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Family Snapshot

So. I’m back. Next week I’ll resume regular posts. I have much to express and a new season of the Walking Dead to explore, among other topics.

I couldn’t let today pass without comment on the connectedness of life and art. Each endlessly inspires the other.

On the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination I thought I’d share some art that it inspired. Take it for what it is. A person who obviously was impacted by the event trying to find meaning while also expressing themselves artistically. This is not a political statement on my part.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFDgBSk1ghM

 

Great “As Seen on TV” product… for Murderers!

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I can’t help but comment on the gambit of emotions I felt while watching this commerical. I find infomercial pitchmen generally humorous and this product reminded me of VaPooRize of Jack Black fame. The more I watched, however, I realized that this products true target audience is homicidal manaics. The final 10 seconds of the commerical indicate it’s recommended uses and an ultraviolet light is included in the deal. Not so subtle message: it removes blood and we’ll provide you a tool to ensure you remove even the blood not visible to the naked eye (why would that be necessary? I mean, so long as a stain is removed visibly does it really matter if trace elements remain)?

What the whole video and I trust you will be similarly concerned. If a loved one goes missing, check there home for this product. If someone in your household suddenly turns up with a can and a blacklight on their key chain, beware….

If, on the other hand, a PZA event occurs, I’m buying a ton of this to clean my hideout!

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Wisdom to Tide You Over (until I can return myself)…

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Hidden Haiku (courtesy of Peter Gabriel)

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I met the poet Billy Collins once. He told me that as he listens to people talk, to songs, he listens for poetry.

I was listening to a great Peter Gabriel song called Family Snapshot. In it, I heard this haiku:

Come back. Come back, Dad

We’re growing apart, know that

I’m growing up sad

Haiku for Lucky

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Glare gone, window clear

Light, but no view.  Nursing home

I pull the shade down

Haiku Doesn’t Provide Any Answers

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Rainmaker, leader

Answers for some, not for Grace

Don’t know what to do

Travel with all your Gadgets: TechZombie reviews Cocoon Innovations

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Traveling has always been a chore for me. My love for technology has made me accumulate many gadgets over the years. These “toys” as my wife loves to call them, have gone from “toy” status to daily necessities. Packing for a trip, no matter how long in duration, is a headache.

A few months ago I began searching for solutions to my traveling dilemma.  I needed a carry-on bag that could accommodate two laptops (business and personal), an iPad, Android tablet, USB speakers, Kindle, PS Vita, Mophie charge pack, Roku, and a camera. Obviously my needs are a bit excessive compared to the normal traveler. The current bag I use is big and heavy. I hated having to search through multiple pockets until I find the proper items I’m looking for. Finally a solution emerged. Cocoon Innovations.

Cocoon Innovations is a company that specializes in cases, bags, and other travel/storage accessories. What differentiates Cocoon is their methods for organizing your items inside their products. I decided to purchase the large backpack (my first backpack as an adult) and the GRID-IT accessory organizer to place inside the backpack. It worked like a charm.

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The backpack was able to fit my 14 inch HP “work laptop” and my 15 inch MacBook Pro. The GRID-IT accessory organizer was able to accommodate an iPad, Android tablet, USB speakers, Kindle, PS Vita, Mophie charge pack, Roku, and a camera. Due to its unique band system, I can locate any item at a glance. The backpack/GRID-IT combination has revolutionized traveling with technology for me.

Cocoon charges $79.99 for the large backpack and $24.99 for the medium size GRID-IT. Not bad prices to eliminate headaches, organize, and protect pricey gadgets. Please visit http://www.cocooninnovations.com/  to discover the brilliance that is Cocoon.

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Treat Men Generously or Destroy Them (Quote)

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Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones they cannot. – Niccolo Machiavelli

This week’s quote courtesy of the man responsible for the phrase The End Justifies the Means. It is a lesson that our society likely already knew at a biological level. Intentions notwithstanding, Machiavelli’s work has come to represent for many a codification and justification for a wide range of behaviors that are morally questionable. One need only tune the radio to a sports talk station to hear the endlessly developing story of Machievelli’s starting third baseman (on his fantasy team).

The real danger is making an assumption about who will or will not succumb to temptation to eschew morality and ethics to accomplish a desired end. I would respectfully submit that most, if not all, people have within their personal spectrum of acceptable behavior the capacity to act in a purely self-interested manner under certain circumstances. As we discussed last week, a disruption in one’s working paradigm (a disturbance to The Force, if you will) is likely more than enough reason to re-chart ones moral and ethical standards. Moving beyond pretext, it is important to have a firm understanding of the forces at play.

