At the End of Your Rope

Pulling, lifting, holding, securing, lashing and binding. Construction, seafaring, sports, adventure.

For these purposes, even in our age of advanced technologies, nothing has or will ever come along to replace “the rope.”

First found in use around 17,000 years ago, the basic design has remained little changed,  the natural jute, cotton, or hemp fibers have been replaced by nylon and other synthetics since my boyhood. (I remember how hard on the hands was the natural rope we used in the last-evening bonfire tug-of-war at summer camp.)

It is such an inexpensive and low-tech tool with so many varied and practical uses in everyday life that I marvel that some kind of knots-and-bends instruction is not a mandatory part of everyone’s early education.

So towards that end I highly recommend you parents and grandparents go to the site below (image above from that site). From the long lists, find a bend, an end-loop, mid-loop, bend and hitch that you like.

Become proficient in these four “knots” and then teach them to your young person, explaining when and where each might be used. My guess is that,   watching the step by step instructions,  young minds and hands will catch on with alarmingly greater ease than your venerable old noggin and gnarly digits.

Do this, and you will have passed along life skills worth knowing. And they will thank you for it. (You may have to upload the site to their cellphone to generate any interest at all and to increase the odds of participation.)

 

Sense of Presence: Earth Places

I am one of those former young adult dreamers about far-away places that feels like a dream has come true. It is called Google Maps/Google Earth. It can take me any where, any time.

And when (increasingly often) I need a diversion from what passes these days as reality, I fire up the engine and head off: to Glacier National Park; the Smokies; my old stomping grounds in Birmingham or back to survey the Carolina Bays that continue to fascinate me.

If you lack the driving force to drive it yourself, hang on to this 2.5 minute spin around the planet to visit mostly human-made landscapes, but also a few natural places.

Earth: we just couldn’t stay here without you.

Be sure and turn on your speakers (or use headphones as the producers suggest.)

Hello Trello

trelloscreenshot800

Straight to the point: I’d love to have a few free months of TRELLO GOLD before I save up enough to pay for a year’s-worth. You can help me do that. Just click the box…

Click this box below to learn about and start using Trello. It is quick and easy, and might–just might– make you an organized person at this late date! Not convinced? Read on…

So think about who in your life needs a way to design and follow projects–family vacations, small business tracking, personal research or shopping projects, anything you can imagine. Sign up and use it for free. Check it out, use it yourself and then pass it along to your kids, colleagues, or family.  Thanks!

I generate and record ideas best using digital outliners (Ecco Pro going way way back, then Workflowy, CheckVist, OneNote) but  the way I remember best is visually and spatially. Outlines of hierarchical plain text are not the best tools for recall.

So in my researching one topic or another and in my trying to keep up with the details and dates for the organizations I’m involved with, I keep coming back to the most visually-customizable and adaptable way to remember what is going on in my life–the moreso as my own whimpy neurons are less able to do the heavy lifting.

The tool I use lets me see my details laid out multi-dimensionally. You may never have heard of it but you might be glad you’re about to, or to share the Trello link with someone it might work for very well.

It is called TRELLO. The free version is immensely useful and intuitive. But I need your help to go Gold. More about that in a minute.

Without geeking too much about this, Trello is a bulletin board of sorts, where you create columns of related drag-and-drop cards (these columns are called LISTS), with a list for each related category for any given bulletin board (or simply BOARD.) What boards, lists and cards you create will be unique to your project at hand.

Generally, one common way to use Trello is to sort the most important or timely cards at the top of a given list, and move cards in lists from left to right across the board as the project advances. The user can, in this manner, track the progress from idea to completion–from doing to done. And you can choose to share a board with team members or family to comment on some or all of your boards.

Each card–so very importantly–has an info-rich “back side” where you can create and record all sorts of important stuff–checklists, date information, web links, attachments, images and such.

Thanks for taking a bit of time in your own behalf–and MINE! Let me know of your successes with Trello!

Get Both a Focused and Bird’s Eye View of Your Tasks with Trello   http://lifehacker.com/get-both-a-focused-and-birds-eye-view-of-your-tasks-wit-1569848624

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/460704236856469419/

Simulated: Life, the Universe and Everything

Here’s a mind-bender to end the week: Are we all merely shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave? Is there really a REALITY or are we simply made by some puppetmaster to act is if…

In the Matrix, minds were real but the physical world was a computer simulation.

In the current philosophical and physicists’ speculation, none of it is what we refer to as “real.”

We are projections in a simulated reality, and if that is true, it can be discovered. And we can create our own simulations (just think of what we can already do with computer-created reality) and populate worlds we make ourselves to suit our own whims. To the Holodeck, Number One!

Even Elon Musk thinks this might be so:

“Forty years ago we had Pong – two rectangles and a dot. That’s where we were. Now 40 years later, we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, we’ll have augmented reality,” said Musk. “If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality.”

It’s a view shared by Terrile. “If one progresses at the current rate of technology a few decades into the future, very quickly we will be a society where there are artificial entities living in simulations that are much more abundant than human beings.”

