Mighty Life List
Jun 19 2009

Mind in the Clouds

New post up at the WePC site, wherein we discuss my idiocy.

Apr 27 2009

We’ve Out-Nerded Them

Holy crap. Did you get my back on the Moleskine laptop or what? Thank you, guys. You are goodies.

As it turns out, you want a Molekskine laptop too. (Make one, ASUS. Do it.) There was much discussion about exactly what you want, so instead of doing my wallet-laptop spiel, this next post is a roundup of your most desired features and clever comments.

We’ll also talk about this thrilling photo:

Gah! Give me that.

Also! A couple of you had your own ideas about dream laptops, and I found this intriguing. To be honest, I’ve never spent much time making laptop wishes until I got this assignment, but it’s surprisingly fun. Tell me your computer fantasies! Unless they involve fox costumes and beeswax — in which case, this might not be the best forum.

Anyway, go see! Tell me what you think. And thanks again.

Apr 17 2009

Please Express Approval for My Awesome Laptop Idea

I just wrote a post for Intel and ASUS about how I want a sneaky laptop that looks like a Moleskine:

They hired me to conceptualize eight imaginary laptops for them, and I’m a little panicked. Most of their posts trend toward the uber-geeky — they’re discussing charger cord patents, so I kind of sound like, “I want a laptop with flowers on it! Eeeeeeee!”

(By the way, these copywriting campaigns are how I make a living. Advertisers are like, “We need more women to want laptops! [hand cream! cell phones! little black dresses!]” And I’m like “Women do want those things.” And they’re like, “Who are these women of which you speak?” And I’m like, “Uh, all women.” And then they pay me to write stuff. Stuff that’s way more fun than the copywriting I used to do, incidentally, where they mostly assumed customers would be confused by wit. Hence, I like this better. Questions welcome in comments.)

Anyway, these laptop ideas inform their prototypes of new PCs, and I would like a Moleskine laptop, please. Quite possibly one with flowers on it; I’m not ruling it out. So please go read my post, and back me up if you feel the same.

Also, I think my next post will be about a laptop that fits in a wallet so you can use it when you’re out at a bar. Is that called a cell phone? Possibly, but shut up, it will be rad.

Apr 14 2009

Meeting Dara Torres

Dara Torres is exhausted. The five-time Olympian was up at dawn doing satellite interviews to promote Big Milk, and her new book. She’s been awake since 4 a.m., answering the same questions repeatedly, and now she’s gamely meeting with us so we can ask them again.

We’re a handful of mom bloggers, most of whom have known each other — or known of each other — for years. We’re talking shop and cracking jokes beside an enormous public pool when Dara emerges. Her swimsuit says “Love 2 Swim” on the front, and there’s a prolonged moment of confusion about how we should greet her. Are we supposed to greet her?

We’re here, courtesy of Hewlett Packard, to observe an Olympic Mom in Action. She’s just like us! With the baby? And the nine Olympic medals? And the muscles that look like they originated in a quarry?

Hewlett Packard believes that we are all women who use technology to simplify our lives, and in this moment we don’t disappoint. We’re pulling out our digital SLRs to photograph Dara, grabbing our phones to Twitter about Dara, but for the most part no one is saying hi to Dara. No one is even making eye contact with Dara. After a few minutes of hopeful glances our way, she finally turns to her handlers. “You just want me to do a couple of laps?”

It occurs to me that this would be a nightmare scenario for me, but Dara is handling it with grace. She is standing alone and exhausted in a swimsuit before a group of women, all of whom are mostly ignoring her while surreptitiously checking out her body.

Her body is accomplished, my friends. Breathtaking.

Of course, the grace has come with practice, Dara has been checked out before. How many of us hang out in our swimsuits on national TV? In the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition? On the pages of Maxim? Dara and I are not from the same planet when it comes to bathing suit nightmares. I’m guessing hers involve more pressing matters than what a bunch of bloggers think about her thighs.

People, her thighs are terrible with power.

