worry vs. clarity Archives
Media I've enjoyed recently 2012
Productivity and problem-solving
Lewis Pugh's mind-shifting Mt. Everest swim (TED video)
Bosses Who Work Out Are Nicer (60-Second Science podcast)
Gun-Toting Increases Bias to See Guns Toted (60-Second Science podcast)
Environment and climate
Lee Hotz: Inside an Antarctic time machine (TED video)
Politics and philosophy
Nic Marks: The Happy Planet Index (TED video)
Carne Ross: An independent diplomat (TED video)
Technology and the Web
This was great. Really impressive piece of research. (It never occurred to me that fine bone china has actual bone in it.)
Sebastian Thrun: Google's driverless car (TED video)
Breathe Easier with Electric Car Charging Overnight (60-Second Science podcast)
App Turns iPhone Into spiPhone (60-Second Science podcast)
A non-health takeaway from this one: Corporations (or as more benignly referred to, "brands") will be analyzing and acting on our social activity in staggering detail in ways that are not automatically or even always possibly perceptible to us. Individual rights now and in the future will require people with an understanding of the technology and techniques of analysis who are working on our side. We will need watchdogs with deep understanding of advanced analytics.
Annie Lennox: Why I am an HIV/AIDS activist (TED video)
Sebastian Seung: I am my connectome (TED video)
Didn't enjoy his presentation style, but the content and its implications are impressive.
Wonderful projects and encouraging data on the power of psychosocial counseling to help break cycles of violence.
Hans Rosling: The good news of the decade? (TED video)
"The time has come to stop thinking of sub-saharan Africa as one place. Their countries are so different and they merit to be talked about in the same way that we don't talk about Europe as one place. I can tell you that the economy in Greece and Sweden are very different."
It's bigger than that, though:
"There is no such thing as a Western world and Developing world."
"You can clearly see the relation with falling child mortality and decreasing family size."
"Almost 50% of the fall in child mortality can be attributed to female education."
It's this kind of tight focus on the actual data—on what really works—that makes me love and respect Hans Rosling. It also reinforces my commitment to only vote for presidential candidates who place a high priority on the family planning and female education efforts which will drive that reduction in child mortality while at the same time slowing population growth.
Boys Who Lack Empathy Don't React to a Fearful Face (60-Second Science podcast)
Animal Production Practices Create Antibiotic Resistance (60-Second Science podcast)
Amateur Planet Hunters Find Exoplanets (60-Second Science podcast)
Monika Bulaj: The hidden light of Afghanistan (TED video)
Large Hadron Collider "Big Bang" Analogies Put Under Microscope (60-Second Science podcast)
Elephants Ask for a Helping Trunk (60-Second Science podcast)
Black Plant Life Could Thrive on Other Planets (60-Second Science podcast)
Box Jellyfish Eyes Aim At The Trees (60-Second Science podcast)
Bat Ears Deform for Better Ping Pickups (60-Second Science podcast)
Body Hair Senses Parasites While Slowing Their Blood Quest (60-Second Science podcast)
Boa Constrictors Listen To Loosen (60-Second Science podcast)
Bloody Mary Gives Up Its Flavor Secrets (60-Second Science podcast)
You Probably Get That A Lot (TMBG Podcast Video Bonus)
Things that make me joyful, happy, delighted 2010Clean sheets. Good sleep. Touching my sweetie. Fun sex. Kissing. Good cheese. Watching cocktails being made well. Delicious food, prepared with care. Having a beautiful, useful, uncluttered home. Writing, when it's going well. Learning new interesting facts. Having a good answer. Seeing others getting more focused and relaxed. Green, living things. Craftsmanship. Carefulness. Stillness. Naps. Avocado. Seascapes (in person). Optional-ness. Flexibility. Making or perceiving interconnectedness. My friends or others being clever. Being clever. Kindness. Good design. Love. Floating in warm water. Sitting and reading with my sweetie or friends. Watching semi-random motions (waves, light, birds, swimmers, boats). Northern California hills in spring. Traveling light. Nerd humor.
