5 Cool Things 5 May, 2013

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I flew to London and bussed up to Oxford to hang out and work with a lovely bunch of writers. I stayed at Merton College. Visited in London with two lovely people. Saw an English football match. (“Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal!”) Had a nice visit with these lovely folks. Then to 26 Rue de la Reynie, Paris. (1st Arrondissement.) Great big heartfelt thanks go to John and Linda Simmons, Jamie Jauncey, Stuart Delves, Philip Pullman, Jeff and Jeannie Schraeder, Meg Bortin and the Dark Angels of Oxford 2013. Paris is so relentlessly beautiful it takes your breath away..

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5 Cool Things 2.10.13

Sending all good thoughts to everyone in the Northeast, many of whom are in shelters this morning. Geolocation technology makes for some interesting picture making. Pecha what? Pechakucha. Yep, there’s another cloud based music platform and 5CT has it for you. Wanna self help book that charts a whole new course? Of course you do. Also, a very cool restaurant / lounge reaches back to its great stories. Love this by the great Anne Lamott, “Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.” Onward we go, pals. Thanks for being here.

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1. Picture the Tweeting Places | Nate Larson & Marni Shindelman 

Well now, this is a clever and creative meld of some fairly new technologies. Imagine “A” sends out a tweet from a rural town in Georgia.

why dont people try making bracelets or necklaces with chips in them so kids can avoid being kidnapped and lost forever?

Person “A”, our tweeter, has her geolocation thingy turned on in her twitter settings. Which means you or me or Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman can figure out exactly where “A” was when she tweeted. So the tweet is bound to the land. All of which is to say that Nate and Marni gathered a whole slew of publicly available tweets, along with all the geolocation info for those tweets. Went to the very spot from whence those tweets came. Then made some lovely pictures and then paired their imagery to said tweet. Got it?

why dont people try making bracelets or necklaces with chips in them so kids can avoid being kidnapped and lost forever?

About 50 people waiting to get healed. @RockChurch

Will try my best to live life the right way, morally and ethically. I can’t keep living the way I am now.

From all this lovely work, Nate and Marni have made a fine looking Blurb book which you can look at right here >>

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2. 20 x 20 | The Art of the Presentation — Pechakucha

Hitchhiking for Sanity by Myles Dickason

Click the photo to watch the presentation.

Very cool development in the world of public presentations. Useful for educators, architects — anyone who makes presentations. Pechakucha is the creation of Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture. The first one was held in Tokyo. The idea is that you can gather a group of professionals, or artists, or anyone really, and in a spirit of shared intelligence and community and ideas, put on a bunch of cool, fairly quick presentations. The kicker? Only 20 slides allowed. And each slide is up for only 20 seconds. Hence, the 20 x 20 thing.

The photograph you see above is from a pechakucha on hitchhiking. By Myles Dickason. Charming tour into one man’s life on the road.

Visit pechakucha here >>

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3. More Music | SoundCloud 

From the very cool and very social SoundCloud website:

SoundCloud is a social sound platform that gives users unprecedented access to the world’s largest community of music and audio creators. SoundCloud allows everyone to discover original music and audio, connect with each other and share their sounds with the world. In addition, sound creators can use the platform to instantly record, upload and share sounds across the internet, as well as receive detailed stats and feedback from the SoundCloud community.

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METIER

Anne Lamott, photo by Sam Lamott

“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve thought there was something noble and mysterious about writing, about the people who could do it well, who could create a world as if they were little gods or sorcerers. All my life I thought there was something magical about people who could get into other people’s mind and skin, who could take people like me out of ourselves and then take us back to ourselves. And you know what? I still do.”

That beautiful place where she says, ‘take us back to ourselves.’ One of the more perfect descriptions of what great writing does. The writing that makes you want to stop strangers on the street — that’s writing that takes you back to yourself. The writing that makes you read out loud to your lover, that’s writing that takes you back to yourself. The writing that makes you buy a certain book for your favorite clients, that’s writing that takes you back to yourself. We love Anne. Wanna longer visit?

