Washington DC, Halloween

I saw more skinny white dudes in shades wearing skinny black frock coats and pretending to be Neo than you could shake a stick at. I saw a waitress dressed like Annie Oakley who had me convinced. I saw a guy in a gorilla suit and a girl dressed like a gangster in some Warren Beaty movie, complete with short-skirted tailored pin striped suit and a fetching fedora. They were all out tonight. But the scariest costume I saw was this… I think he calls it “Young Republican Grows Up.” Sadly, the camera flash washed out the dark circles from under his eyes, but I think it caught the demonic fire in the eyes themselves pretty well.

[tags]power tie, brandy after brandy, self importance, the next generation[/tags]

Dad Update

Like so many others, I too have been visited by Anger and his three legged dog Grief. I was in a real stew yesterday. The helplessness I feel in the face of dad’s condition aggravates me.

Here is an update on dad’s health.

I don’t know where the time has gone since I took dad to the hospital on Wednesday the 17th… two weeks have flown. After a few days in the neuro-intensive care area with constant monitoring and CAT scans and an MRI, they released him to inpatient rehabilitation. There he learned to use a walker, to talk around the gaps in his word-memory, to care for himself… put on his shoes, brush his teeth, and all those little things. Even so, he has a long way to go and he will be discharged from the hospital Thursday. My brother will move him to an assisted living facility in De Forest, a few blocks from the clinic and a few blocks from the church. He is 83 going on 84, and I think this will be a permanent arrangement.

When I see him searching for words and giving up on crossword puzzles and other simple things he used to enjoy, I am saddened. But he is accepting and seems generally happy. We had him out of the hospital this weekend looking at a few assisted living places. He turned thumbs down on two alternatives but was cheered by what he saw at the place he chose to stay. There are few enough people there that none will be strangers. The care is customized to the residents need, so as he improves he’ll have less close supervision on stairs and such and more independence. It’s close enough to the farm that we can make field trips to select furnishings and he can have a hand in closing his old place up.

Dad is a very sociable guy, and his relationships have been active ones such as bowling and golf leagues, card clubs and the like. Those activities will likely be very limited, so this is a new chapter in his life. I’ve been with him a lot, nearly every day, but I’m off to DC tomorrow, returning Saturday, so next time I see him he’ll be in his new digs. Thank you for keeping us in your hearts. These are very difficult days, but we are blessed in many ways, not the least of which is the recoverable nature of dad’s stroke.

Thanks to all who have been supportive during this time. Fondest thanks to her who got me the heck out of town for a few days for a fresh perspective (and from whom I stole the mythic characters, Anger and his three-legged dog Grief).

Sit on my facebook, please

[UPDATE 10/31: Yesterday, William (PaPa) Meloney put it this way:

It is as if the world was too big, the universe too vast, the Internet too ... too something-or-other... we need to be members of some smaller order, some familiar covenant, some little comfort zone. We want to belong and the only way we can make that distinction for ourselves is with a small lapel pin label: FaceBookMySpaceEtAl. When in fact we are all engaged in the greatest social network known to mankind: The Internet.

I hadn't read Bill's post before writing my own, but I think they fit nicely together.]

Forgive me for the forgettable title on this post. I know there is money to be made aggregating eyeballs and herding clickers up the ramp like so many hogs on their way to becoming bacon. And I don’t begrudge Microsoft their interest in bringing home that bacon. But here’s my experience…

There’s something called a “Microsoft Passport,” at least there once was such a thing. It probably still exists. Everybody who bought that snake oil, raise your hands.

Shame on you.

The point is, if you had a “passport” you could take advantage of a hotmail account and play games in the Zone. You probably could also get a pastrami sandwich delivered (dark rye, lots of mustard), but as for me the mail and the Zone pretty much defined my relationship. Backgammon was free, and I could always use a somewhat anonymous email account to flame from. As time went on MSFT became pathetically desperate to monetize this stuff, and I fell away from them. But from ten or twelve years ago, to six or eight years ago, they sponsored a lot of my clickage online, at least for simple game playing.

On Facebook I play Scrabulous. It’s fabulous. I use the meetup-like features too, but I don’t need this stuff. The web is so much bigger, so much more empowering than the white and blue hospital room settings of Facebook. When we’re bored with Scrabulous, I guarantee my friends and I will move along to something else frivolous and likely free. As in beer. Not that I don’t know plenty of people who are stuffing their disposable income down the ratholes of WoW and iCrap, but these so called online communities exist because people are there, and people are fickle. We’ll blow out of there like blackbirds in the fall, no matter where there is. So when a corporation tries to nail this stuff down, they are simply playing fast and loose with their stockholders money, salary-men embarrassing themselves with a delusion of an investment with a payback horizon. Ain’t gonna happen.

Take Yahoo! I’m sure money rolls through there as fast as AT&T can launder it, but what’s the value proposition? Have these yahoos determined that because monstrous amounts were spent on twen-cen television advertising, it makes sense to spend that in the land of clicks and tricks? Why else try to bundle a customer relationship with ephemeral toys that we can as easily throw away and replace with free stuff if their efforts to monetize become too egregiously intrusive.

Bill Kinnon wrote this week,

The Facebook $15 Billion valuation is based on what you Facebookians are worth to marketers desperate to target consumers they can no longer easily access by traditional media exploits. Those of you who self-identify as Christians on Facebook can expect to be receiving targeted email from Zondervan, Christianity Today, EMI Music et al. Using information you may have thought was only viewable by people within your mini-network.

