King of Pops and the Yumbii food truck

25 09 2010


King of Pops, Yumbii food truck

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

The King of Pops couldn’t be hotter with his iced creations in the steamy heat of a “Hotlanta” summer. So much so that there are two Kings of Pops out in force today at the Midtown Festival of the Arts, the first one that I think we’ve ever had. (I skipped the more exotic flavors like orange basil and pineapple habanero in favor of a raspberry lime.)

Anyway, the event may not be super-huge, but it’s still a big deal for my neighborhood and surroundings. Peachtree Street’s main drag is closed to art and food booths. While smaller than the other festivals out, this one is decent and manageable, and of course a big milestone for our area. There’s even a mile run-walk, which I did not partake in but could have.

Besides the aforementioned Popsicle royalty, lots of food stands and trucks from local restaurants and food providers. Food trucks are a thing right now, you know, a Thing, and I spotted a Yumbii-mobile out serving Korean/Mexican/Southern fare. Ultimately we decided to try the YEAH! Burger stand just to say that we did. I had the beef, turkey and veggie sliders. The turkey and veggie were far better than the beef, but it was a bit odd to think that (arguably) Atlanta’s best burger joint was just a few yards away. I’m talking about the Vortex, yo. You know it. Word.





Knowledge for knowledge’s sake

22 02 2010

I really want to get learning again. I felt a touch of yearning to start focusing back on educating myself over the past couple days, but I don’t want to go back to school because of the expense and career setback involved. This might sound a bit odd, but I got to thinking that an interesting compromise would be to put myself through a “school” of my own design. Devising some independent-study courses would be a creative project that I could test and evaluate and turn into a cool experiment, itself a form of study on our educational system.

If you know me, you know I go through phases where I seek to learn certain things for a short while. It’s sort of like a class, just done independently. Having this structured format, I think, would help me become more interested in things going on around me and would help me be more creative in my daily life, and have more things to talk about as an unplanned consequence. Here’s a few courses I’d like to take (some of which I never imagined I would want to take in my school days):

  • European historical geography
  • Language (Spanish, French)
  • Film/TV philosophy
  • Modern television series
  • U.S. travel and tourism
  • Independent music
  • Game theory and its applications to business
  • Social networks and game theory
  • Beginning computer programming principles
  • Geometry
  • U.S. history
  • Newspapers throughout the world
  • Science fiction in film
  • Reggae and society
  • Electronic musical instruments
  • Physical education
  • Origins of English
  • The Big Three Religions
  • Ancient History
  • Human Migration
  • Urban planning and city design
  • Cartography
  • Photography
  • Photojournalism
  • Video animation techniques
  • Video editing
  • Social media and journalism
  • Psychology

That should give you an idea. I think I might be serious about this, and I wonder if this will pan out. I was thinking of having a “course schedule” of sorts on a monthly basis with a topical course, a scientific or technological course and an “elective,” as well as some sort of “physical education” for my health’s sake. I dunno, maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. I thought I’d start out in March with my first set of courses. In the meantime, I may take a mini-course or devote some time to researching independent study and curriculum development.

The downsides to this approach are that I would not have the guidance and expertise of a teacher or the social interaction with classmates. There would be no formal evaluation process. I might lose interest or focus. The upside is I can just do it with minimal overhead and interruption of my current routines.

So stay tuned; I’ll be posting my conclusions here on my blog. The first step, as I mentioned, will be to study curriculum development and learning techniques. On March 1, we’ll get started with the official courses if my interest in this project persists. Check back in and let’s see how it goes.





Podcasting experiment

6 02 2010


The Big Chicken

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

This here is the Big Chicken in Marietta, Georgia. I’m doing a little podcasting experiment since I was in GarageBand messing around with the hats project. It’s called “14 Miles From the Big Chicken.” I’m totally stressing out about whether that’s “14 miles from” or “14 miles to.”

Anyways. Here is an experimental audio podcast that I did (and even a little tumblr I started for it so it would have an RSS feed associated with it).

Weird, huh? I don’t know if I’ll do another one, but I thought it’d be fun.





