Archive for January 2009
Reclined in a plush chair at Yali’s, a local Berkeley student haunt downtown, I’m writing this post on the WordPress app for iPhone. Nice to not have to lug a laptop around.
I was distracted from my book (Quicksilver, by Neal Stephenson – a Christmas gift, and my second attempt to read it) by a nearby conversation about the cost of tailored suits. According to one of the conversants, reasonably nice specimens can be had in Thailand for less than $200. A bargain at twice the price – I’ll make a point of picking some up in April.
I was determined to sleep in this morning, but was stymied by jetlag.
I’m back today from a relatively long (5-day) trip to New York. I think I’m jet-lagged in two directions, as well as still getting over the problems of airplane germs, long days of meetings, long nights of drinking (and bowling!), and short nights of sleep. On the bright side, these meetings felt genuinely productive (as opposed to many others) and I’m starting to feel like we’ll actually achieve something close to our goals.
I missed the inauguration, but made up for that with some quality time with Philippe and Dylan (some old college buddies). Philippe and I went to see Waltz with Bashir – an utterly amazing film, an animated pseudo-documentary about a man trying to remember his experiences (specifically, a genocidal attack against Muslims in a refugee camp in Lebanon) as an Israeli soldier during their war with Lebanon in the 1980s. Totally unexplainable – be ready for some rather brutal emotions.
My favorite take on the flubbed inaugural oath is Steven Pinker’s Oaf of Office.
Also, I saw Janeane Garofalo at my gate in JFK, but she disappeared before I could get a picture with her.
In a recent episode of This American Life, a writer interviews a middle-aged man in a middle America town somewhere about his habit of recording everything that happens to him. Everything. Every day for some decades, this man records the weather, to whom he speaks on the telephone and how many times, which cousin he runs into at church, and so on. His cryptic abbreviations (“SX” means what it sounds like) and annotations of daily life fill dozens of volumes. He has a massive collection of pens that he asserts is essential to support this habit.
It reminded me of former Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), who, according to Wikipedia,
has a quirky habit of keeping a detailed log of his daily activities on color-coded notebooks, which some say may have cost him a spot on past vice-presidential tickets. He keeps all of these notes in a file cabinet arranged by month and year.
(The Wikipedia author offers an implicit diagnosis by linking from this passage to the page for “hypergraphia” which is an overwhelming urge to write.) As of 2003, he had filled over 4,000 notebooks since his first run for governor of Florida in 1977.
This brings me to today’s discovery: the Feltron 2008 Annual Report, a compendium of statistics, factoids, maps, and trivia underlying the daily life of Nicholas Feltron (a New York designer). Essentially, it is a beautifully designed summary of the 4,000 notebooks. I think this man actually used a pedometer (three, if I read correctly) to record every step he took last year. Wonderful!
Even better, Feltron has made this “hyperstatia” available to the masses on Daytum, where users can record data on anything and everything. Number and location of coffees drunk, wake up time, miles travelled in commuting, and so on. See this random user’s page for an example. In private beta at the moment, I’ll let you know when I can secure an invite, and I’ll pay someone a generous sum to devise an embed-able version.
UPDATE: Back in December, the Wall Street Journal published a profile on Feltron and the phenomenon of tracking one’s daily activities online.
I ran across a blog recently that I must share because of its uniquely effective organizing principle: what might be a “tag” or “category” (are they different?) on any other blog is connected explicitly to a book.
The result is rightly titled A Working Library - on it’s face it is just a set of blog posts, but the All Books page shows you the posts categorized by book references. For example, open the Diary of a Bad Year (Coetzee) page and read along with the author as she pulls out quotes, adds her thoughts, and connects ideas to other books in the library.
The format manages to be more interesting than a set of book reviews, which tend to be so wrapped up delivering a verdict. AWL captures something of the reading itself.
Happy New Year, all. I won’t pretend to think I’ll fulfill any pledge to work out three times every week or learn a foreign language. So I under-promise: I resolve only to answer the question “What next?”
- Buff up the resume with a few more years of experience as “Product Manager” at a well-known company. Not a bad option, all things considered. The work is interesting and fun, my team is top-notch, I’m proud of what we produce, and I learn something new every day.
- Re-apply to law school. LSAT scores are good for five years.
- Apply to some other graduate program. Finance, Information, Economics, some PhD program somewhere?
- Start a business. Without a doubt my preference, but what to do?
In other news, Obama is going to send us all $500 checks, which is not necessarily the best way to stimulate the economy (more on that later), and gas prices are rising again. Also, stay tuned this week for a dive into the nuts and bolts of how the government is actually going about saving the banking industry’s collective bacon, and why we should probably thank them for their efforts.