Vacation’s over

Parked the tractor!
Chula waits patiently
Me and Enrique at sunset
New year's eve sparklers

I'm packing up to leave Minneapolis and head back to New Haven for the start of my last semester of my master's degree. But *these* pictures are from the Texas leg of the trip.

I spent five days with Enrique's terrific family in San Antonio and on their ranch in Realitos, about 65 miles from the Mexican border. Exciting events included learning to drive a tractor, going to Cabela's (I have more pix to post from that itself), petting doggies (that's Chula, but there's also Chumina and Diego), playing with a fierce tiny baby kitty named Brisket, petting KC, the big black cat who likes hanging out under the Christmas tree. Fran, Enrique, Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez and I shot off fireworks on New Year's Eve. And I ate incredibly well. The Ramirez house is a vibrant and comfortable place. It was great to visit.

Then I came back to spend a long weekend with my family. It is wonderful to have these long breaks. I used to only see my family for a few days at a time. Now, I've been here for almost two weeks. I got to have beers with my brother Andy twice, go skiing with my nephews and Dad, play with Maddie, stay up late with my brother Ben, have multiple dinners with my Dad and Carol in North Oaks, where they live, and at my Mom's house with Chuck, my stepdad and outstanding cool. I even saw Darci, my stepsister, and her husband John a few times.

Managed to have a grade school class reunion… I will post something separate on that. Finished up a few freelance projects and an article for SXSWorld. Played The Sims 2 (with the Pet Expansion pack, my Christmas present from Enrique)
and a little World of Warcraft. Saw my best friend from high school, Melissa, and took
her out for something that wasn't hot dogs and Icees at Target.

The year will get going with a bang. We're putting on a colloquium and our second speaker is Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky (That Subliminal Kid). Our speaker lineup looks terrific and I'll write more as it gets official. We're putting on a symposium in late March. And then there's the issue of my thesis, which must be complete in April. If I can write 10 good pages a week, I should be able to do it. We only take one class this semester, a gigantic relief. There is so much to do.

Okay, time to head to the airport. Three hour layover at O'Hare, heavy rain in Connecticut. I don't want to jinx it, but I have to wonder whether I'll make it all the way there tonight…

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QotD: What A Waste

What's something you bought, knowing it was a total waste of money?

My last car, a brand new silver 2001 VW GTI with a V6 engine. I didn't have a car at the time, but I didn't really need a new car either. I'd priced it out and had researched it for a few months, but then one afternoon, I decided to go buy it. It made me late for Marc Rettig's class (for which I was the TA) because it takes longer to do financing and paperwork. I sold the car in May 2003 because I wasn't living in the US and it didn't make sense to bring it to Italy. I haven't owned a car since, though I had a long-term lease in Italy and share a  by-no-means-new Ford with Enrique, I think it's a Taurus.

Sometimes I miss the GTI. It was so much fun to drive, so zippy, so responsive. But I've never liked car payments, strange as that might sound, and there is no need for a fancy car in New Haven. Plus, I really, really like my bicycle. It's my preferred mode of transportation. Ultimately, I don't miss having a car at all–just that car, sometimes.

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Avoidng bedtime

I sometimes do not like going to sleep at night, especially when I'm alone. It's 1:30 a.m., I've been exhausted all day, didn't sleep well enough last night. I've visited Sarah on Vox and caught up with her life. She's friends with the Chicago friends I lost touch with, though I didn't mean to, but it was fun watching them dance. I've read the WeLL. I've read David Hornik's Vox page when I found him: we ended up next to each other on a flight from Chicago to Hartford in September, of all things. I checked Birke's Facebook page.

There are squirrels in the attic, running back and forth. I sleep with earplugs.

So I'm not going to sleep yet, but will soon. I have no energy. And yet.

There is something else, though. Today I learned to hit a golf ball. I feel like this should be a post all its own. I've never hit a golf ball before, not once. The one time I tried (Full Moon Golf, Golden Gate Park, drunk with Gary and his friends, 1999), I missed. But today, my mom, Chuck (stepdad) and I headed to the Long Lake driving range, got a bucket of balls and two spots on the upper level. Chuck arranged my hands so that I could hit with more force and I whacked balls. Might have to try doing that on a course. I might be able to see the appeal.

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Dotster’s sexist PR stunt


It's not the fact that a trade show has booth babes: that's nothing new. It's that the Dotster Dots are "several of the most important women on the Internet."

