Category Archives: random stuff

What’s the rush America

My long lost then found friend, Jenn Taylor, just moved back to the United States. She asked the question, “what’s the rush? I am just curious beyond words as to what brought this culture to this rapid speed and the underlying sense that we are always in a hurry. Such a rush. Always a rush.” Here is my long(er) answer to her question. I think the American rush is due to four different phenomena acting together.

First: Many Americans seem to have lost the ability to focus on one task at a time. Multi-tasking is the way to do everything. If you are watching a movie, you should also be texting or talking on the phone (at home or in theaters). If you are driving, you should be eating or talking on the phone. What ever you are doing, you should be doing something else.

Second: Many Americans view driving as not an act in and of itself. It is something stuck between two meaningful things. Get ready for work. Be at work. Driving just needs to be gotten out of the way. It shouldn’t occupy time. The act of driving to work isn’t something to appreciated as part of your day. It is like swallowing medicine. It should be done as quickly as possible and not thought about.

Third: Many Americans lack critical thinking skills. I was riding with Joe down to Paoli. We were coming up to a stop sign. At the stop sign there was a line of cars stopped waiting to turn onto a busy road. Joe and I slowed and moved side by side to chat as we coasted up to the stopped cars. An old man in a Toyota RAV 4 blared his horn at us, punched the gas and blew around us at the left, then swerved hard to get in the lane and slammed on his brakes to stop behind the stopped cars at the stop sign. What did he gain? Absolutely nothing. Joe and I coasted up behind him and just laughed at him.

Where is the critical thinking in these moments? What do I gain by my actions? What is the overall effect? Is it really worth it? Many drivers change lanes constantly even though studies have shown that you gain nothing.

I was in the grocery store and there was a woman pushing her daughter in one of the carts that have the fake car on front. The daughter was mimicking Mom, pounding on the horn in the cart and saying, “We don’t have time to stop. I’m in a hurry. Not today.” What did the Mom gain by always rushing her daughter away from things? What was she teaching her daughter? What would the real outcome be if she did slow and stop for her daughter some times?

I’m sure these questions never crossed her mind.

Finally: Americans seem to have lost the sense of civility and the idea of the public. Our Alderperson argued against light-rail on the fact that it wouldn’t stop in front of her house. (You may be for or against, that’s not the point). The idea that there are things to do for the good of the whole rather than personal gain seems to be gone from many Americans ideology. “If it doesn’t help me, I’m not paying for it” seems to be the new American mantra.

I think all these things come together into a storm of rushing, self-absorbed, multitasking Americans racing from spot to stop without stopping to think about what they are doing or why.

Spring in Wisconsin – weather runs amok

UPDATE: June 25th. We now have 28 counties declared as disaster areas by FEMA.

Wisconsin Disaster Area Map

When we get serious Spring weather, we get weather sites that look like this:

  • 7 Warnings, Watches and Statements on the Weather.gov forecast
  • A weather map that is covered, jigsaw like, with areas of watches and warnings across the surrounding 25 counties. Nary a gap between the warnings and
  • A Wisconsin DOT incident alert map with 38 road closures due to flooding the next day.



We had 7 tornado warnings in town Thursday. I spent a lot of time checking the weather on WKOW. Two tornados went past south of our house about 20 miles.

Testing Slideshare embedding

This is just a test of embedding a Slideshare slide show into a WordPress post. This is not my presentation.

Okay. I’m getting closer. At least I get the frame for the slide show. The one above is using the slideshare imbed in WordPress link along with a plugin from Joost de Valk

Below is the long embed in you blog URL with div tags and everything.

How about this one:

That one works: Now how about an animated show with sound:

Etsy – On-line store for hand-made items

Etsy (http://www.etsy.com) is a store where crafters can sell their objects to the public. Etsy also supports spaces for the crafters to work and share their skills and ideas.

