“Yvonne has truly fought for her freedom. She has shown the world that her urge to be free is strong – even for a cow.”—German wildlife charity Gut Aiderbichl, on Yvonne, the cow who ran away from the slaughterhouse. I love that cow.
Movie Marathon. I seldom get to watch a movie, let alone 3*. These weren’t just any 3 movies, they were all available on Netflix Instant Watch and they all had Paper in the title. I’m not a nerd, I swear.
Paper Heart: Indie documentary (comedy? drama? romance?) centered around the question “What is love?” I really liked it, and I became unnaturally curious about the evolution of Charlyne and Michael’s relationship. Totally recommend.
Paper Man: Offbeat drama (comedy? fantasy?) about an unusual friendship formed through the shared experience of not quite fitting in or feeling satisfied. It turned out to be enjoyable, sobering, inspirational, and everything in between, but also walked the fantasy line a little too closely for my full thumbs up. The main characters were also quite well cast. I’d say to watch this for sure if you’re not already cranky.
The Paper: Journalism drama (comedy? is ‘early 90s’ a genre?) filled with murder, ethics, and Williamsburg before it was what it is now. It had its tacky moments, its sweet moments, its chaotic excitement, and its ‘emote audibly’ moments. A cinematographic or script-driven masterpiece, no. A movie perfect to watch while cleaning and ignoring a hurricane, definitely.
So, there you go. Paper. *I even snuck in another film, Snatch, which had more characters conspiring against each other than the American political scene. A dog also was held at gunpoint; you’ll have to watch to see if he makes it out alive. A real silly awesome nail biter for sure. And you know what, let’s just say there was some paper in it.
Can we please give this man his life back? What will it take? Clearly, the vigils, protests, letters, requests, and pleading isn’t tangibly achieving much, and 5 birthdays as a hostage should be unacceptable to society. Worldwide, there are too many people unethically held hostage, and Gilad’s captivity is especially resonant because he’s my age. All the fun and growth you’re supposed to have in your 20s was snatched from him while he served his country. So so so sad.
So happy birthday, and hopefully this year will bring freedom and peace.
Anyone who knows me or is a loyal blog reader knows how much I love NYC Parks. A not-really-but-basically cousin is one of the voices behind an awesome effort to bring a park to Chelsea. 136 W. 20th St (between 6th and 7th aves.) is currently vacant (BORING!) and for people who live smack in the middle of Chelsea, it’s a decent walk over to the Highline or the other way over to Madison Square Park or down to Washington Square Park. There isn’t really other public space to sit outdoors (especially with kids) and enjoy the neighborhood. The lot is currently owned by the Department of Sanitation, but that’s not helping anything, and we know that NYC does nothing but amazing things with their parks. So why not bring a park here?
Will New York City also become the FIRST CITY IN HISTORY to experience an earthquake, hurricane, and tornado in one week? That, too, would be a pretty incredible feat. And panic would certainly ensue. And I might give more credence to all this silly apocalypse talk crazing the nation.
Starting today, you can sample and buy Harmless Harvest Coconut Water in your local Whole Foods store*. I had the pleasure of trying some today, and it was delicious! The product’s clean, refreshing taste is a direct consequence of the company’s philosophy, which sets a high standard of well-being for both the supply and the client (you). There are no additives, and it’s a very homegrown operation that I feel excited to support. Further, it fits into a larger portfolio of Harmless Harvest products and agroforestry innovation. Go pick some up, and I’m sure Justin, one of the lovely founders pictured below, would be thrilled to hear from you.
*Right now, you can only purchase this product in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut Whole Foods stores, but it will be nationwide later this fall.
I don’t follow Canadian politics (should I start?), but I was captivated by the form, content, and tone of this letter, and also the simple fact that it was even written. Give it a read in the former leader’s memory.
I recently hosted a game night like I’ve never hosted before. Why? More than 1 game at a time! It was very exciting for me that people came early and stayed late, and I’d like to chalk it up as a success. Here’s how it all went down in case you want to host your own!
Before The Party
Invite People - I made a facebook invite with starting time of 7:30pm (anticipating arrivals beginning at 8:30pm) and asking that people bring something (beer wine or snack) but stating that I’d have some snacks and drinks to get it started. A follow-up message was sent to non-replies the day before.
