Friday, September 25, 2009

The Revealing Tide

Low tide at Manzanita reveals this rock formation and its barnacle inhabitants.

The sea-mark, its moat and reflections of cloud, shadow and sky draw beachcombers and gulls alike.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

1-800-Got Legal Pad Folder

In my never-ending quest to get the local 1-800-GOT-JUNK franchise to stop illegally littering the public right-of-way, I’ve come up with an irresistible new incentive.

I’ve concluded the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? people, based in Vancouver, B.C. (yes, you read that right. Canadians!) are a lost cause. Incorrigible.

And the local authorities, who, alas, have far worse (or is it "better") things to worry about, do zilch to enforce roadside littering laws.

No longer, dear reader, will I appeal to some goody-goody civic pride in taking back public space from irresponsible, corporate litter-bugs.

No, this incentive rewards you. Yes, you, personally. It's almost, but not quite, like money in the bank.

All you have to do is pull over, yank out these mini-billboards, and for the price of a strip of duct tape and a matter of seconds. . . .

Well, you'll see: the rewards are great!

Trust me on this.

I’ve always believed that the hard-plastic, corrugated raw material of your basic 1-800-GOT-JUNK? sign held huge recycling promise (Roofing shingles? Mortar boards? Floor tiles? Pizza platters?).

But it wasn’t until today, while out on my trusty motor scooter, that one of my frequent encounters with the nefarious signs led to a discovery with massive promise.

As with most great discoveries, this one was utterly serendipitous.

Because I was on the scoot, I draped the sign’s flimsy wire standard over my rearview mirrors. A bit awkward, but I had only three or four miles to scoot.

The sign itself would be impossible to carry unless — and here’s the key — I folded it. I decided to do a tri-fold and, by chance, got a perfect fold the first time. The corners lined up exactly. The package was close to being a tidy little square. It fit snugly in my bulbous, rear-mounted helmet carrier.

Once home I took a closer look at the tri-folded sign. A legal pad happened to be nearby. In our litigious society, it’s always good to have a legal pad handy. I have several scattered around the house — just in case.

Then it hit me. With a box cutter and good ol' duct tape, I could make myself a nifty 1-800-GOT-JUNK? legal pad folder.

The first folder took all of three minutes to make. That corrugated stuff is easy to slice.

I whipped out the second folder in half the time.

At the top of the photo (above) is the raw material (with dotted cut lines). The finished product, with white legal pad in place, is at the bottom.

So next time you spot one of these intrusive slabs along the roadside, think, “Wow, here’s my chance to make a great legal pad folder! I can't have too many of those!”


Not really.

Try 1-800-Got Legal Pad folder!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Confusing ourselves to death?

In July, The Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, issued poll results that show only 29 percent of respondents believe the news media “get their facts straight” and only 19 percent feel the media “deal fairly with all sides.”

The results are record lows in both regards.

What’s going on?

Since 1985, when Pew’s annual polling began, “media” have changed as much as media’s perceived accuracy and fairness.

“Media” then is not “media” today. It’s as different as Walter Cronkite and Sean Hannity.

I find no evidence in the poll results of whether “The People” still even value fairness and accuracy, (which are objects of subjective judgment to begin with).

Is Rush Limbaugh part of “the media”? Yes. Does he purport to report? Yes. Is he fair and accurate? No. Do his listeners want him to be fair and accurate and get all sides of the story? No.

Likewise the so-called newscasters (those with the active eyebrows and the sneering intonations) on Fox, other cable news outlets and radio talk shows.

And then there’s John Stewart and “The Daily Show.” Many of my students rely on Stewart for their "news." Fair and accurate? Do those quaint values even apply? Do they matter?

Pew should poll whether “fairness and accuracy” are still the coin of the media realm.

Increasingly, “The People” want to be entertained. (The late Neil Postman appropriately titled his incisive, troubling book about television news, “Amusing Ourselves to Death.”)

And now the “new media” allow “The People” themselves to be the entertainers. Their own blurring of the lines between news and entertainment only compounds our confusion.

Perhaps we are now confusing ourselves to death. And this IS a confusing, and, some warn, dying world.

Many “new media” communicators model their behavior after what they see as “news” on their screens.

Their behavior, much of it outrageous, is then dubbed “the news.” Think “birthers,” “tea-baggers” and “Swift boaters.”

Legitimizing their antics as “news” is itself unfair and inaccurate. But does that matter in a world of entertainment and confusion?

And I’m a small part of this “new media” world. The very words you are reading now are not “news,” although what I am writing may strike you as being somehow novel.

Is it “fair”? Is it “accurate”? I don’t know. Are the terms relevant? That’s for you to decide. Reader (listener) beware.

I won’t worry if I’m lumped in with “media” that only 29 percent deem accurate and 19 percent consider fair.

Somehow, sadly, the times and the media have moved beyond Pew’s questions.

The pressing question is this: What questions should Pew, and the rest of us, be asking?

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