Saturday, February 27, 2010

Self Sufficiency

I feel really good fixing things myself recently.  I installed a dishwasher, installed 2 hard drives including 1 on a laptop (tricky), replaced a car battery, and have been working on our plow truck.  Even though I was not able to completely fix the truck, I did identify one problem.  It is very satisfying to feel self sufficient this way though it is helpful to have a community of people to whom you can ask questions or get help.  The Internet is a new source of community and information that can also be helpful.  It does take longer to do it yourself, especially the first time, and it can be frustrated, but it is satisfying for me to learn new things.  It reminds me of some of the guys in the neighborhood where I grew up who would always be fixing their own cars and doing their own remodeling.  My father is also good at cabinetry and woodworking.  It does take time and energy though and that can be tricky with  a young child. Hopefully, when he is older, it will be easier to find ways he can help.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Further or Backwards?

I went to the Further show at UMass Amherst last Friday night.  Further is Bob Weir and Phil Lesh from the Grateful Dead, 2 new drummers, a piano player, and a guitarist and singer from the Dark Star Orchestra, a Dead clone band.  There were many fine moments musically and I enjoyed the show but I could not help but feeling that maybe the time was past for this scene, at least for me.  The vending scene was very small and a shadow of what is used to be.  While musically very good, Jerry's presence is sorely missed.  Listening to some of Dick's picks after the show, I felt that the magic and energy of a Dead show can never be recreated with different people today. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Irregular Past Tense

Aidan still loves his regular past tense of adding "ed."  I have been worked gently with him on irregular past tense.  He said to Dawn today, "Mom, did you gave me some gobbles?"  Gobbles means goggles. 

Monday, February 15, 2010


I recently experienced a phenomenon known as denialism.  Denialism is defined as  the practice of creating the illusion of debate when there is none.  See for a full description.  I have been very active in Facebook.  I have discovered that you can add friends that are on the extreme fringes.  Through my interest in dog training and whippets in particular, I have added some friends that I subsequently regretted.  One person was adding groups that were clearly racist and/or extremely prejudiced against Islam.  Typically, these are fundamentalist Christians.  I have inherent problem with these folks as long as there is an acceptance that there are multiple paths up the mountain of experiencing God.  Unfortunately, fundamentalists of many religions (even fundamentalist atheists) think their way is the only way.    One example of denialism is the denial of the validity of evolution. By the way, I don't feel that some kind of intelligent design is a contradiction with evolution.  The "creator" or "force behind everything"  can be behind evolution. 

Another fellow, posted a denial of climate change and I was surprised to find a number of denialist climate change sites.  I think there can be a healthy debate on the details of climate change but, overall, there can be no denial that there is drastic change going on caused by our activity.  The denialists hand pick a few fringe scientists and politicians to try and "prove" their case even though the vast majority of scienctists are in agreement.  When I pointed out the numerous environmental problems we have caused, he had a irrational answer for everything.  For example, when I pointed out the numerous species extinctions we have caused and the large number of species in trouble, his answer was that new species are being created and that species have always come and gone.  No understanding of the tragedy of man made extinctions.  It is very scary to me that this type of thinking seems to be becoming wide spread.  That journalism appears to be in decline.  That entertainment and news are becoming more and more merged.  That we seems to be becoming more and more polarized.  That intelligent debate is becoming more and more rare. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I was at UMass Amherst researching the use of robots in education.  Research is so much easier now than it used to be with most scholarly articles online.  No more looking things up in a card catalogue (that was online last time I did research) and taking the elevator up to the stacks.  Makes you wonder how long libraries will need all the storage space for journals.  Once you find the article, you can print it right there and/or email it to yourself.