Category Archives: Left From Seattle

Everything else.

Remember Me

A couple of years ago, a young man named Joe Murphy died from a rare and nasty form of cancer. I didn’t know Joe. Rather, I knew him only from the podcasts he co-hosted and I was a fan. During his illness and after his death, fans of his work made a wikipedia page for him. It was quickly nominated for deletion due to lack of appropriate citations for Joe’s noteworthy-ness. Fans rallied and added sources to the claims made in the article.

joemurphy.png

While researching this post, I did a quick check on Joe’s page and found that it had, in fact, been deleted:

Article was nominated once for deletion in 2007 and kept with the assertion that material added during that AFD satisfied notability concerns, However, a review of that sourcing indicates that it does not. One is an obituary in his hometown paper, one is to an XM Radio page that no longer exists (Joe Murphy is not found in a search of the XM site), one confirms his nomination for a podcasting award (he did not win) and one is a band’s blog (not a reliable source). There do not appear to be independent reliable sources that are substantively about this person, rather there are many blogs and podcasts that offer tributes following his untimely passing. Wikipedia is not a memorial and the gentleman does not pass WP:N or WP:BIO. Otto4711 (talk) 13:37, 10 May 2009 (UTC)”

Clicking on the link “not a memorial” brings up the following:

Memorials. Wikipedia is not the place to memorialize deceased friends, relatives, acquaintances, or others. Subjects of encyclopedia articles must satisfy Wikipedia’s notability requirements. Note that this policy does not apply outside of the main article space. Whilst using user space to create a memorial is generally not acceptable, limited exemption applies to the user space of established Wikipedians who have died. At a minimum it is expected that they were regular contributors, and that more than one tenured Wikipedian will have used the deceased user’s page (or an appropriate sub-page) to add comments in the event, and after verification of, their death.”

Ok. Fair enough. At the same time, it does seem like the barrier for entry for celebrity-hood is becoming transparently thin. The recent spate of celebrity deaths shows a distinct hierarchy of status, with Michael Jackson at the top and Billy Mays hitting close to the bottom, and yet there has been more than enough material written about both men to qualify for Wikipedia articles easily. The thing is, to take those two examples, Michael Jackson single handedly remade pop music and helped turn music videos into an art form. Billy Mays was a pitchman. He made commercials. (And please note that I am not disparaging Billy Mays at all, I’m merely using him as a recent example.) What Wikipedia’s “noteworthiness” really means is media appearances. Which seems terribly skewed away from people who are actually noteworthy towards people who are merely known to more people, publicly, than the rest of us.

Slate’s recent Culturefest (the Everybody’s Dead Edition, posted July 1, 2009) seems to be pondering related ideas. The three hosts spoke about the modern obituary and how the internet has changed the obituary pages. While they had a number of good points, throughout the whole episode, I found myself thinking about Joe Murphy and Wikipedia. I started to wonder why there was not a resource for the rest of us, why the “little people” should not be remembered as fondly, nor as publicly as celebrities, for whatever value of celebrity one happens to have.

A quick search revealed two sites: Wikiobits and Wikibios.

Wikiobits says of itself: “Wiki Obits has a one simple goal: We live to provide a one-stop site where you can find obituaries and biography information for every person on earth – dead or alive – famous or not, celebrity or not.” A great idea, but at the moment it is a piece of basic Wiki software with very little customization. There is very little to distinguish it as a service or directory. As a test, I ran a search on Michael Jackson and got a table full of biographical data much like I would expect from raw number search engines like Wolfram Alpha and Google Squared rather than an article collection like Wikipedia.

wikibios.png

Wikibios, on the other hand states right on the front page: “Our belief is simple: you don’t have to be a famous celebrity to have a life worth documenting. That’s why we created WikiBios, a place where your friends become the storytellers of your life.” Which is an idea I can get behind. The problem is, is that for now at least, the majority of pages I came across (using the random bio button) seem to be yet to have been filled in by the person’s friends and families. It also illustrates another problem which is that wikis are, by definition, editable by the public at large and, here on the internet, the public is not always as kind and friendly as it might be.

So, while I applaud the efforts, it’s still not what I want. Aside from the issues of getting and maintaining an audience share not to mention the kind of brand recognition that would make these viable, long term solutions, I’m not sure if this is an area that is not better served by LiveJournal or FaceBook or Google Profile. it seems that those three brands have the audience and name recognition to be able to add obituaries / memorials as a valid part of their service; I know there are instances of both LJ and FB users being memorialized on their own pages after death, yet even those are not perfect – they don’t give friends and relatives and fans the chance to both eulogize and research the deaths of their friends in that if you were not connected to that person before their death, you may not be able to access their page on the social networks.

