No Social Networks Countdown: 2 Days

Posted by banane on April 6th, 2012 — in facebook, technology

Wow, 2 days to go.

In retrospect, I’m loving the following (about this blackout):

– Discovering some great writing (Jezebel, xojane, bookslut, burrito justice)
– Amazing IRL times with good friends, neighbors, family members
– I revamped the style of this blog
– I have been reading so many entertaining blogs (see above) that I’ve re-confirmed my feminism and local activism, and local history (see: My Cool 1940s Neighbors)
– I’ve been treating LinkedIn as Facebook, and it’s rejuvenated my professional network, including opportunities.
– In general I’ve been reaching out a lot more actively, instead of passively. So that has made a ton of relationships a lot better.

I’m continuing my ideas of Friend Anxiety and “Facebook Fatigue” over at my Storify article.

I’m kicking off an “end of Lent” party (that’s Easter to you Philistines) at Zeitgeist with board games. Come on down if you’re interested. 2-3ish.

My Awesome (1940s) Neighbors

Posted by banane on April 4th, 2012 — in local color, north beach, nostalgia

Via Burrito Justice, I started looking into the National Archives’ released census data on who exactly lived at my address (via 1900 Sanborn Fire Insurance maps)- the corner of Columbus (formerly Montgomery) and Taylor, in North Beach. The entries are fascinating, especially when I started doing the math. The details are fun.

I decided to focus on two locations that are relatively indicative of the neighborhood.

The Widow’s Lodging House



This unit above represents one corner of my current modern apartment building, from a 1900 Sanborn map. on that premisis was a lodging house/hotel, run by a widowed 38 year-old, Ethil Cramer (sp?), from Kansas City, Oklahoma, more recently of Montana. Her son, Jack Harroun, aged 21 worked as “host.” This may be him- a veteran of the USS San Francisco 1942 attack on Guadalcanal, though it’s unlikely he joined up so fast and went active, and he’d have to be 82 in the photo. I have more faith in another report that at age 41 he died, because his birthplace in this report matched up with the Census- as Oregon. Sad, to die so young, in 1962, born in 1919. Let’s hope it’s the vet. Ethil Cramer is impossible to find- her literal name doesn’t match any records, and if it’s misspelled, and should be Ethel Cramer, it’s a very common name.

She had him at 17, and with his different name, I wonder if it’s an earlier marriage or out of wedlock. She had other income, probably from her inheritance. He made $900 that year. She pays $40 for that unit, which is quite large by all accounts. Though, I have such an old map it’s hard to tell what was actually built there- interesting is that she’s renting it, it’s not owned by her.

Almost all 6 tenants were older single men, or widowers, including a spunky “Irish Free State” widow, Catherine Monague. Think what she’s seen – born in 1875, living in San Francisco, through both World War I and II, and obviously has an opinion in telling the Census worker that she’s not just form Ireland but the “Irish Free State.” I could find a record of an early Irish-Texan cattle rancher named John Montague, who married an Irish Catherine Montague, but it’s a pretty common name and I have no way of verifying.

Dying to find her on Google somewhere. She’s living on some kind of non-wage income too. One 34-year old American Dominico Grillo, born in Michigan, recently of Glouster Massachusetts (good fishing?), and unemployed. The three guys older than him are also a cannery worker at a fruit packing plant, a fisherman, and a sardine fisherman (sometimes they differentiate from “crab”- I find the specificity endearing) earning from 600 to 200 a year. Josefa Nikka was a 51-year old Hungarian waiter, who earns 1,000 and had a full year of work,. There’s another interesting character – the resident who mostly represents modern North Beach. James Anderson, 62, from California, who earns $500/year as a doorman at a bar, 40 hours a week. Also the divorced, with a big D, 58 year-old Italian Antonio Gambuzzo, who works as a fruit-packer at the cannery and has “other income.” My favorite occupation in scanning these – the “macaroni drier” at the “pasta factory.” Awesome! Also- a vinegar works was right across the street, where a Mongo Networks telecom company now sits (sad face).

Big Amazing Italian Fisherman’s Family

On the little alley Water, at #67, currently an architecture firm, housed 10 Russo’s.



