July 03, 2007
By golly, it's another anesthesiologist's website!
We are not alone.
We are not men.
We aren't Devo either, idiotstick — what were you thinking?
Whomever is behind freshgasflow.com keeps track of visitors by "Liters of fresh gas delivered," down in the bottom right hand corner of the home page.
See, in this parlance a visitor is a liter, and... oh, never mind.
Who turned off the scavenging, anyway?
'Kenneth, what's the frequency?' — Cellphones gone wild
Jared Sandberg's June 12, 2007 "Cubicle Culture" Wall Street Journal column was a cautionary tail [sic] about what happens to those of us with so-called "candy bar" cellphones when we sit on them just so.
Here's the amusing piece.
- When Your Cellphone Goes Behind Your Back To Redial Your Office
If someone accidentally dials Jack McCullough because, say, a cellphone has been bumped and dialed in a pocket or purse, the chief financial officer typically contends with an epic voice-mail recording of the unwitting caller's conversations. The messages aren't gripping: "You get an insight into nothing," he says.
But accidental dialing can have some interpersonal fallout. After Mr. McCullough once argued with a top salesman, the salesman then inadvertently conferenced Mr. McCullough into a call in which he was labeled with some uncharitable epithets. Awkward.
And there was the time Mr. McCullough accidentally left a message for that same salesman when he meant to complain about him to someone else. Panicked, Mr. McCullough asked a technician to reset the salesman's voice-mail password so he could log in and delete the message himself. "All it takes is one really stupid accidental call to really get you into trouble," he says.
It's all part of the cautionary tales of communications technologies, their overabundance of buttons and the side effects of one-touch convenience. Hopefully, all you've recorded is a low-drama soundtrack of your walking and breathing. In that case, you'd only get a little attitude: What does my wife's handbag want with me now?
But at their worst, accidental phone calls or emails are snitches, bringing along the prying ears of your entire address book. They invite undetected eavesdropping. "There's a sense that because you didn't initiate it, it's OK [to listen]," says Basil Karampelas, a finance director.
Adds Les Hyman, a retired professor who has gotten all kinds of unintentional calls, it's another "ghost in the machine getting a good laugh at our expense."
The FCC has had to warn the public that accidental calls are problematic for 911 operators. To check for real problems, operators have to "sit there listening to someone driving down the road or shopping," says a director for an emergency-number association.
Some have coined a verb meaning to delete a lengthy, unwanted message — to "33-7" the message, signifying the digits often used to fast-forward through a message and delete it.
Verizon Wireless's spokesman, Tom Pica, once inadvertently left his boss a 10-minute voice mail of Mr. Pica giving his cab driver directions to his hotel. He was in Greece at the time; his boss was in Philadelphia. "It was 11 in the morning for me, so it was about 5 a.m. his time," he recalls. His former boss left his own voice mail: "Dude, learn to use the key guard!"
Candy-bar style phones, with their keypads exposed, historically have been the culprits. Manufacturers have taken measures to prevent accidental calls. New phones, for example, no longer dial 911 after holding down one digit and often include automatic keypad-lock functions that require the push of a button to unlock.
But that doesn't mean newer technologies don't rat you out. Cosmetic surgeon Robert Kotler was using his Bluetooth headset a few months ago to talk to his daughter while driving. His headset redialed her when he was later talking to his wife, who was expressing some parental dissatisfaction. Now, Dr. Kotler leaves his Bluetooth headset caged in the car. Says Dr. Kotler, with an evident sense of luck: "I only had good things to say about her."
Communications consultant Tim O'Brien and his wife get his father-in-law's accidental calls and 15-minute voice mails. They tend to happen when he's driving (and humming) or walking his Pomeranian mix, Ginger, ("Good dog!"). The phone is supposed to be for emergency purposes only. "He gets more use out of it speed dialing by accident than he does by actually using it," says Mr. O'Brien.
Even the best marriages suffer communications breakdowns from accidental calls. "Why did you call?" is the first question, followed by a did-not/did-too exchange. For Jerry Butler, a chief financial officer whose wife's purse used to call him all the time, a phantom call "inevitably leads to a conversation about why she had forgotten what she called about," he says.
People seem to be getting used to accidental contact. Steve Collins, an account director, has a so-called smart phone that recently sent a few hundred colleagues an email of gibberish. He expected to be inundated with queries and complaints. Didn't happen. Only three or four people, he says, asked what "Zxame Upai" meant.
What city is this?
Answer here this time tomorrow.
Hussein Chalayan is the Ferran Adrià of Fashion
I just got my first look at his sensational Video Dress in his Fall 2007 show in Paris.
It's the first dress in the show, appearing precisely 28 seconds into the video above.
Stammerer on Scree — by Owen Sheers
This slope is my language.
A shifting skin of stone
that slips under my grip,
feet pedaling the one moving spot,
sharded slate, flowing hard water.
But when I am still,
crabbed against its steepness,
cheek to its side, a child on its mother,
then it stops.