Merry Christmas and shiznatts

25 12 2009


Red palm

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

Merry Christmas from Arizona! It’s a little warmer and a little less snowy than in some places. And the traditions are a little different. For example, lights on palm trees at Glendale Glitters.

That night we had some nice German food and beverage from Haus Murphy and got so full that
we just had to walk around.





San Francisco, finally!

29 07 2009

I guess today was a blessing in disguise (a very convincing disguise) as I got to experience a great cross-section of the Bay Area region. My original intention was to get up early and get to San Francisco before noon so I could relax, take in the sights, get a feel for the lay of the land and such. But the city that I’ve wanted to visit for oh-so-long had other plans for me.

So I got up bright and early, packed up my stuff, nearly lost my hat in a rush and headed out into the mystic. I ended up at the airport, went through security in a chaotic rush and was told there were delays due to low clouds. Long wait. We finally got on the plane and waited some more. And then we took off!

Only we didn’t. The plane started to go up and the pilot pulled it DOWN. And then we waited for a while and then we got off. And then I waited in line for a long time. It was 6 hours after my first flight that I finally got through a line of people with a ticket for a new flight on a tiny commuter jet to San Jose, not SFO. I said OK, I’ll take it vs. waiting another three hours to catch a direct flight.

So I left the secured area, ran to a bus stop with all my stuff, hopped on a bus, went back through security and headed on over to the commuter area. The commuter jet was one of those tiny jobs, one seat on one side and two seats on the other. No propellers but still small. I even walked out on the tarmac to get to the plane. The ride itself was fine, smooth, about an hour long, complete with cranapple. I shudder to think that a ride on that little thing was deemed safer than on the big thing, but I guess a functioning plane is best.

I always seem to have these mechanical issues on Star Alliance flights in particular. Maybe I’m on crack, or maybe they all do it. Who knows? Anyway I have a $150 certificate now for a United flight.

So I got to San freaking Jose and it was all desert-y and hot and sunny. Weird. Almost like Palm Springs. I didn’t expect the Silly Valley to be like that. And then I got on a shuttle bus to Santa Clara, where I saw a model train museum that was pretty cool and then hopped on the double-decker CalTrain commuter rail. From there, I got on BART and then I wandered downtown to my hotel. After that I wandered to the Embarcadero, the SF Bay Bridge, Union Square and the general area around my hotel. All in all, I got a pretty good summary of the Bay Area given that today went so horribly wrong.

I’ll have more on impressions of the city later, but suffice to say it’s lovely. There is lots of music and activity and cable cars and pretty Gothamistic skyline-ness. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a moment so wonderful that you didn’t want to taint it, but at one point I was walking and there was saxophone music playing and a cable car passed by me (one of those retro buses, glowing in the night) and it would have made a postcard picture, but I didn’t reach for my camera. I just savored it. The sounds and smells of this town change and morph as you walk by. It’s a great place to walk around with a recorder, taking in the changing sounds of the traffic signals and the squealing whale calls of the BART trains.

One thing though: transit is way expensive and I’m scared of the Muni and all the different breeds of buses and cable cars. There’s always tomorrow, but I’ve got to figure out a way to get around.

I think this qualifies as an epic fail today, but it turned around to become an epic win. The blessing in disguise is I really got to see a cross-section of the city: from the sunny, desert surroundings of Silicon Valley to the foggy, touristy, romantic, romanticized, almost New York-like pulse in the urban heart of San Francisco.





Marching abominable

27 04 2009
 


Marching abominable

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

My birthday always coincides with the delightful Inman Park Festival, so there’s always lots of quirky goodness to go around without me even having to do anything. I got there just in the nick of time to watch this “marching abominable” give an impromptu concierto in the middle of the park and it was truly grand.

The rest of the day was spent having dinner at Agave in Cabbagetown and then catching a bizarre and almost intolerable performance by the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum at The Earl. Followed by drinks at Bazaar and then the newly opened “Firehouse” (formerly the Spotted Dog). Good times. Literally.





