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February 10, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Brothers under the Tin

Twilight Zone. Outer Limits. Forbidden Planet. Futuristic possibilities limitless – except at our house.

When the Sears Christmas catalogue arrived, every kid on the block knew Robert was the answer. Oh, for a robot to clean your room and pick up stuff you were told to lug to your room. To pinch tormenting brothers without immediate personal risk. With flashing X-ray eyes to combat a mom’s steely glare.

Notes were left. Letters to Santa written. Not so subtle conversations at the dinner table. It worked in that Christmas movie with the Red Ryder You’ll-shoot-Your-Eye-Out Rifle.

Hopes weren’t all that high on Christmas. Good thing.

But dad had managed to find – and purchase under the Mom Radar – a six-inch wind up robot. There were a lot of laughs as the metal midget lurched across the floor. I still had to clean up all the holiday litter, but somehow resisted the urge to point out that if I had only gotten that robot…

It’s the thought that counts.

Red Tin Wind Up Mini Machine Man Robot (DJ SHin/Flickr/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Perfect for Christmas: glassy-eyed, wound up, and in holiday red. (DJ Shin/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Gearing up a few more current robotic thoughts:

A recent showcase featured a club encouraging girls to see math, science, and robots as fun (along with make-up, nails, and hair giggled the presenter). To affirm girls can do anything. Girl Power!

The young girls did seem interested in coding and robots. Seemed to be going well.

Then their final products were revealed: robots fluttering long eyelashes, sporting beaded dreads, popular hair styles, and dressed in child created high fashion outfits. The fancy robotic models swayed down a catwalk for a real fashion show.

OK. It’s the thought that counts. There is thinking there, isn’t there? Somewhere….

Meanwhile robots are getting down with getting up.

Bionic limbs make a real difference for anyone sidelined by injury. As one patient said, “Even to be standing up and able looking people in the eye again.” Miracles are happening daily at TIRR Memorial NeuroRecover Network with wearable robots. The video below shows the impact more than words can.

Now here’s where the money should be going: bionic solutions for our wounded veterans.

We owe them. Getting them up and moving – back to being as whole as possible – and back to being productive people. Win-win-win for the vet, his family, and society.

Mr President, Mr Biden, and members of Congress funneling money to cure cancer (or all the assorted diseases under that broad umbrella) is admirable, but first there’s a huge debt owed to these maimed veterans who served to protect and defend.

Can’t imagine anything that would lessen depression or make a wounded vet happier than to become a bionic superhero able to once again do life’s ordinary things without help.

They were promised. It’s the thought that counts.

Ha Ha Toy. SIlver Tin Robot. (DJ Shin /Flickr/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“Put your little foot. Put your little foot.” Robot rockin’ it.(Shin/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Bionic advancements are taking a huge leap in Australia.

The paraplegic have new hope of walking with a bionic spine that can be inserted into the brain without surgery. The paperclip size implant will allow a paralyzed person to move bionic limbs or exoskeletons by thought alone.

The process starts with the patient imagining moving a hand or arm towards a target on the computer screen which allows the surgeons to create a virtual map of the motor cortex and spot the region of the brain that needs assistance. Then the placement of the implant.

This is only the beginning. With refinement, researchers hope to help people not only walk, but to regain fine motor control.

“Australia scientists develop ‘bionic spine’ which could help paralyzed patients walk” (Video/article)

Thoughtful future.

movie poster. 1956. Robby the Robot in the Forbidden Planet./Lowe's/USPD.cr not renewed, pub.date/Commons.wikimedia.org)

More trustworthy than Uber. (1956.Starring Robby the Robot /Commons.wikimedia.org)

Certainly steps in the right directions.

Creating a high fashion robot to flirty roll down the catwalk or making the world a better place by helping a real person become an actual bionic superhero? Which do you think would interest kids more?

“High school club makes robotic arm for 11-year-old girl”(Video/article)

Thought does count.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Robby the Robot with blaster. Tin Age Collection. Osaka Tin Toy Institute.(DJ Shin/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“Annoying brother? Point me to the tormentor!” (Robby the Robot with blaster. Tin Age Collection. Osaka Tin Toy Institute/DJ Shin/Commons.wikimedia.org)

 

February 8, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Can-can. Can knots.

. Line of cancan dancers/ Danseuses cancan.Bonnot/USPD.pub.date,artist life+/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Cancan. (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Things should line up straight to continue the dance. Can do so much more if organized with patterns and a steady beat. It seems so simple.

Recently, some football players, doctors, and lawyers are kicking at the structure of the game.

