Musings and chronicles on life, work, film, culture, politics, etc.
25 Nov 2015 6 Comments
1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.
2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.
Other great photos:
24 Nov 2015 Leave a comment
BY JACK GILBERT
20 Nov 2015 2 Comments
The US State Department is going to end the practice of adding new pages to passports as of January 1, 20016. You’ll be able to passports with 52 pages, but I’ve had to have pages added twice to mine so frequent travelers may want to act now to get more pages.
20 Nov 2015 Leave a comment
From the Writer’s Almanac
by Robert Frost
My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.
14 Nov 2015 Leave a comment
China expert Peter Hessler’s Country Driving is wild and crazy ride through a China in transition. Part travelogue, part memoir, Hessler begins by describing his trips from Beijing out west along the Great Wall (make that Great Walls, because it never was one wall, but the Europeans thought it was and kept referring it to as the Great Wall so in the end the Chinese figured, “just go with it.”) He drove beaters he rented from a chain smoker who’d just laugh whenever Hessler broke the company’s rules. Throughout part one he sprinkles the questions from the drivers’ test.
133. If you drive for four hours, you must stop the car and take a mandatory rest of at least
a) 10 minutes
b) 15 minutes
c) 20 minutes.
356. If you give somebody a ride and they realize he left something in your car, you should:
a) keep it for yourself
b) return it to the person or his place of work as quickly as possible
c) call him and offer to return it for a reward.
My favourite part of the book was part two when Hessler rented a small house in rural Sancha, two hours outside of Beijing. In time Hesssler becomes “Uncle Monster,” almost part of the Wei family. Here I learned so much about life in rural China. The Wei’s are a young couple and parents of the only child in the village (because most young villagers went off to seek their fortunes). Hessler gets involved with the Wei’s who rented him the home on behalf of their cousins. When their 5 year old son gets a rare blood condition and the family is given the brush off at a hospital in a city near the village, Hessler steps up to get better healthcare in Beijing. I was stunned by how uncaring and out of touch the healthcare professionals were. Hessler saw that the parents were getting 2nd class treatment because they looked like peasants. He then began asking questions on the parents’ behalf. He wanted to make sure the boy got clean blood, but the doctor he spoke with kept insisting there was no way to be sure the blood wasn’t contaminated with HIV or hepatitis. She didn’t believe there were tests for these diseases!
I also was particularly struck by Hessler’s description of teacher-parent conferences. All the parents sit in rows of chairs as the teacher describes each child’s behaviour and progress for all to hear. “Xiao Gao always wets his pants and starts fights with other boys.” “Xiao Wang is horrible in math and is lazy.” No privacy here. When the boy was publicly called out for not sitting still his parents beat him and teased him mercilessly.
In the last part of the book, Hessler goes south to see how a rural community changes with its first wave of manufacturing comes to town. He sees the change through a relationship he cultivates with men starting a factory that makes bra wings. I know more about these metal pieces on bra straps than I ever dreamed. I also learned that most of this manufacturing boom is lead by teams where the highest level of education for its leaders may be middle school, that most factories prefer to hire young girls with little experience or education as such girls cause the least amount of “trouble.” If you lie in a job interview, even if you provide a fake ID and misrepresent who you are, you are likely to be most valued because it’s assumed you “really want work.” As I read, I couldn’t stop thinking what a house of cards this whole boom is.
11 Nov 2015 3 Comments
Finally I found time to watch a movie, albeit a short one that I watched in short stints as I ate lunch this past week.
Steamboat Bill, Jr. starred Buster Keaton as a long lost, disappointing son of a steamboat owner. Steamboat Bill. Sr. owns an old steamboat that gets condemned shortly after Mr. King, a local tycoon with a splendid new boat muscles into town. Bill’s son, whom he hasn’t seen in at least 20 years comes to town and the rough, salt-of-the-earth father is totally disappointed with his light-weight, citified son.
To make matters worse, coincidentally, the son’s sweetheart turns out to be the daughter of the tycoon, who so hates Bill.
Lots of slapstick ensues. While I could appreciate the acrobatics and the technical precision in the film, I wished for more–more like the social commentary Chaplin would have included. The DVD I had had a few extras, but I missed the audio commentary that many Criterion Collection films have. It wasn’t a bad film, but it could have been better.
09 Nov 2015 1 Comment
While working on a group project for my Digital Library class, I’ve stumbled across Miami University’s Flickr Commons collection of Victorian Trade Cards. Trade cards were first used in France and England in the 17th century to distribute to customers. They became more elaborate in time and later evolved to collectibles. The first baseball trading cards were actually trade cards made by tobacco companies.
Miami University has shared over 1,000 trade card images on Flickr Commons.
07 Nov 2015 12 Comments
This week’s prompt urges bloggers to delveinto the eerie realm of ghost images. In the Victorian and Edwardian eras people believed these ghosts that appeared in photos were spirits. Even though most were double exposures or such errors, they still give me the willies.