Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Social Media, Socialnomics, and email

Wow, its been three months since I've blogged. How the time flies when you're not having fun. So, sickness aside for now, I'm going to be doing a couple of posts in the next couple days. Later today or tomorrow I promise a District 9 review (pretty glowingly positive), a look at the Lions rebranding (also glowingly positive), and pretty soon a look at one of my favorite local establishments, Josepha's Hair Salon (whom I plan to challenge to give me Bettie Page hair for Halloween). But for now...

I got thinking about social media and Gen y/z today, mostly because of this excellent little video:

One of the statistics that really amazed me in that is that many people of Gen y/z supposedly don't use email. I myself am on the cusp between Gen X and Gen Y, and I found myself horrified by the idea of not using email.

Then I considered a little further. What do I use email for these days? Almost all my personal interactions with friends and family online are thru IM and Facebook. My personal email is pretty much only used for Trillium Arts business, and to recieve the ads (targeted newsletter communications) that I've elected to recieve on a daily basis, and I wouldn't appreciate if they popped up on IM. My work interaction is much thru IM and ICQ as well; however, when I want a hard copy of well thought out reaction to a design, I instantly go to the email. Its also still the best way to communicate with the entire team at one go.

What it comes down to is, social media is awesome for... social interation. But I have a feeling when those Gen y/zer's get office jobs they'll discover that they had more use for email than they previously thought -- even if it's only to keep old fuddy-duddies like me happy knowing that they considered what they were going to say for three seconds before hitting the send key.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Everyone is a nerd

Oh its true, its true. I have met many, many people in my life who look down on nerds. I've heard nerds dressed as anime characters laugh at the exuberance of another group of nerds playing Magic cards. I've met people who deny that they are nerds that make fun of others for being nerds. True story, the names removed to protect the innocent: I know one person who has mocked others for dressing up to go to a movie premiere, and done the mocking while playing World of Warcraft (which is supposedly "totally not nerdy").

But these are extreme examples. The fact is, everyone I know is a nerd. Oh, I'm not a nerd, you might say to yourself. Oh yeah? Name something you're passionate about. Sports? That just means you're a sports nerd. NASCAR? NASCAR nerd. The Food Network? Cooking nerd! Anthropomorphic animals and what they do in their spare time? Furry! (ahem...) Um, backpacking? Outdoor nerd. Foreign travel? Travel nerd. Getting ahead at work? Business nerd. Making gobs of cash? Finance nerd. Knowing the minutiae of the latest legislation working its way thru congress? Political nerd. Sonoma and Napa? Wine nerd. Etc, etc, etc.....

On the other hand, if there's absolutely nothing that you're passionate about, nothing you care about, maybe you're not a nerd. But are you alive?

(Feel free to post what you're a nerd about!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More on living well in Merrill

Lately it seems like I'm writing more about trying to live well in Merrill and less about the design stuff I love so much. This will be remedied soon, but for today, I'm going to continue the topic. Going from the lowbrow to the highbrow here...

Garage sales: EVERYWHERE around here there are garage sales, with everything you could possibly be looking for, and about a billion kids clothes too. I've gotten a wrought-iron room divider, a couple of dvd shelves, some chairs, a bed (for 25 bucks, in nigh brand-new shape)... not to mention a million books and other things. Only problem is I WORK and garage sales/rummage sales around here seem to always start on Wednesdays or Thursdays...by the saturdays when I get to em the good stuff is a little fewer and father between. Wausau area sales are in the Wausau Daily Herald, and Merrill area sales are in the Foto News (yeah, there's a lot of cross posting)

Along the same lines but cheaper, there's Freecycle, where there's both a Lincoln County group and a Wausau group. If someone puts up something you want respond quick, because it'll go quick. Also, pick just one thing out of a group if there's multiple things from one lister... you'll be more likely to get it. More expensive is another local online option, Wausau Craigslist. Some good stuff, some cheap stuff, but always worth a check.

Then there's the local auctions, a really good bet for nice stuff thats not terribly expensive. Its where I got my really nice leather couch and desk chair - it didn't go for a song, but its a nice couch that I expect to last me a long time.

I've posted about food before, and I got to go to the Wausau Farmer's Market for the first time this past weekend. Got some wonderful ramps and lettuce from Moonshadow Farm, some really nice bread, and some green beans and tomatoes. I'm hoping next time I'll see Stoney Acres Farm there, as I've heard really good things about them - they also have a CSA which I'd love to do but haven't been able to get the money together for.