Iris bouquet at work 2006
Alphabetizing therapy 2006
When I'm stressed (yesterday was a crappy day; it's bad enough to have someone leap to unfounded conclusions, worse when they blog it as fact) I find it very soothing to put something in order. Since my life is actually pretty great right now and things are ticking over well at work, the CDs got the attention.
There's a big stack of soundtracks/cast recordings, compilations, jazz, and classical out of frame to the left.
These CDs now represent my real iTunes collection. The stuff I've wound up not liking - rating it lower & lower and then deleting it - is listed on lala.com and in a box in the living room ready to be shipped out when someone wants it.
Ikean courtesy 2006
I like how they have pencils, notepaper, van rental information and taxi information right by the payphone.
Bear handed 2006
Such a sweet & clever way to keep a small kid comfortable: a hand to hold that doesn't require reaching up. The friendly stuffed bear is attached to the wheeled luggage cart.
Trust your inner singing voice 2006
My mother has a concept called Track 9 (after 8-track recording) which is where that song in the back of your head is playing. Track 9 usually has a message for you.
When I came in the door after a busy day at work which culminated in something I thought would happen in two and a half weeks at earliest actually happening Friday and requiring me to send work email when I got upstairs, I was tired.
I stayed elsewhere last night (oh put your eyebrow back down) and was feeling the beginning of that "Mmmm, I'm home. I have a quiet evening ahead as soon as I finish this up." sensation.
And then the phone rang.
It was my friend Jason saying "You know there's a D&D game tonight, right? Did you get the email?"
I did not get the email.
It was at this point that track 9 switched to:
...It's all too much
for me to take...
I think I'm gonna miss the game; that's what I think.
sights of Washington D.C. 2006
man on rearing horse, cannons, nuclear weapons protester, White House, big phallic symbol
these sprawled guys are a bit more like the real lions I saw in Africa than the usual doorway fare...
Dedicated To Art
?Renwick Gallery? Can't remember where this was...
The DAR would not approve
my reflection among the names of the dead
Vietnam War Memorial
"Dad" says the card beside a small box
Vietnam War Memorial
Vietnam War Memorial
Ah, pity this washed out. It was a note to friend listed on the wall, recalling good times together - "that deer hunt in 1964" - and saying "I miss you."
Freedom is not free.
Korean War Memorial
cherry buds, tidal basin, Jefferson Memorial
Washington, D.C., tidal basin, Washington Monument, cherry buds
the tidal basin & the Jefferson Memorial and one enthusiastic cherry tree
Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.
No country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally it is the greatest menace to our social order.
I propose to create a civilian conservation corps to be used in simple work. More important, however, than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work.
To the right of this fine idea a group of park rangers, black & white, cleancut & long-haired, were working to clean the fountain and laughing and talking together as they did so. Good work.
Roosevelt's support for the arts, expressed at his memorial
We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.
I HAVE SEEN WAR
I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives.
I HATE WAR.
The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man or one party or one nation. It must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.
That's a cute little statue of Eleanor Roosevelt, first U.S. delegate to the United Nations, on the right.
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Worship
Freedom from Want
Freedom from Fear
Jefferson Memorial, cherry buds
tidal basin, Washington, D.C.
I really liked this tree.
Washington Monument from the mysterious little bridge on Ohio Drive near the Jefferson Memorial
Strange little laughing guy on the mysterious bridge on Ohio Drive near the Jefferson Memorial
I asked a park patrol guy and googled, but can't find the story. Anyone know?
Tasty wine with dinner: MacMurray Pinot Noir 2003
Yes, that MacMurray. Fred MacMurray's ranch, apparently.
