Friday, July 29, 2011

Notes on our trip

We had such a fun time! Many thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for letting us stay at their house, as well as to everyone who helped keep us fed and fueled along the way. It was great to see everyone, including some faces we didn't know ahead of time we'd be seeing. We had a great time in Westwood and Santa Monica with my sister and a friend of Zeo's, but decided we're happier living where we are than in a Beverly Hills mansion- there's such a thing as too posh. Arizona was just wonderful. Our poor air conditioner might disagree, but for the most part the weather was actually pretty decent. There were dozens of dust devils to watch as we drove, and we were treated to a small monsoon upon arriving in Tucson. I think we had both been missing the sight of a desert storm something awful, and we definitely got what we were looking for. Our visits with the Tucson contingent were also a lot of fun. I have a pretty cool father-in-law. If you're ever in town and looking for a good biker bar, I can do no better than to recommend the Bashful Bandit on Speedway and Alvernon. Sunday is karaoke night, and if you bring an extra bra to donate to the ceiling, they might even give you a free can of Coors. Another, perhaps more relevant recommendation for you rockhounds out there, is Dah Rock Shop on Dodge Blvd near River Road. They have a huge collection of rocks and beads, worthy of the town that hosts the biggest rock & mineral show in the country. I got a handsome angular piece of calcite for the car, and Zeo picked up a huge tektite tendril for a very decent price. We met up with my folks on the way back into the Bay, and I have a new computer now, which is also fantastic, I'm having a great deal of fun with it.

Our thoughts and prayers are with various people, as applies: Grandpa Jim, who got stuck in the hospital; my cousin, who'll be starting college pretty soon; everyone else who is still out on the road. Cheers, and enjoy what remains of the summer!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Trip to the Southwest

Originally we were just going to go down to southern California for a day or so to visit a friend of mine who was in town, but when we got down there, we decided to take a side trip to Tucson for a day or so.

Spent a lot of time there with my dad and it was awesome. We got some beautiful crystals (prehnite, tektite, peridot, and clear calcite) and I got a few new skirts, a backpack, and a CD/bookcase. It was hard to leave the area and we hope it won't be so long before we're back out there!

Anyway, we're home now and Politesse is setting up his new computer he received from a class action lawsuit to replace his old crappy laptops. Yay! Nikita is very happy we are home and is crawling all over us.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thoughts on Google Plus

I should start off by saying that I am not a user of Google Plus and only heard of it recently when Politesse said he got an invite and thought he'd check it out. As you know, we initially left Facebook for a number of reasons: the top ones being privacy concerns, callous business practices, and the fact that in the end, it took a lot of time without adding any real depth or value to our relationships with people. That said, would a replacement Facebook be better? I'm not a marketing or trend analyst or anything, but I wanted to share a few thoughts about this new service that could actually offer a real threat to the current empire of social networking.
Part of the problem of THE social networking site (SNS) is that, as it is the only one of its kind, it sets the rules on what we can and can't experience. And that's just it, there has to be only one for this format to really work. The whole idea is that ALL your friends are using the same service; otherwise everyone will all be spread out and no one will really be connecting with each other in a vast sense (as Facebook et al. caters to being connected to friends by simply knowing them and not through shared limited interests as other sites may be). So in order for G+ to really work, it has to BE the next Facebook, it has to dominate it and replace it.

I'd rather see a new social networking model than a repeated Facebook model, and it seems as though things could possibly go in that direction with what G+ is promising. I am a huge internet user; I spend hours a day online doing all sorts of various things (networking over shared interests, for instance) but I am not comfortable sharing one identity across the board. I am also not comfortable with people in real life that I do not want contact with tracking me down and then associating me with things I'd rather them not know. So right off the bat the standard SNS model does not appeal to me. I'd be more interested in checking it out if it were something a little more flexible. When Facebook was created it was intended to be a networking site for just one college, and then for colleges in general, so the whole "real face real name" thing made sense as that was who you were trying to connect to. A lot of people know me as having XYZ interest, but an old college acquaintance is not going to know anything about me but the name my professor called out during roll. But that's not who I am online, so social networking sites that work by getting me to offer sensitive, personal information in the interest of connecting to bosses and professors is mostly irrelevant to me. What it really comes down to is this: because I am a part of so many separate interest communities online, will the social networking sites of the future offer something to me? Or will they force me to just choose one identity and forge my relationships around that?

And what about the other concerns? Google Plus starts off by creating a SNS that essentially caters to user complaints about Facebook, meaning that some of the issues we all know and hate are improved in G+. That sounds great, but would it be likely to last? I don't think so. If G+ dies in obscurity just like other attempts have, Facebook will still be the one setting the rules and they have already made clear these issues are not issues to them. If G+ does manage to take over, that means they will be setting all the rules. What rules will they set? Will they value user concerns, like privacy and convenience? Or will they value the bottom line at all costs, until some other company comes along and tries to do the exact same thing? Again, I have stated that I do not care for the standard model already available, and copying Facebook means copying that model. I’d hope to see it improved somehow, but it is unlikely to improve in any way that would interest me. Sure, you can group your friends easier and control who sees what content better. Sure, everything is streamlined and you can see your soccer buddies right along with your drinking buddies. Sure, you can keep tabs on all your forums at once. But doing so still requires me to give up exactly what I gained by leaving Facebook.

Again, this is all speculation. I really don't know where things will end up. But at the moment, I have no plans to join Google Plus as it stands, unless as one article suggested Blogger gets cut off and integrated with it, forcing me to use it anyway. And the irony of using a Google service to blog about another Google service unfavorably is not lost on me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crocheted Meatwad Hat

Finished Meatwad hat! (From Aqua Teen Hunger Force)

The picture quality is low (taken with my ipod) but: I crocheted the hat and sewed the felt eyes and mouth on. The white parts are embroidery over felt and the spots around him were made with cream colored embroidery floss. I love how it turned out!

I've also been learning to sew on a sewing machine and considering that I have never used one in my life, it is going pretty well! I also *gasp* bought an iron to smooth out my materials, and....

many more crafts to come, I hope!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Hope it's fun for everyone!

Politesse and I had pancakes at IHOP, and then went to one of the neighboring towns to see their events. I bought a book I was really excited to see at our beloved used book store, and then we went out to Berkeley to see if they had set up for their event yet. They were packed with tents and vendors and we had a lot of fun walking around the marina. We decided not to stay until the fireworks show at 9pm, though, and chose instead to get a few nice things to make for dinner. After that we will have some good wine and probably play Monopoly to celebrate our country's leading principle, domination through capitalism!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blueberry pie


I don't like eating pie but have started a tradition to make a blueberry pie every year when the blueberries are cheap and widely available (they weren't so at the particular store I went to, for some reason, so I had to make due with what little they had).

So here it was when it came out of the oven. I even had some and it was pretty good and well received. :)