Archive for January, 2009

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Twenty Five Random Things

January 28, 2009

Another day, an other Internet Meme. Tagged by my sister Jen, here are twenty five random things about moi:

  1. I love tattoos. No, not the “I (heart) Mom” or skull and dagger crap. But the arty, clever, tribal, and interesting resonates with me strongly. I don’t have any ink myself, but I wish I did. If only I were a prettier canvas!
  2. My left wrist was reconstructed after a DUI ran a red light and hit my motorcycle when I was 16. It doesn’t bend well as a result.
  3. My right wrist was injured in a judo fall. It felt and sounded as if I broke it, and took months to heal, but I never had it examined. It doesn’t bend well either.
  4. I’ll remember 43 as the year my body started getting old. I wouldn’t have thought my feet would be the first thing to go, but they were. I have several independent injuries. It hurts to walk. When it hurts to walk, it hurts to do most active things. I am now the Ibuprofen warrior.
  5. I touch type, at considerable speed. One day I was hunt-and-pecking, the next I noticed I wasn’t looking at the keyboard any longer. Magic!
  6. I am a 1st degree master of the Doh Yi Daoist sect, promoted by Grandmaster Jiang Jing Sung Baek (“the Sword Immortal”) himself. I have an awesome certificate that proclaims I’ve attained  Knowledge of Immortality, Power of Wisdom-Healing, and Spirituality of Co-Existence. It doesn’t mean much in day-to-day life, but I’m inordinately proud of it nonetheless. I thoroughly identify with the scholar-warrior ideal.
  7. I’ve done hardcore Daoist moxibustion–burning moxa directly on, and into, the skin–and will do it again. This is not a legal procedure for licensed acupuncturists; they are generally restricted to indirect, non-contact moxibustion. When you see or feel it done, you understand why. It hurts. A lot. It’s an intentional second- or third-degree burn, often requiring substantial wound management for months afterward. Sounds foolish, right? I can only say: when you can willfully set a fire on your flesh, and endure that, you feel there’s little you cannot do, and little left to fear. That knowledge, that feeling, that self-mastery–it’s worth the pain. Just remembering how intense and powerful it feels makes me want to go do it now.
  8. I practice martial arts because they’re hard. I am not athletic or intrinsically talented, but I work at it. It puts the rest of life into perspective, makes it seem easier. It keeps me at least modestly balanced and sane.
  9. After years of kung fu practice, I still only know a few good ways to kill, but dozens of excellent ways to break, rend, and maim. I train on them regularly, but have never used any. I prefer to keep it that way.
  10. I’m trying to counsel a friend through serious, even crippling, depression. I don’t know if I’ll really be able to help her, but I dearly hope so. Trying makes me feel less depressed myself.
  11. I never dated in my entire adult life. I’ve been with one woman, my wife, since I was eighteen. That’s 25 years, for those not fond of subtraction.
  12. I never liked the beach when I lived near one, in South Florida. The Spanish island of Ibiza changed my tune completely. A completely different experience.
  13. I prefer naturist beaches. When it’s warm, clothing’s way over-rated.
  14. My grandfathers were all first-class alcoholics. Partially as a result, I don’t think I’ll ever fall into that trap.
  15. My parents and grandparents were, for years, big-time smokers. Several died of cancer. I never had any interest. That doesn’t keep me from threatening The Wife with taking up cigars, or a pipe. She’s pretty sure I won’t.
  16. My younger brother Carl was killed by a propane explosion. I know how it happened, but I’m still not sure why.
  17. I love to fly. Personally, I mean, not in a plane. Skate-style cross-country skiing, bicycling downhill, and leaping forms in kung fu are Teh Awesome.
  18. Faced with yummy foods, I have zero self control. But it’s easy for me to not buy. So I don’t. Thus I rarely eat junk food.
  19. I drive a MINI. I love just about everything about it, every time I drive it.
  20. I love enthusiasm, but I feel too little of it myself. I fear and loathe indifference above all else. Enthusiasm is the energy of youth; indifference is the sin and downfall of the aged.
  21. I have two sisters, Jennifer and Emily, more than twenty years younger than I. They rock. I’m quite fond of them.
  22. Growing up, I had three full pairs of grandparents, and have two full pairs of parents. Yeah, read that again. Aren’t widespread divorce and remarriage grand?
  23. I sometimes give hitchhikers a ride. Don’t see many folks hitching these days, but it’s still very popular on Indian reservations. When visiting The Rez, I’m like the Native American Taxi Co.
  24. I once chased down and caught a fleeing purse-snatcher on foot. It was just like the movies. The shaky camera view, the bewildered bystanders, the diving roll beneath a closing garage door–everything. Catching the culprit was amazing. Watching him go scot free in juvi court was not.
  25. Last year I decided to embrace the age of radical openness. I’m now as shameless as I can be. That’s shameless, not shameful. There’s a difference.
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40 Words, More Or Less