A little work, a little early isn't necessarily a bad thing 2006
[originally posted to metagrrrl.livejournal.com]
I was thinking "Well, this is it. Back to work tomorrow. Ugh. And there'll be a ton of email..." and starting to stress about what a rough day it would be. Then I realized it was stupid. If my brain was going to spend time stressing over work, I might as well be doing it.
So I switched over to my work account, opened the VPN connection, and downloaded that email.
165 went to my probable spam folder, and only 3 or 4 were not really spam.
62 went to my inbox (not just to some list I'm on).
52 were notifications requiring no action
2 were cc's requiring no action
1 were undetected spam
2 were things I was copied on but which don't concern me
1 was something that I needed to read in detail, but not act on
3 required a less than 2 minute action
Reading through the mail for my lists took about 10 or 15 minutes tops.
That leaves 1 email that I will need to deal with in the office tomorrow, but its one that will take less than 5 minutes.
So, it's only 7:30pm and now I know there's nothing alarming waiting for me and I can right down to the work on the top of my list.
Hooray for the sanity check!
Current Mood: confident
Current Music: Honky Tonk Angel's Medley - k.d. lang
Getting Things Done 2005
I'm just getting into David Allen's Getting Things Done again and finding this time that I'm really going to be able to implement it. I had adopted some of his approach philosophically on a prior reading, but now I'm ready to put the full process in place. The glory of the clear desk, empty inbox and focused mind await!
In addition to reading the book, I recommend reading Merlin Mann's 43 Folders website (introduction to his take on GTD, all GTD posts) and Mac users should check out Ethan J. A. Schnoover's Kinkless KGTD (introduction, endorsement from Merlin).
I'll be writing more about Getting Things Done in the coming months, I know. I am already feeling the benefits at work.
So very busy. 2004
I've been quiet here since I've been crazy busy at work. I come home wanting something amusing to escape to and so I've been surfing the web, chatting with friends and watching DVDs. Not a huge amount of creative output in the evenings since I've been doing so much writing during the days. Admittedly, it is less fun to write & proof read documentation than posts about wonderful weird things seen on the web, but at least my writing muscles are getting worked out.
Not so much my physical muscles. Mental exhaustion can fool me into indolence when what I really need is to move around. The diet I'm on also leaves me with a little less energy, I suspect. Overcoming that pull away from activity is difficult. Today, though, I'll get a good bit of walking in. I have taken the day off to relax and see the geisha exhibit at the Asian Art Museum before it closes later this month.
Earlier this year I'd talked about taking a vacation, maybe up to visit my aunt & grandmother in Alaska, but then my company decided that one of the other product managers and I should put new versions of our products out twice a year instead of once and that made work fairly insane. I think we'll get good at it - already it's forcing us to be more efficient, but it is still a little crazy-making. On the bright side, I'm getting asked to present more at conferences, so that's giving me a little travel.
I'll be in Portland middle of next month and will get to take a 3-day weekend before the conference to play tourist. I'll be staying at the Jupiter Hotel and doing a lot of walking around downtown, visiting museums and parks, and, of course, hanging out at Powell's Books.
Now it's time to be a tourist in my own city. Off to ride the trolley to the museum!
Where I'd Rather Be 2004
Good long walk. Went back to Amnesia at 19th & Valencia which I remembered (har har) being a pleasant place and sure enough it was. Nice bartender Sean (or perhaps Shaun or Shawn, one never knows). I had a half pint of cider which was cheap and not too intense for a Monday night. Listened to Muchas Bluegracias for a while (Mondays are bluegrass night, and I hear that Wednesdays are Jazz). Caught the bus most of the way back and then worked up a sweat coming the rest of the way home.
It's too darn hot. This does not bode well for summer at all. Time to hit the showers.
