A Frame of Mind

It’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but I can’t say that I have ever really mastered taking what’s on my mind and converting it into the spoken word. Sometimes I get tongue twisted. Often times I mean to say something in a totally unbiased light but end up saying it in a way that can be misconstrued as being blunt or manipulative, opening myself up to being read incorrectly. Or there’s logic in something I’m trying to explain but fumble at the words to explain it. Oddly enough, though body language and tone can be difficult to express in writing, I think I usually express myself better when I take to the pen or keyboard since I’m not required to get the words and phrasing correct off the cuff. I usually do a fairly good job of expressing myself, however, if I’ve got enough time and can revise my words to my heart’s content (as I’m doing with this blog entry).Looking for ways to improve my command of language, I often ponder the details of conversations that I have taken part in or witnessed. I think about the body language, the tone of voice and the particular choice of words when describing or labeling something within the conversation. It’s not always obvious, but choosing a particular set of words to describe an idea can frame in such a way that can subtlely influence on the outcome of a conversation.I recently came across an interesting pair of articles by a professor at the University of California Berkeley named George Lakoff who has studied the influence of framing and how it is applied in politics. I found the article quite interesting, as he analyzes how the Bush administration and the “conservative” movement in general craftfully phrases its words to influence how its propagandaagendas are perceived and discussed by the public. He has also written a number of books (which of course I’ve added to my already frighteningly long reading list.)Of course, framing is everywhere, not just in politics. Public relations and marketing rely heavily on framing to influence how people perceive a corporation or product. Most of the time it’s not entirely obvious, especially to the uncritical eye/ear. For example, nutrition is a topic that’s become increasingly dear to my heart. Have you ever noticed how the recommendations in the US Department of Agiculture (USDA)’s Food Guide Pyramid never say “eat less?” I didn’t think so. Instead, pro-active phrases such as “eat a variety” or “choose a diet moderate in…” are used, which are much more open-ended. And that’s intentional, considering that the USDA is an organization that is looking out for the well being of the food industry, not your health. What sense would there be in the food industry telling people to eat (and therefore purchase) less food?The next time you listen, watch, or read the news or any type of media for that matter, pay attention to the words that are being used and see if you can identify any frames. You might be surprised what you find.

There’s something in the water…

As someone who has married into a family of avid anglers I have a feeling that we’ll be eating a bit of fish from Lake Michigan once we move back to Michigan, as that’s where my wife’s grandparents now reside.With that in mind, I was disappointed to see that the EPA has issued its highest level of caution yet with regards to toxic contaminants such as PCB’s and mercury in our nation’s bodies of water, including Lake Michigan. It is truely sad that we as a nation have polluted our lakes and streams to the point where one of our healthiest natural resources is no longer safe to eat.

Transcending the Windows Experience

Arguments between Mac users and Windows users usually bore me. I’ve heard the claims hundreds of times before. PC user: PC’s are cheaper/Macs are too expensive. Mac user: Macs have lower Total Cost of Ownership. PC user: PC’s have more applications available. Mac user: Macs have many of the same worthwhile applications and much fewer of the junk applications. PC user: PC’s are used more in business. Mac user: Many executives actually have and prefer Macs and are much more prevalent in the “creative” industries. And so on and so on…I use both systems on a daily basis and I can easily say I prefer the Mac (which I started using back around 1985). While not completely free of headaches, the overall experience has always been orders of magnitude better than my Windows using experience.Despite this fact, I’ve never really been an advocate for the platform. It’s just not my style to try to influence others based on my own beliefs. Okay, maybe I did take a stab at getting my wife’s sister to consider one when she was in the market for a new computer… she bought a PC which, of course, she ended up having problems with later on. But other than that, I’ve pretty much just kept to myself.That said, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that many, if not most, of my techie friends have purchased Macs in the past year or two. In the past, my computer engineering friends were more PC centric, I think mainly because they were cheaper and thought to more more of a software developer’s platform of choice. So it came as a surpise when friend after friend started purchasing a Mac as his or her personal computer. I’m not sure how to explain it. Is it that the new(est) incarnation of the Mac operating system (Mac OS X) has Unix underpinnings (meeting the techie’s needs)? That the interface is just elegant and just works (i.e. the last thing I want to do after a day of fighting with my PC at work is come home and fight with my computer at home)? That Macs are, for all intents and purposes, devoid of the “joys” of spyware and virii (I don’t even bother to run anti-virii software on my Macs at home)?I don’t know, but I came across this editorial written by someone that switched from Windows to Mac and has reflected on the psychology of the change (rather than the technical differences).

Photo Management

Phew! I’m finally caught up with respect to posting photos. Unfortunately I don’t have many for April yet. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes.Preparing the photographs for prime-time can be time consuming. Truthfully, I could just upload the lot of them and let people see all of them for better or worse. While that certainly is the quickest route, I don’t like doing this for a number of reasons. Continue reading

Mind Lapse

Walking home from the train station today, I was all set to write an entry all about life, the universe and everything. Then I walked in the door, decided I needed to fix dinner and proceeded to forget everything I was going to write about.So instead I’ll just write about how I woke up this morning with a numb tongue. In fact, it still hasn’t gone away. I don’t remember eating anything especially hot last night. I must have been biting my tongue in my sleep last night.Is this the epitome of a true blog or what? I think I’ve sunk to an all time low.


I had a good chat with my brother this evening. My immediate family tries to do a video conference on a weekly basis since my brother and I now live on opposite coasts and my parents are still in the Midwest. My parents couldn’t do it this week so my brother and I decided to test out Apple’s iChat AV. We usually use iVisit and need to boot into OS 9 since that’s what our parents are still using and the OS X version still has major audio problems. Continue reading

Lost Summer

This summer just seems like it is flying by. It feels like there are so many summer activiities that I should be doing or should have done by now but haven’t. I haven’t had a picnic in a park. I haven’t gone climbing outdoors. No biking. No rollerblading. No camping. No hiking.Work has been kicking my butt during the week and doesn’t leave much time in the evening to do much. I’ve been consumed by it so much lately that I lost track of dates this week. Before I knew it it was 2 days after my brother‘s birthday and I owed him a belated birthday call. Somehow the weekends get filled up with “normal” things and the “summer” events fall by the wayside… shopping, laundry, cleaning up the apartment.Is it just an odd year, expecting the baby and all? Is it just that my job has been so demanding that I haven’t had the chance to take much time off? I dunno. I guess at this point I’ll just have to make the best of what’s left. Fortunately, living in California, that gives me until the end of October.

Isn’t that sweet?

I’m not sure why, but over the past few years I’ve become more interested in food and nutrition (you might recall an earlier post I made questioning the need for genetically modified food). I don’t think it’s something that can be contributed to one factor… it’s something that has developed gradually due to external influences. Hanging out with vegetarian friends; discovering the True Food booth at a local concert; being introduced to Alton Brown’s Food Network show Good Eats; having books like Fast Food Nation, How To Read A French Fry, and What Einstein Told His Cook fall into my hands; and having a good friend be diagnosed with type II diabetes have all had an effect on me. This last item is the focus of today’s post. Continue reading