Nine months in: GR reset

A lot has happened since I moved to GR. At first, I mourned Portland, a city I believed would be my final destination. Next, it was learning to call Grand Rapids home. Now, it’s realizing how living in a small town requires rethinking my approach.

In an unforeseen series of circumstances, I find myself in a situation I would never have imagined. I’m still not quite certain how I became embroiled in all of it. However, in the immediate aftermath (today is the day after), I feel hopeful.

I’m beginning to remember that the world is bigger than Grand Rapids, and that despite my lack of mobility, there are ways to leave. Books, poetry, news, advocacy, writing… I have things such as biking and swimming to call my own, but none of those take me out of Grand Rapids.

Ground-up issues are more immediate, but not always more legit; every once in a while, there’s something to be said for broader issues that trickle down to the local level. I have been uneasy about how to participate on a national level because it can feel like an excuse for passive action, such as joining a FB group as protest; too easy. I live my life on that local level, but I’m reminded of how important it has always been to me to feel connected on a far wider scale.

It’s odd realizing what you take for granted when you’re accustomed to more cosmopolitan areas. I’ve always been accustomed to being open because whether it’s dirty doesn’t come up when you don’t have to worry about people’s curiosity. Here, niceties are actually formalities and not necessarily genuine questions only asked when time can be spared. I may have a new-found sense of hope from rediscovering the bigger world, but I know I have some things to work through:

  • Figure out where the line is between being open and gossiping (even about yourself).
  • Be on guard against the big fish syndrome.
  • It’s better to discuss things rather than people.
  • Never overlook your responsibility for your words and actions, but after a certain point, you aren’t accountable for other people’s impressions.
  • Identify turns of phrase that give the speaker carte blanche (i.e.: That’s human). Be wary of those who use them and, in turn, avoid using them like the plague.

Filed under: Food for thought, Grand Rapids, , , , , , ,

Is technology the new fashion?

While on the evening bike ride last night, I caught a sliver of a conversation between two friends.

“It’s cyclical,” one of them said.

They were discussing analog’s comeback. Admittedly, it’s hardly enough to make a blip in the general population, but the demand for rotary phones, typewriters, lomos, lo-fi and other older technologies is becoming a trend.

“Cyclical.” <CLICK> Is technology the new fashion?

Apple’s done an amazing job turning technological goods into accessories. One might go so far as to say fashion accessories. There is an intentional visual difference between generations of Apple laptops, iPhones and iPods. The entrance of the candy shelled iMacs was game-changing, pinpointing technological goods to the year they were released.

It goes without saying that current fashion trends are usually a blend of trendsetting aspirations and inspirations from the past. My mom and I are about 35 years apart, yet I still wear several of her pieces, from clothes to jewelry, every other day. Vintage, retro, antique, shabby chic, however you frame it, it’s plausible that fashion peaked at one point and now draws from its strongest successes.

There have even been points where fashion and technology have elided. At SXSWi last year, a panel briefly discussed how HP had employed fashion designers to clad their notebooks with style. Every other year since 2008, new designs have debuted each year at New York’s Fashion Week (for images of Vivienne Tam’s latest clutchbook, click here).

However, it could be argued that the difference between fashion and technology is that fashion has peaked. Capes, empire waists and Jackie O, today’s fashion is turning a fresh eye on the tried-and-true. There is some revival of old technology, but whether tech will also peak is anyone’s guess. I imagine if it did, it would be in one of those doomsday scenarios. However, one thing’s for certain: From the moment man “invented” fire, technology has been on a long trajectory.

Filed under: Food for thought, Technology, , , , , , , , , ,

A nibble: Open-mindedness

I was reminiscing about my first year of college during my ride around Reeds Lake this morning. It’s a question I often come back to: How have people changed since college? Or to be more universal, how have people changed since maturing into adulthood?

At the end of my first year of college, I decided to compile a list of all the lessons I had learned that year. I came up with 30 some-odd blurbs. I thought it was such a good way to track development that I was determined to keep up with it each year. Of course, that fell by the wayside, and my original list is lost to the 1s and 0s because my aunt then wiped the hard drive on my old laptop.

Despite this, the one lesson that has recently come back to me is this nibble:

It’s easy to be narrow-minded when you think you’re open-minded.

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Reel food

Imagine if you were an actor watching yourself on screen. Of course, acting is not as simple as, say, Peter Pan‘s technique of conjuring up happy thoughts and channeling them into flight. But imagine if it were. What chemistry of life experiences, anecdotes and memories lies behind each corner smile, that look of incredible anguish? What would that reel show you if it were panes into lives actually lived?

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Dishes for thought

Short and sweet: I was mulling over how much dishes have in common across boundaries.