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4. Swimming Upstream | The Antidote, Oliver Burkeman

Oliver Burkeman and The Antidote (photo Jeff Mikkelson)

After a few pleasant exchanges via Twitter, I popped on over to my favorite Seattle haunt to hear Oliver Burkeman read and talk about his new book, The Antidote. So fascinating, such a cool, refreshing, intellectually rigorous plunk down of the positive thinking that infects much of the self-help canon. Fun and serious. Here’s an excerpt:

Yet it is a curious truth that the Stoics’ approach to happiness through negativity begins with exactly the kind of insight that Norman Vincent Peale might endorse: that when it comes to feeling upbeat or despondent, it’s our beliefs that really matter. Most of us, the Stoics point out, go through life under the delusion that it is certain people, situations, or events that make us sad, anxious, or angry. When you’re irritated by a colleague at the next desk who won’t stop talking, you naturally assume that the colleague is the source of the irritation; when you hear that a beloved relative is ill and feel pained for them, it makes sense to think of the illness as the source of the pain. Look closely at your experience, though, say the Stoics, and you will eventially  be forced to conclude that neither of these external events is ‘negative’ in itself. Indeed, nothing outside your own mind can properly be described as negative or positive at all. What actually causes suffering are the beliefs you hold about those things. (Italics mine.) The colleague is not irritating per se, but because of your belief that getting your work done without interruption is an important goal. Even a relative’s illness is bad only in view of your belief that it’s a good thing for your relatives not to be ill. “Things do not touch the soul,’ is how Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic philosopher-emperor, expresses the notion, adding: ‘Our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within.’ And, ‘There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so,’ Shakespeare has Hamlet say.

Fascinating book. Click the photo above, or click here, to head over to Amazon.

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5. Storytelling and Urban Cool | Vito’s Restaurant and Lounge on First Hill, Seattle

Vito’s – Back in the day.

Is this a great country or what? This place might even be too cool for Seattle. As I write this at 11:03 pm on Saturday night, I just left Vito’s Restaurant and Lounge (two Council of Ten’s) where I heard The Fig Trio do their wonderful supper club, cool Mose Allison jazz/blues thing. So fantastic. The lights were low, the horseshoe shaped bar was busy, the red naugahyde booths were tiny cocktail heavens. The drinks are fair and the food is quite good. Vito’s has been on this spot at the corner of Madison and Ninth for ages and ages, since 1953 actually. Note how Vito’s decided to make use of story (married to a great photo) to create a vibe and a sense of time and place. Wonderful.

Air on a G String

 

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5 Cool Things for 10.28.2012

Timothy Egan’s newest book

The last Indian of Seattle lived in a shack down among the greased piers and coal bunkers of the new city, on what was then called West Street, her hovel in the grip of Puget Sound, off plumb in a rise above the tidal flats.” So begins Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, the latest book by the great (Seattleite) Timothy Egan. Short Nights explores the amazing story of Edward Curtis, self-made swashbuckling photographer, ethnographer, writer, adventurer, lecturer and, passionate lover of native tribes. He dedicated 30 years of his life to The North American Indian – documenting a vanishing (or so he believed) indigenous culture, a mind-bending effort that cost him nearly everything. Utterly fascinating tale of luck and perseverance that ricochets from town to tipi, from poverty to plutocracy and back again. “This we know. All things are connected,” said Chief Seattle, and who are we to disagree?

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1. Edward Curtis | A Bit of Personal History

In my (not so very) halcyon days, I worked in Special Collections (the rare book room) at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Among its many treasures, was a wondrous collection of Edward Curtis folios from his mammoth project, The North American Indian. With hushed reverence, I flipped through one stunning photogravure after another — a white-gloves-only undertaking. As a photography major, this was a heart stopping thrill, almost like I’d discovered the work myself. A bit later, two of us — myself and this beautiful woman — made a small exhibition, The Photographer as Mythmaker.

A complete set of The North American Indian

We entertained ourselves silly over the tribal name Kwakiutl (based in the Queen Charlotte Islands), and marveled at their incredible totems and architecture. And, we explored Curtis’ work and some of the challenges it posed. Curtis, some argued, had delivered a beautiful, but romanticized view of native culture — the noble savage idea. Curtis held complex views. He was in awe at the same time that he saw his subjects as a source of income and, as fading-from-view historical artifacts, in urgent need of documentation. This was my first encounter with Edward Curtis and he made a powerful, lasting impression on me — such passionate dedication wedded to sheer creative brilliance. But his art, intended to be an objective record, was as much a product of his own imagination and cultural beliefs — as it was a clear-eyed record of what was in front of him. Once upon a time, in the Washington town of Suquamish, I lived on Angeline Street, named for Chief Seattle’s daughter. This is Princess Angeline, below.

Princess Angeline – Curtis’ first native portrait. He paid her $1.00 for the sitting.

