Sunday, May 27, 2012

Spring Garden: An Album

Selected photos from the Conservatory Garden in NYC's Central Park (and an experiment with linking to Picasa rather than importing photos so just click not the photo below and enjoy).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Online Gallery (Pinterest)

Yet Another Coronado Sunset
By now, you likely have heard of Pinterest -- the online community for organizing and sharing, well, just about everything one can find on the Web as long as there is an image (or Video) to share!  Pinterest aims to connect everyone in the world through things we (you and me that is) find interesting.  That is a BIG goal.

Famous people who are pinning include Barack Obama (while his campaign is pinning for him -- you don't really think the leader of the free world has time to pin do you?).  Nicholas Kristoff was pinning for a while but his Boards seem to have disappeared.  Perhaps he got a little antsy about the copyright ownership polices (which are better  than they were).   Like Facebook, there are a lot of "fake" famous people (e.g., Lady Gaga and Britney Spears each have multiple boards).  Artists are using it to share their work and marketers are busy figuring out how they can tap into all those eyes out there.  At the end of the day, we are all just one vast untapped market when it comes to monetizing social networking sites -- it's the billion dollar question according to the bloggers over at The Harvard Business Review).  Pinterest is also the third biggest social networking site on the Web.  That's pretty fast growth for a company that was founded in 2010.  

Cedar in the Raw
Not so long ago, I started "pinning" to see what it was all about.  Like most things social media, it started out of curiosity in relationship to my work.  Was Pinterest another venue for getting information (of which we possess tons) to people who might need it.  Jury is still out on that -- and I don't think all those marketers have really figured out how to crack the Pinterest nut quite yet.  They'll probably figure that out when Pinterest figures out how to monetize us, its users.  

Pinterest presents itself as a really cool tool for organizing things.  I have a friend who uses it to organize images for talks that she is going to give, other friends have used it for weddings and to organize recipes, and still others (me included) use it to keep track of where we've been and (more importantly) where we might want to go.  My friend Susan Reed pins her own (most gorgeous) art to one of her boards.  My boards are an eclectic mix.  Some are poorly tended (Interesting Jobs) while others are watered almost every day (Sensible Shoes).  Sometimes I write something that uses up all 445 characters that I have and other times I don't have much to say at all.  Two boards where I always have something to say are Fictional Characters Worth Knowing and People to Meet/What I'd Ask (example, George Clooney, will you be my +1 for your dinner with Barack? [among other thing I would say to George]).
Screensaver Mosaic
Pinterest as gallery?  This past weekend, I had the pleasure of perusing the art collections of Gertrude Stein, her brothers, and her sister-in-law Sarah (who burned all of her voluminous correspondence with Matisse rather than have it be misinterpreted by others).  The exhibition, The Steins Collect:  Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, is in the waning days of its time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I liked it -- it reminded me of what I haven't done (read any Gertrude Stein for one) and that there are pieces by Picasso that I do like (generally from his blue period) and it reminded me of what I don't do enough of (go to museums).  Scattered throughout the exhibition are old photos of the collection as it was displayed in the Steins' homes.  Those Parisian apartments and ateliers were where the Steins hosted salons that brought together artists, their friends, and collectors.  It sounds like quite a heady and appealing lifestyle if you ask me!  I haven't had a chance to figure out what the name of the board would be where I could pin the exhibition description from the Met (maybe "nothing but art") but trust me there will be a board where this belongs.  

Wide Angle Perspective
Which brings me to the title of this piece:  My Online Gallery (Pinterest).  In a nutshell, I see Pinterest as the modern day equivalent of the Steins' various ateliers -- only bigger because instead of a small family of expat Americans, there are, hmm, well, it's a little hard to get at that number.   According to an article in USA Today, there were some 8.3 million Facebook connected Pinterest users at the end of April (representing a decline in its user base).  We are not all alike (although the majority of us are women) and we clearly have a bunch of different interests -- just troll the pins to see what I mean.  Some of us spend a lot of time pinning and others pin when we have an odd moment.  Like the Steins, each of us pinners is building a collection of things that we like or, in some cases, love.  I like that about Pinterest.  I like that a lot.  I may not be a power user but I think I'll be using this nifty little app for a while.    

