Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recently, my nephew ran away.
Yes, he was found.
He hadn't gone far.
The weather conditions under which he left were favorable.
However, a few hours later it turned cold and so my brother and his wife searched... they drove all over town, and the nearby towns. Places they used to live, checking possible destinations.

The next morning, he hadn't turned up and so they called  the police for help.  I searched on foot, first walking a circle around the house looking for tracks in the snow, then checking for foot prints on the road sides.  Sure enough, I found prints in the soft dirt of the shoulder leading in the direction of the bus route.  I also found a place where he had gone off the road and crouched behind a small evergreen. 

Now, I'm not aboutto denigrate the effort they put forth, however I'm no expert tracker, but aparently I'm better at it than ALL the law enforcement officials that looked for him. I came home from my long tiring walk in a headwind and howling snow, to find the local sheriffs interviewing his parents.  I told them about the prints.  Yet I do NOT believe the K9 untit was informed about the tracks, or they wouldn't have wasted any time in the woods... at least that's what I have to hope.  those tracks were the most obvious clue to me, and a dog would have been able to follow them.

Yet, also, rather than searching his bus-route first, they chose to search other nearby towns.  My feeling is, they probably were able to make a lot of home-searches as a result of this, but other than that, they concentrated their search in the LEAST likely locations... and the tracks I found say it all. where he was eventually found, called in by the mother who was allowing him to spend the weekend, was on his bus-route.

Fast forward to afterwards.
the boy is home, safe and sound.
His parents have been issued tickets for "child endangerment"  supposedly for not calling the authorities soon enough. 
REALLY??

Number one:
Personally, I think it's obvious that the results would not have been any better and in fact, I personally had better results MYSELF.  After all, I found the tracks!  I did, NOT them, me!  With no training. No experience. I don't even hunt. I don't have a helicopter, nor a dog, not months of training. I'm not even good at  fishing for god's sake.  Now maybe there's things I don't know: perhaps they DID check those tracks and they were too old for the dogs to follow. I don't think so. The dogs searched the woods, not up the road where I found the tracks.

Number two:
just by the way that he left, the things he took, he left with a plan.  He had someplace to go or he would have taken different things than he did. So my brother was 98% sure that he went to someone's house. And the officers involved ALL agreed.

So that leaves us all wondering: why did the D.A. ticket them?

What about this other kid's mother? Who answers the door, finds a 14 year old boy on their doorstep at 9pm, and says "yes you can spend the weekend" without talking to parents first?  Any time my daughters were in my care, I always required permission and fore-knowledge even if they wanted to play next-door.  They KNEW if they changed plans they had to ask first, and my nieghbors always checked with me personally before they went anywhere.  It's inconcievable to me that if a child arrived on my doorstep at 9pm that they would spend more than an hour in my house without parental permission, even if it were the next door nieghbor's kid... and this has indeed happened where I have sent a nieghbor-kid home to ask for permission... this to me as a parent is common sense... as sure as breathing... my house shuts down at 10pm.  Not necessarily for sleep, but certainly for interaction with the outside world, and so if a child showed up on my doorstep, on foot, who lived 3 miles away, and was carying a back-pack... I think I would have alarm bells go off in my head.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The New Military

I've never been in the military, so I don't know how the selection process works, but I would hope in these times and with the technology available that a military personnel's function in the organization be determined like this.

Natural Selection
I'm playing this game on facebook (Bejeweled Blitz) and suddenly I realized that the things I would have tried for if I had joined the military (Pilot) I probably wouldn't have gotten. What does this have to do with bejeweled? well, I realized the reason I have trouble getting a high score, is my inability to process large quantities of visual information quick enough to be able to react properly. In short, my situational awareness sucks! So there I'd be in a helicopter or jet fighter, and I wouldn't be able to react fast enough to save my skin or anyone else's! See, I also noticed this trend in other games that I've played, but some things I do better at than others. My brother on the other hand is better at situational strategy. My own strengths lie in thinking but I can't do it while stressed. I come up with broad ideas easily, but usually need other people to fill in the details. I'm also good at efficiency once I know all the variables involved and the goals that need to be accomplished.

Just playing games
So since a good determination of an individual's thought process and abilities can be determined by what games they are good at and enjoy, it only follows that part of the selection process include a "break-time" where the individuals have the opportunity to relax in a way that they choose, with a selection of games and activities available designed to help determine which tasks an individual are suited for... which are not always likely to be what the individual thinks they want.

