The Next Movement  

Thursday, February 28 : 4:15 AM : 0 comments :

I flip through "Eat, Pray, Love" intermittently; usually while brushing my teeth, waiting for the shower water to heat up, or something similar. See, it's my bathroom book. The only to be read a few pages at a time while I take care of whatever business I need to take care of book. The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, is recently divorced and in need of some major life re-assessment and affirmation. For one year, she sets off to Italy, India, and Indonesia in search of herself without having to worry about obligations, finances (her publisher is paying her in advance for her travelogue), or any other worldy thing.

Basically, Gilbert is doing what we all want to be doing. Which is why I can't get myself to actually sit down and read her book. I mean, really sit down and read it. While the book comes with high recommendations and certainly possesses insights that would probably be beneficial to me, it contains a journey that I hope to make myself this year. I won't be visiting Italy or India if I can help it but this is the year I'd like to travel and explore.

It's a luxury that few can afford nowadays. Who has the time or the money to take a year off and go cavorting around the world -- or cavort period? School, relationships, jobs, leases, obligations. All of these things tie a person's life down don't they? I mean, how utterly selfish and irrational is it to take an entire year off from life without some sort of cataclysmic reason or financial windfall?

My mom tried to have a nice heart-to-heart with me today -- on the heels of a "what are you doing with yourself?!?" two weeks ago. Her main observation and complaint is that I'm falling behind everyone. I'm headed towards a murky future and she's not comfortable with it to say the least. As a friend told me yesterday, I've essentially been a dilettante for so long that it's now surpassed being a character flaw into the realm of amusement and fascination. I'm like a T-Rex in the Age of Mammals. "Shouldn't you have been extinct by now?"

I wonder what people would do if they could have a year carved out just for themselves. Would they holiday? Would they change something fundamental in their lives? Would they hope for a rain check on that freebie year until a later date (and collect interest)? Then again, perhaps it's better to keep trucking and get that year in snatches of vacations, long weekends, and cough cough sick days.

I guess what I'm saying is: Everything ends, but not everything begins. So start something.

Open Sesame  

Thursday, February 21 : 5:19 AM : 0 comments :

I didn't want to talk about this but the Internet has forced my hand. Late Wednesday night, someone from Illinois was Googling "easy way to hack my girlfriend's password" and guess what he found? Me. That's right. The top destination for him was my blog. I pity the fool.

Imagine this poor boyfriend's mental state. He's sitting at home in the Windy City, probably tearing his heart out after realizing that his name isn't her password He's definitely alone, definitely scared, and a little out of sorts. He wants to have a DTR but isn't man enough to do it so he decides that the best way to figure out what's going on in his relationship is by hacking into her accounts. Being a non-tech savvy guy, David (as we'll call him), turns to the web for answers.

Stop right there.

Should David be punished by the relationship gods for even thinking of hacking into a person's private, but definitely flirty, correspondence with strangers? Is this a relationship no-no?

Heavens no. You do what you can to find out what you need. GI Joe only had it half right; knowing is the battle. Raise your hand if you've thought about looking into your special someone's email, phone logs, text message history, or any such thing? Everyone thinks about it right?

Now keep your hand up if you've actually done it. I'd wager that most people have spied on their significant other in some way, shape, or form. It's not pretty but when your life is on the line, trust plus surveillance is the only way things can stay on the level. I trust you to give me your passwords; in case you were wondering how those two can go hand in hand.

I've developed a few techniques for acquiring passwords from your loved one. Surreptitiously of course. I can't outline them here because I'd rather know who needs this knowledge before I divulge my tips. Just email me for a primer. Trade secrets my son, trade secrets.

Deep Sleep Operative  

Tuesday, February 19 : 11:46 PM : 0 comments :

I've got a friend whose parents fully expect him to take care of them when they get older. Like the whole nine yards. They'll be living with him when they're too frail to take care of themselves. It's a very traditional Chinese thing. When I heard about it though, I was surprised; it had never occurred to me that my parents couldn't take care of themselves. I mean, wait, Mom and Dad won't be taking care of me all my life? What a revelation!

It's hard to come off watching "The Savages" (not to mention "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly") and not think about what you'd like to do with yourself when you're old. Or what your parents would like, I guess.