In a time where women's wages are actually decreasing, where women still fight to be recognized in technology (and not as a "woman in technology"), when only 12 of 100 speakers at O'Reilly's Web 2.0 Summit were female, couldn't there have been a better approach? Sheesh. I'd love to see one of a few things happen:

1) a Dotster boycott–people move their domains off Dotster to another registrar
2) people set up appointments with Michael Ingalls (mobile below) and then not show up
3) continually prank call his phone

The email press release is below:

Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 13:49:41 -0500
From: Michael Ingalls <michaeli@hwhpr.com>
To: Michael Ingalls <michaeli@hwhpr.com>
Subject: Several of the most important women on the Internet are available for editorial interviews

They are at CES to promote online enterprise of all sorts — the most affordable, creative and efficient way possible. They are the ambassadors for Dotster, a leading domain registration and marketing company on the net. Dotster is offering many CES show specials on its suite of MyInternet Web site services — featuring domain name selection, registration, Web site design, construction and hosting – at the lowest pricing ever!

The Dotster Dots are available for interviews and to meet in person at CES 2007!

Please contact me on my mobile phone at (917) 494-4909 to set up an interview at the show.

To download a high-resolution image of the Dotster Dots, please click on the following link: http://www.hwhpr.com/pr/dotster/Dotster_Dots_Group.zip

DOTSTER DOTS APPEARING LIVE AT CES 2007 TO PROMOTE DOTSTER'S MYINTERNET WEBSITE SERVICES

WHO:             Dotster, Inc., one of the nation's leading Internet and technology companies, will feature its Dotster Dot spokesmodels live at CES 2007.

Two of the recent winners of the "Search for the Dotster Dots" nationwide talent hunt, Shalena Hughes and Yesenia Adame, will be seen on the show floor discussing Dotster's MyInternet Web site services.

Dotster will be running a CES show special for its MyInternet service. As part of the special, Dotster will offer domain name selection and registration at no cost for all CES attendees who sign up for MyInternet in January of 2007.

In addition to the CES show special, Dotster will automatically enter all new CES January 2007 MyInternet clients into a drawing to win a new 2007 Corvette. The Corvette give away will take place in February 2007.

As well as appearing on the show floor, the Dotster Dots will take part in the Digital Experience event held on January 7, 2007 at Caesars Palace in the Events Center from 7-10pm.

WHAT:         Dotster's MyInternet service features domain name selection, registration, website design, construction and hosting — starting at less than one dollar per day. MyInternet is a hands-on, personalized service approach to custom Web site design. Through the program, Dotster's knowledgeable in-house designers provide one-on-one support for clients from concept to completion. MyInternet provides users with an individually tailored program to cater to their specific needs — not a fill in the blanks template!

CONTACT:   Media interviews are available now, as well as during CES, to speak with Dotster and the Dots about MyInternet:

Michael Ingalls
HWH PR/New Media
(212) 355-5049 (X124)
michaeli@hwhpr.com

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My 2006 cities

Anil, inspired by others, listed his 2006 cities. I did last year, too. Here are mine. Asterisk means multiple visits.

  • Realitos, TX
  • San Antonio, TX*
  • Austin, TX*
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN*
  • New Haven, CT* (where I live)
  • New York, NY*
  • Seattle, WA
  • Cambridge, MA*
  • Seekonk, MA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Dallas, TX
  • Bangalore, India* (lived there for the summer)
  • Hampi, India
  • London, UK
  • Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • Orange County, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Princeton, NJ
  • Montreal, Quebec* (twice in two weeks)

Twenty cities. Three continents. Numerous visits to Texas, where I am now: my boyfriend's family lives in San Antonio and has a ranch in Realitos… but I was in Austin both for a quick visit last January and for SXSW, and in Dallas on a business trip. I've been to Minneapolis three times since August. And I can't count all my NYC trip… six? Eight? I did two in one week in December.

My head spins.

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Musically disconnected: help needed!

I wrote about music for many years. But somehow, it started fading and now, I'm clueless. I don't know who anyone is anymore. I don't know what's good. I need some recommendations. What should I have been listening to this year that I didn't?

It's so embarrassing. Can you help? What were your favorites?

Bonus if you can actually share the music with me in some way, uh, legally of course. Send me a private message.

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Cedric Price books

Re: CP
Cedric Price - The Square Book (Architectural Monographs (Paper))
Cedric Price: Opera (Architectural Monographs (Paper))

Since June, my mind's been on Cedric Price (1934-2003). He was an eccentric British architect whose work combined theater, tools for social change, and a lack of interest in traditional concepts of form and beauty. Most of his work was never built. He is best known for the Fun Palace (1962-64), a proposal for a flexible leisure center, and the Potteries Thinkbelt (1965-66), a physical educational network on rails.