If there are many more simulated minds than organic ones, then the chances of us being among the real minds starts to look more and more unlikely. As Terrile puts it: “If in the future there are more digital people living in simulated environments than there are today, then what is to say we are not part of that already?”

Think (or imagine you think) that this is a fringe area of interest? Pretend to think again.

So in the final scene, does Dorothy step behind the curtain and meet the Wizard who runs the projector?

Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?

Un-like: Detoxing Our App-etites

It’s okay to be hooked on phonics, but not on our iPhones. But we are, by the same design that once made us trust the health assurance of cigarette smoking  and now incites us to hunt POcKEtMONsters or photograph our dinner on our plates or our dinner on our own faces for the world to see. Just say no!

Fellow sheeples, we are being assimilated into the hive-mind of web apps that know so very well how to push our buttons, or have us predictably and reliably push theirs. If Mr. Pavlov could see us now.

There is a science behind the compulsion to view your smartphone an average of 150 times a day. White rats of the world, resist!
Elman compares the tech industry to Big Tobacco before the link between cigarettes and cancer was established: keen to give customers more of what they want, yet simultaneously inflicting collateral damage on their lives.

Harris, Elman says, is offering Silicon Valley a chance to reevaluate before more-immersive technology, like virtual reality, pushes us beyond a point of no return.

I have not explored this topic as deeply as I hope I might (and I will if I  can only block out the beeping, flashing, ringing urgencies that are emitted from my front left pocket). Wouldn’t you suppose there is an entire sub-psych unit devoted just to creating the digital app itch among the very young, who are the very most hooked-on-digital?

So at this point, I only direct your attention to a couple of (click-click) web pages to read the TED-talk above (click-click) and if you or someone you know (like me) can’t seem to stop pressing the lever to get a pellet (a like, a comment, an email, a notification, a….) then perhaps you will want to dig further.

Personally, I’d like to find the middle of the divide where I don’t sacrifice all of the goods of information and knowledge and true communication made possible by our digital tools while pulling far away from the tyranny of pleasure-center stim from psycho-cookies 150 times a day that result in very little good and possibly very much spinning of wheels in the sands of precious time.

Addicted to Your iPhone? You’re Not Alone – The Atlantic

Design for Time Well Spent

The POINT of a Hundred Points of Light

I really must take control of the morning coffee-browse, because it invariably sends me off down rabbit trails other than the intentional path I thought I was going to take, and really should have gotten right on, first thing.

This 2 minute performance here falls into the SuperBowl Halftime Show Glitter and Tinsel category for visual hyperbole and self-promotion on the part of Intel.

They supplied and software-power and choreographed the hundred light-bearing drones. In the end, it was all about them, and as I watched mesmerized, I saw too that this is a harbinger of LIVING ADS and SKY BILLBOARDS to come with such ubiquity and scale that this current Guinness Record will seem charming and quaint in its underachievement.

Watch it, I suggest. Go full screen. And see if you feel the same  ambivalence as I did.

Look at what  the creativity and ingenuity and technologies of our species have accomplished! Fitting that the light show be accompanied by a live orchestra playing “classical” music whose qualities make it ever-lasting on a human scale of the generations it has bridged. At first blush, it seemed appropriate to wed visual fireworks with the acoustic explosions of the Fifth Symphony. And then it seemed in bad taste.  I dunno. Roll over, Beethoven.

We are capable of playing in perfect harmony and synchrony off the same page. We can use technology for good, even if sometimes in lavishly expensive and silly and self-serving ways. We are the “paragon of animals” I suppose after all.

But as much as I did not want to peer beyond the glitz and tinsel display and the majesty of the music, I found myself wondering what will be the ultimate future for drones at the service of those who don’t want to create order or beauty or meaning or well-being. Yet another two-edged technology in our prehensile early post-Cro-Magnon hands.

There are drones droning on on both sides of the cultural divide, just as there are guns and scalpels, generals and ad execs.

The planet is at least an interesting place to live. And we can and must set our expectations high. So enjoy the pretty lights dancing to the music.  It truly is impressive. And yet…

Field Friend: iPhone

chinkapins480Just got back from her regular and my sometimes early morning walk around the “middle road” above Nameless Creek.

As usual, I took my pocket camera (Powershot G7X) but never took it out of that storage location. My “phone” OTOH was used to take audio and typed field notes, collect a number of still and video images (of a flock of passing grackles) and record 30 seconds of audio ambient nature sounds.

I have to confess, this little wafer of silicon and glass is a handy assistant in the relative wild of Goose Creek.

You can hate technology for its obvious ills and evils, but you should also be very very thankful as a naturalist that you can pack so much utility into such a small package.

Grackles coming tomorrow or early next week.

Meanwhile, some of you will recognize this plant as Chinquapin. I collected two dozen healthy fruits from these two plants growing just behind the house. This is the first year to collect seeds.

And that’s important to me. These small trees are 14 years old. They were planted from seeds given to me by Lynn Baum the year she died. We only discovered a few years back  that these two seeds had survived to maturity.

This is the first year to hope that we can pass along Lynn’s legacy to a few friends for their meadows and woodland margins. And that feels very fitting and comfortable to me.