The patriarch, Giacomo, was a fisherman, his son a construction worker, his next son a messenger boy for PG & E (“telegraph company”)- I wonder if this is the one downtown. He has a 2nd grade education; his wife a 3rd grade. They’re from Italy, their first son was born there, then they immigrated. All the kids are in school, and the eldest two have graduated. As you can see from the Sanborn map, this is a tiny, 1-level place. I can’t imagine how they’re in there. Also, his wife had their last child at age 44. Their father worked 50 hours this week. Giacomo also has “extra income” listed- inheritance? Side line of work? He may own other properties- he owns this house, paying what looks like $15/month mortgage and an annual income of $1300 a year.

According to this, average home income nationwide was $20,000 in 1940, roughly half what we have now. According to that, almost all my neighbors were very low income, which I could tell by a couple of markers- the high density, the level of unemployment, the very low level of ownership. Also, kids contributing to monthly income is a big sign. Still, as we know it’s a thriving community with various other incomes, and it seems like even then people traveled far and wide to live here.

No Social Networks: Countdown to day 1: 6

Posted by banane on April 2nd, 2012 — in about writing, facebook

When I thought there was nothing new to report… wrong! The lastest manifestation of not being online is how folks forget that I’m not online. They think I know things going on with them, because they’ve spoken about it publicly. Which is a common thing. I am also guilty of that, having lived so publicly for a while. It’s an awkward moment when you realize the person doesn’t know something that everyone knows, or vice-versa. It’s the knowing absence of small talk, namely, “So what is up with you?” With social networks, all the wind is taken out of that sail. You can launch right into the current things you haven’t posted online. In an offline world, you learn to synopsize quite well about the large things in your life.

Example 1: I was chatting almost every day with a close friend before she realized I didn’t know she was moving in with her boyfriend. Perhaps that’s my oversight that I didn’t ask her how things were going in her relationship.

Example 2: In figuring out Friday night plans with a friend, she took a few hours to realize I had no idea her basement had flooded and she was home with contractors all day. She’d posted photos of it on Facebook.

Part of it is that you can’t find an absence. It’s difficult to search for… nothing. So by being offline I’ve literally taken myself out of the equation. Still, the newness of news is more fresh when delivered by the person who created the news, in person. I’ll miss that when I go back on. I relished the photos of the flooded basement while sitting outside on a sunny day at a beer garden so much more than in front of a computer on Facebook.

Don’t Call It An App

Posted by banane on April 2nd, 2012 — in android dev, facebook, iphone dev, Media, technology



Tell me what you think- wrote an article on “appiness” — no, it’s not a Cockney pronunciation of happiness, but the trend towards ever increasing complexity in online interfaces, that makes them ineffective and “appy”.

No Social Network Day 35: Mis-managing My Calendar

Posted by banane on March 28th, 2012 — in social networks

Just a quick note on this Facebook/Twitter black out. A couple of times when I show up for in-real-life event stuff, friends say “OMG I miss you!”, “My Facebook is so quiet with you gone!”, “I can’t wait until you’re back online!” It’s kinda funny. It’s odd because from my perspective, while I may have missed it initially, it’s back to normal for me. But I wonder if you’re on the networks all the time, someone’s absence is bigger than it seems?


Roman Calendar

So far, this social media blackout thing is great. Kinda don’t wanna go back. Why is it working out so well?

OK, there’s this thing my brain does that has always annoyed me, caused stress, etc. and lately it hasn’t happened as much: mis-managing my calendar.

I have a seriously hard time remembering a date/time. If it’s outside of a week, I will totally miss it/transpose it/forget it. Transposing is my favorite thing my brain does. Your concert is on Wed March 12th? I will show up at March 21st. Skiing on President’s Day Weekend, I will book the hotels for MLK’s birthday. Those are real life examples. When I’m showing up to a party, I will re-check my calendar multiple times. Problem is, sometimes I enter the date wrong in the calendar. In “calling to confirm” I convince people it’s the wrong date. Nothing is to be trusted.

