Thursday, May 31, 2012

Facebook, the party's over

I've recently seen a lot of folks posting vague and troubling personal problems on Facebook. Not to overgeneralize, but the posts typically deal with a wrong that some unknown entity did to the poster. 90% personal relationship problems. Sent out for all their FB friends to see.

I don't like this. First I kind of feel like I'm at a college party and the person with way too much to drink is making a scene for everyone...but, I also don't know why this is occurring so frequently, and I don't understand why people would post this stuff when there's basically nothing we internet friends can do. Like shouting at darkness in hopes that your echo will answer. Meanwhile everyone else is either silently taken aback or snickering.

This wasn't how social sites started. Looking back, Myspace was a nightclub where you pretended you were flipping awesome, made up your age, took up-angled shots of your face and bare upper torso, and used a black background with purple lightning to really drive home how unique and special you were.

Now its the end of the party, lights on, people crying in corners...WTF internet.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A penny saved...

...ain't going to cut the mustard for tuition anymore.

But of course there's a lot of folk out there that'll
lend you some pennies, with interest, and your parents as co-signers. Somewhere along the line we forgot that "children are our future" and decided to turn them into cha-ching. The chart below shows what's happened for yearly tuition (only tuition, mind you) since 1996 at my alma mater, UNI. A small directional public school. Sorry about the blur...home-made docs don't seem to import well:

What a sweet linear relationship! I wish I saw that in all my data. As you can see, every year tuition increases around $362. Next year (11-12) just came out, and yep ~$370. So my paltry freshman ~$2,500 per year doubled in less than 10 years (~2004-5). And by the time Noah and Sophia get to college age, tuition could be $12,700! Per year. Excluding books, room and board. Including those costs it'll be around $22,000.

BTW, the same time tuition costs shot up almost 200%, Iowa median income stayed stagnant, from $44,000 to $48,000 (9% increase). So its not like our state is getting rich, or keeping up with inflation.

This isn't sustainable...and looks exactly like another bubble. Public universities were founded on the idea that helping college student costs is a public good. Now students are viewed as proxy cash dispensers for either 1) their well-off parents, or 2) future jobs. Most of the time it's probably #2.

Anyway, I've got 16 years to save up ~$160,000 for my kids.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Dark Comedy

If it wasn't so funny it'd be sad. Fortunately, its LOLs to the can't make this stuff up. A former Burlington Coat Factory, two blocks away from Ground Zero, is going through a politically led election year media firestorm right now.

I really think debates like these are good for our country in the long run. Decades from now, assuming we go in the right direction, we can look back at all this silliness for what it is; fear-mongering. With the benefit of hindsight we'll see that this outrage flamed up by the media/politicians was just clever campaigning. Like Blair-Witch style rogue marketing.

But for right now we're in the midst of a politic-frenzy. At least until Joe Biden puts his foot into his mouth again. I've got Facebook invites from people telling me these "bastards cheered when the towers fell" to even comparing Islam to Nazis (IMO, Newt knows better; a 2012 campaign is definitely on the horizon...).My feeling is with stuff like this its good to try to find the original intent. If, for instance, the Muslims behind it thought of themselves as religious equivalents to Nazis, this would be a horrible idea. They have a website for their project, here are some quotes: "the Cordoba Initiative [GZ Mosque] is committed to bringing American Muslims and non-Muslims together through programs in academia, policy, current affairs, and culture." Etc., etc.

Of course, all this mushy "can't we all get along" talk could be a lie. Webpages are tailor-made for people to make stuff up. But, if you fact-check the Imam behind it, Feisal Abdul Rauf, you quickly find out that he's been a strong voice (one of very few) pro-America Muslims. So much so that many Muslims dislike him for his ideas on Americanizing the Muslim faith. And guess what? Right now he's over in the Mid-East promoting how Americans are open to faith. He's been doing this since 2007. I don't think he'll be back.

The tragedy of this is that by screaming out phrases like "Nazis" to Muslims, we're pushing them even further away. It reminds me a Christian Fundamentalist called "Brother Tom" who used to preach at UNI. He'd bring his 12 children, set up shop at the Union, and scream about how we're all sinners, going to hell, etc., etc. At first I thought he was genuinely trying to make us repent. Now though, I realize it was just a show for his kids to see how bad "out there" was. It invariably turned into a chaotic shouting match with profanities, stupid jokes, and ugliness from both parties. His kids saw how ugly we sinners can be, and ran back to ranch more scared of us secular humanist.

