Friday, November 30, 2007

worth 354 words

I have noticed lately that there are cameras in the cabs of New York. There seem to be cameras just about everywhere else around me too - my office, the elevator, on the street, in the shops, hotel lobbies, entrances, behind fast food counters, hallways, ATM machines, Walmart and Walmart like places. In some cities they post signs to let you know that there are cameras on the streets around you. In others they don't.

Chicago and London come to mind as two cities that each have a lot of cameras.

I used to be bummed that I take more pictures than are taken of me. But I now realize that in fact there are a whole lot of pictures being taken of me all the time and of you too.

It all seems kind of creepy, really. The State or your boss watching you at all times. Someone official, yet potentially questionable, recording you every move and storing it somewhere. It's not that I have anything to hide. It's just that I like to be the one who examines my life.

But as with all things there is a flipside.

I was in a cab in Seattle with a camera. The cabbie pointed out an particular intersection in the downtown with four cameras. He said that lots of people got speeding tickets mailed to them based on footage from those cameras. He also told me a story of a drunk guy who got in a cab and badly beat up his Sikh driver. The footage from the camera in the cab was used as evidence against the attacker.

And today I was watching this TED talk by Peter Gabriel about his involvement in human rights advocacy and a human right organization he helped found called WITNESS which provides cameras to people to document human rights abuses internationally.

What might in one case seem bad can be used in another to do good. The camera is powerful but it is in itself neutral.

What matters is your motivation and intention in picking it up and how you use the images you capture.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

is it too late for that, Solo?

I tell people that I like punk shows and ska shows and the reaction is a smile and the reply, "I used to do that."

The report from the sticks

Thursday as I am peeling potatoes for mashed potatoes, my mother broaches the subject of crazy things that New Yorkers do. She says, "Emo (that's Korean for mother's sister) told me that EH (my cousin) pays other people to do his laundry and she was shocked." I admit that I can't bring myself to pay another person to warsh mah drawrs. To my surprise, my mother sides with EH and suggests that in New York where time is in such short supply, having someone else warsh yer drawrs might not be such a bad thing. I think she's concerned that I am going to work in smelly socks (or drawrs). Which at other times in my life would be a valid concern.

My mother has been obsessively watching this 20 episode Korean love story. Clearly, we are related as this is something I would do. It's pretty delightfully overwrought stuff. There's a piano player, a girl with serious glasses, and a handsome Korean American dude who doesn't speak much Korean. All of his dialogue is in English while everyone else speaks Korean to each other and to him. So his understanding of Korean is apparently perfect. The soundtrack is so painfully sentimental. It's killing me. The best part: I started mocking the goofy hairdo of the leading boy, insisting that he needed a haircut. And my mother defended him saying in all seriousness, "It's his style!" Such a role reversal between us. I love it.

My father has become a huge Jorge Luis Borges fan. HUGE. I can't even explain to you just how huge. He has decided that Borges is a greater writer than Brecht, Kafka, and Joyce. I forgot to ask him whether Borges beats out Thomas Mann, Stendhal, and Flaubert.

There are throngs of disappointed search engine users who wander over here seeking advice on finding things to do - things to do in the Winter Season or crazy things to do in the office after hours, etc. All I will say on the second matter is check to see if there are surveillance cameras or a late night cleaning crew and be sure to clean up after yourself (especially if it's not your office or desk). Right.

It was snowing in Chicago while I was there changing planes. The snowflakes were fluffy, fat and drifty. At first they floated down and then they started to fall faster and faster. And then they vanished. It was so pretty I wanted to call someone. But it was frightful early to call anyone just to say, "Snow! Pretty!"

On my way home from work on Wednesday I walked by a man carrying a guitar on the subway platform. I sat down and he circled back and offered to play me a beautiful song. "No financial obligation." He leaned in and played "Dream a Little Dream of Me," a song that I love. He did a lovely light version on the acoustic 12 string in a lovely light voice and I sang along with a little harmony. After which he offered me a second song. I asked him to play me a song he had written. It was this great slidely, slinky girl-I-gotta-get-with-you tune at which point my train arrived. I found a couple dollars which I put in the sound hole in his guitar as requested and went on my way. As the train doors closed he said that I have a beautiful vibe. To my mind it was his beautiful vibe not mine.

I've been looking for a version of the song, "Dream a Little Dream of Me" to share with you on youtube only to discover the youtube fan montage.

Montage #1

Montage #2

A practice that I find strange and charming and in each of these cases quite impressive. I am surprised to say that I now find the gawky skinny Henry Thomas kind of dreamy.

The other thing that I discovered (a while back) on youtube is that dancing to Thriller with Thriller choreography is something of a wedding reception mini-phenomenon.

The bridal party learns the dance and performs it for the rest of the reception. Search with the terms: thriller wedding.

Who on earth dances to a song the refers to "the thing with the 40 eyes" at their wedding? Who on earth dances like a zombie to such a song at their wedding? Although I'd have to say that the dancing in most of the videos could use more zombie-ness.

Where is the sense of decorum and appropriateness?
Do lyrics count for nothing nowadays?