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2. Edward Curtis | J.P. Morgan, Victim Philanthropist

Curtis, via his connection to Teddy Roosevelt, finagled an audience with J.P. Morgan to seek financial assistance for his project. Fearing that he was not closing the deal — “I will be unable to help you,” Morgan told him — Curtis appealed to Morgan’s sense of victimhood. From Egan’s book —

“….more cynically, benevolence could do wonders for Morgan’s image. Roosevelt had made the wealthy out to be heartless bastards, the lot of them, and the progressive mob wanted them taxed at an annual rate of 50% or more. These people, many of them Republicans with personal fortunes of their own, were calling for the creation of an income tax, of all things — the audacity. If Morgan agreed to sponsor something historic on behalf of a downtrodden class, it would do quite a bit for his reputation.” The pitch, along with a photograph of a young Indian girl, worked.

– from Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher

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 3. Edward Curtis, Writer | Singing Songs of Love and Life

Curtis was clearly more than a photographer. The North American Indian is not just a photographic project. It’s 20 volumes of ethnographically based observations on various tribes, native social structures, clothing, languages, customs, songs, rituals and so forth. Judge for yourself  Curtis’ ability to set his thoughts and observations down on paper.

The task has not been an easy one, for although lightened at time by the readiness of the Indians to impart their knowledge, it more often required days and weeks of patient endeavor before my assistants and I succeeded in overcoming the deep-rooted superstition, conservatism, and secretiveness so characteristic of primitive people, who are ever loathe to afford a glimpse of their inner life to those who are not of their own. Once the confidence of the Indians gained, the way led gradually through the difficulties, but long and serious study was necessary before knowledge of the esoteric rites and ceremonies could be gleaned.

The word-story of this primitive life, like the pictures, must be drawn direct from Nature. Nature tells the story, and in Nature’s simple words I can but place it before the reader. In great measure it must be written as these lines are — while I am in close touch with the Indian life.

At the moment I am seated by a beautiful brook that bounds through the forests of Apacheland. Numberless birds are singing their songs of love and life. Within my reach lies a tree, felled only last night by a beaver, which even now darts out into the light, scans his surroundings, and scampers back. A covey of mourning doves fly to the water’s edge, slake their thirst in their dainty way, and flutter off. A youth and a maiden hand in hand wend their way along the cool stream’s brink. The words of the children and lovers are unknown to me, but the story of childhood and love needs no interpreter.

Ed. note: Finely observed but notice the use of the word “primitive” and the gauzy, nostalgic perspective on things.

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4. Edward Curtis | The Photographs

Hopi Maiden

Walpi

On the housetop (Hopi)

Nimkish Village at Alert Bay (Kwakiutl)

The Vanishing Race

Incredible Curtis resource at Northwestern University >>

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5. Edward Curtis | Selling The North American Indian 
 

What’s so interesting here is that you can get a ten minute sweep of the epic quality of the Curtis project, but even more telling, is the view into how an auction house lays the groundwork for selling such high-priced work. The North American Indian — just this one set, No. 113, seen in this video — sold just recently for $1.44 million. Watch how carefully the video is made, listen to the language used. Such a smooth sell. Too bad Curtis isn’t around to see that his once $5,000.00 sets now go for a cool million plus.

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6. Bonus Photo | Monument Valley Girl

Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #43 | From the MOMA show: Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West.

How brilliant is this?

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5 Cool Things for 9.30.2012

Place — emotional, spiritual, physical, creative — such a rich vein, no? In the arts and especially literature, place has given us so much pulpy goodness. Updike, Roth and many others in the East, Wallace Stegner in the West, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty in the South. With place as a theme, we tour Paris via the work of Toulouse-Lautrec and Eugene Atget. Then a flyover to Detroit and South Africa with Sixto Rodriguez. Richard Ford talks writing in New Jersey, Vermont, Montana and Jamestown. We wrap with a killer list of place-based apps. “I know you can dream your way through an otherwise fine life, and never wake up, which is what I almost did,” said Frank Bascombe in Richard Ford’s, The Sportswriter. Me, I haven’t the foggiest idea what he’s on about. You?

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{All you new subscribers, welcome. And thank you.}
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1. Painter, Printmaker, Haymaker | H.T.L.

Paris was his place. A wicked alcoholic, there’s a cocktail to his name, the aptly titled Earthquake. (Three parts absinthe to three cognac.) He had a love/hate relationship with his mother and was an incorrigible womanizer. For these maladies and others, art was his salvation. He wooed the avant-garde and the masses, too. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born in 1864 and died in 1901 at only 36 years old. In that time period he stayed busy — 737 canvasses, 275 watercolors, 369 prints, 4784 drawings, 300 0f which are erotic / pornographic. Paris seems to have been good to him. Someone said that without Toulouse-Lautrec, no Warhol. Get the full story here >>

1893. Lithograph, composition: 31 15/16 x 23 3/4″ (81.2 x 60.3 cm); sheet: 31 15/16 x 24 1/2″ (81.2 x 62.2 cm). Publisher: Édouard Fournier, Paris. Printer: Edward Ancourt, Paris. Edition: Unknown. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund

1893. Lithograph, composition: 48 13/16 x 34 15/16″ (124 x 88.8 cm), sheet: 49 5/8 x 36 1/8″ (126 x 91.8 cm). Gift of A. Conger Goodyear

Aristide Bruant in his Cabaret (Aristide Bruant dans son cabaret)

Going to Paris?