Tomorrow, I will offer insight into how such a scenario can play out, signs to look for and how best to respond.

I’m not sure if I believe in coincidence (I think it’s more likely that our perceptions are attuned to things related to our present preoccupations) but I found myself watching The Hurricane last night. Ruben “Hurricane” Carter was, in a very real way, a lifelong victim of Machiavellianism taken to an evil extreme. Stories like this enhance emotional intelligence and thus have a value for aspiring Renaissance men and women. Many people are lacking when it comes to a justification for feelings of righteous indignation, but films and books that evoke real empathy can serve as EI batting practice so that we are a bit more prepared when we step into the box and face some live pitching for the first time. Bob Dylan was so moved by the Hurricane’s plight that he penned a classic. Aesthetically beautiful and diligently informative, you can literally come up to speed on the Ruben Carter’s plight in one listening. Of course, Dylan’s song was the penultimate Ruben Carter tale and make the film a must see.

Dylan’s lyrics are haunting genius; journalistic poetry.

The Hurricane by Bob Dylan

Pistols shots ring out in the barroom night
Enter Patty Valentine from the upper hall
She sees the bartender in a pool of blood
Cries out “My God they killed them all”
Here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For something that he never done
Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

Three bodies lying there does Patty see And another man named Bello moving around mysteriously
“I didn’t do it” he says and he throws up his hands
“I was only robbing the register I hope you understand
I saw them leaving” he says and he stops
“One of us had better call up the cops”
And so Patty calls the cops
And they arrive on the scene with their red lights flashing
In the hot New Jersey night.

Meanwhile far away in another part of town
Rubin Carter and a couple of friends are driving around
Number one contender for the middleweight crown
Had no idea what kinda shit was about to go down
When a cop pulled him over to the side of the road
Just like the time before and the time before that
In Patterson that’s just the way things go
If you’re black you might as well not SHOW up on the street
‘Less you wanna draw the heat.

Alfred Bello had a partner and he had a rap for the corps
Him and Arthur Dexter Bradley were just out prowling around
He said “I saw two men running out they looked like middleweights
They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates”
And Miss Patty Valentine just nodded her head
Cop said “Wait a minute boys this one’s not dead”
So they took him to the infirmary
And though this man could hardly see
They told him that he could identify the guilty men.

Four in the morning and they haul Rubin in
Take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs
The wounded man looks up through his one dying eye
Says “Wha’d you bring him in here for ? He ain’t the guy !”
Yes here comes the story of the Hurricane
The man the authorities came to blame
For something that he never done
Put in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

Four months later the ghettos are in flame
Rubin’s in South America fighting for his name
While Arthur Dexter Bradley’s still in the robbery game
And the cops are putting the screws to him looking for somebody to blame
“Remember that murder that happened in a bar ?”
“Remember you said you saw the getaway car?”
“You think you’d like to play ball with the law ?”
“Think it might-a been that fighter you saw running that night ?”
“Don’t forget that you are white”.

Arthur Dexter Bradley said “I’m really not sure”
Cops said “A boy like you could use a break
We got you for the motel job and we’re talking to your friend Bello
Now you don’t wanta have to go back to jail be a nice fellow
You’ll be doing society a favor
That sonofabitch is brave and getting braver
We want to put his ass in stir
We want to pin this triple murder on him
He ain’t no Gentleman Jim“.

Rubin could take a man out with just one punch
But he never did like to talk about it all that much
It’s my work he’d say and I do it for pay
And when it’s over I’d just as soon go on my way
Up to some paradise
Where the trout streams flow and the air is nice
And ride a horse along a trail
But then they took him to the jailhouse
Where they try to turn a man into a mouse.

All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance
The trial was a pig-circus he never had a chance
The judge made Rubin’s witnesses drunkards from the slums
To the white folks who watched he was a revolutionary bum
And to the black folks he was just a crazy nigger
No one doubted that he pulled the trigger
And though they could not produce the gun
The DA said he was the one who did the deed
And the all-white jury agreed.

Rubin Carter was falsely tried
The crime was murder ‘one’ guess who testified
Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
And the newspapers they all went along for the ride
How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand ?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell
That’s the story of the Hurricane
But it won’t be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he’s done
Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world

Cal reviewed by TechZombie

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A few weeks ago I reviewed a reminder app called Any.Do. Well, Any.Do’s mother gave birth to a baby boy and his name is “Cal”.

