Jan 31, 2005

Catchy tag line for work..

Today at work, my co-worker said that we should come up with a new way of saying "Think Globally, Act Locally" to reflect the invigorated mission of our organization. Without even giving it a second thought, I replied "Think a lot. Don't act at all."

Guess you'd have to know this place to laugh. We had a good long, sad chuckle.

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SMS.ac Part II... and tech era plagues

So I've now complained to the California State Department of Consumer Affairs about SMS.ac. They have sent out emails to my contacts 4 times. I'm getting more and more irate.

But there is a plus side to this. As a result of this slimy program sending out emails indiscriminately to all the folks in my address book, there are people with whom I've not been in contact for many moons who are coming out of the woodwork to email and touch base. I've been in touch with 3 former interns in the last week, partially because they received something from me through SMS.ac and wanted to check-in to make sure all was legit. So in some odd way, SMS.ac is inadvertently bringing me closer to some people. It's also giving me the chance to remind folks that I have this little blog by pointing them to the short piece that I wrote about SMS.ac.

Not that I'm all supportive and lovey dovey about them now - but still, it's an interesting sidebar to one of the unique dilemmas that plague us and take up our spare time in the hyper-information age in which we live.


Another such dilemma that plagues us in this age, and seems to be plaguing me a lot more than others is the occasional wipe out of all my bookmarks that I have patiently gathered, organized, and arranged just so, only to have to do it all over again when some unknown alignment of stars or keystrokes wipes them all clean from my bookmarks toolbar folder in FireFox. I can't even begin to write how annoying it is to want to just click on one of my bookmarks, only to find nothing there. The last time it happened, I didn't even try to find the file. I just went back to all the sites and bookmarked them all over again. Good thing I'm not doing much extensive research, or else I'd definitely be more upset. But who would have thought of this problem even 5 years ago?


I might as well gripe about email spam as well, though it's nothing new for anyone out there who uses email regularly. My work email gets clogged to no end - after our trip to India, I was greeted with more than 2500 emails, 90% of which were spam. What a colossal waste of time. If there were spammers in Dante's time, I think that their hell would be to force them to an eternity of correcting the spelling on each of the emails that their poor victims receive, by hand.

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Jan 29, 2005

Gentrification and its Discontents

iTunes Selected:
Incubus: A Crow Past the Murder Row

Had a good time reconnecting with a dear friend last night. You don't have to go out and spend oodles of dough to have a good time with folks that you care about, no matter what temptations this city offers. It's easier to say that in the bitter cold, but no matter. We had a nice simple dinner in which the conversation took precedence over the ambiance. After this trip to India, the two of us are more focused on these kinds of interactions, both between ourselves and with our closer friends. She's been good at this over the years - I feel that I've strayed from the core values that make friendship such a dear thing to me in the five-minute dating world of NYC. The ever-changing landscape of restaurants, bars, and lounges contributes to the feeling that I've had that each encounter with friends should be an "event" that exposes me to some new spot in the city.

In some ways, I feel that even as I speak against the gentrification effect in neighborhoods like the East Village and Lower East Side, rather than focus on the few spots that I have liked over the years and the depth of interaction with my nearest and dearest, I've been caught up in the desire to "check out" the new joints. So perhaps there's some dissonance between the anti-gentrification rhetoric that I inevitably spew when I visit the old streets in the village and the act of seeking new places to try out.

But the growth and commercialization of these neighborhoods is really quite troubling. New hip bars and lounges pop up and disappear faster than hopes for a more moderate Federal government in Bush's second term. Part of the obvious problem is the displacement of local residents as rent prices skyrocket and once quiet working class neighborhoods become the weekend hotspots for the out-of-towners and privileged youth. The hidden tragedy is the deconstruction of these traditional neighborhoods, which though not the romanticized notions of ethnic enclaves that residents want to stay in forever, still provide critical support and identity for new immigrants.