Hot Pot

Fried Rice

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Chewing the cud

I’ve been collecting thoughts for the last couple of weeks, and my cup hath finally overfloweth. For the month of May, here was my food for thought:

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Some SXSWi leftovers

Here are some great tidbits from SXSWi panels and trade shows I want to share:

Jay Smooth‘s advice actually came in handy on my last night in Austin, when we were witness to a scuffle near the convention center and one of the involved accused me of being the suspect’s “fucking bitch” girlfriend (she was forced to flee the scene earlier) simply because I’m also Asian.

LOLCAT Bible Project: Genesis 1

Meet teh ceiling cat, creator of teh universe. The LOLCat Bible Project was one of the most hilarious examples of self-reference from Tim Hwang‘s State of the Memescape panel. And if you’re really wondering how a ceiling cat can exist when there is so much roadkill in this world, ask him. srsly.

You know when people name their Facebook photo albums after lyrics in songs (i.e.: my friend’s latest FB album: I want you on my team… So does everybody else)? That’s technically copyright infringement. Rip! A Remix Manifesto will light a fire under you., a great resource for anybody into self-publishing and a bit of DIY ingenuity. I might be a little biased here because I’m a print geek, but this is brilliant! It was my favorite discovery by far at the SXSWi tradeshow!pew-launch_logo

An oldie-but-goody: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Pew is like the equivalent of MacGyver‘s basic duct-tape-in-back-pocket, except for social media experts.

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Filed under: Food for thought, Internet, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Airplane thoughts

On average, I’ve gone out of town every other month since the year began, and all of this has led to some airplane thoughts.

I flew from PDX to Dallas/Fortworth to Austin a week ago for SXSW Interactive and then in reverse order yesterday on the way home. I have to say that I’ve found it a pleasure to fly over Portland, moreso even than the San Francisco Bay Area (where I’m from).

I had three thoughts today as we were preparing to land:

  1. Mount Hood is so gorgeous on a brisk day when its crown of clouds can barely hang on to the incline. It’s beautiful to fly over regardless, but it was even more beautiful today. There were little patches of ashy pine trees, and the reflection of the clouds in the river was a pearly white. I hope I have many more opportunities to see Mount Hood in this light.
  2. I totally want to stand under an airplane’s shadow as it flies over. The shadow’s actually fairly big, but I’m curious about what it would feel like. Given the speed at which a plane flies, does your mind play tricks on you? Can you feel a shadow whooshing by?
  3. Up till yesterday, the only customer service I enjoyed consistently while flying was from Alaska Airlines. They offered complementary Oregon microbrew for one of my flights into Portland, Jones Soda for every flight and a $20 gift certificate to any McCormick & Schmick’s (flagship in Portland). Northwest Airlines has the worst customer service I’ve experienced yet, and I have become wary of flying anything but Alaska. Yesterday, however, I flew American Airlines. This may only have been a signature of our pilot, but it was definitely an attraction in itself. The pilot announced Salt Lake City, UT as the mountains melted into a more urban terrain. When we flew into Portland, he announced Mount Hood on the left-side of the plane and Mount St. Helens to the right. Maybe all airlines should start picking this up. It’s an amazing opportunity to connect to the cool geography you’re floating over.
  4. Has big business ever thought about putting advertisements on the rooftops of those boring industrial buildings huddled around every airport? Dallas was an eyesore to fly over. Fairly faded. And combined with all the recent SXSW Interactive sessions with a marketing undertone (Zappos‘ company policy, Wired Magazine‘s Chris Anderson), what if the newest marketing strategy is free and public service?
    Chris Brogan praised Jameson for engaging Pandora listeners by offering a Jameson play list. Anderson talked about a “freenium” model in which one gives away 99% of products to get 1% in revenue. Online companies can do this because the production cost of that 99% is close to zero. On the other hand, Zappos has put all its advertising revenue into customer service rather than ad campaigns; customer service becomes its advertising.
    If corporations were to sink all their advertising money (save a couple bucks for social media marketing) into putting out to pave past E. 82nd, creating artwork for rooftops (Banksy, commissioned by <insert company>), buying p:ear all its art supplies for one year, donating to the local scouts’ scholarship fund, &c., I don’t think it would be a lost cause. Like every other American, I have seen countless car commercials. But Ford never made a better impression on me than when it sponsored Art Institute of Chicago‘s free Fridays in summer 2006.
    I’m not saying this is new, but a concerted effort toward public service marketing gets more respect than the usual “buy our product” bombardment, especially in the recent recession. It would be effective in eliciting word-of-mouth PR, which is the best sort of advertising any company could get. I have no doubt it would raise the moral standards of many companies now lacking as the public expects more of them. This would be an amazing way to advertise on both national and hyperlocal levels, across socioeconomic borders.

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Some cibo

I’ve been chewing on some random thoughts lately and thought I’d put it out there and see what other people think.

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