Monday, December 3, 2012

Future Consumption: Unboxing


This is what I hope to be the first in a series titled Future Consumption. Basically, I am rethinking our current usage of technology, and how we can change the state of current services to utilize newly available tools.

Chances are that if you live in the United States, you have a cable or satellite dish provider that you have chosen to work with for your television, telephone, and internet services. They offer all kinds of bundles, but their prices are fairly high considering that you can technically live without a house phone and watch your favorite shows without cable. Now that networks actually stream their shows online, you can catch up over the course of a few hours without needing to use your living room (well, actually any) television. That is why I believe it is time to "unbox" cable.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thursday Traffic | 25 October

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting on a stopped Metro train in an underground tunnel. The train is holding momentarily, and you are minding your own business. Suddenly, an African-American man wearing a black-and-white striped polo shirt and jeans walks by. He is mostly clean, bespectacled and has the beginnings of a scruffy beard.

As he stalks up and down the full length of the train, he is yelling, "Can anybody help me, please? Can anybody help me, please? Can anybody help me with anything, please? Please, can anybody help me?"

How would you react? What would you do? The first time this happened to me, I felt sad for this man. I had nothing to give him and I was on a Metro train for about ten minutes with him screaming that over and over again. That was last month sometime. He was back again today.

This time, things were a little different. It was crowded on the train. This is the morning commute on Thursday, after all. When the man started his chant, a little girl was nervous. She looked to be about eight and she wore thin glasses and her hair was neatly braided with clips at the ends. Whenever the man yelled, she would flinch and try to be as far away from him as possible. Everyone hears the man screaming, and everyone sits still.

Then, the man changes up his chant. He approaches a woman and asks, "Can you help me, please?" This was different. It wasn't targeted at just anybody anymore. It was personal. She asks (stuttering, mind you) what he needs, and he says that he is homeless and hungry. His tone is not kind and the woman sounds scared. That little girl I mentioned before? She's nearly standing right on top of me, and she's even more afraid than the woman.

Enter the one person who is willing to confront this man. She is also African-American and she has natural hair and a rather smart mouth. She tells the man (in far softer words) to sit down and shut up before she lays him out on the train. They battle back and forth. He complains about needing food, she tells him that no one on the train is his parent and that he needs to grow up. She is the little girl's mother, and she is no joke. 

Throughout this entire debacle, the other commuters smile. They laugh at the mother's sharp comebacks. I'm actually surprised everyone didn't burst into applause when the train finally reached the next station and the homeless man left. Then, with a sort of reverence, everyone thanked the woman as they got off the train. They wished her a good day. They smiled at her (knowingly).

As one of the silent commuters, I have to say that I understand the reactions of both parties. The homeless man had a certain inflection to his voice that was reminiscent of a child with a learning disability. Given that most of the homeless people in DC came from asylums and such, I wouldn't be surprised if he had some kind of handicap. The mother, on the other hand, was protecting people from what that man could do—particularly her daughter. Yet it makes one wonder just why we react the way we do. Why didn't I stand up to that man? Why didn't the many people around me? What stopped us?

I can't speak for them, but I can speak for me. I think that there is a part of me that knows I had nothing to offer that man. I couldn't look at him and say, "Sir, I have food you can have. I have money. I can help you." I only had my lunch (which is a ham & cheese sandwich, chips, and applesauce). I had no cash, and I couldn't refer him to a shelter. In other words, I couldn't help him. That is a very painful and very humbling thing to realize. Yes, that mother could run him away with her comments, but she couldn't help him either.

Do any of you have any stories about encounters with homeless people? Any suggestions? Let me know with your comments.

Monday, October 15, 2012

By Our Powers Combined

It's funny how we are raised to work and play together, yet when we are older, we drift so far away from those roots. There are all kinds of fun activities that engage children in conversation and cooperation with one another. Yet at some point, we realize that working together is not always fun. Sometimes, our opinions differ. Other times, we have to work with someone we do not like. However, we are forced to come together regardless for a greater purpose. Like the Planeteers from Captain Planet, we must bring our talents together to accomplish something bigger than ourselves.

That is why this idea of the Power of We struck such a deep cord within me when I saw the Blog Action Day post for this year. It's a humbling experience to work with others. It's not that the process is painful, it is that we realize how differently we approach the same problem, and sometimes how small our scope is. We truly is a power. Depending upon your nation, "we" can choose a new leader. "We" can cure diseases. "We" can fund a project.

Today is a big day (for some states) here in the United States. It marks the final day to register to vote. With elections right around the corner, we has never been such a big deal for two strongly positioned candidates. Eventually, the campaigns will die down and our new president will be sworn in next year, but "we" does not fade away. We still have so much to accomplish. 

I know it's a bit early, but I am making a resolution for 2013. With the "end of the world" over on December 31st, my goal is to really get into volunteering again. I used to be more involved in my community, and I have not for a long time. My question to you is will you also sign up for local volunteering opportunities? If you are in the DC-area, I recommend HandsOn Greater DC Cares. You'll probably have an awesome program similar wherever you are. If you do not have one, try starting one yourself. We can do this together (though most likely apart) and make a difference everywhere.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Can this still be called Newton's Cradle?

The oh-so-popular desk toy of executives from the 90's has been recreated by Yasutoki Kariya as a thesis project. The catch is that instead of the usual metal spheres that are indicative of the kinetic toy, lightbulbs are given center stage. There is probably a great rationale behind the creation, but I just thought this made perfect eye candy for a Monday.

(via Colossal)

Studio Ghibli Love

From Oh-Totoro Tumblr

If there is one animation studio that I have to say is consistently successful in telling stories, it would have to be Studio Ghibli. Unlike animation wizards at Pixar, all of Studio Ghibli's films have cel animation. This is a huge feat and it explains why their releases are so staggered (that and translation for those of us in the states). One of the best aspects of Studio Ghibli is the amount of detail that is paid to simple tasks. I am immediately reminded of watching Chihiro/Sen in Spirited Away putting on her shoes, or tying her hair up with a rubber band. Such a simple thing that is given such detail. Also, if you ever look at the scenes, there is so much attention shown to food preparation and nature.

I tumbled across a great Tumblr that gives some very nice scenes from Studio Ghibli films the gif treatment. It's a nice way to see some of the artwork that makes Ghibli films so special. Check it out »

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Unreally delicious #77

Peanut butter and chocolate is a match made in candy heaven (for those of us who appreciate the stunning combination). It is the exact same for the Unreal™ confection, #77. Described on the packaging as a peanut butter cup, the Unreal offering comes with two treats just like its competitor—Reese's. How does it match up? Well, to be absolutely honest, I like the Unreal version better than Reese's. This is a big deal coming from me. I generally love Reese's, but I've tasted something better. I think the chocolate is what does it for me. Also, Reese's I've eaten lately have had a melty center and they don't taste as good as they used to. 

Don't believe me? Give it a try. Get Unreal™ and let me know what you think.

On the package—[Ingredients: milk chocolate (cane sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk powder, organic blue agave inulin, skim milk powder, soy lecithin, vanilla extract), peanut butter (dry roasted peanuts, icing sugar, palm fruit oil, salt), cane sugar, organic palm fruit oil, peanut flour, organic blue agave inulin, whey protein isolate, salt, soy lecithin]

Artist Spotlight | Christian Faur

Untitled 6500 by Christian Faur

Part of what makes art so powerful is the very scale of what we consider art to be. If you ever want to get embroiled in a discussion, ask someone what art is. Philosophy aside, I find these crayon portraits by Christian Faur to be very amazing. They are colorful, they are unique, and they are detailed. This certainly makes me want to get a lot of crayons.