What I mean is, a few years ago, I lost another friend. He was someone I had known well in high school, but had not seen in several years. Then, at my sister’s wedding, we reconnected. A few months later, I read the obituary in our hometown newspaper and there were still so many questions I had that have never been answered. And I have no where to turn. Rob was not anywhere media-ized enough to show up on Wikipedia, nor was he, to my knowledge, on LJ or FB. So where do I go to write about and talk about my friend? Where do I go to read what others have written? If he did, in fact, have an LJ or FB, once he was gone there was no way for me to be added to his friends list so that I could see what others were saying and doing, in short, without a wikipedia page how will anyone know he existed?

Perhaps Google will step into the breach. Perhaps LJ or FB or WikiObits or WikiBios will do something that let’s us all eulogize and memorialize those who were like us and of us and who were never on t.v. long enough to get a Wikipedia page of our very own.

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Filed under All the Baby's Linkage, Left From Seattle, Toad Web, True Thoughts on True Life

Now We’re Cooking

cook |koŏk|

verb

1 [ trans. ] prepare (food, a dish, or a meal) by combining and heating the ingredients in various ways.  • [ intrans. ] I told you I could cook | [as adj. ] ( cooked) a cooked breakfast.  • [ intrans. ] (of food) be heated so that the condition required for eating is reached .

2 something Joel is really, really bad at.

And yet I try. Last November, I bought a Brinkman’s 3-in-1 smoker, steamer, and bar-be-que. I have used it five times now, with various results. The first use was grilling a couple of steaks shortly after having bought (and cured) the grill. The second time was for the Christmas turkey. The third through fifth times were this past month, cooking for my family and a few friends.

The results were, as I said, varied. During my first attempts with the grill, I stuck to tried and true recipes I gleaned from the internet and followed religiously. The more recent attempts, however, were more experimental.

We had some friends come over and I attempted two (huge) steaks and a bit of grilled shark. I abstained from the internet and instead went for a bit of a steak sauce marinade and lots of lemon and orange juice squeezed over the meat while it was cooking. The steak was really good. The fish was ok, without being stellar.

But that’s not really important now. What’s important is why I have been trying to cook.

I’ve always been a big guy. In the last two years though my weight has gotten absolutely out of control. Cite the usual reasons – a desk job, a long commute, eating fast food in the car, not taking enough time to exercise, etc. etc. I decided that maybe if I learned to cook, I would begin eating better, possibly less, and that the activity would be good for me as well.

Prior to this my cooking experiences were less than promising. Starting with the Intro to Cooking class I took as an elective in Jr. High where I learned very little that I retained save for how much I enjoy Waldorf Salad and that my friend CJ was kind of an idiot. (It’s a whole other story.) My cooking ineptness culminated in an incident where in I almost burned down the house of the girl I was dating while trying to make her pancakes for breakfast. My cooking, in other words, all the way through high school, college, and after was pretty much limited to things that came out of cans or boxes and involved less than three steps.

In fact, according to my college roommate Chuck, anything that involved less than three steps was not technically cooking. It was merely food preparation. He had a point.

Now, for full disclosure, a good part of my wanting to learn to cook was fueled by my addiction to Top Chef. I’m incapable of watching something I think is cool and not wanting to try it. I watch Miami Ink and I want to get a tattoo. I watch Deadliest Catch and want to take a year off to go work in the Bering Sea. And when I watch Top Chef, I want to be able to cook.

I began where I always begin, the internet. YouTube in this case, looking for cooking videos that I could follow. One of the videos I came across was Gordon Ramsay bar-be-queing buffalo meat as hamburgers. The idea seeemed simple enough, and even if I couldn’t get hold of any buffalo meat, the other things Ramsay incorporated (dicing a red onion into his mince, topping the burger with buffalo mozzarella cheese) seemed like things I could do by myself.

So, while I mainlined the first two seasons of Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word, I began shopping for a grill. My wife and I had bought a house the previous August so it seemed only natural to wait until we had gotten everything unpacked before buying anything new. As anyone who has ever moved can tell you, unpacking can take years and I eventually got tired of waiting and bought a charcoal grill.

While this brought me great acclaim and several dozens of “man points” from my friends, the somewhat cumbersome and wasteful nature of charcoal grills made itself apparent and the grill sat unused for months at a time. In the meantime, several cookbooks appeared on my Amazon wishlist and remained unpurchased. Especially as my job changed suddenly and the copious free time I had had vanished in the night.

Still, learning to cook and cooking for myself, remains a goal. The cookbook I have been reading about and most want to try is The Ratio. The idea behind the book is that the professional kitchen cook or chef uses certain ratios in their cooking, even if they’re not aware that they’re doing so. Therefore, by teaching the novice cook to use these same ratios, anyone can learn to cook. Personally, this concept fits fully into my idea of geek – that anyone can learn to do anything given enough time and patience.

