Log in

19 March 2009 @ 09:07 am
(Originally published at Pith and Vinegar: blog version.)

Hi LJ people! This is the last time I'm a-gonna send my blog posts to my LJ. I'm trying to write more, and I don't think a lot of my stuff is topical or necessarily that interesting to you folks. Feel free to bookmark or sign up for the feed, though, if you do happen to enjoy it. And I'll still be around on LJ!

I used to froth and rant at Wendy’s advertising slogan “It’s waaaaaay delicious,” which makes Wendy sound like she dropped out of school in fourth grade, but I have a new fast food slogan nemesis. (What? I’m a big fan of nemeses.) It seems that Pizza Hut’s latest round of commercials end off with “Now you’re eating.” Now.. you are eating. It’s like the only lure their food has is that you can put it in your mouth and swallow it. “Now you have found food sustenance.” Next up: car commercials with the slogan, “Now you are operating a motor vehicle.”

18 March 2009 @ 11:08 am
There are four basic elements of my life:

Guild, blogs, and other labours of love

Thus far I seem to be able to maintain no more than three of these things at any one time. Which three I can handle shifts from day to day, but it is still the maximum. One day I'll figure out how to get that fourth ball in the air.
17 March 2009 @ 11:53 am
(Originally published at Pith and Vinegar: blog version.)

Points system for dog watching in Vancouver:

+10: Your dog is small and ugly.
+5: Your dog is small and cute.
+0: You are walking your dog.
-5: Your dog is wearing clothes. (Note: bandannas are acceptable.)
-10: Your dog is wearing designer clothes.

Scientific conclusion: No one likes to feel underdressed next to a dog.

16 March 2009 @ 11:17 am
(Originally published at Pith and Vinegar: blog version.)

Achievement systems have become hugely popular in gaming over the last few years. I sort of understood from a distance why this was so, but the concept didn’t really seem that compelling to me. Then one day the game I play the most got its own set of achievements, and suddenly I was up until 2am trying to hug a certain number of ducks or whatever just for that split second of lights and happy music. They are, indeed, addictive.

So what about achievements in real life? I was looking over Diddit, a relatively new site that wants you to keep track of things you do in your life, and was reminded of the achievement model. Diddit doesn’t take it far enough, but it kind of has the right idea. You can set up lists of things you’d like to do with your life, and when you tick them off you can publish your life achievement to Twitter or other broadcasting media.

Here’s what I think a site would have to do: gather a panel of experts from 10 or so core life areas (stuff like health, travel, family), and have them come up with a whole whack of achievements. Users could add their own , but I think most people enjoy doing things that have been preset for them by an “authority”. Assign a points system to them, and a good search/comparison engine. Integrate achievement announcements with as many different services as you can muster. Give it quirky homespun graphics and a stupid name that ends in an ‘r’. Profit!


Looking at my site logs, two Google search referrals stand out:

a) “hate macrame owls” - Me too, anonymous Googlenaut! In the meantime, let us make faces at this collection of macrame tables and chairs.

b) “how to be less self-centered” - Oh wow, dude. Did you ever get sent to the wrong site.

11 March 2009 @ 11:40 am
(Originally published at Pith and Vinegar: blog version.)

So it is time for me to fess up: not all of my personal anecdotes are 100% true. I mean, often they are, but sometimes I rearrange events or add a little character motivation or occasionally insert that line that I SHOULD have said but didn’t. I had someone earlier this week say that that made me a filthy liar and my reply was, “I’m not lying! I’m editing.”

And, to my mind, it’s true. I don’t fabricate entire events out of whole cloth, or turn people who zig into people who zag. But my innate tendency when I’m telling a story is to punch it up a bit. And I think I’m not alone in this, or at least I have David Sedaris on my side and that’s pretty good backup.

Really, so much of life now is about good self-PR. The whole social media thing? It’s all self-PR, which is part of the reason I so enjoy it. What is the “Jessica” brand? What does it believe in? What does it promote? What did it have for lunch? These are critical questions!