January 20, 2009

So the #7things meme wasn’t enough? We weren’t sufficiently embarrassed that when @smuttysteff did her list, she found 131 things (here and there)? The pain of tagging (and then prodding, pleading, and cajoling seven friends into doing the same) wasn’t sufficiently burning?

Apparently not. Yesterday I was tagged by @MamitaMojita. Now she seems like someone I’d gladly have a few mojitos with, any time the opportunity arose. Or could be created. Did I say gladly? I meant: giddily. But she invite me out for drinks? No. Instead she tagged me to answer a 40-item questionnaire. Well, not as much fun, Florida-girl! And it’s really only a 39-item questionnaire, since #15 is mysteriously missing. But…okay. I’m in. Rules: Only 1-word answers. Admission: I cheated a little. I squished some words together. That’s okay, right?

1. Where is your cell phone? recharging

2. Your significant other? @vmason

3. Your hair? highlighted

4. Your mother? toaking

5. Your father? bellowing

6. Your favorite thing? enthusiasm

7. Your dream last night? incomprehensible

8. Your favorite drink? martini

9. Your dream/goal? polygamy

10. What room you are in? office

11. Your hobby? kungfu

12. Your fear? indifference

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? happiness

14. Where were you last night? training

16. Muffins? tasty!

17. Wish list item? immortality

18. Where you grew up? South

19. Last thing you did? taichi

20. What are you wearing? BOLD

21. Your TV? nonesuch

22. Your pets? eight

23. Friends? fawesome

24. Your life? larger

25. Your mood? deluged

26. Missing someone? yes

27. Car? MINI

28. Something you’re not wearing? watch

29. Your favorite store? WholeFoods

30. Your summer? Ibiza

31. Like someone? considerably

32. Your favorite color? blue

33. When is the last time you laughed? now

34. Last time you cried? yesterday

35. Who will resend this? Cthulhu

36. One place that I go to over and over? Funkytown

37. One person who emails me regularly? spammers

38. My favorite place to eat? Japan

39. Why you participated in this survey? @MamitaMojita

40. What are you doing tonight? training

It’s often said that Twitter has cliques. I think it’s more truly said that humanity has cliques. But let me do my part here to include some new folks in the mix. I tag: @drlenna @IdaRose @ShellBell4 @lynnelle @legin @omgiwillkillyou @atsirhc
Y’all let me know when you’re done, and I’ll link to your answers here.

