Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ode to digital lovin

zapp and roger were visionaries. why would i say such a thing? let me break it down for you computer science style...

"Computer Love" was released in 1986. if you are unfamiliar with the song, this fact may be of no consequence to you, so please click the link and allow me to illuminate its brilliance as you listen (or wax nostalgic). approximately 10 years before the internet became widely utilized, 15 years before online dating became a socially accepted norm as a means to find love, zapp and roger were extolling the virtues of technology to search for, locate and maintain romantic relationships. my hat also goes off to the creators of back to the future II. during one scene a naked caller accidently video dials the mcfly residence illustrating, what is arguably, the most common use of video chatting (i have absolutely no statistics to back this claim, it is purely anecdotal).

for those of us who have been been in a long distance relationship, tools such as skype, iChat and google's video chat have helped put a face to the voice on the other end of the line. they have enabled a more "human" element in the fight to make it last forever when our loves are out of reach. back in '86, it may only have been a futuristic take on finding love, but technology has finally closed the gap. ironically, it seems that the potential to make a human connection is what has driven our most recent cyberspace crazes (see: myspace, twitter, facebook...)

zapp and roger's computer love was the precursor to many a digital love song. though i cannot crown them all with the title of "visonary" here is a nod to those that i can remember, in no particular order:

Friday, July 10, 2009

there is a method to my madness

sometimes my train of thought seems scattered and disconnected (at best), but there is always a logical path. i was going to post a video without context on my social networking site of choice, facebook, and then i thought better of it. let me explain how i got to this (video).

a friend of mine posted a picture of a pair of noise canceling headphones she was considering for purchase from amazon. this triggered the memory of an episode of the 'hammerman' show where the villain of the episode hated noise and hammer helped him in the end by getting him a recording of nothing...with headphones. that sent me on a youtube search to find a clip of that mc hammer cartoon, and that brings us to this: the hammerman theme song. now i can go on with my day, my internet fix is satiated.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

to my father, on his day.

On this father's day, as I sit listening to President Obama's speech on fatherhood and having called my father to speak with him this morning a thought crossed my mind. My father has been many things to me; a provider, a coach, a disciplinarian, a friend... The memory that came to mind this morning, was the day that my grandmother died. Below is an excerpt from my journal on that day.

My grandmother died today. My Grandma Smiley. She died of cancer, in her lymph nodes. I didn't know all day, I guess my parents didn't want me to know because it would ruin my day. They said that she died at 9:00am. I don't know what to think. I feel really shallow. Today was the homecoming game and our parents were supposed to escort us at halftime, for the show. Anyway, it was almost time and my mom and dad still weren't there and I know that they are really busy, but I was still like 'This is really important,' and I started crying. They offered to get me another escort, but I didn't want anyone but my parents. Our mascot, the eagle, was going to escort me, but right when we were walking over, my mom and dad came. I could tell that something was wrong, but I was too wrapped up in myself and what Eshe needed, that I didn't even bother to ask. I was just really relieved that they came.
The reason why that incident stood out for me is because being a father is often about sacrifice. I was very excited to have been selected by my peers to sit as a princess on the homecoming court, in Belen, NM. I was the first African American to sit on the homecoming court in 20 years. For my father, allowing me to have that moment meant that he swallowed his pain, and showed up for me to walk me down that field at half time.

My father is far from perfect, but he is a good father. I love him dearly and the thing I will remember always is how he has shown up for me. From the time he had to confront my 5th grade teacher for trying to block me from going to represent my class at the Optimist's club speeches to the basketball game where he jeered me when I shot at the wrong basket -- a story he LOVES to tell, I know what it's like to have a father present in my life. To all of the men who believe that a father's job is to provide, I respect that, but it is so much more. My father is the man who taught me that love is displayed through action.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

manage your time (don't let it manage you)

Let me begin by saying that this post is in no way intended to be the definitive guide on how to most effectively manage your time. I am not a certified specialist in the area, nor do I believe that what works for me will work for everyone. I am sharing because on several occasions my friends have asked me: "How do you do it?? Where do you find the time??"

In order to understand why someone would ask me this, you must first understand what my life is like. I am a Big with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Central Arizona, I also sit on their Professional Leadership Council and will be helping chair the Marathon for Kid's sake this year (read: solicit all of my friends and family for money). I am a volunteer at the Phoenix Museum of History in the Archives, I sit on the Advisory Board for COMPUGirls, a program that introduces young women to science and technology as a career path, I work out at least 4 days a week, and run about 1 race per month, this past month was Pat's Run. I work for Intel Corporation as a Design Automation Engineer, and I am a precinct committeeman for Legislative District 20 in Maricopa County. I love healthy eating and usually bring my lunch to work (because I also don't like spending money on eating out when I can spend it on travel!) I am what one would consider a 'social butterfly' and love to spend time with my friends, and so they constantly as me...where DO I find the time?! My secret is this: I don't sleep. just kidding!