Crazy hat

6 04 2009
  


Crazy hat

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

Walking to the park on a weekend, you always see crazy things. But I wasn’t sure what to think when I saw this guy standing outside of OutWrite, the midtown gay bookstore. A crowd congregated around him and he explained that the hat was “for a contest next door.”

My neighborhood and its Piedmont Park surroundings are so fabulous and flamboyant… for people of all kinds. And that’s what I like about it. So unexpected in the South. Makes for comfortable living, although I usually head to other neighborhoods and places to socialize because the scene ain’t always my style.





The value of civility

4 04 2009

Honor and civility have their place in this dog-eat-dog world we live in. I firmly believe that you must keep your head high no matter what, and you can’t stoop to any level. Sometimes it’s hard to live up to this ideal, but you have to try. Conflict is a chance for communication and greater understanding.

People on the Internet, and in many facets of society, often fail to realize that others are just like them. Some are just trolls. But in many cases, a would-be enemy can be turned into a friend.

Case in point, a few days ago, I received a heated comment on one of my flickr images expressing offense and disappointment at the title. My first urge was to retaliate. How dare he? Upon closer examination, it seemed that the person was probably reaching out (in their own way). As much as I wanted to give this person a piece of my mind, I decided to change the title and then initiate a conversation with this fellow. I think now that I have made a new friend.

This was a strangely profound experience for me, however miniscule in the scheme of things.  I wish more people would just calm down and take a second to listen to each other, and that goes for myself too. Indeed, by being understanding and assertive, we can turn enemies into friends and the opposition into allies. This is not to paint a rosy view of the world (as I am extremely well aware of the many inequities this world brings), but only to emphasize that even when it is difficult, the only way we can move forward is together.





Waiting for the world to change

28 03 2009

I guess the frustrations that I’m feeling (and the world collectively is feeling) about the state of newspapers, journalism education, media literacy and academia have got to come to a head sometime. Maybe now. The tensions have always been there, and this bad economy is merely the tipping point that will catalyze further change.

It’s almost cliche now but Clay Shirky’s article about the uncertainty and possible troubles ahead (thinking the “unthinkable” so to speak) is a pretty sobering view of the challenges ahead. I’d like to think that things won’t be quite that bad, but we can definitely expect that things may never be the same. When I was studying journalism and walking the hallowed halls of academia, I always felt a little uneasy. Sort of like I was traveling back in time and not really in step with what was going on outside the newsroom and journalism classroom. (Granted, they were trying as hard as they could, and none of us really had the answer. We’re still learning.)

Especially in light of what you can see happening now, I can certainly relate to Shirky’s concept of being a “barking madman” about the future, although I can hardly blame my contemporaries for resisting in a time when finances weren’t so dire and there wasn’t such a stark division between success and failure. But going into college, I was terribly undecided and uninspired whenever I examined the reams and reams of schools and majors at my university. I simultaneously wanted to everything and nothing. So little information about what to do with information.

The job I do now didn’t exist then, and I couldn’t have conceived of it as I sat at desks listening to old war stories of reporting about criminals and city councils. Sure, we discussed the Web and experimented with it and did internships and made online magazines, but we viewed it with a certain distant reverence and simultaneous grateful pity toward the people making it happen. “Web producer” jobs at that time weren’t terribly exciting — little more than shuffling content from print to online. We knew that was the future, but we had horrific visions of being reduced to moles working odd hours to cut and paste someone else’s stories — nearly going blind from wading through a sea of poorly conceived HTML tags.

Overall, I am thrilled with the education I got. It steered me where I needed to go. But I got lucky, too, and I wonder if the time has come for everyone to think differently about things. (It’s not just me wondering.)

I remember how we used to think back then. Focus on the basics and then the technology will fall into place afterward. Turns out things are changing so fast that the basics themselves have changed.

What about the future? We all knew deep down the current newspaper model was unsustainable. I’m surprised it worked as long as it did. Are people really going to pay for what is essentially old and outdated news that wastes trees, when they can get the same thing for free? I love reading a newspaper and being able to hold it in my hand, but I don’t like dealing with the waste of paper or the mass of it, and I don’t want to pay for it every day. And this idea that newspapers should withhold news until the morning… that worked then, but what about now, when the rumor mill is so much more active? It will only be more so in the future. Sure, the “hold-for-release” concept has its appeal and its need, but for crucial information and breaking news, old news is no news.

