Monday, November 28, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
The Chevy Spark is currently offered in Europe with a 4 cylinder engine. About this time next year - Chevy will introduce and all-electric version of that same Spark. It will be tagged 2013 model. It seats 4 people with a small hatchback.
They have been visiting all the old family haunts from when Lulu used to teach summers at the University of Hawaii in Manoa Valley. The visited Haleiwa and Kailua on the North Shore. They also had a family favorite - Dole Whip - at the Dole Plantation.
We wish them good aloha.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
The court’s decision to step in had been expected, but Monday’s order answered many questions about just how the case would proceed. Indeed, it offered a roadmap toward a ruling that will help define the legacy of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Monday, November 07, 2011
I love Pennsylvania and all it stands for - I like to tease PSU fans but we have alumni in the family :-)
My impression of Happy Valley will not change a bit. I will cheer for PSU every time they play Notre Dame :-)
I guess the worst part of it is - is that PSU fans were always running around laughing when hardships happened to other schools. It could never happen at State College they said. Now the world is going to want a little schadenfreude.
I think Joe - Spanier - and a few others will lose their job over this. Joe should have personally gone to the cops - not hand it off to someone else. Spanier knew everything - he will be running for a golden parachute. Sandusky is a sick piece of crap - I would rant about him more but then people would remind me that Lulu was 16 when we eloped - 40 years ago.
Some fans will just use this as an excuse to dump Joe - something they wanted for 15 years. Now they have a "legit" reason.
This will not affect the football fans. They will continue to ride their motorhomes to Happy Valley and watch the games. They love the ritual. Maybe ticket prices will drop - but I doubt it.
Let me go back and re-read this before I post it. I do not want to offend any friends.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Friday, November 04, 2011
The big banks have gotten America into this financial mess. Here is a little easy way to get back at them. Besides - pulling all your accounts and joining a credit union - this one just feels good. When banks send you all this junk mail to apply for credit cards - they include a pre-paid envelope. They only pay for the envelopes that are used - like 25 cents an envelope. Take those envelopes - stuff them as full as you can - put a message inside to them. Then mail the envelopes. Not only do the banks have to pay by weight - the post office gets a needed boost. I always love plans that do not cost me anything - but I get my point across.
by Sam Graham-Felsen
On Black Friday in 2009, I said goodbye to my iPhone. And when Steve Jobs’ successor announces the newest version today, I’m going to ignore the whole spectacle. Or try to, anyway.
In 2007 I was one of those people who obsessively monitored MacRumors.com for iPhone scuttlebutt, then waited in line for hours and bought one the first day it came out. At the time, I was working on Barack Obama’s digital campaign team in Chicago, and I was wide-eyed about the iPhone’s potential to empower the grassroots. A volunteer, I imagined, could pull up a map and find five doors of likely voters to knock on; or share streaming videos of Obama speeches at local diners and farmers markets—or even collect credit card donations at rallies. It would be easier than ever to change the world.
Indeed, the iPhone changed my life. Before I got my iPhone, rushing to the airport was a harrowing experience; after, it was actually kind of fun. I could check in en route to my flight and instantly get my boarding pass, use the extra half hour to find a cheap but critically-lauded Mexican place in my destination city. I was never bored. Whenever I came to a red light or a long line, I reflexively reached for my iPhone. The Terminal 3 waiting area became the most interesting place in the world.
I could easily spend three straight hours on my phone without even noticing. If I’d spent three straight hours watching TV, I would be disgusted with myself. But I was convinced that the Internet was more edifying than television—even though most of my online diet consisted of gossipy garbage—because it was “interactive.” I couldn’t possibly be a zombie, because everyone knows zombies don’t comment and share.
Yet it was nearly impossible for me to sit through dinner without reaching for my iPhone. Even when my wife was in the middle of telling me something important, I couldn’t resist peeking at that tiny screen under the table to find out whether a high school acquaintance liked my latest status update. “What is so important?” she demanded, and I knew I had no good answer.
Soon after another iPhone-related argument, I traveled to Turkey to give a presentation about my experiences on the Obama campaign and about how tools like the iPhone could be used to build a movement. But for all my talk about the liberating power of technology, I was beginning to see how imprisoned I was by it . On the long flight home, my iPhone on airplane mode, I began reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. It was one of several dozen classics that I’d downloaded for free in a fit of literary quixotism, then ignored.