My real secret is breaking things down into manageble chunks of time so that I can complete large tasks in smaller segments (note: this is not always possible). Aside from that, I know my schedule, and I prioritize. So, to my friends who asked, here it is: my sort-of guide to managing your time...hope it helps!

Scheduling is your friend!
Number one key to organizing your life? Schedule it. Make sure you know where you have to be, when you need to be there, and for how long. Know your commitments and prioritze the items that are of greater importance. This may seem counterintuitve, given that scheduling makes you less flexible, but on the contrary, it frees you to do what you like without stressing about what you are supposed to be doing. A schedule is useless if you don't stick to it. Keep it where you can see it, check it and update it. If you need to, add reminders in your mobile device so that you don't miss important events.

Eliminate unnecessary time leeches!
Everyone has something in their life that they can do without. I do not watch television. With the exception of an occassional program here and there, I do not turn on the tv, for me, unless I am doing laundry or work while watching, it seems like a waste of time when I could be doing something beneficial for myself. Identify your leeches, the things that suck up a lot of time but seem to have no tangible benefit, and get rid of them!

Combine Tasks
Align your extra-curricular activities with things that you enjoy doing, or need to do and then you can kill two birds with one stone. I once solicited people at Happy Hour to sign up for Early Voting (I signed up about 15 people!) because I knew I needed to get them in by a certain time, but I wanted to see my friends! Never waste a good opportunity to get something done. I always have a book, magazine, or my journal in my purse so while I wait at the doctor's office or elsewhere, I can feel like I am not wasting my time because I am completing something that I wanted to do. Group a monotonous task with one that requires brain power: While I do dishes, I listen to the news (NPR is one of my most favorite things in life! I support my local station every year with a monetary gift!). The take away here? Find the tasks on your schedule that can be done toegether and make it happen.

Find a Good Stopping Place
I am a master of the context switch. I once read that there is no such thing as multi-tasking due to the fact that our brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so I have ceased to consider myself a multi-tasker, and instead adapted the term 'context switching.' Trying to do two things simultaneously often makes you waste time because your focus is not on the task at hand, so break things into blocks of time and go from one to the other in a way that maximizes your efforts. For instance, as I write this blog post, I have a load of laundry in the washer, and one in the dryer. I may not always have a solid block of time to work out, so I will break it up: cardio in the morning, lifting after work, at least 15 minutes of each.

Reduce your stress
You will not be stressed if you allow yourself time to complete things: know your committments and stick to a schedule for completion! If you have a large looming deadline, set the date, and do incremental things leading up to that date that make it easier to handle. Cook once on the weekend, freeze what may spoil and defrost as needed. If you cook something that can serve as a base for a new meal, that breaks up the monotony of eating leftovers. For instance: rice and beans can be turned into many other meals -- rice cereal for breakfast, tacos, burritos, the list goes on. Packing for a big vacation? Make a list of everything you will need. Open up a suitcase, and check things off the list throughout the week, come trip day, voila, you are packed!

I don't want to go on and on, so here are my little gems of wisdom on the time management tip: Plan your time, prioritize your tasks, and take it one day at a time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stories from Italy: 1

I just got back from my first big international trip, that being one that required me to cross an ocean, to the beautiful country of Italy. While there, I visited Milan, Florence, Rome and Venice, of which I must say, Rome was my favorite. When I travel, I experience through sight seeing and eating. I love food and I love history and culture so my time is best spent roaming, observing and grabbing delectable little treasures to munch on along the way. For this, Italy was a perfect match. A country with 3,000 years of history is a sight seers dream and with some sort of eatery around every corner I sometimes ate just to taste things because they looked so good! Of course everything in Italy was not all beauty and romance, and it is out of this collection (the not so beautiful) that I bring you the first story from my travels.

Upon arriving in Italy I immediately noticed two things --the tights, and the graffiti. The women in Italy have a way of casually throwing together an outfit with the most intricately patterned tights and making it look effortless. In a city crafted by artisans, is it any wonder that the practice (of artful design) should extend to the clothing? I fell in love with the tights, they even have special stores, just for tights. So many things there are specialized. A shirt store for shirts, an entire store just for gloves, not once did I see a "one stop shop." People are truly masters of their craft. As for the graffiti, it is everywhere. Sadly, most of it is not artistic, merely the equivalent of spitting on the street. It is strewn across beautiful stoic buildings indiscriminately in English words that often make no sense. I could not understand why, in a culture that cultivates an appreciation for it's history one would have so little respect as to deface a 1,000 year old basilica, but to some it's just a pile of rock.

