Friday, July 27, 2007

How Twitter Makes Me a Better Friend

I'm way behind on my magazine reading this month for a number of reasons — it's summer, doing a bit of traveling and, of course, Potter — but I managed to get around to reading last month's (or was it the month before?) Wired magazine last week and came across an essay I want all my friends to read.

I've been a Dodgeball user for about 9 months now and it's sort of lame because I only have one friend, Frank, who is also doing it. It's particularly dorky and pathetic when we're out together and we dodgeball each other our location.* (Yeah, I know.) I've tried to get other friends to use it, but it's just not something any of my friends (read 30-somethings who are mostly married and consider 10pm a "late night out" -- sorry guys!) find intriguing. So my friend and I decided to experiment with it on our own. Almost immediately, he became a power user. These days, he's often in the top 10 list of SF's most active users on the Dodgeball site. He does it because he likes to review the history of the bars, restaurants, nightclubs and events he's been to. (I've noticed guys out here love to keep lists — or is it not a West Coast thing and just true of guys generally? hmm... maybe.)

Even though I've never actually met him out at a bar or restaurant when he posts his dodgeball location (which I guess is the general idea), I've noticed that when we see each other in person one of us will remember where the other one went and ask about the food or the ambiance of a particular bar, or whatever.

And then I read this Clive Thompson essay that described what I've been experiencing so well. Here's a snippet.
So why has Twitter been so misunderstood? Because it's experiential. Scrolling through random Twitter messages can't explain the appeal. You have to do it — and, more important, do it with friends. (Monitoring the lives of total strangers is fun but doesn't have the same addictive effect.) Critics sneer at Twitter and Dodgeball as hipster narcissism, but the real appeal of Twitter is almost the inverse of narcissism. It's practically collectivist — you're creating a shared understanding larger than yourself. link
Frank and I started using Twitter about 3 months ago, and although I probably post twice a week at most to the colleagues I am connected to there, I post a lot more often directly to Frank, sometimes two or three times a day — and, over time, we've become better friends because of it. It's hard to explain, but Thompson's essay does a good job, "Individually, most Twitter messages are stupefyingly trivial. But the true value of Twitter — and the similarly mundane Dodgeball, a tool for reporting your real-time location to friends — is cumulative."

I wish I could get my New York friends to twitter with me. It would be nice to know what they're up to and it wouldn't take too much of their time or mine — at 140 characters or less.

* P.S. The way I wrote that made Frank sound as pathetic as me. He's not. He has other friends on dodgeball besides me. As I stated above, I don't. I'm the dork. back up

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

YouTube / CNN Debate Watching

So I finally got around to watching my TiVo of the YouTube CNN Presidential Democrat Debate last night as I cleaned my apartment. It was the perfect accompaniment to some much needed tidying up. It wasn't the sort of thing that you really had to watch, or even really pay attention to... Plus, I figured it was my attempt to multi-task like a member of YouTube Nation might do. It worked out well.

I thought the debate was pretty entertaining, overall. The biggest disappoint for me was Barack Obama. If he said, "when I become president" or "that's why you should vote for me for president" or "when I'm president" one more time, I was going to scream. If there were more people in my apartment, I would have suggested a drinking game based on him saying the word president. You kind of needed a drink to listen to him, because it was so annoying. OK, I get it, you want me to envision you as president, shut up!

The biggest surprise of the night for me was Chris Dodd. I found myself saying out loud, "You bring it, Chris!" and "Go, Chris!" and "Sing it, Brother!" I'm from CT, so we're sort of related that way, and I live in the Haight, so maybe I was channeling some OD'ed hippie. (OK, I don't think I actually said that last one.) Anyway, you get the picture. I was totally digging Chris. I think I just liked his grasp of the issues. I guess I like the wonks. Even though I didn't agree completely with some of what he said, I was impressed. (And yes, I know it's weird that I talk to my TV, but it's something that happens to me during baseball games, George Bush's speeches, and apparently also presidential debates, so deal.)

I was also pleasantly surprised by Hillary. She was GOOD. Really good. I actually liked her. Of course, in most cases, she was preaching to the choir because she had this whole "I am woman. Hear me roar." thing going on with some of the silly questions people were throwing at her. My favorite Hillary line was in response to the lunkhead jarhead from Okinawa, who asked whether Hillary could expect to be taken seriously as president by the leaders of Muslim countries, because they treat women like second-class citizens. I really wanted her to tell him off. Instead, she thanked him for his service to our country, and went on to give a really thoughtful answer, pointing out that lots of other countries have female leaders. She ended her comments by saying wryly that she actually thought "it would be quite appropriate to have a woman president deal with the Arab and Muslim countries on behalf of the United States of America." Go Hillary! Here's the exchange:

I also found myself liking Edwards again. He just seems so darn sincere. So who knows who I'll vote for in the primary. Luckily, I still have more than 6 months to make up my mind.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Did You Feel It?

I was awakened at around 4:30 am because my bed was shaking. Then I heard that sound, the sound that only an earthquake makes. I guess it comes from the resettling of buildings, trees, the ground — everything that is normally still. It's sort of a simultaneous groaning and creaking kind of noise. It's eerie and somewhat unsettling, or maybe the unsettling bit is the part where you've just felt the ground shake beneath your feet, or bed, whatever the case may be.