I was almost embarrassed by the degree to which Walden felt directed toward me. I was particularly stung by his withering take on news junkies: “Hardly a man takes a half-hour's nap after dinner, but when he wakes he holds up his head and asks, ‘What's the news?’ as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels ... Pray tell me anything new that has happened to a man anywhere on this globe,” he wrote in 1854.
And when I came across his famous verdict—“Men have become tools of their tools”—I felt like an enormous tool.
The next morning, I was in Boston with my family for Thanksgiving. Jetlagged and jarred by Thoreau, I woke up at 5 a.m. I got a bike out of my parent’s basement, took out my iPhone, and looked up directions to Walden Pond.
When I arrived, I read Walden’s most celebrated lines: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.” I thought about how it’s become fashionable to pooh-pooh Thoreau as a weak-willed hypocrite who lived a short walk away from civilization and had his mother deliver food to his doorstep. Many of these Thoreau skeptics dismiss critics of technology as curmudgeonly alarmists. Of course, I was one of those people.
I read on: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life...”
No matter how impure Thoreau’s experiment in simple living may have been, there was something undeniable in his suggestion that we often have to strip convenience from our lives to feel alive. The iPhone had certainly made my life easier, but had it made my life better?
First thing the next morning, I went to the AT&T store. I had to explain several times that I didn’t want to trade my iPhone in for a newer model, or a Droid, or anything with the Internet. I just wanted something that would allow me to make calls. The sales clerk looked at me with an expression that read: “Who gets something worse on Black Friday?” I walked out with a ridiculously unsleek '90s-era Nokia that my friends still tease me about.
Since then, I haven’t become a Renaissance man or a soulful motorcycle mechanic, but my daily life has improved. Commutes are no longer opportunities to catch up on email or Twitter, so I’m reading books again. It feels a little like getting a new contact lens prescription: Things that were blurred together feel sharper and more distinctly colored. And of course, I’m no longer engaged in half-conversations with the people in front of me and half-conversations with the Internet.
There are, of course, inconveniences. I had to buy a printer for my boarding passes. I hand-write driving directions or text them to myself. If I’m in an unfamiliar neighborhood or a new city, I actually have to do some planning before I bolt out the door. And when I get lost and am too embarrassed to ask a stranger, I have to call my wife, who has an iPhone, for directions.
One of the hardest things to get used to was being unable to instantly share my awesome and horrible experiences with my friends online. Now, I write down my impressions in a notebook, and by the time I get back to a computer, they rarely feel like must-tweets. I’m forced to slog through the tedium of waiting, to wrestle with dull passages and slow scenes, to grapple with confusing and sometimes scary situations on my own. I’m able to savor an idea and allow it to gestate.
When I had an iPhone, the Internet was no longer a destination; it was on me every day, like a piece of clothing I put on first thing in the morning. When I get tempted to return to that life, I ask myself: Do I really want the Internet to be something I feel naked without?
I still covet the thinner, faster, lighter iPhone 5. But I’m sticking with my boring little Nokia.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Last week my colleague David Brooks made a request I couldn’t refuse. He asked people over 70 to “write a brief report on your life so far, an evaluation of what you did well, of what you did not do well and what you learned along the way.” Well, here I am, reporting in.
My father was an immigrant from Poland, a taciturn, massive man who began with nothing and became a major force in the plumbing and heating industry. Once when I locked myself in the bathroom because I had done something bad — I had either set a fire under the gas tank of a car parked in a vacant lot or pushed my baby sister’s carriage off the porch with her in it, I can’t remember which — he knocked down the door with a single blow of his fist. My mother was a volatile woman with a fierce but untutored intelligence and a need to control everything. She and I were engaged in a contest of wills until the day she died after having, willfully, refused treatment for congestive heart failure.
We were far from well off — I still remember the $8 secondhand bike I got as a birthday present; I loved it — but we were, like everyone else we knew, upwardly mobile, and that meant college, even though no one in my family had ever been there. I was not bookish; I spent most of my time playing sports badly, playing cards a little better, and lusting after girls and cars. But I was lucky and that, I believe, made all the difference.
My first and decisive bit of luck (in addition to having parents who wanted their children to succeed) was to have had Sarah Flanagan as an English teacher in high school. It was the time when adults were asking me a terrifying question: “What are you going to be?” or, in another version, “What are you going to do with your life?” The implication was that I was not yet anything and that, unless something happened quickly, my life would come to naught.