The Etsy website also has cool navigation methods for finding objects. There is a color search system that lets you pick a color to start with. You can then throw and move the objects around to view and sort them. There is a geo-locater for you to search for crafters near you. Very clever web design as well as fun stuff.

Below is a video that describes Etsy. I know that I’ll be doing shopping at their store – it is too much fun.

http://blip.tv/scripts/flash/showplayer.swf?enablejs=true&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fetsy%2Eblip%2Etv%2Frss&file=http%3A%2F%2Fblip%2Etv%2Frss%2Fflash%2F408975&showplayerpath=http%3A%2F%2Fblip%2Etv%2Fscripts%2Fflash%2Fshowplayer%2Eswf

From Laughing Squid.

KnitML – Knitting Markup Language

You know that xML (small x to mean x=X,BP,XAC, et al) has now hit the mainstream when people start developing a mark-up language for knitting patterns:

The KnitML Project’s main goal is to develop and promote adoption of a standard content model for knitting patterns. By developing a community-supported specification (KnitML) and providing basic rendering and transformation tools, the KnitML Project aims to make KnitML easy to use and valuable to the knitter.

From knitml.com via Boing Boing.

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Driving to work makes me crazy

I drove into work for the first time in months yesterday. We had snow, followed by sleet, followed by freezing rain. The sidewalks and roads are a mess so I drove in. Commuting by car is just crazy-making. Some people are such egocentric clueless stress-monkeys when they are driving to work.

Example: I’m going North on Segoe Road. I come to the light at Mineral Point Road. I want to turn right on Mineral Point. There are lots of cars on Mineral Point. It is a four lane commuter route into town. A car, coming from my left on Mineral Point, slows to turn right on Segoe Road. This makes a space for me. I pull out into the space. The car behind the turning car, accelerates through the intersection and up on my butt as soon as the other car turns right. They then: honk at me, move left one lane, pass me, move right one lane in front of me and then (THEN) drives the, rest of the way, in front of me, behind the car in front of both of us at the same speed as traffic.

What did they get? One car closer to their destination. If I hadn’t turned in front of them, what would have happened? They would have arrived at the exact same time. If they had slowed and followed me, what would have happened? They would have arrived maybe 3 seconds later. Driving makes people act like crazy lunatics.

On the bike path, I see people all the time who I only know from the bike path. We all smile and say, “good morning”. Everyone is having a good time going to work. Even when I have been caught in torrential downpours and we are peddling with water squishing out of our shoes, everyone is laughing and smiling and winking and saying with a flash of the eye, “What are you going to do besides laugh at this situation. No need to get angry. You’ll still have to ride home.”

In an absurdist attempt, I tried to imagine what the analog behavior would be on the bike path. A bike pulls onto the bike path in front of you but ahead of you 10 to 20 yards. They are going the same speed as you. You sprint to get behind them so you can yell at them, pass them, then ride the rest of the way into work at the same speed you were going before. The thought is so ludicrous. It is laughable. It is absurd. It would never ever ever happen.

Today, I took the bus. I read my book and watched people come and go. I helped an oriental woman across the icy berm that has been plowed up along the road. I’ve had enough of driving to work for this year. Much rather have a pleasant commute than join in the crazy-making even if it takes a little longer.

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Copenhagen – More bikes than cars at rush hour

From Treehuger.com

As a result of half a century of planning, Copenhagen has achieved a fabulous cycling goal – during the morning rush hour more bikes and mopeds pound the inner city streets than personal cars and buses.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/11/in_copenhagens.php

Very cool news at least to me as a bike commuter.

One thing I like a lot is the special “green waves” traffic lights that let bikes through. If a bike is traveling about 20KMH, they don’t have to stop for lights. I’ve often wondered what would happen if we stopped designing for cars and started designing for bikes and public transport. Apparently, people stop driving and start riding.

Copenhagen has also embraced the chic nature of biking.

There was a story (that I cannot find) about other cities in Europe who are banning cars from their core. They want to keep the old world feel of the city and make the center more friendly.

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