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Portland, Infinity, and Beyond

January 16, 2009

I attended the tweetup (Twitter meetup–everything about Twitter must be twprefixed!) in Portland, Maine last night. Some random observations–most not specific to Portland, or even tweetups:

  • Portland, Maine is a cool little town, artsy and funkadelic. The rest of Maine: not so much. But Portland, you’re OK.
  • Portland  is cold in the winter. I walked outside in a suit coat, but the locals were walking by in four layers capped with arctic parkas, looking at me funny. Hey, I’m wearing gloves! It’s a whole 5 degrees F. here. Man up! You too, lady! But to that other slim lady–the elegant one gracefully loitering outside to have a smoke: You, my dear, are hardcore. You, I salute! Inside, the temperature wasn’t much a topic of discussion. I guess by now, all the locals know it’s cold outside, and are bored with the topic. But “I don’t know if I can hack these winters!” and “I wonder how much longer I want to hack this?” are apparently still on the table. Kids, it could be worse. Talk to some friends in Minnesota, or Canada. They hack it. And to the Portland policemen that did a double-take: What? You’ve never seen a car with the windows rolled down? Move along; nothing to see here. Though I must admit, the -6 and breezy on the way home: that’s brisk.
  • “Following” on Twitter is basically legalized stalking. And people love it. It’s not awkward at all in Twitterdom to ask for someone’s userid. Even the hot girls give theirs out without a second thought. No more awkward “can I get your number?” or “what’s your email?” And I mean this not just in a tawdry, trolling-for-romance-and-good-times way. Continued social interaction after a Twitter event–with whomever you like, and at whatever level–is genuinely and admirably easier than IRL. Interaction is the mixing of the human glue. People who’ve not experienced Twitter don’t get how much it helps. The email, IM, Myspace, and Facebook experience sheds little light. No matter how much she baked in a conventional oven, grandma never could understand a microwave oven. Similarly, eventually everyone will take it for granted.
  • The hottest girls in the room aren’t always the Hot Girls in the room. The coolest guys in the room aren’t always the Cool Guys in the room. In fact, they probably aren’t.
  • Those that profess the most shyness or social ineptitude aren’t the shyest and most socially inept people. Far from it. Sure, they may feel shyness or social anxiety just like everyone else who wasn’t born a glad-hander. But the reason you hear their complaints is that they’re articulating them. To other people. Go ahead, reread that. I’ll wait right here. The shyest and most socially challenged are those that don’t speak or express themselves, that don’t interact. Even more so, those that don’t come at all–that that aren’t out there, trying. Sorry to burst your bubbles, people in the 83th percentile of social capability and outgoingness; I know you’re not at the glib 95th percentile, but Get Real already.
  • Everyone judges. I had a discussion with @fashionbitch before the event in which we agreed to sit back, people-watch, and judge to our hearts content. She is apparently famous among the Portland twitterati for doing just that at a previous tweetup. We didn’t do much sitting, but my oh my! did we do some good people-watching and judging. I judged her, she judged me, together we judged other people and groups, everyone else judged us–and then people all shifted around and started the process over again with, and within, different teams.  The Favrd crowd often moans about those who just use Twitter as a sort of chat room. Well, lemmie tellya! The chat-roomers make fun right back! And no one seems to like those who answer what Twitter originally asks: What are you doing? Conclusion: bo-RING! UN-follow! Everyone frames, everyone interprets within their frame;  Phenomenology gives another real-time demonstration. Good fun, and the human condition at work.
  • Trust neither avatars nor usernames. They just don’t convey the person. @timorousme? Not really timorous. @heroicnudity? Great, great username, man–but I doubt it. SRSLY. The truly HAWT girl in the room? Your avatar (and the larger picture behind it) does you no justice. None. NONE. Conversely, those with fabulous avatars can be kinda meh in person.
  • Twitter is more honest than most forms of communication. Sure, we front. Others pose. That girl over there has several accounts:  not all of them are ostensibly female, some of them obviously pseudopeople. (It’s interesting how many people have figured this out.) Fakery, compartmentalization, and best-foot-forward (among other sins and foils) are possible–indeed, assured–as long as it’s humans doing the communicating. But in general, Twitter’s real-time, short, text messages expose more of the real us–the way we really think about and react to things, than pretty much any other media. Messages are longer and more articulate than kid’s txts, but not there usually isn’t time for the careful editing seen with email, nor the retouching ubiqitous with pictures and video. There isn’t space in 140 characters to weave more than a little bit of an artful web. One or a few tweets may front, but it’s harder to do that on a large-scale basis. Your whole body of tweets is available, to pretty much whomever’d like to look them over. Like open source, many eyes make finding the lies, errors, inconsistencies, and omissions faster and more likely. Human communication is only ostensibly honest to begin with, but Twitter’s style and restrictions seem to weed out some of the common dishonesties of other media. The emotional distance of the network also allows and encourages a higher level of openness. So while I don’t believe you’re “the most socially awkward kid ever,” I completely buy the “I’m feeling awkward” admission beneath it; such notes are admirably open and real expressions. This is something you probably wouldn’t talk about face-to-face–or at best, hint at or talk vaguely around. Here, it’s really what you’re feeling. More honest, open communications and an outlet for expression FTW.
  • More honesty goes only so far. The same confortable zones and cliques operate when we’re face-to-face.
  • Social media experts don’t have to be douchetards. No, I’m not precisely sure what that means, either–but I can guess, and it seems the internet insult du jour. @ccmaine was the only “social media expert” that I identified in the room. And she has exactly the right view: “social media experts” = users. There are no email experts, at least any more, and there shouldn’t be a specific, separate, designated class of social networking priests and priestesses. FWIW, other “social media experts” that I’ve interacted with–@lindstifa and @coffeecupkat for example–also seem nice, sane, smart, and unannoying. There may be a bit of  over-judging and strawman-bashing of webcocks.
  • Not all local Twitter communities do the same thing. Here in Nashua, NH we often go out to eat together, get our nails done together, have parties, move furniture, play Rock Band, and travel together, among other things. Some of us have fallen in love with each other. Portland seems to just have stand-up meetings with beverages on the side. Several folks there noted that they almost never see each other except on Twitter and at designated tweetups. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” It’s just interesting to see how different communities act, behave, and are.
  • I’m glad I went. The timing wasn’t so good (I missed another tweetup in nearby Portsmouth, NH scheduled for exactly the same time; next time: co-ord-in-a-tion–try it!). And I missed some of the Portland folks I really wanted to meet face-to-face. But I met some good new folks. And it helped crystalize some general thoughts I’ve had about the twitterati.
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Zolora Three for Thee

