On Ann Wilson’s Tribute and the Need for Slowness

It’s not even 9 am as I’m typing this, but the gears have been turning ever since I discovered I got trolled on Facebook – all for making a post about timing when, really, I was guilty of the same issue.

The back story: singer Chris Cornell unexpectedly died this past week, and as happens as soon as someone famous dies, the tributes and lists of the artist’s best work are all over the media. The golden-throated Ann Wilson of Heart sang “Black Hole Sun” on Jimmy Kimmel as a tribute to her friend, and because she was reading the lyrics off of a music stand, she got blasted for it in Rolling Stone’s video post (and I’m sure there were other posts as well).

I’m one of the people who blasted her – but not specifically for that reason. While I don’t deserve being called an idiot or other nasty names for what I said about it, I did need the reminder to slow down and think before posting.

As much as I enjoy what technology has brought into my life – a freelance career, new friends, fun gadgets – I am also aware that it’s made me impatient. I demand answers and satisfaction and I want them NOW. The laptop slows down, the tablet freezes up, the wifi goes down and I lose my shit.

This isn’t healthy. For anyone.

With Ann Wilson’s cover of “Black Hole Sun,” I came in with certain expectations. The cover she and her sister Nancy did of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” at the Kennedy Center is so good it gives me chills and makes me cry. It made Robert Plant and Jimmy Page get emotional. It set the bar so freakin’ high that I expected a heartwrenchingly beautiful version of Soundgarden’s song in a way that only Ann Wilson can do.

But Chris had just died. There was no time to rehearse and prepare a performance that would come even close to the shock and awesomeness of that Zeppelin cover. No time to craft something so masterful that music fans would be enraptured for years to come.

I’m inclined to think it’s because of the collective impatience we all have thanks to technology. It’s this impatience that the media plays into, time and again. It’s why stories and performances get rushed into existence. It’s why commenters like myself jump in with first-blush thoughts and feelings when we really need to slow down and process.

That said, I stand by part of my original comment: a well-rehearsed cover of “Black Hole Sun” by Ann Wilson would have been amazing. One using her own band, who know her and how to arrange a song for her voice.

But in order to do these things, we all need to be invested in slowing down. In not requiring immediate gratification. In being willing to wait for the good, the beautiful, the expertly crafted.

Until that happens, though, we’re going to need more moments like this to remind us of the value of slowness.

Site is fixed!

I finally fixed my site today. I still am not completely sure how I figured it out, but it involved using SSH on PuTTY and WP CLI and a bunch of other acronyms I can’t remember. The end result is that my plugins & themes are updated.
I am so relieved & happy.
Now back to laying about and relaxing.

Yes, Virginia, There Are Still Blogs

A couple of weeks ago on Facebook, I got a message from Beckeye of The PopEye inviting me to be part of a private group. Seeing as I do love to brag about knowing a secret handshake, I joined the group. And it turned out to be quite the walk down memory lane, because all these bloggers I found in my early years of blogging were there. Skyler’s Dad, Dale, Coffey, Splotchy, Grant Miller, Flannery Alden, Gifted Typist, Mathdude…and so many others. Finding the link to one blog would lead me to other blogs I’d long forgotten – some still active, some mildly active, others covered in thick, bloggy dust. It was as if I’d returned to Wonderland after a long absence. (That sounds like a great plot for a TV show, doesn’t it?)

Before Facebook was big, before Twitter was a gleam in Silicon Valley’s eye, and long before phones were smart, we had blogs. A magical place where people could write about whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and find other people who were doing the same thing. Little communities would form, private jokes would be shared, cross-blog projects would be conceived – like the fabulous Green Monkey Music Project of iSplotchy’s doing. (For the record, I’m still mildly annoyed that I never got my chance to guest host GMMP and it was about to be my turn.) It was a supportive, fun community, and though there are many bloggers I’ve never met in person, there are still a few I maintain online relationships with (shout out to Becky and Barbara), and now thanks to the Facebook group, there are several more bloggers I can reconnect with. Because guess what, kids? Blogs aren’t dead. People may move on and do other things, adopt new technology, or simply go with self-hosted WordPress (ahem), but blogs are far from dead. And I am personally very glad that they aren’t.

Last night I realized that this spring it will be 10 years since I started blogging as The Girl with Moxie. Thinking back on that time, I remember what motivated me to start a blog: I wanted to flex my writing muscle without feeling beholden to any editor. I wanted something I could do in my cubicle that looked like work, just so I could make it through 8 hours without losing my shit. When I lost that job, I suppose I could have stopped blogging. But GWM had become a place where I could share stories about my technology challenges and dating woes, or reflect on big topics like vulnerability, happiness, and validation. My blog still is all of those things, and as far as I can see, it will continue to be those things until I get so famous I no longer have time for you people until I feel to stop.