Long hard day, warm summerlike evening 2004
Yesterday was mixed. Nice sleeping in. Nice omelette making. Nice visit with Grandma. Icky (rental car) driving. Yucky not making it back to San Francisco in time to return the car early and be done with it. Horrid accidentally scraping the paint on said rental car in the crowded Safeway parking lot by running the front fender across the rear fender of an occupied vehicle. Almost no damage to his car. Obvious paint damage to the rental. Home in a thoroughly desolate mood.
Morning. Up early to return car and fill out damage report. Scramble at work to complete more information for a big presentation to other departments about the next release. Too many phone calls and people stopping by my cube (Is the desire not to be disturbed some sort of attractant?)
Presentation went very smoothly. Stayed on time and covered everything I intended to. Only some people fell asleep a little bit. Pretty good for a 3 hour meeting. Left work early and was home by 6pm. Borderline too-hot - it would be a perfect summer day, but in April it makes me wonder how hot summer will get.
Now it's night. I want to walk out and sit in some nice cafe or tea shop or bar and experience the city, but then I'd stay up too late and spend money I shouldn't. Yeah. Fretful Dinah.
Oh, I just hate feeling like a Smiths song, or at least feeling like "How Soon Is Now?" This is dumb. I'm going for a walk. Maybe I'll come back home feeling "Vicar in a Tutu".
How to build a crappy evening 2004
1) Don't check personal email before leaving work and fail to see invite to gathering tonight of people you really really like until it's half over.
2) Waffle for a while about paying for a cab when you might get there and find everyone was ready to leave.
3) When you do decide to go anyway, walk down your steep hill a few blocks and realize just as you get within hailing distance of empty cabs that your wallet is back at home.
4) Climb back up the hill and fail to reach any of your cool friends on their mobile phones to confirm that they're still up for hanging out and having fun.
5) Mope in front of your computer.
6) Check email and get nothing but spam.
How to turn around a crappy evening:
1) Receive spam with subject "cancelled guignol".
2) Chat with one of your bestest pals.
3) Eat Scharffenberger chocolate.
4) Listen to the soundtrack to Triplets of Belleville.
5) Let bestest pal connect you up with more of your pals in goofy new chat interface.
Slowing down 2004
I have an idea in my mind of something I observed, something spinning, and it would reach a point where it hesitated and spun back in the opposite direction. It's been that sort of day. I slowed, stopped, changed course.
I have surrounded myself with more quiet today than I generally have been of late. Usually I play music, often randomly, skipping what doesn't suit my mood. Today I listened to the sound of the house and the world around the house drifting in. Tonight I was ready for music again, but I wanted to be wrapped in sound that enhanced the feeling of today: slow, but not sleepy; aware and undisturbed. I listened to Sheila Chandra and I wrote a short piece of erotica and then read ostensibly unerotic writing which nonetheless delighted me in the sensuality of its good form.
I am aware of my vacation which will be starting in a few days. It's like seeing not just the coastline you've been sailing towards, but the actual beach where you'll come up on the sand.
In the last 30 hours I have been the person I want to be, in the place I want to be, making choices which feel absolutely right. I am calm, centered, content.
What do I love? Who do I want to share my time with? When do I feel most myself? How can I pare what surrounds me down to just that which is right in this moment? Why am I doing anything that doesn't bring me this?
You may find, like me, that you can be extraordinarily selfish, indulge yourself, without making any demands on anyone else. They may, in fact, think that you've given them something. [Afterthought: it could be that it only appears this way if what you wanted to indulge in was directing your energy outward. Perhaps they thought I gave them something because I did.]
Ah, there is one exception to that view of my time since my party started yesterday. This afternoon Judith kindly indulged my sudden, childlike, greedy desire for a small scarf made from a particular yarn we saw when visiting Imagi-knit. I bought her some new needles and promised either a pot of tea or a cocktail when it's done. Seems like I'm getting a great deal, but perhaps she is showing me my own principle in action.
I feel great this morning. Last night I had a party and got to hang out with my wonderful friends, nibbling chocolate, drinking wine, eating good food and having the best conversations. I was a smart cookie and remembered to drink enough water late in the evening and slept very well. A thoroughly satisfying evening mentally, physically and emotionally.