Some folks from the now-beleaguered East Valley Tribune, once heralded as a great Phoenix-area paper, are trying to start online-only publications. Same with people who left the shuttered Rocky Mountain News. Lots of people are starting up as citizen journalists, and will be doing it. Heck, dealing with that stuff is my job now. Could we have imagined that someone like me would make a living like this just a few years ago? I never would have fathomed and yet here we are.

So… we’re certain now that the future is uncertain and people won’t have the big conglomerations that we once had. Things are going to be individually driven. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The question is, if it’s not your full-time job, will you have time to do the reporting? Will your employer allow you to be a reporter and can you maintain the distance required? Who’s going to keep an eye on City Hall?

From my limited experience doing traditional news reporting, I recall attempting to gain respect from sources and the community (and my editors) by building a sense of trust among people and having good relationships with area stakeholders. That’s not a whole lot different from what I’ve seen while experimenting with social media. You build a following on one of these sites by captivating interest, putting in work and reciprocating with other members. In other words, you “join the conversation,” one of the most overused phrases ever as of late. But that ain’t no bull.

Conversation and community give you something that content cannot. One important thing Shirky notes is that people on Usenet were making copies of Dave Barry’s work back when the Internet started, and publishers’ immediate guttural reaction was to attempt to stop the sharing and stifle human nature. It is human nature to want to share and even to take another’s idea and spread it around both because you like the idea and because you want a piece of that attention for yourself. In short, trying to fight this urge is counterproductive.

Content is reproducible in many cases, but you cannot take a human interaction or experience and replicate it.

At the same time, you well know that people tend to develop great interest in certain kinds of content and high levels of traffic can go to these places. Sites are very good at delivering this content. So this can be capitalized upon and even discussed. If you are the source of this discussion, all the better. But chances are you won’t be, given how information is shared at light speed. Take, for example the idea of people Twittering while in the middle of a plane crash. You can’t beat the speed of that.

What it comes down to is a complex dance not unlike to two awkward birds preparing to mate — not so much audience-performer but more like different voices talking to one another. At least, that’s what my college experiences eventually taught me.





25 (or more) things to do in PHX and ATL (done and not done)

4 01 2009

Here’s a rundown of 25 fun things I’ve done in Phoenix. I have started this way to get the creative juices flowing, outing-wise, and I’ll be throwing in Atlanta next and THEN will get into the things I’d like to do.

  • Stroll the Heard Museum or the art museum
  • Visit the Botanical Garden
  • Visit the zoo
  • Ride the light rail
  • Walk through Steele Park
  • Eat Mexican food
  • Go to Wildlife World Zoo
  • Take a historic house tour
  • Browse old-town Scottsdale
  • Grab a tea at Tempe Marketplace
  • See a ballet or performance at Symphony Hall
  • See a performance at ASU (or browse the art museum)
  • Have Japanese food fire-grilled in front of you at Ah-So
  • Stroll by the side of Tempe Town Lake (and catch a concert there or get a gelato)
  • Dance at one of the Mill or Scottsdale clubs
  • Grab a daiquiri at Fat Tuesday’s
  • Go to a ballgame at a field or arena
  • Hike at one of the mountain parks (North Mountain or Squaw Peak)
  • Visit Lake Pleasant or Woods Canyon Lake
  • Browse the Biltmore Fashion Park or Scottsdale Fashion Square
  • See a movie at the Cine Capri (in the BIG theater)
  • See a show at the Orpheum
  • Go to the Arizona Science Center or history museum; heritage square in general
  • Browse the Burton Barr library
  • Browse Encanto Park and kiddieland
  • Attend a marching band festival
  • Go to Organ Stop Pizza and eat, well, pizza
  • Gawk at the funky sculptures in downtown Mesa
  • Ride the roller coaster at Castles & Coasters
  • Hall of Flame
  • World’s tallest fountain (Fountain Hills)
  • Rawhide
  • Indian Casinos
  • See a show at the Valley Art Theater or the Camelview theater
  • And here is 25 things I’ve done in Atlanta:

