Sunday, June 02, 2013

Free Stuff on Craigslist

Great Free Stuff on Craigslist- Watch for the Curb Alert
Our washer broke down. That is how it started. First, we located a similar washer and purchased it on Craigslist; saving $300.00. That was fun. So, we decided to try to sell the broken washer for parts. 30 minutes later it was sold for $35.00. That was fun.

So after that, I (Jay) began check-in on the curb alerts that take place periodically to try to recoup the money we spent buying a washer we were not planning to buy. Holy Mackerel! We found a free Basset Mission style couch (sold for 60.00), a free Ikea Dresser (Sold for 60.00), a Free Ikea Solsta Sofa/Bed (sold for 30.00), a free mid 70's American Flyer single speed hipster bike (sold for 75.00), a red Ikea Billy bookcase (sold for 30.00) an Ikea Malm Bed (sold for 75.00) all in two weeks. Why?  We live in a very transitory area where folks move out regularly and so the last week of the month and the first week of the month allow for a fantastic array of free stuff that can be redistributed to folks around the city- and the replacement washer is paid for.

Not So Great Free Stuff on Craigslist- Watch Out for the Curb Alert

Here are the top five worst free things on Craigslist this season:

“Come and get my dirt.” or “I need dirt.” This is where we bring large loads of quality soil to your yard so that you do not have to pay a landscaper to do it. The converse is that I have a huge pile of dirt that I want out of my yard and since it is not worth anything I would like you to use your expensive earth moving equipment to haul it out of my yard for free.

Fire Wood
I have a tree and you have a chainsaw and two laborers and about seven hours to cut it down and haul it out of my yard in May all for free. This great exchange will become a really great exchange in October but not in May.

Projection TV
Sarcasm Alert: "Now that all of us can get flat screens for $300.00 at Costco, we are highly motivated to drag your 500 pound mammoth out of the second floor of your house so that we can… try to find a place that will recycle the drive-in size screen you should never have purchased in the first place." 

Sarcasm Alert 2: “Helen, the piano moving company wants to charge us to get that horrible piano we bought at a yard sale back in the seventies when we thought little Antonette was going to be a concert piano player (a pianist). Why don’t we offer it for free on Craigslist so that some other person unwilling to consider the consequence of having such a thing in their home for 20 years can pay to have the piano company move it out of their house in 2033.

Sarcasm Alert 3: “Holy Crap Earl! The borough is fining us because we have so much garbage in our yard and now we have to get rid of all the stuff we have been hording for the past twenty years. Hey, I bet everyone in Western PA will want the huge load of tires we have out back. Lets post them for free on Craigslist.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Hi Friends!

Posted by Jay

In 2013, I left Facebook. Why? Isn't it a great way to connect with friends and family? Well, yes, it has been so enriching over the past five years to be able to reconnect with long lost friends and to stay connected to family. However, it has also become a disturbing presence in my life for at least these fve reasons:

1. Facebook has monetized family and friends relationships.
2. Facebook has melded public corporations with private interactions.
3. Facebook has inordinately added to the amount of information pollution that presently plagues us as a culture.
4. Facebook has damaged my impressions of my friends and family with its incessant new feed.
5. Facebook no longer gives me enough freedom to interact with friends and family without being interrupted by the impulses of consumer culture.

1. Facebook has monetized family and friends relationships. 
Now that Facebook is publicly traded, its bottom line is to bring a financial return to its investors. This might be ok for a company that makes washing machines. But, when one of my relative "likes" a major corporation and the major corporation then uses that like to spam me and my family and friends, I feel that I have been made into a commodity. I do not like this at all. If Facebook wants to generate revenue, run ads in the sidebar or charge me a monthly rate without ads. But, I do not want to be a walking ad or have my close friends and family become waking ads for companies I may or may not support as a Christian. As Run DMC once said, "Calvin Klein's no friend of mine, don't want nobodies name on my behind.." See the film the Joneses to get scared about where we are headed with this 

2. Facebook has melded public corporations interactions with private interactions. 
I do not have a TV in my bedroom. Nor do I keep my phone in my bedroom. That is private space where Catherine and I protect and nurture our covenant relationship as a married couple. I need public and private boundaries in my life in order to maintain integrity and safety and sanity. Facebook has gone from a social interaction platform that focused on university students to a global platform for grandpa to share a picture of his new grandson and for Coke to try to get me to treat its sugary substance as if it were a member of my family. Bad boundary. In the early days of FB many of us would rail at the violations in privacy and the shifts toured a global social network or the need to once again relearn how to use FB because of the changes in the way they manage our relationships. Now, folks just adjust- sounds like Orwell's Animal Farm.