No fuzzy thinking can be flagged concerning concussions. Can anyone doubt that repeated head bashing causes damage?

One look at former boxers is pretty convincing. No secret since 1928. “Punch-drunk”. “Punchy”. “Slap-happy”.”Knocked silly”. “Took one to many to the head”. Common phrases used for the groggy haze of boxers and in reference to brain damage in boxers.

So why all of a sudden the shock at discovering football players who constantly crash into hard helmets, solid bodies, and unforgiving ground get brain damage?

bare naked trees. All rights reserved. NO permissions granted. Copyrighted

Not cancan. Although when these are bare and naked each winter, they seem to act pretty liberated. Cavorting free and breezy. Flirty even, before they cover up with their floral summer outfits. ©

For years the threat and potential of career ending injuries and life long damage has been the justification for football player’s huge salaries and bonuses.

Big risk, big rewards, right?

All a gamble. Like with race car drivers: dangerous with a serious risk of a crash, but oh, what a payoff if it goes well. And it can. Any brainiac can see that.

No can can play the game? Good there was plenty of money to put in the banks just in case, right? All of a sudden injured players feel they can ask for even more money for suffering concussions which are more normal than not in this sport they chose to participate in?

Some even can see it as a legal excuse for criminal acts or bad behavior.

How can they say they didn’t understand the risks?

Players have eyes, ears, and can easily read about risks. Oh, well, maybe not the last – but they have family and “people” that can guide them.

Many ordinary people cannot understand why when choices were made, but the results weren’t what an individual wanted, some feel they can complain and demand special treatment.

Oh, well, football fans can expect an additional special fee or tax added to ticket prices to build a “Cannot Play Fund”. Who else can make it, right?

Line of cancan dancers. Comedians World, Garnella, and Mack. 1898.(Cin,USA Printing/LOC/USPD.pub.date, artist life+/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Apparently, can cans can also be comedians. (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Is it so difficult to fathom can cans and can nots?

  • Can anyone really expect voters to pick them by saying things like “Pick me because I’m this gender/this race/speak a language just like you“? Cannot understand why saying things like “Vote of me or there’s a special place in hell for you” would even be uttered much less and affirmingly laughed and nodded at. Younger voters do not appreciate threats, older “celebrities” telling them how to think, or assumptions with over-generalizations. These strategies that aren’t exactly can can do – for any political party.
  • Cannot understand why anchors of national morning shows who can talk about so many interesting, entertaining and informative topics would choose to spend a segment talking about “Your most embarrassing pee story.” Grown women. Punch drunk or something that Today morning? Who cares about you going down a slide or sitting on the curb with full pants waiting for mom or wetting while tap dancing? Why would anyone show a young daughter sitting on a potty surrounded by piles of toys even if a co-anchor asked what you did while being snowed in? Can find better amusements. Click. Canned.
Group of bare crepe myrtle trees. ALL rights reserved. Copyrighted. NO permissions granted

Cannots knowing better to be silent than to reveal one too many punches to the head. ..even in clipped tones.©

Just a few ideas kicking down the road.

Can’t stop grinning over the Broncos can-do spirit. It was almost like watching the home team considering how many of those players did tours of duty here at one time or another. We can too claim them… Just gave them some seasoning here. That can do a lot…all part of the plan….

(Only 363 days until the next Super Bowl. Only know as it’s all over the news here. This is the next game’s location. Good news – bad news.)

Always in favor of more can cans.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Cancan dancer Saharet peeking out from behind a curtain.1899/USPD.pub.date, artist life+/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Anyone who knows can-can understands the trick is to leave something to the imagination. (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

 

 

 

February 5, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

King’s rules.

Old man walking down narrow street/GanMed64/FLickr/Commons.wikimedia.org)

End of the road. It has been decided. (GanMed64/Flickr/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Sometimes all that’s left is to countdown the days.

He didn’t ask for this. Star-crossed. Had hoped for more, but all that seemed left was a slow walk down a cold concrete hall. Alone.

But not yet.

Someone had a different idea.

Well aware the 4 year old blue pit bull had heartworms and was in end stage heart failure with liver and kidneys shutting down, Casey Keller was determined that he would know comfort, love, and the joys of sleeping on a couch after a barren life on a chain in a backyard and, then, being abandoned in his final days.

She pulled him off death row of the county shelter and named him King. As long as he is able and comfortable, he’ll live like a king.

Dog snoozing on three dog beds (Bucket List. Item 28: All soft things. Houston Street Dogs Facebook)

Once I had none. Now I have all. King’s Bucket List Item #28: All soft things. (Houston Street Dogs Facebook)

Despite his condition, King is a happy dog living in the moment. Casey created a Bucket List for whatever days he has left. 

