Interesting Siri Discovery

I was up very late Saturday– actually early Sunday, cleaning up the place. For some reason, I can’t get going until late. Anyrate, it was around 2:30 in the morning, and I finally got all the clutter more or less stowed away, and it was time for bed. I was noodling away on the iPad to relax, when I remembered the camera battery needed to be charged. I was too lazy to get out of bed, so I brought up Siri and said, “Remind me tomorrow morning at 10 AM to charge the camera battery.”

Siri replied, “Just to be clear, do you mean 10 AM December 23 or 10 AM December 24?”

I would have never thought of that. The literal answer to that would have been December 24th, since it was already after midnight, on the 23rd. But in fact, I did mean December 23rd, after I woke up. I happily touched December 23rd, went to bed, the reminder appeared on my devices the next day, and I dutifully put the battery in the charger.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I got to Cape Ann later that day, that I discovered I should have also set a reminder to put the battery back in the camera when it was done.

Thoughts on Newtown

It’s been a little over a week since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. I suspect for most people, the enormity of it is still sinking in. Last week I saw a clip of the opening Saturday Night Live used for their show–a children’s choir singing Silent Night, and nearly lost it.

Gun Control

It feels like there might actually be a consensus finally developing that there needs to be some sort of meaningful gun control. There is no reason for a civilian to be carrying around an automatic weapon. You don’t need an assault rifle for hunting. The best analogy I’ve seen is one by David Gergen – people have a right to drive, but the states get to regulate who can drive and can insist on certain minimum competencies. It should not be easy to get a gun without passing background checks.

Gun advocates are fond of saying that guns don’t kill people, people do— and that’s true to some extent. But we need to be keeping guns away from the type of person who would use a gun to kill people. If a madman can’t get access to a gun, yes, they may choose some other tool. But the results might not be as lethal. I noticed in Wikipedia that about the same time as the Sandy Hook shooting, there was also a mass stabbing in China. Those victims are still alive.

I think the proposal by the NRA that teachers and school personnel should be walking around armed is nuts on its face. You can’t go around putting guards everywhere, and I’d also be worried about the possibility of accidents, like the man who shot his son because he thought the son was an intruder, or by the possibility that one of the students could get their hands on the teacher’s gun and use it, either to intentionally hurt someone, or just as a result of play acting.

Mental Health

I saw the blog post by the mother of the child who was disturbed, “Thinking the Unthinkable“, about being the parent of a possibly dangerous child. She’s right of course; more needs to be done to identify and, if possible, treat people with mental illness before something happens. But, this is much easier said than done in both cases. Not all mentally ill people are dangerous—do we err on the side of protecting society, at the expense of possibly over treating, or worse, locking up, innocent, non-dangerous people, or do we err on the side of protecting the rights of people to be let alone if they wish to be, and possibly miss someone who will cause problems? I don’t know the answer to that. In addition, the author notes that her son has already received several forms of treatment—what if he turns out to be simply untreatable? Then what?

The Media

I think what the media has done to Newtown is unconscionable. The night it happened, we watched the news for a while, and then it started getting repetitive. It became obvious that there was nothing else to say and that they were simply milking things, and I had to turn it off. The media needs to shut the fuck up and let that town alone. There is no excuse to be pushing microphones in the face of some kid. There is no excuse for going up to an overwrought parent, and asking them, “How do you feel?” There is no excuse for every two-bit local station to send their own camera crew and reporter to the scene, flooding the town with tv trucks. It used to be that local stations covered their own local area, and left the other news to the network; I think they need to return to that practice. The people of Newtown need to be left in peace to grieve, and hopefully, to recover.

The People of Newtown

Finally, we come to the most important part, the people of Newtown. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been in their shoes can imagine what they’re going through. I know I can’t, and I’m not going to try. Their lives will never be the same. People talk about healing, but I don’t think it’s the kind of wound that ever truly heals. It’s going to be part of their lives for the rest of their lives—and the survivors, siblings, classmates, friends, and even the parents are, for the most part, all young. They will be living with this for a long long  time. Hopefully, they will be able to support each other, and the rest of the town will support them, as they go through this process. What we can wish for them is that they are able to move past the pain, learn to live with their loss, and finally, be able to move on with the rest of their lives.

Season’s Greetings

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year again, especially with the warm weather we’ve had, but it’s Christmas time again, and in observance, I’ve tweaked the site’s colors.

Of course, hovering over all of this is the knowledge of what happened in Connecticut on Friday. I’m finding myself compartmentalizing things. Friday night, we were watching the news, and then it started to seem repetitive and exploitive, so I had to turn the TV off. This morning, I saw a clip of Saturday Night Live’s open with a children’s choir, and I just felt myself welling up. For my mother, there’s an additional resonance, since it brings back memories of the Christmas my cousin died. I can’t begin to imagine how the parents feel.

Unlike last year, I have not been running ahead of schedule this year. I did get the card out last week, but shopping has been a bear this year- I’ve been stumped for a couple of people on my list. I think I’m finally nearly there, though, and I’ve got a couple of packages arriving tomorrow.

Friday, we put up the tree, and yesterday, we went up to Rockport to do a little shopping, have lunch with my brother, and just generally bop around. The lights and the tree in the town center were pretty, but I wasn’t able to do much with just my Gorillapod. I’m actually thinking of going up there again later this week with tripod in hand (and no companions complaining that they’re cold/bored/hungry).

Season's Greetings

Season of Lights

As we move into December, I’m beginning to see more and more Christmas lights. I’ve always loved them, while being thankful for the fact that we have no outside outlets and therefore can’t put up our own outside lights.

Driving around, there are several different kinds of lights to be seen. My favorites have always been the multicolored lights, with no white lights mixed in. Personally, at least for now, I prefer the old-fashioned incandescent types. They seem warmer, with a better distribution of color. The reds and oranges are brighter, the blues less prominent. The newer LED lights seem to be too heavy on the blues. Their blue lamps are quite bright, and  their oranges and reds less bright in comparison. I suspect that this is something that will get fixed in time–the manufacturers need to make light strings where the warmer colors are brighter.

My next favorite are the all white lights, which seem to be more fashionable right now. They tend to come both as shrub lighting and as a dangly effect on the house’s roofline. White lights are starting to come in both incandescent and LED varieties; for white lights I dislike the LEDs less than the multicolored LED lights. Old fashioned lights are warmer, and the LEDs are a cooler, whiter, white, but that somehow seems appropriate for a winter decoration. You sometimes see a mix of the two– one part of the lights are incandescent, and another part LED. I’m not sure this is always deliberate, and you can often tell the two apart, but sometimes it works well.

Another kind of lighting design, usually on trees, is lights all of one color– all green, all blue, all red. You usually see this on public displays, like in a park, though one of the houses in town is doing this too. I’m not so fond of single color displays, though they can work if different trees have different colors.

One thing that doesn’t work at all, in my opinion, is mixing colored lights with white lights. Do one or the other, please. Rather than appearing as another color, the white lights dilute the effect of the colored lights.

Finally, the last kind of lighting display, and probably the most old-fashioned, are the window lights. This is what we’ll be putting up in a few days. The lady who used to live across the street used to drape strings of the small multicolored lights in her front window; we have the candle lights. I’ve seen red, blue and green candle lights, but they always seem kind of cold and dark; I like the white or orange lights best.

Whatever the color or how they’re arranged, the lights are a welcome relief from the darkest nights of the year.