What Dorothy learned

The Wizard of Oz is a perennial favorite, sentimental, inspiring, and cherished for its simple truths. Going a little deeper, others have uncovered themes in the story revealing a political allegory. What interests me is what happened after the movie ended, following the clues that the story was not going to end happily ever after.Dorothy and Toto later in life

Getting veducated

Just watched "Veducated" on Amazon Prime streaming video, which gently makes the case that a meat/dairy diet is unsustainable in light of the world's growing population, and cruel to animals. "Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time."

Dead bodies attacking the living

Authorities are investigating an apparent hacking of the Emergency Broadcast System. Those watching Public TV 13 Monday afternoon or the Bachelor on ABC Monday night may have seen a message come across the screen saying "Local authorities in your area have reported the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living," the message warned. "Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies as they are considered extremely dangerous."

Vanilla Latte--an entry drug

I've accepted a few cups of coffee out of politeness over the years, and drank a few more on late night drives, but was otherwise not a regular drinker and had decided to save it for middle age. Now that I've passed that and am on the downward slope I decided that it might be time to take the plunge and see what all the fuss is about coffee. On one recent late night drive I picked up a small French Vanilla Latte from a drive thru along the highway, and was overcome by the waves of sweet goodness, and a few exits later picked up another–this time a medium–in order to prolong the experience. Soon I was sailing down he road in the middle of the night with a nice coffee buzz.

Since then I've been trying to get back to that first high but something is missing. It is always a little bitter, or not rich enough. This reminds of what heroin addicts say, that the first time is the best and thereafter you are always trying, but never succeeding, to get back to that first rush. I've decided that latte is an entry delivery method and am going to try to stop before I move on to black and end up on cappuccino, or whatever the progression is.

Noosa finest yogurt

OMG! Noosa Yogurt is to die for! I heard two ladies talking about it in the dairy aisle, that it is the greatest yogurt, but they only get it at some other store because that's where you can get the large (16 oz) size. I broke down a couple grocery shopping outings later and took a tub home. Noosa bills it as "...crafted from a super-secret Aussie recipe, with milk from happy cows raised on a family-owned Colorado farm." My only problem now is that my local Target only stocks the 8 oz size, which is not enough to satisfy my craving.Noosa flavors

Anything thing is possible, if you have four hours

I feel I'm late on the uptake coming across Timothy Ferris (of four-hour fame, not the comsmologist), the "world's best guinea pig". He's tried out all sorts of stuff so that you don't have to. Check out his books on dieting and entrepreneurship. Many of the tips seem counterintuitive, like eating sweet rolls once a week while dieting, but if you're ready for some fresh ideas you'll find plenty to consider.

I am thinking of preordering his newest, "The Four-Hour Cook", which is reported to include information on how to learn anything.

Candy Recycling Service

Talking about my neighbor's decorations reminded me about something that happened the Halloween before last, that took place on a Friday. My kids had a sleepover, and the next day 5 kids were sitting around the breakfast table and I came up with the idea of going around the neighborhood acting like the Candy Recycling Service, and predicted about a 20% success rate. This was received skeptically but ended up being about right after they got dressed and took a trip around the block knocking on neighbors' doors--most either had passed out all their candy the night before, or wanted to hold in to what was left, and a few were openly suspicious as to whether the kids actually were with a bona fide Candy Recycling Service. But as predicted, there were a number of households that jumped at the opportunity to dispose of the temptation, one lady cried out "oh yes I do!" when asked if she had any candy she'd like to get rid of. They came back with a whole pillow case full, more than they'd gotten the night before in costume. As there had been a number of kids exposed to the idea, I predicted that it would quickly go viral as it spread around their school, and then jumped the fence to others, and soon sweep the nation. As far as I can tell this doesn't seem to have happened yet, I presume since this year Halloween was on a week night, and you can't really go after work the next day to same effect. I still think this could be a good opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new micro-business, selling cards for people to out in their windows with the words "No Candy Recycling" so they won't be bothered by surley teenagers the next day. I thnk it is only a matter of time before this takes off, so I want to register he idea to help future historians figure out where it began n

Neighbor Violates Christmas Decoration Ordinance

This has been a hard year for my neighbor. First he got a ticket from a city inspector for watering on the wrong day of the week. Next he had his industrial strength 4th of July fireworks show shut down by the police. Afterwards he said he was fed up, and was thinking of moving out if town. Every year since they moved in he has started early getting ready for Halloween. This year he has amped up his Christmas presentation, doubling the number lights in his yard after his dad unloaded a bunch of stuff on him.

