Wednesday, November 26, 2008

40-Something Facebooking

A lot of folks in my age group are sharing this piece to their friends, and I wanted to join the party. In this Forbes piece, Tunku Varadarajan describes an age divide in Facebook "friending" between Gen-Xers and younger folks. Here's a snip:
We don't take Facebook for granted the way our children do, with their unthinking postings on each others' walls, their casual use of the F-word on what is effectively a quasi-public forum, their postings of their own photographs in varying states of sobriety and decency. Facebook is a forum that we wish we'd had when we were much younger; so now that we have it in our 40s, we treat it with a certain self-conscious formality, a calibrated theatricality.
Read the entire piece: Forty-Somethings On Facebook

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


One of the highlights from this year's trip to NCA was a brief jaunt to Los Angeles and a stop at the famed Tiki-Ti. Located on West Sunset Boulevard (about 2 1/2 miles from Hollywood and Vine), Tiki-Ti is an original survivor from the Polynesian craze. I'd wanted to visit this place for years, and (without knowing the bar's calendar) we arrived on the last day before the owners shut down for a winter break.

Feeling lucky, I tried the favorite drink of the house, Ray's Mistake, and I also quaffed a "Grand" Mai Tai. Both were superb (and generously poured). I'd brought some friends (who kindly added the stop to our LA itinerary) and we all thrilled to the locals' incantation when someone ordered an Uga Booga. Looking at the place from the outside, you'd never guess the good times to be had within.

(Photographs by Andrew Wood)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Facebook Un-Friends

I recently read a fascinating MSNBC article about the awkwardness of electing to accept - or reject - Facebook friend requests. Here's a snip of some useful numbers:
Social networking sites such as Facebook have experienced phenomenal growth in the past year, according to market researcher comScore. Facebook is now the No. 1 social networking site, with more than 120 million active users, and its fastest growing demographic is those 25 and older.
And here's a snip of some insight on the value of weak ties:
“People who are ‘weak ties’ (friends of friends) are more likely to be different from you and more likely to provide you with new information and different perspectives than your close friends,” [Nicole Ellison] said. For example, you’re more likely to find a job lead from a friend of a friend.
Read the entire article: When you don't want to be Facebook friends

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Fun Post - Garfield Minus Garfield

This may be old news to some of you, but if you haven't yet checked out Garfield Minus Garfield yet, you should.

I'll admit that I haven't enjoyed Garfield for years. I thought it was boring, predictable, and worse: just not funny.

Turns out that the problem with the strip is...


Remove the cat and the strip means something else entirely.

See what I mean?

Best of all, Garfield creator Jim Davis is being cool about the whole thing. While he could have sent forth a flurry of C&D letters, he recognizes the brilliance of Garfield Minus Garfield.

Or maybe he just feels guilty about all those "I hate Mondays" cop-outs.

Learn more: When the Cat's Away, Neurosis Is on Display

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Heading for San Diego

I'm preparing for another National Communication Association conference in San Diego, heading out this morning.

My last San Diego NCA was memorable, but not too pleasant. I discovered that cigars and beer can make an awful combination. And the less said about Tijuana the better.

Even my paper presentation crashed and burned.

I was presenting some fairly undercooked analysis of a website maintained by the spouse of a guy who was being held prisoner in Iraq, talking about the site's use of metaphor -- in a visual communication panel. Other folks were talking about clearly visual artifacts: album covers, comic books, that sort of thing. And I was rambling on about metaphorical imagery, the "sense" that the Web might be likened to some sort of quilt. It made sense at the time.

I knew my presentation had been a bust when absolutely no one made a comment or asked a question. Worse, no one picked up a copy of my paper (that was when we brought dozens of paper copies for folks to peruse on the way home). I brought something like 30 copies, and I left with the same amount.

I was dejected.

So I went back to my cheap motel room and dropped the copies in the trash, telling my roommate (and still great friend, Ty Adams) that I was leaving early. I'd rather hang out at the airport than stay another moment in San Diego.

And that was that, I thought.

A few months later, my pal called me with the good news. Our paper had been accepted for inclusion in an edited volume. Maybe he and I had mused about collaborating on a revision, but I'd forgotten all about it.

Suddenly we were set to publish an updated version of the article as a book chapter because my buddy had picked a copy of my essay from the trash and said, "hell, this could work." He added some really cool stuff and we worked on cleaning up the cobwebs of my initial inquiry. A fruitful collaboration borne of a bad trip.

So I'm heading back to San Diego, ready to catch up with some of my other close friends. Ty won't be there, and I'll miss him. But my visit will be fun all the same. This time I'll stay away from Tijuana, I'll avoid too many cigars, and I'll be sure to ask a question of the lone presenter ignored by the others.

You never know...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

City Beat

I'm not entirely sure why, but this advertisement bugs me. It's a pitch for a downtown (San José, CA) condo. And it's meant to appeal to hipsters who live life via their mobile phones.

That's living the city beat?

(Mobile phone photo by Andrew Wood)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Next Depression Will Be Televised

I recently posted a link to this Boston Globe piece to my Facebook page and moved on to other reading. Yet I cannot quite forget one aspect of the piece: a key distinction between a potential "new" Depression and the "Great" Depression of the '30s.

Drake Bennett (who must have been named after a soap opera character) writes that, unlike Great Depression-imagery of block-long bread lines, Dust Bowl storms, and other public displays of poverty, a new Depression would be notable for a general lack in public suffering. Here's a snip:
[A] depression circa 2009 might be a less visible and more isolating experience. With the diminishing price of televisions and the proliferation of channels, it's getting easier and easier to kill time alone, and free time is one thing a 21st-century depression would create in abundance. Instead of dusty farm families, the icon of a modern-day depression might be something as subtle as the flickering glow of millions of televisions glimpsed through living room windows, as the nation's unemployed sit at home filling their days with the cheapest form of distraction available.
There's something eerie and profoundly sad about that image, a Depression marked by increasing isolation and media anesthesia. I can't seem to get that image of flickering television screens off my mind.

