Sunday, December 28, 2008

Random thoughts from this Christmas Break


(view from parent's back porch on Dec 23rd)

Here's some thoughts I had while staying at my parent's place over Christmas Break:

  • Daily exercise (in this case shoveling snow & helping remove downed trees) makes me feel healthier, happier, and improves digestion.
  • Sledding is *much* better when the powdery snow has been compacted by the front loader of a tractor for the sole purpose of a home made toboggan run.
  • The internet and computers are a) addictive and b) have changed the way I think (made me dumb in a smart way!?! Maybe we need a word for them... if the TV is the idiot box, is the computer the ADD box?) I notice these changes in my thought patterns only when I am removed from the source of the change for a few days.
  • It has been said that 'technology isolates people from each other' The implication is that this is a bad thing. Not always. Surfing the web enables people to get some alone time without leaving the house. So does taking a shower by yourself. I found shoveling the snow & walking to the end of the road to check weather & downed power line conditions was a suitable replacement, but I really, really wanted to be connected to the web.
  • After the 3rd day of my bad guitar playing after the sun went down, I think the rest of the family would agree that I need to learn a few more songs. Particularly since the only commercial one I know by heart is "Stairway".
  • I don't like the excess of Christmas gifts anymore. I've noticed that the more items one gets at any one point in their life, the less value they have, even months later. There are books from Christmas 2007 that I haven't gotten around to reading yet! They're like a to-do list. I'd rather get things throughout the year, so I can pay proper attention to them all. (Crocodile tears, I know. Most people should be so lucky.) My family is getting more consolidated gifts, so this year was much better than last.
Ever stop to think about the comforts we have compared to our ancestors? Compare your life to that of a King in Medieval times. Obviously we don't have the same control over others (try telling a bunch of people to wage war in your name) But besides that, here's a vastly incomplete list of what we have. Everyone's mileage will vary but you get the gist:
  • Heated homes
  • Sanitary running water
  • Showers and baths
  • A life expectancy over 2.5 times a king of yore
  • The ability to be able to afford to see live music over four times a year
  • A much wider spectrum of music
  • The means to buy recordings of music that can be played again & again with no quality loss
  • Much better medical facilities
  • A nearly complete lack of leeches used in our modern medical system
  • A wider variety of food from around the globe
  • better potential for a healthier diet
  • Affordable books
  • Public libraries
  • Pubic School (yes it could be much better. But if you can read this, then you're more educated than the majority of our forefathers)
  • Electronic Entertainment
OK, I went off the deep end on that tangent.

Let's call it a night.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Vacation in Colton so Far

Here's my inspirational photo for the day:




By the time I got to the end of the walkway, the beginning was already snowed over.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How NOT to make a Blog Banner

Just saying that it might have been cool in 1992.... if it was for a techno album.

Otherwise, it sucks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Original Quote #2

This one I came up with in high school:

"The more idealistic the religion, the more hypocritical the followers"

I suppose it bears some explanation, although I'm sure any explanation shows how weak a quote is from the get-go. Therefore I'm not going to give one just yet. So there.

My Quote! Mine! Mine!

New quote of mine. I couldn't find it anywhere else on the internet. Is it possible I'm the first person to put these words together in the same order? I sincerely doubt it:


"Boredom is merely a symptom of a poor imagination"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Civil Unions for All, Marriage for No One

Last November when I was still living in Canada, I was invited to share an idea in an Open Public Forum sponsored by the Seattle Commission for Sexual Minorities. This idea wasn't originally mine, but from a logical and a fairness point of view makes a lot of sense to me. It seems the whole gay marriage issue boils down to gays wanting equal benefits, and straights not wanting their concept of marriage changed/corrupted/diluted.

In a nutshell: instead of the government issuing marriage licenses to only hetero couples, moving forward they would only issue civil unions to all couples. These civil unions would have the exact same rights, benefits and responsibilities that current marriage licenses currently have.