A complete set of Toulouse-Lautrec prints and posters is in the Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

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 2. For the Love of Paris | The Photographs of Atget

Without the City of Light, there would be no Eugene Atget, one of the most beautiful photographers who ever ducked under a dark cloth. Gary Winogrand said of Atget, “He knew where to place the camera.” And he placed his camera tens of thousands of times in many of the loveliest, most architecturally significant corners of a beautiful city that was changing before his eyes. The expat Man Ray claimed to have discovered him for the Surrealists. But it was Berenice Abbott, Man Ray’s assistant, and Julien Levy, who rescued his work and brought it to us. One of the giants of photography and among the most modest of men. I love this man. The National Gallery of Art has a beautiful set of web pages on Atget. You should absolutely look at this >>

Eugene Atget

Eugène Atget, Interior of a Photographer, Atget’s Apartment, 17 bis rue Campagne-Première, 1910–1911, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris

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Song for Sunday :: La Vie En Rose :: Edith Piaf, Live

“La Vie en rose” was released on a 10″ single in 1947 by Columbia Records, a division of EMI, with “Un refrain courait dans la rue” making the B-side. It met with a warm reception and sold a million copies in the USA.[7] It was the biggest-selling single of 1948 in Italy, and the ninth biggest-selling single in Brazil in 1949.[8]Piaf performed the song in the 1948 French movie Neuf garçons, un coeur. The first of Piaf’s albums to include “La Vie en rose” was the 10″ Chansons parisiennes, released in 1950.

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3. Lost, Then Found | Searching for Sugar man

Rodriguez is Sugar Man

This documentary of fame, music, place, humility and greed begins in Detroit, but has its apogee in South Africa. The story of Sixto Rodriguez is one for the ages, but “story” doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s a fable, an American mythology. Riveting and amazing on every level. It’s hard to imagine you could see a better documentary this year or next. Do not miss. Catch a bit of Sixto Rodriguez here >>

Note: The less you know about this story, the better your movie experience will be.

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4. The Places of Fear and Creativity | Richard Ford

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Richard Ford

“I wrote The Sportswriter in a period of sustained panic in the middle 1980s—most of the novel written while I was living in New Jersey, Vermont, and Montana—and at a time when my writing vocation was threatening to dematerialize in front of me, literally frightening me into a bolder effort than I ever supposed myself capable. Independence Day—begun in 1992, in a rented, seaside house in Jamestown, Rhode Island—I first imagined as a novel with no relation to any other book I’d written. It was to be a story about a beleaguered, well-intentioned divorced father who takes his “difficult,” estranged teenage son on a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York—and in so doing draws himself and his son emotionally closer to each other. All seemed to go well through the planning stages (a year). But over that time I began to notice that all the father’s projected calculations about life and events seemed, in my notes, to “sound” like those of Frank Bascombe—the character who’d narrated The Sportswriter. I made dogged efforts to scuttle all thought of a “linked” book. I was fearful of helplessly writing that first novel over again; fearful of having more ambition than skill or sense; fearful of gloomy failure. And yet these fears finally succumbed to the recognition that to be given a “voice” and with it an already-plausible character who can transact the complex world in reasonably intelligent, truthful, even mirthful ways was just too much of a gift from the writing gods to decline. And so Independence Day, after some considerable prewriting adjustments to my original plan, came into existence.” Visit Richard Ford’s place on the web >>

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5. Where are You? | Mobile Device Apps 

Place has become big business. Location Based Services are mobile device apps that pinpoint your own location, or the location of nearby persons and/or the nearby BEST MOST AWESOME PHO in SEATTLE, (in the International District), or the super hip French Cafe up the hill, or the best walking route to Macrina. Here, courtesy of Glen Farrelly’s, Webslinger, is an astonishing list of geo based apps.  Behold the world we now live in. Thank you Glen!

