From the rich green tops

as i practice my descriptive writing…

nestled above the forestry sits a calm revelry. Squirrels plunging into nuts i have not the idea. Home in quiet suburbia. Children grumbling as they saunter down to the breakfast table. Parents busily readying themselves for the days haul.

The crestline slowly lowers to the old city of Alexandria, off in the distance to my eyes. The long boulevards of kings, dukes, and queens. Small shops of every noticeable tackery. Into the glamorously highlighted Torpedo factory. In front of that the simple waterfront of the capital.

Feminism

A political leader (from Greek “polis”) is an individual who is involved in influencing public decision making.

That’s me. I can’t help it. I was born this way. Believe me, too, I have hated it in myself.

Still it has influenced everything I’ve done in my life. Up to this point I have been very silent about this. Only those closest to me were aware. Now, I’m ready to turn it on. I’m starting here.

Starting with my first stance. I’m making a stand, rather obvious one, for womens rights. Women have acheived a lot already but the game is not over.

Passive Sexism

First thing that happens when u suppress a movement like sexism is that it goes underground. It becomes backroom chatter, silent understandings, and hidden oppression. It becomes veiled in other causes (separate but equal) and is harder to identify.

You can’t fool a politician though, that’s our game. I recognize it and I will tell you, you can count on that.

I pledge to fight passive sexism.

Public Image

Ever been in a school? If so you understand what kids look up to and what they mimick. They will be the first to repeat the curse word back to you and copy your worst qualities.

Same thing is true in US society and culture. We don’t understand the true reality of conference panel picking or managment meetings. We understand public image and what you say.

It really is a dual challenge of walking the walk and telling people you are walking the walk. Can’t just be fair and open minded (walk the walk) you also have to openly state your open mind.

Until you do that you sit next to all the sexists that women deal with on a daily basis.

This is not about playing politics or crafting an image. It is about clearly distancing yourself from the sexists.

Otherwise, you leave it up to us to form our own opinions.

The Theory of Mind

“Theory of mind is that thing that a two-year-old lacks, which makes her think that covering her eyes means you can’t see her”

Anil Dash, December 2007

The mind is a powerful force but it is also a secluded force. It is all by itself and can never really ‘touch’ another mind. That’s why empathy is so important in our world. It is something we inherently lack and need to work at.

When it comes to sexism it is just as bad as racism. One can never really understand how it feels to be oppressed until you are. Then you take it seriously. Then you understand how important it is to make a stand and do whatever you can to help.

That is the point of the theory of mind. Its very hard to understand and emphathize with another mind. What you can do is listen to those around you. Notice when they are telling you something. You may not understand it but it will always come accross with passion, hurt, emotions, or a claim that it’s the right thing to do.

That is what I am doing. I’m hearing and seeing all this in my life right now. I’m also hearing a lot of defensive arguements and laissez faire attitudes.

As the leader that I think I am it is my duty to stand up and stake my claim. I believe I am seeing sexism. I believe that chips will always fall as luck wants, but a person can do the right thing in the meantime.

I want to see a better world, one without sexism. Please join with me and take this step.

Momma, I Love You

Top 5 Awesomeness about my Mom:

  1. TechWizard
    • U would not believe this about my Mom but in the last year she has become wizard. Just last month we were at grammy’s place and both geeking on our iPhone’s. Plus she texts, emails, flickr’s, twttr’s, and freakin loves her speakerphone.
  2. She Loves Talk
    • Boy does she love gabbing. I think if she had a super power it would be to engage in conversation. We can sit for hours and just talk. Mom i think you need a talk show. Or, better yet let’s you and i podcast!
  3. Fashion
    • Mom you love to shop, but even cooler you keep your fashion sense going. Sometimes I question your obsession with dolphins and leopard print, but then you pass onto lighthouses and Sting. Keep up the cool fashion sense Mom and thanks for picking out my number one favorite shoes which are crazy in fashion now.
  4. Support
    • Everyone has a number one fan and mine is of course my Momma. She reads all my twttrs and blogs (even the multiple accounts i have on both systems). She checks out my pics and watches my videos. For my new venture, A Clean Life, she is even telling everyone she knows about it and growing the cause with me.
  5. Innovator
    • I am sometimes known as an innovative thinker. In fact, sometimes i am incapable of thinking ‘inside’ the box. Not until this year did i realize where i got that from….my Mom! She is totally a game changer. She does it not for the thrill but because its the right thing to do. Though, when she does do it she does get scared. Standing up to people and telling the truth is hard, but she still does it and inspires me to keep doing so too.

#bbcc09

Starting this page as a reference for our upcoming cross country trip.

Bunny Bear Cross Country 2009 = #bbcc09

Bunny = me — (@robotchampion)

Bear = amy — (@sengseng)

Fuzzles = @fuzzles

custom gmap of trip

date: may 24 — (countdown timer)

Hotspots:

  • lookout mountain, GA – hang gliding
  • memphis, TN – heartbreak hotel
  • Great Sand Dunes, CO
  • mesa verde
  • zion/moab national park
  • vegas

SXSW Interactive Warmup

There seems to be a few events each year that go a bit overboard. One where no matter where you are in the social media swim you hear about it. Right now we are building up to that with SXSW in Austin, TX.