So the next time you hear someone scoff about blogs, or they claim blogging is dead, just point them over this way. Because there are most definitely still blogs. They exist as certainly as love and generosity and the Kardashians exist, and blogs abound and give to life much humor and joy. And there is definitely a Santa Claus, too.

My Own World Series

Being a baseball fan, and having recently adopted the San Francisco Giants as my new team (from the National League, that is; I’ll always be a Baltimore Orioles fan), I watched the last two games of the 2010 World Series and had a blast rooting for the Giants. Nothing like seeing a team who wasn’t on anyone’s radar as even making it to the Series actually win.

As for me, I’ve got my own World Series going on…with technology. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know all about my mutant ways and how electronics will crap out on me or give me fits, especially when I am angry or really stressed out. (Type “mutant” in the search tool and see what pops up. Or call T-Wizzle. She’ll fill you in.) The last scorecard I could find was from 2007, and while much has happened since then, with computers and monitors and phones, I’ll pick up the score from here.

Last we heard the score was Technology 3, Moxie 2. The last three hours have been particularly rough:

my desktop PC keeps crashing. It’s going along fine, I’m happily watching “Modern Family” and then BLAM! The computer shuts down. After doing a little research I think it’s freaking out over all the USB devices plugged into it, so I’ll try unplugging and re-plugging everything in, see what happens.

My food steamer appears to have died. I like to use the steamer for rice, since it’s one less pot on the stove. Tonight I decided to have chickpea curry with jasmine rice for dinner. I plugged in the steamer, filled the rice bowl and the water reservoir according to the instructions, set the timer, and went about making the curry. When the time was up, the rice was still sitting in about 1/4 inch of water and the water level in the reservoir hadn’t gone down at all. I noticed the light to indicate the steamer is working didn’t come on, either. I ended up putting the rice in a pot and cooking it for 10 minutes on the stove – turned out fine but I am sad about the death of what has been a fabulous food steamer. I’ve cooked chicken pieces, shrimp, potatoes and vegetables using the steamer, and it’s been so awesome for rice. Guess it’s time to buy a new one.

These two incidents bring the score to Technology 5, Moxie 2. Might be time to put in a pinch hitter.

Reason #223 Why I Love My iPhone

I am writing this post from my iPhone, using the WordPress application. Oh man, this is hot…I can review and approve comments, write posts, add images. I love it when technology works and looks so damn beautiful.

And it will let me go back and edit posts too. Sadly I am having a hard time publishing photos. Hmm.

Time to Celebrate!

Great news, kids! I got the dream job! I’m going to be working as an account executive for a PR firm. This is something I’ve wanted to do for years and now it’s finally happening. And the cool part is that the firm specializes in technology, so I’ll get paid to stay up on the cool toys, websites, and blogs. I must focus to keep…my superpowers…under…control…

On another happy note, T-Wizzle’s job offer came through as well. She’s moving from adjunct teaching to a full-time professorship in marketing at a community college. It still amuses me to think of her as a professor, because she has way too much fashion sense and pop culture savvy to fit the stereotype. She’s goddamn genius level when it comes to marketing and I owe a lot of my knowledge about branding, marketing, and PR to her. I only wish she lived closer so we could celebrate our new jobs together.

Thanks, everyone, for all your positive comments and support over the last couple of months. You have helped lift me up when I really needed it. I’m putting good vibes out there for all of you as well.

Now go forth and party!

(I would have posted “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, but YouTube and Universal Music Group won’t let me. Oh well, this is another feel-good song.)

The Middle Name Meme

I got up this morning to discover I’ve been tagged by the infamous Beth at Cup of Coffey to participate in a meme. What makes this one a little challenging is that the meme requires me to use a middle name, and not only do I not have a middle name anymore in the real world, I also want to keep my name, as well as the names of my loved ones, anonymous (or at least the semblance thereof). That being said, I do want to participate, so I figure there are a few ways I could go about doing this:

  1. Use the maiden name of a woman in my family tree.
  2. Use “With”, since that’s my middle name on this blog.
  3. Use the middle name I was given at birth.

I think I’ll go with #1, since #3 is too short to offer any sort of interesting response (my former middle name was Rae), and #2 is just too corny and I’m leaning more toward zany practicality than wacky humor this morning.

Here be the Rules:

1. Post the rules before you give your answers.

2. List one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother’s maiden name.

3. At the end of your blog post, tag one person (or blogger of another species) for each letter of your middle name. Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged.