Trips to pet store to pick out any toy he wanted, eating food that he once could only smell and dream of, car rides, trips to the beach and lifts when he’s too tired to walk.

Today King and Casey did Bucket List Item # 41: Educate the next generation of dog owners.

Students at Briarmeadow Charter School welcomed the dog who’s discovered new energy and a mission.

Having the time of his life, King’s not worried. He’s got friends and things to do.

This isn’t just a sad doggie story getting a lot of media attention.

Happy King, living for today. (Houston Street Dogs Facebook)

King’s choice: live for today. (Houston Street Dogs Facebook)

King has become an important Spokesdog.

While humans are all a-buzz about the Zika Virus, dogs, cats, and ferrets are mumbling “So? What are we? Chopped liver?”

Mosquitoes: not just annoying humans.

Heartworms are spread by mosquito bites, too (FDA.gov vet resource article)

If caught early, pets can be treated but the process is expensive and harsh. Animals must be kept quiet, with no exercise at all for at least a month after treatment. (Pictures of some actual worms. Article by vet).

King may be one oblivious little dog who can’t believe his good luck, but his story is having a big impact in ways he can’t imagine.

King’s rules: appreciate today and stop those little biters. Royal request.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Dog ripping up dog toy. King's Bucket List. Item 31.Get new toys. De-stuff them ASAP.(Houston Street Dogs Facebook)

King’s Bucket List Item #31.Get new toys. De-stuff them ASAP.(Houston Street Dogs Facebook)

 

February 2, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

View brewings. Time warps.

(ALL rights reserved) Fan palms against blue sky. NO permissions granted. Copyrighted

There. A rattling before battle like soldiers thrashing swords against their shields to show resolve and create fear. That’s close to the sound.©

Cold comfort, the fireplace, the fleece, the chili. The wind’s fingers slipping between. Scouting.

Well, too bad. Time’s a-wasting and there’s enough competitions around to heat anything up.

Huddle around the TV and warm up to the 2016 Super Bowl commercials. Will the dachshunds make the leap? Will Mac get to run? Will every drop count? Will America really eat it up, Jack?

Oh, there’s a concert with a football game wrapped around it all, too.

There’s always politics if you’re a glutton for punishment and hot air. Everyone was so excited about a new Microsoft app to tally votes quickly, but then it all came down to low tech coin toss for a winner. How ironic. Even more humorous that the toss involved the Party which has a front-runner with a problem with technology.

Enough running and louse jousting.

Vintage stories would entertain better.

What would you think of a guy:

Who grew up picking 100 pounds of cotton a day – for enough days to buy a donkey – to bred to a horse for mule offspring to sell – to raise enough money to go to Harvard – to become a circuit riding lawyer in the West – to get elected to Congress – who backed down Wall Street and the Big Banks’ controls of loan money – to force the Secretary of Treasury to reveal documents that the IRS had been directed by him to hand out rebates to certain of his friends (Yes, the IRS has always been sketchy and a problem) – who became Speaker of the House – then Vice President (who knew better than anyone how to get men to the table to compromise and network success) – who almost became President if that woman hadn’t shoved the gun aimed at Roosevelt – and who even in his 90’s helped shaped the modern Democratic Party from his front porch including JFK?

Interested? Here’s an article with synopsis. (At the bottom check the list to see when the show will air in your area). A bit of a preview:

Vintage news reels and old photos are fascinating way to see how we got to where we are.

The Republicans became the Democrats. With a bit of progressivism nipping their heels along the way.

And his wife. No delicate prairie flower that one. Quite the independent minded woman for the era. Even Eleanor Roosevelt thought she had some solid ideas.

For comparison to current conventions, this excerpt of the 1932 Democratic Convention from the PBS show “Cactus Jack: Lone Star of Capital Hill”

So storm, you clouds.

Got plenty time warps and some smiles to play.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

people around table from 1930 film: Tol'able David.Columbia pictures/USPD: pub.date, no cr/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“Hold it. Drop that spoonful of sugar. Only thing refined around here is thought.” (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

 

 

 

January 31, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

That sinking feeling

ALL rights reserved for this image of boat anchored in Clear Lake. NO permissions granted. Copyrighted

Anchored.©

The boat not boarded.

Everyone feels that at some point or another.

The idyllic life rocking at anchor in the middle of  a lake on a Springlike day

Well, there’s the chop to contend with as it’s shallow.