Bill goes on to quote the terms of service that we agree to be bound by when we sign up for a Facebook account… just your usual first-born, left testicle stuff.

Alan Herrell probably said it best last week:

The value of every one of these walled garden spots plummets in a direct proportion to the increase in membership. For those of you that have drunk the Kool Aid and want to argue, save your breath, I have been on the web longer than you have had pubic hair.

Now in the WEB(what’s your monetization(click-thru advertiser) strategy)2.0 world, Microsoft is going to be the exclusive ad server for Facebook. Good business move in the short term (help pay all those fines in the EU, and pump more marketing dollars into the Flatline OS Vista) as they really are the gang who couldn’t shoot straight on their own properties, but the darkside is that they will be tracking every move and click across their new partners network. And yes they will sell your ass down the river.

Cookie Crumbles

Mari and Leslie are finalists in the stopbadware.org Cookie Crumbles Contest! It’s not practical for them to slide over six time zones from FNO France to be there in DC this Friday, so I’ve consented to represent them and their work at the Federal Trade Commission workshop where the winner of the $5,000 prize will be selected.

Here’s their winning entry!

Marvelous Maeve

Maeve, on her eponymous blog Meadhbh Maonaigh, has posted a video animation of Jonathan Coulton’s song, “Creepy Doll.” The animation is eerily apropos, and maximally seasonal of course, but the Coulton lyrics are also uncomfortably evocative of a middle class experience and laden with symbolism (see Richard Corelli for more on this, especially perhaps the bit on “house” symbolism in dreams).

The video is entered in a NeoVision/Neopets contest. It’s a winner from where I sit.

[tags]Meadhbh Maonaigh, Jonathan Coulton, Thomas Levy[/tags]

End of life

My friend said he wasn’t reading Scoble, Scobes, the Scobleizer, the Scobie-dobie dude. I asked him why. He said, I can’t fathom why I should. Why anybody would. I looked at something someone pointed to. Utter bilge. What world is this that people have time for Scoble?

Well, I think the following critical insights that the Bobbleizer burped today should prove my friend wrong. [UPDATE: I HAVE BEEN REMINDED THAT IRONY IS DEAD, THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF READERS ARE SUCH CREDULOUS SHEEP THAT IT BEHOOVES ONE TO ENTER THE FORMAL DENIAL OF LITERAL INTENTION BEFORE PROCEEDING FROM THIS POINT. TO THAT END, THEN, LET ME SIMPLY SAY... NOT. The following actually CONFIRMS my friend's observation that little but meaningless drivel flows from the blog of Scoble.] Bob said,

1. Blogs have lost their humanity. Their weirdness. Instead we’ve become vehicles to announce new products and initiatives on.
2. We’ve gotten too caught up in the TechMeme games.
3. We’re bored. The interesting stuff is happening off blogs. This afternoon, for instance, I’m meeting Hugh Macleod and we’re just going to hang out in Palo Alto and have fun. Meet at the Apple store at 3 p.m. on University Ave.
4. Creative stuff and ideas and questions are getting spread out all over the place.

Anyway, hope you’re having a good weekend.

Actually, Bob, I’m having a weekend with some ups and downs. I’m in the kind of mood that I wouldn’t even be distracted by a vicarious fascination with the antics of Paris Hilton or Ozzy Osbourne. You might almost say that I’m “on teh[stet] rag.” I was sorry to hear about your company’s end-of-life crise though, Bob. I was perhaps not as upset as you were that a parody site would sound the death knell for your over-funded, under-conceived, video-yawn project. But a sense of humor and equanimity have never been strong points for you, if I’ve been reading your blog correctly, Bob. No, I would have to say that you take yourself too seriously. You lack a well developed sense of humor.

An important part of a developed sense of humor is the capacity to take yourself lightly, even though you may take your work or your problem very seriously. A sense of joy in being alive is an intimate component of the human will to live.

The phrase “end of life” has emerged with alarming frequency here. My dad will be 84 in a few weeks. He had a stroke on the 16th and his bowling buddies packed him in his car and sent him home. My apologies to anyone on US Highway 51 who had to hit the ditch to avoid the guy with the hemorrhagic condition and double vision that night. I called him that night and he said he wasn’t feeling well… hurt his leg bowling, he said. I stopped in to see him the next day and took him to the hospital. He had CAT scans, an MRI. He had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, a bleeding deep in his brain. He was moved from the emergency room to the neurology intensive care floor. The neurology doctors took charge, a surgeon stood by, and after a few days they released him to less guarded care. On Monday he went into an inpatient rehabilitation program. Today I saw him climb two flights of stairs, then turn around and walk back down, unassisted. That’s the good news.

In the bad news column we have a few issues like dysphasia (he pulls some odd words out of the hat to express himself, he has trouble with names and family relationships) and his short term memory is spotty. He’s not reading and writing too well. He’d rather chew gum than brush his teeth. He’s more comfortable crawling into bed for a nap with his shoes on than taking them off and putting them back on.

We’re really hoping that over the next six months he recovers to the point that he’s functioning like a happy, healthy 84 year old. Time will tell. He has a great sense of humor, so I’m predicting a strong recovery. Sort of the opposite of the Podtech thing.

AtomFilms.com: Funny Videos | Funny Cartoons | Comedy Central

Who believes in these things anyway?

When I saw that Winston had scored “Easy Rider,” I figured this would be an amusing little test. Imagine my surprise.

[tags]Winston Rand[/tags]