Midnight openings of movies at the Cosmo have helped keep me sane too - both Star Trek and Terminator 4 were really well attended and lots of fun (doesn't hurt that I'm a huge nerd and kicked major butt at the Star Trek trivia contest) Now we just gotta get some more GOOD dining establishments into downtown (Checkered Churn is great, and I hear good things about the First Street Coffee Station, but cafes alone don't quite make it) and get businesses - and dining establishments! - to stay open past 5 on a saturday, and we could have a real downtown. Maybe even a bar that's not a sports bar or dive bar? Hmm, might be too much to ask.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Retro Rant - Those who can read, should.

Here's another oldie from the pile.

Wednesday, Aug 9 1994

Those who can read, should.

I agree with this statement. If people would read more, they would be better informed and we wouldn't have as many problems in the world. Prejudice would cease to exist, because people would no longer be ignorant. Reading is good for people. It lets your use your imagination. It doesn't come in 30 second sound bites. You have to stick with it, and be patient to find out the outcome. It relaxes you, lets you forget about the problems of the day, and takes you into another place or time. Well, all I'm trying to say is that if you can read, do. You'll be a better person for it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Retro Rant - Describe someone or something that has total control over you

Going thru some of the stuff that has been stored at my parents house for quite some time, I came upon an old notebook of mine, from my American Lit class in 11th grade. We had to keep a journal for this class, and every now and then I'm going to transcribe one of the old entries. Can't guarantee they're all good, but here goes.

11/17/94 - Describe someone or something that has total control over you

I know this isn't very original, but I am the only one who has total and final control of myself. No matter what the situation is, I have the final say over what I do.

You said describe. Well, I would describe myself as fun, interesting, intelligent (little ego boost there) and someone who tries to make the right decisions.

That's the hardest part of controlling yourself; being responsible and making the right decisions. At least for me it is the most difficult. Sometimes I slip and don't make the right choice, but most of the time I think I do pretty well.

Oh yeah, and I'm modest, too. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Merrill grocery shopping treasures

As I'm going to be a resident of Merrill for some time, I am continuing on a never-ending quest to find places in Merrill and the surrounding areas that are a little more... um, a little less... well, just not so bloody MERRILL. I've had some small triumphs already; see my previous post about the Back When Cafe in Wausau. Also, at Dave's County Market I've found they sell locally grown organic shallots and garlic, by D&D's Sweet Earth Organically Grown Produce, of Merrill, WI. The fact that I found shallots at all around here made me ultra happy, and the fact that they are organically grown and local makes me ecstatic. The label is handwritten, and either copied on a copy machine or printed with a home inkjet. Either way its great. Not a bar code to be seen on this sucker. They don't have a website, but you can find their contact information at D & D's Sweet Earth Organic Produce (and let them know I sent you... and that I can design 'em a website, lol)

Now, when it comes to organic in Merrill, there's really one place that comes to mind: The Mustard Seed. This little corner store on First street has been around.. well, as long as I can remember, and is THE place in Merrill to get all your alternative health foods, medicines, and groceries. They've got excellent bulk spices (many that the supermarkets around here don't stock; their Garam Masala is great), lots of other bulk staples (grains, legumes, etc), raw sugar and sugar alternatives, a gluten-free section, an assortment of herbal supplements, and assorted green cleaning products, including my personal favorite, good ol' Dr. Bronner's soap.

How a store this... well, frankly HIPPIE has managed to make it (and apparently do well!) in Merrill is beyond me, but I'm really glad they have. And it doesn't hurt that I'm about a one minute walk away from them!

Now if we can only get places to be open on Saturdays.. especially after 5...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back When Cafe - Best food I've had in the area

I had a great day Saturday, running around and shopping for my upcomin' camping trip, and then there was dinner. Now, going out to eat in northcentral WI usually consists of "what diner do you want to go to?" They're all sort of like Denny's, only independent, family owned, and a little bit less likely to give you food poisoning (sometimes).

BUT, it had been recommended a bunch of times that I visit the Back When Cafe. I wasn't that hopeful, but when I walked past the door and saw the decor (simple, understated yet elegant, not diner furniture) I became hopeful. When the menu came I became even more hopeful, as all of their entrees (minus the pasta entrees) were specials - good indicator that the food is made with fresh ingredients available that day.

The wine came out first, and I was thrilled. It was in a huge glass, only poured about 1/3 full. Most restaurants in the area will serve you wine that has been open for weeks if not days, in tiny dessert wine glasses, filled to the brim, and I've even had a Zinfandel come with fruit on the rim. A place that knows how to respect its wine (and the wine was excellent) is a great start.

Then the appetizer came, and it was AMAZING... I say without any doubt that it was the best appetizer I've ever had. It consisted of crostini with strawberry preserves, slices of brie toasted then with slices of fresh strawberry on top. The sweetness of the strawberries mixed with the saltiness of the Brie and bread and... forget peanut butter and jelly. This is IT. It was completely astounding and an absolute credit to the chef.