I never got the chance to know my maternal grandmother, as she died of breast cancer when Momcat was a teenager. In her honor, I’ll use her maiden name, which was Trask.

T: When I am upset or stressed out, I have a tendency to render technology ineffective. Long-time readers of my blog are familiar with my score-keeping. I’ve had challenges with computer monitors (I’ve had about 3 or 4 monitors die on me, which T-Wizzle finds baffling), printers, my DVD player/recorder, Palm TX, and MP3 player; cell phones; software programs; Internet access; and a host of other products. Someday, this superpower will enable me to take over the world, or at least bring global e-commerce to a grinding halt. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

R: While rebellious wouldn’t be the first word that comes to mind when describing myself, I definitely do act the rebel at times. I have been known to do things just because someone said I couldn’t or shouldn’t. Some positive examples of this are:

  • My high school world history teacher told me that it was hard to get an A in the American history teacher’s class. I said, “Watch me,” and for 3 out of 4 grading periods, I got As in American history. (One quarter I was distracted by a part-time job. Once I quit, I had more time to study and got As again.)
  • My former editor said I’d never get tickets to see Spamalot while in New York for a trade show. Again I said, “Watch me.” I sat in line for nearly 6 hours and got 8th row orchestra seats. I grinned the whole way through and brought my editor back a t-shirt.

I’m waiting for the day when the right person challenges me to lose weight or publish my novel. King Kong ain’t got shit on me! Bring it on!

A: Ever since I was little, I’ve been interested in acting. Back east, I was in my high school’s drama club and performed in a couple readers’ theatre productions with Pops. I’ll admit that part of my motivation for moving to LA was that I wanted to become a famous actress. The thing is, you actually have to work at doing that, and I was always too insecure about my looks & weight to make it happen. I wanted to just show up and become famous. I admire comedians who are super-talented at improvisation, so I’d like to take improv classes at some point. Then who knows? I could finally bite the bullet and really give acting a shot.

S: I have never been one to fear for my personal safety. I have been in some dicey neighborhoods and suspicious places, but I have never felt threatened or scared. I’ve been cautious, sure, and I’ll use my intuition to avoid putting myself in uncomfortable situations. But I feel it’s all about attitude, and I am so freakin’ arrogant that I cannot imagine why anyone would ever want to do harm to me. I’ve said several times that I would walk naked through Watts just to make a point – which goes back to that rebellious thing again. Because of my attitude I have a hard time empathizing with people, especially women, about safety issues. My belief is that fear is the biggest bully you can ever encounter, yet all it takes is one hearty yell to make fear run for the hills.

K: I love singing karaoke. I’ve been doing it since I moved to CA over 7 years ago, starting with a piano bar where the average age of the clientele was 68. Those old folks were so supportive and excited to hear a thirty-something singing old standards, so it gave me the courage to branch out and go to more karaoke joints. The place where I went regularly has gotten more ghetto-tastic, so I’m going to new spots that have a wide variety of songs. I even have a spreadsheet on my Palm TX for tracking songs by venue, but I have yet to buy my own karaoke CDs and bring them with me when I go sing. My favorite artists to cover at karaoke include Journey, Amy Winehouse, Garbage, Heart, Maroon 5, Olivia Newton-John, Britney Spears, Sarah McLachlan…and the hits just keep on comin’.

And now for the tagging of others (links to completed memes are in green):

Staci at Laughing Mommy (because she is my cousin and she loves me, plus it’s payback for the taser Superpoke on Facebook last week)
Arianne at Daily Llama (because she likes memes)
Gifted Typist at Gifted Typist (because she’s cool and I like her writing)
Splotchy at I, Splotchy (because no-meme month is over)
Beckeye at The Pop Eye (because she loves ONJ as much as me, if not more)

Friday’s Hot Tip: Technology

I haven’t had a working cell phone since the beginning of January, which initially caused me a great deal of stress. Now just looking at what I owe AT&T causes stress…but that’s not the point here. Since I’d given up my home phone and gone mobile-only, I was outta luck for arranging job interviews, coordinating outings with friends, and checking in with Momcat and Pops. I think it was T-Wizzle who suggested I look into Internet phones – it would be logical that she would make this suggestion, as she is the most techno-savvy friend I have. Everyone should have their own T-Wizzle, and I’m sure she would agree. She’s just that kind of girl. Be sure to lock up your good whiskey before she comes over, though. But I digress.

