a beard.

I had wanted to compliment him on his fiancee’s beauty, but her barbigerous aspect was so dominant that I had to remain silent.

20. Eventide


The end of the day, just as evening approaches.

Moonflowers only bloom at eventide, opening their petals as the sun slips below the horizon.

As a special little addition, we’ll also reach into the annals of history for a fun little Anglo-Saxon term that we can all relate to:



To lie awake in the period just before dawn because you’re worrying too much to be able to sleep.

How many of these do you often use? If You’ve Never Used These English Idioms, You’re Probably Not a Native English Speaker
Featured photo credit: Ancient letter and pen

Monday, November 11, 2013

On the Road: Middle school football players execute life-changing play

"As part of our continuing series "On the Road," Steve Hartman meets the Olivet Eagles, a middle school football team who took a fledgling player under their wing and executed what may be the most successful play of all time."

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Grandpa Bill's Train Town

Growing up, my next door neighbor Hank Rose had a somewhat smaller version of this in his basement (he needed a lot of the space for handmade ships and airplanes!)

I spent a lot of time in that basement. :-)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

"It's important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members' interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. I'm going to tell you that libraries are important. I'm going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I'm going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.

And I am biased, obviously and enormously: I'm an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about 30 years I have been earning my living though my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.

So I'm biased as a writer. But I am much, much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British citizen.

And I'm here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.

And it's that change, and that act of reading that I'm here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What it's good for."

Read more here.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Interview with CEO of A. T. Cross pen company

Time-lapse video of Iceland


Monday, September 30, 2013

NY Times: Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Nobel’s Door

The following opinion piece is from the Sunday Review of the New York Times

"THIS year’s Nobel Prize in Literature should be announced in early October, and over on the tony British betting site Ladbrokes, Haruki Murakami of Japan, riding the waves of acclaim for his fantastical novel “1Q84,” is the favorite. Other well-known names — Milan Kundera, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates — are bandied about, but Mr. Murakami is unique: among perennial Nobel front-runners, it would be difficult to find a writer more influenced by the popular music and culture born of the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s.

That fact prompts a pressing question: why isn’t the most vital of the artistic catalysts of those upheavals himself a front-runner for the prize? I’m referring of course to Bob Dylan, a fierce and uncompromising poet whose writing, 50 years on, still crackles with relevance. Mr. Dylan’s work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience. His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless; and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.

I’m not the first to suggest it, but it’s time to take the idea seriously. The Nobel Prize in Literature is not awarded posthumously, and Mr. Dylan, now in his 70s, has battled heart disease. Alfred Nobel’s will decreed that the prize should go to a writer with “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” Why hasn’t Bob Dylan received one?

Given his medium (songwriting) and profession (rock star), Mr. Dylan may have some strikes against him:

Bob Dylan is not in the mold of the sober creator of “great literature.” He most certainly is not — but consider: in 1997, the literature prize went to Dario Fo, the incorrigible and profane Italian playwright, at whose selection the Roman Catholic Church in particular was amusingly aghast. The vast majority of literature prize recipients are world titans (Mario Vargas Llosa, Günter Grass) or less-well-known but established candidates (Orhan Pamuk of Turkey, the late Seamus Heaney of Ireland), with a relatively obscure recipient every so often (like Elfriede Jelinek of Austria nine years ago), just to keep us all on our toes. It has been too long since the Swedish Academy has honored a mind like Mr. Fo’s.

Mr. Dylan just writes pop lyrics. Actually, Mr. Dylan writes, full stop. Why discount what has been written because of where it ends up? Those who would use the word “pop” as a cudgel or tool of exclusion do so at their peril. Dickens and Twain, Hugo and Shakespeare and Euripides — all soaked up the acclaim of their day. Alfred Hitchcock, whose work at its height met critical condescension, would have some useful thoughts on the subject as well.

Still — his doggerel verses are not literature. In the 1950s in America, rock was a mongrel music, created out of the cultures of the downtrodden — people who built their lives around the blues, folk, gospel or country. Electric guitars got involved, and then some leers and hip thrusts. A new postwar generation of youth took notice, and a cultural revolution was born.

Mr. Dylan added literature. He was first, of course, a singer of folky loquacity, and a serious student of the music’s antediluvian influences: what the critic Greil Marcus calls “the old, weird America.” To this he wedded the yawp of the Beats and the austere intellectualism of the Symbolists. Drugs didn’t hurt, and passing but pungent imagery shows that Mr. Dylan had absorbed the Bible as well.

