Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Friday, August 17, 2012

This is not about politics.

    Imagine a man who is never criticized.

    Perhaps he is a Pol Pot, Stalin or Hitler whose wont is to shoot messengers.  Perhaps he is a tycoon surrounded by yes-men or simply a spoiled enfant terrible whose applecart friends and family don't wish to upset.

    Such an individual would, predictably, be unable to inspire or entertain, having relied on coercion, money or familiarity for support.  He would not be aware of any need, means or talent to appeal to anyone beyond his circle of enablers.  He may be a great businessman but he'll be a godawful marketer.  A skilled haggler but a lousy negotiator.  A horrible speaker and a horrendous listener.  A voice without an audience, oblivious to oblivion.

    Such an individual would, even if he went through law school, find it difficult to string together convincing arguments.  This reflects a lack of practice.  Who among us bickers with a tyrant, a boss or someone we know will never change?

    Such an individual would have difficulty with empathy.  Many of us did stupid and cruel things as teenagers, perhaps including bullying.  While we learn to regret our behavior this person won't.  Unlike his friends, this man continues such treatment of others, perhaps including pets, into adulthood.  He may even joke about it, oblivious to how this looks to the world at large.  He does not improve because no one has pointed out the need to do so.

    Such an individual would be utterly self-absorbed, perhaps seeing himself as the only source of perfection in an otherwise flawed universe.  So say his reviews!

    Such an individual might seek, purchase or even usurp the spotlight, confident that everyone will be dazzled by their brilliance.  Under no other circumstances would people notice the utterings of so profoundly uninteresting a character.

    Such an individual would be compelled to socialize, if at all, with others of his ilk.  Over time, these people and their following (if any) would create an echo chamber of mutual praise, a bubble entirely separate from reality.

    Such an individual would disdain both government and the public it serves yet would be the first in line for state handouts.  His interest in politics, if any, is usually related to economics or ego, occasionally ideology, but never public service or altruism.

    Is this the morality, model or mindset that we should use as an exemplar? 

    If not, then why would any of us support the blurbosphere?

    (I told you this wasn't about politics.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Facebook Poetry

    Verbal entertainments range from word games (e.g. Boggle, Charades, Scrabble, etc.) to books, plays and video.  The two most popular forms are television sitcoms and romantic comedy films.  The second least appreciated are home movies;  who among us doesn't dread an invitation to watch vacation slides?  The least popular?  Why, poetry, of course.

    As it continues to develop, the social media promises to be a boon for anyone bright enough to avoid referring to their work as "poetry".  No doubt we've all seen full or partial poems or links to them on Facebook.  This includes videos--performances and slide shows--on sites such as Vimeo and YouTube.  We've also seen photographs with poems, stories, and witticisms written on them.  These may be a couplet taken from a larger work:

     ...or a complete poem:

    Recently we are beginning to see verse on or beside pictures in a series.  If you'd like to see a complete example please "Friend" me, Earl Gray, on Facebook.  Look for "Lover's Will".

    Here is how to create and post a Facebook Poem:
  • Write or select a poem, preferably a vivid one.
  • Collect still pictures or video clips for each image, phrase, line or sentence.
  • Collect an introductory/title image and a coda ("The End") picture.
  • Ideally, use a graphics package to print the title, text and endnote on these images.
  • Write down the names of these image files in the order that they appear in the text.
  • In your "Post" window on Facebook click on "Add Photo / Video".
  • Hit "Create Photo Album" then, if necessary, "Create Album".
  • Select "Only Me" so that no one can see what you're working on.
  • Hit "Browse" to upload your pictures, beginning with your title picture and ending with your coda image.  It's okay to load, say, five at a time, hitting "Upload Photos" (twice, if required) after each batch, Hit "+ Add Photos" to begin the next batch.
  • Give your slide show a name and description (e.g. "A photo story") at the top left.
  • Once it's ready, make it "Public".
  • Hit "Done".
    Your readers will learn to select the largest picture first and then click on the Right Arrow to peel through the remainder of the slide show.

    Here is a sample of photos comprising the public domain poem, "Lover's Will":

     We can, of course, wish for better poetry than this example. Feel free to right click on these images and save them if you wish to practice uploading a Facebook photo album.

      Plan B is to post a link on Facebook to a slide show like this one:

  Lover's Will from Earl Gray on Vimeo.

Squirrel Sex

Female Sciurus Carolinensis
     It has come to my attention that humans, including scientists (who should know better), are spreading the myth that it is difficult to tell male from female gray squirrels.  This is outrageous enough, without mentioning the fact that there doesn't seem to be much consensus as to what to name our genders.  The dispute seems to come down to "buck and doe" ("Oh, deer!") versus "boar and sow".  If I dared to call my sister, Pearl the Squirrel, a "sow" I would never be able to sleep with both eyes closed again. 

    For what it's worth, we prefer "studs and vixens", thank you very much.

Male Sciurus Carolinensis
     Male squirrels are fashion plates.  We groom ourselves much more than our sisters and no self-respecting male sciurus carolinensis would ever be seen in public without a tuxedo.  Note the smooth fur and the clean lines between the white and gray--the shirt and the jacket--on our chests.  Note how we keep our cylindrical shape, at least until we reach my age and have eaten too many peanuts.

    Stud squirrels are typically more independent, less sociable.  If you find a squirrel eating from your hand it is far more likely to be female.  During courting season we boys will challenge each other but will avoid physical conflict as much as possible.  We chase the females until they let us catch up to them.
Pearl Gray
     By contrast, even before pregnancy, adult female squirrels tend to be more pear-shaped.  As my sister says, "we don't remain tubular belles for long".  More telling, though, is the fur on their bellies:  far less defined or napped, more swirly and expansive.  If you see a squirrel from the side and a lot of white peeks out on the underside it is almost certainly female.

    Vixen squirrels are slightly smaller but tend to have more "personality".  They are more adventurous than their relatively skittish male relatives, although this difference narrows as we all enter our dottage.

    Hey, if you think discerning the gender of squirrels is a challenge, when was the last time you went downtown on a Saturday night?