Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Friday, January 29, 2010

Poetry links

Hi! Just to let you know, I have been posting a few links to the poetry that Margaret Alden and I have been publishing. Margaret is my Girlfriend and a very fine poet. We've been publishing poetry and other writing through a service called Triond. The poetry tends to be posted on a site called "Authspot". We are also publishing on a Wordpress blog that I run called "Collide as One".
Darrell Wade Penner on Triond
Margaret Alden on Triond
You can also find other poems by Margaret on "Soul Creativity", her Blogspot blog.
Please check out our Triond links for listings of our more recent writing. That includes more recent articles by me as well.
Darrell Wade Penner/Belgnorman

Angelic Peck | Authspot

Angelic Peck | Authspot. Margaret Alden’s most recent poem published on Authspot. “Ingesting my dream one kiss at a time.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

Drift | Authspot

Drift | Authspot A romantic poem by Mags Alden Published on Authspot. – “Drift my love.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Need or Want :: Necessity or Luxury

When a Cellphone Stops Being a Luxury

There are many times I have heard on "The People's Court" where the judge has said that "a cellphone is a luxury and not a necessity." Now I do know where she is coming from and agree with what Judge Milian is saying. However sometimes we must lift the brush we are painting with and make sure we are not painting too broad a swath.

It might seem strange, but perhaps the truly needy are the ones who need the "luxury" of a cell phone the most?

The people who are homeless and living on the street are people, just like you and me, who have needs and desires — and I am not just speaking of a desire to chatter with someone a block away on a cellphone.

If you are homeless and manage to land an entry-level job, you will hit obstacles because there are no regular ways to contact you. After failing to contact you a number of times through numbers at soup kitchens or shelter switchboards, your employer is likely to label you "unreliable" — costing you that job.

A pay-as-you-go or "no contract" cellphone might not cost very much for an inexpensive model and if you do not use it much, might not cost much to operate each month. But, it does give that important contact number for employers, potential employers, future employers, social agencies, and family to keep in touch with you. Some of this can be very important so that you don't feel like you've fallen off the face of humanity.

Granted when you are on the street and near cashless, your calls on the cellphone are likely to be short and to the point: "Hello...I'm fine...I'll meet you at the coffee shop on first and main in half an hour... see you there, you have my number." A person wants to minimize the minutes on the phone if you watch all the minutes you pay for in advance on the phone. Better to make appointments to talk in person for sure.

(image to right from Computer Finance)

...and then there are emergencies... have you noticed how far and in between the pay phones are now? How many folk would let a homeless person use the phone in their business or their personal cellphone even if they said it was a "911 Emergency"? That phone in the pocket could be a life saver.

So while a cellphone might be a luxury for the working poor who have homes and can afford a home phone, for the homeless... that phone might actually represent their home.

~ Darrell


"On D.C. Streets, the Cellphone as Lifeline" The Washington Post.

"That Homeless Guy Outside Starbucks? He Probably Has a Cellphone [Cellphones]" 23 Mar 2009 by Gizmodo; Computer Finance.

"Homeless find cell phones no longer a luxury" 23 Mar 2009 CTIA; Smartbrief.

"In America, Even The Homeless Have Cell Phones (Michelle Obama Edition)" 24 Mar 2009 by Nick Gillespie; Reason Magazine, Hit & Run.

"30% to 40% of D.C's homeless use cellphones" 23 Mar 2009 by Conner Flynn; SlipperyBrick.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Little Bird

Tweet Tweet

I first opened a Twitter account a few years ago because I could never remember what sorts of music I listened to. This was awkward when friend would ask me, "What sorts of music do you listen to?" So I got the Twitty Tunes application for Firefox. This included setting up a Twitter account to go with it.

I now could have a widget to put up on Social Networking Sites (SNS), Blogs, and Websites which would show either the current song or the past 10 that I had listened to. Well actually it was the Twitter postings I had made, but when I first started I thought Twitter was all about the music you were listening to -- a side effect of getting exposed to it through Foxy Tunes and TwittyTunes. I used it to post my current listening list onto MySpace on my profile I have there -- so if someone asked what music I liked, I could point them at my profile.

To keep it current I just click my twitter button and then click post when it asks me if what it is suggesting is okay... that is because it defaults to the last type of action it took. TwittyTunes automatically fills in the name of the song I am listening to -- regardless of the music or video player -- and a link on Foxy Tunes that tries to find that song, album, track performer and other information. Now an important part is that it always asks you to confirm as not only does TwittyTunes allow you to this easily post what you are listening to, it also would allow you to instead post the website you are viewing in the exact same way.

When it asks you to confirm the post there is a ribbon selector -- one of those boxes with the arrow that allows you to make a selection -- for a few different ways to present what you are listening to as well as options for what page you are viewing instead; or even a plain text window like what Twitter normally has.

It is that simple to post the music, video, or web page you are viewing or listening to -- or other information -- without leaving the web page you are on or opening another browser window.

