Posts Categorized: ideas + opinions

Ash Wednesday, or Two Bird Houses for Your Soul

The Two Bird House Tree on 12th Street
Photo taken this morning by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.
Wed 03.09.11 – I was raised vaguely Presbyterian and spent most of my twenties and early thirties attending a Vineyard church, so I am more than a bit oblivious about the Lenten traditions be they Fat Tuesday (Marti Gras), Ash Wednesday, and the 40 days that follow up to Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday was what was celebrated when I was growing up, and then Easter week as an adult but not the full 40 days up to.
While I have not celebrated Lent before, I do appreciate the idea of giving up something in your life for 40 days as a spiritual discipline. This year, I have decided that I will celebrate my first Lenten season by giving up thinking about & reading about Nokia+Microsoft alliance, as it has not been good for my soul to keep gnawing at it. To that end, I promised my Twitter followers yesterday that I would not tweet about Microsoft for the next 40 days. I can tweet about Nokia, but not the behemoth from Redmond.
Lent” by Christina Rossetti (c. 1886)
It is good to be last not first,
Pending the present distress;
It is good to hunger and thirst,
So it be for righteousness.
It is good to spend and be spent,
It is good to watch and to pray:
Life and Death make a goodly Lent
So it leads us to Easter Day.

Be Kind and Gentle

A big part of the last few weeks has been a fairly onerous project that is nearly complete. Through this situation, one of the important things that keeps repeating in my head is that everyone is broken and we all need to be kind and gentle to each other.
Remember that no matter how good a person or situation looks, they are somewhere, be it visibly or in the depths of their being, broken. Remember that all of us have parts of our life that work and other parts that don’t, and many times this does not sync with what the larger society outside of ourselves considers good or bad.
Be gentle with each. Be kind.

Open Creative

One of the things that I most admire about photography and the internet is that anyone can get involved with both.
Within 15 years of the invention of photography, cameras, darkrooms and nascent photographers had bloomed everywhere even in small towns in the 1850s. One of the very first places that a woman could own her own business legitimately in the Victorian era was a photography studio, and women did. For the last 150+ years, photography has grown beyond a specialty into a life, creative outlet, as well as snapshot hobby for billions of people worldwide.
The internet has been much the same in the last 18 years, the barrier to creative entry has been relatively low: access to a machine that can access the internet. Many millions -> billions have taught themselves the rudimentary coding skills necessary to maintain a website or blog online and are expressing themselves thereof.
One of the things that I have loved most about Nokia as a company and as a mobile culture is that they have brought mobile camera phones to millions -> billions worldwide, and regardless of my own personal feelings of the recent (mis)alliance between Steve + Stephen, Nokia has pioneered the mobile camera phone space and will most likely be on the forefront for a least a couple more years.
Beyond the great hardware that Nokia has created for camera phones in the last six years, I have been very excited about the development of Qt and the open source development platforms that Nokia has been rolling out since 2008. My greatest hope is that they will continue pursuing this space and my greatest fear, due to Mr. Ballmer’s hate on for all things open, is that they will not.
As humans we are at our best when we are creative and when we share with love. We teach our toddlers and kindergartners to share. Creativity is best served openly, with the transmission of knowledge, mentoring, passion, and the art product freely without restrictions.
If you want to give your art and knowledge away, good. If you want to charge for it, good. If you want to share your source code so others can learn how to code as well, even better. If you want to copyright your material, good. If you want to copyleft it, good. Just create and encourage those around you to do so, be it art, music, photography, code, software, cooking, sewing, knitting, hair coloring, web site creation, writing, blogging, bulding, making, creating, etc. etc. etc.
Regardless, create and share creation.
To that end, my goal for the next six months is to finish my Qt mobile app for photographers, to blog here more often, to photowalk more often, and to get involved in an open source community where I can share my passion and learn from others.
And if at all possible, with all the other travel planned for this spring, I will try to get to EuroPython as I do love the Python community and after all that has gone on the last few bits, I think it is time I participate more fully in the community around my favorite programming language.
What about you?