Budget and Shop - I have a habit of being an overboard host (thanks, family tradition) and overbuying food, drink, and decorations. For this, I decided to stick to a strictly $60 budget and only went $3 over! I cut decorations - this wasn’t a party that needed it - and polled friends via facebook on cheap but delicious drink ideas. From the many ideas, I went with a tea-flavored vodka mixed with lemonade. Powdered lemonade mix is inexpensive and goes a long way, and is perfect for a summer party. The Absolut Wild Tea mixed in (sometimes with a splash of seltzer) did the trick. I also bought gin, which was unnecessary, because I didn’t buy tonic and it simply wasn’t a big hit. Oh well. For snacks, baby carrots, pretzels, Sun Chips, and one set of chips-and-salsa more than sufficed. I was fortunate to already have extra plastic cups and napkins; however, I would recommend purchasing some if you don’t have them on hand, as it will make cleanup infinitely easier.
Know your games - I have a large stockpile of board games and had a few select friends bringing some other cool ones. It’s important to think about all ranges people who will be attending, and make sure that you have a few games in mind for each of the styles. Remember, people have varied attention spans and skills, so pick games that balance each other.
During the Party
Get the party started - There were 25 people in attendance throughout the night. Most came within the first half hour (!!!!), and we “warmed up” with twogames that anyone can learn by just jumping in and playing. The sooner you start playing, the better (especially when people don’t know each other) because it gets people talking and working together over a shared new experience. A little music is good at a soft volume… too loud and it can detract from the game. Let people dive right in by offering to grab them food and drink while they learn rules and play.
Allow different games and types of players to emerge organically….but catalyze when needed - When people are bored (ha!) of a game and you have a decent selection, they’ll self direct when it’s time to move on to the next. But, if you see certain people not engaging, try to subtly suggest a game, strategy, or explanation that might resonate more strongly with them. It’s also great to connect people who may have similar interests or styles of play, because those commonalities can build a stronger foundation for an enjoyable shared game experience. At my party, some of the more seasoned gamers took to playing more complicated games while the more casual voyeurs took to games with simple rules and low competition level. A few folks went back and forth, but it naturally worked.
Multitask: play host AND games - It’s ok (and necessary!) to sit down and play a game or two or three, but you’re still host. A good tip is to partner up with someone in each game so that you don’t disrupt the flow when, say, more guests arrive and you go to great them, or a watermelon needs cutting, or a spill needs cleaning. Periodically make sure that everyone is set on drinks and snacks, check that there’s enough toilet paper and paper towels, and that any messes are contained. Also, make sure you talk with everybody…. it can be easy to get distracted!
When It’s Over
Cleanup time - If you can enlist a friend’s help, that’s ideal, because you want to take care of as much as you can that night. Any open bottles should be finished or dumped and recycled; trash collected and taken out, and used dishes washed. You’ll also probably have a few lost and found items, which you can take care of through a Facebook message to attendees.
Reflect - What went well and what didn’t? If you ever want to host something similar again, there are always lessons to be learned so that you can do it that little bit better next time. Take a few minutes the next morning and jot some notes wherever is most helpful to you.
Whew!!! I’d love to hear if you are hosting one, and how it goes! (and, if I can come!)
I didn’t read this book, but a friend shared this quote because I’ve been quite frustrated by people canceling and changing plans and promises made in various contexts with sincere intent but without being realistic. To me, this is equally as irritating as being late and has similar consequences, especially when it happens frequently. If you’re a repeat offender, check in with yourself and your ability to follow through before you commit.
“There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.”—Teddy Roosevelt, 1898
This was a really neat experiment that Natalia did with a buddy to inspire and motivate. It sounds like it could breed competition, but it’s the opposite. I’d be interested in an accountability partnership with you, blog reader, if you’re interested. Seriously; it’s such a great idea. Interested?
[note: as of Monday, August 23, I’m in an awesome accountability partnership. I’m sure I’ll report in with some thoughts on this, so stay tuned!]
Josh is a buddy from the Internet who writes great reviews of board games and has a chunk of games to give away. It’s super easy to enter his contest…. just start following him or linking to his blog. Personally, I think he puts out great content and is well worth following. Hope you win*!
*mostly, I hope I win, especially Fluxx or Munchkin. Girl can dream, right?