So does punching up the odd anecdote to make it more impactful* or more coherent or, yes, more flattering, constitute lying, or good old fashioned editing for your intended audience?

* “Impactful” is not strictly a word but it SHOULD BE.


Down with Facebook! For all my Twittering and Digging and Blippring, I hate Facebook. It was kind of okay at first, and neat to catch up with old absentee friends. Then the interface got all cluttered with crap and I realized that I don’t actually care about that many people and my email box was hit with a plague of messages like, “That Person You Hated in High School wants you to join their Pirate Ninja Squad!” Despite the fact that some of my good friends still hang out there (Chris, dude, I am talking to you. Get a goddamned Twitter and save me some pain.), I refuse to participate.

(Originally published at Pith and Vinegar: blog version.)

Hi LJ people. This was a really long bit comparing the current popular social bookmarking sites, but I shall spare your f-lists the pain. If that's the kind of thing you like to read, go visit mah blog. Thank you, and good day.

Link dump:

9 Comics to Read After Seeing Watchmen. Everyone is all blah blah bad word of mouth blah, and I think they’re clearly insane. It was a GREAT movie, all three hours of it. I was a fan of the book, but not a fangirl, and felt entirely satisfied by the movie treatment.

Chocolate cake in five minutes, using a coffee mug and a microwave. Now this is my kinda cooking.

PS: I thought about putting a pretty graphic or two in this post to increase the visual appeal and better attract readers, but then I realized I don’t care. Suck that, Web 2.0.

06 March 2009 @ 02:55 pm
(Originally published at Pith and Vinegar: blog version.)

I am feeling prolific and linky today. Maybe it’s a Friday thing, or reduced game responsibilities, or the fact that I’ve had almost no office work to do all week.

City of Vancouver votes to allow urban chickens! Get this motion passed by my cats and we might be on to something. Really, though, raising chickens in the extra bathroom isn’t very practical. It would be much more sensible to build giant plexiglas tubes around the whole apartment and have them wander about like hamsters. (Side note: the author of this how-to on removing a hamster from a tube should chat with this half-baked theorist on pneumatic hamster tubes).

Helicopter shots of Venice. Absolutely stunning, and almost enough to make me think about going back to Italy. “Hey, here’s an idea: we’ve got 118 islands, why not build a city all over them?!”

So I mentioned Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I just discovered the competing film, Pride and Predator. Clearly the one with walking undead will be superior. Elizabeth is a smart and proper lady, it’s not like she’d lower her standards to courting alien bounty hunters. Please. It does makes you wonder how the film world happens upon this synchronicity…

Guerrila Camoflage for IKEA. The next war will not be fought on the battlefield, or even on computers. It will be on huge concrete fields of sensibly priced Swedish furniture.

Oh, and finally, I have to give a shoutout to David Lynch’s Twitter. Sometimes he shares a thought or two, but mostly he just posts the daily weather in Los Angeles in perfectly structured English. It is very odd and it pleases me to no end.

04 March 2009 @ 09:39 am
(Originally published at Pith and Vinegar: blog version.)

Time Magazine thinks Facebook’s “25 Things About Me” meme is dumb.

Jon Stewart hates Twitter.

The LA Times argues that social networking hasn’t made us any more social.

I am pretty in to the whole social media thing — I am a faithful reader of Mashable — and I have a history of being very strongly in favor of making the web a huge personal publishing platform for everyone. My stance has always been that if every mom had a way of sharing their thoughts the world would be a better place.

Lately though I’ve been wondering if all these new content platforms are actually.. killing content. Who is creating the neat websites that we used to blog about? (Note: not me.) Books become essays, essays become blog posts, blog posts become 140 character status messages. (Amusing: the book Twitter for Dummies is 288 pages about 140 characters.) It seems like it’s not entirely impossible that within two years we’ll be communicating solely through acronyms and bulleted lists. Will it still be content at all, or just self-contained egocentric notes being shouted out in a storm of voices?