Stone-ticks out to quiet,
rests itself on the mountain,
'Do Nothing To Change Your Life: Discovering What Happens When You Stop' — by Stephen Cottrell
I happened on the wonderful book title in the headline above in Stefan Stern's superb June 18, 2007 Financial Times column, which follows.
- And the good news is there's nothing you can do about it
Never mind soaring US Treasury yields. Never mind dramatic share price volatility. I am today calling the top of the market. The key indicator? Paris Hilton screaming "It's not fair!" as she was led back to the Los Angeles county jail.
For me, the tear-stained cheeks of Ms Hilton as she was driven away from the LA court were eloquent. She is a symbol of that vast body of people who have difficulty recognising when enough is enough, when it is time to stop spending and start growing up, when justice must be done.
Ms Hilton may find the prospect of incarceration terrible and unfair. But a dose of austerity might be just what she needs. Indeed, after only a couple of days' imprisonment she was telling the distinguished interviewer Barbara Walters she had found God and was devoting herself to a new seriousness.
"It's not fair!" has long been the war cry of the spoilt child and angry teenager. Today it is the watchword of the heavily mortgaged homeowner who looks longingly at even bigger houses that are infuriatingly out of reach. It is the core belief of the shopper who is convinced, in the gospel according to L'Oréal, that they are "worth it", that they deserve to be able to buy everything they desire.
The planet is now displaying unmistakable signs of the consequences of unrestrained consumerist debauchery. New evidence emerges every week, both scientific and anecdotal. My Delhi-based cousin recently arrived to stay in London and found the climate almost identical.
You do not have to go as far as Benjamin Barberto believe that we could all benefit from a time-out from the consumerist treadmill. The professor of civil society at the University of Maryland is author of the recently published "Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilise Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole".
Critics of today's spending binge are sneeringly dismissed as puritans. But it was striking, in a recent BBC television programme that charted the history of postwar Britain, to be shown the amount of food each adult was allowed to consume in a week in the mid-1940s. It looked barely enough for one day.
My colleague Richard Tomkins's campaign for a return to rationing, launched heroically in this newspaper last year, was met (as he doubtless expected) by a less than euphoric response. But the logic of restricting our use of limited resources still makes pretty good sense to me. Or am I just being "unfair"?
Prof Barber is a bit more extreme. "Once upon a time, capitalism was allied with virtues that also contributed at least marginally to democracy, responsibility and citizenship," he writes in his new book. "Today it is allied with vices which — although they serve consumerism — undermine democracy, responsibility and citizenship."
But what can managers do about all this? Nothing. No, I mean they can literally try doing nothing. This idea has been put forward in another new book, "Do Nothing to Change Your Life: Discovering What Happens When You Stop", by the bishop of Reading, Stephen Cottrell.
The bishop's epiphany came last year at Dublin airport where, having misread his ticket, he had to spend the rest of the day hanging around waiting for his flight home.
In the next four hours he experienced a range of emotions. First, there was irritation at all that "wasted time". Then came grudging acquiescence. And finally, after a second cup of coffee and a pleasant, lazy stroll around the building, inspiration.
He sat down and wrote a poem, something he hadn't done in ages.
Our breathless "busy-ness" is getting us nowhere — or, at least, nowhere we should want to be, the bishop says. "Getting and spending we lay waste our powers," as Wordsworth, probably a more significant poet, wrote.
Contemplating his happily inactive teenage son, the bishop confesses: "Each day I marvel at his fantastic capacity to lie in bed. I moan about him – that is expected of parents — but really I am jealous. I observe the daring scope of his sloth with secret envy."
Technological advance has, of course, encouraged a ramping up of frenzied activity. But being "connected" has not brought people closer together.
"The noisy world is also an astonishingly lonely world — lots of chatter but no conversation; surrounded by people, but with no community," the bishop says.
The apotheosis (or nadir?) has now been reached with the amazing success of Twitter, the "social networking" service that allows its many users to declare, in a simple sentence, what they happen to doing at any given moment, 24 hours a day.
Well, sod that for a game of soldiers. I'm off for a short, environmentally sustainable holiday (by ferry to France). Next week, if I could be bothered to have one, my Twitter entry would read: "Not very much really, and enjoying it."
Great cover, what?
$11.02 at Amazon.
Outward Hound Car Window Dog Chin Rest
Melanie D. G. Kaplan reviewed it in the July 1, 2007 Washington Post Travel section, as follows.
- Outward Hound Auto Window Bumper
Driver Says: Larger dogs that can rest their chin on the window might appreciate the padded holder, and drivers might like fewer nose smudges on the window. The cushion clips onto a partially opened window in seconds, but it's a hassle to take it off every time the window is fully opened or closed. In addition, I'm not convinced that dogs need a soft cushion for their chins.
Dog Says: Chin rest, pshaw! All a dog needs is fresh air running through one's fur at 25 mph.
It seems to me that if your dog could talk she/he might be barking, "Finally."