That disruptive mélange gave us the imagery and power of songs like “Chimes of Freedom” and “Desolation Row,” of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and “Visions of Johanna,” among scores of others. He has displayed a mastery of everything from the political jeremiad (“It’s Alright, Ma [I’m Only Bleeding])” to the romantic epic (“Tangled Up in Blue”), and lines like “Money doesn’t talk, it swears” show his way with the lancing aperçu. Mr. Dylan is neither a saint nor a moralist. Epic anger and personal petulance erupt out of his lyrics. But so do tender mercies, extravagant and deep love, self-castigation and what turns out to have been no little wisdom.

Pop lyrics are corrupted by the writer’s desire for popular acclaim. In fact, the record is clear that — whatever ambition lay in his breast — his is a personality, and his art is of a nature, that makes it difficult to chase popular approval or sanction. Mr. Dylan is no Solzhenitsyn, but he is a figure who genuinely challenges the established order.

He was surely the first pop artist to tell his audience things it didn’t want to hear. In 1963, from the dais at a civil rights dinner, he looked with some contempt at the well-dressed crowd and said, “My friends don’t wear suits.” The drama surrounding his lurch into electric music is perhaps overstated; “Like a Rolling Stone” was a huge hit. What’s really radical about the song is its derisive look at his privileged listeners. Mr. Dylan reveled in the comeuppance he saw on the horizon: “You said you’d never compromise” and now “... you stare into the vacuum of his eyes / And ask him do you want to make a deal?”

MR. DYLAN spent the rest of his career rejecting his audience’s expectations. He dropped out of sight at the height of his fame; the cover story was a motorcycle accident, but as his autobiography, “Chronicles: Volume One,” makes clear, he really just wanted to raise his kids in peace, away from the hippies who harried his family. After going electric, he went country. In the late 1970s, as the New Wave era crested, the singer, raised a Jew, declared himself a Christian — and not the warm and fuzzy sort, either. What sort of pop artist works so diligently to systematically undermine his own popularity?

By his own account, Mr. Dylan spent the 1980s in a bit of a fog, but revivified himself in the last years of that decade and went back on the road. Now 25 years into his so-called “Never Ending Tour,” Mr. Dylan continues to perform in relatively modest venues with an unprepossessing backing combo, growling out chestnuts from his vast catalog and new songs as well. His recent albums “Time Out of Mind” (1997), “Love and Theft” (2001) and “Modern Times” (2006) all won best album in the annual poll at “The Village Voice” of the nation’s rock critics — a remarkable achievement for a 1960s holdover in an era of hip-hop and ever-more-effete rock.

If the academy doesn’t recognize Bob Dylan — a bard who embodied the most significant cultural upheaval of the second half of the last century — it will squander its best chance to honor a pop poet. What other songwriter would remotely qualify? Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen? Perhaps. Randy Newman? Chuck D? (In truth, the only other pop artist with work as timeless as Mr. Dylan’s is Chuck Berry — but that’s an argument for another day.) With his superstar peers either silent or content to collect the big bucks playing ingratiating stadium shows, this artist, iconoclastic and still vital, demands that we take the product of his muse on his own terms, and refuses to go so gently."

Bill Wyman is a freelance writer on the arts and former arts editor at NPR and Salon.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Monday, September 23, 2013

Make room, make room!

Sending a photo from my 'Pages' app on my iPod. You'll need to click on the photo to see it all. I'll work on lighting next time...but I don't promise my desk will be any less messy. :-)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Handwriting without tears

In a fast paced world with texting, tablets, and voice activated smart phones how important is the actual practice of writing? Our next guest says it's more important that you might think. In fact, she has tips on how to encourage our kids to learn and continue writing in cursive.

Erin Dolin is a presenter for Handwriting Without Tears and an occupational therapist who wants us to take pen to paper.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Art Brown's venerable pen store closes its doors in Manhattan

Adam Frank reported on Pentrace this weekend about the sudden closing of the venerable (next year would have been their 90th year) Manhattan pen shop, Art Brown -- a family business.

All reports indicate that this was due to an increase in rent that could no longer be sustained (some report an increase to $50,000 per month!).

What a sad event.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Buckminster Fuller: 30th Anniversary of his death but his vision inspries today

"Buckminster Fuller died thirty years ago today - July 1, 1983, but his vision of creating “a world that works for everyone” is more vital and needed now than ever. At the moment of his passing, I was sitting in a movie theater watching the just-released War Games, named after the military plans for global annihilation that Bucky’s “World Game” was designed to counter. The object of war games is to destroy and kill. “World Game,” on the other hand, is about focusing our current resources and knowhow on livingry rather than weaponry.