Dreams in flames
For many people the reality is not what the dream was imagined to be. In my own previously mentioned example, I wanted to be a pilot. I would have flunked out on math most likely, although oddly enough I've since learned that all of troubles with math stem from the way I was taught to think about it, not an inability to do it. but even if my math was good, my brain is still not quick on it's feet, a bad thing for anyone required to make high speed, life or death decisions where one instant of hesitation can mean destruction. later on in life I discovered that I'm good at other things, and while I still enjoy playing those games that I'm not very good at, I at least realize that it would not have been for me had I gone that route.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Kids, Games, and roles

As child, I recall running around , either on foot, or on my bike when I got older. My Brother and I had Lego's and Matchbox cars. We used to pretend to be other people: star ship fighter pilots, cops, or adventurers of some sort. However I don't recall ever saying the words "let's pretend" every five seconds while we were doing it. I don't recall pretending to be a specific television or movie character or even our own characters in the "world" of a specific movie. We weren't Klingons, or Rebels from Star Wars. We sometimes made up names to use for the play session, but I was never Captain Kirk, Luke Skywalker, or any sort of GI Joe. The names I came up with were generally simple but most of the time I think I was just me with a title.

Maybe my child-hood experience is not the norm or perhaps I've simply just forgotten that I ever said the word "pretend", but, when I watch my kids and other kids playing, They spend about 90% of the time telling all the other kids what their going to pretend their names are. The word "Pretend" pops up throughout as they act out their role.

During mixed (co-ed) play sessions though I notice that the play goes both ways. Sometimes they play house, other times it's a star battle or a magical adventure with unicorns and fairies.

Every once in a while, another parent will comment about the "feminizing" of toys, clothes, advertising, etc. They worry that Advertisers are affecting the development of their children (usually daughters) To a certain extent I think they're right, but on other levels the advertisers are just using natural inclinations to behave a certain way and I think it's important to target the correct parts of both.

Girls want to be princesses... boys want to be strong. Courageous. A protector. Not a prince, but a knight. Somehow it's genetically coded and to expect different is just silly, no matter how your standing in the feminist movement is. The princess phenomenon is not new, it's been around way longer than advertising has, and what it IS, I think, is that deep down everyone yearns to be head of the pack. All of this comes out in playing. it's what they do with the toys that drives the design and marketing of them, not some hidden agenda to turn little girls into stuck-up women who think the world owes them everything or turn little boys into muscle bound jerks who beat thier wives.

I think that daytime soap operas, romance novels, and music videos do much more to damage our children's behavioral growth than toys ever will. Think of those coworkers you know (or perhaps your self) where it seems that every action they take is designed to generate drama... talking behind peoples backs, arguing with their spouse all the time...it's well just like a soap only without the rich people and someone only dies occasionally, and if they do, they never come back in a plot twist later on. So you think, yeah so what? a lot of people are like that... well yeah but doesn't it seem counter-productive? Could you imagine living like that back in colonial days, your neighbors are miles away! You can dislike the way Barbara-jean (up the road) looked at your apple cobbler all you want, but if you piss her off, she won't trade you those apples that you need to make one for your yarn and if she stops visiting you won't have anyone else to talk to for MONTHS because your knight in coverall armor spends all day in the field keeping your behind fed and warm. You probably even can't stand him by now, but if you argue with him, you're stuck with each other. Back then, if folks had behaved the way people do now, we wouldn't have survived as a human race.

Because it's dumb!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Whiners and Aggressors in Social media

This article is given birth specifically by posts seen on the Craigslist Albany Musicians section, but also applies to my experiences on chat services on Yahoo, including Yahoo groups, and others that are similar. Specifically I am referring to the people who post to whine about something that happened to them, and the people who post simply to rile up the whiners.

The Whiners
Sometimes it's good to have a public place to tell your horror story. It can be great for other people in the same situation to know who to avoid, and what not to do. This is all fine and good, but then there are the whiners. Whiners start out like this, but then go on and on, taking whining to new levels and worst of all to the world audience who frankly for the most part are just trying to find someone to play music with, to be a promoter, or trying to get laid, or whatever.

The aggressors
On the other end of the spectrum there are the people who don't have enough excitement in real life, no, they get their rocks off by going into these social media services and shaking it like a beehive to get everyone inside buzzing real good before they run off to find someone else to annoy. I don't know who these people are, but my guess is that they are Teens. Some you can tell are teens. Jobless, they don't have anything better to do, they haven't entered real life away from mom and dad yet, and they haven't the least idea of what it's like to go hungry because they missed that job posting, that gig, that great deal on a tool they NEED that someone is giving away for cheap or free.

Let it go
Then there's every one else, we are stuck in the middle. We are forced to wade through all of that BS trying to have real conversations or trying to further our real lives. We have two choices in these situations: Confront and console to try to get them to stop, or keep quiet and wade through the mess losing valuable time and risk missing that post which might lead to the next gig, that great art gallery, the perfect studio space, or heaven knows the woman you'd fall in love with (my condolances). the second is the best answer, really. The trouble is, NO ONE does it! There's always at least one person who falls for the bait and can't help replying. If you reply, you keep it going... it's what the aggressors and whiners WANT! Stick to business only and they will disappear... Let it GO!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The (Enviro)mentalists

Environmentalists... Now there's a group of people who have it backwards. They have this ideology: Stop people from ruining the world. It's bold, it's noble, it's a cause and to some extent it makes sense. So what do I mean, "Backwards?"