  • Attend a show at the Shakespeare theater thingy
  • Wander the Atlanta Botanical Garden/Piedmont Park
  • Visit Zoo Atlanta and wave at the panda
  • Walk through Grant Park
  • Georgia Aquarium, Coke Museum
  • Ride MARTA around town
  • See an Improv show at Dad’s Garage
  • See a local play or production
  • Traverse the establishments on Crescent Street
  • Wander Little Five Points and Candler Park
  • Visit a bar in the Virginia Highlands
  • Drive along the edge of Lake Lanier
  • Stroll through Oakland Cemetery
  • Eat dinner at South City Kitchen
  • Grab a delicious hamburger at the Vortex or Five Guys
  • Stone Mountain
  • Six Flags
  • Visit Criminal Records and see a performance
  • Attend a sporting event
  • Wander around Emory University
  • Eat at Sundial
  • See the Big Chicken
  • Visit Discover Mills/Medieval Times
  • Luckie Lounge
  • CNN Center
  • The Varsity
  • See the breakdancers at MJQ
  • Grab a drink at the Trader Vic’s in the Hilton
  • Drink beer at the Brick Store pub
  • Whirlyball in Marietta
  • See a show at the Tabernacle
  • See a movie at the Plaza Theater
  • Go to the Atlanta Puppet Theater
  • Here are 25 things I’d LIKE TO DO in PHX

  • Taliesin West
  • Arcosanti
  • Modified Arts
  • Browse Stinkweeds
  • See a show at the Marquee
  • Visit the Roosevelt
  • First Fridays
  • Eat at Casey Moore’s
  • Visit the revived Gold Bar
  • Find some more awesome Mexican food
  • See a piano duel at the Big Bang
  • Visit the new Cafe Boa
  • Eat at Matt’s Big Breakfast
  • Chicken and waffles
  • See if Pizza Bianco lives up to the hype
  • Heart Attack Grill
  • Police Museum
  • Mystery Castle
  • Find the chopper crash memorial in Steele Park
  • See the “Mofles Museum”
  • Visit the rock & mineral museum
  • Melted Weapons sculpture
  • Hunt’s Tomb
  • Louis Lee’s Rock Garden
  • Metal Corral in Anthem
  • And here are 25 things I’d LIKE TO DO in ATL

  • Check out Loca Luna and the Tongue & Groove
  • Get into Opera for once
  • Do the art walk
  • See a show at the EARL
  • Eat at Parish
  • Go to the DeKalb Farmers Market
  • Take a dance class at the studio in Decatur
  • Take a historic homes tour
  • Eat a Ghetto Burger
  • Visit the Clermont Lounge (heh heh)
  • Trivia Night at Manuel’s
  • Yellow River Game Ranch (near Stone Mountain) or the Kangaroo Conservation Center (Dawsonville)
  • Go to the Atlanta History Center
  • Go to the Natural History museum… the one on Clifton…
  • Walk through East Atlanta in general
  • Taqueria del Sol
  • Spend some time at Lake Lanier
  • Visit the Hooch somewhere
  • Chastain Park amphitheater
  • See a show at the Fox Theater
  • Go to the Fish Market and see the giant fish
  • Go to that Blue Line cafe or whatever it’s called where they cook your food on rocks
  • Dante’s Down the Hatch
  • Track down Lord Dooley at Emory
  • See the White House replica
  • Waffle House museum
  • Kennesaw State University and the Spaceship Earth sculpture
  • Segway tours
  • Gingerbread Party (it’s a holiday thing, can do in 2009)
  • Kraftwork craft session
  • Eat at Papi’s
  • Margaret Mitchell House
  • Dialog in the Dark
  • Museum of Contemporary Art GA
  • Mall of Georgia
  • Buford restaurants
  • Korean karaoke
  • Karaoke in general (well I’ve done a little)
  • Hang out in Marietta Square
  • See a show at the Variety Playhouse and Seven Stage