I am a big user of Yahoo Messenger, so I looked into Yahoo Voice for making Internet phone calls. There are two components to Yahoo Voice: Phone Out and Phone In. With Phone Out, you can make calls from your computer to any phone number worldwide for incredibly low rates. Within the United States, it’s one cent a minute. Yes, I said one cent. For my Canadian readers, it’s one cent per minute for you as well. Got friends in Swaziland? Giving ’em a ring will cost you 12 cents a minute. What about a call to Down Under? One minute will set you back about 0.018 cents. The beauty of the Phone Out setup is that there are no setup fees; if you have a PC, an Internet connection, and Yahoo Messenger (which is free to download and use), you’re ready to make calls. At the end of January I bought $10 worth of minutes…and as of March 7, I have $7.67 left. Anyone that knows me in the real world knows that I can talk and chatter for days, so for me to have such a high credit balance is pretty amazing. Either that or I’ve been pretty closemouthed…nah, not possible.

Being able to call out is all fine and good, but in my situation I needed a phone number where I could be reached as well. That’s where Yahoo Voice’s Phone In becomes very handy. For a fee of $2.99 per month (or $2.49 per month if you pay for 12 months in advance), you can get a phone number that rings at your computer. For U.S. users, you get to choose from a wide selection of area codes and phone numbers. Through Yahoo’s Phone In, I finally got a number in one of the most desirable area codes in L.A., so I feel like one of the cool kids. Again, the Phone In service works with Yahoo Messenger, so anywhere you’re on the Internet and you’re on Yahoo Messenger, you can receive calls. Don’t feel like answering? Let the call go to voicemail. And if by some crazy chance you’re not online, any incoming calls will go to voicemail.

Which leads me to the one drawback with this service: you can’t customize your voicemail greeting. That is, I couldn’t find anything on Yahoo Voice’s website to tell me how to do this. My guess is that this capability will come in the next version or so, because as everyone knows, you can’t stop progress. You can’t stop the beat, either, but again, I digress.

“But what about the sound quality, Moxie?” I hear you ask. Well, my friends, the sound quality is excellent. I live on a busy street and sometimes I have to jack up the volume in order to hear everything, but everyone I have talked to via Yahoo Voice has said the sound was crystal clear and distortion free. The only time I had issues with distortion was when I talked to Deena, my friend who lives in the sticks on the East Coast and has some cell phone issues to begin with.

So if you’re looking to set up a business line on the cheap, or you want to make some long distance phone calls without spending a ton of money, put your miked headset to work and buy some time on Yahoo Voice. In fact, the first 4 people that e-mail me (see address on the sidebar) will get hooked up with free minutes on Yahoo Voice, so you can try it for yourself. Check it!

Friday’s Hot Tip:Technology

As I’m trying to get my life together, I’m looking to technology to help me. Part of this process includes tracking all of those IDs, passwords, and other miscellaneous data that I keep accruing as I sign up for various and sundry things on the Internet. I have an Excel spreadsheet I started, but it’s not particularly secure, and considering all the drama I’ve been through recently with Joe, I don’t really want all this info lying around.

This is where SplashID comes in. It’s a software program that allows a safe haven for all your user IDs, passwords, and other data. You set a master password for the program, and once you’ve entered it, you have access to all your oh-so-private data. Need to quickly look up your Visa number, but your wallet is in the other room? With SplashID, you can pull up the information with a few clicks.

The SplashID software has preformatted several types of items you may need to track, such as:

  • locker combinations
  • e-mail accounts
  • bank accounts
  • website logins
  • identification, such as drivers license, Social Security Numbers
  • clothes sizes
  • frequent flyer info

You can add your own types as well, specifying the field labels and what information, if any, needs to be hidden or “masked.” Since I have a couple accounts I use for online messaging, I created a type called “Online Messaging”, with fields for my user ID, password, and security answer (in response to those goofy questions such as “What is the maiden name of your mother’s first pet that went to elementary school?”).

If you’re like me and you already have an electronic file with all of your user IDs and passwords, it’s easy enough to import the file into SplashID. All I had to do was turn my Excel spreadsheet into a CSV file, then import it that way. The Help file on SplashID walks you through the process very easily.

The challenge I’ve had with this product has more to do with Palm and Microsoft Vista than SplashData, the software manufacturer. Palm has dropped the ball technologically speaking, and as a result their products are not always compliant with what Microsoft is doing. That’s really a nice way of saying, “Palm is dumber than a soapdish, and Microsoft Vista sucks.” I have not been able to get my desktop version of SplashID to sync with my Palm TX version of SplashID – and it’s really supposed to be a simple process.* But alas, Palm’s new Vista-friendly HotSync program doesn’t want to make nice with many third-party software applications, such as SplashData’s products. As a result I’ve had to manually enter my SplashID Desktop data onto my TX. All you Palm users out there, don’t get Vista! It will screw up everything you’ve worked for on your Palm PDA and/or SmartPhone! (stepping down from soapbox and brushing off my sleeves)

My issues with syncing aside, SplashID is a great product for safely tracking all those little numbers and goofy alphanumeric combinations that the Man forces us to use in order to keep our stuff secure. I give it an A-.