For the record, I want a Do Not Resuscitate order, I'd like to "keep it" when in doubt, and I'd like to be cremated by a fierce fire that burns as brightly as the Sun. I'm also partial to puddings and parfaits and please don't feed me any mushy eggplants, creamed spinach, or stomach turning blended carrots. Stick to fruit based sauces fortified with vitamins.

And should I change my mind about any of this, I'll be sure to blink twice. Or wiggle a toe or something. Thanks.


Thursday, February 14 : 2:21 AM : 0 comments :

Do you ever feel like the days, weeks, months, and years are just slipping by? Here we are, almost a quarter of the way through 2008 and it seems like New Year's Eve was just yesterday. The problem with being out of school is that you have no bearings anymore.

It was easy in high school or college to remember events and trips and important moments in your life. "That was definitely sophmore year." "It was right after spring break junior year." "We met right around mid-terms because we were studying together." There's lots of deadlines and milestones to help jog your memory by association. But once you get out into the real world, everything starts to blend together doesn't it?

Quick, when were the last five weddings you attended? And was Gene's or Connie's first? Did you meet so-and-so five years ago or four years ago? Which trip to New York did that happen? Exactly how long have those two been going out? It's the fuzzy memories we have that make us feel old. So, in an effort to clear that all up, I've embarked on my next project: Creating a personal timeline (for me and then eventually for you) that will allow me to see, at a glance, what I've been doing with my life.

If it's truly not the destination but the journey that counts, I'd like to be able to relive things in a coherent and orderly fashion. When everything starts to blend together and you can no longer pick out distinct events, I believe that it makes you feel like you're just skimming along without much idea of how much you've done, how much growth you've accomplished (or lack thereof), and what you'd like to do in the future.

With that idea in hand, I introduce to the world my prototype: My So-Called Life Version 1.0. Yes, it's just an Excel spreadsheet (or Google Doc). Sure, it's super low tech, but already you can see the promise of such a system. In the last seven years, a lot has happened and now I've got a much better handle on things. I'm still wrong on a few dates, I've been unable to track down exactly how many weddings I've attended -- I know for damn sure it's a lot -- and I have to fill in quite a few gaps, but for the most part, this is a good overview.

It took me awhile to figure out a nice system and to start cross-referencing everything against old blogs and pictures. The next step is to create a better visual representation of everything. Perhaps by breaking the years down into seasons and eliminating some categories in favor of others. The goal is not (solely) to create a vanity timeline but to have it interface with your friends' timelines so that you can take a look and see why you aren't in touch anymore. Ha, or something like that.

Doesn't this sound like an application Facebook, or some other social networking site, should have? Think about how nice this would be to link to your Flickr collection. A pictorial timeline would be awesome.

It's important to keep track of milestones in our lives -- big or small -- and I envision a future when everything you do, or did, will simply be online and interfaced with everyone else's lives. With each other's permission of course. To the future...


Friday, February 8 : 2:09 AM : 0 comments :

Going through some boxes today, I found a treasure trove of video tapes. Back when I had a functional camcorder, I used to lug it around everywhere. I was fond of sticking a camera into people's faces, recording every moment big or small, and accumulating enough Hi-8 tapes to fill two good sized boxes. This is on top of the VHS tapes I've got on the side. Well, since these snippets of the past were staring me in the face, I decided I better just buy a replacement power cable for my super old Sony Digital-8 camcorder. A short trip to Fry's later and we were in action.

I got classics. Five whole tapes from a trip to Tahoe in 2002. Music videos made in college. A whole bunch of dance practices, performances, and random culture show riff-raff. Two birthday parties from high school. A short snippet as we stood outside staring at debris caused by 9/11 -- contemplating what we're going to do. Footage of twenty people crammed into a tiny karaoke room, singing their hearts out. The greatest vacation ever from spring break Miami. I've got a whole hour of people playing games in our dorm room while the camera is pointed squarely at a mini rice cooker and an iron. Like I said, priceless stuff.

In the coming weeks, I'm going to figure out how to digitize everything, load it onto a hard drive, and take it online (where appropriate). You aren't really alive until your existence can be documented and fit into gigabytes right? Mainly, I'm just concerned about losing this stuff forever and since I'm a huge pack rat, I need this stuff.