You’re thinking, oh everyone botches dates. I’d argue that I botch them with almost persistent regularity. The funny thing is the knowing look on friends and family when I realize I have screwed up a date. Despite going to yoga and dance twice a week I still have to look up the schedule for when they start each day.

Adapting & Adaptations

I’ve consciously or unconsciously done the following to manage this:

Being spontaneous. Besides the regular occurring things, I keep it pretty open. Events are so stressful to schedule and remember, that I’m happier if there’s nothing scheduled. So I end up being a better “last minute” friend.

Associations: Birthdays are in months that are astrological, and I can remember those associating them to personality traits.

Regularity. Dance classes always on Tues/Thurs, yoga on Mon/Wed, etc. The start times are all different, but I just check those daily. You build up subtle clues to the day when you do this, on Thursday the Mission is full of people, certain friends are in the classes, etc.

Confirming. Calling before an event, emailing, etc. to confirm the date/time. Not having any ego about it, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

One Calendar. It’s the laptop’s, not the mobile or the kitchen wall calendar- there’s also a work one but I don’t schedule personal stuff in it. Making sure to enter dates (even if I do it badly, it’s 50% of the way there).

Off Social Networks

So what I realized recently is that being off social networks has helped extremely. I’ve only botched one date- my friend’s singing gig in North Beach, and it was salvageable. I wrote her asking something about it, and she wrote back immediately “You know it’s tomorrow right,” and “I know you ;)” haha. That was a case where I entered in my calendar wrong. My schedule has been as busy as usual but only messing up one event is really big to me.

I’m not sure why being off social networks has helped- the lack of distraction, or it could be that I hold in-real-life events as more important now because they are where I meet and chat with people. My ‘social life nutrition.’

It may also be that I don’t see the events in Facebook. As more of us start scheduling in there, it mutes the “chatter” of events that I’m not directly related to. If someone bothers to email or tell me personally about something, it’s that much more of a real invitation. A digital invitation, especially one shared out to one’s entire network, is less special. It may just b the “clutter” idea- lots of extraneous social information is competing with my adaption skills in calendaring.

Total aside re: Evite.
On the note of digital invites- I won’t attend anything sent by Evite. Why? Not because I’m just randomly picky, it’s just way too stressful. Evite allows you to invite people without putting the logistics in the email. This is nice if you are an organizer and don’t want “looky-lou’s” not committing and just looking at your guest list. But what it means for me, is that in the 5-10 times I look at the invite to confirm the logistics, I have to click through to the site. The problem is here: I have been online so long, that I have many email addresses. Longtime apps like evite have some old email in there, and it takes drudging up 10 passwords to register.

No Social Network Day 29: Bad Internet, Bad

Posted by banane on March 22nd, 2012 — in Uncategorized

Today, I can admit that I don’t miss social networks one bit. A good twitterstorm cures you of any last residual feeling.

Also, the internet was lame today. Long “feminism 101″ conversations on Hacker News. Hacker News, or rather, masses of people down voting, deleted them. (I suspect, no proof).

I was disappointed in a friend’s behavior, I was disappointed in other things. It was all very disappointing.

Cats! Flowers! Puppies!

Wait, no…

Baby Seals!!!

Feminist Reviews of Inappropriate Things

Posted by banane on March 20th, 2012 — in feminism

1. Star Mites
My niece invited me to come see her in Star Mites. Yeah, that’s right, I’m the mean auntie critiquing a community theater performance. The kids were great- the play though… it’s based on the 1989 Broadway production, a science fiction romp of comic book heros turned real, and an adolescent girl as the main character.

Thing is, the feminism is super dated. Yes, the leading character is a girl. And that’s about it. Throughout the entire play she’s whining that she’s not good enough or not strong enough, and it’s just tough to watch that much annoying struggling with confidence. There’s a bit of Shakespearean mistaken identity with the evil Queen’s daughter, and an arranged marriage. There’s a time when the girl falls asleep and the captain of the fighting Star Mites kisses her (while she’s sleeping). Agh! The arranged marriage was just painful to watch, and then, the double for the lead girl goes and sacrifices herself for her mother. So basically what I get from this play is, to survive you have to marry the captain or die. Granted, she does find this hidden superpower, but has to choose between the real world or the fake world.