While traveling I'd become accustomed to hearing the phrase "Ciao bella!" when greeted by the men in Italy. It made me smile. Prior to leaving the states, I was forewarned about the aggressive nature and crassness of Italian men, but I had yet to encounter anything of the sort. I had grown rather fond of them actually. My guard was down. One day my sister and I were walking through Florence where several street vendors attempted to sell us their wares, we responded with our most useful Italian phrase: "no, grazie." In one such instance after respectfully declining to purchase a painting, one of the vendors called after me "Nice ass, I'd like to fuck!" And there it was. Never had anyone, stateside or otherwise, said anything so ugly. In that moment, I felt a kinship with those beautiful historic buildings, it was as though someone had just scrawled the senseless grafitti across my body.

When reading about Italy in preparation for the trip, I came accross the statistic that the unemployment rate for young people in Italy is around 30% and that a great majority of them live with their parents until well into their late twenties and early thirties. To put that in perspective, the current US unemployment rate is hovering around 8%. In desparate times, people resort to desparate measures to hold on to some sense of dignity, to feel that they are still relevant --still included in the story. In scrawling the graffiti, in hurling ugly words, perhaps it was a way of saying "You will not ignore me. You may have come to tour the buildings and see the sights, but I am still standing here, these cities were built centuries ago...but today, I am here, I am struggling, and I am frustrated." I chose not to dignify the comment with a response, but I continued to notice the hideous grafitti everwhere. On my last night in Milan, while looking for postcards I took a wrong turn and looked up to find a beautifully grafittied doorway. I smiled and silently thanked God for reminding me that there is always beauty to be found amidst the rabble.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

a single woman's rant

boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy asks for girl's number, and so it begins. that silly little dance of getting to know you where you have to invest time up front tolerating people long enough to find out if you are meeting them or "their representative." here is why i hate first conversations:

you ask me stupid questions that i don't feel like answering!
  • "sounds like you're cooking, so you cook huh? you should cook for me." this really makes me NOT want to cook for you...ever.
  • "do you have a picture phone?" why because you're going to ask me to send you a photo? please. stop. really.
  • and my personal all time favorite: "so, i have to ask you this: you are gorgeous, intelligent, sociable...why are you single?" the word 'single' is spoken as though it were some communicable disease people try not to catch. did i ask YOU why you were single? no, i didn't.
this brings me to the real point of this post. why is it that a well adjusted, happy, single woman is called into question? people never seem to get tired of asking. co-workers, well meaning family friends, random guys...and it comes in many forms, but always with some rationalization or analysis about why: "you must party too much," "you're not crazy are you?" "oh i know, you've got a list." but if i were a man, would anyone ask me that question? i'm going to go out on a limb and say that the answer is no.

i could give any number of reasons why (i am single), but at the end of the day it boils down to one simple fact: because i want to be; and i should not have to justify that to anyone, least of all you, mr. met-you-in the-club-first-time-caller.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

i dodged salmonella!

a very interesting thing happened at the grocery store today. i purchased a few items on the way to a superbowl party and instead of getting the short receipt i was expecting, it was long. very long. i quickly joked with the cashier about it's length. as i read the receipt, i realized that it was so long because there was information related to the peanut butter recall. i love clif bars and purchase them pretty regulary. they are great for that pre or post workout boost! i am also a fry's valued customer (you know, the little card you swipe when you buy groceries). as a result of my participation in the valued customer's program, the grocery store had information on things i had previously purchased, so they alerted me to return items that may have been effected. woah! i wasn't sure what was more disturbing;

1) that i might have salmonella sitting on my shelf or
2) that the grocery store tracked all of my purchases and can use the information in any way they see fit.

i like getting savings on the groceries that i buy and never gave too much thought about what the store might do with my shopping data. i do get coupons every now and then for items that i purchase, which i like...then, i started to wonder what else they might use it for. direct marketing? collaborating with my insurance company to determine whether i was a potential health risk due to the foods that i eat?! okay, a bit of conspiracy theory there, but really, where does it end? i haven't thought this out fully just yet. but i am keeping my frequent shopper card.

when i got home, i checked my cabinets only to find that oops! i'd already eaten the clif bar containing the bad peanut butter paste. good thing i didn't get salmonella!