That being said, I am now daydreaming about getting married in a theme wedding based on the Thriller video as a bloody zombie bride, groaning and limping my way down the aisle to the dead one that I love. My mother would kill me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I wrote a joke last night

"Did you hear? 9 out of 10 people think that censorship sucks. The other one doesn't want to hear about it."

to the matter of age defiance

This past weekend CK and I were in Bloomingdale's and each tried a dab of pricey eye cream. I was dabbing mine onto the skin under my eye when the woman behind the counter told me that I was not supposed to dab it up so high.

"You don't need to do that, it will creep up there on its own," she said. And I thanked her and walked away.

On further reflection I am not comfortable with things that will creep up my face. I might have to forgo the eye cream thing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A reminder for all of us looking for love

Have you ever read "The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing"? I love the last story. It's warm and hopeful and funny and sweet. The following passage is one I have often thought about.

I say that we met after college in New York, and that over the years we had a succession of boyfriends but weren't so happy with any of them. We were always asking each other, "Is this all we can expect?"

"Then, I say, "there was our sea-horse period, when we were told that we didn't need mates; we were supposed to make ourselves happy just bobbing around in careers.

"Finally Sophie met Max," I say and turn serious. I look over at him. I think, He has a nice face. And I say this into the microphone. "He gets how funny and generous and wholehearted she is. He understands what a big person she is, and yet he doesn't want to crush her." I get some blank stares here, but Sophie's laughing. I say, "Max is the man Sophie didn't know if she could hope for."

- Melissa Banks
Saw "American Gangster" today with TB. It was really good.

I could not decide who I was rooting for in the movie. I found both main characters compelling. But now that I am home the afterimages in my head are all of the scenes of junkies and the effects of the drug trade on human lives.

It has been too long since I last saw a movie in theaters. I can tell because when it's been too long, all the previews look good.

prelude to holiday cheer

I can't get this song out of my head. I blame CK.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Job of a Lifetime - Why did I not major in Weed Science?

Weed Ecologist




Urbana, IL

DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES: The position is located in the Invasive Weed Management Unit, Urbana, IL. The incumbent will conduct quantitative risk analysis of the invasive potential of bioenergy feedstock species. Complementary risk modeling approaches will be used, including, but not limited to: empirical estimates of dispersal probability, integrodifference equation models, and population viability analyses. Measurements of demographic rates and of the probability of vegetative and sexual dispersal and establishment of Miscanthus x giganteus will be generated in field and laboratory experiments and used to parameterize risk models.

QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS: Recent Ph.D. in Plant Ecology, Weed Science or a closely related field is required. Experience in mathematical modeling, ecological statistics and field experimentation in plant demography are desirable.


Just think, someday cars will have bumper stickers that say
"This car runs on Weed" or "We don't run out of grass."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

investing for the future

This past weekend I was in Texas with the Mystechs. We were in Austin, Denton, and Dallas. While in Texas I made my first investment into the my dream career.

That's right, friends, find me some virgins to hire cause I've taken my first steps towards owning and running my very own:

good vs evil unicorns

Unicorn Ranch!

After some deliberation I decided that I would need to raise both good and evil unicorns. How does one distinguish one type from the other before they are old enough to start showing the rainbow or skull pattern on the flank?

The box suggests asking the unicorn following questions:

1. Do you like to prance through meadows?

2. Have you ever spent all day chasing butterflies and rainbows?

3. Is your favorite sound a laughing brook?

4. Do you believe the children are our future?

5. Are fairies your friends?

6. Do you go around impaling Teddy bears and baby seals?

7. Have you ever dreamed of ruling the underworld?

8. Are you still bitter you weren't invited on the ark?

9. Have you ever used you hooves to bludgeon the weak and innocent?

10. Do you occasionally breathe fire?

I leave it to you to figure out what kind of unicorn you are. It's a question each of us has to ask ourselves in a private moment.

Free Rice

I was about to go to bed when I came across an entry on JV's lj in which she said that she had spent part of the day on And as this is the second time I have heard tell of this site, I wandered over to check it out for myself.

From October 7 to November 13 the site has donated through the help of web advertising: 1,712,371,750 grains of rice.

How many bowls or bags or pounds do you think that is?

And so, Dear Employer,

I am weary today because at a very early part of this morning which was for me, yesterday night, I reached a vocab level of 42 and donated 560 grains of rice. Perhaps I should just send money or bags of rice to the UN World Food Program directly in the future.

Hugs and Rock,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

such a late update

So. I did learn the choreography. And I slapped on some zombie makeup and went out to Tompkins Square park and took part in Thrilling the World.

And according the website, at least unofficially, a new world record has been set. 1,722 people in 52 cities on 5 continents danced simultaneously to "Thriller" at the same time.

There is Youtube video but I was in the very far back corner of the formation so there is the occasional glimpses of my hair or my elbow but very little else. Alas.

Having a goofy thing like this to prepare for, focus on, look forward to. Having an excuse to dance around the house. Taking time to actively connect my brain to the coordinated movement of my body. Having "Thriller" be my internal soundtrack for a week. And doing one of the many ridiculous things that appeal to me that I usually find out about after the fact - well I tell ya, it was grand. Really grand.

I think I am starting to get the hang of the zombie makeup. Now I need to work on the bloody gaping wounds. Next time.