The Universe
We are the riders on this planet... not the other way around! We are a product of it, and by that token, anything we do is a product of nature itself. To think that we have that much influence over it is absurd. We may destroy ourselves, things we do may cause extinctions, pollution, and all of that stuff, yes, but the planet will adapt and go on, long after we've killed ourselves with our own advances.

It's au natural!
According to Bill Bryson in A Short History of nearly Everything, volcanoes spew out more pollutants in one year than the entire human race has since the Industrial Revolution. In another interesting tidbit, he cites, "99.99% of all species that ever lived are no longer with us." he also says, "For complex organisms, the average lifespan of a species is only about 4 million years-- roughly about where we [the human race] are now."

Where it makes sense
This is not to say we shouldn't be careful or worried about our own actions. As stated above, we're at the end of our run as a species and I'd hate to think that we're going to poison ourseves simply because we are too lazy or greedy to fix it. We have to view it from the correct angle though if we aren't planning on deluding ourselves. The saying, "everything in moderation" applies to the rest of our lives as much as it does eating and drinking.

A case in point
I used to know this guy, Jeff, who was really big on Ethanol. He toured the country with a robot, visiting schools, he had a radio spot locally, and he set up homes on his property the used strictly Ethanol for heat. (It's probably safe to say that anyone who went to seminars about bio-fuels probably heard Jeff speak) I remember him giving me his spiel one day at his house and I remembered thinking, "he's exchanging one pollution for another. That's not really a fix, that's just putting off the inevitable". Then when I had the opportunity, I told him so. He didn't like that. Oh he didn't get angry or anything like that, but he wouldn't see it any other way. now with fuel cell technology whose only exhaust is H2O, I see the same problem. People think, "oh water can't be a pollutant" but try telling that to New Orleans! I foresee a future of massive rainstorms and record humidity levels. I say again, "Everything in moderation."

The Hidden Trap of Idealism

In our search for Truth, Justice, and the American-way, many of us tend o forget that ideals are not reality. I find this strange because it's a lesson that we learn in childhood, there are songs about it, and you can see the evidence in everyday life.

You can't always get what you want
Yes, Mick said it best in that song, and sometimes you do get what you need... like it or not! As a child I remember uttering the phrase, "it's not FAIR!" Now, as an adult, I hear my own children mutter those same words and the usual response is, "life isn't fair", just as my own mother said to me. It's true of course, "Fair" is an IDEAL towards which we strive, but as the phrase above indicates, in the real world, "Fair" is unachievable.

Wait a minute! What about all those other Ideals?!
It's true, they are all unachievable. At best we can hope for a good approximation, so why is it that we are always so disappointed, shocked, or surprised, at the first indication failure where an Ideal is concerned? It's Love at first sight? oh wait, no I guess not, time to look forward to two weeks of depression (that's just me, your own timeline may be different). A coworker get you fired by telling lies? It's not FAIR! Oh, um...right...

And then we look around...
When we start looking around, suddenly Ideals are popping up all around us, Some people base their entire lives around one or two ideals. Environmentalists, Catholics, Romance Novelists, Activists of all sorts, anyone who can look at you with a straight face and say, "this is the way it's supposed to be" well, er, no...because the way it is, is the way it's supposed to be, and it's not that way until it IS!

World Peace for example
Lots of people believe in the possibility of World Peace, but the only possibility for world peace is if we have something else as a world to fight against. I imagine that I hear you the reader ask me WHY? The answer is pretty simple if we think about it. Everything in existence happens because of some sort of violence, some imbalance, some sort of inequality. As soon as there is equality, NOTHING happens any more. To use a simple example, a syphon, take two clear buckets, one empty and one filled with water, and a tube. Place the buckets so that the empty one is lower than the other. Fill the tube with water and plug both ends with your thumbs or by crimping the tube ends simultaneously place each end into the bottom of opposite buckets and release the ends. Water should begin to flow from full to empty immediately. slowly raise the emptier bucket until the water level matches that of the fuller bucket. The flow will have stopped. the reason this works is because everything seeks equality and when it finds it, it stops. the next question you ask should be, "how did the universe become unequal to begin with?"

How DID the universe become unequal to begin with?
There is only one answer to this, and it's mind-boggling to some. It has ALWAYS been unequal and always will be. if it were possible for everything to become equal eventually, it would already have happened, and that would mean that nothing would move. if nothing can move then things cannot become unequal again. Of course, "Always" is an ideal as well isn't it?

The romance novel of our lives
What really bugs me is when people expect thier lives to be like Soap Operas or Romance novels. Some expect love at first sight, while other feel it necessary to fill their relationships with drama and intrigue. This ruins whatever relationships they have, because who wants to stay with someone who wants to argue all the time, who cheats on them, or who deliberately does things to make you jealous? Those who expect love at first sight are doomed to a long search, sure some people come close. I've heard of some people being happily married after only knowing each other for a month. Two people in fact. One couple. Out of all the people I know only two have had that happen. Call me crazy but, those are not good odds.