She dips one toe in the water and shivers. “It’s cold,” she says, smiling back at us over her shoulder. “I hate it when it’s cold.”

Dara has two smiles, one that’s open and friendly, and another that’s ambiguous, the type of smile that’s particularly confounding to men in their early twenties. The latter suggests that she’s amused, but perhaps only because she thinks you’re full of shit. The overall impression is happy, but skeptical, and so I like her.

She jumps in the water, and swims quietly back and forth. There’s a charming old lady in the pool who calls out, “You’re more beautiful than Esther Williams!” Because this lady is the only one bold enough to approach, Dara jokes with her for quite awhile about exercise and aging, and they mug together, flexing for our cameras. This situation becomes slightly less charming, but much more amusing, when the lady chases Dara into the locker room to ask her increasingly personal questions while she showers. This too, Dara handles gracefully, she seems also to have had practice with fans who have boundary issues.

After the brief swim, Dara leaves with the group for lunch at an upscale sushi restaurant. She asks if there’s fish in one of the rolls. I say, “Crab, I think.” She turns to the next tray. “Are you allergic?” I ask. “I don’t really like fish,” she says. I’m surprised by this, as though spending half your life in water should somehow impart a craving for halibut.

In my few minutes of interview time, I ask what’s left on her life list. She looks perplexed. “What do you mean, life list?” Well, what does she still want to do? She’s an Olympian, an author, are there any smaller things she hasn’t gotten to yet? “You know, someone else asked me this, and I don’t really have a bucket list or anything,” she says. Not even anything little, like having an ice cream with your kid? “Like before I die? That’s kind of morbid,” she laughs. “I mean, I assume I’ll be around for all that stuff. I’m trying to enjoy everything right now, take those things day by day.” Well, you must have goals though, I stutter. “Yeah. Right now, I’m training and swimming for world championships.” Ah! Of course. The swimming. I guess that does count as a goal if you’re an “Olympian” or whatever. I refrain from telling her that I like fruit, and am hoping to one day do a pull up. Maybe another time.

After our interviews, someone asks what kind of T.V. she watches. It turns out Dara is a Rock of Love devotee. Suddenly, any self-consciousness at the table evaporates. There’s little more endearing to a group of bloggers than confessing you like crappy reality TV. Dara Torres is a sister.

Conversation turns to Dancing with the Stars, and she admits she considered joining the cast this season. Dear god. You have to do that, I say. “Tell my agent!” she says, and cuts her chin upward in his direction. “Evan!” He looks up from his phone. “She says I should have done Dancing with the Stars.” “Hey!” he says. “I wanted you to do it. You were the one giving me all that crap about spending time with your kid.” She laughs.

“Can you dance?” I ask. “No.” She says. “I’m terrible. I just didn’t want to get voted off first.” “Nah,” I say. “You’re too America’s Sweetheart for that.”

She grins.

———————–

More of My Photos
And takes from the rest of the crew:
Liz Gumbiner from Mom-101
Dory Devlin for Shine
Alice Bradley from Finslippy
Tracey Gaughran-Perez from Sweetney
Amy of Amalah

Feb 9 2009

Nerd links! Nerd links!

For cartography nerds:

Cartocacoethes–the compulsion to see maps everywhere.
(via BB-Blog)

For food nerds:

Food tattoos photo group
(via Swiss Miss)

For design nerds:

Lovely Package is a site about… lovely packaging.
(via Matt)

Dec 11 2008

Coffee Shop Etiquette: 15 Tips for the Wi-Fi Workforce

I spend a few days a week working at coffee shops, which is pretty common in San Francisco, and I’ve seen some serious audacity in the last few years.

There’s always the guy communing with his computer at a table meant for four. He inevitably plugged in to the only outlet five hours ago; about the time he purchased his coffee, which has long since gone cold. Occasionally he rises to aim banter at the irritated barista, and then returns to his seat without making a purchase. Smashing.