The more obvious tragedy can be evidenced in the recent shooting death of 28-year old actress Nicole DuFresne in the Lower East Side this week. A Minnesotan who probably didn't realize that the streets of New York, while more inviting to white folks now than ever, are still not the set of Friends.

Witnesses told investigators that one of the men grabbed for the other woman's purse and duFresne intervened, asking, "What are you going to do, shoot us?" A man then fired one shot at her, police said
It's not fair to criticize the dead for their mistakes, but perhaps the message will carry that we are not all immortal, and that these places upon which we tread with heavy steps are not our playgrounds. They are the homes and haunts of many who do not share the live and let drink mentality of the hipster crowd.

While I don't like projecting a negative future, I anticipate more of these incidents in the months to come.

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Jan 28, 2005


Spin, Baby, Spin:
U2: Greatest Hits 1980 - 1990
Smashing Pumpkins: Adore
The Cure (2004)

Spinning around in the city of lights, I count down the minutes as the weekend slowly approaches. D is away for the weekend for a leadership retreat, and so I'm on my own. Somehow, the days have again become busy, crowded with the many encounters that we plan to fill up the cold moments before we return home to sleep.

I have a different outlook on life since the trip to India, though. I feel more prepared to tackle the doldrums of unsatisfying day-job with the knowledge that there is something better just over the horizon. That's actually helping me to focus more in the job, without focusing on the elements of the situation that drive me crazy. Like being the 3rd most senior person here, and not being part of a "senior staff" meeting. But it's okay. Because I can laugh off the simple stupidity and foolish insults, even as I'm counting them. Because I can laugh now at how petty people can be about their silly little fiefdoms. I have bigger things to do. No more time to waste on the lost.

I am amazed, however, at the ability of people to make working in the community, or community-related work (in the broadest and most generous sense, since many of my co-workers are not very connected to anything outside of themselves or their iPods) into a professional, sterile relationship. There's no passion in their voices about this work, or the community as a living, breathing thing. There's no real feeling for how movement continues, grows, ebbs and flows. There's nothing more than the personal ambition, the career ladder, the rhetoric thick with theories. I can't become like that. I can't become automatic.

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Jan 27, 2005

Missing India

Sometimes you feel like a pepper.

Other times, you're better off just staying at home.

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Okay - so they finally got me. I thought that I was internet savvy enough not to fall for one of these email/website scams that suck up all your contacts and use your name to spew out their trash. Guess again.

I went against my better judgment and decided to sign up for one of those stupid services that everyone else seemed to be getting onto. Bad idea.

SMS.ac is a scam. If you get an email from someone, chastise them, but definitely don't sign up. It sent out emails to my entire list, and even though, after reading the advice of a friend, I unsubscribed from the stupid thing, it's still sending out emails to my whole address book. I've not taken full action and gone medieval on their arses, but I'm getting to that point real quick.

Caveat emptor, indeed.

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Jan 26, 2005

Happy Republic Day

kickin' it old school wit
Depeche Mode: 101
Tribe Called Quest: Low-End Theory

I'm finally back, and happy Indian Republic Day to all my worthy and lovely readers. I remember being back in India last year on this day, kickin' it with my brothers, one getting married, the other on the "very available" list, and watching the goosestepping pride and glory of India on the TV screen in Jamnagar. Jamnagar - which had been so exuberant to greet the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, architect (or in the most generous reports, encouraging bystander) of the 2002 anti-Muslim riots that left thousands dead and tens of thousands without home or hearth.

Republic Day is the day that the Indian government pulls out all the stops and shows off its military strength. I remember the utter lack of nationalistic chauvinism that I felt when they wheeled out one of the nuke-enabled missiles named after deities (Agni, Prithvi). Flex, Mother India, as the rest of the world cries.

But Republic Day is also a holiday, and while not as festive or as special as the many cultural holidays that populate polyglot India's calendar, it brings to mind the recent memories of rooftop kite-flying and festivities that we experienced for the first time during the trip from which we just returned. Uttarayan is my favorite holiday in any time zone.

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