Friday, October 10, 2008

A long awaited post in which I attempt to make up for weeks of neglect by dumping idea after idea down and wondering if any sort of theme emerges.

So . . . how is everyone?

I've been okay. 

My workload has increased more in recent weeks just as I suspected that it might. As the main part of my current project proceeds nearer to its conclusion, the secondary and tertiary phases are beginning. While this is normal and causes a certain amount of overlapping, this year's project--dependant as it is upon Election Results--end-loads the heavy lifting even more than normal. What I'm saying is that much of the new content can't be written and proofed until after 11/4, and it's all got to be done and printed by mid-January. So, my holidays (what I have of them) should be more hectic than I want them to be. Such hangs the head of the Project Manager.

That said, I am also involved in two or three additional technology endeavors that serve to confuse my sense of what I should be focusing on each day. I need to work in a few different directions each day, but for the last ten days I succeeded in singlemindedly ignoring all but one task.

I don't complain because 1) these other tasks are very interesting and have potential to be very exciting and dynamic additions to our future product line. And 2) I've got a job. Given the state of the economy, I'm holding onto it.

Speaking of the economy, I've done more thinking about the economy and attempting to understand words and phrases like financial instruments, mark-to-market, commercial paper market, than ever in my past. Amazingly, I might be soaking in some basic knowledge through osmosis. Primarily I've been listening to NPR's new Planet Money podcast and reading their blog pretty much every day. Additionally, I've relied on two excellent episodes of the This American Life podcast that presented the ins-and-outs of the growing crisis in simpler terms. Of course, things are changing every day, so what was informative last weekend is already old news.

I decided to create a "group" for the Planet Money podcast on my Facebook page and it led to an interesting message from some of the actual NPR producers of the podcast. It seems I created my Facebook group before they had gotten around to it. Rather than sic'ing their lawyers on me or something like that, they were very nice and appreciative and wanted me to know that they had just created the Official Group. I'll admit, sheepishly, that I secretly (or not so secretly now, I guess) wonder if this slight breath of notice from Actual Media Types in Important Places might be the mysterious tipping point that propels me from anonymity to digital stardom. Now, what I might even DO with such (phantom) stardom is likely nothing . . . but it is fun to fantasize about it just the same. Naturally, talking about it negates any chance of it occurring. And that is as it should be. Send the fame to the people who are willing to grab it by the collar and ride it to ruin. I would likely do neither. 

Regarding Internet and Fame--

I have been trying to balance the ever increasing number of digital locations that I am a part of. Since you are here reading this (aren't you . . . still?), you already know about Why Won't You Grow?! the blog. But I have dabbled off and on with a Facebook page and I just a few days ago jumped on the exhaust fumes of the Twitter bandwagon that passed by around ten months ago. You can gain access to these David-related offshoots in the sidebar to the right. (They are, naturally, headed Why Won't You Facebook?! and WWYTwitter?!

You might wonder if it is advisable for me to spread my digital self so thinly when I can't even manage a blog post on a daily basis. But I defend myself in this way--a) they are all free in a monetary sense . . . I haven't and won't calculate the time cost of all this digital narcissism; b) it has become--for better or for worse--my "other" hobby alongside TV watching; c) there would be no chronicle of my children's achievements, thoughts, or development without it. That alone makes at least the blog beneficial. And I think that Facebook is replacing my musty Flickr page as the go-to location for my family photos. The procedure for uploading photos to my Facebook page is much easier than Flickr and I have forgotten the passwords necessary to get back onto Flickr. It's an imperfect system, but it was all created ad hoc. (Kind of like the sub-mortgage problem, right?)

So, what am I to do with all of these digital places? I want to keep up with them because they sort of play different roles. WWYG?!, as a blog is best suited for long form thoughts and ramblings like this one. WWYFacebook?! might do lots of things, but I mostly use it to update my status with pithy reflections of my awesomeness. Facebook also give one the voyeuristic thrill of seeing what's up with those you are connected to. I'm still getting used to Twitter, but it distills the main use of Facebook down to the status updates and nothing else. 

I am quite certain that if I had an iPhone, I could better utilize these sites on a more frequent, Tourettes-like basis. (One can only look forward to that debilitating future!) But I DO think that we need a Digital Einstein--someone who can unite these many disparate web environments in a Unified Theory of Digital Existence. Someone smart and connected to a Venture Capitalist needs to Get This Done! 

Other random stuff I want to toss out opinions on--

I. It is interesting enough to know that civilian Richard Garriott is going into space. But, he's taking the DNA of Stephen Colbert! My geek past is tied to Garriott--a.k.a. "Lord British" of the Ultima computer games and I always wanted to fly in space. (At least ever since I was impersonating Han Solo in my backyard.) But the thrill of this is diminished a bit by connecting it to Colbert. It makes it seem more like a David Blaine-esque stunt. 

II. This bit of news made me sad. I was a very big fan of Bloom County back during the Reagan years. (I even would have voted for Bill and Opus if I had been old enough.) Not being a regular subscriber to any newspaper, I haven't kept up with Outland or Opus, but a part of my childhood is going away.

III. My wife and my friend Shirtless will be interested to read this link and not just because they have an affinity towards math. I can't say more about it here--since it edges towards the dangers of being Dooced.

IV. What does it say about me that I was EXTREMELY excited while viewing this video?

V. I am glad that work is progressing on the Hobbit movies but I am glad that I am not alone in my concerns that they are trying to create a movie where one should not exist. And please don't try to make a parallel between this decision to create two Tolkien films with Warner Brother's decision to split Harry Potter movie 7 into two parts. (I am a great proponent of splitting up Deathly Hallows.) Critics will say that Warner Brothers (like the Hobbit guys) are attempting to generate extra money with two films. But the Deathly Hallows book is very large and splitting it in two ensures the best chance of getting as much of the book's plot in as possible. This is a very good and quite essential think, in my opinion. I don't think you need to do the same to a movie about The Hobbit. The story and necessary plotting don't require more than two hours to do correctly. And the decision to create additional plot (from where exactly?) to create a bridge between Hobbit movie and Peter Jackson's LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring movie is unnecessary.

VI. Have I told you about my grass-growing prowess? (And no, sorry, it's not that kind of grass.)

VII. If you are still trying to catch up with my memorial readings of the late David Foster Wallace, you can use this useful link to a fan-gathered collection of his works. I'm sure I'll be referring back to this soon again very soon.

VIII. Finally, as a reward for making it this far, here is a seasonally-appropriate photographic blast from my past.

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