3. Facebook has inordinately added to the amount of information pollution that presently plagues us as a culture. 
The fact that a home video of a guy farting or singing in Korean can get either a million or a billion hits on Youtube should concern us. That FB Users spend 10.5 Billion minutes a day on FB should cause us to ask what the quality of the information being shared is doing to us as a species. Since we are all completely overwhelmed with the amount of information we take in every day from ads, newsfeeds, TV, etc, I want to suggest that the new environmental crisis of the 21st century is not global warming or the physical environment but the info glut that is keeping us from our work, our relationships and our vitality as Creatures made in the image of God. Hence, I am not certain that sharing what I had for lunch today with a billion people is helpful to me, them, or our culture as a whole. In fact, it makes me want to say, "Come over to the house and we can talk." Or, "Stop by my blog and lets have a reasonable dialogue that will not get buried in an incessant newsfeed that combines Walmart sale with the celebration of the birth a man's first born son.

4. Facebook has damaged my impressions of my friends and family with its incessant new feed.
When the newsfeed of FB came out, I was irritated. When I kept hiding my friends and families feeds because no matter how many I hid, the person with the most updates kept coming up first, I knew FB had a major problem with how it was managing how we manage our relationships. How is it good for my relationships to always be inundated with news from one or two people who dominate FB? After hiding all my friends and family, I returned to FB and began checking in on folks that I missed or who were in my prayers or on my mind, etc. That helped. But, overall, the whole newsfeed thing is just a bad idea and creates another form of information overload that has to managed in a way that is, for me at least, overwhelming.

5. Facebook no longer gives me enough freedom to interact with friends and family without being interrupted by the impulses of consumer culture. 
If you come over for coffee or sit with me in my study, I will give you my time and attention because being with others is such a rich and vital aspect of what it means to be human. I do not want to commodify people, or dislodge them from the beauty of what it means to really engage others as physical creatures living in a physical world. The distraction, disruption and dislodging of what it means to be with friend and family is what I came to FB for. So, I have logged off because I want to recover the more human aspects of being a friend.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Manners Still Matter- Especially in Cyberspace

Manners Matter 
By Kevin Kelly 
The impeccable Miss Manners on why proper netiquette is good for you.

Sit up straight, folks - Miss Manners is here. She has mastered her voicemail, got control of her cell phone, and now she's logged on to the Net.

In real life, Miss Manners's true name is Judith Martin. For years she's written about excruciatingly correct behavior for all those moments when the modem is not on; now she has a few interesting things to say about the wired life. For example, people who don't give a hoot about sending thank-you notes are suddenly bent out of shape when they get an email message typed in ALL CAPS. Wired spoke to Miss Manners and asked her, very politely, how etiquette is bringing civility to the online frontier.

Wired: What is it about cyberspace that has rekindled interest in etiquette?
Miss Manners: Freedom without rules doesn't work. And communities do not work unless they are regulated by etiquette. It took about three minutes before some of the brighter people discovered this online. We have just as many ways, if not more, to be obnoxious in cyberspace and fewer ways to regulate them. So, posting etiquette rules and looking for ways to ban people who violate them is the way sensible people are attempting to deal with this.

Do you find online etiquette rules parallel the rules of etiquette offline?
Yes. Spamming is the equivalent of boring people or mixing in business. Flaming is the equivalent of being insulting. You may not realize how annoying it is when you ask an obvious question to a group that has been meeting for a while. So etiquette refers you to a FAQ file. I'm delighted people are doing a good job on the Net.

To sort out the correct behavior when corresponding through technology, you suggest the body is more important than any disembodied communication. Somebody sitting in front of you should take precedence over just a voice - like a phone conversation. And a voice takes precedence over a further disembodied email. The more disembodied the communication is, the less precedence it has. Is that fair?
Yes. And it is disobeyed flagrantly. The interesting thing is why people think that someone who is not present (a phone ringing) is more important than someone who is. Generally it has taken a person a lot more effort to come to see you than to call you on the telephone.

Let's see. I need some advice. Email has an alarming proclivity to be copied. What are the rules for passing on private email?
For email, the old postcard rule applies. Nobody else is supposed to read your postcards, but you'd be a fool if you wrote anything private on one.

Most people are not writing their email that way.
That's their mistake. We're now seeing email that people thought they had deleted showing up as evidence in court. You can't erase email. As that becomes more commonly realized, people will be a little wiser about what they type.