Here are your choices from the TwittyTunes box¹:

Listening to:
Listening a lot lately to:
Listening to a song I love:
Now playing:

Looking at:
Free Text
Free Text + URL

It is very simple to use and with Firefox, Foxytunes gives you a very easy way to post to Twitter as well as a nice way to control your music player from the bottom of your web browser.

But, you do have to be careful... You have to make sure that the last thing you put up wasn't "I'm browsing:" with the url for the current web page or it might be embarrassing if you were really planning on telling folks you were listening to Bach and you were looking at

~ Darrell


¹ I have discovered recently that posts starting with "@username" can be used to bring attention to the user whose name you include. The Twitter software will recognize it if you are looking for Twitter messages directed at you. I have noticed this being used on comment area of blogs and in forums as well lately. So on Twitter if I am following you and you start a message with "@Belgnorman" twitter will make it so that I can sort those posts out.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

DWP - Futurist At Large

A Direction for Near Future Tech

With current technology there is a trend towards the combining of functions and technologies. Perhaps it is not a "Swiss Army Knife" of technology we are looking at, but when you look at all that is being included in some items like your typically carried Cell phones -- there is a lot there.

I believe that all Cell phones include a phone book in them to record the numbers of calls coming in or going out. This is of course more convenient when tied in with the service of call display which many if not most subscribe to or have included in their service. Most if not all the phones also have some sort of calendar function in addition to a watch function and at least rudimentary alarm function if not one that can be programmed in conjunction with the calendar. Combining these they often have a virtual appointment book ability which would have been the envy of any business executive 20 years ago.

Nearly everyone could if they wish, have access to voice mail as well for missed calls or be able to forward calls to or from a regular phone service to their mobile one. They also have options to send or receive text messages. The price for them of course varies depending on service contract and location. (Not to mention date, phase of the moon, tide, which direction the last dark bird flew past your gaze...)

Those are pretty well standard sorts of communication things you might expect.

A bit more than that are Internet capabilities including being able to access eMail, Internet Chat services, and actual World Wide Web access. You might pay a bit heftier dollar for that ability and even more if you would like to be able to plug your portable computer into your cell phone whether it is a Notebook or Net book computer.

Beyond that... many of not most cell phones have the ability to take digital photographs if not short digital videos. It seems to me that the 1 Megapixel resolution level is very common if not greater. That is a log greater than most people might need for use in digital images for the Internet. Of course we are not talking about the needs of photographers here.

The phones -- and we aren't talking about the expensive sort really -- very often include the ability to download and play games in addition to other things like "ring tones" and background art for the control screen that nearly all phones have. That is the same screen you screen your digital pictures and videos on as well as check your messages and everything on.

The phone as well can often be used to play music on and can do well as an mp3 player with only the addition of decent headphones or earbuds.

All those things on fairly normal cell phones.

Then we get to the "smart phones" which are virtually tiny computers with complete keyboards or alternate methods for data entry. Some have nearly gone away from keys completely opting for total touch screen control -- that allows for the entire top surface of the device to be used as the device screen. Those can act as total digital assistants... or PDA -- Pocket Digital Assistants -- like the Palm Pilots of all. They seem to have superceded the Palm Pilots if you ever try go shopping for them.

The mp3 player has expanded as well to include the abilities to record sound like a portable voice recorder. The mp players also routinely include FM radio recievers and have enough memory to allow them to carry digital computer files within -- thus acting as "pen drives" or "memory sticks". Of course the mp3 players themself can use memory cards which gets sorta circular. The mp3 player also expanded into playing video and being an mp4 player. This is where they overlapped or became or inspired or...(?) the portable video player. The really nice ones also forgo the buttons for touch screens... and are nearly identical to the cell phones with the same screens. They just don't have the cell phone function. Though the mp3/video player ones did gain the wireless networking capability tha allows them to comunicate wirelessly and hence the good ones can access the Internet and do everything else those cell phone ones can do. They even play the same games in the same ways... and I believe from the same sources. Did I mention the phones can download and play the same videos the video players can?

Then there are the portable game players -- they have gotten more and more powerful and gained the ability to network wirelessly as well, and you can access the Internet as well as computers with them. Many of them have touch screens and they can be used to play videos or watch pictures on -- much like the mp3/video playes I have mentioned and the cell phones.

There are also eBook players out there whose purpose is to hold and display eBooks in various formats. They connect either through networking cables or more commonly now through wireless networking.

I might finally mention the digital picture frames which are very limited and the PDAs that I think morphed into the "smart phones" and mostly disappeared.

Perhaps the edges between these things are very much blurring -- especially if you take into account the notebook/laptop computers and their slightly smaller cousin the net book. I do see a direction that things might take with this blurry tech fog.

I think that people will start thinking of what their primary focus is and then go for the device that handles that best. Then they will purchase a device that does that best -- meaning with all the features of that dedicated device -- and have that device fitted with all the other features that would be convenient not to have to carry as separate devices.