I'm working on a later project, Generator (1976-79) as the subject of my masters thesis. I'm using it as a hinge for exploring responsiveness in architecture, though I think that the impulse toward responsiveness goes back to the 16th century, if not earlier. Price is credited with creating the first "intelligent" building, or rather, site. The machine intelligence came not from Price but John Frazer, who proposed attaching sensors to Generator's structures; a series of computer programs would interrogate the sensors and if they weren't used frequently enough, would become bored and suggest new layouts on the site.

Very little has been written about Generator, just a few pages here and there and a few articles in 1979-80. As such, there's no real record about it, no webpage to link. So in November, I spent a week at the Canadian Centre for Architecture's Cedric Price Archive, looking at every drawing, reprographic, sketch, engineering drawing, memo and letter they had on Generator. I've also interviewed one of the figures involved, Polariser, and will talk to John Frazer at some point this month.

There aren't a lot of books on Price; the first monograph on him comes out at the end of the month (by Stanley Mathews, the only American to have completed a dissertation on him). Aside from that these are the books I refer to very frequently and ironically, do not yet own. (They're the source of numerous library fines.)

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2006: A look back

Two years ago, I came across this set of questions via Alex's blog. My archives are still not up past a year ago so I can't tell you how I got to it– just that it was through his site. For the last two years, I've looked forward to answering them again. This is my third time. So here you go: my 2006.

1. What did you do in 2005 that you’d never done before?

Shot a gun. Went to India. Visited a slum.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I mumbled something about staying healthier I really didn't work on it much. For next year, yes: I'm making several. Finances will be in better order in a year. And I'm going to be a better email correspondent.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Ruth and Erez had their wonderful son, Liam. I got to see him in London in August.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Three weeks ago, I lost two friends. In unconnected events, Leslie Harpold and Allison Lange died the same weekend. It's terrible and very sad.

5. What countries did you visit?

Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium for a couple hours, India, Canada (Quebec). (And I took the Eurostar!)

6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006?

An acceptance from a Ph.D. program in architecture, a promise, better finances.

7. What date from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory?

July 3

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Reconnecting with Birke.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Probably still the money front.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Aside from a couple of colds and the requisite stomach upsets one gets in India, nope.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A sari I bought from Archana's mother and some clothing made especially for me in India.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Enrique. Birke. Abhishek. Archana. Udai. Asha. Paul. Carolyn. Jonathan and Caitlyn. Sean. Kentaro. Aditya. Gautam and Nimisha. Jenn. Rachel. Gaby. Thom. Meredith. My MED cohort. Enrique's family. My brothers. Their kids. My parents and step parents.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

The Republican party. The friend I gave up on.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, paying down debt, groceries.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Cedric Price, who I am researching. Bangalore. Finding Birke again.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2005?

"If you come tomorrow," by Rajkumar. "If you come tomorrow, it's too early, if you come today, it's too late… you pick the time, a ticktickticktickticktick a ticktickticktickticktick… Darling!"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

1. happier or sadder? as happy
2. thinner or fatter? yeah, fatter
3. richer or poorer? slightly more money

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing on Girlwonder. Being more daring with my writing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Being scared to be a daring writer. Wasting time worrying about other people's opinions.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

In Minneapolis with my family, and then new year with Enrique's family in Texas. Possibly going to Michigan to visit the architecture Ph.D. program.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?

Enrique.

22. Did you fall in love in 2005?

I stayed in love. Does that count?

23. How many one night stands in this last year?

None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?

I actually watched TV! My favorites were Lost, Entourage, and Mythbusters (starring my old friend Adam).

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No, because I don't hate people. But I did give up on a friend after being disappointed one too many times.

26. What was the best book(s) you read?

For the first time, I'm having a terrible time answering this. I did read–lots–but it was connected to my thesis projects (and Cedric Price Works II is more a collection of drawings and articles). Most of these were articles, not books. The most illuminating thing I read was "Network Fever" by Mark Wigley. I also quite liked Hadas Steiner's dissertation, but she'll kill me for saying so. I'm working my way through Haruki Murakami's short story collection, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman but I prefer his novels (and I loved Kafka on the Shore).

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Lady Sovereign. The Clientele. Grand National. But I'm more musically out of touch than I've ever been, and I should create a whole new set of musical resolutions.

28. What did you want and get?

I got a sister again! I found Birke, my German host sister. I lived with her family in 1990 for two weeks and stayed in touch with them till 1994. She was 7, her brother was 5. Then, they moved and the mother changed her last name. I googled Birke in May and not only found her, but discovered she had been an au pair for George Knight, a New Haven architect my friends work for and who teaches at Yale! Moreover, she was coming back to New Haven to care for the Knights' newest kid. So from October till last week, we got to hang out for the first time in 16 years. She is now 24, beautiful and very bright–it was a ton of fun to be able to spend a lot of time with her.

