Archive for the ‘ Rambling ’ Category

The Next Great Kickstarter Idea

Let’s all take a moment to think about how different our lives are now that Kickstarter exists. We’ve got a new Veronica Mars movie, thermostats that learn our preferences (and may or may not send all our data to Google…), and rechargeable LED bracelets that will revolutionize our LED bracelet wearing lives.

With Kickstarter, anyone can become an entrepreneur, comic book author, African safari adventurer, etc.  Just check out these amazing Kickstarter pages. I guarantee your life will be enhanced merely by pressing play on the videos or adding one more pageview to a project’s page.

The mason jar shaker:

I never knew I needed this but now I know it’s a thing, I feel a void within me being filled with boozy goodness. A regular mason jar with a slightly different lid? Genius!  This project was $74K+ well spent!

Camera Obscura:

For all those times you wanted to carry more shit with you to the club. This quaint as eff.

This next project is pure inspiration:

My entire life, I’ve dreamed of nothing more than to wander around Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park collecting dirty twigs in my Crate and Barrel mango bowls. If only I looked half as good in a milk bath.

On to the next great idea

Now that I’m filled with such motivation, I’ve decided to come up with my own project. Unfortunately, I have no video making skills so this is more of a plan to come up with a plan for a plan.

First, I need some catchy, instrumental tunes to play in the background. Listen to this while you read the rest of this post:

Next, I need to present a problem and explain what got me thinking about it.

Like a lot of people, I love watching shows on Netflix, especially before bed. But I find I often fall asleep before an episode ends. The problem is  that Netflix doesn’t know when I fall asleep so the little Netflix tracker didn’t accurately reflect what I’ve actually watched. As a result, I often start shows, forgetting I’d fallen asleep the night before, and realize I was in the wrong location. I’d be confused, lost, upset. Sometimes I even saw spoilers, which I couldn’t enjoy because I didn’t understand the backstory leading up to it. That’s when I started thinking, what if Netflix knew when I fell asleep? What if it could either stop the show or provide two trackers – one where the show played out and another that shows where you fall asleep.

HoC skitch

Then comes the innovative use of existing technology:

Now, imagine that we could take sleep tracking technology, typically used for health and fitness purposes, and retarget it for an ideal show watching experience? We’ve come up with a basic sleeptracking device and thought of software that will send your sleep data to Netflix so it literally knows when you’re sleeping and when you’re awake.

Now the inspirational pitch:

With this sleeptracking device attached to your wrist every night, Netflix show tracking technology will revolutionize the way we watch Netflix before bed. No more confusion. No more sadness. No more spoilers. Welcome to Netsleepx.

Plea for money:

To make Netsleepx happen, we need your help. First, I’ll need to pay tuition for some programming classes because I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. Then, I’ll need money to build the actual sleeptracking device. We’ll also need $$ for marketing, the fancy, bespoke wooden box the device will come in, and attorneys for when Netflix tries to enjoin us from moving forward. Right now we’re asking for $563,579 (which is definitely a number we actually thought about and not something we just came up with on the spot).

What backers will get for donating:

For $1, I’ll give you a virtual high five!

For $25+, I’ll send you some stickers I got for free at a tech conference.

That about sums it up. Think I can make this happen?


Cosmo Rooferford B. Hayes and Conquering Fears*

Cosmo at Work

Getting over my fears, little by little.

Something magical happened this week. I met a dog I felt more than 50% comfortable around and fell completely in love with him. For those who know me, I am a devout “cat person.” I will watch any cat video that comes my way, constantly ask my parents for updates on our family cat, Zoot, and will fervently defend their awesomeness to any doubting “dog person.” Alas, the other C is highly allergic to the creatures, which explains why I am, as my granny has now labelled me, a “traiter to all cats.”

Getting a dog was a huge deal for me. Aside from the commitment that comes with getting a dog, or the awkwardness I display whenever I, the “cat person,” encounter a dog, I had to think long and hard about getting the little dude for other reasons. You know how most people say that snakes, heights, or public speaking are their worst fears? Mine happens to be dogs. That is a really fun fear to have when you happen to live in the most dog-friendly neighborhood in town where dogs of all shapes and sizes run around unleashed. The most scared I have been in the last year was probably when I had to walk by a German Shepherd that was tied up outside a shop by myself.