Now it's midday on Sunday, I've slept in, enjoyed the sunshine and birdsong coming into my apartment, had another fantastic conversation, read interesting things (another post coming
in a few minutes after I go have tea with Judith), and feel utterly relaxed and at peace.
My life is good.
I took a strange journey over the last month and a half or so. I ventured into the lands of fandom and beyond to the shadowed realms of gossip and "real person stories". Now I'm back and feeling a bit tarnished from the trip. It's not that I didn't meet nice people in my travels, I did and in the most surprising of places, or that I did things I'm deeply ashamed of, I didn't. It just led me to confront some truths about pop culture and my part in it that have left me uneasy.
The first of these truths is that performers (actors, musicians, artists, whatever) are often treated as characters by their fans. They populate fantasies, are given attributes important to the fan, and their reactions to any of this are rarely considered. They are treated as dolls. Not by all fans or all the time, but often.
The second of these truths is that fans' wishes for them can take on a life of their own. The web now allows people who've been independently building fantasies and imagining certain qualities around performers to easily connect with other people thinking similar thoughts. When the wish ("He must be sweet and innocent", "She must want children", "They must be a couple") is shared, those fans can start to resist anything which contradicts it, even if those contradictions are born of the performer's own real actions or wishes.
The third truth is that sometimes the story created by a fan or a group of fans is more compelling, more personally significant, more fun than the truth. Good stories are what makes us human, so there's nothing inherently wrong in making them up, it's just the potential effect on the real person being used as a character that makes this morally problematic.
As I sit here unpacking my mental suitcase from this trip, I do feel like I've been a tourist. Sometimes barging around naively annoying the natives. Sometimes one of a thousand flashing cameras grabbing a moment before jumping back on the bus and never really connecting with the subject of my pictures. Sometimes projecting my own world view onto everything around me. Sometimes meeting other travellers and forming a real connection. Sometimes being horrified by the other tourists and wondering "Am I that bad?" Sometimes managing to stop interpreting everything from my own point of view and instead just see, just be. Always learning. Often laughing.
A strange trip indeed. Saw some pretty sights along the way though, I must say.
Positive Vibration 2003
Want to be healthy? Strong? More open and lickable and less bitter and baffled and cynical? Ask for it, place some divine intent behind it and breath it in and imagine what it would feel like to radiate health and sexual vibrancy and self-defined joy and really cool taste in shoes. That's how you start.Mark Morford sez Shut Up And Vibrate Already
Oh, and by the way, it's National Masturbation Month...
Wow. That hardly hurt at all... 2003
My fear of visiting Houston, Texas, turns out to have been unnecessary. Though I did see big hair, hear alarming accents, get subjected to an anti-Osama joke from the funeral deal hawking shuttle bus driver, find myself surrounded by rampant religiousity and have a bitch of a time finding something to eat at the convention besides BBQ, the trip was redeemed by:
- the kickass staff of theWarwick Hotel
- the great musical selection at Sound Waves
- the best meal I've had all year at Boulevard Bistrot
- a surprise opportunity to attend the Cirque du Soleil's "Allegria"
So I learned I can survive Texas outside of Austin. Of course, I also learned that even if I stick to the hipster district and some carefully selected activities I will be constantly reminded that I am Not Like Them. Take me home where the freaks are, baby.
(Also should mention I had a bad case* of manufactured mood overload when I was stuck with eating dinner in a Bennigan's restaurant. It's like they programmed a computer to recognize nostalgia-provoking objects & music, but forgot to tell it to only do one at a time. 80s-Irish-50's-sports-30s-southwestern-70s-pub...and here I began to twitch...)
Sense of ease not found 2003
You know you're having one of those days (and that you're a web geek) when you look at the clock, see "4:04" and say, "Man, ain't that the truth."