Second, What TV shows pass or fail the Bechdel test?
I was pleasantly surprised to find the following TV shows pass the Bechdel test- which is- two female characters talking for more than 30 seconds about topics, relevant to the plot, and not about men:

Passes
– Good Christian Bitches. Total she-drama.
– Downton Abbey. While there is an obsession with marriages and engagemetns, I can recall (and tell me if you debate this) Duchess and Lady talking about their daughters, their daughters talking about each other while getting dressed, the maid Anna talking about Mary, etc. A reason to re-watch it!

Fails
– Arrested Development (“Her?” haha) Lindsey and her Mom usually talk about other family members, which are all men.
– New Girl. Fish out of water story, so only one woman generally on the screen at one time. There is one spot where Zooey’s character is talking to Rich’s new girlfriend and they’re discussing her twee style. Otherwise, notsomuch.
– Alcatraz. Another fish-out-of-water story, so that’s relatively obvious.

No Social Network Day 28: Social Calculator

Posted by banane on March 20th, 2012 — in facebook, technology, Uncategorized


Picture: 1944: IBM co-develops its first computer, the Automated Sequence Controlled Calculator aka Mark I, with Harvard University. It was used by the Navy to calculate gun trajectories. IBM’s illustrated history

In this social experiment of going off social networks, I’ve come to realize a certain calculation, or equation, in my head. I will automate it, but for now, this is the plan.

On each channel: # of new people you’ve met * (talking to loved ones/ time spent online social networks)
The “quality social rate” is the (talking to loved ones / time spent online on network)

Hopefully this shows that the ratio of quality social time is very diminished by various factors that I need to work in (oh where is my 7th grader niece and her math skills that I was “helping” with this weekend?)

– lower the score if the ratio of quality to quantity
– increase if new people involved
– decrease if large time spent (less efficient)
– show improvement if IRL events planned via network

Will probably do this all with a weighting system.

What’s Going on, or, the Why:

What I’ve noticed after weaning myself from our contemporary social networks, is the basic lesson that In Real Life (IRL) interactions are vastly more efficient than our digital replacements. And, as I wrote earlier, that there’s this compulsive “Friend anxiety” about the digital social networks.

So the weighting/calculation here is that: Facebook and Twitter, while social networks, don’t deliver the full healthy meal of a real life encounter. They’re like the McDonalds compared to the Whole Foods’ quinoa salad. They serve in a pinch, but if you subsist on a diet of it, you’re going to be sadly lacking. Oddly, or conversely, and yet just in line with my metaphor, they have addictive gaming elements that make you want to stay on them far past the desireable time period (which makes them not only less nutritious, but less efficient).

It’s not all bad, as these evolve and as we learn our behaviors in relationship to them, we can use them for their beneficial qualities. Meeting new people, that evolve into new friendships and relationships to me is the goal, the optimal health marker in social life. Though Facebook has a lot of benefits, it’s not a relationship creator, but a relationship maintainer, which is important. Twitter, though less interesting than Facebook, does lead to new friends and acquaintances, making its worth and efficiency far higher. Still, I’m going to automate this so that you can calculate and compare your score, hopefully in a way of leading a healthier social life.

No Social Network Day 22: Longer Attention Span

Posted by banane on March 16th, 2012 — in about writing, technology

I write in my head a lot. When I wrote novels more, I wrote whole chapters in my head. And when I took pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, rather, I’d change it all significantly. This blog post was actually something I wrote in an earlier post and took out. I had a few ideas during a call the other night, and wrote them down, and when I read them this morning, it jogged my memory about how I’d written about writing longer emails, but not about reading longer things.

The percolation of an idea is nice, but what’s really great is the first mental draft. As a writing technique, it takes the obvious and puts it in the trash. Will the heroine and the love interest meet up finally in chapter 3? Yes, at yoga. Then, when writing, no, it’s because he asks out the new temp in accounting and he gets stood up, leaves for a cafe, sits next to the heroine, who, all shiny and happy after yoga, commiserates with him over lamer dates.

Using social media, for one, there’s no mental drafts, and two, they’re small and shitty. It’s reduced my mental writing paper to a Post-It – the average room available from Twitter and Facebook.

