Rising in Beauty

Rising in Beauty
Sky over North Park

Just Learning

Just Learning
Kitchen Studio

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Way With Words

The lively and literate radio program A Way With Words which challenged and enlightened KPBS radio in San Diego has returned to the air waves via podcast and online. Grant Barrett recently edited The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English. Martha Barnette is a distinguished editor. The two make an entertaining team, answering listener questions about words. Warning: The puns and word play may induce fits of laughter.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

NextFest Glows Green

"That is awesome, dude! That is so cool!"

The thin young man in black T-shirt with student backpack was staring in delight at a small man in a lab coat. The researcher was framed by two tall glass vials that reached above his head. They were glowing green, illuminated by fluorescent grow lights, and their contents slowly rose and bubbled, like a cross between a lava lamp and a potion for Dr. Jekyll. The scientist, Pengcheng (Patrick)Fu, PhD, was making fuel out of water, sunlight or grow light, carbon dioxide, and algae treated with a bacteria he had developed. The result was a small amount of ethanol.

Let me say that again: Dr. Fu was making fuel by photosynthesis.

Pond scum rules!

This sight stirred my sense of wonder. The young man seemed to me to experience not only wonder, but hope -- the real possibility that he might not be condemned to live in a dystopia of fossil fuel emissions and their exhaustion -- that earth-friendly energy might be within human grasp.

Pengcheng (Patrick) Fu, Sunnol Biotechnology LLC, 3636 Kanaina Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815, USA, email pcfu_2000@yahoo.com. My attempt to look at his website was complicated by the fact that it's in Chinese.

I saw other energy adaptations. Solar energy collectors on the hood and roof of an electric car kept it recharged. (At night the garage needs a big grow light.) Indoor lights nourished hanging plants that absorbed toxins from the air. Sculptural whirling vertical semi-helices made an urban wind turbine, ready now to attach to a roof and provide part of a family's energy needs.

NextFest inspired me with a sense that where there is a will to find clean and cheap sources of fuel and electricity, there is a way. The will to save the environment expresses itself through politics, as well as through personal recycling and conservation. Everyone can help.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kids Today are A-OK

"Gen Y = new learning curve for employers," headlines an article by Barbara Ross of the Chicago Tribune, published in the San Diego Union Tribune September 10, 2007.

"...Lewis is part of a fast-growing group of workers in their late teens and 20s who are having a wide-ranging effect on the way organizations try to engage employees and teach them how to do their jobs."
The article goes on to describe applications of computer simulations and games, videos and vlogs to work with Gen Y, or Millenials, born between the late 1970s and late 1990s.
"Having grown up online with instant messaging, they type as easily as they talk. They're impatient with long explanations. They want immediate rewards. They're willing to do grunt work if it's clear what they get in return and how their job relates to the bigger picture."
"Programmed by their parents for success before they learn to walk, they expect deeply involved bosses. They're used to being told they're winners, even when they lose."
"New employees (at one company) go through several hours of computer-based training with quizzes in addition to person-to-person instruction. Each of the lessons is less than eight minutes, McWenie said, adding, 'They need information in really short bursts.'"
The article notes that in a short quiz the employees answered 50 questions and did well.
Why am I so pleased? After years of frowning shaking of the heads of pundits in the centuries-long tradition of "What's the matter with kids today?," finally we hear from people who accept the kids as they are, see their strong points, and adapt in a rational manner to bringing out their skills. Maybe civilization will survive!

The Well

From Snow and Summer, 1975,
by Solveig von Schoultz

Early in the morning I go to my well
sometimes so early that the pail fills with stars
sometimes in the night I go to my well
lift high the handle,
lower the pail
down into invisible blackness
down into unseen coolness.
The well is deep.
Each morning I've time to fear
that the water has sunk down into misty darkness,
and the chain will be swallowed by thirsty walls,
throat go dry,
heart shrink

pail hit bottom.

Monday, September 10, 2007


It's almost time for NextFest. Check it out at www.wirednextfest.com.