Secure Specs

I forgot to mention yesterday that as I was sitting in front of the mirror, permitting the glasses attendant to fiddle with the temples and earpieces of my new glasses, he gave me a small spray bottle of fluid for cleaning my glasses (he admitted, “Soap and water will do just as well”) and a microfiber cleaning cloth (which pleased me more, since those are good for polishing pens).
Then he handed me a piece of cardboard about the size of a credit card. “This certifies that the lenses you have bought are actual authentic transitionals,” he said. “There’s an active secondary market in those, so we give you this card to show that you have the genuine lenses.” Without stopping to think, I pointed out to him that if there’s an active secondary market in so complicated an item as graduated multi-focus eyeglass lenses, there might also be an active secondary market in printed cardboard certificates. He was flummoxed: “I never thought of that!” We agreed, however, that there was no need for him to obtain a card certifying that the card he had given me was a genuine certificate authenticating the graduated lenses. That would be just silly.

Spec[tac]ular Reflections

I scooted north to the opticians’ this morning to pick up my new prescription. I wasn’t expecting a huge difference, and neither in appearance nor function have they changed a lot. They do supposedly help with reading and close work; I haven’t tried much yet, but I’ll take the optometrist’s word for it for now. I did notice the combined effect of the changed prescription in the lower part of my bifocals and the effect of having vigorous new glasses that ride higher on my nose than did the tired old specs. So, the transition point from far to near is higher than it used to be, and the prescription for near differs from what my eyes were used to, so I’ve spent much of the day wondering why the sidewalk is doing those strange things.

New Glasses

On unrelated notes, I have enjoyed reading Henry Jenkins’ “If It Doesn’t Spread It’s Dead (Part One),” Charlie Leadbetter’s white paper on broadband as an economic stimulus (linked from David), and Steven Bell’s article on how libraries best connect their readers to digital resources.
On a further unrelated note, my Mom asked what the point of Twitter might be. I had to admit that I haven’t drunk the Twitter Kool-Aid yet; I use it incidentally, and sometimes I use it purposefully (if I have a question about something that my digerati friends might know about), but mostly I’m just keeping my toe so that when Twitter turns into something more interesting, I’ll already be acquainted with it.

New Glasses

Plus Ça Change

I’m presently involved in an enail-based conversation about whether it’s possible to use blogs for nuanced, sustained, reflective writing; there’s a foofarah over among the bibliobloggers about the anonymous blogging of a (now-password-protected) satirist; and Tripp points me to a youth marketing blog that suggests social media are powerful tools for marketing to young people.
I feel as though I’ve been launched backward in time to 2002….
(I’m too busy lazy to go back and dredge up the links that show David, Jeneane, Tom, Steve, Halley, Dave Rogers (both of them), Shelley, The Happy Tutor, and sundry other interlocutors covering the same terrain mutatis mutandis six or seven years ago.)

Belated Victory

It occurs to me this morning, as I read up for my afternoon class on Luke’s Gospel, that after an interval in which Rudolf Bultmann’s theology was generally held in disfavor even by liberal scholars, the fundamentals of his outlook have now gained the status of “common sense” in the vast preponderance of the liberal Protestant world.

That’s What Friends Are For

My recent conversation with Alex Golub pertains to the familiar question, “Why didn’t you friend me on Facebook (or LinkedIn or Friendster or Orkut — remember Orkut? — or whatever other social networking software)?”
I friend people pretty casually, but not indiscriminately. If I actually know you, I’ll friend you. If I don’t remember your name (and can’t look up your profile unless we’re already friends), I’m not going to friend you pro tempore; please remind me of where our paths crossed, or what your name was when we were acquainted, or why we should be friends even though we’ve never met, in the “message” part of the friend request.
I don’t construe “friend” the same way for Facebook as I do for daily life. I don’t mind working with the loosely-joined connection of remote acquaintances, and I’m willing to make the acquaintance of people whom I don’t already know. But I do want to be able to look at my Facebook friends list and explain how I’m connected with each person there.
By the way, if any of you on LinkedIn felt moved to leave a testimonial for me, it might improve my chances of snagging a job somewhere, sometime — and it’s impossible for me to say how deeply I’d appreciate that.

