Interesting (albeit expensive, and possibly fishy) conference

I got an email notice about the fourth international conference on technology, knowledge, and society, which is being held this year in Boston. It look potentially very interesting– James Paul Gee is going to be speaking– but it strikes me as being crazy expensive. The “full deal” registration (which includes a hotel room) is $1400; one day registration is almost $500; and even “virtual registration,” which gets your name in the programs and gets you access to the journal.

This all makes me wonder a bit. This conference is one of many run by a company/enterprise called “Common Ground,” which is also an academic publishing company of some sort. For all I know, these conferences are some of the best in the academic world and the journals they publish present some of the most important scholarship. But I always wonder about enterprises doing this sort of thing for a profit, especially when the cost for this conference strikes me as a bit out of wack. Still, it might be a totally cool group.

Vinyl, Television, Painting, Soccer

Here is a sampler platter of things that have been new around the house for me and the family.

Vinyl. We are now the proud owners of new vinyl flooring in the kitchen. I’d include a picture, but it seems kind of stupid to take a picture of the floor. It looks quite nice, very much like tile, and it sort of smells and feels like a raincoat. Thanks to the excellent help of some excellent designing friends, we got hooked up with a great “floor dude” who runs a company called Husky Flooring. I recommend them highly.

The prep work was a time consuming pain in the ass, and painting the ceiling was not a lot of fun. But it does look a lot better, that’s for sure.

Television. I think that I have been successfully sucked into the new show Pushing Daisies. It reminded Annette of a Roald Dahl book and I thought the whole magic realism/goofiness of it all was fantastic. Hey, how can you be against a show where there protagonist runs an establishment called The Pie Hole? Sadly, I think the show will be far too weird for most. I give it 13 quality weeks.

I have also been enjoying the latest Gordan Ramsay show Kitchen Nightmares. I never watched Hell’s Kitchen and I understand that the FOX version of this new show pales in comparison to the BBC version, but I still like it. So far, I’ve learned that what really matters in running a successful restaurant is to have one that is actually clean and to have a manager who is not stupid.

Generally though, that’s about the only new TV I’m watching. And when it comes to the rest of network TV, there’s CSI and I am looking forward to the new season of Lost. I guess I’m getting old and falling out of a demographic.

Painting. This afternoon, after spending much of the day in the basement working on sabbatical project stuff, I decided it was time to go out and scrape some paint off the side of the house. Now, doing the front of our house wasn’t that bad because it is essentially a single story. But the sides and back are two stories, and I got to say getting the wobbly old ladder up to that height and then getting my fat ass up there and then attempting to scrape was nerve-racking.

Sadly, there are no good solutions. I don’t really want to pay a lot of money for someone else to do the work, and besides, I called 10 different local painting contractors this afternoon and none of them answered their phone. No kidding. I did get through to College Pro Painters (I remember those fliers advertising summer work when I was in school way back when) and I’m hoping they will get back with me about an estimate.

If the price they quote me is too much, I guess my next step is going to be to price new ladders.

Soccer. Will’s soccer team is 0-2. The good news is they seem to be getting better, but the bad news is they are playing what is (apparently) one of the best teams in the league on Saturday. I am the assistant coach, which means I’m helping out our friend Jim, who actually knows how to play soccer. Oh, and while Jim is away in a couple weeks on a work thing, I’ll be “coach for a day” at one of the games.

Speaking of which: time to get ready for practice.

"More about Blackbirds…"

Via Kairosnews comes “More about Blackbirds, and other items of interest,” which is an entry about some “hypertext”/flash-driven kind of fiction/multimedia, um, stuff. I don’t think I did this the last time I taught ENGL 516, but I have in the past included a unit on these sorts of pieces of experimental fiction/poetry/electronica before. And I don’t know if I’ll have room to include these things in the next version of the course, but if I do, I’ll want to come back to this link. Some good stuff here.

So-so spot on NPR's Talk of the Nation on Social Networking

I don’t know if they make this NPR live call-in show available online after they broadcasts are over or not, but while driving around today, I heard a kind of so-so segment on things like Facebook and MySpace. There’s a link right here; maybe kind of okay if you’ve not really heard of social networking before, but….

Blogging, free speech, and reporters without borders

Very interesting little piece on Wired’s blog that might figure into my BAWS project– it would at least be good in terms of scholarship: “Only you can prevent censorious firewalls.” The article is really talking about the international organization Reporters Without Borders. According to them, there are 13 countries which seriously censor Internet content that is critical of the government, and there are 61 people around the world who are in prison for posting “subversive” content on a blog or a web site. Reporters Without Borders is trying to organize an international protest about this through their web site in early November.

Google streetview coming to my neighborhood?

Streetview car
On Sunday, I was on my way out to run some errands and, while at the corner of Mansfield and Westmorland in Ypsilanti, I saw one of these Immersive Media cars drive by, the ones that do the Google streetview images. I was in my Saturn at the intersection, and I waved. So I for one will be keeping an eye on streetview updates….