You're very much of a stickler for keeping one's business life from intruding upon one's social life. That distinction online is becoming more blurred all the time. There seems to be a deliberate attempt to mix these two up - working at home, for example. Is this the end of civilization as we know it?
Blurring the two is not conducive to a pleasant life, because it means that the joys of being loved for yourself, and not for how high-ranking you are or what you can do for other people, quickly disappear. People who are downsized, for instance, find they've been dropped by everyone they know because they don't have real friends. They only had business acquaintances. One of the big no-nos in cyberspace is that you do not go into a social activity, a chat group or something like that, and start advertising or selling things. This etiquette rule is an attempt to separate one's social life, which should be pure enjoyment and relaxation, from the pressures of work.

You favor old-fashioned salutations in written correspondence: Dear So and So ... Do you use salutations in email?
Email is very informal, a memo. But I find that not signing off or not having a salutation bothers me. I am waiting to see if this is just a fuddy-duddy vestige I should divest myself of.

Let me make a confession here. I've come to the point where if someone expects a response from me, and they send me a letter in the mail, I almost consider it rude. I know I'll get my knuckles slapped for admitting this, but they are requiring me to find a piece of paper, a stamp, go down to the mailbox, and so on. Let me put it this way: If I want a reply from someone, I'll do it by email if possible. It's more considerate of their time.
Of course I disagree with you. First of all, not everybody is on email. Second, there are communications that do not belong on email. Email is not the means by which you tell someone that you want to marry them, or that you want to fire them.

At the moment email is predominantly informal. I wonder if it will eventually carry the formal as well.
The mistake people keep making is that if they find a wonderful new tool, like email, they have to give up all others. They don't. You have simply added another very useful means to your communications repertoire. Another great error is the presumption that etiquette has a cutoff point, about 1875. But in cyberspace people talk about etiquette all the time.

Is this because etiquette is just common sense?
No, etiquette is a voluntary bargain we make to live peacefully together. It's not something you can figure out through common sense. You have to learn it.

So is etiquette a substitute for laws in advance of lawyers and politicians?
No. We have two regulatory systems: legal and etiquette. The legal system prevents us from killing each other. The etiquette system prevents us from driving each other crazy.

Kevin Kelly ( is Wired's executive editor.
Copyrightʩ 1993-2004 The Cond̩ Nast Publications Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1994-2003 Wired Digital, Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 08, 2012


This poem sustained us through seminary- We kept in on our refrigerator. Catherine cut it out of a wedding bulletin from Truro Church in Fairfax. It is attributed to John Keith's mother. 
I (Jay) just found it after wondering where it had gone dozens of times. It was in my Bible.

From time to time
In His good time,
He gives me gifts-
Profusion pouring into outstretched hands
And in my heart I hear the speaking
of His love.

“Look well- these are my coins of paradox,
Bright silver faith bonded to darkest
doubt and dread.

Observe but do not count.
Go out and spend.
Invite. Eat well. Light candles.
            Open doors.
Put on your velvet clothes and sing.
This money is for using not to hoard.
Keep but one coin and it will tarnish-
And Stain your hands.

You will be poor again, but do not fear.
Your need is ever in my sight.
And I have coins of gold to give.”

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

This My Favorite Movie Ever!

When our ten year old, Lydia, announced that we had to see Spirited Away because it was, "The Best Film I have ever seen" I took notice. Lydia has good sensibilities for art and culture. She wept when she saw Wall-E and said to me in earnest, "I get it dad. I get it." So, we all popped popcorn and darkened the room. Then, we watched Spirited Away together. Wow. This animated film is ground breaking, equal to the Wizard of Oz, the Sound of Music, and Mary Poppins.

If you want to experience something really beautiful from an Eastern perspective, check out this film.

Nick Mount at Pittsburgh Glass Center

We visited the Pittsburgh Glass Center for to see Nick Mount's exhibit 10 Years of Bottles and Bobs:A Survey. Nick is a prolific artist who has mastered the art of venetian glass blowing. He also has amazing design sensibilities.

Here is a clip of Nick blowing glass at his studio is Australia.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ten Favorites From Sesame Street

Emma and I looked into artists that have appeared on Sesame Street since its inception. The list is pretty impressive and the learning is wonderful. Here are ten favorites:

1. LL Cool J Addition Expedition

2. Sesame Street: Adam Sandler Sings About Elmo

3. Sesame Street: REM Sings Fury Happy Monsters

4. Sheryl Crow: Sings “I” Soak Up the Sun

5. Sesame Street: Norah Jones Sings I Don’t Know “Y”

6. Sesame Street: BB King Sings About the Letter BB

7. Sesame Street: Feist Sings to Number Four Song

8. Sesame Street: James Taylor Sings Whenever I See Your Grouchy Face

9. Sesame Street; Johnny Cash Sings Nasty Dan

10. Sesame Street: Tony Bennet Sings Little Things