Happy Pinning!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Inflight Entertainment

Gingko Shadows
There’s not many things I do on impulse these days particularly when it comes to purchasing anything that has an on and off switch (other than lamps).   Usually, I read endless reviews, I wait for the 2nd generation (and sometimes the 3rd or 4th generation!), I watch for sales and I resign myself to never, ever being the kid on the block with the coolest new toy.

This morning, for the 2nd time in as many months, I succumbed to impulse.  The first time had been for the Lytro Camera -- it just seemed so cool to me that this little camera would let me snap a picture without worrying about focus – capturing all the light and leaving me to play with focusing the image after the fact and at my leisure OR not focus the photo at all and let other people play with the image.  Sure there are drawbacks (proprietary software for one) but this little camera is probably going to transform photography as we know it.  As an inveterate shutterbug, I just couldn’t resist and truth be told there weren’t many reviews to go on so I didn’t get caught up in that net for too long.  I will say that having heard about it on a train ride, it took me a bit of time to execute on the purchase.  I did do a little research (how else would I know that there aren’t too many reviews) and I did think about the purchase within the context of other things I would be forgoing (a 2nd Olympus camera body as an example).  I got a notice late last week that my very own little Lytro is about to ship.  Woo hoo!

Ginkgo Emerging
This morning’s purchase was of a different sort – it occurred at the intersection between information, instant gratification, and opportunity.  It goes something like this:

1    1.  Just reading the NY Times (in paper no less)

2    2.  Saying to myself, I want that after reading a product review

3    3.  Delta Shuttle + GoGo + FREE Amazon access

Really Delta?  Really?  You had to partner with Amazon to offer ME free access in my 35-minute flight to shopping?  And not just access but pretty fast, don’t get frustrated and give up access.  Brilliant strategy on your part – I hope you are making a lot of money from this because if I’m any indicator, Amazon is going to.  Put another way, in 35 minutes, I bought a $300 dollar toy; imagine the damage I could do on a longer flight?

One could argue (me included) that I could have (and probably would have) done the same damage at home at some point.  Take the first example – the Lytro camera – I heard about that on a train where I had Internet access but I didn’t act on the impulse.   A couple of things there – the camera had no name (it took some googling to track it down), the train was almost at the station, and I had these other “competing” camera purchases in mind that I would have needed to sort though.
Ginkgo Baby

Hmm, come to think of it, I had other competing ideas for this particular toy that I should have sorted through but didn’t at least not consciously.  OK, so now that you are wondering (all 2 of you that have gotten this far in this post) what on earth did she buy?  Quite a build up if I do say so myself.

4.  A Bose Soundlink Wireless Speaker

Yep, that is what I bought in less than 35 minutes and without reading ANY of the 286 customer reviews.   The things that took the longest time in the purchase:  (1) checking a couple of non-Bluetooth alternates; (2) decision on leather or nylon (leather); and (3) remembering my Amazon password.

A small confession, there is a bit more than impulse in play here.  I’ve been perseverating (for it seems like forever or since I got my first iPod) on whether to get a BOSE sound dock.  Every time I’d go to buy one, it just seemed so anchored to me.  Anchored to a place (my home), and quite duplicative of my home entertainment system that does a decent, if not great job, on music.  This little toy, on the other hand, can follow me wherever I might go including from the kitchen to the bedroom (that’s a pretty big deal if you ask me).   I like that versatility.
Gingko Teens

I also recognize a good review when I read one – the NY Times reviewer (David Pogue) pretty much covered all the questions I would have and was reviewing it in tandem with another product and with reference to multiple other products.  Sold enough that I had folded up that section of the paper and tucked it in my bag so that I wouldn’t forget about this cool little product.  

Some 9 hours later, I have this to say:  (1) brilliant Delta and Amazon, kudos to you; (2) it’s a good thing I wasn’t reading a review of flat screen TVs; (3) I wonder which is gonna get to me first – the Lytro camera or the Bose?; and (4) Oh boy, oh boy, i have  two new toys coming my way!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shedding Petals

I was wrong about the tulips -- they survived the cold and the rain of a couple of weeks ago.  Indeed, some had seemingly just emerged....

