Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sock Glue

When I was a kid, there was a joke that you always played on the new person when you took them bowling for the first time.  You'd send them to the desk for "lane wax".  When I first saw sock glue, I wondered whether this was more lane wax.

Apparently not.  It's a product that has roots both in Asia as well as Ireland.  In Asia it's used to hold up "loose socks", oversized socks worn by Japanese schoolgirls. While one site selling the socks listed them at approximately 27 inches long, in a Youtube video showing how to wear loose socks, they appear significantly longer.
image of legs only wearing loose socks

In Ireland they're used for competition Irish dancing, where participants' socks must stay in place and should be exactly the same height as others on their team. One blogger tells the story of an Irish dancer loaning them their sock glue to a gymnast, only to realize that gymnasts don't wear socks.  It's used to prevent  "mid-floor routine wedgies" and called Butt Glue
irish dancers
So, if you're in need of sock glue, butt glue or adhesive for any part of the body, it can be gotten at your local internet retailer.

Loose socks image used with permission from markii187
Dancers image used with permission from OZinOH

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Texas Chainsaw Orchestra

Dance music frequently remixes beats and sounds which are both familiar and unique.  This week's show by DJ Kutski integrated a chainsaw into his hard beats (starts around 54 minutes but the real fun starts @ 55:30).  While I don't know whether it was the DJ's touch or part of another beat he brought in, it got me searching for some chainsaw music. 

Apparently there are two Texas Chainsaw Orchestras out there, though neither are still around from what I can tell.

The first Texas Chainsaw Orchestra is a "gothabilly band" based in the UK and (sadly) doesn't use a chainsaw in their act nor do they appear to be touring an longer.  They do provide some decent music and kitsch. Hit the jump for some samples from the (abandoned?) MySpace page.

The other has a  cd (and cassette tape)on Amazon of instrumental covers using a chainsaw and other power tools including  American Woman by the Guess Who and Birthday by the Beatles.  Head over to Amazon for samples.

Like the name and want to get the band back together? is still available.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Government Money

In the recent issue of Government Technology Magazine, Steve Ressler writes "Doubling Your Money" which proposes 5 ways for Government to "think of government as a growth company and focus on creating new service opportunities and revenue streams". Basically, he proposes mechanisms to draw additional money from constituents. For example
“Expedite services. Citizens are used to paying more when they’re running behind— that’s what FedEx one-day shipping is all about. Think about adding expedited surcharges for items like business or building permits and nursing license permit renewals,to name a few.”
Even worse,
“What if businesses, citizens or nonprofits could pay $149 per year for a special phone number that the best government customer service staff member will answer promptly? What if you could get a “government concierge” to walk you through the paperwork needed to start a small business and navigate you through all the departments? Everyone would pay for that.”
“Answer promptly”? “Best government customer service staff member”? “Everyone would pay for that”? Guess what, we already do. Many of the things that he proposes should be an automatic part of providing good service to citizens.Offering good service at an additional cost legitimizes mediocre service by government. It sends the message to constituents that government can do better, but can’t be bothered.

Government need to be cautious about providing better service as a premium because it could make it available only to a limited number of citizens, potentially making “regular” people suffer with poor service and possibly wait even longer as they're served after those with the premium service.  There should be a mechanism for a fast track, but an emergency service and the rate should discourage use as a premium channel.  As an emergency services, turn around times should reflect this, making waits less than a week depending on complexity.  To get an expedited US passport is an additional $60, however the wait is still estimated at 2-3 weeks versus the 4-6 weeks of regular processing.  The fee should be justified by a true benefit. 

Government also needs to be cautious about requiring people to go through a particular channel or pay a fee.  This could have the effect (intentional or not) of discriminating against particular individuals or groups. He gives the example of his bank, well, the biggest difference between government and business is that you can choose a different business. For individuals with disabilities, the elderly, technically illiterate or those without computers, forced channels could mean the difference between getting a a service or being penalized or going without.

There are many things government could learn from business.  However, government has different standards of service and responsibility.  "Customers" have already paid for the service, and when they come in contact with a government agency, they expect good service (as they should).

Getting creative generating revenue doesn’t have to mean scalping your constituents. Giving them better more efficient ways to accomplish their needs saves money. For every person who registers their car, pays a fine or buys a fishing license on-line, there’s money saved. There’s no need to add a fee to it. If a client can get their questions answered on-line or quickly by a knowledgeable person, there’s money saved.

It’s not always about improving income, it’s also about reducing waste and increasing efficiency.

Image used with permission from KevinH

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

PTSD Image from Clark University Alumni Magazine

Earlier this week I received a copy of the Clark University Alumni magazine and was immediately struck by the cover art advertising an article on an alumni who treats veterans and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Maj. Clifford Trott.  The artist is listed only as "SHOUT".

UPDATE: 8/22/11
Thanks to a tip from Alex Nabaum, I now know that the illustration was done by an artist named Alessandro Gottardo. Who, according to his bio,
"..studied at a specialist art high school inVenice and in the Illustration department of the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan. He has won numerous awards, particularly in the United States. These include the most prestigious international accolade in the illustration field – a Society of Illustrators Gold Medal, which was presented in New York in 2009"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Generalist

In his autobiography, famed economist Roger Babson recounts seeing Booker T. Washington speak in Massachusetts, and how he applied his lessons to his own life;  
"He told of his industrial work at Tuskegee, and how he made his students independent. His system was very simple. He tried to make each student a real specialist at something...Booker T. Washington made the point that as soon as a man knows anyone subject (no matter how insignificant) better than anyone else in his community, his success is assured...The next day I gave Booker T. Washington's address careful consideration. I thought over the statistical field with the idea of developing the plan of work...In view of what Booker Washington had said, the thought occurred to me that one person, with some assistance, who concentrated on this one job, could do it more efficiently and at much less cost to each house if he did it for the entire group. This was the idea that gave me a start."

I've never been one who is solely dedicated to a single pursuit, a hobby, a game or otherwise.  As a kid, I played a variety of sports, collected baseball cards, sold worms for fishing, had pets, collected bottle caps in a peanut butter pail (frequent washing turned it into a rust collection).  There are a few authors who I've read everything by them I can get my hands on, but it usually doesn't go beyond enjoying what they've written into their lives or studying the works. 

Even now I'm reading two books (non-fiction), following more than 30 blogs (from technology and design to music, disability, money), blogging here, querying freelance markets, planning my garden (which includes seeds, automatic watering, rain barrels, composting, raised beds and convincing my wife to let me do all of these things), training for 3 5k races and 1 leg of a triathlon for which I'm contemplating making custom addition to my handlebars out of wood.  I also have plans to learn guitar, Joomla, databases, soldering, circuitry, and sewing and considering a solo sprint triathlon.  This on top of working full time, and being a parent and husband.

I've accepted that I'm a generalist, I know a little about a lot, with a smattering of a fair bit about a little.  I stopped writing at my old blog, Maine VRC because it was too focused, too niche.  My career has given me expertise in the field of disability and rehabilitation.  While I will still write about disability topics and accessibility, it won't be the in the majority.

I'm still finding my feet here at this new domain, trying out a few voices and playing with ideas.  This is something that probably will never change, and neither will my being a generalist.  Hopefully, the blog world still has room for generalists.

Babson, Roger W. (1950) Actions and Reactions; Autobiography of Roger W. Babson, Second Ed.  P98-99 retrieved from
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