Coordination, Communication, and Safety

  • Crowdmap – open-source hosted solution to present location-specific crowdsourced info whether for activism, crises, or community projects
  • Glympse – share your location with your contacts and specify the duration of visit
  • Groundcrew – “coordinates on-the-ground action with your people. Use location, availability, and skills to mobilize in realtime.”
  • Guardly – “When an emergency occurs, your personal safety network will always know where you’re located….we can pin-point your exact GPS location and provide you with valuable information about what’s located around you, and how it can aid your situation.”
  • Moby – family member tracking and coordination
  • Swim Guide – find nearby beaches, their safety status, and historical info
  • YWCA Safety Siren – sends geolocation to emergency contacts, maps and directions to women’s health clinics & resources, etc.

Commerce and Marketing

  • MapDing– hyperlocal classifieds
  • Placecast – service provider for brands to create geolocative mobile apps
  • Priority Moments – proximity-based promotions & deals (only in London, UK)
  • Realtor.ca – allows a user to
    search and receive info and pix on properties for sale in their vicinity
    or across Canada. Also offers proximity-based new listings and open
    houses (Rightmove has this for London, UK)
  • Shopkick – “gives you rewards and offers simply for walking into stores, for scanning products, and for signing up friends”
  • Shopcatch – location-based deals (Canadian company)
  • Sociallight – service provider of geolocative apps
  • Where – proximity-based promotions and deals
  • YellowPages – detects your location or enter one to retrieve nearby businesses or people

Geoannotation

  • Flickr – upload & search for georeferenced photos (also the ZoneTag tool from Yahoo appears to facilitate this)
  • Geoloqi – “securely shar[e] location data, with features such as Geonotes, proximal notification, and sharing real-time GPS maps with friends.”
  • Historypin – enables users to add old photographs and text narratives to locations
  • Instagram – popular photo-sharing app that allows georeferencing & sharing with foursquare
  • Murmur – recorded oral histories of place, uses old cellphone tech as users see plaque and call specific number to hear targetted message
  • Tagwhat – a “mobile encyclopedia of where you are… learn all about the world around you through interactive stories, videos, and photos”
  • urbantag – tag and share lists of places with friends

Geosocial Networking

  • Banjo – geosocial discovery – helps you find friends and people with similar interests near you
  • BuzzE – proxmity friend finding and networking
  • CheckIn+ – “all-in-one check-in app with augmented reality”
  • Citysense – “real-time nightlife discovery and social navigation”
  • Find My Friends – Apple-based friend finder
  • Glassmap – friend tracking
  • Google Latitude – “see where your friends are right now”
  • Grindr and Blendr gay and straight friend and dating finder
  • GyPsii – claims to be the world’s largest geosocial network
  • Highlight – “if your friends are nearby, it will notify you. If someone interesting crosses your path, it will tell you more about them”
  • Hurricane Party – “helps friends find, share, and create spontaneous parties”
  • Locle – geo-based friend finder
  • Plazes – proxmity friend finding
  • Skout -“find interesting singles close-by, strike up a conversation, maybe grab a drink or share a cup of coffee”

Local Discovery and Hyperlocal Information

  • Around Me – find business near your location by biz type (similar for gas is GasBuddy)
  • EveryTrail – “find and follow trips from other travelers”
  • Geopedia – geotargetted Wikipedia entries – as also offered by WikiMe
  • Google+ Local – combines Google’s old Places listings with Zagat content and their Google+ social network features
  • Junaio – AR-based vicinity info search, including business and attractions
  • Layar – augmented reality browser
  • Local Books by Library Thing “It shows you local bookstores, libraries and bookish events wherever you are or plan to be.”
  • Nearest Wiki – “AR view, with a synopsis against points of interest near you. Tapping on the place you wish to learn more about will give you more in-depth information on the location with images” content from Wikipedia
  • Poynt – local search with proximity based reviews and mapping
  • Star Chart– not exactly local, but uses your position and AR view to offer info on the heavens (Google offers similar functionality with their Google Sky Map service)
  • Trover – “log remarkable places and things by snapping a photo and adding a quick note. When your friends and others pass by in the future they, too, can experience your discovery. Track the paths of friends and other interesting folks using our “follow” mode”
  • Twitter Places – search for tweets within a specified area or tag places in your tweets
  • Zeitag – historical photographs

Location-based Games

  • Booyah – variety of games, including MyTown and Nightclub City
  • My Town – “built around your local shops, restaurants, and hangouts. Level-up, unlock items, and earn cash to buy your favorite real-life locations.”
  • SCVNGR – “share where you are & what you’re up to with your friends. Do challenges to earn points and unlock badges & real-world rewards.”
  • TapCity – “play with friends as you build and defend your very own city made up of your favorite places in the real world.”