Others, were making a glorious exit this year -- as beautiful in their final unfolding as they had been upon their initial unfurling....

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Empty Mind

African Morning Web
It’s a week later and I’m another plane flying towards home.  This time my TV works and I’m happily watching Law & Order, it’s the perfect show for a mind that appears to have been wiped clean of any coherent thoughts.  My mind, in case you are wondering.   It’s an episode that I’ve seen and the contours of the story are starting to take shape as we round the turn to the side of the show that is owned by Jack McCoy.  If I were a lawyer, he is the lawyer I would want to be.  In the end, they’ll prove that the blond teenage daughter convinced the mentally unstable man to murder her mother.  Law and order – all neatly sewed together  in the space of hour.

It’s been a long week of meetings and corridor confabs.  I’ll be glad to be home and tomorrow I have a spa day planned.  Then, I think, it’s off to DC (I really should confirm that though) for another couple of days of meetings.  Seems unfathomable that I would be hitting the road again so soon but I fear that is what to be.

Back to that seemingly empty mind of mine.  Have you ever thought about how your mind works?   Not about what makes you you or me me but rather about how it all works together.  There are people who spend their lives thinking about and researching this topic.   And then there are those of us who every once in a while pause and wonder – how did I do that?
Follow the Markers

My mind is a bit of an attic with a seemingly endless capacity to acquire and retain information.  When I think of it, I often envision standing at the end of a long corridor lined with oak filing cabinets, curio cabinets, and book shelves – all standing ‘neath the unfinished eves of what must be a vintage Victorian.  The hallway is strung with bare light bulbs and here and there sun streams through the dormer windows – making the dust motes dance.  It’s the antithesis of the White Box I wrote about in my last post.  Everything is stuffed to the brim and seemingly in no order yet, it’s pretty much all there when I want to retrieve it.  These days it can take a bit longer to surface a fact but it is all still there, seemingly intact.

One thing I’ve always liked about my mind is the way it takes disparate ideas and reconstructs them into something new.  It’s a great asset when it comes to writing grant proposals!  The other thing I’ve always liked is that I seem to acquire and organize information like a detective might when working a complicated case.  I am  able to put small pieces of information together and develop a theory and more often than not, I am right.  Like yesterday, a colleague came walking up to me and after we chatted a bit, he said, I have a quick question.  Before he could get it out of his mouth, I said, “no we can’t turn the waterfall off.”  He looked surprised and said while that takes care of that and headed back the way he had come.  Back to the exceedingly loud room behind the waterfall.  Lucky guess or deductive reasoning?  A bit of both is my guess. 
Little Sahara

One thing I dislike is that this prodigious memory of mine doesn’t only just catalogue the good memories – vacations, childhood, things I need to know, how to get someplace.  It also catalogues the bad ones – past injuries and injustices.  Sometimes it can be hard to put those aside and I definitely need to work on doing that. My mind also seems to store flotsam and jetsam that is seemingly not the stuff that one would need to retain but it’s there and I often imagine how much more depth on a particular subject I could have if I was just free of this clutter.

Periodically, the flotsam and jetsam will float to the top of my consciousness, causing me to pause and wonder now why did I think of that now?  It’s never anything huge – maybe a memory of a kiss or of the first time I flew in a plane or signing a lease for that first apartment.  $165 a month was my share of that rent – how times have changed since those early days!  I like when that happens – it’s like taking an unanticipated mini-break from whatever might be currently occupying me. 
Tasmanian Wreck

So, I don’t know if this writing has been all that coherent – but I did empty my mind of something that has been rattling around in my subconscious for a couple of weeks now.  And, as an added benefit, I used up some hours on the long flight home.  This piece easily too me twice as long to write given how empty my mind is.  Now, I’m off to choose from among the many forms of cotton candy for the brain that are on my iPad.  

Homeward bound and it feels good.