To make a long story short, many years ago my family got a dog who wound up having some serious behavior problems. He started off sweet then snapped, which led to me winding up in the hospital twice  - once just for an inspection and the other for surgery, an overnight stay, and a finger that will never fully function again. Although I have  continued to love dogs, I just haven’t enjoyed being around them ever since that experience.

People have tried to comfort me or convince me that their dogs wouldn’t ever hurt a fly, while others laughed and said that I “must have done something” to deserve the bites. None of that has mattered because if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that you can’t reason fear away. It takes time and a lot of effort to overcome it. I have read articles my mom has sent me about how to behave around dogs, spent time around friends’ dogs, and sometimes decided not to cross the street when I see a big dog coming towards me. Although all that has helped somewhat, I finally figured that the only way to get over this thing once and for all was to just suck it up and get my own dog, especially since the other C really wanted one.

So the other C and I went to the SF SPCA on Sunday and met Cosmo (formerly “Joe Cool”) and decided to take him home. I could not have asked for a more perfect dog. He is sweet, calm, and well-behaved (not to mention super cute). We’ve only had him a few days and already I feel more, though no where near completely, confident around dogs. It’s taken me a long time to realize that most dogs aren’t really all that interested in me – if there’s another dog around, they’d much rather interact with him or her than a silly old human like me.

It will be a while before I’m ready to play with bigger dogs, but thanks to this little guy I know there is hope for me. I cannot fully explain how wonderful it feels to be comfortable around this little dog or to not immediately freeze when I pass a dog on the sidewalk. So the cheezy moral of the story is, when you’re ready, try to determine what would help you overcome your greatest fear and go for it. It will be hard and may take a long time, but few things will ever be as worth it.

*Okay, I wasn’t actually allowed to call him Rooferford, but we live on Hayes st so I couldn’t resist. All photos by the other C.

I’m on a Plane! (or the road home from a long adventure)

Please be warned, despite the title, this post might not be quite so happy.

Did you know that all it takes is a mere 20+ hours of traveling, delays, waiting, and a night spent near JFK airport to earn an upgrade to business class? If you’re lucky, you might even be switched from an airline that doesn’t support WiFi on many flights (such as Continental), to one that does (such as Delta). So here I am, sitting in my comfy seat with a blanket, my feet propped up, a lovely, aerial view of American farmland, rivers, and highways to my left, my laptop neatly placed in front of me, and all the frustrations of the previous day nearly forgotten.

The past 10 days have included moments of frustration, joy, exhaustion, sadness, and relief. It began with a red-eye flight from SFO < EWR, a morning spent in a dated airport hotel, and a reunion with my 80 year-old, Northern Irish grandmother outside customs in Terminal C. The purpose of our meeting in this way, was to accompany each other upwards to Nova Scotia to visit my great aunt and her sister. Aunt Sally lives in a nursing home and suffers from Alzheimers and the loneliness that comes with long-departed relatives and friends, as well as the long distance from her native home.

For my grandmother, who we can refer to as "Granny," this was a necessary and much longed-for trip. She feared that if she did not go when she did, that her sister may no longer recognize her or that she (Granny) may not be fit to handle the cross-Atlantic flight. For me, it was an opportunity to meet my great aunt for the second time and to spend time with Granny when she most needed it.

In a few days, once I've had the chance to upload all my photos, I'll chronicle our adventure in fuller detail. For now, I just need a place to enter some of the many thoughts and emotions that came with it all.

Nova Scotia was hardly the place I remembered it being from the sole journey I had made about 15 years earlier. Instead of finding hearty seafood meals and charming mom and pop shops, we drove through run-down towns and ate microwaved "baked" potatoes. Granny remarked on the absence of shops she remembered and the bizarre drop in population. However, the landscape, with its many rivers, hilltops, and inlets, remained unchanged.

We spent our days between our country road motel, neighboring towns, and Aunt Sally's nursing home, Grace Haven. On our first visit, Aunt Sally instantly recognized Granny but had trouble making conversation and resorted to frequently discussing the blue sky and nice green grass. Each day she returned more and more to her old self - making jokes, laughing, informing us of where old friends once had lived, and commenting on how it was high strawberry season. Her mobility levels appeared to coincide with her mental capacity for remembrance and recognition. The more she chatted, the less she complained of her sore legs.

Granny's mood also fluctuated with Aunt Sally's behavior, as to be expected. Watching the two sisters reconnect as Granny told her sister stories of when they were children and as Aunt Sally poked fun at Granny for spilling ice cream down her top, was incredibly moving. Realizing that Aunt Sally had slipped back into confusion when she asked when we would take her home, was heartbreaking. As a mostly silent onlooker, I wanted to be able to take this woman I barely knew, yet with whom I share so much, into my arms and tell her that someday we would come to take her home for good.