But still. Or sort of still-ish. No neighbors anyway. Not today. With Mardi Gras going on, the loud motorcycles of the water, wave runners, and the endless parade of power boats are missing. A bit early for the “gotta get a tan” crowd.

Have to admire the boaters’ independence camping out there with the stiff frigid north winds that have been around so much this winter and are returning Monday with storms.

Yet another reason to hate Monday.

ALL rights reserved for this image of abandoned sailboat on its' side among weeds and concrete. NO permissions granted. Copyrighted

SOS. Boat down! Boat down! ©

This I can hate any day. Abandoned boat.

This sailboat like a faithful dog bravely waits by the road for its’ skipper. Day after day.

Washed up onto land during Hurricane Ike (Sept 13, 2008)

Mast still held high years later.

Waiting. Sure they will be back soon.

A sinking feeling every time I pass by. The hull’s damaged may be unseen. The insurance company must have paid off. But this boat was someone’s darling once.

At least put it out of its’ misery.

Sailboats were never meant to spend day after day like a goldfish out of water surrounded by weeds, concrete, and fishing boat trailers.

Have mercy. Hospice at least.

ALL rights reserved for image ofForgotten sailboat among weeds and boat trailers. NO permissions granted. Copyrighted.

Forgotten sailboat hasn’t forgotten.

Difficult to not climb the chain link fence and take things into my own hands.

Maybe a salvage quick claim.

A rescue.

Even the dignity of a watery grave.

I’d want someone to do that for me.

Confused, the boat shivers in the wind. Listening to the singing of the halyards from the boat anchored in the lake.

A lullaby, perhaps.

Do you think boats comfort each other?

Lulling to sleep. Sleep.

Dreams of the deep.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

ALL rights reserved to this lakeside image. NO permissions granted. Copyrighted

If only another high tide. It’s not far. Slide down the slight slope and scrape past the breakwater, then alive once more. Deep sea dreaming ©

 

 

 

January 29, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Mardi Gras and Masking Situations

Carnavale masked woman.2013. Frank Kovalchek/Flickr/Commons.wikimedia.org)

The ayes have it. (Kovalchek/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Thinking about it, Mardi Gras with all the masks, costumes, crowds of unknown party mates were simply an earlier form of technology’s opportunities: Wild abandon, excess, and freedom from reveal. Dancing along with identities hidden, things not always what they seem, and the knowledge of “what happens here, stays here, and nobody knows or sees.”

Yep, that’ll all get you in trouble: carnival or internet.

During one at-the-time rare class discussion out in nature under the trees with a popular cool professor, the purpose of Mardi Gras was expounded upon. (“Expounded”. University discussions required the appearance of an intellectual vocabulary)

“Humans neeeed” (The inflection noting “significant thought”. Interrupted by “Dude, don’t bogart that.”)

“Humans neeeed celebrations. Masks. To release their inner personalities and the baser instincts and desires. When society’s rules tightly restricts behavior it causes much internal conflict. An event where is acceptable for the individuals to let go – to free their hidden selves – is imperative. Then people can go back to being well behave citizens and function in polite society.”

1922 dancing couple. Fairy tales of Charles Perrault, Clarke, illust/NYpub.lib/USPD.pub.date/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Dancers of dark edges. (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Well, it went something like that.

Massive wild events are needed to exorcise dirty little thoughts and nasty little deeds or normal society will suffer.

Real Mardi Gras ain’t for the kiddies.

See? Just like the internet!

Hey, a few “Likes” or tossed beads go a long way. No hidden secret in that.

costumed Mardi Gras crowd on sheet music cover. Mardi Gras March. ET Paull Music Co.NY 1897/USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org

A more upbeat crowd. 1897 (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Mardi Gras 2016 starts Jan 29th in Galveston.

Bead there. A kingdom for a balcony pass. Yet another reason to own a golf cart.

While there’s informed about surviving hurricanes and blizzards, Mardi Gras Survival Guides are rare.