Tears streamed down her face, and her shoulders heaved in un- controllable spasms. She slouched heavily back when the doors closed, and fell backwards a little when they reopened unex- pectedly. The sob became audible with her falter and a snort, and judging eyes responded with stares under the guise of turn- ing the page or shuffling to the next song. I, too, glanced to my left. I saw her crinkled blue shirt with pit stains and red lipstick that looked falsely strong against her pale complexion and overcome figure. Even slouched, she looked pretty, but the kind of pretty that you judge as being superficial, so, I went back to playing Angry Birds. The train rounded the corner and flung all not holding on to the right. The same girl whose eyes screamed frustration and pain fell forward onto a man in skinny jeans, an Animal Collective shirt, and dark black frames. Bothered, he turned away. The white haired man in a suit and tie sitting next to me tapped the girl through the bars. She didn’t respond. He tapped harder and she wheeled around with a look of total frustration and surrender. He stood up and motioned for her to sit. She looked stunned, and then a look of gratitude poured over her face. She whispered thank you, sighed deeply and vic- toriously, and sat down while I edged over to make room. The man, who could have just walked away, asked her if she needed anything, and shaking her head, said with growing strength “I can get through this.”
Before anyone worries, I’m ok minus a little whiplash (no fun). Just completely shaken up.
I was biking to work (as I like to do 1-3 times per week) and was in the Sixth Avenue bike lane. The lane is on the left side of the road, and I ride super defensively on it because a lot of cabs and trucks pull into the bike lane at rush hour. It was about 8:45am, and I was biking a normal speed.
As with anything, it happened quickly. I was next to a truck - a tractor trailer - and definitely behind the tractor and alongside the trailer. The driver seemed to be going normal speed, and I did not see a signal light on the tractor before he lurched towards a clear block of curb to the left and in doing so, hitting me on the right. Luckily, I did not fall off, but I screeched to a stop and yelled (bells don’t help here) hoping he’d see me and not continue. We made eye contact through his side mirror, and he pulled up a little onto the curb and rolled down his window. I was yelling to stop and how scary that was and he’s lucky I wasn’t really hurt and to watch before he just decides to go into the bike lane and to use his signal.
He replies “yea, I bet that was scary.” with a distinctive tone of mockery and blame. There is absolutely no way I misheard that. He and the guy in the passenger seat made no move to get out, and I was so upset and shaken and in disbelief that I wheeled my bike out around the tail of the trailer and back onto the road. As I was doing that, I noticed a small crowd of people who had been watching the whole situation. I saw some looks of astonishment, and heard someone say “what a jerk” and someone else say “at least she’s fine”, and once I started wheeling away, folks dispersed. Not that there was particularly something someone should have done, but it was a definite bystander problem where nobody wanted to step forward and offer assistance or eyewitness or support. If anything, it confirmed that I was a victim here.
As I started biking forward, I realized I couldn’t (safely) because I was far too shaken. I got off my bike and took a photograph of the license plate on the tractor:
I also took a picture of the truck, but must have been far too flustered because it didn’t save on my iphone.
The guys, meanwhile, had gotten out of the truck (parked in the bike lane and curb) and proceeded to begin unloading their goods without any follow-up. I yelled to them from the front of the truck “Not even an apology? No regret about that?” No response. Had this been a case of sincere blind spot, human nature and many past instances of accidents (for instance, a passenger exiting a cab without looking) lead me to believe that a sincere apology would have been issued. I felt unsettled and a little bit afraid, so I left.
How stupid of me not to get their information! Or the truck company! Or anything! Or to call from the scene. But when you’re a victim in a hostile situation, the last place you want to be is there. Plus, I didn’t want these guys having MY information… what if they were actually as heartless as it seemed? I called the police, and they said that since I left the scene, the best I could do was go into an NYPD office in the next 10 days and file a civilian report. I will do that, but I don’t think it will do much, so I’m hoping that anyone who cares about bike safety will share with others to at least raise awareness.
I was so super lucky that the angle of impact was what it was and didn’t cause more injury; not everyone is so lucky. Just because I’m ok doesn’t mean that this isn’t a big deal.
Some key takeaways here:
Being a victim often means having to suck it up and move on, because there’s not much you can do about it and it’s scary and nobody really helps you.
Bike lanes in the city are both a blessing, because it’s a lane with special designation, and a curse, because there are so many obstacles in them and disrespect for them.
Human nature can be a bit disheartening sometimes.
Facebook can be an incredibly supportive platform, and people have great advice. From one friend: “People blame victims all the time. The driver mocked you because I’m sure he was telling himself, ‘If I had been in her shoes there wouldnt have been an accident,’ or, ‘it was completely her fault, not mine.’ That doesnt mean it wasnt his fault!” From another friend: “If down the road it turns out your injuries were more serious, you won’t be able to get compensation from his insurance if you don’t report. Bonus: he will be forced to tell his family and friends why he is in trouble, and then they will know he is a douche. " All good, helpful thoughts, especially when you’re flustered and alone.