What happened was that Miss Flanagan told me, not in so many words, that writing papers about poems was something I was good at, and since I was desperate to be good at something, I took what she said to heart and began to think of myself as someone who could at least do that.
My next bit of luck was to have had Maurice Johnson as an English teacher at the University of Pennsylvania (one of only two schools that admitted me). Johnson was an urbane man of dry wit who offered me a model of what the academic life might be like, if I could only learn to dress better and develop a taste for irony. (To this day I never get it.)
Luck followed me to Yale graduate school (where I was admitted, I was told, as an experiment; Penn was a bit below Yale’s standards) in the form of three of my classmates, A. Bartlett Giamatti, Richard Lanham and Michael O’Loughlin, men of enormous learning and literary sophistication who gave the gift of their friendship to a rube from Providence, R. I. Many years later, when I met another classmate at a professional meeting, she exclaimed, “Who would have thought back then that you of all people would make it?”
The crowning piece of luck — I am still speaking only of my professional life — was to enter the job market in 1962, when higher education was expanding and everyone I knew had at least three offers at good schools. (We thought this moment would go on forever, but it never came again.) I chose U. C. Berkeley, in large part because my first wife was willing to go there, and found myself in a department becoming more prominent by the day; all I had to do was go along for the ride.
So that’s what I did well. I arrived at places at the right time and had enough sense to seize the opportunities that were presented to me; and that continued to be the case in a succession of appointments, book projects, administrative positions, even the opportunity to write for this newspaper, which came about one day in 1995 when out of the blue someone from the Op-Ed page called and asked if I would write something. As usual, I didn’t have the slightest idea of what to do, but I said yes anyway to this newest piece of luck.
What I didn’t do so well, and haven’t yet done, was figure out how to be at ease in the world. I noticed something about myself when I was married to my first wife, an excellent cook and hostess who knew how to throw a party. My main job was to dole out the drinks, which I liked to do because I could stand behind the bar and never have to really talk to anyone. (“Do you want ice with that?”) My happiest moment, and the moment I was looking forward to all evening, was when the party was over and failure of any number of kinds had been avoided once again.
If you regard each human interaction as an occasion for performance, your concern and attention will be focused on how well or badly you’re doing and not on the people you’re doing it with. This turned out to be true for me in the classroom, on vacations, at conferences, in department meetings, at family gatherings, at concerts, in museums, at weddings, even at the movies. Always I have one eye on the clock and at least a part of the other on whether I’m doing my part or holding my own; and always there is a sigh of relief at the end. Whew, got through that one!
It may be unnecessary to say so, but this way of interacting or, rather, not interacting does not augur well for intimate relationships. If you characteristically withhold yourself, keep yourself in reserve, refuse to risk yourself, those you live with are not going to be getting from you what they need. So my first wife didn’t get what she needed and neither, in her early years, did my daughter. Typically, I escaped to work and a structured environment where the roles are pre-packaged and you can ride the rails of scripted routines without having to display or respond to actual feelings.
I’ve tried to do better in my second marriage, and I have done better with my daughter now that she is an adult who draws sustenance from other sources and doesn’t need everything I don’t have to give. But I’m still overscheduling myself and trying as hard as I can to make sure that I have absolutely no time for thinking seriously about life, never mind reporting on it.
And what have I learned along the way? Three things, closely related. The first is that people are often in pain; their lives are shadowed by memories and anticipations of inadequacy, and they are always afraid that the next moment will bring disaster or exposure. You can see it in their faces, and that is especially true of children who have not yet learned how to pretend that everything is all right and who are acutely aware of the precariousness of their situations.
The second thing I have learned is that the people who are most in pain are the people who act most badly; the worse people behave, the more they are in pain. They’re asking for help, although the form of the request is such that they are likely never to get it.
The third thing I have learned follows from the other two. It is the necessity of generosity. I suppose it is a form of the golden rule: if you want them to be generous to you, be generous to them. The rule acknowledges the fellowship of fragility we all share. In your worst moments — which may appear superficially to be your best moments — what you need most of all is the sympathetic recognition of someone who says, if only in a small smile or half-nod, yes, I have been there too, and I too have tried to shore up my insecurity with exhibitions of pettiness, bluster, overconfidence, petulance and impatience. It’s not, “But for the grace of God that could be me”; it’s, “Even with the grace of God, that will be, and has been, me.”