Amazon’s new venture aims to have products in customers’ hands in thirty minutes or less by using unmanned air crafts. Here’s some footage from one of their test flights:
The company says it needs a few years to improve the technology and to work out FAA regulations before one of these drones will land on your doorstep. This morning, a friend from the UK Tweeted a suggested missed delivery slip.
For more thoughts on the Amazon Prime Air, read Mother Jones’ Why America Isn’t Ready for Delivery Drones, if only for the pleasure of paragraphs such as:
“Administration (FAA) is expected to open up US airspace to unmanned aerial vehicles in 2015. But after that date, Amazon’s blender-delivering drones will still face big obstacles, such as the states and cities that are hostile towards drone-use; potential accidents with passenger planes; GPS and privacy concerns; and roving bands of laser-wielding package bandits.”
How do you feel about drones landing at your house? Any additional check boxes that should be added to the delivery slip?
Paris, May 2013. Photo by the author.
There’s a woman I know who has lived in the same neighborhood her whole life. She was born in Pankow, grew up in Pankow, raised her three daughters in Pankow. Her parents are blocks away; on Friday afternoons she meets her eldest daughter for coffee and cake.
How whole this woman is. How surrounded and nurturing. She knows her city. She knows all practical matters. The times she pointed me toward glue and wooden clothespins and how to clean the electric waterboiler from its calcified build-up.
I sometimes had the feeling I’d like her life to rub off on mine. A little fluidity. A little simplicity. Friends from childhood. Friends that stay and stay. The three blonde daughters. Coffee and cake with your mother, every Friday.
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At the local Starbucks, I was waiting for my tall soy latte in a small crowd of people and couldn’t help overhearing a young woman explain to a young man that a small child nearby was one of her students and she wasn’t used to running into students. This was a new experience for her as she didn’t used to live near where she worked. I grew curious. Were they two strangers standing next to each other and waiting for their drinks? Were they friends? Were they dating? Or most promisingly, were they two people on the beginning of a first date?
Several signs pointed toward yes. Their tone felt familiar, yet unsure. She had to explain the significance of running into a music student to him, so he couldn’t know that much about her life. And she kept looking around, at me, out the door, as if wondering if she was being watched.
They walked toward the tables and I waited for my latte. When my drink was served, I scanned the cafe and saw an empty table right behind them, where I could take out my trusty macbook and write/eavesdrop. I took the table.
What is it about first dates that makes them so tantalizing to eavesdrop on? Read more »
Recently in Slate, Amanda Hess writes a piece entitled: “Online Dating Will Soon Be Obsolete.” She’s a bit off the mark.
Among Americans who identify themselves as “single and looking,” 38 percent say they’ve used a dating site or app to try to meet a match. But 21 percent of plugged-in Americans still think that “people who use online dating sites are desperate.” (In 2005, 29 percent of them said so.) Even 13 percent of people who date online consider themselves desperate. Though online dating has become normalized, it’s still seen as a little sad.
Oh statistics. If the fact that 21 percent of internet using Americans think online daters are desperate seems bad, please consider that 11 percent of Americans think Congress is doing a great job.
Or consider that doing something that is “still seen as a little sad,” doesn’t mean people will stop doing it. People consider speed dating, singles nights, getting fixed up with this very nice guy, to be a “little sad” and those activities continue to occur. So will online dating.
Anecdotally, in 2005 I was two years out of college and nobody in my peer group was using, or would admit to using an online dating site. Today, a single friend not using an online dating site is the exception, not the rule. The questions is not: are you using an online dating site? The question is: which online dating site are you using? Read more »
It all starts with an idea. Maybe you were a child yourself when you first thought it, that your life should include children. But you also remember asking your mother when you were small, “Why would anyone want kids?” All the ones in your house were always so noisy and messy. And your mother went on about the joy of watching you grow up and about the beauty of you becoming someone completely new in the world. And you believed her joy.
It all starts with a romance that you didn’t write, a yarn about how the bonds between a mother and her child are the strongest on earth. The cover of the book looks like this, and since you can’t imagine such a bond, it becomes the greatest fantasy in your life:
A belly full of what ifs
You start every morning by charting your temperature. Each day a hope builds as the temperature rises and crashes each month when the temperature falls back down, a stumbling idiot your body is, has become. You make love by the calendar and try to believe in the power of positive thinking.
You feel empty…literally. You curse the doctors who gave you artificial hormones to keep you empty without ever wondering about what it might do to your body after a decade and a half. And now without them, the natural rhythms your body learned at birth have been so discouraged, so downright stripped out of you, that you don’t know how to listen to yourself anymore. Everything is so quiet and you know it’s really your fault.
It all starts with a story about a life that you make yourself, a paint-by-number child. Your husband brings home a box set of Roald Dahl books, painting in the heart. You buy children’s book art for the walls, hang it up like there’s someone to see it. You’ve had fifteen months of trying and you’re thirty-six, but the movie This is 40 has two women at least five years older than you doing it. And you’ve been taught your whole life to live and die by romantic comedies.
So you believe in yourself like there’s something to lose. Like you’ve already lost something. Like this story you’re trying to write is your only possible story, the one, the great American novel. As if this is the way to god.
Me and my son on my twenty-ninth birthday: I blew out all the candles. One goal down, six thousand to go.