January 15, 2009

The odd but interesting @zolora was bored, and her brain cast out three seemingly random questions. I so enjoyed the recent #7things meme (tell us seven things about you that we don’t already know) that I agreed to answer these questions, too. Here they are:

  1. When has your first impression of someone been most inaccurate? Zolora One answered here.
  2. You have to make a 3 course dinner for 50 very important people. What do you make? Zolora Two answered here.
  3. If you led a double life, what would your secret other life be like? Zolora Three answered here.
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First Misunderestimations

January 15, 2009

The odd but interesting @zolora was bored, and her brain cast out three seemingly random questions. I so enjoyed the recent #7things meme (tell us seven things about you that we don’t already know) that I agreed to answer these questions, too. This is one of three:

When has your first impression of someone been most inaccurate?

Like the Z-girl I’m not a big believer in “best,” “most,” or “favorite.” It’s hard to choose the “most,” and I often don’t see the point. But there is a recent misunderestimation that stands out clearly in my mind: @empirebetty, who I know IRL, via Twitter.

I don’t know first who followed whom. We were both looking for other local folks on Twitter, and we followed each other at about the same time. My first impression was massively inaccurate. I thought she was much, much older than she is–both physically and emotionally. As in “I was off by 30 years.” Or so.

I thought she was kind of a fogey, to tell the truth. I pictured her, on the basis of a her updates and a brief glimpse in her avatar, as in late middle age. I pictured someone not terribly happy or outgoing. Now I generally like older women, but I wasn’t terribly keen on the cross-following. I thought she might at some point chide me for not being a good enough Christian, or something like that, and I was more than ready to un-follow her at the first whiff of trouble. Just as a point of reference, my impression was that she was (at least emotionally) even older than my wife, who is 65. (Sorry, EB!)