Read the entire piece: Depression 2009: What would it look like?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shameless Media Plug - KPIX

Last week I was interviewed by KPIX (San Francisco) about the rush to profit from Obama paraphernalia (you know, buttons, pins, and the like). I enjoyed the chance to chat with reporter Thuy Vu, (even though they went with my most boring quote).

Difficulty seeing this video? Point your browser here:

Friday, November 14, 2008

Worse than the Depression?

Here's a little reading that illustrates our current economic fears. A snip:
"The economy faces a slump deeper than the Great Depression and a growing deficit threatens the credit of the United States itself."
Read the entire piece:

Friday Fun Post - Keith Olbermann in a Minute

A clever collection of Keith Olbermann special comments

Trouble seeing the video? Visit this link:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Starbucks and Omnitopia

One of the primary themes of omnitopia is the conflation of the entire world into a miniaturized enclave. At Starbucks, an enclave of privilege in a time of increasing economic angst, the "world" becomes "a comfy chair."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Safeway Googie

Think of this as a placeholder post for some forthcoming work I want to do, photographing googie shopping centers.

I grew up in the land of Publix, back when they had those bold V-arrow signs at the entrance, practically daring you to ride past the door.

South Beach Miami still has one of those glorious sites, but most of the rest of the Publix where I grew up have been dulled into submission, their googie accents homogenized and muted to oblivion.

So I was particularly delighted to spot this Safeway in Portland. Not like a publix, of course, but this Safeway is pure googie: streamlined swoops and plate-glass, a building set to fly.

I borrowed my daughter's camera, one not notable for its night-time shooting capabilities, and snapped a few shots.

(Photographs by Andrew Wood)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day Off

...Taking the day off, enjoying Veteran's Day.

Don't forget: Thank a vet.

Monday, November 10, 2008

November Reed Visit

Jenny and I returned last night from a trip to Portland to visit our daughter at Reed. We got such a charge hearing about Vienna's adventures at college, and we even had a chance to sit in on two or her classes.

The intro humanities class focused on a comparative analysis of the historical biases toward morality in Herodotus and political ethics in Thucydides, and yes they're reading the original texts. The psychology class discussed some physiological dimensions of perception, using optical illusions to demonstrate how the brain relies on a network on senses to process visual information. It was fascinating, heady stuff.

We also toured Portland a bit. Jenny and Vienna toured the shoppers paradise of the Saturday Market, we grabbed doughnuts at Voodoo, we wandered the funky shelves at Cargo, and we drove back streets to get to know the City of Roses a bit more. Perhaps our favorite discovery of the trip was Nick's Famous Coney Island Food in the Hawthorne district, which serves gooey, spicy mac and cheese.

Beyond spending time with my family, my favorite part of the trip was the chance to see fall foliage. We don't get much color to our leaves in this part of California, so it was a delight to wander the streets and sidewalks of Portland in search of gorgeous bursts of yellow and red.

The falling leaves covered spun through the air, dancing in the Autumn breeze. Days after Halloween and anticipating Thanksgiving, our Portland visit was a reminder to me of how much things have changed in the past few months. Happily though, we anticipate Vienna returning home in a couple of weeks, and we look forward to her longer stay during the winter holiday break.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Fun Post - Election Won by Coin Toss

In one town, two write-in candidates for mayor had to resort to a clever form of coin toss to determine the winner.

Read the entire story:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

So, what now?

This afternoon, I enjoyed a meeting with SJSU peer mentors, a chance to chat about our reflections on the Obama victory. I was struck by the number of students who talked about the feeling of hope they have. I'm not talking about slogans or bumper stickers but rather a visceral awareness that something has changed, that things can improve.

This has been a rough decade for us. We've had several "everything has changed" moments, and none have been for the better. Terrorist attacks and economic turmoil have threatened to quash our native sense that tomorrow will be better than today. We watch television shows like The Daily Show and The Cobert Report, laughing at the inanity of our political leaders, but many of us recognize that something has gone terribly wrong in America. It's not funny.

And then we manage to elect Barack Obama. Despite the so-called "Bradley Effect." Despite crooked congressional districts. Despite robo-calls. Despite fear-mongering. Despite pamphlets reminding Democrats to vote on November 5th . . . We manage to get it right.

This Obama guy is no superhero. He's the first to admit it. There are no guarantees that he and his administration will set things right. Moreover, we face a range of emerging threats that may yet dwarf the problems already besetting us. Still, there is hope today that we didn't feel before the election.

Perhaps we can get it right.

For me, the feeling of the Obama victory is something like the optimism that many Americans must have had when we elected JFK: the torch being passed to a new generation. The Cold Warriors and Me-Generationers had their chance.

Change is coming.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

That didn't take long!

Mere hours later: Does Drudge ever stop being an ass?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

At last

Election Day: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Did you hear the one about Starbucks running afoul of election laws with their "say you voted and get a free cup of coffee" promotion? Turns out, you can't offer gifts for voting. As they say, "No good deed..." So now they're offering free coffee to anyone who asks for it.

So go out, stand in line, vote, and grab a cup. It's been a long campaign!

Learn More:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween 2008

Here are some pix from our 2008 Halloween. This year's theme: Dr. Freightmarestein's Haunted Laboratory of Horrors (scroll down for the video).

Check out the video!

Difficulty seeing the video? Click this link: (select "watch in high quality" for best view).

Previous Years

• 2007: Psycho Circus

• 2006: Alien Autopsy

• 2005: Just Buried