A final note from a friend: Man, it is so disheartening that none of the witnesses stood up for you. Let’s all pledge not to be passive bystanders if we see something bad happen. YES.
Don’t know if any of you faithful readers remember way back earlier this summer when a friend was looking for other friends to write a poem, but I finally did it. And I kind of like it. So, I now (with extreme trepidation) share it with you.
i don’t know exactly what a poem is like how is this any different from just jotting myself a note or writing a super simple paragraph?
i love how people are everywhere and build my world whether i know it or not and that friends are people in it, who do even more they inspire, excite, engage, challenge, humor, and support me whether they know it or not. so in this really hypersensitive yet unaware world where unintentional insincerity poses as sincerity and gchats can be started and x-ed out so easily but define relationships and charity abounds but effective solutions are elusive and incredibly crafted products come at a price often unknown in its entirety i stay grounded by faith in the relationships i may know or not know that i have and all that is bound and shaped by them.
i think poems let me ramble without necessary punctuation! so that’s excellent
Does Idealist.org make idealists wake up to a scary reality?
via my buddy Garen on his Facebook status:
Typical Idealist.org Job Posting:
Title: Data Entry Minion
Responsibilities: Grueling busywork
Qualifications: PhD in Astrophysics or related field, plus 150 years related experience required.
Salary Range: <$20,000
This joke is only a little bit of an exaggeration. Disconnect between qualifications and salary is huge in the nonprofit world, especially with respect to the years of experience not moving you up on the financial ladder piece of it. Also, I think people so driven towards change by a powerful mission can forget that busywork is very much a part of it, especially as many nonprofits are understaffed.
Idealist.org is great, don’t get me wrong, but I think it can definitely be a bit disheartening and a reality-check for do-gooders everywhere. Change ain’t easy.
Being late happens. Here’s the plain, non-sugarcoated truth about what to do when you’re late or waiting for someone who’s late, and how to make up for it both in the moment and in the future.
For the purpose of conversation, I will refer to the below scenarios resulting from a person’s affinity towards tardiness and the given circumstance:
For definition and your thought processes:
Seldom late - Generally on time. Lateness isn’t a quality you associate with this person.
Perpetually late - Almost always is more than 15 minutes late.
Relatively uncontrollable - Examples include: last minute subway rerouting, coming from another appointment that ran late and was not possible to scoot out of, babysitter for a child you are responsible for shows up late, personal injury, extenuating circumstances
Controllable - Examples include: no planned professional time with anyone before, roommate in bathroom, slow but running subway / normal traffic, no good outfit, getting more work done, phone call (unless from other country), weather
My buddy Kate asked friends about their favorite books and compiled a list. Here’s the list (which I’m super excited to dive into!) and her email if you’re interested in being a part of the shared google doc.
Edwind Abbott, Flatland
Paul Auster, City of Glass
Anthony Beevors, Stalingrad and The Fall of Berlin
Roberto Bolaño , 2666
Paul Bowles, The Spider’s House
Italo Calvino, If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler
James Clavell, Shogun
Richard Dawkins,, The Blind Watchmaker
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Antoine de St Exupery, Sand, Wind and Stars
Don DeLillo, White Noise
Daniel Dennett, Kinds of Minds
Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehe
Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo <===== editor's note: my contribution to the list.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”
Hans Fallada, Everyman Dies Alone
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 100 Years of Solitude
Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Ernest Hemingway, The Complete Short Stories
Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf
Douglas Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach
INCITE!, The Revolution Will Not be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex
Henry James, Portrait of a Lady
James Joyce, Ulysses
Smart investment in thoughtful strategies is a good place to start! That’s what Laurie worked with NYC to do with Green Carts a few years ago, and now the conversation continues. What do you think is a step in the right direction?
This blog post by a friend of a friend was recently shared with me, and I found it incredibly helpful as a way of thinking ahead and not losing sight of the minutia that round out a day and also general contentment. Well worth a read, and a reread too.
It’s free, it’s 24/7, it’s varied and delicious, and it’s supportive of health and environmental values.
The only place on the campus where employees pay for food is from a vending machine. The pricing strategy is based on nutrient content, again according to the Harvard pyramid plan. For the vended products, you pay:
one cent per gram of sugar
two cents per gram of fat
four cents per gram of saturated fat
one dollar per gram of trans fat
On this basis, Quaker Chewy Bars are 15 cents each, Famous Amos cookies re 55 cents, and an enormous Ghirardelli chocolate bar is $4.25. Weights don’t count and neither do calories. The machine is not run by Google. Whoever does it has a sense of humor.