About a month ago, I entered the final year of my twenties. It’s a strange feeling knowing that a decade is coming to an end. I remember how ecstatic I was to turn ten: double digits! Twenty sort of got buried between eighteen and twenty-one. I didn’t expect to get worked up over a birthday again until my thirtieth, but twenty-nine came with a surprising amount of pressure. The coming year feels a little like a last chance. I have little more than three hundred days ahead of me to accomplish what I can before I’m thirty.
I haven’t been to all fifty states.
I haven’t been to Canada.
I haven’t started my garden or filled a chicken coop.
I never got a pygmy goat and made cheese out of her milk.
I never did anything cool to my hair.
I’ve never made a perfect buttercream.
I still only know about six chords on the guitar.
Je ne parle francais trop bien.
I haven’t built the time machine or brain-switcher I’ll need to trade lives with Alice Munro.
I’ve never tasted the McRib.
I can’t box, kick-box, or do karate.
I never purchased a typewriter.
I haven’t played Viola in Twelfth Night or Phoebe in As You Like It.
I guess I’ve got a lot to do this year. I’ll have to find someone to watch the baby.
Even though I’ve come to accept that two spaces after a period is wrong, I can’t stop doing it. I really can’t. My fingers have a life of their own. Every time I hit the “period” key, my thumb goes tap-tap on the spacebar. Even when I literally think to myself at the beginning of the sentence, “Self, only hit the spacebar once at the end of this sentence.” Self is about as good at following directions as certain seven-year-old tennis players on a Friday afternoon.
Franzen once compared getting a new smartphone to upgrading an old girlfriend who you once thought you’d love forever. In my case, I felt like recognizing a good relationship had run it’s course and you’d be better off as friends. After activating my iPhone 5s last night, and putting my 4s and its now obsolete charger away in a desk drawer, I felt sad. I don’t think I’d anthropomorphized my phone before, but despite my excitement over Siri, I’ll admit to a moment of tenderness and reflection that we’d shared a good thing for the past two plus years. 5s, you can trust me, after all, you have my fingerprint.
It’s 2013, folks. We’ve got naked people on TV, pocket vibrators in the grocery stores, and a few ladies in the government. We are sexually enlightened. We’ve got this whole sex thing down.
At least that’s what I hear.
Thanks to our society’s complete acceptance of all things sexual, I’ve been enjoying a little show called Masters of Sex. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a Showtime series about the real sex research done by William Masters and Virginia Johnson beginning in 1957. I dig the characters, I want to chisel Michael Sheen a tiny Oscar out of my own dental fillings, and although the pacing was off at first, the interpersonal dramas are gettin’ good. But what keeps me coming back to the show is the eerie feeling I get every time I watch it that in spite of all the progress we’ve made, we haven’t really made much, well, progress.
Take, for instance, one of Masters and Johnson’s primary questions: Is there a difference between and a clitoral and a vaginal orgasm? Decades later, the debate continues.
The fact is, at least in the sexual arena, we’re not really masters of anything. Everywhere you look in sex research you find holes. Some small, others gaping. But for all we lack in understanding and even empathy, we at least try to make up for with endearing curiosity and (sometimes misguided) persistence. So today, with quotes from Masters of Sex as our guide, let’s celebrate some of the questions we’ve thought to ask in recent years, and some of the odd ways we’ve tried to answer them. Read more »
In October, Josef Kaplan released a poem called “Kill List” via the publishing platform CARS ARE REAL. The poem’s premise is pretty simple. A (relatively) well-known poet is named, and then either described as “rich” or “comfortable.”
A brief example:
Lanny Jordan Jackson is comfortable.
Jewel is a rich poet.
Josef Kaplan is comfortable.
Justin Katko is a rich poet.
This continues for 58 pages.
The first question: Is it a poem? Answer: Sure. While much conceptual poetry wouldn’t be considered poetry by previous generations of poets (could you see Goethe reading a translated version of Josef Kaplan’s “Kill List” and considering it a poem?), this doesn’t mean that “Kill List” isn’t poetry. A wide swathe of poetry (free verse, prose poems) wouldn’t have been considered poetry, but so what? Paradigms shift. Notions of what is and is not art change, and I’ve got no problem with that.
Next question: Is it any good? Read more »
On their way to make s’mores.
In the romantic comedy Serendipity, Kate Beckinsale’s character writes her phone number in a used book and tells John Cusack’s character that if faith wants them to meet again, the novel will find its way back to him. The movie isn’t very interesting after that, but that scene outside the bookstore made me think about the treasures I’ve found in used books.
In a copy of Drowning Ruth, by Christina Schwarz, a picture of two young women had been used as a bookmark by a previous owner. I bought the book because it was an Oprah’s Book Club pick, but never finished it. Maybe because the unknown people in the picture were more intriguing than the plot. They’re wearing summer dresses, smiling, and posing in front of a pine tree. I like to think they’re at a gathering of good friends in a back yard somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. After the picture was taken, they lit the outdoor fire pit we can’t see, and sat down to drink wine and make s’mores.
A friend of mine lent me her copy of The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville. My memory of the plot is hazy, I confuse it with The Eight by the same author, but I do remember how much I enjoyed the process of reading the book. My friend comments and underlines while she reads. I’d find “Who’s this guy again?” or “How much more must she endure?” in the margins. Plot twists were underlined and “Whaaaat?!” written above. Reading her book was like having our own private book discussion, or maybe more like a private peep-hole into my friend’s mind. Read more »