Category Archives: quality of life

Blogging: To Do or Not To Do?

It had already been a quiet six months on my blog when I read Paul Boutin’s story in the front of Wired magazine saying that people writing blogs should stop it already.  He says that nobody is going to noice your blog amidst the millions and that your friends will get your updates on web sites like Facebook, Flickr or Twitter.

Writing a weblog today isn’t the bright idea it was four years ago. The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.   

 His ideas about why blogging is wasting time struck me and it felt freeing to allow myself to imagine ending the blog project and pull that plug.  Had I not been reading the story in bed I may have gotten up and sent the pixels that make up this web site off into oblivion.  The next morning it was time for breakfast and going to work so there wasn’t time to kill the blog.  Rather than acting on my impulse, I waited long enough that I finally came across Andrew Sullivan’s essay Why I Blog in The Atlantic and I may get back into it.   I re-read the essay tonight and his description of what blogging is and how it is so different for writers to be so exposed and honest is what stands out:

You have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts. You can try to hide yourself from real scrutiny, and the exposure it demands, but it’s hard. And that’s what makes blogging as a form stand out: it is rich in personality. The faux intimacy of the Web experience, the closeness of the e-mail and the instant message, seeps through. You feel as if you know bloggers as they go through their lives, experience the same things you are experiencing, and share the moment.      

   It is this intimacy and immediate expression that is so fun to read and also to create.  I want to show you about how exciting it is to be out on the street the night of the presidental election.   I want to show you pictures of the mountains of dishes that I get to wash in our tiny kitchen.  I want to explore how to live in a city studio apartment as a newly married couple.  I want to show you interesting photographs of friends in the neighborhood.  I want to talk about interesting ideas raised in some of my favorite publications.  And I want to do it all freely and happily.Even if I enjoy reading blogs immensely I’m going to make an effort to share a little more.  Hopefully it’ll be fun for all of us.

Wanted: a Digital Piano for the Apartment

digital piano

I learned in December that I still love playing the piano.   I hadn’t played in years but the many feet of snow outside inspired me to sit in the warm basement and remember how to play.  Since then I’ve been thinking more about it and recently a few piano playing friends pointed me in this direction for buying a digital piano:

  • Pianos need all 88 keys.
  • Pianos need to make beautiful music and must handle 32 notes polyphony.
  • Pianos need weighted keys.

I’ve started to narrow my search for the brands and models that I want to try.  If you have any extra digital pianos around the house you no longer play or if you have recommendations (and I know family members and friends who play are reading this) please let me know.

Persepolis: See it and Avoid the Front of the Theater so the Subtitles are Legible.

Friday night came quickly this week with the full schedule at work and at school so it was a rewarding break to visit the independent movie theater in Bethesda, Maryland tonight. Lena arranged a night of Persian food followed by Persepolis, a movie about a young girl’s experience during the Islamic Revolution.

It’s late and I need to get sleep so let me get straight to the point. The movie is well done with inventive and engaging animation. The adaptation from graphic novel to movie is a success and the texture added with music, sound and motion bring the story alive. I have never learned so much about the Islamic Revolution in Iran and now I want to know more.

So yes, the movie is worth your time. If you have the inclination, do it. But go early because otherwise you’ll be stuck in the only available seat… the far edge of the front row.

Having just read The 33 Things That Make Us Crazy in the latest Wired magazine I must add my own item to the list: Movie theater seating. So let me get this straight: I get to pay more than ten dollars to sit in the front row, far right side of a subtitled movie and the only way I can see is by slouching down far enough so that I can see the screen. After 20 minutes my legs are going numb and my neck is getting sore. I look over at Amanda and I can tell this isn’t her idea of a great movie experience either.

How about if the seating at the theater were priced like it is at the theater… movie goers could buy a specific seat and the theater could vary the charge depending on the desirability of the seat. Why would theaters have different pricing? Because my living room is the competition and I always get a comfortable seat at home.

A Night of Modern Dance: LEVYdance

LEVYdance performs
Tonight I saw LEVYdance perform at Dance Place and it was a great experience. The above photo is from “if this small space” where Scott Marlowe danced inside of a ~8 foot rectangle of light (there are more excerpts of it on the front page of the LEVYdance web site). The most impressive performance of the evening was the DC premier of “Bone lines” which is apparently about choreographer Benjamin Levy family life. The Washington Post says:

“Bone lines,” a 24-minute work for his youthful troupe, LEVYdance, doesn’t delve deeply into the drama of his family’s flight, but it does investigate cultural transmission: what gets passed on and what gets lost amid everyday life. There’s something about the work’s tender and knotty partnering, the spare walking, the shadowy relationships that suggests a shared sense of loss.

I went with the fellow dance-challenged Colin along with dancers Amanda and Kim. Thanks to the newlywed couple for their delicious dinner and night on the town!

If you missed the performance, read the preview at the Washington Post called A Dance of Culture and Compromise.

Donate Your Car and Get $500 Driving Credit

Car Free DCzipcarlogo

If you’ve been thinking about going car-free in Washington, DC then this is an excellent time because you’ll give up an automobile and you’ll get something tangible back. Specifically you’ll get a free lifetime membership to Zipcar and $500 worth of driving credit. To be clear though, you’ve got to donate the car today or tomorrow, otherwise you’ll get a $100 driving credit.

I wish I had a car to donate!

For those who can’t give up a car you can still get involved:

If you don’t have a car to donate but want to help us celebrate our car donation drive, please join us for a FREE screening of National Geographic’s feature film Arctic Tale at Landmark’s E Street Cinema this Thursday, November 29.

[Car Donation Program: Go Gas-Guzzless! via Car Free DC]

How to Forget Credit Cards and Save Money

Paypal LogoGoogle Checkout LogoDiamonds from Blue Nile

Jewelery shops have been on my mind recently and I’m happy to see a way to save some money when I make my purchases. According to the New York Times yesterday, Jewelery retailers are looking for ways to reduce costs and one of those ways is to have people use methods of payment besides credit and debit cards. Goodbye Visa, hello Paypal and Google Checkout!

Starting Nov. 26, customers who buy with PayPal will save 20 percent on their purchases, with a maximum discount of $50.

I’m going to try it since it is just as convenient for me to pay with PayPal as it is to use my debit card. It’s a win-win situation for the retailer and for me! Let me know in the comments if you have other tips for saving money using the web and new banking technology.

[Retailers Explore New Ways of Being Paid]