Thoughtful philanthropy + awesome drinks + fun places.
Brian Floyd, bartender at The Vanderbilt, has come up with a pretty awesome method of showering local charities with much-needed gifts. Through his initiation, a loose group of NYC bartenders–The Barman’s Fund–pick specific shifts, often their first of the month, to donate all their tips to a particular cause. Past recipients include the Park Slope Women’s Shelter, veterans in Queens, special needs students throughout Brooklyn, and the latest beneficiary is slated to be the Brooklyn Free Clinic. During Friday night’s 5pm to 2am shift at The Vanderbilt, all tips will help fund the antibiotics program at the clinic, which serves uninsured patients in Brooklyn. Come at 11pm, and you’ll also get free pints of pilsner that Brooklyn Brewery is donating! Then visit South between noon and 9pm or Freddy’s from 8pm to 4am on August 7 to raise more charitable funds while you raise a glass.
Shouldn’t there be some sort of super-excited-feeling that goes with this?!?!
I never wrote an “aftermath” post to the Find the Future game that I played back in May, because the truth is, I felt a little deflated. Unimpressed for sure. Disappointed overall. It was tricky to articulate that, because I didn’t want to pop the balloon for everyone else who (completely fairly) loved it.
The library itself is a masterpiece, as are the artifacts in it including books, paintings, technology relics, timepieces, cultural symbols, the stacks, and the architecture itself. The game was not a masterpiece - what work really is on the first go around though? - but to me fell very short. It fell a little bit too short, where I felt like many driving game mechanics for me - including the hand-in-hand qualities of cooperation and competition, and following a set of rules - missed the mark, and where the seven secrets (of the artifacts, powers, stories, teams, collaboration, clock, and stacks) felt terribly unimportant for and disjointed from the achieving the ultimate goal of writing a book. The size of the game, web interface, time of play, and mechanism for unlocking each artifact seem like the biggest areas of improvement, and their combined shortcomings unfortunately lowered my appreciation for the game. The experience on whole was fine enough, but the promise of a really neat social game was relatively unfulfilled.
I think I felt let down on the game aspect because I went in with very high expectations. I love Jane McGonigal's whole paradigm of changing the world through games, because it makes sense both in theory and, with time, in practice. The short term game didn't live up to either my personal expectations or the expectations created from the opening speech, that's for sure, and the structure and mechanics just felt off. But, Jane did say that we wouldn't play the whole game that night. What she meant in context was that we'd have to come back to find all of the artifacts on our own and write all of our own stories, but my glimmer of hope is that the game’s not done in a different way. The game might, in the long term, ultimately be a success in the change-the-world kind of way because of this: I (and, I think, everyone else there) met some pretty neat people and interacted with even more. I’m now buddies with them on Twitter and Facebook. As a result, they have and continue to in many ways influence my thinking, and my future opportunities, and my approach to group interactions. So, while this doesn’t help me win the Find The Future game anymore, I think there’s potential for the overall experience to feel like a win over time.
So, am I psyched about the published author thing? Meh. But maybe when I go see what promises to be a gorgeous book with some stuff I’ve never read in it, it’ll hit me how cool this is and how we won together.
“The Dominican passion for sharing food extends to more than just hospitality; even the poorest Dominicans are able to sacrifice what little they have in order to feed a stranger. One family with whom I have grown close lives in a small tin hut in a crowded community. When I asked the mother if I could buy some of the peanuts she sells, she immediately stated rummaging around her large basket to find the perfect ones for me. She handed me two bags of peanuts, two pieces of peanut brittle, and one coconut treat I have decided to name “I died and went to coconut heaven” (I didn’t tell her that; my attempts to make jokes in Spanish have been largely unsuccessful). When I tried to pay her, I was met by a stern look and a shaking head. I persisted but in the end she would not allow me to pay. She might be 80 pounds and 4’8’’, but that woman was strong. In hopes I too would gain superhuman strength, I devoured her gifts. The tastes of roasted peanuts, caramelized coconut, and pure sugar, as well as the taste of the pure desire to do something sweet for a fellow human, still linger on my tongue and in my heart.”—Sarah, via her blog post about her experience doing hypertension research in the Dominican Republic this summer through Health Horizons International.