Navigation and Transportation

  • BlackBerry Traffic by RIM uses GPS and customized maps to “establish your estimated time of arrival, find out if a road is closed, or decide to take a faster, alternate route”
  • MyCar Park – “capture your parking location on a map, add a photo, and comments… Then built in maps direct you to your car from your current location.”
  • Nearest Subway – locates nearest subway station for New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Paris, Madrid, etc.
  • Red Rocket – Toronto transit maps, routes, schedules, and nearest stop
  • SitOrSquat – find nearby bathrooms with user reviews of their cleanliness by Charmin (genius marketing effort and I must say the most useful LBS to come along in ages!)
  • Waze – “free, community-based traffic & navigation app”

Personal Efficiency and Organization

    • Siri‘s Location Services – directions, recommendations, and personal efficiency services based on your location
    • Task Ave – “location-aware reminders. Magically get alerts when you’re nearby a task.”
    • Voxora – “voicemail for places”, integrates with foursquare

Social Recommendation and Navigation

  • DeHood – tap into neighbourhood buzz to find local businesses
  • DontEat.at – foursquare-based and
    only in NYC it sends “a text message when you check into a NYC
    restaurant that is at risk of being closed for health code violations”
  • Goby – suggests “fun things to do” based on your location or category (US only)
  • Localmind – get answers about a specific place & real-time events by people who are there
  • Urbanspoon – location and shaking based restaurant recommendations
  • Urbantag – customize a list of favourite places and share with friends
  • Wikitude – offers A.R., map, or list view of various types of proximal content (reviews, deals, and Wikipedia entries)
  • Yelp and Citysearch – user-generated local reviews combined with local search engine

Travel and Place Guides

  • Ask a Nomad – answered on your travel questions from fellow travellers
  • Compass by Lonely Planet – “plot itineraries on dynamic, GPS-enabled map. Grab practical information and useful tips using our augmented reality camera view”
  • Gogobot – travel tips from friends & other users
  • MobilyTrip – social networking travel diary app
  • mTrip – “automatically customizes your trip itinerary…guides you to each tourist attraction with directions, uses augmented reality to display tourist attractions in your area, and allows you to share your trip with personalized e-postcards”
  • Ski & Snow Report – detailed ski info snow amounts, traffic volume, weather, lift times, etc)
  • Ski Tracks – a GPS-enabled ski log of your routes, velocity, etc. with ability to geotag your pix
  • TimeOut – travel guide apps for various tourist hot-spots
  • TripAdvisor – get TripAdvisor’s content on your mobile with proximity search option
  • Tripbirds – travel tips from friends
  • Trippy – get trip advice from your social network

 

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Thank You.

5 Cool Things :: Sept. 2, 2012

Life, a wise person told me, is yes and no. Fate hangs in the balance — one or zero, on or off, in or out. Live or die, eat or go hungry. No, instead of yes. Yes, instead of no. Here to weigh in are Yoko, 37 Signals, Charles Bukowski, Georg Duckwitz and Tobias Wolff. “The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all,” said Ted Hughes. Agreed. Yes. Onward then. (Thanks to JP)

 1. Yes, Painting | Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono | Yes Painting

Where were you in November of 1966? (Boarding school.) Do you recall? Yoko Ono was exhibiting her Yes, Painting at the Indica Gallery of London. (To my London pals — were any of you there?) As you might be able to tell, you’d climb the ladder, use the glass, look up at a piece of paper affixed to the ceiling and you would find there, written in tiny letters, Yes.

From Yoko-

“‘YES’ was my work and John encountered it and he went up the stairs and he looked at this word that said ‘Yes.’ At the time I didn’t really think it would be taken so personally. But I don’t really connect it with John as much as I connect it with my view of life. My view of life is the fact that there were many incredible negative elements in my life, and in the world, and because of that I had to conjure up a positive attitude within me in balance to the most chaotic … and I had to balance that by activating the ‘Yes’ element. ‘Yes’ is an expression that I always carried and that I’m carrying.”

More about Yoko’s art >>

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2. The Power of No at Work | 37 Signals

“It’s so easy to say yes. Yes to yet another feature, yes to an overly optimistic deadline, yes a mediocre design, yes, yes, yes. We all want to be loved.

But the love won’t keep you warm for long when you’ve taken on yet another obligation that you don’t whole-heartedly believe in. You very quickly become trapped in a pit of guilt when the stack of things you’ve said yes to loom so high that you can’t even see the things you really should be doing.

That’s not a good way to live or work. Which is why you have to start getting into the habit of saying no. No to things that just don’t fit, no to things that just aren’t the most important right now, and no to many things that simply don’t cut it.

It’s incredibly rare that I’ve actually regretted saying no, but I dread my yes’s all the time.