Cal is a free calendar app for iOS (coming soon to Android) that I have recently fallen in love with. It’s an app that’s hard to explain the benefits of other than it looks pretty. The layout is very clean and user-friendly. The navigation is very intuitive and smooth. Swiping from side to side moves the calendar forward or backwards in the week. Scrolling down moves you through the current day. Scrolling up reveals the entire month.

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There’s something about this app that just works better than the current iOS calendar. I’ve officially switched to Cal for all my calendar needs. The notifications are better as well. They provide more information and are easy to distinguish from other apps. (Cal notifications are bright red)

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I never really used the calendar app on my iPhone or iPad until I discovered Cal. The bright white background with red and black text is attractive to the eye. Users are treated to a new photo in the background daily. The app also syncs with Any.Do.  It makes locating information very easy. You can find Cal in the Apple App Store as a free download.

For more information on Cal go to the iTunes info page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cal-your-life.-your-calendar./id648287824?mt=8

 

The (Business) World is a Vampire

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the world is a vampire, sent to drain
secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames
and what do I get, for my pain
betrayed desires, and a piece of the game
even though I know-I suppose I’ll show
all my cool and cold-like old job

despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
someone will say what is lost can never be saved
despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

now I’m naked, nothing but an animal
but can you fake it, for just one more show
and what do you want, I want change
and what have you got
when you feel the same
even though I know-I suppose I’ll show
all my cool and cold-like old job

We live in a predatory world, of that there can be no doubt. Think about the concept of an eco-system. A community of living organisms that is interdependent. Not in a “we are all in this together and so let’s collaborate” kind of way, but rather a “individual survival is unassured inasmuch as every life is dependent upon the death of another but collectively our species will survive so long as a natural balance is maintained.”

But what happens when that precious balance is upset, disrupted as it were, by means natural or otherwise? What happens is the strongest, most adaptable individuals from the strongest, most adaptable species survive while many others (the vast majority) perish or at the very least, move on to a new ecosystem.

Movies about Post Zombie Apocalypse scenarios offer viewers a fleeting glimpse into a seriously unbalanced ecosystem. A new alpha-predator has emerged, many people perish and as viewers we are given the opportunity to observe the most resilient of said species. Note that I offer the appellation resilient. Not most noble, most deserving, strongest or even necessarily smartest. I think many factors contribute to an individual’s resilience, or lack thereof, but those factors in isolation often don’t fit the bill. In this regard I think that films and literature of the genre do an excellent job of presenting characters that are a reflection of what would likely occur. You wouldn’t see survivors who were exclusively military trained professional athletes who belonged to Mensa. When outnumbered by stronger adversaries prevent them from fighting (thank you Sun Tzu). Run. Hide. Survival in a PZA world is dependent upon one’s ability to avoid danger rather than engage it.

What makes The Walking Dead so special is that it offers a deeper dive into the new ecosystem created by the PZA event. Balance has been restored. Humans lost and now we get to see the machinations of the newly minted betas. Under the circumstances I would expect that humanity would redefine the importance of concepts like altruism and objectivism. Again, kudos to the creators of PZA worlds. The characters proffered demonstrate a range of behavior appropriate for a species reevaluating its relative position in the world. The story arches of Rick, The Governor, Carl, Shane, Meryl, Michonne, Darryl, Andrea and Milton among others provide a depth of characterization that is undoubtedly at the heart of the success of the enterprise. It makes for great entertainment and interesting social commentary. Beyond that it also offers the basis for today’s analogy on leadership. It’s reminiscent of a business situation I have faced in the past and may in fact be on the cusp of facing once again.

A company has much in common with an ecosystem. The denizens’ interdependence ensures (generally) that it will go on even if individuals do not. When catastrophic changes occur, nothing is assured. Change can be subtle or brutally obvious. Concepts once considered concrete become fluid and subject to rapid re-definition. Resiliency is at a premium.

Most of my writing, heretofore, has been based upon well tread ground. As I write about this today, I am deep in the forest of the unknown.

To be continued… (Yes, I hate that on my favorite shows too, but whatever).

Please note: I considered changing “Vampire” to “Zombie” but am loath to take artistic license with Billy Corgan. Substitute zombie and business terms into the lyric to your heart’s content.

And now, please allow Josey Wales to summarize my ecological lesson succinctly. Please note that I do not endorse chewing tobacco and also that Len “Uncle Leo of Seinfeld Fame” Lesser has a role in this scene.

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