Poetry as a game changer

There was this beautiful, orange sherbert sunset today. It looked like… what? Ice cream? Topographical ridges? Light stencils? Anyhow, as I tried to describe it to myself at MadCap, I remembered a poem, one that first introduced a concept to me I had not previously thought about.

I was in junior high. We were reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, which I remember now only in broad strokes. Robert Frost‘s poem was seminal for me.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

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Too much news content? A question to interest-based journalism

Somebody has to say it to those news orgs, and it might as well be me: Give it a rest already!

Here’s the thing: Every time I go to my Google Reader, I am overwhelmed with the amount of content coming in. I mean, really? 500 pieces of fresh content over one week from a tech pub?

And mind you, I divide my reader into niche coverage: tech, news, media dev, &c. As much as I applaud the amount of coverage these bureaus crank, I don’t really care whether some news org is just thinking about mobile, whether another is waiting for alternatives to the iPad. Are you so chained to the 24/7 news cycle that you’ve positioned reporters to catch the slop? That should thought leaders bend the crook of their elbow to return the cup to its saucer—an inquisitive look—suddenly it’s JUST IN: STEVE JOBS ENTERTAINED AN IDEA! PROBABLY ABOUT MOBILE!

My reader, slimmed down from over 2,500 articles in one week from 70 subscriptions. I will say GigaOm is one consistently good provider of content despite the amount they churn. And news flash: Did you know that Steve Ballmer went Twitter crazy in Kiev?

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I would like to thank…

In about a half-hour, I’m going to an awards ceremony.

See, the thing is, I’ve been trying to hide from this for a couple of weeks now. I was nominated for an award about a month and a half ago, and tonight is the ceremony. These sort of things make me uncomfortable because for me, any sort of competitive setting stirs the ol’ spirit.

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The ultimate guide for today’s man

Last week was pretty long, so I was looking forward to crashing when I got home. But after traipsing the few steps to our apartment hallway, a vise grip on my bike, the first thing that greeted me on the way up the stairs was a half-naked image of Jennifer Aniston, steam-rolled by text.

That couldn’t be our mail, could it? But I’m the only one with a magazine subscription in the household. So in my usual arabesque – bike to the right, back kick to the door and my free hand reaching out – I grabbed the mail and powered up to the second floor.

I hope it isn’t Wired, I thought as I turned the magazine over.

The other side of the outsert tells us that a half-naked Rihanna* rocks GQ's world.

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350 or bust

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Today’s been kind of hard. One of my best friends works for, a Bill McKibben initiative that unites people in a worldwide campaign to their leaders: There must be under 350 parts per million CO2 in order to slow global warming. Right now, we’re at 388.

Things like these always make me turn inward. What did I do today to recognize 350? Let’s see…. I biked, I did yoga, I went to the grocery store for some sundries. The thing is, none of these were done in recognition of 350. They’re what I do on a normal basis. And I found myself feeling guilty—me, who does not own a car; who brings her own tupperware to restaurants; who line dries clothes when weather permits; who may not be a vegetarian but cooks vegan—that I even purchased something, might turn on my gas stove today. Not that there isn’t more I can do, but c’mon! I realized I’m being silly.

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“Transparency is the new black”

I am:

  1. floored
  2. enamored

with this compilation by Geoff McGhee on data visualization in journalism. It’s seriously worth a Friday night in – popcorn, dimmed lights, the works. Watch it in the annotated version.

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Red string of fate or Beili Liu’s Lure/Wave

The new UICA has yet to open, but on the corner of Fulton and Division is a room cresting with crimson lily pads. At night, shadows from thousands of discs dapple the floor. It’s completely unquantifiable.

Beili Liu‘s interpretation of the red string of fate—soul mates linked at birth via an invisible red thread—is so stunning that it almost makes me wish I believed in soul mates. Or, at the very least, had a little more faith in love.

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Show me the $$

“When you are young, you have more time than money.”

Chris Anderson, The Web is dead, long live the Internet

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Intensity so great, only qualifiers will do

When I was in Peace Corps, my boyfriend at the time was state-side. He would send me magazines and clippings every couple of months: Mother Jones, The Sun, Adbusters. I had just finished reading a piece in Adbusters by a writer in high school and was talking about the effulgence of descriptions, the merits of being selective with adjectives and adverbs, &c. One high school teacher taught that every description is meant to tell you something deeper, and he imparted this memorable description from The Great Gatsby:

Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.

Fitzgerald meant something by the sugar.

“If a writer isn’t selective, then the reader doesn’t know what to focus on. The prose will have lost its impact,” I said.

After critiquing the young’un’s writing, I continued:

But as I was sitting there contemplating this writer’s style, I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be amazing if all your senses were bombarded so relentlessly you couldn’t even focus in? Where beauty and value were so abundant that every detail must be qualified? I don’t know if I’ve ever even been witness to anything so beautiful (I’m sure you must have, as you’ve been to so many places; ha funny, too, how that assumption [he’s outdoorsy] indicates that I believe such beauty can only exist in nature).

To this day, nothing immediately comes to mind. How about you, dear friends? What is it for you?

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A bundle of letter therapy

A month ago, I asked a former boyfriend if he would lend me the letters I sent him while I was in Peace Corps. I had meant to photocopy these letters before I left Portland, but I ran out of time.

I absolutely want you to keep them—they were written for you, I had said. But they’re also the only detailed records of my daily life in Lesotho.

Within days, he had mailed them priority. Included was a gracious note wishing me a happy quarter century and encouraging me to keep the letters as long as I needed.

Thinking transcription would be emotionally fraught, I dragged my feet. I began the task today. The letters weren’t filed in chronological order, but the first one I pulled was written nearly three years ago on July 27, 2007. In closing:

Do you keep letters and cards people write you? I definitely do and still have letters/cards from when I was 5. I don’t know that it’s a good thing, to be honest. It’s a huge file and I’ve kept these correspondences knowing I’ll probably never open them simply because a.) I think that they put the effort into jotting down a word or two (for which I didn’t even have to pay a penny), so the least I could do is save them, b.) what if I do go back and read them? It would be interesting to see what I was like at whatever age, the relationships I had, what I cared about, &c.

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