I started to down-shift my age assumptions as I started interacting with her more directly. She started to seem more social. By the time we planned our first dinner together (EB loves to dine alfresco, so do we), I realized she probably wasn’t too far out of her 40s. Maybe mid-40s. When she arrived, I had an “oops!” moment, realizing she was probably in her 30s. Turns out, her early 30s. So that put my initial impression off by a factor of 2. My read of her emotional age was at least as far off as my physical age guess.

In my defense, I will say that EB used to be vastly more guarded and circumspect. Her “adorably obnoxious” tagline wasn’t yet so fully manifested, her nightlife and romances were not yet eagerly chronicled, and few photographs were to be seen. Her avatar and photos did not convey youth! and pizzazz! to me. Even today, she favors photos like this one from New Year’s Eve that, in my opinion, make her look much older, and from a bygone year besides. That’s OK; they make her smile. But the EB I know is more like this: vibrant, fun-loving, and more than a little devilish.

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Grillmaster, Grill It! Grill It Fancy-like!

January 15, 2009

The odd but interesting @zolora was bored, and her brain cast out three seemingly random questions. I so enjoyed the recent #7things meme (tell us seven things about you that we don’t already know) that I agreed to answer these questions, too. This is two of three:

You have to make a 3 course dinner for 50 very important people. What do you make?

Something on a grill. The something isn’t as important as the grill. 50 VIPs? You want something they’ll remember. They’ve probably all had the fancy meals. Gotta give them something different, something memorable–and something that will reliably work. Go for the grill.

The most interesting meal I’ve had of this sort was made by Steven Raichlen. A multi-course meal for 100 or so guests, all grilled. Including dessert. All paired with wine. Not beer, no. Wine–the good stuff. Maybe it’s just breaking traditional expectations, but the grill really works as an upscale cooking device.

As for foodstuff, you can go simple. To start, maybe an asparagus and something appetizer. For the main course, just whatever: steak, pork, lamb, chicken, shrimp, scallops, salmon/swordfish/tuna–it’s all excellent. Match that with some grilled veggies: corn on the cob does really nicely, and roasted peppers are to die for. For desert, grilled pound cake, maybe with a dab of fruit sauce or caramel. (Bonus hint: Toasted pound cake is always divine.)

Been there, done that: This is a meal they’re not likely to have had before, and that they will be reminiscing and talking about for years to come.

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What If?

January 15, 2009

The odd but interesting @zolora was bored, and her brain cast out three seemingly random questions. I so enjoyed the recent #7things meme (tell us seven things about you that we don’t already know) that I agreed to answer these questions, too. This is three of three:

If you led a double life, what would your secret other life be like?

If?

Oh, right, this is a hypothetical. Let me answer it that way: All the stock answers–secret agent a la Danger Man (RIP Patrick McGoohan; your John Drake was simply the best secret agent ever), hitman, serial killer, thief, Simon Templar/The Saint–they all seem like good, fun choices.

Yes, I said I’d like being a serial killer. What?! The stalking, the torturing, the power-play, the free expression of bloody violence: You can’t look honestly at the human race and the things we do and tell me that’s not inherently, at some level, inside and fun to us all.

Wait. I’m sorry. You probably weren’t looking for that much brutal honesty here. It’s a fun hypothetical. I’m not supposed to think fondly of Tarantino villains or their vengeful forebears. Not supposed to have an Ed Gein moment! No, siree! Back on track now! Orgetfay Iway everway entionedmay erialsay illerkay.

All the choices seem interesting, but if I were really going to lead a double life, I think I’d have to “work blue.” I’d be a stunt man in porn films. There is such a thing, right? I’m sure there must be. That’s what I’d do. If.