And if I really feel strongly about this, shouldn’t I be helping by creating actual unique genuine content that is more than a sentence? Hmmm. All this thinking about stuff is making my fingers tired, so let’s just have a list of things about me! (I am not interesting or patient enough for 25 items, so instead here are 10.)

1. I didn’t attend kindergarden, or grades 4 and 6. I just didn’t.
2. The town I grew up in didn’t have access to funky hair colors way back when, so I dyed my hair blue with bleach and kool aid.
3. I sailed a replica of a wooden Spanish longboat at the Brest, France maritime festival in 1992.
4. My Dad almost named me “Shasta Daisy”.
5. My favorite Beatle is John.
6. I threw a glass of water at a hobo once. I also punched a really obnoxious street kid in the nose.
7. In grade 10 my friends and I secretly ran a fake Student Council president campaign for the mysterious and non-existent “Bob Aran”.
8. My mother once told me, “No matter how poor you get, never buy second hand shoes”, and I still feel that’s a damn fine life lesson.
9. I don’t like conflict, particularly when I was younger. Instead of quitting jobs or making appointments I have had brothers die or be horribly injured, family members go missing, and broken my leg a few times.
10. I have never broken any major bones, although I did pop a chip off my left index knuckle once. It hurts in really humid weather, which kind of pleases me because it seems poetic.

26 February 2009 @ 08:43 am
(Originally published at Pith and Vinegar: blog version.)

Lately I’ve been in to uncovering digital/online art communities and browsing through all their stuff. Art is a total mystery to me. I sometimes sit down and try and draw things, or color things, and they inevitably disappoint. Which is amusing, because my dearest friend from high school and spiritual little brother is an artist for a living, and when we get together he will occasionally respond to something I’ve said with, “Yes! That is art!” and I am all “What? Where? Did I blink and miss it? I don’t understand!”

Anyway, this is a longwinded way of pointing out that these old school book covers for modern movies completely kick ass.

25 February 2009 @ 02:56 pm
(Originally published at Pith and Vinegar: blog version.)

I had this moment last week where a song I hadn’t heard in ages came on the radio at a restaurant and I was instantly flooded with vivid memories. It was “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone”, and it played over and over and over at the little tourist shop where I worked one summer. Sitting there last week I could actually smell the clothing steamer, and my fingers were alive with the memory of folding a million shirts on my cardboard folding board.

Anyway, it gave me the idea of a writing exercise: think of an evocative song from my past, and write about the memories. I did my first one on the plane to Vegas. It’s a little clumsy and maudlin, but I’m out of practice and didn’t want to edit too much and air travel terrifies me. (Half writing exercise, half therapy!) With that in mind…

Joey, Concrete Blonde (1991)

It was Fall, I think. Cold enough to have to keep the heat running in the car, but not far enough in the year for jackets.

We sat in the car, Mom in the driver’s seat and me beside her. We were parked at the big recreation center outside of town, almost exactly halfway between our home and that of my boyfriend at the time. It had long since shut down for the day, and we were the only car in the lot.

She must have been driving me home. She had done it before, and it was always one of those awkward things. “So.. what were you two up to tonight?” “Oh, you know.. stuff. Watched T.V. Just.. stuff.” A pause would stretch into silence for the rest of the drive.

But not that night. That night she pulled over, kept the car running, and tried to explain all those things that Moms want their daughters to know and sixteen year old daughters are too smug to learn. She talked, I listened. The Concrete Blonde cassette played through twice, making that ‘clunk’ noise of the automatic side switcher every twenty minutes or so. Each time I heard that thunk I would inwardly roll my eyes and wonder when the lecture would end. Eventually I think she felt she had said enough, and with a sigh she headed the car back towards home.

I learned very little. How do you teach your daughter to never have her heart broken, to never be reckless, to always be loyal to herself? You don’t, of course. But I imagine sometimes one would get the urge to try, sitting in the middle of nowhere as slow ballads blend together in the background.