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Thrill The World with 350

I went to see a friend dance in the worldwide Michael Jackson tribute Thrill The World yesterday.  Two hundred plus people all dressed like zombies participating in an annual simultaneous dance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with hundreds of other people around the world.  Very surreal.  Last year there were more than 4,100 people from ten nations around the world participated in the synchronized event.  The numbers from yesterday are still being tabulated.  They all preformed the same choreography to the same music all at the same time.  It was coordinated using video instruction and audio files found on the web site ThrillTheWorld.com along with cellular conference technology at the time of the performance.

And when it was all over and the final pictures were taken somebody yelled, “350!”.  At that, a group of Michael Jackson Zombies spontaneously lay out on the floor forming the iconic number that has come to represent the awareness of Global Warming as a world wide crisis.  Again, very surreal, but also very awesome.

The tribute aspect aside I find this a perfect example of a strictly 21st Century phenomenon.  With the wide spread use of instant communication and particularly the increasingly availability of broadband internet which allows for video this would have been an almost impossible task.  That the community that had the interest and commitment to utilize the tech was the fan base for a controversial Pop Music star speaks volumes about our world culture.  The fact that the same community also had an awareness of the 350.org effort and with no forethought participated in another worldwide effort was both surprising and encouraging.  I prefer to see it as a sign of the nascent beginnings of a world consciousness that may, if it develops quickly enough, save us as a people and a planet.  It gives me hope.

Wordplay with Wordle

This is rather cool.  A site called Wordle which will take a URL and cread a word cloud from the RSS feed.  You can also enter text directly so if you pasted, say the latest chapter of your new novel you could see if there are any particular words your using too often and might consider replacing.  Or perhaps you could enter key words from your story to generate title ideas.

Oh, and you can change language, font, word orientation and color.

Here’s the Wordle I created from the RSS feed of this blog.

Wordle: Heres What I Know
Click on the image to go to the Wordle site and see a larger version.

Looking for the Scent of October

I can’t believe it’s practically the end of October. Fall is my favorite time of year and though here in the Land of Perpetual Summer our change of season is comprised of a couple random days of overcast and drizzle I try to make up for it by visiting those lands where the burnt orange leaves are blown skittering down the street bringing the slight smell of musty dampness with them. A land where the night is a little deeper, the moon a little larger, where the mystery of twilight is just that much closer and the reedy wail of a dying calliope is heard off in the distance.

I have my usual vehicles for this, Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes” of course, Zelazny’s “A Night in the Lonesome October”, Leiber’s “Our Lady of Darkness” and a handful of others.   Now I’m looking for something new to add to my usual collection of Autumnal fiction.  The current spate of zombie fare and romantic teen fang-fiction (fang-fic?) really doesn’t do it for me. I guess I’m looking for something a bit more subtle, spooky and, dare I say it, sophisticated.

Writing this I remember I was pondering something similar when I wrote a A Baker’s Dozen for Holloween three years ago for SF Bookworm.

Cabin Fever and Our Local Japanese Garden

I spend all morning filling out mind numbingly boring applications for jobs that I either didn’t really want or for which I really didn’t think I was qualified.   I’ve been doing this for months now and not surprisingly I’ve discovered that you never get used to it.  What I really want to know is why most online applications, and most everyone requires you fill out an online application these days, why they all require you to fill out all your particulars and job history detail each time?  Have these people never heard of a resume?

I have a perfectly good resume.  It’s nicely written, complete and gives a good overview of my talents and skills.  In fact a friend of mine recently spruced it up for me and I think it looks kinds of spiffy.  But nobody want to see it.  What they want is for you sit there and painstakingly enter each little factoid, one after the other over and over while your eyes bleed, your brain petrifies and you become convinced that any of Dante’s Circles would be preferable than doing this one more time.

After way too many hours of what I’m pretty convinced was wasted time I found myself consumed with the desire to get out of the house.  One of the consequences of being unemployed for a significant length of time is that you become hyperaware of spending money.  You get locked into a headspace of poverty thinking and increasingly refuse to spend money on anything because you think you’ll never have enough and you better not spend what you have.  And a consequence of that is the easiest way not to spend any money is not to go anywhere.  So I don’t.  Except for the backyard where I occasionally take my lunch or sit for a bit and read (itself a guilty pleasure because I really should be doing something to find a job damnit!), I rarely take trips out any longer.  So, I sit in the house.  Day after day.  This way I know madness lies.

So today, after leaking gray matter over my desk for several hours I threw caution and a few pennies to the wind and drove over to the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden on the CSULB Campus.  Certainly not as grand as the Descanso or Huntington gardens it is, none the less, beautifully laid out with a lovely entrance way, tranquil koi ponds, beautiful waterfalls, a charming little tea room (which I think is just for display) and all the requisite greenery arranged in traditional style.  A refreshing respite from onrushing cabin fever.

I did have a little foresight and brought my camera along.

Jonathan Harris: the Web’s secret stories

An amazing presentation from the TED talk in 2007. Using the data of personal Statusphere entries on the Web to synthesize a picture of how the entire world is feeling. And there’s more. Click the link above to see the video.