The salad course was also spectacular; fresh greens with not an iceberg leaf in sight (or a wilted leaf for that matter), complete with crasins and sunflower seeds (nice Wisconsin touch). The entree was also excellent; I had a wild Alaskan halibut steak in a Dijon caper sauce. Quite wonderful, with the djon complementing the sour capers nicely. The dessert, tiramisu, was good, if not totally perfect - bit dry and with something that looked suspiciously like Hershey's drizzled over it (not entirely sure that's what its was, but...) Still, this is in the top echelons of meals I have ever eaten anywhere, much less in northcentral WI. Absolutely fabulous.

Having just looked up their website, I now see at least part of why the food was so fab; their chef Jolene Lucci is a member of the Slow Food movement, something that I've been a proponent of ever since I've heard of it (let slow invade the rest of your life too - read In Praise of Slowness ) It is THRILLING to me that this idea has gained a foothold around here. I know that I'm going to be going to the Back When Cafe again... and again and again and again. If you live in n/c WI, or even if you're just visiting, go there, go there again, and again, and again. Take your time over your meal, and I promise it'll be one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quickie review: Watchmen

I saw it on Sunday night. I'll be honest, I wasn't a fan of director Zack Snyder's previous attempt at making a comic book I greatly admired into a movie, 300. I won't get started on all that movies flaws, just summing them up by saying that things happened that were a) not in the comic and b) really, really stupid to have happen in something that is considered an actual historic event.

Fortunately, Watchmen fares much better. I was happy from the opening montage of alternate history, and practically went into fits over the McLaughlin Group (I probably was the only person who saw this and started squealing "ELANOR CLIFF!!!" ... I was only disappointed that Freddie "the Beadle" Barnes and Jack Germond weren't included. Sorry, I grew up watching that show). The movie follows the comic book to a t, minus some changes necessitated by the cutting down of the story.

So, what I have here is a nearly perfect comic book movie, minus some cruddy acting/directing (Snyder directs actors as well as George Lucas does these days). One big, huge, giant exception is Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, who is completely perfect and believable in his role (with a nod to Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian as well.) Its really nice when you've imagined a scene in your head -- in this case Rorschach's "DO IT!!!" -- a million times, then when its on film it exactly lives up to your expectations. Kinda like the opposite of Galadriel in LOTR (a GREAT film in every other respect, but Galadriel was just no fun!).

Oh yeah, and a quick shout out to both the music choices in the film - amazing, perfect, great! and to the many, many, many homages to other great period films. From Strangelove to Apocalypse Now to Risky Business.. there was a lot of movie love goin on.

All in all, its the best comic book movie so far this year, by a long shot, and I recommend you you see it at least twice.

Monday, March 16, 2009

More wine thoughts, Bonny Doon 2001 Viognier Port

OK, I know I haven't been updating. Stress, sickness, and various other things have conspired to keep my internet time strictly for work.. well, and watching Daily Show and Colbert Report when that's done. Still, I have had ideas that I would love to write about - i was going to do a retro review of a Boy and his Blob, one of the games that as a child I looked forward to the most and was the most disappointed in (and now I hear they're re-making it - maybe this time it won't suck? No offense to the legion of B&HB fans). But...

I have had a bottle of the Bonny Doon 2001 Viognier Port sitting around for a while. Tonight I find myself with a quiet free moment and I finally decided to open 'er up - and thought I'd tell you the results.

I've had this bottle sitting around for a while for the specific reason that I was a little frightened of it. I've had good ports, bad ports, and ports in between. When the producer themselves says "One of the more unusual products produced at Bonny Doon, even by our standards..." well... I get nervous. Bonny Doon is well known for its wine experiments, some extraordinarily successful, others... well, not so much. Reading that, I was afraid that this was in the second category. Also, in their description they describe it as more off-dry than sweet... doesn't sound like a port that would agree with me. So its sat, gathering dust, for several months.

Till tonight. I opened the bottle and took a whiff - nothing unpleasant there. Then I poured a small glass for myself. The nose is gorgeous - honey and coconut like crazy. The color is a brilliant amber - totally different than any other port in my experience. They call it a "light port" and that's the truth.

But the FLAVOR, holy mother of Pete, the FLAVOR. Its amazing. This is now my favorite port. Its got an alcohol kick as a port should but its smooooooth all the way. I would never call this off-dry (its sweet, just not too sweet). Apricots rule the flavor, along with dates, honey, and toasted.. something.

I know I've raved about every wine I've blogged about, but that's because I only end up blogging about the wines I've been crazy about (for the most part). But this.. really is special. Its up there with the Cross J in great wines I've tasted. Do yourself a favor, buy a bottle. Actually, don't. Leave 'em for me.