*Update: My contact for Splash Products has given me info on how to make the sync work, so I’ll try it out. I don’t think he realizes I’m a mutant with the power to disable technology, however. We’ll see how this goes.

Chatter

My girl T-Wizzle and I love to talk. Phone, instant messenger, e-mail, it doesn’t matter. We are always yammering. When we’re together, people will openly eavesdrop and say, “I am really enjoying listening to you two.” I don’t blame them. Our discussions range from funny to insightful to informative, and sometimes that’s all in one conversation. Here’s a sampling from the last few weeks.

On celebrities:
T-Wizzle: You know, when you look at Justin Timberlake, he’s got a white trash face.
Moxie: Huh?
T-Wizzle: He’s got that long pointy nose, and that weird chin, and you can just tell what he’s going to look like when he’s old and has no teeth.
Moxie: (laughing)
T-Wizzle: Seriously, you can tell he’s from Tennessee. But that boy can dance and sing… I can see why everyone is trying to give him some. Cameron probably lost her damn mind.

On technology and world politics:

Moxie: I want data on who’s reading my blog, but I don’t know how to get it.
T-Wizzle: What are you going to do with the data?
Moxie: Nothing really, I just want to know who’s reading me. (pause) I think I found something I can use.
T-Wizzle: What did you find?
Moxie: A site called lasturl.com. They provide a counter, and then you can log in to their site and see stats.
T-Wizzle: That’s cool. Then will you take over the world? Cause honestly, that’s what I am waiting on.
Moxie: I thought YOU were taking over the world this week. Next week it’s my turn.
T-Wizzle: Oh, well…I will go in 2 weeks cause I need to get my hair done first.
Moxie: That’s what you say every time: “Oh, I can’t take over the world this week, it will conflict with my hair appointment” or “I can’t do it this week because my hair is a mess.”
Next you’ll be telling me that you’ve changed your mind about taking over the world – that you just want a small third-world country that hasn’t been overrun by well-meaning celebrities.
T-Wizzle: Oh, umm…I meant to tell you about Burma. Paris [Hilton] won’t do it, so, I signed you up to be president. I hope that’s cool.
Moxie: Do I have to learn another language?
T-Wizzle: No, you can speak in English, and refuse to talk to or touch locals.
Moxie: Okay, I’m in.
T-Wizzle: Sweet. The only thing is you have to wear pink every day. Paris agreed to it so now we are stuck with it.
Moxie: Does this mean pink from head to toe, or just pink somewhere on my person?
T-Wizzle: Head to toe.
Moxie: GODDAMMIT.

On public health issues:

Moxie: (watching TV) Okay, these ads for Yaz birth control are a crock. Girls talk about birth control, but they don’t say shit like, “women with a history of heart disease shouldn’t take this” and “side effects include bloating and interval bleeding”. Especially NOT at a party.
T-Wizzle: What do you mean? Internal bleeding is a common topic of convo at parties I go to. You must not be plugged in.
Moxie: Really? Well, there you go.
T-Wizzle: Yeah. Bleeding, cuts, malaria.
Moxie: Hemorrhaging?
T-Wizzle: Sometimes, depends on the crowd.
Moxie: Hmm, good to know.
T-Wizzle: Lola is always talking about it.
Moxie: Do I know her?
T-Wizzle: well, she IS invisible, so a lot of people know her.
Moxie: That could explain why I’ve never seen her, but why the name is familiar.
T-Wizzle: Yeah, she hangs out a lot of places because it’s cheap for her to fly. And because she’s invisible, she’s super fascinated by blood.

On lunch menus:
T-Wizzle: I am trying to decide what to make for lunch. I don’t have any bread, and I’m out of salad.
Moxie: Have any veggies & cooked meat you could toss with some dressing? Like tomatoes, green beans, maybe some cheese, a little chicken?
T-Wizzle: Hmmm…no cooked meat, no cooked veggies. I run a tight ship around here.
Moxie: (laughing)
T-Wizzle: I could make a sammich out of some cheese biscuits I have left, although that sounds slightly gross.
Moxie: Ehh, sounds boring. You need something FUN and TASTY.
T-Wizzle: Agreed.