Is it what you do when you're all alone and can do whatever you want that defines you? 2003
[This post is a reaction to Kristin's wistful comments at the end of SXSW]
I have similar feelings at SXSW too. It's the height of my feeling connected to this great community of people and also when I feel most alone and foolish. I guess that's because I like the people so much I worry more about them liking me, maybe? Anyhow, I am sorry I missed the fun this year, but it was good to stay home. I was a very different Dinah than I expected to be this last week and I'm still sorting that out - not web geek project grrrl or walk all over the city woman, but reading sleeping daydreaming movie watching mostly by myself Dinah. Reminds me of who I was as a teen; an only child sitting up in her room listening to music and gazing out windows. Perfectly happy except for that nagging sensation that I was somehow supposed to be doing something different.
Now it's the last day of my vacation (*sigh*) and a beautiful afternoon. I'm watching clouds go by and listening to music. Dreamy and indolent. That voice in my head says I should seize these hours and run around and DO SOMETHING, but I think it's full of it. Tomorrow I will be back at work in the middle of the usual frenzy, putting out whatever the fire du jour is. Time enough for hustle then. Now the sun is shining, the trees are blowing in the wind and I don't have to do a thing...
Survival Tip 2002
One of the best things you can learn to do for yourself is to omit the unnecessary without guilt. When work is hard or you have family stress or you're feeling sick, let go of things your gut tells you you don't need to do.
My new job, though I love it, is really hard. I'm doing better at it than I expected and enjoying it more too. Still, it is a mental workout. That's been the main source of if not stress at least wiped-out-ness.
It's not that I have nothing more to say or I didn't want to come to your party or I don't like to write email to you or whatever it was I didn't do; it's just that I needed to retreat and recharge.
I recommend it. Watch a movie. Do some fun project around home. Go for a walk. Do whatever whole-lotta-nothing strikes your fancy. You deserve it. I certainly do. ;)
Ways To React 2002
This morning I saw a very near miss. At Grove and Polk around 6:40am, a Jeep clipped the back wheel of a bicycle. The rider didn't fall down and was able to get safely to the side of the street. The Jeep pulled over immediately and the driver leapt out and rushed up to the dismounting bike rider.
I was too far away to hear what they said, but the driver's hands went out to the arm, then the shoulder of the cyclist. All the driver's body language was expressing concern and profound apology. As I walked on past, they were walking towards the back of the Jeep, the driver's hand still on the cyclist's shoulder, and I got the distinct impression that the driver was going to give the cyclist a ride.
Anger is an option. You don't need to choose it. It's particularly important not to choose it when you're the one at fault. It's also particularly constructive not to choose it when you aren't at fault and the one who is has taken ownership of their error. Move past the anger to the best resolution and you'll save yourself a lot of energy (and, not incidentally, usually end up better off than you would have otherwise).
Hard Morning 2002
I wish that the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks was a weekend, that it wasn't a day in many ways just like that day last year. So many reminders to shake me up and yet, I, though emotionally very affected, was not personally touched by the tragedy except through some casual friends, except philosophically or politically.
Here I am at work again. Thinking about it all. Distracted by it all. Wanting to make those human connections. Caring more about my friends and family and about peace. Wondering if this stupid species will ever learn to stop hurting each other, hating each other.
Anil has been on my mind the last few days. He was who I spoke to the most that day, I think. We chatted on some instant messaging client, I in Silicon Valley, he in Manhattan. Since my PC gave up the ghost, since I changed jobs, I haven't been chatting online. It's a distraction I can ill afford in my challenging new job and a time-consuming habit I decided to drop. I would like to say hello to Anil though and let him know I am thinking of him, wishing him well, appreciating his clarity and humanity that shines in his writing.
This morning there was a woman playing the cello in the BART station. That is the music for today; not patriotic ballads, not the national anthem, just a low sad theme, wandering, wistful, humane.