That's what we're doing. We're not going to convince terrorists of anything. But don't associate 1 billion people in Islam as terrorists, Nazis, blight, whatever. We're screaming now.

I'm all for stopping the Mosque, just do it the American way: buy them out and in it's place put up our sacred trinity: food, football, and beer (a.k.a Hooters).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Welcome Sophia!

Sophia Ann Fields
April 21, 2010
7 pounds 4 ounces & 20 inches

Finally, eyes wide open.

Noah's a big brother! In the hospital, our baby girl at one day old.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Children's Television Workshop

I've been thinking a lot about kids shows these days, mostly because I haven't paid attention in over a decade, and was wondering what happened. The last children's TV product I paid attention to was Pokemon, and that only through my nephew. Now I'm trying to stay tuned in on Sundays before my church of MTP, but it's difficult. Not to mention a whole slew of crappy content out there.

When I was a kid, pretty much the only educational experience in the country (without cable) was static-filled PBS. Everyone remembers '3-2-1 Contact' and 'Sesame Street'. But there are a couple of shows that were burned into my memory at an early age and somehow represent what childrens television out to be...slightly creepy.

Parlez Moi. This show was on during 9 am on weekdays, which means you first had to be at home sick to see it. I never watched the show without being hopped up on Robitussin, cephelexin, and Advil. That's the only way it should be viewed.

Read All About It. This has it all, multidimensional travel, sentient typewriters, and kidnapping. This program shows what you can do with unbounded imagination and a shoestring budget. Ala Dr. Who.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fields Trek Fest

Last weekend the Fields Family and RW crew got together to celebrate the rebirth of the Star Trek franchise at Riverside Iowa. Depending on your franchise history, its either the birthplace or childhood home of Captain James T. Kirk. Or possibly even the construction yard of the Enterprise.

They have a plaque in a back-alley that gives all the details. And a museum. And a gift shop. And a Casey's.

It was my first Trek Fest, and from various documentaries and media coverage I was expecting a whole slew of geeks dressed up in primary colors. There were a few, but the demographics were 90% small townsfolk in howling wolf t-shirts, 10% geek. Of course the 10% true Trekkies get all of the cameras pointed at them, and also have all the fun. This year three actors from the original series were in the parade; Sulu, Ohura, and Chekov. Ohura smiled at me.

Fortunately RW came prepared with classic Star Trek V posters, so at least we can say we made an effort to geek out (I'm spock).
The 10% to 90% ratio also works for the parade. Instead of Trek Fest they should have called it Firetruck and Shriners Fest... somewhere around 50 firetrucks from SE Iowa came (God help us if there was a fire in Keokuk), along with an army of those ridiculous Shriner 'two front end' cars. In the mix of all the flashing lights, horns and sirens I was able to make out about four Sci-Fi themed floats. All four received awards, and somehow one of the winners was a squadron of Storm Troopers/Jawas/Imperial Guards. Of course most hardcore Trekkers booed when they passed.

I don't think beggars can be choosers though. Next year I'm going as a Fremen to completely cluster-f**k the genres.
Noah had a blast, and got his picture taken with pretty much everyone...even if they had a blaster instead of a phaser.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shroomin' on a Sunday Afternoon

This past Sunday the Fields Fam went out to find the ever-elusive morel mushroom. In Iowa City. I was fairly skeptical, I've looked around this area every year, and never get anything. I think its cause most of the city has already scoured the area before we get there (our Timber is the only spot I can consistently find morels). But we set off anyway at a nearby park. Lo and behold, success!

I had Noah on my back the whole time, he was a lot more interested in me whapping may-apples with my walking stick than finding mushrooms. But while Noah and I were traipsing about Master-Blaster style, Hilary found some really nice ones.

Its the size of her hand!!!

After we got home I fried them up. Using only butter, of course. It's quite a bit more finicky than oil, as it starts burning really fast...but morels were made for butter.

Noah had "Vegetable Stew with Carrots and Peas". He wasn't happy.