Monday, May 28, 2012

Ending the day in Bar Harbor

Photo by Michael

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stepping stones

Photo by Michael

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Profanity is not the issue

A woman got on an American Airlines flight wearing a shirt which said “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d fuck a senator.” The pilot and flight crew retaliated by making sure she’d miss her next flight. They could have simply told her to keep the shirt covered, or to turn it inside-out, or even just to cover the profanity with duct tape while on board. But that would have been about protecting the children from profanity, and the pilot and flight crew’s retaliation clearly wasn’t about that.

So what happens when someone boards the plane wearing this:

Pilots have a right to kick passengers off their own planes. Flight crews have a right to insist that passengers not be disruptive. But that should not extend to demanding that passengers conform to their personal or political opinions, or to retaliate against passengers with whom they disagree politically.

Is the profanity the only excuse American Airlines has for their behavior? So what happens when someone boards the plane wearing this:

There used to be a creeping authoritarianism in this country. It’s no longer creeping.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No stroller for you!

We attended Drool Baby Expo yesterday at the Cyclorama. It was quite the zoo of expecting and new parents, babies, vendors, and heaps of baby gear.

Imagine that you own a very expensive baby store chain like Magic Beans. You could try to get customers to come to your store over a period of time, have lots of products in stock, and have tons of sales staff who know all about the products. Or you could rent a larger space, cram everyone in at once, convince manufacturers to send representatives and samples, charge admission to your customers, and offer 20% to 30% discounts off of many products but only if you place your order immediately. Give everyone free cupcakes, take away the wifi, and with any luck you can create a buying frenzy. Drool was an attempt at this latter approach, and it appeared to be quite successful.

From an economic point of view, we paid $32 each to get in, and we each received a gift bag of random baby stuff nominally worth about $60 on Amazon, some of it actually nice. I quite like the Haba wrist rattle, the Oxo sippy cup cleaning set, the Ty Snoopy, the Melissa and Doug fish toy, and the Skip Hop monkey toy. Those more than made up for the admission cost, so the other random items are gravy. By wandering around and talking to vendors, we got some fun baby food samples to try from Ella’s Kitchen, a few small glass containers from Wean Green, a wooden musical egg-shaped shaker, and info about a baby sign language class. Other people seemed pretty excited about the free cupcakes and Pinkberry, which neither of us can eat.

The highlight of the evening was putting David in a Mountain Buggy Swift stroller and taking him for a test drive. He loved it! But wow, strollers can get very expensive. And the Magic Beans sales reps couldn’t seem to get their story straight on prices, availability, delivery times, or return policies.

I had hoped to see a Tiny Love Gymini Bouncer, but the Tiny Love reps weren’t actually from the company, had almost no samples, and had no product specs. I tried to order one anyway because the Amazon reviews are great and Tiny Love products were supposedly 25% off, only to discover that Magic Beans had jacked the price up far beyond anyone else so that the discounted price would be higher than the list price on Amazon.

I tried to talk to someone from Dr. Brown’s about the fact that our bottles have all started to leak after several months without that problem, only to be told that it was always the customer’s fault when that happens. Way to go, Dr. Brown’s! You really made me feel warm inside for choosing your product and staring at your logo for at least two hours a day since December. I love their formula mixer, but I’m beginning to actively detest their bottles. This rep did not help their cause.

Many of the companies had genuinely nice people there, though. Mountain Buggy, Oxo, Wean Green, Ella’s Kitchen, SnoozeShade (a product we didn’t know we needed, but that I am really excited about), Haba, Chewbeads, Aden and Anais, Family Music Makers, Healthy Habits Kitchen, Letourneau’s Pharmacy, Sage Spoonfuls: I really liked talking to all of those folks.

And lots of people ooh’ed and aah’ed at David, and he smiled back a lot, and he was generally a fantastic little trooper about this insane environment and about staying up far too late.

And I managed to buy nothing on site. Slight regret today about a couple of small items that I would have bought if the Magic Beans pop-up store and sales reps had been more helpful; now I have to track down a Chew Beads necklace and a couple of other items separately. But it’s nothing compared to the regret I would have felt about spending far too much money on the wrong product simply because I hadn’t had time to do enough research online to figure out if it really was the right product for us.

Would I go again? Maybe. I’d pack a sandwich, since there’s no real food on site. And I’d leave my wallet at home.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Stay safe

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Liking the Constitution

When I “like” a page/person/business/group/event on Facebook, I am generally doing two things: I am choosing who I will speak to and hear from, and I am telling other people about it (thereby suggesting that they consider doing the same). I “like” my state representative on Facebook, for example, so that I can hear what issues are important to him, see what other local residents think about those issues, and participate in the conversation myself. I “like” an inn in Maine so that I can hear news from a vacation area I enjoy visiting. I “like” a local contractor so that I can discuss renovation mistakes they highlight along with a group of similarly minded homeowners. And I occasionally “like” a group or event simply as a public statement of support, and then promptly block their updates from my news feed.

This seems to be a perfect congruence of freedom of speech and freedom of association. And yet a federal judge named Raymond Jackson has ruled that Facebook likes are not protected by the First Amendment. Not as (written) speech, not as symbolic speech, not as a conduit to speech, not as freedom of association, not even as a method of petitioning the government for a redress of grievances. I must have missed the day in civil liberties class when the professor explained that the Constitution doesn’t apply to the Internet. It does leave me confused, though, about what happens if I call that federal judge a blithering idiot in this web-based forum. Would expressing such an opinion be protected speech? If expressing an opinion in an electronic way isn’t speech of any sort that the Constitution recognizes, can that opinion nonetheless rise to contempt of court? Because I’m searching Facebook for a group called “Judge Raymond Jackson is a moron,” and I’d like to know if I can safely click on the “Like” button when I find it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gore Place

At the 25th annual Sheepshearing Festival last weekend, sheep and goats being herded by border collies:

An alpaca:

Overhead on a sunny day, a red-tailed hawk:

Photos by Michael

Rain falls down

[as a round]

Rain breaks down into two H and one O
Electrolysis makes it so
H makes the cars go
O helps the whole world breathe