We, We, We All The Way Home

Ulrike Reinhard emailed me to let me know that volume 2 of WE Magazine is out, with her interview with me on pp 100-107 (with Joi’s photo of me, and a scan of my handwritten notes for the interview). You can download a PDF of the whole issue here, or if you can order a printed copy from Lulu if you crave the physical artifact. Because Ulrike has a keen sense of juxtaposition, my interview appears adjacent to articles by transhumanist Martine Rothblatt and fashion photographer/activist Iris Brosch.

Free Love

Amazon is offering Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” for free, to celebrate Valentine’s Day and (of course) to lure you to their website where you might spend some of your paper and iron on other songs, etc. By all means, go get the classic come-on song; go all the way to disbursing your own stimulus package only at your discretion.

I Can See Clearly Next Week

For the past few months — the past year or so, truth be told — I’ve been having trouble getting a comfortable distance for reading (and working on pens). Often as not, I just take my glasses off and use my presbyopic superpowers to read or examine nibs or whatever, four inches from my nose.
I had a late dinner date last night, though, which meant that I had more time than usual available in the afternoon. So when I got home from campus I called a local optometrist to see whether I could come out for an eye exam. They squeezed me in, and the good news is that sometime next week I’ll be sporting a new pair of glasses, with a better prescription for the reading range of my bifocals. Better still, Duke has very good eye care benefits, so I still have both arms and both legs. I may even take my doctor’s recommendation and get a second pair of glasses that’s 100% reading-distance.
While she was poking around in my eyes, she spotted the floaters that have affected me (and Doc) for a long time. She checked to see whether I have any of the early symptoms of detached retina (flashes of light, a sudden increase in the number of floaters; I think I may have had something like this long ago, in college, which seems to have resolved itself), and as she was gazing into my eyes and ordering me to look up, down, left, right (that “left” and “right” part was the difficult aspect of the examination), she made some excited sounds. It turns out that not only do I have floaters, but also asteroid hyalosis. I choose to think of this as having sparkling stars in my eyes (or “my eye,” to be exact) rather than as having dog-eyes.

Good Music Wants To Be Free

Or at least, it’s happy to be. Simon Phipps prods residents of the U.S. to notice that Amazon offers them the chance to download Mieka Pauley’s new album Elijah Drop Your Gun for free. According to Simon, it’s “really good, worth grabbing if you have a US [Amazon] account.” I haven’t had a chance to listen yet, but Simon is the guy who first called my attention to Iron & Wine, so I listen to what he suggests.

Felicitous Vocabulary

My friend Beth called my attention to a list of the “100 Most Beautiful Words in English,” posted by a gentleman who writes under the nom de Web “Dr. Goodword” (in more prosaic life he is Dr. Robert Beard, a professor of linguistics at Bucknell whose institutional web page features one of the most incongruously unnecessary intrusions of loud MIDI music that I’ve ever encountered). Dr. Goodword, call Dr. Goodwebdesign, please.
Of course, the very notion that anyone might produce a list of the 100 most beautiful words in a language invites catcalls and quibbles (I like both those words), and the criteria for judging a word “beautiful” involve innumerable controversies. It seems that Beard incorporates words on the basis of their sound, their relative obscurity, their precise evocation of otherwise hard-to-articulate phenomena, and everyone who loves language will be tempted to argue about the list that results. Granted all that, Beard’s list does call attention to a great many lovely words: some familiar, some very uncommon, but worth a quick survey. It’s words such as these that got me in trouble in tenth-grade English, when Mrs. Palumbo couldn’t believe that I hadn’t plagiarized the phrases with my (characteristically) high-flying diction.


I finally got the section off that obstinate Spors glass-nib fountain pen. I cleaned out the remnants of the old sac, and it’s ready for replacement as soon as I can order a sac of the appropriate size (the Spors turns out to take a very narrow ink sac). But in all its fluorescent marbled red glory, this pen will write!