Month: December 2009

What’s your One Question?

I watched this talk the other evening, and since then the idea of the One Question has been stuck in my head, i.e.: “What’s the one question you’ve been waiting your whole life to be asked?”

I don’t know what my question is, least not yet. What’s yours? (I have a feeling that figuring that out and being able to ask a person would forge an amazing connection.)

Interestingly, the day after I watched that, Chris Brogan’s latest newsletter arrived, and as I started reading, I immediately thought, I TOTALLY have to send him that interview!”… and then a couple paragraphs down he mentioned having watched it. 🙂

This season’s crew

So far this season I’ve made six sockmonkeys. One went to Tim Jackson of Tech Capital for giving the biggest donation to our Movember team. One went to Melissa for Christmas. I forgot to take pictures of either of those sockmonkeys. Oops. Though I suspect we could get Melissa to take a picture of hers without too much trouble. 🙂

Anyway, the other four were for the four co-workers who were not at the company yet last Christmas when I made the last batch (10… God help me…) I DID remember to take a picture of them, which is below.

2009 sockmonkeys for the co-workers

I have four more I want to make this season, but it’s nice, post-Christmas, to be able to work at as leisurely a pace as I want. And my calloused index finger thanks me, too. 🙂

Will I get a Time magazine cover photo?

I could have sworn I’ve seen articles like this one annually for the past couple/few years. I have to admit it’s a bit odd seeing your job touted as the “next big thing”. (Especially for multiple years running.) I’m also not holding my breath. 🙂

It always seems a bit incongruous to me, too, since, by necessity, community management is anything but glamorous or A-list-y. It’s one of those jobs where things are going well if people don’t really notice you doing much at all, or you can fix problems before people get loud about them.

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Technology and storytelling: not mutually exclusive entertainments

We went to see Avatar last weekend. If you’ve been anywhere near media over the past few months, I’m sure you’ve heard plenty. We didn’t have terribly high hopes — the preview we’d seen months ago really was nothing special, and the animation actually looked less sophisticated than some of what we’ve already seen.

But we went, and had the full 3D experience (which I highly recommend). The movie was gorgeous. Some of the most beautiful visuals I’ve seen — in any format of film. The 3D was used carefully, so wasn’t just missiles blasting out of the screen and whatnot. More often it was subtle touches like floating pollen grains wafting among us. Lovely. And they’ve begun achieving things with textures that are spectacular. I’ve no doubt this movie will be the starting point for amazing things.

And, as they note in this post (humorous intentions aside), James Cameron does know how to put a scene together. Orchestration as opposed to mayhem.

However, the story was another matter. Now, yes, it’s James Cameron. You’re not there for stellar dialogue, intricate storytelling, or nuance. And you’re not going to get any. This was written with a club. Capitalism and environmental destruction bad. Living as one with nature good. Metal-clad bad guys do horrible things, but can be defeated by plucky natives and animals… at great personal cost. When you let go of your indoctrination, you can become eloquent, enlightened, and find love. Check your brain at the door: it’s paint by numbers; it’s not Rembrandt.

But what if it could be?

I couldn’t help but be disappointed by what could have been. The combination of those rich, intricate, beautiful visuals with a story that matched it. A story with nuance and textured mythology and 3-dimensional characters and moral dilemmas and bad guys you kind of liked and good guys you kind of didn’t.

Wholesale slaughter turns people off — we’ve seen too much of it. I don’t just mean emotionally, though that’s true, too. I mean mentally as well. There’s nothing to it but fast movement, loud noises, and carnage. Sure, big battles are exciting and move the story along… somewhat. But talk to Joss Whedon about the shock and power of a well-placed and well-timed single death. He can do more with offing a bit character than Avatar could do with one of the leads.

I understand the whole lowest common denominator idea in movies, books, TV, etc. And I get that it’s the intersection of investment and revenue potential. But I still prefer more of a long tail idea. I don’t think the NASCAR set is incapable of enjoying something that includes both explosions and thought. And I don’t think the Mensa set can’t appreciate a well choreographed action sequence.

Some day in the future I imagine someone will weave together that stunning technology with a story that makes both my brain and heart contort til it hurts. I can’t wait. Though I suspect I’ll probably have to see it at the Princess because the Galaxy will deem it incapable of raking in enough bucks.