Two weeks ago, I managed to cook some really nice chicken on the grill for my family for dinner and did so without specific aid from the internet, merely with some tips I half remembered from watching various cooking shows. My wife was quite pleased, both that she didn’t have to cook and that the expensive grill was seeing more than one use per year. So I’m planning on trying again soon.

However, there are things I have learned about myself in the attempts so far:

  1. The fun is in trying, most times I could care less about the final result. In fact, I’m usually planning the next assault while still enjoying the fruits of my labor.
  2. It may take me six months or a year to get around to it, but I will get to it and try it eventually. Whether this is cooking or learning javascript, it will happen someday.
  3. I have to do it myself. Give me all the advice you want, it won’t make sense until I have royally cocked it up all on my own. That’s when your advice will make sense, now that I know how not to do it.

Where I go from here, I’m not actually sure, but I’m looking forward to giving it a go.

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Filed under Learning From the Master, Left From Seattle, True Thoughts on True Life

Resting Places

Trying another post from the iPhone, this time with photos.

Yesterday, my wife and I went to put flowers on her dad’s grave. He’s interred at a beautiful temple / cemetary near our house. We took a quiet walk around the grounds and I took a few photos, keeping others privacy foremost in mind and being respectful.

Anyway, here’s a photo of one of the small Buddah statues that surround the grounds and some of the flowering trees that are omnipresent.

I took the photo with my iPhone, using CameraBag and the Helga filter.

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Filed under Attack of the Robot Monsters, Captured Bits of Light, Left From Seattle

Testin Y’all Testin

Nevermind this post. Seriously. This is just a quick test of the WordPress application for the iPhone. We’ll have to see what this looks like and take it from there.

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Filed under Left From Seattle, Toad Web

A Blessing, Some BBQ, Cricket

Temporary Shrine.jpgFor a bank holiday, today ended up being a long day if a fun one. We started this morning by having the Shinto priest come around and bless the building site, us, the chief construction worker, and our joint effort. He had my wife and myself hold a wooden pick and smack it into the ground three times, and then the carpenter dude did the same. Then we (wife, mom-in-law, me, carpenter dude, salesman dude, boss dude, priest dude) each had to lay a green leafy thing on the alter and that was that.

So that was good.

Then, after, we made it back home to rest up a bit, then Mayumi and I went out to a BBQ with a lot of friends in a park near one of the guy’s house. Two hour drive due to holiday traffic, but more food and beer than could be believed once there and we ate and drank way too much.

So that was good.

Then, when the sun was looking like it was thinking about setting soon, two of the guys endeavored to teach me how to play cricket and after swinging the bat a few times and bowling a few times, I can see where it might be a good game. Even if, like baseball, playing is much more fun that watching.

So that was good.

And now I’m going to bed. Which is good.

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Filed under Left From Seattle, True Thoughts on True Life

D&D Geek

D&D.jpgQuick post: My friends and I have recently been playing D&D. All of us played back in the day, and were quite surprised to learn we were all D&D geeks. Well, life being what it is, getting everyone together for extended campaigns is hard to swing.

To try to make things a bit easier, I just picked up a copy of the official Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures 2 person starter set. The minis game seems to be much more focused on combat, rather than a campaign, which should lend itself to shorter sessions.

Anyway, we’ll see. But I am looking forward to trying it.

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Filed under Left From Seattle

Return of the Kitsch

Hula Girl.jpgSometime recently, when I had my head turned, Kitsch came back in a big way. Something about the goofy, weird, vaguely obscene, plasticky junk that was turned out by the truckload in the beginnings of the modern era just appeals to…well, people today.

The reason I say people is there seems to be no easily defined line separating who likes kitsch from those who don’t. After all, it’s popular with thirty-something hipsters, aging baby-boomers, falsely nostalgic teenagers, pop culture junkies, graffiti writers and modern artists, etc. etc.

And the point? There is none.

Just that last January I got a dashboard Hula girl from Archee McPhee’s for my dad, for his birthday, as a gag gift. He loves it. Stuck it right in his truck. Then, last month, when visiting friends, they gave me a cojoined pair of wrestling Sumo guys* to go on my dashboard. And then, another friend sent me a dashboard Buddy Christ from Kevin Smith’s Dogma. Which is actually on my desk, but still.

I would write that the current kitsch fetish was confined to dashboard iconography, fuzzy dice, and other car decorations, except that I’m starting to see a lot more garden gnomes and pink flamingos than I used to.

In fact, I think that’s what I’ll try for Dad’s next birthday. A pink flamingo. Just because.

* Not my flickr photo, unfortunately, but a good one!

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Filed under Left From Seattle, True Thoughts on True Life