And although Marshall McLuhan called Bucky “the 20th Century Leonardo da Vinci,” even thirty years after his death, we are, unfortunately, no closer to that vision than we were decades ago. In fact, we might just be farther from it, and Buckminster Fuller’s life and ideas are more obscure than when he was walking the planet he named Spaceship Earth delivering 150 “thinking out loud” lectures per year. In every one of those presentations, Bucky reminded his audiences,
A short explanation from Bucky himself.
Buckminster Fuller's Vision & Wisdom, Brief Exploration

"For the first time in history it is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. All humanity now has the option to become enduringly successful."

Although I wrote two books about Bucky (Buckminster Fuller’s Universe 1988, A Fuller View 2012), there has been no best-selling book about Bucky, and few publishers are interested in more books about his wisdom and practical solutions to all humankind’s problems. I know this because I’ve been pitching these books for thirty plus years.

And, in an era when we have feature films about some fairly obscure performers, athletes and other unique individuals, there has yet to be a feature film about Bucky’s amazing life. Here is a man who

Was granted 25 U.S. patents.
Wrote 28 published books and thousands of articles.
Received 47 honorary doctorates.
Was presented with hundreds of major awards.
Circled the globe 57 times working on projects and lecturing.
Presented an average of 150 "thinking out loud" sessions per year.
Demonstrated and documented the importance of the "little individual" in the grand scheme of human evolution.

Still, he has yet to be fully recognized and appreciated. More important, the sage wisdom he offers for surviving and thriving both as individuals and as a species is largely relegated to a very limited population.

Bucky was one of the first people (perhaps the first person) to live consciously as a global citizen. He was also one of the first (if not the first) environmentalists, and he lived his life as a Bodhisattva. His mission was twofold and quite clear.

1) To demonstrate and document what one individual could achieve that could not be accomplished by any institution or organization no matter how affluent or powerful.
(2) To advocate and work for the success of all life on the planet he named Spaceship Earth using his Comprehensive, Anticipatory Design Science.

And he lived that mission in a disciplined manner for most of his adult life; creating a 56-Year Experiment to demonstrate and document what one individual can achieve on behalf of all sentient beings. Walking that path, Bucky was able to teach by example -- showing us through his accomplishments and seeming failures that each of us possess tremendous gifts that we can contribute to others and help create “a world that works for everyone.” He also proved that a person could have a satisfying, enjoyable life while making his or her unique contribution.

Today, more than ever, we need conscious, awake, participating global citizens, and we are fortunate that we don’t have to figure out how to become such citizens on our own. Bucky’s life serves as a template for anyone who wants to fully participate and make the most difference with the least amount of effort. We can solve everything from poverty to war to global warming if we will just consider the wisdom of our elders, and in this case the global elder R. Buckminster Fuller.

May we each quickly discover our true path and contribution just as Buckminster Fuller was able to do."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

More on Eva Cassidy

For those of you not familiar with Eva Cassidy, here's a short profile:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Robin Williams with dolphins

My favorite line, after he gets rammed by a wild dolphin, is "I'm probably the only human being on the planet to piss off a dolphin".

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Still, one of my greatest experiences in life was attending a weekend symposium with Bucky at the Harvard Science Center, back in 1976 or 1977.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Name a planet contest!

First Planet Around Alpha Centauri: “Alpha Centauri Bb” What name does the public want? Uwingu Funding Space Research and Education via Contest

image courtesy of Uwingu

"Boulder, Colorado—Space company UwinguTM has launched a new public outreach project—a public contest to determine the worldwide public’s choice name for the nearest known planet around another star. Anyone can nominate a name; the contest ends April 15th."

Click on the link to find out more about the contest and how your support funds various space and science projects.

If you don't wish to submit a name for this recently discovered planet orbiting Alpha Centauri -- our closest solar neighbor -- I'd appreciate a vote for mine: FIRENZE.

As I wrote when submitting it, "A wise Centaur from the Harry Potter series, he sides with humans and helps Professor Dumbledore -- against his own kind -- to resist Voldemort. Dumbledore rewards him by appointing him Divination instructor, as Centaurs observe the larger movements of the stars and "watch the skies for great tides of evil or change that are sometimes marked there."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Paper is not dead!

Le papier ne sera jamais mort / Paper is not dead ! from INfluencia on Vimeo.

I just heard a radio interview with the author of 'Higher Call', a book detailing the encounter of Franz Stigler and Charlie Brown during WWII...Stigler in his ME 109 and Brown in his badly damaged B-17...and Stigler's decision to escort him out of German airspace, rather than shoot him down.