Here is an example of what I am speaking:

Let's say I have a hobby that is photography. I would go to a camera shop and purchase a nice camera. It would have the lenses or a lens system that I would want. (I am not a photographer, so please bear with me as I am not so conversant with the terms and stuff.) Having chosen the camera I would also have a camera that would have digital memory for digitally recording the images as well as recording them on film. (Providing it took film photographs as well as digital ones.) It would be able to record sound and some video as well. The camera would be able to play mp3 files as a music player through headphones or ear buds although they might be bluetooth wireless ones. I would also be able to watch video content on the display screen of the camera if I should so choose. The camera would also have wireless networking to connect with WiFi hotspots or my computer and if I should choose I should be able to activate it to a cell phone plan and use it as a cell phone with a handy blue tooth headset. Not to mention using the camera for "texting" messages or as an address or date book.

Conversely if my prime usage were as a student, perhaps all of these functions might take place through a portable computer -- probably a net book for portability -- that I would use for all those functions.

I guess the idea sort of falls apart if you don't want to carry the large item everywhere, like when you don't want to carry the net book to everything, or the camera, or the digital tape recorder, or the electric guitar (with the phone etc. built in...)... But for the photographer, videographer, reporter, author, or other person who always carries their tools around with them...

Hmm, I guess they aren't building them into paint brushes or pens quite yet... but how about those scientific or engineering calculators... they still make calculators don't they?

~ Darrell


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Grumpy Old Man -- Drinking Problems

More Than DUI or Alcoholism

There is more to a "Drinking Problem" than driving drunk or under the influence; or issues of alcoholism to my mind — or at least not what I think people might traditionally consider.

Now I am not 100% prudish. If someone were to take a "nip" from a flask on public transit during rush hour or at a sporting event I'd look the other way — especially if they did so discretely and they were not bothering others. You must of course remember that for the most part here in Canada, drinking in public is frowned on. Meaning you aren't really allowed to drink in public unless at a licensed establishment. Of course, now many stadiums do sell alcohol, however they frown — legally — on BYOB¹. Public drunkenness is right out!

Getting back to public transit... I had the pleasure — displeasure — of sharing my bus-ride with two "gentlemen" who were travelling home from some job or practical job training which involved scaling poles or trees. They had their climbing belts and gear with them. That included rather nasty hammers, spikes, and husky ropes. I noted later that it also included some "belts". The one fellow really reminded me of my upstairs neighbour who more often than not would spend his recreational time "boozed up". It was only a short while later where I realized the resemblance -- though I admit I could be wrong and greatly biased. Here too was a man who drank whenever he was not working or at least he drank at any time he could do so. This included the time he might be commuting on the bus. I am going to assume that didn't include the time commuting to work as he likely had to be somewhat sober for work.

Granted he needn't be staggering drunk, but drunk enough that anyone around would note it and many would find themselves uncomfortable around him. His travelling partner, another fellow pole climber — who probably also worked very hard at work — was snorting back a few on the bus with him. The two of them weren't making a huge scene, but — and here is where the "drinking problems I am referring to come into play — were making the young woman (24-25) and young man (14-16) sitting by them very uncomfortable. The young man nearly jumped out of his skin when the empty "mickey²" flew past him to land on the shelf at the back of the bus.

Perhaps the high school student and the young college student should not have been upset by two hard drinking, hard working men enjoying their leisure time in their company... but we aren't talking about a pub or bar, nor even a restaurant or BBQ. We are talking about public transit just at the beginning of the rush hour. Somehow I think that people should be able to take advantage of public transit without being forced to face hard drinking.

The drinking problem is people being made uncomfortable... if I seem out of line consider this. The two men are incapable of restraining themselves from drinking for their trip home -- or even the 20 minutes the bus ride lasts. Twenty minutes is the entire duration of that bus route from start to finish. Perhaps they had had to endure a previous bus ride, but even so... if they could not wait to start drinking until the got where they were getting to, it shows that even sober they had issues of controlling their actions. These also were men carrying piked hammers and hatchets in addition to climbing spurs and ropes. They were rough looking customers who I think would take more than equal numbers of police to subdue if it ever came down to it.

So we have two fellows who "might" have problems controlling their impulses when sober, drinking on the bus while armed.

I think that this is in reality a "drinking problem" and not meaning their drinking problem but that of everyone around them.

I still haven't mentioned them talking about how they always liked to have a bottle in their pocket. That was in case someone came up behind them, so that they would always have something they could hit them across the face with, and how they never liked people who approached them from behind or who might talk behind their back... and when I heard them talking about it, I got the impression that people might pick fights with them half-way regularly. I wondered if their actions brought any of this onto themselves?

But that is the "Drinking Problem" I am referring to... that of making everyone around them uncomfortable without regard.

For that matter — yours truly even felt uncomfortable around them, not knowing what they might do — or not do — and I am not a small person.

~ Darrell


¹ BYOB -- Bring Your Own Bottle.

² A 375-ml (13.2 imperial fluid oz - 12.7 US fl oz) bottle of liquor such as whiskey.

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