I am still unsure whether Aunt Sally truly understood who I was. She knew me as someone she could trust, but whether she saw me as a relative I suppose I'll never know. The important thing was that she always knew and smiled at her sister. I imagine she's forgotten by now that we were ever over to spend time with her, but I'd like to think that she feels a bit happier and doesn't feel quite so alone.

It is easy to adopt a sense of relaxation when promptly prepared meals and endless servings of tea are brought to my small table, 10,000 feet above the ground. Today's situation sharply contrasts with yesterday's feeling of being stranded at the Halifax airport, and then at JFK, the abrupt goodbye shared between Granny and myself, and the sadness of knowing that neither of us will probably ever see Aunt Sally again.

Only 2 1/2 hours to go until I reach San Francisco. I just need to be home.

Shiny and New

My new computer arrives at last.

Yes, it’s true, I finally got a new computer. Not that my old computer was that old, but it was getting a bit janky and I figured it was time for a change. It had a few weird bugs, the keyboard started acting up, and it just couldn’t handle the things I wanted to do anymore. So with law school starting in less than four months, and my plan to start taking some programming courses over the summer at Berkeley Extension, now seemed like a good time to do it.

I decided on a refurbished 13 inch MacBook Air. It looks like I got lucky because I just tried to track one down on the app store to link to, and there’s nothing close to the one I got for the same price! I’ve only had this thing for a few hours and it is already a huge improvement over my old one.

The other C suggested I get an Air because the new ones are light (obviously), fast, have enough memory for me, and have better resolution than the new MacBooks, which enables me to make the most out of a little screen! My friend Lisa urged me to go refurbished and I am glad I did. I wound up spending $200 less than I would have for a new computer that had less memory even with a student discount. As far as I can tell, everything is in fantastic condition, so I’d recommend you to go refurbished. If it breaks or busts anytime soon, I’ll let you know.

Now that I have all the latest software, I was finally able to download some totally sweet apps. I realize many people will already have some of these apps, but just in case, here’s a rundown of my new faves:

1) Reeder for reviewing feeds. I love Google Reader because it’s a great way to get to articles and blog posts I wouldn’t normally take the effort to read, either from sources I choose or as shared by my friends. Reeder enables me to easily access my feeds directly from my desktop with a beautiful display.

2) Sparrow for gmail. Sorta similar look as Reeder but meant for e-mail.

3) Angry Birds. If you don’t know what this is, I can’t help you.

4) Braid. The other C introduced this game to me and I was jealous that I couldn’t play it on my computer. So now it is mine! Bahahahaha!

Okay, I am getting too distracted to write anymore because I want to play with this computer some more. Bye!

I chose the above picture because it’s me doing a ridiculous and happy dance.

Marching On

I’ll try to withhold the puns from now on…

March was somewhat of a busy month for me. First I recovered from a whirlwind of Northern Irishness after my cousin and her friend came to stay for a few weeks. Then I went to London and Northern Ireland for two weeks to visit family and friends, as well as surprise my grandmother for her 80th birthday party (she was shocked, if you must know). I came back to San Francisco, collapsed in a heap, then ventured off to wine country for a weekend of silly pillow fights, hot tubs, and – you guessed it! – wine.

Below I’ve included quite a few photos from the last few weeks. Some of my favorites come from Londonderry/Derry, a part of Northern Ireland long troubled by pro/anti union troubles for years and years. It also contains old walls surrounding the city, which are interesting to walk around. Although my father had walked the walls before (he was born and raised in NI), he didn’t think he’d ever actually walk the city streets (wait a minute…this sounds like the start of a U2 song). Many signs in the area, whether pro or anti union, are still covered with paint (probably from paint guns) and intimidating murals featuring schoolgirls accompanied by AK47s face busy streets.

A lot of the other photos are just silly.

That sure is a lot of photos!

Storify and the Air Strike in Libya

An experiment with with my new favorite site, Storify.

Have you heard of Storify yet? If you haven’t (don’t feel too bad, it’s still pretty new), you probably will soon. The other C, as well as another friend of ours, recently accepted jobs there, which is why I now know what a storifyamathingy is. I have since informed the other C that I will be living vicariously through him because the idea is just too cool.