Use the power of no to get your priorities straight. Take the brief discomfort of confrontation up front and avoid the long regret down the line.”

Who is 37 Signals? They’re the folks who make BaseCamp and numerous other web-based collaboration tools. Started out as web designers, morphed into a smart, savvy, edgy software company. Chicago based. Visit the Signal vs. Noise blog. Read a brief, thoughtful interview with 37 Signals’ CEO, Jason Fried.

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A Song for Sunday :: Wynton Kelly :: Softly As In a Morning Sunrise 

Wikipedia: Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise is a song with music by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II from the 1928 operetta The New Moon. Covered here by: Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers.

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3. Oh, Yes | Charles Bukowski

there are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it’s too late
and there’s nothing worse
than
too late.

– Oh, Yes, Charles Bukowski

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4. No | Georg Duckwitz and Denmark Say No

Denmark, 1943: A nation conspires to save the lives of 7,000 Jews.

Museet for Danmarks Frihedskamp

On September 28, 1943 one man said no. “In September 1943, the Nazis prepared for the deportation of all Danish Jews to concentration camps and death. But Georg Duckwitz, a German diplomat with a conscience, deliberately leaked the plans for the roundup, which was due to begin on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Armed with the information from Duckwitz, Danes swung into action. This is a very great — and under reported — story. You should read it >>

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5. Say Yes | Tobias Wolff

Tobias Wolff is such a beautiful short story writer. I remember being transfixed by a collection I read long ago — In the Garden of the North American Martyrs. Gorgeous stories. As luck would have it, Wolff wrote a terrific story, Say Yes, that takes yes and no into the thicket of love and marriage in a surprising way. Worth reading and perfect for today.

