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Some may find it odd that I, a guy who makes his living dealing with data, computers, bugs, and code, am such a fan of low-tech.

It’s not that I dislike technology—I don’t, and I have the phones, tablets, and game consoles to prove it—but while technology has made the lives of millions safer, easier, and more pleasant, it’s also taken us away from our roots, separating our connection to the physical world around us.

Alexander Langlands, an archaeologist who has worked uncovering Britain’s history for decades, thinks much the same way, and in his book, Cræft, he explores some of the most basic skills in human history, skills that require us to touch the world with our hands, and that are intimately tied to our environments and ecosystems. Through historical context and personal experimentation, Langlands shows us how tasks that, today, we might deem very simple—tasks such as digging a trench, weaving cloth, making hay, and thatching a roof—actually require broad experiential knowledge to master. He uses cræft, the Old English of the word craft, to highlight the change in the word’s meaning over the centuries. (more…)

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Last night we were supposed to go out to a movie. An old-fashioned date night, before I began a two-week on-call stint.

The plan was to go see a screening of the National Theatre’s 2016 production of Hamlet, but it had been one of those loooong weeks, where I was sure it was Friday but it was only Wednesday, and so on. My wife was just as exhausted, and there was no way she was going to make it through a four-hour play in a darkened room. I might have made it to Act IV, but she would have been snoring before the first body hit the floor.

Not to be completely deterred, we opted instead to stay in and watch a movie at home. No primp-n-prep, no travel, no finding a place to park. Plus, we had better lighting, a shorter duration, and cheaper snacks.

We kept with the Shakespearean theme, and opted to screen a play that we hadn’t before seen staged.

“What?!” you say (complete with interrobang). “There’s a Shakespeare play you haven’t seen?”

Yes.  It’s true, it’s true. Even though I love Shakespeare’s works, I must admit that I haven’t seen every play. Since production companies usually concentrate on the popular titles, there’s a fair number of plays I’ve never seen on stage or film.  (more…)

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if you

say it’s “too soon” to talk about guns
say laws and bans wouldn’t stop it
blame it all on mental illness
are against common sense gun control laws
vote for people who refuse to act
pay dues to the NRA
value your right to own an AR-15 over the lives of children
accept slaughter as the “price of freedom”

then you are complicit

bullet-cartridge-ammunition-crime-53224.jpeg

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curling_stones_on_rink_with_visible_pebbleA year ago, I posted about our decision to dump our cable provider in favor of a completely streaming profile.

Overall, this has been a great success. We’ve saved money (over two grand a year). We’ve found that there is a ton of terrific content out there that is available either for binge-fests or weekly installment viewing. We’ve been able to tailor or subscriptions to match more closely our TV and movie predelictions.

All has not been rosy, though. Some networks (cough cough cbs cough) think they’re all that and a bag of chips, and worthy of a subscription all on their own (they’re not). Many others have apps and services, but require a cable or satellite provider to view content, even though they broadcast free over the airwaves.

And then there is the world of sports.

I’m not a sports junkie, but sometimes I feel compelled to watch a Seahawks or Mariners game. For this, I have to put a digital antenna in the window to pick up local broadcasts. Reception is spotty, but the occasional signal breakup is only a minor annoyance so, for me, the lack of sports coverage wasn’t a big deal.

Cue the Olympics. (more…)

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Last year I got a small bonus, and I used it to buy a couple of board games in the “luxury” class (e.g., priced at $100 or more).

The first purchase, Mansions of Madness, was a huge disappointment, as the replayability and the number of supplied scenarios didn’t justify the higher price.

Unfortunately, I was unable to review my second purchase, Gloomhaven, as the release date was repeatedly extended. I ordered it back in March 2017, but the release was pushed out to August, September, November, and then December, but finally it shipped in early January of this year.

It was worth the wait.

(more…)

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Hard to believe, but after almost six years of posting here on this blog, last week I got my first official troll.

I feel so . . . edgy.

It happened over on my Facebook author page, where I echo this blog, and it was in response to last week’s post about my encounter with a young woman who was being harassed on the bus. As it was one of my social commentary posts, I decided to boost it, so that it would be seen by a larger audience. And that part worked quite well.

One particular member of this larger audience definitely did not see my actions as satisfactory. In short, he considered me a coward for not challenging the woman’s harasser and didn’t think I worthy of being called a man.

I don’t bring this up to knock him down or deride him. I bring it up to discuss my reaction. (more…)

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Yesterday, as I was leaving work, it was raining. Correction: it was pissing down. La Niña, you know. Brings us wet winters here in Seattle. Sometimes snowy ones. Yesterday was definitely wet.

I started down the stairs at the bus station, saw the 41 waiting, and quick-stepped the last flight to the platform. The doors on the bus closed, so I kicked it into high gear, running alongside. The kindly driver spotted me in his side view, held off, opened the doors, and let me in. I paid my fare with a smile and a thank you, and decided to stand near the door for the trip up to the park-and-ride.

I held onto one of the vertical handholds and looked outside as we swayed onto the freeway and then sashayed northward. The streets were grey. The sky was grey. Beyond the filmy windscreen, the cars cruising past also wore shades of rainy grey. But the sounds, the shushing of tires, the spatter of rain on speeding glass, the grunting scrape of wiper blades as they smeared the rain around rather than really squeegeeing it off, I found it all rather relaxing. Cocoon-like. The world outside was cold and wet, but in the coach we were all warm and dry.

Halfway to our off-ramp, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned. (more…)

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