Here is a write up of the idea and the logic behind it:
1) Have the government issue civil unions to EVERYONE and marriage licenses to NO ONE.

2) These civil unions carry with them the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as what is currently referred to as a legal marriage, and are offered to couples regardless of sexual orientation.

3) Churches can marry who they choose, according to their beliefs. As a marriage is a spiritual matter, it should be between a couple & God (and through their church or officiant of choice) and have nothing to do with government.

Advantages:
Strengthens separation of church and state. I don't want my government dealing in matters of the spirit, that's what one's respective church/temple/reverend/pastor/guru/etc. is for.

Does not force any beliefs on any church. Churches would only marry couples that fit into their belief system. No church would be required by law to marry anyone they didn't want to. Unitarian churches and others can marry same sex couples as according to their beliefs.

Someone who belongs to a church that wouldn't marry same sex couples would not have to feel that the sanctity of their marriage would be threatened, because that marriage would not be tied to their church.

Is this answer too simple? I think it solves the sticky problem of semantics for everyone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Bus-Cycle. I'm not the first one to think of it.

I was taking the bus home this evening, and reading a copy of Men's Health (because Obama was on the cover & we thought it'd be a neat souvenir. I'm not a health nut, I swear). I realized that I don't exercise enough, mostly because it's not part of my schedule. And I spend a lot of time on the bus, when I could be exercising. Since we've got a lot of hybrid buses in Seattle, is there any way to help charge them with human power? It probably wouldn't help much, but I certainly would like the excuse to exercise more.

When I got home, I remembered that when I was 6 or 7 I already had the idea of a human powered car with bike pedals (maybe my inspiration was from the Flintstones).

Turns out others have made my childhood musings a reality. It doesn't go that fast, but it does work. Check out the Busycle. The video is a bit overly long, and reminds me why I find some more earthy types a bit annoying, but their heart is in the right place.

Other human powered buses:
HPbus

More modern and less hippy, a bus in Brazil. (also in Portuguese?. Check out "Imagens" for pictures):Corpus Super Bike
Just beware of the Flash based lens flare. Double Foul!

I think the two most obvious questions about making something like this a reality is this:

1: How much more space would be taken up (how many less passengers could you fit on a bus like this).
2: Could it be built so they could hose off the areas when done, lest the stench of many make it unbearable?

Shazam, but for Movies & TV Shows

You've probably heard about Shazam by now. No, not the comic book, and certainly not Sha Na Na (why did I always think they were related? their outfits?), the new app for iPhones and Android phones and other stuff, that enables them to identify songs being played over the radio. Not only that, but it then gives you band and album info, and enables you to download the song right then. I have waited my whole life for this, and I don't even own an iPhone!

But, I really want the same/similar thing for movies and TV shows. Particularly for things on cable. There's a ton of movies and shows that I caught the last half of, and for whatever reason, don't get the name of the show. This is especially true in the mid to late 80s, before the TV guide channels were interactive.

So, I should be able to go onto IMDb or Google, and type in a few lines about the plot, an estimated release date, any known actors, etc, and get a narrowed down list of potential movies.

Here's one that I'd really like to know about, tell me the name if you know it:

And old couple are leaving their house for the summer, to be house sat by a family (Mom, Dad, Daughter, and Grandma). At the beginning, you see photos of others who have house sat on a table. Over the course of the summer, all sorts of bad things happen to the people, and they eventually realize that the place is evil, nasty and haunted. At the very end, when they decide to leave, the wife forgets something and goes back in to get it (typical horror plot device, where I always yell to the TV "DON'T DO IT!!"). When she doesn't return, the man goes back in after her. He goes to the top floor, and finds her appearing to be dressed up like an old lady in a rocking chair. Somehow he gets out of there, but when he's outside, bricks from the chimney fall & kill him. The ending shows the return of the old couple, and they add a new photo to their table of previous house sitters.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Your Childhood for Only $19.95!