Storify allows you to create a story, if you will, about whatever you want (be that Rebecca Black, the Japanese earthquake, Cadbury mini eggs, or even Storify), using your own words combined with media from your preferred sites via a bit of drag and drop. You can then share your story on Storify or embed it into your site.

As a history nerd, I think this is pretty neat. Dealing with non-digitized sources can be enough of a hassle as is (don’t worry my dear friend, microfilm, I could never forget you). Storify enables anyone, from plain ol’ me to big time journalists, to easily share content in an engaging way.

For my first ever Storify story, I chose the search term “Libya air strike” because I wanted to explore a subject that has been updated recently. My sources are Twitter, Flickr, Google, and a few other news sources I added.

I’m sure I’ll be playing around with the site more and more. I’m hoping that one day this catches on in academia as well!

You should try it out for yourself!

Affirmations of Life

Boring blog post about nothing in particular because I’ve been a bad blogger

Some days words come without me barely having to put forth an effort and others the mere thought of coming up with a decent blog topic is a challenge. As I enjoy posting to my blog somewhat regularly, I’ve got to push through and allow myself to have a few horrible blog posts.*

I just looked through some older posts, hoping to find a bit of inspiration, and stumbled across my *not* resolution post from the very beginning of this year. I must say, without trying too hard, I’ve done a pretty good job of doing the things I’d hoped to do:

-To get into an awesome law school and to not have that kill me.
So far I’ve only heard from one school and it was good news. It may not be at the very top of my list of where I’d like to go, but it’s decent and they’ve offered me quite a bit of money. Even if I wind up getting rejected from everywhere else I’ve applied, I know that someone wants me. After a year of rejections, it’s nice to finally feel gratified after months of studying, writing, and wondering. Hopefully I’ll hear back from some other schools soon!

-To find an internship and some more contract work.
Sigh. Still have to get cracking on this one. But I’ve been keeping myself busy with Twilio stuff and lots, I mean lots, of guests!

-To design my own website.
This is another thing that’s going to take some time. But thanks to my friend Brendan and a CSS book filled with lots of tutorials, I now have an idea of what this CSS stuff is all about. I still get easily confused but I think I’m just about ready to jump in and try my own thing.

-To visit another new state and country (or international city)-this is pretty much my goal every year.
This one’s going to be tough. Not sure if the country is going to happen as it looks like the rest of 2011 is almost entirely planned out, but a new state could possibly happen. Perhaps I’ll plan an adventure to Seattle before the end of the year!

-To get back into martial arts.
Success! I have joined the Okinawan Karate Club of San Francisco and I absolutely love it. My only gripe is that the only two class times are on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons. I’d love a third class on Mondays or Tuesdays! The other people in the club are really nice, they keep things traditional, which means they focus on self-defense and history rather than competition. I have to start as a white belt again though, which is a bit weird since I have a brown belt in my old style, but I suppose it’s good to brush up on my basics.

-To reconnect with other old friends who I have been horrible about keeping in touch with.
I’ve definitely been slightly better about this, but there’s still more I should do. But hey, as I mentioned before, I’ve had a million guests here!

-To properly visit the East Coast.
Still hasn’t happened.

-To keep being happy.
Still doing pretty good on this front!

That’s it for now. I’ve just discovered that there’s an Android app for Words with Friends (gasp! A Zynga product, noo!) so I’m going to challenge a stranger. If you’re on there, you should totes be my friend (username cedickie).

*I admit, there haven’t really been any good blog posts for a while, whatevs!

Sometimes I feel like a boat in the ocean, then I realize there are much bigger things, like giant boats, out there (hey, don’t get mad at me for not making sense, you’re the one that made it this far down the post!).

Is It Really Only January?

This post is the result of not having had my daily dose of coffee yet.

I ask the question in the title not because I have done so much this month that I can’t believe we’re not halfway into 2011 yet, but because people seem to have forgotten that we are in the dead of winter! Yes, I am one of the lucky souls who chose to move to the West Coast, where our “winter” was made up of two months or so of horrible drizzle, gray skies, and poorly insulated buildings, which now seems to have come to an end. Each day I look outside my window and notice that it is once again somewhere between 50-70 degrees and sunny.

However, I was not always so lucky. The last two winters I spent in London with the bone-chilling cold and never ending dark, before that I was in Boston, and before that in Hartford, Connecticut. I understand the pain of having to wake up early to start your car 10-15 minutes before it’ll function properly, to scrape off the windshield with only one glove on, and pray that some idiot won’t skid off the ice into your car because you could only park on a hill.