Say Yes

by Tobias Wolff

{Our Story Begins | Vintage Contemporaries}

They were doing the dishes, his wife washing while he dried. He’d washed the night before. Unlike most men he knew, he really pitched in on the housework. A few months earlier he’d overheard a friend of his wife’s congratulate her on having such a considerate husband, and he thought, I try. Helping out with the dishes was a way he had of showing how considerate he was.
They talked about different things and somehow got on the subject of whether white people should marry black people. He said that all things considered, he thought it was a bad idea.
“Why?” she asked.
Sometimes his wife got this look where she pinched her brows together and bit her lower lip and stared down at something. When he saw her like this he knew he should keep his mouth shut, but he never did. Actually it made him talk more. She had that look now.
“Why?” she asked again, and stood there with her hand inside a bowl, not washing it but just holding it above the water.
“Listen,” he said, “I went to school with blacks, I’ve worked with blacks, and we’ve always gotten along just fine. I don’t need you coming along now and implying that I’m a racist.”
“I didn’t imply anything,” she said, and began washing the bowl again, turning it around in her hand as though she were shaping it. “I just don’t see what’s wrong with a white person marrying a black person, that’s all.”
“They don’t come from the same culture as we do. Listen to them sometime – they even have their own language. That’s okay with me, I like hearing them talk” – he did; for some reason it always lifted his mood – “but it’s different. A person from their culture and a person from our culture could never really know each other.”
“Like you know me?” his wife asked.
“Yes. Like I know you.”
“But if they love each other,” she said. She was washing faster now, not looking at him.
Oh boy, he thought. He said, “Don’t take my word for it. Look at the statistics. Most of those marriages break up.”
“Statistics.” She was piling dishes on the drainboard at a terrific rate, just swiping at them with the cloth. Many of them were greasy, and there were flecks of food between the tines of the forks.
“All right,” she said, “what about foreigners? I suppose you think the same thing about two foreigners getting married.”
“Yes,” he said, “as a matter of fact I do. How can you understand someone who comes from a completely different background?”
“Different,” said his wife. “Not the same, like us.”
“Yes, different,” he snapped, angry with her for resorting to this trick of repeating his words so that they sounded crass, or hypocritical. “These are dirty,” he said, and dumped all the silverware back into the sink.
The water had gone flat and gray. She stared down at it, her lips pressed tight together, then plunged her hands under the surface. “Oh!” she cried, and jumped back. She took her right hand by the wrist and held it up. Her thumb was bleeding.
“Ann, don’t move,” he said. “Stay right there.” He ran upstairs to the bathroom and rummaged in the medicine chest for alcohol, cotton, and a Band-Aid. When he came back down she was leaning against the refrigerator with her eyes closed, still holding her hand. He took the hand and dabbed at her thumb with the cotton. The bleeding had stopped. He squeezed it to see how deep the wound was and a single drop of blood welled up, trembling and bright, and fell to the floor. Over the thumb she stared at him accusingly. “It’s shallow,” he said. “Tomorrow you won’t even know it’s there.” He hoped that she appreciated how quickly he had come to her aid. He’d acted out of concern for her, with no thought of getting anything in return, but now the thought occurred to him that it would be a nice gesture on her part not to start up that conversation again, as he was tired of it. “I’ll finish up here,” he said. “You go and relax.”
“That’s okay,” she said. “I’ll dry.”
He began to wash the silverware again, giving a lot of attention to the forks.
“So,” she said, “you wouldn’t have married me if I’d been black.”
“For Christ’s sake, Ann!”
“Well, that’s what you said, didn’t you?”
“No, I did not. The whole question is ridiculous. If you had been black we probably wouldn’t even have met. You would have had your friends and I would have had mine. The only black girl I ever really knew was my partner in the debating club, and I was already going out with you by then.”
“But if we had met, and I’d been black?”
“Then you probably would have been going out with a black guy.” He picked up the rinsing nozzle and sprayed the silverware. The water was so hot that the metal darkened to pale blue, then turned silver again.
“Let’s say I wasn’t,” she said. “Let’s say I am black and unattached and we meet and fall in love.”
He glanced over at her. She was watching him and her eyes were bright. “Look,” he said, taking a reasonable tone, “this is stupid. If you were black you wouldn’t be you.” As he said this he realized it was absolutely true. There was no possible way of arguing with the fact that she would not be herself if she were black. So he said it again: “If you were black you wouldn’t be you.”
“I know,” she said, “but let’s just say.”
He took a deep breath. He had won the argument but he still felt cornered. “Say what?” he asked.
“That I’m black, but still me, and we fall in love. Will you marry me?”
He thought about it.
“Well?” she said, and stepped close to him. Her eyes were even brighter. “Will you marry me?”
“I’m thinking,” he said.
“You won’t, I can tell. You’re going to say no.”
“Since you put it that way—”
“No more considering, Yes or no.”
“Jesus, Ann. All right. No.”
She said “Thank you,” and walked from the kitchen into the living room. A moment later he heard her turning the pages of a magazine. He knew that she was too angry to be actually reading it, but she didn’t snap through the pages the way he would have done. She turned them slowly, as if she were studying every word. She was demonstrating her indifference to him, and it had the effect he knew she wanted it to have. It hurt him.
He had no choice but to demonstrate his indifference to her. Quietly, thoroughly, he washed the rest of the dishes. Then he dried them and put them away. He wiped the counters and the stove and scoured the linoleum where the drop of blood had fallen. While he was at it, he decided, he might as well mop the whole floor. When he was done the kitchen looked new, the way it looked when they were first shown the house, before they had ever lived here.
He picked up the garbage pail and went outside. The night was clear and he could see a few stars to the west, where the lights of the town didn’t blur them out. On El Camino the traffic was steady and light, peaceful as a river. He felt ashamed that he had let his wife get him into a fight. In another thirty years or so they would both be dead. What would all that stuff matter then? He thought of the years they had spent together, and how close they were, and how well they knew each other, and his throat tightened so that he could hardly breathe. His face and neck began to tingle. Warmth flooded his chest. He stood there for a while, enjoying these sensations, then picked up the pail and went out the back gate.
The two mutts from down the street had pulled over the garbage can again. One of them was rolling around on his back and the other had something in her mouth. Growling, she tossed it into the air, leaped up and caught it, growled again and whipped her head from side to side. When they saw him coming they trotted away with short, mincing steps. Normally he would heave rocks at them, but this time he let them go.
The house was dark when he came back inside. She was in the bathroom. He stood outside the door and called her name. He heard bottles clinking, but she didn’t answer him. “Ann, I’m really sorry,” he said. “I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”
“How?” she asked.
He wasn’t expecting this. But from a sound in her voice, a level and definite note that was strange to him, he knew that he had to come up with the right answer. He leaned against the door. “I’ll marry you,” he whispered.
“We’ll see,” she said. “Go on to bed. I’ll be out in a minute.”
He undressed and got under the covers. Finally he heard the bathroom door open and close.
“Turn off the light,” she said from the hallway.
“What?”
“Turn off the light.”
He reached over and pulled the chain on the bedside lamp. The room went dark. “All right,” he said. He lay there, but nothing happened. “All right,” he said again. Then he heard a movement across the room. He sat up, but he couldn’t see a thing. The room was silent. His heart pounded the way it had on their first night together, the way it still did when he woke at a noise in the darkness and waited to hear it again – the sound of someone moving through the house, a stranger.

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