I was at Costco yesterday, and noticed a strange pattern. In the book & DVD section, everything there that I was interested was just repackaged & complete/extended/special edition of things from my childhood. Calvin & Hobbes, Dilbert, All the Peanuts , Ruldolph & Frosty Christmas specials. Every MASH episode & the original movie, Get Smart (so not just my childhood, my parent's early adulthood too). If Grandpa was still alive, he could finally understand every possible reason behind the war that he survived.

This stuff is all on my Amazon wishlist, but I think there's something inherently insidious and distracting about all of it. Will my path to greater understanding and potential enlightenment be derailed by the continual consumerization of my past?

Do any of these products enable me to relive my past? And even if it did, doesn't that mean I'm no longer living in the present? No longer connected to my family and my daughter's development? And speaking of her, what will she be nostalgic for when she gets older? Her first iPhone?

Frank Zappa once said that the world will end not from any war, but from nostalgia. People will take two steps, miss the first one and be immobilized until they die.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm not the only one!!

Today's comic from Doonesbury perfectly describes me:


Get all your Doonsebury comics here:
http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html

The exact thing happened to me right after 9/11. I kept checking the internet every 20 minutes to make sure the world was still in one piece. I still have that behavior, and I trace it back to that bleak day. I'm hoping this tendency will eventually subside, but it's very likely I'll be checking CNN at least daily for the next eight years to make sure that no one has assassinated Obama.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Anyone see Obama on the Daily Show?

Jon Stewart joked to Obama that the Bradley effect might make half of him want to vote for the white guy, since after all, Obama is half white. Doonsebury didn't miss a beat with it either:


(strip link here)


At what point does someone cease to be black (or white)? When they're a 1/4 black? an 1/8th? Who decides? (Sure doesn't seem like the person has much of a choice with these labels)

And let's be honest, I've met blacks who immigrated from Africa, and they're skin tone is waaay darker than any African American. Must be the mild weather here.

It looks like we've taken another step in the direction of reason. As any geneticist will tell you, there's more genetic diversity among one tribe of chimps than all 6 billion humans. All humans are genetically different by less than 1%.

We truly are all brothers and sisters.

It's All Just One Big Soap Opera!

I guess I'm not the only one who thought that the last election was some secret ploy to get people interested in voting again:




David Horsey's website (My favorite Pulitzer prize winning politcal cartoonist)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What Happened to Elemental Motion???

Does it look like your favorite outdated Motion Capture & Motion Graphics website has been hijacked by some random note writing fool? Not to worry, the old site still exists.

I've been meaning for some time now to switch this domain over to a personal, non-work related site. Tonight seemed like a good time.

If you came to this blog via www.troymcfarland.com, you may have been looking for my old (and now defunct) business website, Elemental Motion. It can still be found at www.elementalmotion.com

And, you can find my video work at www.youtube.com/tmc27. I might even add a Vimeo page one day soon.

Cheers,
T

A little late.

Welcome to my new blog, a place to write down random ideas & predictions. Feel free to steal ideas and make millions! (Just kidding. Seriously, if you want to run with an idea, please at least contact first, k?)

A little late as in, the deadline was October 20th. I'm referring to the contest that Google is sponsoring, project10tothe100.com

Anyway, I had an idea that I sent their way. It's probably already been done, but if not, I would think that the good folks at Google could develop it pretty quickly. The idea is below.


Hi,
I know the contest is over, but sometimes ideas don't fall within deadlines. Also, since it's over I don't expect to be even entered in the contest, but just wanted to share an idea with you.

I know that websites exist to rate charities (such as http://www.charitynavigator.org/), but are there any sites or systems put in place to enable charities to work together more effectively?

I think that if there was an open, free & easy to use way non-profits, charities and other service organizations to work together, that everyone would benefit. There would be less repeated effort. More established groups could help mentor new groups, helping them avoid the pitfalls they faced.

I hope that other people have thought of this and are working on a solution, but if not, just thought I'd share it.

Thank you for your time,
Troy McFarland