I say this because it seems as though everyone, and I mean everyone, who lives in a wintery state, especially in the Northeast, seems to have forgotten it’s January. I can’t even count the number of Facebook status updates or tweets dedicated to the topic of the “snowpocalypse,” “snow again?” or “gahh! cold!” Really, people? Really? No, the snow won’t end. No, the cold won’t go away. You know why? Because IT’S JANUARY! Sigh. I suppose I have another 2-3 months of whining to put up with because that is how much longer it will be cold and snowy!

In my experience, this is how winter and corresponding social networking site updates go:

Winter: Cold with the first signs of snow- Christmas and New Year’s are coming!
Statuses: “OHEMGEE! I love snow!” “This is my FAVORITE time of the year! No really, winter is the best!” “Snow and snow days are the best!” “I love walking to school/work in the snow!”

Winter: Somewhat colder and stormier than December. The holidays are now over.
Statuses: A blend of “Snow is pretty!” and “Gahh! Save me it is cold!” “Please, winter end! We’re through, don’t touch me!” “Snow stop immediately!” “I won’t go to school/work because it is too cold/dangerous!”

Winter: Snow is perhaps not as frequent but it is always gray, dark, and miserable. It is, of course, still cold.
Statuses: “Seriously, is winter over yet? Ughhh!” “I won’t go to school/work because I’m too depressed.”

Winter: Rain, some cold, no where near as much snow, a little bit of sun.
Statuses: “Hooray!!” “Spring is here! No more winter!” “:) :)” “Can we have a rain day? lol.”

Winter: You thought it was done, didn’t you? Somewhere in the first week it will drop down to the 30s and snow the shit out of everyone and everything. Mark my words, this happens every year. Then, beautiful spring time mixed with wind and rain.
Statuses: “Are you FREAKIN kidding me?!!!!” “Snow, again?!” “WTF?” “What the hell is wrong with the weather this year?!” “I’m not going to school/work because I need to enjoy the sun, which I haven’t seen in like a year.”

The people who aren’t complaining about the snow are posting pictures to boast that they got more snow than anyone else.

Ugh, I think I’ve gotten it out of my system. Excuse me while I go enjoy the Sunshineadise that simply won’t go away!

Super Happy Dev Whatever

Hangin’ at a dojo, but sadly not the martial arts kind.

It’s Saturday afternoon and instead of partaking in a Santa themed bar crawl (Santacon 2010), I am sitting on a couch at Mountain View’s Hacker Dojo for Super Happy Dev House. I’m pretty sure I’m one of 10 females here- I’m guessing there are at least 100 people here overall. The picture I’ve included of the other C is sort of supposed to be a representation of the geekery here, but I’d say he’s a bit cooler than the rest (just a bit).

At least it’s supposed to rain so I shouldn’t be too sad about spending the day on my computer. My goal is to learn something awesome so I’m not such an internet n00b anymore. While everyone else here is discussing iPhone apps, language code that sounds kind of like qoeiurfsrerery, and probably Star Trek, I will be reading CSS: The Missing Manual. I will possibly update later if I figure something out, or am not feeling horribly lazy.

Attempting to amp up the nerdery while C is out of town.

The Devil is in the Backmask

This is what happens when you don’t know what else to write about.

A while ago I was complaining to the other C that I didn’t know what to write about today. Somehow we got started talking about “Dad music”- you know, Dire Straits, the Rolling Stones, and the like. This led us to Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and the satanic message that supposedly plays when the song is played backwards. I had heard of similar ridiculous things before (the whole Beatles “Paul is Dead” nonsense and what have you), but never knew how far some internet folks had taken this idea.

C directed me to this blog post, in which a dude shares a few “backmasked” tracks, which are particularly amusing. Of course there’s the yoozh, “Stairway,” some Doors and Beatles, and Pink Floyd but there are other gems too, like Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi,” and the “Pokemon Rap”-replace “gotta catch ‘em all” with “I love satan (repeat).”

Do yourself a favor and head over to the site and check ‘em out. My personal fave is reverse Britney’s “Baby One More Time.”

Actual lyrics: “When I’m with you I lose my mind, give me a sign.”
Reverse lyrics: “Sleep with me, I’m not too young.”

Pretty dumb.

I’m not sure what this post looks like backwards, but it’s probably terrible.