I got a lovely idea for a performance art piece: hiring a guy to dress up like a city worker to deliver a citation for being in violation of the city's excessive Christmas decoration ordinance, having exceeded by 30% or more 50% of the average amount of decorations per residence of his street. It's a funny idea to me, but I don't think he would agree, and it could prove to be dangerous for the imposter. My neighbor may be ready to snap, and he has guns. Christmas decorations

How to watch TV without increasing one’s risk of contracting diabetes

People who log more hours in front of the television are at greater risk of dying, or developing diabetes and heart disease, a new study suggests. "The message is simple," study author Dr. Frank Hu at the Harvard School of Public Health told Reuters Health. "Cutting back on TV watching is an important way to reduce sedentary behaviors and decrease risk of diabetes and heart disease."

The Four Rules of Anything

  1. Pay attention
  2. Remain calm
  3. Accept what has happened
  4. Do what needs to be done

Told to me by Jeff George, who doesn't know where it comes from.

I'm finding lately when something comes up it's just a matter of finding which of the four rules is most appropriate to apply. If you work through all four and  still find no relief, try closing and locking the door, or running.

Murphy Was Wrong

You know Murphy's Law and may enjoy lists of its many corollaries. Basically it's the idea that "If anything can go wrong it will", and even more ominously, "If more than one thing can go wrong it will be the worst one", etc. I haven't quite worked my response out, but I think I'm far enough along that there may be something to share. Too bad I didn't put two and two together before Oprah went off the air. I slip into seeing traces of the truth of Murphy's Law in situations like being in a hurry and getting stuck at red lights. "It's always that way. When you're in a hurry you get red lights, when you have plenty of time you get green." It hit me a couple of weeks ago that Murphy's Law may be connected more to the effects of human perception and memory than it is to thermodynamics ("the universe is headed towards disorganization"). You just notice things going wrong more, and remember them better. You don't remember all the times you were in a hurry and got lucky with green lights, or when you were not in a hurry and hit red lights. Murphy's Law is a reflection of the way the human brain processes experience.

Maybe if we had a name for the opposite effect it would be easier to grab ahold of and see pleasant patterns. It's worth a try. How about "Willey's Law"? "If anything can go right it will, and if more than one thing can go right the best one will." Then when you're in a hurry and you hit a green light it won't just slip by unnoticed, you'll say "There it goes again—Willey's Lawwhen I really needed it something good happened."

Let yourself be lucky. It's not something magical, like a shimmering glow you get from being tapped by a fairy's wand. If you don't believe it, check out Richard Wiseman's article ("The Luck Factor") on a ten-year scientific study into the nature of luck.

Anyway, back to my debunking of Murphy's Law. If everything that could go wrong, and the worst of all possible ones being most likely, you would never get anything accomplished. You definitely wouldn't make it to work, what with the accidents that could have happened and all the mechanical problems your vehicle could have developed.

While this may perk you up a little and give you a bit more bounce in your step, I think the most productive application of this awareness could be in your relationship with your partner. We often develop resentments about the way people who are close to us are, seeing patterns and believing that we have figured them out. "You are always doing X."  It is another result of the sort of perception we have that makes us imagine Murphy's Law in effect. You just don't notice all the times that they are doing YZ, or J. If you think that someone is a certain way, try remaining especially attentive to times  they are not that way, and be willing to revise your estimation of them. Resentments are often hardened by believing in patterns that may not be there.

No Agenda podcast

Best podcast in the universe, according to the hosts, and I have no evidence to the contrary: NO AGENDA, with Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak. The two hosts deconstruct the media in an entertaining format, exposing the memes and other nonsense others are trying to fill your mind with. No Agenda Show

How to watch TV, without increasing your risk of developing diabetes

Junk food TVPeople who log more hours in front of the television are at greater risk of dying, or developing diabetes and heart disease, a new study suggests. "The message is simple," says study author Dr. Frank Hu. "Cutting back on TV watching is an important way to reduce sedentary behaviors and decrease risk of diabetes and heart disease."

Here are my two suggestions to address this problem:

1) The combination of TV's image and sound creates a hypnotic brew that few can resist. My brother turned me on to this—turn the sound down (and perhaps play music of your choice) and just watch the picture. Your brain will have a chance of remaining alert, and you'll avoid being sucked in, and if you're paying attention you'll be delighted by occasional synchronicities between what's on the screen and what the music's doing. You don't have to sit there and stare, it will just become part of the ambience, in the way most people have music on without sitting down and really listening.

2) Watch TV standing up, preferably while doing some sort of movement or stretching instead of eating unhealthy foods. Not only will you be less sedentary, but you'll get tired and decide, no doubt before you've hit the two hour danger mark, to go and do something else.

For more information, visit turnoffyourtv.com

Trimpin: Contraptions for Art and Sound

Drop everything and get a copy of Anne Focke's new book about the kinetic/sound artist Trimpin. Thinking out of the box is one sign for us of "lovely thinking", and this elegant book is chock full of refreshing examples, giving a glimpse into Trimpin's journey, and placing his work in the context of visual art, music composition, performance, ambitious engineering, acoustics, and installation art.