Ignite Waterloo

The inaugural Ignite Waterloo took place on November 25th in downtown Kitchener, at the Children’s Museum.

I’d never been to an Ignite event, but greatly enjoyed this one (especially since I somehow managed to not pay for a single drink all evening — thanks, gentlemen!) 😉

It was a lot of fun, there was a lot to learn, and the presentations covered a most splendid variety of topics. And there were cupcakes. (To be decorated to potentially win a netbook, or just to eat.)

The presentation videos are up now, and range from technical: high altitude medicine, to the environmental: flood forecasting and climate change, to the interpersonal: hacking the ‘hood. We even had a bit of a poetry slam (certainly a crowd favourite).

The next Ignite will take place on March 3rd, same place, so mark your calendars, or, if you’re interested in speaking, let them know! (I am not planning to present… yet.)

Bamboozled

Some months ago, Erin told me a crazy story about a friend of hers who was working as an au pair in Amsterdam. It involved a dead dog and a suitcase.

Now, I’ve been on the internets for some time, so I probably should have twigged on to the fact that this story was just right to be… not quite right. But it was a great story, and I love a good yarn, especially when I can re-tell it. Which is what I’ve done since.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the salon, and ended up telling my stylist the story. (I don’t recall how we got onto that subject…) Of course, being a salon, there are plenty of ears around, and when I was done and up at the front paying, the girl helping me said, “I hear you have a dead dog in a suitcase story… That’s totally freaky, because I do, too.”

Then she told me her version, which involved her friend’s boyfriend, took place in Toronto, was on the TTC, and the dog was a German Shepherd.

In the version I heard, as I mentioned, it was Erin’s friend, took place in Amsterdam, was on a bus, and the dog was a Golden Retriever.

The Snopes-worthiness of the story became thoroughly apparent.

So I headed home and searched snopes.com, but, oddly, couldn’t find the story. So I cast my net wider and googled “dead dog in a suitcase”. Ahh, pay dirt. Chicago, the UK — the story has been around for years, as expected.

I also found an entry that noted the Snopes version was about a cat, so I went back to Snopes, and sure enough, there was the story, just with different person, place, public transportation, and animal details.

And so, since I can no longer regale folks with the tale, I shall recount the version I’ve been telling, here, one last time. 🙂

Erin’s friend was working as an au pair for a family in Amsterdam, and they were going away on vacation. She was staying at home to water the plants, feed the dog, etc. However, before the family left, they did mention to her that the dog hadn’t been doing well, and, being quite aged, it was possible he could die pretty much any time. If that happened while they were away, don’t freak out or anything.

So off the family goes, and, sure enough, a few days later the dog dies. At which point the girl realizes that, while they did warn her it could happen, they didn’t tell her what the hell to do if it did. She finally manages to find the vet’s number and calls them. They tell her they can take care of the remains… but she has to bring them to the vet’s office. Hrm.

This is Amsterdam — she has no car, and she can’t exactly get the dog there on her bike, so she’ll have to take public transportation. But she can’t just get on a bus with a dead dog… So she goes hunting around the house and finds a big suitcase the family didn’t use for their vacation.

And she manages to get the dog in it (keep in mind this is not a Chihuahua, it’s 90lbs of dead weight Golden Retriever), and wrestle it to the bus stop. The bus arrives, and she’s wrestling the suitcase up the stairs, when a nice man appears and helps her get the suitcase onto the bus.

So she gets situated, and the guy’s all, “Wow, that’s really heavy. What’s in there?” And, thinking quickly, she replies, “Oh, just some old electronics equipment…” (Now, at this point, most people are assuming the suitcase is going to break open on the bus or something… but no…)

The bus arrives at her stop, and she starts wrestling the suitcase off the bus, and the nice man helps her again. And they get to the sidewalk… and the guy picks up the suitcase and takes off down the street.

She’s standing there, staring after him, wondering what the hell to do. She might be able to catch him, but… he kinda just solved her problem. She no longer has to dispose of the dog, and… wow, can you imagine his face when he opens that suitcase?

So she just goes home, and, when the family returns from vacation, tells them what happened (awkward!), and offers to pay for a new suitcase…

The End