Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekend on the Coast

Travelogue post

I caught a cheap flight to California this past weekend, giving me a break from the routine.

My friends of 18 years, here known as Lady Kylie and Captain Thunderbolt, famous West Coast steampunkers, helped me get duded up for a night out in Pleasanton--a charming and pleasant little town in the East [SF] Bay area.  

Posing after our party with flowers found on the street. 

Stopped at the California Academy of Science, a natural history museum with a major emphasis on sustainability. It's something of a zoo in that it features a wide variety of live plants and animals. This includes jellyfish, brilliantly lit for effect . . .

Thunderbolt and Kylie generously loaned me their very cool Mini Cooper convertible. I'm cruising across the Golden Gate here, one of my favorite American landmarks. A friend took the next two photos. 

A sick friend, who I was unable to see, reminded me of the privilege of being healthy. 

Monday, September 01, 2014

Pondering and pausing my Facebook time

I am taking a break from Facebook.

There is much I like about Facebook. Being connected with friends and family from all aspects of my life. These are individuals and groups of individuals from my past and present. It's remarkable. The ease in which I can share moments of joy or exuberance, sometime sadness, or accomplishment, and the efficiency of the distribution of those messages is simply remarkable. Staying up to date on the lives of my friends is equally if not more rewarding. I've evolved into being primarily a poster of photos. To me those photos are a way to tell my story and share it with people I care about. Of course that's what Facebook does.

I don't view Facebook as inherently bad or evil. But there are issues, and those issues have become a problem for me.

This year I've had some personal travails, nothing uncommon or too personally burdensome. Real first world stuff. A relationship ended. Challenges with myself, and my bad habits. (I have good habits too). And last month, the deaths of two old friends--one whose time had come, the other one--Trip--tragic and premature.

One of my bad habits has become checking out of reality via Facebook. (Despite the choice to take this Facebook break, I am aware that positive endeavors and pursuits are my best path forward—not prohibitions.)

Facebook gives many of us a tendency to fan the flames of self aggrandizement. I don't post anything inaccurate, but the highlights of my life aren't my whole life. Of course, people really don't want to hear about your problems--although the sympathy post is big for many, it's something I avoid.

It can be insidious, giving you a little reward when someone likes or comments on a post. Sometimes I find myself hanging out—online—to see who else is going to chime in. And who doesn't. It's pathetic, although the people who do weigh in are people I care about, which makes the hook it can have on me so compelling. It's designed to be addictive. And it is.

I've found myself wasting time, especially at night, and sometimes in the early morning. While I tend to sleep soundly, this little habit of perusing Facebook endlessly has cut in to my sleep. And frankly, it's become annoying. 

I read a post this morning that discussed a study showing that introverted people are more likely to become addicted to Facebook. I am an introvert. It spoke of how introverts can find online interactions safer and more comfortable than real world ones. 

This free service has become one of the top destinations on the Internet with well over a billion, yes a billion, monthly users. I find it to be more insular than Twitter, where I am more likely to connect with new people and ideas. Yet I have met new people on Facebook too, usually friends of friends.

My day yesterday is an example: brunch with friends from a Facebook invite, then hiking with a group of guys (including some from brunch).

This was possible because someone I knew, three years ago, joined a group hike on Facebook. I saw this in the little Facebook ticker. I noticed that anyone could sign up for the hike. I did, and I went.

I've been on many hikes with this group since then, and yesterday, going on the hike got me invited to what turned out to be a fun party where I met some memorable new people. It was a long day of interactions with real people, made possible by Facebook. So no, it's not all evil.

But is has become something I spend too much time doing. 

This isn't my first Facebook break and I plan to return. 

Rules of disengagement

Part of my role as marketing director at the Natural History Museum of Utah includes being the content creator and Facebook strategist. I've taken the NHMU Facebook page from just under 10,000 likes a year ago, to more than 22,000 today and increased engagement dramatically. Before coming to the Museum I served as the social media strategist for a number of other organizations as part of my job as Editorial Director at RIESTER, a regional advertising agency. My Facebook break does not extend over to the NHMU page.

How do I continue to serve as the admin of the NHMU Facebook page and disengage from Facebook personally?

Solution: I created a new Facebook account for the sole purpose of administering the page. This is not a completely original move. I know people who have professional Facebook pages and personal ones, and they keep the two very separate. That's never been my style, but for the purposes of this current Facebook break, I now have a new account solely to give me access to the page I manage. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

In the presence of a legend--Paul McCartney, Salt Lake City 2014

Paul McCartney at the former Delta Center, Salt Lake City, August 7, 2014.
How old is he?

Who knows? Who cares?

Tonight Paul McCartney could have been 25, or 35. The man has it. Damn does he have it. 

What an honor to hear him in Salt Lake City. He was huge before I was born and is still going strong, so damn strong, 57 years into his career.

From Beatles classics, to his Wings songs, to songs he’s written in the last couple of years, his musical talent is epic. He’s still got his voice. He can play . . . many instruments. And he can entertain. He clearly loves it. 

He’s got his head-bob, his smile, and he can rock a stadium. 

McCartney is 72 years old. Sir Paul played for almost three hours. Yes, three hours! The sound was great, much better than I expected. My “cheap seats” ($70 each) had us perched right over the stage. We could clearly see him the whole night, and the jumbotron was well-placed in front of us bringing him even closer. 

Here’s a partial playlist from the night: 

8 Days a week
Long and winding road
Lovely Rita meter maid
Here Today (written for Lennon after he died)
All my lovin’
Paperback writer
Maybe I’m Amazed (written for his late wife Linda)
All the lonely people (Eleanor Rigby)
Benefit for mr kite...
Something [in the way she moves] (George Harrison song, Paul started on a ukulele)
Life goes on (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da)
Wings--Band on the run
Back in the USSR
Let it be
Hey Jude
Live and let die
Day tripper
Get back (jojo)
Once there was a way (Golden Slumbers)
Helter skelter
Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away . . . 

And so many more (37 songs total per SL Tribune).

Thank you Paul, for your musical genius, for sharing your longevity, your zest, your lyricism.

Thanks for coming to Salt Lake City again. This was my first time seeing you. 

And thanks Pippa for joining me. 

Fun, fun. A pure thrill.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Chocolate at Harmons!

Thank you Harmons Neighborhood Grocer for being a supporting partner of Chocolate: The Exhibition at the Natural History Museum of Utah | Rio Tinto Center.

These images are from chocolate exhibits at three Harmons stores in the Salt Lake Valley.

Harmons--Emigration Market

Harmons--Bangerter Crossing

Harmons--Bangerter Crossing

Harmons -- The District
Harmons--The District
Harmons--The District

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sundance 2014, The Sleepwalker

Set in Massachusetts, Mona Fastwold's directorial debut is dreadful.

This was my first Sundance 2014 film. If I hadn't been stuck in the middle of the theater I would have walked out.

Starring Gitte Witt, Christopher Abbott, Stephanie Ellis, and Brady Corbet, the film does succeed in being dark. Ellis's character Christine, a psychotic young woman shows up unannounced in the middle of the night upsetting the renovation of the family home by her sister and her sister's boyfriend.

Uninteresting characters, dull story line, strange tension throughout, this film is a must miss.

Redeeming features include the stylish house that's being renovated and some artful cinematography.

Ellis and Witt play half sisters in 'The Sleepwalker' at Sundance 2014.