Just wanted to share my favorite line from the article in this morning's SFGate. Apparently, the epicenter was in Oakland, so it was stronger for people in the East Bay. My sister, who lives over there, said it was "scary." But in general, the people who monitor this stuff said it was not major.
"It was all pretty minor," said U.S. Geological Survey spokeswoman Leslie Gordon. "It didn't interrupt doughnut production."
Yes, that would have been a tragedy. ;)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Oh Julian... How I've Missed You

A scene from 'A Room With a View'I realize that this is just crazy, two posts in one day, but I had to post a quick note about my (somewhat pathetic) enthrallment last night at the treat that PBS' Mystery gave me. I can't remember the last time I saw Julian Sands in something, and, boy, have I missed him.

My favorite movie as a teenager (and maybe of all time, it's up there) was A Room With a View. When I first saw it, at the awkward age of 15, my diary was filled with love poems for George Emerson (wow, no wonder I like the name George so much! I had forgotten) and his quest for the eternal Yes! I think I watched that movie about 15 times during the '80s. I'm sighing just thinking about it.

And last night, there he was looking very handsome, although so much older, and cast as a lame (literally), second fiddle, passed over childhood friend still desperate to win the love of the fair lady, Audrey (who was far too young to have been his childhood friend, but no matter). He was great, but I felt like he deserved a lot more screen time. PBS, let's bring him back for a starring role sometime soon, ok?

Meanwhile, I'm going to end this post and head on over to Netflix and send A Room With a View to the number one spot on my queue.

Do You Have a Healthy Media Diet?

the very young Brooke Gladstone from Gothamist
I was searching the Gothamist blog looking for a review they did of one of P.O.V.'s films, unsuccessfully (even though I know it's there), when I came across this interview with Brooke Gladstone (pictured right, from of WNYC's On the Media. I was shocked to see her picture and register the fact that she is not 70 years old — as I'd always pictured her in my head (which I feel really badly about now). Anyway, they asked her some good questions, including "What would you consider a healthy media diet for New Yorkers?" Here's what she had to say:
For New Yorkers to stay informed, I would say listening to The Brian Lehrer Show and Lenny's show would be a really valuable thing to do. [John] Schaefer's show. I know this sounds like I am really sucking up to the station, but I have worked in public radio for a long time, and for a number of years in Washington. I've heard a lot of public radio and there is no other station like this. That's probably why it is the number one public radio station in the country.

That said, I also think you need to read The New York Times, you need to read the Daily News; and it really helps to read the Observer. I think it is worth dipping into New York magazine from time to time, but I don't know if it is a requirement. I think The Daily Show is essential as a digestif, if for no other reason. New York City often feels like a protectorate of the United States rather than part of it, and The Daily Show, which is of course produced in New York, makes New Yorkers feel less alone. A kind of Daily Show Nation. Or is that the Colbert Nation?
I love the way she describes The Daily Show as a digestif. I would describe it as dessert or as a raiding-the-fridge-and-eating-something-with-your-
hands-after-everyone-else-has-gone-to-sleep kind of late-night snack, but clearly I'm not as sophisticated. Even though I'm no longer a New Yorker, I still like to keep up and I'm happy to say most of these are on my list each week, except for the Daily News and the Observer. (I always preferred the Post, but I guess I wasn't reading it for "news," per se) And I would say that New York magazine is a requirement (if not just for this week's cover story on Katie Couric ... poor Katie ... alone).

What do you think would be a healthy media diet for San Franciscans? I would say, the Chron (obviously), NPR's California Report (I love it), Fecal Face for art happenings and 7X7 for occasional fun stuff to do (I guess?).

Anything to add? Post a comment!

PS - Got my prints in the mail today. They are even better than I thought they would be! yay! I can't wait to frame them.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Design & Art Weekend

Finally logged onto over the weekend and it put a little dent in my wallet. So much cool stuff! Yipes.

I was in New York for the past two weeks and I spent an evening with some friends in New Jersey over the Fourth. They have some great artwork they purchased at a friend's gallery here in SF, and it made me think about my own apartment's sad lack of art.

So I logged on to Etsy and totally scored. Very excited to receive my shiny new artwork. I got two prints. One by Matte Stephens and one by Erin McCauley. (left and right respectively, below) I'm pretty sure they are both going to hang in my bedroom, in the corner near my computer where I can stare at them while contemplating posting on my blog, which let's face it, I spend a lot more time doing than actually posting!

Matte Stephens has a show at super7 in San Francisco this month. I am definitely checking it out!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Dinner with Andre Barack

So my friend Bruno sent me this invitation to have dinner with Barack Obama. Well, not really, but Obama's campaign came up with this amazing idea to ask for donations on their website (could be as little as $10) and then you are put into this drawing for a free dinner with Barack Obama. If you win, they fly you in, and you and three other lucky folks get to have dinner with Obama -- he even pays for dinner. It's brilliant. The catch is that you have to enter before midnight tomorrow -- that's Wednesday, June 13 -- in order to be in the drawing. He even has a little video on the site where he explains the whole thing. I love it. I even gave $25, because, you know, I'm rich. ;)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bloomberg to Worrywarts: Get a Life!

Bloomberg took a while to make a statement about the foiled JFK bombing plot revealed over the weekend. And his comments yesterday took some people by surprise. I loved what he had to say. So nice to have a reasonable guy in government and not the fear mongering crew we've got in Washington.
"There are lots of threats to you in the world. There's the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can't sit there and worry about everything. Get a life." - Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Read more of what he said in this story by the local CBS affiliate.

Update: Good article in the Times about this today.