I once saw someone pull a screwdriver out of his bag to remove a cover plate the owner had secured over an outlet. I had to restrain myself from walking over to smack his hands away.

By supplying Internet access, coffee shop owners know they’ll attract customers who want to work, but there are limits. Let’s review them:

Coffee Shop Etiquette, 15 Tips for the Wired Workforce | Mighty Girl

1. Remember you’re frequenting a business. If the coffee shop isn’t profitable, it closes, leaving you pantsless in front of a Top Chef marathon. You, my friend, are a customer — so rise to the challenge. While you’re working, keep a purchase in front of you, and buy something every hour or so. If you can’t afford that, the library beckons.

2. Don’t bring a picnic. This should go without saying, but you may not bring food or drink to a place that sells things to eat and drink. Not even if you bought a coffee at some point. You can leave and come back if you want, but go eat your PBJ somewhere else.

3. Hang up. The barista is not a vending machine. Put away your cell phone while you’re ordering.

4. Tip well. Tip at least a buck every time you make a purchase. This promotes goodwill and serves as karmic rent. It’s an acknowledgement that you’re using space someone else could fill. Someone who tips.

5. Clean up after yourself. If you spill half the creamer on the counter before you find your cup, wipe it up. Empty sugar packets go in the trash, which is conveniently located inches from your hand. Bus your table between purchases and clear the table before you go. If someone takes your empty glass while you’re still sitting, that’s a forceful hint that it’s time to buy something else or leave.

6. Let the baristas be. If they want to talk to you, they will, and a pleasant conversation may ensue. But if you feel chatty — or god forbid flirtatious — direct those impulses elsewhere. Employees can’t be rude in the face of your attentions, and they can’t exactly leave work to avoid you.

7. Take one chair, and the smallest table available. If that happens to be a large table, offer to share until someone accepts. Don’t wait for others to ask, and don’t cover the table surface with papers in hopes that no one will bother you. As soon as a smaller table opens up, move.

8. Leave chairs free. If the space is busy, your bag goes on the floor, not a nearby chair. That way other people can use the chair without interrupting you. If you’d like someone to clear a laptop bag so you can sit, say, “Excuse me, is someone sitting here?”

9. Don’t bogart bandwidth. No P2P or large file downloads while everyone is sharing a network. Besides, we can all see your porn, and it’s awkward.

10. Respect the owner’s intent. If wi-fi is turned off at certain hours, then your laptop probably isn’t welcome either. Be aware of the cafe’s culture. If everyone around you is reading newspapers, or having quiet chats, this isn’t the place to start coding.

11. Avoid noise pollution. Switch your cell to vibrate, and take calls outside. If that’s not possible, keep conversations brief and quiet. Also, mute the sound on your computer, or wear headphones. Do you have any idea how much time you’re spending on Hulu?

12. Recognize that everyone wants the outlet seat. Unless outlets are plentiful, don’t use one unless you must. Arrive with a charged machine, and consider bringing an extra battery to avoid the whole drama. If you’re sitting at an outlet and you have enough battery to work for an hour or so, offer to share.

13. Don’t tamper with outlets. If an outlet is covered with a plate or tape, are you seriously willing to be the guy who opens it up? Don’t be that guy. What’s more, if there’s a fan, a lamp, or any other electrical device plugged in, you may not unplug it in order to charge your machine.

14. Ask before you pull out a power strip. In some cases it’s fine to bring along a power strip to multiply outlets, in other cases it irritates the owner. It’s more likely to be a good idea at a Starbucks than a mom-and-pop cafe. Another good sign is if the coffee shop has several available outlets, and is clearly set up for laptop use. When in doubt, ask the owner.

15. Once in a while, change your scenery. If you plan to spend an entire nine-to-five workweek in the same space, you might as well get a real job. Perhaps you’d be interested in learning to make a good latte?

The day may come that you’re too engrossed in your work to notice that you’re doing something rude. Hopefully, that situation will be such an anomaly that everyone will cut you some slack.

Now let’s go get some coffee. You can sit with me.