And a sister-in-law, too — Carrie and my brother married in November. It's different, now that she's family.

And Bove (Jenn, that is) moved back to the US from London. I see her a lot more frequently.

29. What did you want and not get?

A chance to make it back to Italy before the Interaction Design Institute shut its doors. I'd never gotten to see the Milan incarnation and I'd never missed a graduation. Many of the students are dear friends and I wanted to be there for them and the professors… and to say a final goodbye to that chapter of my life. But I just couldn't do it.

30. What were your favourite films of this year?

Nothing knocked my socks off. Things were cute and fun to see, like Prairie Home Companion and Little Miss Sunshine. I kick myself for not seeing Krrish in India but everyone else had gone.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 35 (!) on November 26. We gathered at the Anchor in New Haven the evening of the 25th. Over the course of the evening, a bunch of people stopped by. Birke came with a beautiful cake, shaped as a castle and dusted in powered sugar, like snow! At midnight, she lit candles and everyone sang happy birthday. I wore the requisite birthday tiara. When I gave a guy sitting alone a piece of cake, he thanked me by biking home and giving me a robin's egg blue cashmere sweater that I wear.

On the day of my birthday, Birke and I dressed up as rockstars for a photo shoot. Her friend Chris shot us as Nagelack (German for nail polish) and we shouted, "Nagelack fuckin' rocks!" as we loudly sang Nena songs in German. Birke makes a badass rockstar. Me? I don't look as good in red leather pants as I did when I was thinner, but I did my best. When I got home, Enrique and I had steak and broccoli rabe for dinner.

I also discovered that when you turn 35, people say things like, "You don't look that old!" One person walking by at the Worldchanging book launch party overheard me telling someone I'd just turned 35. "You do NOT look like you are 35! You do NOT!" This is well and good–but there's a backhandedness to the comment, namely the perception that 35 is old. It's problem pregnancy time. It's why-aren't-you-married time? I don't have a problem with my age, I'm glad to look young, but the response to my age is weird.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Bringing Enrique with me to India. I wish he could've met my friends.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?

Introducing the kurta (long flowing Indian shirt) into my wardrobe.

34. What kept you sane?

Conversations with Enrique, my MED classmates, Jenn, Ali and Maggie.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Maybe Viggo Mortenson.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

I was stirred–and heartened–by the elections.

37. Who did you miss?

Enrique every day I was gone. San Francisco. Mike and Liz. Ben (aka Neb). John. Abhishek. Yashas. Archana. Now, Birke.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

There's not a single person, but a bunch. It's the people I met in India. First, I worked with a great crew: Jonathan, Carolyn, Kentaro, Udai, Nimmi, Prasad, Asha, Paul, Archana, Indrani, Aishwarya, Savita, and dozens of other people I'm not naming, were welcoming and smart. I love the work we did, the conversations we had. Then, Nimisha and Gautam, who worked with me as research assistants on the mobile sharing project. They opened up their worlds to me, introducing me to friends and family and many days of great conversations. Second, thanks to John Thackara, I met Aditya. Then, thanks to Aditya and Archana (who are more connected than anyone I've ever known), I met Yashas and Jasmine, Archana's lovely group of friends, Zack and Abhishek. Not surprisingly, some of these people knew each other. It was a rich and wonderful 8 weeks, filled with some of the best conversations I've had in many years.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005.

There are several.

From Peggy Deamer, who's departed Yale for New Zealand: always be able to state what's personally at stake for you and develop your argument from there. (After my final review, this was the conversation we had in the bathroom).
A corollary to that, from my advisor, Emmanuel Petit: don't be afraid of criticism. It never stops.
Ballsiness pays off. That's what I learned when I met Sean at the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium in May– I asked what I'd have to do to spend a month or two in India. A proposal and a few phone calls later, I was on a plane.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?

It's The The. I got the song "This is the Day" stuck in my head the week before I left India and listened to it nonstop.

"Well… you didn't wake up this morning
Because you didn't go to bed
You were watching the whites of your eyes
Turn red
The calendar, on your wall, is ticking the days off
The calendar on your wall is ticking
the days off
You've been reading some old letters
You smile and think how much you've changed
All the money in the world
Couldn't bring back those days.
You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes,
You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky.
This is the day — Your life will surely change.
This is the day — Your life will surely change.
You could've done anything — if you'd wanted
And all your friends and family think that you're lucky.
But the side of you they'll never see
Is when you're left alone with the memories
That hold your life together like
Glue"

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