Sometimes a thought will pop up in my head that is fully formed and completely contrary to current thoughts on a subject and contrary to the evidence at hand, but in the long run the thought will turn out to be completely true and will come to pass. Most of the times that this has happened to me, I am not the primary actor who could or could not make the contrary thought come to pass, usually it is forces that are larger than myself, outside of myself that are the primary actors and my actions are how I react to it or the situation.
I have never been comfortable about calling this knowing a premonition or ESP. I suppose if I was a futurist or an analyst, I would have a lucrative career with these knowings. But mine are much more whimsical, as they are usually about art, music, or people.
I am sure that there are a legion of psychology studies that have explained away or rationalized this type of behavior; but whatever the reason, it still happens.


Human Rights and the Arab Uprisings

To all the folks in the Arab countries: Stand tall, protest, make your voices heard, and assert your rights even if your current government doesn’t honor them.
Human rights is a term that is so bandied about that it has almost lost its meaning. By human rights, do we mean no torture, yes; do we mean no slavery, yes; do we mean no human trafficking*, absolutely.
In watching the people led uprisings against oppressive regimes in Iran 18 months ago, in Tunsia last month, and Egypt this week, it has become evident that we here in the West have taken for granted the most basic of human rights as defined in the last 200 years: the right to assemble, the right to free speech, the right to protest, the right to not agree with your government, the right to free press, the right to fair elections, and the right not be attacked or beaten by government agents/police/military/thugs.
If Mr. Mubarak actually believed that his government was elected by the people, then he should feel strong enough to allow the people to protest. But the heavy handedness of this week’s government response and thuggery has belied his claims to power and to his own humanity.
If we the people believe deeply in the rights that the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights grants us, then we would do well to watch and renounce our own government’s behavior when it is bad as well as celebrate and support all other people’s desire for the freedom of speech, the freedom to assemble, the freedom to protest, the freedom to dissent, and the freedom from unwarranted government reprisals.
For all of those who fear the loss of the dictators in the Arab countries as it might mean the rise of Islamicists, take a chill pill and in turn encourage your governments to support real human rights and not authoritarian regimes who are client states to the West. Much of the claims, and resulting power, of the Islamicists derives from poverty, hopelessness, and the West’s continuing support of oppressive dictatorships.
Egyptians have the right to wake up and not fear their government. Egyptians have the right to assemble. Egyptians have the right to speak up. Egyptians have the right to self-determination. Egyptians and Tunisians are us, just 235 years later.
Many are saying that this is the Arab world’s 1989, I truly hope it is. If we really believe in democracy, let’s support it in word, truth, and action.
My Favorite photo from this week: The most subversive protest of all: An Egyptian protestor kisses a riot police officer.
* If you want to be a pimp, pimp yourself out, not someone else(s).


Today is a bad day in the neighborhood. A shooter, or set of folks, decided that they would gun down at very short range a congresswoman, a judge, a 9 year old girl, and others outside a supermarket in Tuscon, Arizona.
Assassination is never the answer, is only a chaos maker. Assassination or attempted assassination may seem like the fast and cheap way out of a sticky political situation, but it involves people being murdered.
If we passionately believe in the idea and/or myth of the United States of America, then assassination is never an option. Lobbying your congress human or senator, yes. Writing letters, yes. Peaceful protests, yes. Running for office yourself to do the work of change, yes. Working at civil discourse, discussion and debate, yes.
Killing people, no. Never.
I don’t care what your opinion is on guns or gun laws, killing or attempting to kill another person is not an option, it is wrong. I don’t care what your political point of view is, killing is wrong.
My condolences go out to the family, friends and neighbors of the folks killed and injured today in Tuscon. I sincerely hope that all the folks who are in the hospital, including Congresswoman Giffords will have a full recovery.

I Love Winter

Dutch Winter from Kasper Bak on Vimeo. Video via MeFi

Video via @vpieters

Wed 01.05.11 – I love winter, real winter with snow & ice, and the shame is that I live in a place that has no winter to speak of. As a 5th generation Californian and 4th generation SoCal-ian who is restless and wants out, if you know of a great mobile job north of the 50th parallel line, particularly in a part of Europe that gets snow, let me know. I must escape the tyranny of sun, palm trees, and flowers in January.

Goodbye 2010

Not actually Sunset, but about an hour before on New Year's Eve

Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.
Fri 12.31.10 – Goodbye 2010, I am not sure I will miss you. Maybe I will in later years, but not right now. I had hoped for good things this year, and the flat mundanity of it all plus a couple of punctures deflated such hopes. It wasn’t all bad, but the good parts were a bit too few and far between.
Ciao bello.