The feed and the live chat

Purple Platybus at Wal-Mart

Purple Platybus at Wal-Mart

I need to remember to make the decision — the next one, the fateful one, the one that means retaining control of myself when it is the right thing to do or relinquishing control when it is the right thing to do or both.

After yesterday, I had two reminders of that need. I was heading east on Highway 24, uphill toward the Caldecott Tunnel, when I saw this big purple schoolbus with a platypus painted on the back. Its school-bus door on the passenger side was flapping open. In the backup before the tunnel, I managed to pull up to it in slow traffic, roll down my window and holler “Can I ride?”

The driver double-took at me. Then his friend leaned out the door and hollered if I knew where a Walmart was. I said “Follow me.”

I led the bus through the tunnel, then east along 24, north onto 680 and west along Highway 4 to Martinez, off at Muir and then along a frontage road to Arnold Road where it was. The bus followed me into the lot and the two men aboard bounded out of the bus and over to my car to give me bear hugs. They had Australian accents. They had driven overnight up from Los Angeles, and they said that their GPS system had started acting up when they left I-5 and headed over along I-580 and into Oakland and onto 24 where I saw them.

Steve Jobs resignation on Twitter

Steve Jobs resignation on Twitter

Then I go to the office and, later on, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announces his resignation. We set up a live chat using the tool we’ve used so often, Cover It Live. But then I did something I shouldn’t have done. I added Twitter hashtags #SteveJobs and #Apple to the feed so they would automatically show up. Naturally, the screen is just spewing a firehose of tweets and retweets and lame jokes and scammers posting links hoping for random clicks.

Then a would-be commenter said:

Comment From Guest

this “live chat” is simply spam from twitter. there is no interaction or conversations. boo times. is this what is to come of the consolidation?

I took the hashtags out of the chat setup. Then I started trying to talk to the dozen or so viewers who remained. They were staring at the screen, I guess, just waiting for someone to say something. For the firehose to stop spewing. For anything real to happen. So I started throwing out a few links and asking a few questions, and eventually one person asked a question and another one joined in, and something like a dialogue, something better than a feed came into view.

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Killer quake

Killer quake

I walked out the door of the Oakland Tribune office on Oakport Street earlier today after looking at this front page. Without a doubt, it stands as a Bay Area newspaper’s finest hour — so says the Pulitzer Prize committee.

I know I should be saying something practical and serious, something in keeping with the very real bloodshed on the way, the undesired separation many talented reporters and editors and photographers and online folks face from their livelihoods and community standings.

But I left to go over to the Contra Costa Times building in Walnut Creek and attend the all-hands meeting explaining what management could explain, and as I went, all I could think about was the ground trembling underneath my feet and the ceaselessly blue Tuesday sky overhead.

What I’ve been eating and why

Spaghetti and sauce

Any Sunday night, you can salt and bring water to boil, break strands of spaghetti into halves and toss them under the surface of a now-roiling pot.

Swiss chard Ankita chopped up for spaghetti sauce

You can find the Swiss chard from the Berkeley farmers market that Ankita chopped up, add them to the organic marinara spaghetti sauce and the absolutely amazing vegetarian Italian sausages you’ve probably eaten more of than anything this year.

You can eat well for an entire week, if you pack a Tupperware container every morning before you leave for work, and the cafeteria workers will ask you if you’ve been on vacation when they see you pass through randomly.

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Necklace of lights

Necklace of lights (i)

All of these pictures we’ve been taking of each other

We make them look older than they naturally do

All of these pictures coworkers lovers and brothers

Mini-mementos so we don’t forget me and you

Are we supposed to revisit them later on in this life

or post and then doublecheck so we know that it was real

Are we supposed to bone up in case of a pop quiz

Mini-mementos in case we need to look and feel

As we compose our shots and press on our shutters

Ossify everything opposite our eyes for all time

Think of the last time you’ll do it and try not to shudder

Your documentation convicts you of a high crime

Four women on Lakeshore Avenue

Ethiopian women waiting on Lakeshore Avenue

Too often, I take pictures and they’re just pictures. Sometimes they’re merely documents. Often they’re useful place-holders. Occasionally I’ll try to take a picture that might work as art, or an obviously aesthetically effort-laden approach. I have had the good fortune to hang out with James Knox, Gwen Harlow or a Thomas Hawk.

I don’t usually recognize the best pictures I take for something other than an image, unexpectedly representative of larger forces and processes, until much later. And maybe I’m just looking at this image in several of what may be many wrong-headed, clumsy, ham-fisted ways. I could be overthinking a plate of beans. But something about this picture speaks to me. Its not a technically brilliant or clear capture, but I’m pretty sure I’d favorite it if I came across it in someone else’s photo-stream.

No worries on Franklin Street

No Worries restaurant

I don’t need a Foursquare page to tell me that I’m guilty of eating out at the same half-dozen places over and over in Oakland (or Berkeley or San Francisco). What I do apparently need — what it takes — is to read about a closing restaurant in Oakland Local and then for Ankita to suggest we go there.

No Worries menu

So we pull off I-980 into downtown and thread the streets we’re able to get through because 14th Street is blocked off for the Art and Soul Festival. Eventually we park over at the corner of 17th and Franklin streets, and walk down to the door. We get seated and we stare at the menu. I get a beer and think about just how hungry I am.

Ankita's dinner


Ankita’s dinner and my own pancit take a while to arrive, as business has picked up in the half-hour since our arrival. Both are delicious.

Leaving the restaurant afterward, I do a double-take a few doors down at the iCamera shop that has gone out of business. I had been taking my cameras to them since the late 1990s. There is a lesson here for me if I can focus long enough.

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Mixed mobility

Cup of tea and smartphone

Cup of tea and iPhone

I don’t think I’ve talked all that often about living in a mixed household.

It’s not that hard a slog, or even that noteworthy. We get by just like folks from the same tribe do.

We just wind up stopping more often to ask questions and process answers.

We may not always have the same vocabulary for mutual experiences. That just means we work a little harder. But the work’s worth it. We both come away with a renewed appreciation for our differences.

I mean, an Android owner like me can always get something out of time spent with other kinds of mobile users, even if it’s just lulz. And an iPhone user like her can point and laugh at me whenever my phone seizes up and needs rebooting for the nth time.

It’s really very simple: She likes the ease and convenience her phone offers. I like the ability to tinker — and the constraints that come with having a non-default device.

Heh. Bet you thought I was going to talk about a different kind of mixed household, huh?

Maybe early next week I’ll take a swing at jotting down some things that have occurred to me in nearly 13 months since switching over from Symbian.

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