The following video is from their first face-to-face meeting, many years later.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Super Mega Dolphin Pod Spanned 35 Square Miles

Some estimates put the total at 100,000 dolphins, spanning 5 miles by 7 miles! I've never heard of anything like this happening before (most pods top out at 30 or 40 individuals). There are lots of videos up about this on the Net. Here's one:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ping-Pong: Head Game

From the New York Times

February 23, 2013
Ping-Pong: Head Game

A gold-toothed man of 76 polishes his $300 paddle. The tall, elegant gentleman who is used to overseeing maquiladoras in Tijuana silently pulls three-star balls out of a box. Mrs. Fukuoka, 80 next month, flicks shots into the corner at such cunning angles that she wins every other point. “I’m never tired,” she giggles, hiding her smile behind her bat, “because I never move.” At another of the eight championship tables, a bald guy and a grandmother exchange low forehand topspins with such relentless intensity they attain a rhythm that’s almost sexual.

This is not the kids’ game I grew up playing in my dorm at school.

It’s not the spring break romp that dissolves in giggles beside the pool at the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood.

In Japan, Ping-Pong is how you keep your wits about you and your reflexes, limbs and senses intensely sharp. Almost every afternoon for nine years, I’ve walked 15 minutes uphill to our local health club, here in suburban Nara, or taken a bus to an ancient gymnasium in a nearby park, to engage in furious bouts of table tennis with a group of 30 or so Japanese neighbors who teach me about engagement in their retirement years as once they did with co-workers or family members.

I soon begin sweating even on mid-February days while some of my pals are swathed in jackets, mufflers and gloves and our breath condenses in front of us, indoors. When it hits 100 degrees in the old wooden space in July, I slip away discreetly after 90 minutes, while my aged friends continue for up to four hours. “Pico-san,” they say, next time they see me. “What’s up? You’re the youngest by 20 years and you’re the first to stop.” “I’m the only non-Japanese,” I want to say.

Some play tight, wily games with a Chinese “pen holder” grip mastered before World War II. Others brandish the long, cool “shake” forehands of a Western style.

With every stroke, I might be watching Japan address its central question: whether to honor the distant past or the future, Confucius or California.

It’s a sport of intelligence, of course, which is why eight of the first nine world table tennis championships were won by Hungary. It’s a game of authority, which is why it was invented, many claim, by imperial Brits in the late 19th century, perhaps as an after-dinner game for the Raj. It’s an exercise in unyielding patience: when the first point between two (defensively minded) players in the 1936 World Championship lasted two hours and 12 minutes, the umpire had to be replaced midpoint, one player started playing with his left hand, and the rules had to be re-evaluated on the spot to prevent matches that could go on for 16 days. I watch the high-toss serves of track-suited former salarymen, I hear the shouts (in quasi-English) of “deuce one!” or “all seven!” from adjoining tables, I dive for a lightning backhand drive from a toothless doctor and I think, “How can a training in attention be so ridiculously fun?”

Continue reading "Games People Play": Tennis: Love-Love by James Atlas, Solitaire: Me vs. Me by Francine Prose, Poker Is America by Charles A. Murray and Frisbee: Ultimate Sport by Jason Lucero.

Pico Iyer is a fellow at Chapman University and the author, most recently, of “The Man Within My Head.”

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Saturday, February 09, 2013

1.8 gigapixel ARGUS-IS. World's highest resolution video surveillance platform*

*...that we know about.

I don't think I'm going to go outside anymore. Although, that's probably not protection these days either.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Great news!

"Here it is. My 4th Annual Super Bowl Half Time Show song leak. This one is from none other than Bob Dylan, who is replacing Beyonce who dropped out after her inauguration lip synching scandal.

“Running Out The Clock” is a previously unreleased song from Dylan’s 1983 “Infidels” album. I guess it makes sense… the football metaphors and references.

I hope you enjoy and know I’ll be back next year with another leak."

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Deep End

"This eerie animation was hand-drawn with ink, coffee and white-out, and it will melt your face. This trippy one-minute short — titled "The Deep End" — was cooked up by Boston-based experimental animator Jake Fried, who relied on ink, coffee, white-out, and layer-upon-layer of illustrated canvas to create the downright disturbing phantasmagoria featured here.

You'll want to watch this one full-screened, with speakers or headphones on; paired with his choice of ambiguously eldritch sounds, Fried's animation makes for sixty of the most unsettling (albeit totally captivating) seconds we've sat through in some time."