My girl Jeskat just gave me this shiny and functional iPhone case for my new iPhone 4S, straight from Singapore. I love the angel wings design on the back. And the wings hinge out to make a stand for watching videos and slideshows.... Or zooming your phone around and making "whoosh" sounds until she tells you to stop.
You know how some things just call to you, whether or not it is practical or reasonable for you to want them? In December of last year, I was at a holiday craft fair in Brooklyn and I found myself at this vintage toy stall. Above it was hanging this lovely Japanese papercraft mobile. I marvelled at it for a moment, checked the price, and then walked on.
For the next hour, after having seen many hundreds of other items in the fair, my mind kept coming back to that mobile. It seemed a frivolous purchase, a fairly expensive and useless decoration that I would have to schlep from New York to California soon.
So I bought it.
I learned later that the dolls are paper representations of Kokeshi, an ancient wooden doll from Northern Japan that some believe were symbols of mountain spirits. They were given to children to protect them until adulthood, and then traditional burned to release the spirit. So perhaps the papercraft mobile version is a modern take on this protective spirit.
It's now finally hanging in my Oakland apartment and I'm pleased as punch. Maybe it will protect this new home.
It's been almost 10 months that I've been back in California, making a somewhat illogical move away from a city that I love, many dear friends, and a fulfilling and steady paying job. I moved here with no promise that I would find another position in my field, during a terrible recession when employment is way down.
When I relocated to the Bay, I was full of confidence that with all of the professional and personal connections, my unique history of work and accomplishments, and a supportive family nearby, that I wouldn't have to look long for a position that I enjoyed and paid decently.
Ten months later, I'm starting to feel that confidence slipping.
It's not that I'm not working. I'm doing good work, with good people for organizations that I respect. But it's part-time and piece-meal, without benefits or security. And it's just barely tiding me over, not moving me toward something new.
And I know I should be grateful, since so many people have so much harder situations. Chronic unemployment lasting for years, with families to care for. People stuck in dead-end jobs because they have no other prospects. Folks in grinding poverty where housing, health and food are insecure. I am so thankful that I get to live as well as I do, in a beautiful place, where I can worship, dance, and spend time with wonderful people.
I updated my Work Portfolio to make it easier for people to see my most recent professional accomplishments in one place. Like this blog (and my life!), it covers a wide range of projects and disciplines, from virtual worlds to public speaking. And there's of course a lot I didn't include, since I've had such a wide ranging (and sometimes strange) career path. But my goal is to capture in a quick snapshot the most relevant, recent highlights of my work.
I have been having a frustrating time getting some kind of communications system working in my otherwise charming new pad in Oakland. In most of the apartment I have zero bars on my cell phone, which is a big bummer. Just as importantly, I have been so far unsuccessful at getting any kind of broadband installed, largely due to incompetence by Comcast cable.
Of course, I am in a major urban center, so I can walk a few blocks and get to several establishments with free wifi. And my phone works everywhere else but in my apartment. So it could definitely be worse.
Still, it has been discombobulating not having any kind of external communications in my home, for both work and pleasure. I feel adrift and unsure of what to do with myself much of the time. Can't tweet, can't watch videos, can't visit Second Life, can't look up what's going on around me, can't chat with friends....
So I've been concentrating on staying focused, calm, and happy despite my circumstances. For the most part I have been succeeding, with only 2-3 small meltdowns. I know that sounds like "First World Problems," but much of my work and social life occurs onine.
There is a good possibility that I will be back online as early as Monday morning. But I'm not holding my breath. Instead I'm taking deep, cleansing breaths... and going OUTSIDE.
UPDATE October 10, 9am: Comcast technician Jeff managed to get me online, when 3 other techs had failed. Yay, Jeff!
Reading this post on BoingBoing about the dress code for a high end boutique reminded me of something my old boss Bill Pace at the Coalition for the International Criminal Court used say. As an up-and-coming international NGO at the United Nations, we had a pretty steady stream of new staff and interns at the CICC. And Bill would frequently have to orient the new folks to how we worked. Here's the gist of what he used to say about dressing up for the UN:
As a pretty laid back, casual guy, I really hate to ask you all to do this. But I have to. I'm going to have to ask all of you to dress as professional as you can when we are in meetings with diplomats at the United Nations. For the guys, that means a suit and tie, dress shoes, clean-shaven, etc. For the ladies, dress suits, nice blouses and skirts at a modest length, dress shoes. No sneakers, no flip-flops, no jeans.
It's not because I want to be the fashion police. It's because we are in the territory of the enemy, we are not generally wanted there. We are at best tolerated, at worst distrusted and misunderstood. And so we want to do our best to fit in.
We want to be judged for the quality of our work not our appearance. So don't make your clothes the focus, make it our mission: creating the world's first global human rights court. So look sharp, and be sharp.
Years later, I think about Bill's words when I have to put on a grey suit and boring tie to meet up with some government or corporate types. It's not about becoming a mindless salary-man. It's about not letting your appearance distract from the impact you are trying to have.
Threadless is always a reliable source of awesome tees that I just have to have. I mean, you have to love an apparel company that has a whole section for "robots." This is my latest tee from them that just arrived, called "Star Power." I think it is sold out (for now.) But there are many others!
Shameless plug: use this link, if you want to buy something. I get a bit of credit to keep me in fresh tees into the future. Which really EVERYONE benefits from, no?