Grab these take-aways:

  • Get an identity. Before leaving home base, use a permanent marker to write name, emergency contact information, and any medical issues on stomach or left arm. No, a note in your pocket will not be sufficient as those may be picked. A luggage tag on a string around the neck might work only if taped to chest so as not to get entangled with balcony rails or hands grabbing at your beads.
  • Secure a Holder. No, not a drink holder – you got 2 hands, right? One for drink and one for, oh, your choice…like maybe a lamp post or railing. Each person needs a Designated Holder to hang on to you during bead collection efforts. Falling off balconies or under floats may be hazardous. Designated Holders must also stick like glue even if the totally awesome guy/masked lady says “Hey, my hotel room is right up down the dark alley and up the stairs. You can see it all there.”
  • Plan a sober move. Look the cops have enough to worry about. Don’t make them have to make that call to your emergency contact asking them to pick up the pieces or make an ID. Go ahead and use that permanent marker to write Mom’s or Uber’s phone number on your right arm along with your destination just in case your cell phone is missing. And skip any offer to go for a moonlit walk the beach. No sleeping with the fishes.
  • What? How to explain the not-a-tat markings on your arm later? Easy. Two words: “Mardi Gras” They’ll just nod.
man and seated woman.1907.Olive fairy book. Justice, illust/USPD.pub.date/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Look, I got her home. Now someone else can hold her head out of the mess. (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

One last toss of jewels?

“It has been said that a Scotchman has not seen the world until he has seen Edinburgh; and I think that I may say that and American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans. “(Mark Twain, 1859.)

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask” (Jim Morrison, The Doors)

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” (Oscar Wilde)

OK, Weekenders, power on, masks up, and stay safe out/in there.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Post card. Houston Carnival Float, No-Tsu-Oh Carnival.1899-1917. Ralphael Tuck and Sons /UH lib.special collections/USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org

Mardi Gras old school style. Vintage post card of Houston Carnival Float, No-Tsu-Oh Carnival.(1899-1917.UH lib.special collections/USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

 

January 27, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Mind the wandering, Dunderhead.

Gaps are such an annoyance. In teeth. In clothing. In thinking.

So, interested in a lively game of Muse or Dunderhead?

Three People exercising on the beach. 1935. UK National Media Museum/Flickr commons/USPD:. pub date, exp cr./Commons.wikimedia.org)

Nothing is too big a leap for a dunderhead.(USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Entry #1. A Groupon deal that might appeal. Game to hit? Ballsy for you.

Warm up with an 18-hole round of golf plus cart rental for 1-4 persons at up to 64% off at Galveston’s Moody Garden. (Ah, lured by a lovely emerald image. Photoshop is such a wonder.)

But the description of the deal will leave you wondering even more:

“Golf is doubly relaxing because it’s a calm game in the verdant outdoors and because there are no families there having feelings at you.” (View the Groupon)

Yep, the barbarians are at the gate.

women. Green willow and other Japanese fairy tales.1910. James and Goble/Cornell U/Flickr/USPD.pub.date/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“No, that’s definitely a downer.”(Green Willow and other Japanese fairy tales/USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Entry #2. Once compulsive neat freaks were the object of scorn and laughter, but now? Ka-ching!

According to best-selling Japanese author and guru Marie Kondo, “Transforming your life begins with your sock drawer.”

She’s on tour where you can watch her fold clothes and listen to her philosophy of “Only keep things that bring you joy.”

Sounds simple enough. It was her college thesis.

Part of her system is to put all like objects, such as books, in one room, then sort this way: “‘It’s important to touch every item and hold it with your hands,’ Kondo explains. Your body actually has a physical reaction. You either feel uplifted or you sink down.”

Get rid of the downers. (Wait. Not a recommendation to gulp pills,)

Her app will be ready to download soon.

So if you’re suffering cabin fever, start feeling up your possessions. (Not sure how caches of kittens or packs of pups fit into the movement.)

2 women and a man.1903.pub.pict. for "The School Girl" /Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research/USPD.pub.date/Commons.wikimedia.org)

“A buzz? But there are no open containers full of water in here.” (USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Entry #3. A tandem pair of Jay Leno-style Headlines to scratch your head over.

Say in rapid succession:

“Cases suggest Zika Virus could be spread through sex” 

“Brazil sends in 200,000 soldiers to stop the spread.”

Now think about that for a second. (This is where Leno always put his head on the desk and tried to keep from giggling.)

All those healthy handsome young men in uniform who are hot (Hot temperatures – it’s Brazil) going door to door greeting and talking to residents – many of whom are hot, young women. And the 2016 Rio Carnival is warming up for Samba, merry-making, parades, street parties, balls, and hot costumes…Samba. Not your Sunday School Hokey-Pokey.

Whew. Whether Muses or Dunderheads, so much to gape over.

Enough, perhaps, to fill a small gap in your wandering reality.

Nothing better than a little dundering and musing.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Man and woman in vintage dress dancing 1920. Templeton and Sewell. Broadway production of "Honey Girl" White Studio,NYC/USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

Enough word waltzing. Time to step on outta here. (1920.USPD/Commons.wikimedia.org)

 

 

 

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