As a reader- it’s not your fault. The way media comes at you determines your attention span, in a way. Imagine reading down the Facebook feed before you pour yourself a cup of coffee or open the mail. Then, imagine getting a personal letter in the mail. I literally savor those letters for some good couch & coffee time, and sometimes give it a first over read on the way up from the mailbox, then sit down to re-read. Email? Notsomuch. I noticed earlier on in this social-media-blackout that my email reading skills got a lot better. I started slowing down. I was basically over-estimating the sheer amount of stuff I could read and take in, in a day.

Now, I’m realizing as a writer, I’m slowing down. I’m expecting the reader to sit and give a bit more than the purported 3-second reading time (How much time people spend on Facebook statuses in their feed).

One aspect of the world being faster than me, that there’s a whole lot of junk out there. When it’s going by fast, you don’t really care, unless you get one or two good ones a day. And who wants to be judgmental of your aged aunt or niece anyway? In the ye old internet, you went out and found good stuff. So, I’ve started using Google Reader more, and my old and wonderful sites are still subscribed. Diary of a Bookslut, GoodReads, Jezebel, NYTimes Most Emailed Articles, etc. I’m in a la-la-land of good writing. This just makes me *feel* smarter. (*technical note: while Facebook has set up “subscriptions” it largely hasn’t been embraced by the areas of interest I follow)

As a creator-of-things, going fast is in a way a blessing and a curse. When you’re on the fifth chapter of Woodward’s Garden, you need to get yourself writing and “in the world.” It’s not hurried, but it is movement. Distraction is to avoided at all costs. I haven’t actually written since the first week of my social network diet, but I have created a ton of other things, and the overall “opening up of time” in my schedule is pretty awesome. My sister was worried I wasn’t coming back to Facebook, and I told her when (first typed “if”) it would be in proscribed amounts. It’s not like I knew all this time was being taken up, but it definitely was.

Picture 1: Classroom at Providence Saint Joseph School, Sprague, Washington, .
Picture 2: Passive Aggressive Notes.com

No Social Network Day 18: The Phone, The Disposal, No Plans

Posted by banane on March 10th, 2012 — in technology

I got a funny postcard from my brother-in-law who is not on Facebook. It’s all the living (at the time of photo) First Ladies, and I have to name them in order. I recognized maybe 3, and made some poor guesses on the other 3. And then he made me list the ones that were really still living. (answers below).

Hung out with another friend-not-on-Facebook last night, and he teased me that he used this ancient piece of technology called the PHONE and texting to coordinate things like- his four friends all DJ’ing at the bar, picking up another friend who met us later on that night, etc. “We all coordinate, it just works, we do this every week.” I asked him about old friends, that he would use to connect on Facebook, he explained he just signs up again, gets their info, and deletes his account. The privacy and security issues of Facebook make him uncomfortable.

While it’s been largely positive being offline in the last few weeks, I have to admit yesterday was a low. I hadn’t planned anything for Friday night, and my garbage disposal broke, and while fixing it has a minor reward- wow, I fixed my own appliance- it also has the major suckitude of “I’m spending hours under my sink.” I messaged a few friends trying to horn in on their plans, but for various reasons couldn’t, called my sister and brother-in-law of the postcard fame, to chat, received a nice long letter from my niece, and managed to cobble together what turned out to be a very fun night out. Bookstores were enjoyed, neighbor dogs were coddled, John Coltrane was discussed not twice but three times. Indian songs were identified in rap songs on restaurant speakers: one hit wonder Truth Hurts, (feat. Rakim), “Addictive” 2002, sample: Lata Mangeshkar, pictured. Part of quite an interesting court case regarding the attribution- also, when I heard this song, the Mangeshkar original, I was surprised by just how much of the original song sounds like the “sample”- so I’d say that she was vindicated in getting some attribution and rights out of the label. Mangeshkar has received the Guinness book world record of the most recorded artist in the world. That case seems so avoidable, ha.

(standing: Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, sitting: Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Rosalynn Carter and Betty Ford. Alive: Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan. Photo taken: 1991)