Of course, once the videos started hitting, I've decided to start using a recently acquired scanner to digitize all my pictures from high school and college too. I mean, when people lose all their possessions in a fire or whatever, they usually lament all the mementos lost. I don't want that to happen to me so I'm dedicating my time to bringing it all somewhere safe -- the Internet.

The problem is, I'm so excited about this project that I want to finish it all now! Clearly, it's impossible but maybe if I can just not sleep for a week I can get this done. Or you know, I could take my time like a sane person might.

...Hut Two  

Monday, February 4 : 4:02 AM : 0 comments :

I was going to write this detailed account of our Super Bowl trip but after watching the game, I've decided that I can't do it. The loss by the Patriots was just too much to bear. After suffering through three quarters of agony and questioning every offensive play call, I spent most of the fourth quarter jumping around like a loon -- convinced that the Patriots would win if I could get sufficiently excited. Alas, Eli and the Giants knocked off Goliath and made me sit there in stupefied silence for the next thirty minutes. So, Eli not only killed the perfect season, he also killed my Super Bowl trip diary. I hate Eli.

I'm not even a Patriots fan. I mean, I admire Tom Brady but really, I'm a Falcons fan. Not that this is a good time to be one, but still. I'm all about sticking to your guns when cheering for sports teams -- weather the bad, enjoy the good. I kept an eye out for Vick jerseys this weekend. Surprisingly, I saw one worn by this little kid. Must've been a cat person.

Still, it's not fair to ruin an admittedly interesting weekend with talk about an event, however "super," that had nothing to do with the preceding three days. So, a brief summary and review. Because I'm currently unemployed and in traction with the book, James (Okapix) was kind enough to let me tag along to his Super Bowl gig. This meant that I would be the first person allowed into his super secret operation. Little did he know that I would expose it all for the world to see. Little did he know that I'm awesome with a lint roller and excellent at boring repetitive tasks.

I worked the line soldering flutes for a few months, remember?

The moblog pictures will tell a much better story of exactly what we did but in sum, we made personalized trading cards for anyone who was willing to bear the hour wait in line. The cards James produces are of a high quality and certainly superior to the competition. Thus, people waited forever to get a few minutes in front of the camera and a drool worthy memento.

The most exciting part of working the Super Bowl was keeping a sharp eye out for celebrities, especially and obviously, athletes. Anybody even slightly bigger than normal -- and black -- was immediately pegged as a football player. "Who is that?" "Looks like a football player." "Yeah, probably a running back or something." Occasionally we just nodded and silently agreed. "Offensive line." More fun was guessing girlfriend, wife, or "it's complicated."

The biggest name we saw all weekend? Probably Marcus Allen. At one point, I was two feet away from Marcus Allen and Eric Dickerson, watching them take a photo together. Two of the greatest running backs of all time posing just a few feet away. Priceless.

The bulk of our successful celebrity spotting was done at the private players only party sponsored by UD. There, a boatload of "talent" (event jargon for hot girls paid to show up) kept both of our eyes wide open -- and our heads spinning. Another post will probably come at some point about that experience. Nothing like walking around a room filled with hulking specimens of alpha males interacting with beautiful ladies who are paid to ignore you. And yes, by "you," I mean exactly "you."

The only real downside of working the Super Bowl was not having an exclusive worker's pass. I was registered for the event too late so had to suffer the indignity of mingling with the commoners. The first day, I couldn't even get out of the vendor parking lot because security was tight and I wasn't properly credentialed. I had to take the long way around the stadium on foot -- strangely, encountering a cow farm located just a few hundred yards away -- while cursing my plebian status. I was forced to buy general attendance tickets and couldn't even get in to work until the rest of the humanity showed up at the front gates.

Then again, that did mean I skipped out on a lot of hours and I essentially got to watch movies and visit the McFarlane store on Friday. It's hard to complain about anything when my flight, food, and room were all paid for. But dammit, I wanted to have a laminated permit to the Super Bowl; declaring my superiority, if only for a few days. I also wanted a perfect season. Maybe next year.

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