This mega conference has been building up lots of steam as each year passes. From the music to the movies to the internet, it can interest nearly everyone. It is long too, as It starts on March 13 on a Friday afternoon and doesn’t end until 10 days later on March 22.

For my part, I am going for personal an work. Since both of are in the internet business, I can’t wait to launch into the conference frenzy. I must say that conferences by internet and social media geeks is like no other I have been to. There are so many back channels, methods of communication, product releases, start-ups, and money being tossed around it can make you lose all sense of normalcy.

This being my third go round at internet/social media revelry, I am determined to take it easy. I’m gonna attend some choice sessions, talk to some fun folk, and then soak in the learning. In the past, it is just go-go-go. This year I want to take it back a notch. Not sure if this is possible.

Especially as SXSW Interactive where there over 180 sessions…during the day! Not to mention all of the other events throughout the evening and night. This is going to be sensory overload and especially since this is my first SXSW, making me a SWirgin. I think I have a few cards up my sleeve to help me out here.

First, I have been pre-thinking about what I want to learn. Most of my top themes relate to web design and new tools. Although, some relate to mobility, best practices in production, and a few “hot new things”. Having this list in mind should help me to sift through the multitude.

Second, the echo chamber is in full effect. Not that I’m saying its a bad thing, in fact I value the echo chamber. Just not when I’m flying so far to learn. In Austin, I am looking to learn and so I will skip all the also-ran, heard it all before presentations (marketing in new media, how to establish your brand, just what is new media).

Third, hey if you hang around long enough you can figure out who the cool kids are. In this case, I’m talking about the  brilliant, always engaging, knock your socks off folks. Check out my short list below for some of them.

Fourth, and final, I am a pro. I am really. I am rolling in with an MacBook Air, an iPhone tweaked for the conference, light weight backpack with necessary dongles and such, and finally a smart mentality. The mobility of the MBA and iPhone is essential for tight spaces, long days, and maximum efficiency. The smart mentality means skipping the bad food, stupid handouts, and even worse middle-of-the-hall sales pitch. It is essential to leave yourself enough energy for the night-time in your new city and avoiding the death by vendor attack.

That’s it, time to get some rest before my early flight, but first here are some hot tips:

Links

SXSW Interactice – list of sessions

SXSW Scheduling tool

Alltop SXSW news

Recommended Sessions

Change v2 – Lawrence Lessig

Obama has awoken a once in a century passion for reform. What will it take to make it work? What would “work” mean?

Using GPS & Location to Enhance Social Networking – Panel (twttr, brightkite, garmin…)

First there were social networks, and then there were location-based social networks, and now GPS and navigation-enhanced mobile social networks. This panel will explore how these emerging platforms integrate with existing social networks (facebook, twitter, etc), leverage GPS navigation functionality, and take location-aware social networking to the next level.

Buzz Out Loud Podcast Taping – Natali, Tom, and Jason

Buzz Out Loud is CNET’s premiere daily podcast hosted by Natali Del Conte, Tom Merritt, and Jason Howell. They cover all the tech news with their own and their audience’s takes on what it all means, often with hilarity ensuing. They’ll cover the top SXSW stories with special guests. If you want to understand what’s happening in the tech world, especially at SXSW, you need to listen to Buzz Out Loud.

iPhone Tweakage

At the conference this year, I am going to be testing out all that the iPhone can offer. To include the WordPress iPhone app for live blogging. Photos uploaded on-the-spot. Twitter streaming SMS to my phone. Google Alerts and Yahoo listservs to my gmail inbox. Hopefully, a whole lot of location based community building for meet-ups, spontaneous get togethers, and a little where the heck is everyone (not sure how this will work out…). Just wish I could record some vids on the phone…

Thanksgiving 2008 short documentary

** This is a guest post by my brother **

The film was made using windows movie maker.  I imported the images and video from my sony cyber-shot camera.  The voice-overs were recorded with my iriver mp3 player.  This was my first short documentary and I learned quite a bit.  First, my laughing was too loud and a bit obnoxious.  I’m right next to the mic, so I need to tone my voice down quite a bit.  Next, lighting is important to consider.  The footage in the kitchen with my mom is too dark, since the lighting is in the background instead of the foreground.  Last, it’s important to get close to the interviewee without making them feel uncomfortable.  Some of the shots are from a bit too far.  I’m no Spielberg for sure, but it was fun nonetheless!  I think it will be fun to continue making short documentaries like this about random events in my life.  I’m glad I learned the capabilities of movie maker.  It was sufficient for making this type of video, although it did freeze up on me once and I had to start over again 🙁

Next up….Christmas 2008…coming soon to a computer near you.


Thanksiving 2008 Short Film from robotchampion on Vimeo.

My Autumn Safari through mopey Montrose park

As a self-proclaimed hater of the seasons I am starting to come around. There are minutes and sometimes whole days where I enjoy them (the rest of the time they just annoy me).

Today was one of those days. I am a naturally mopey emo person and so this time of year delights me. The leaves are dead or dying. The trees are starkly dark, bereft of colour and beauty. Yet, many of the vibrant colors of the last falling leaves remain richly colorful.

Today I found all of this in colors of purple, fire, red, yellow, neon, green, and orange. Great day and the weather was in the 60s.

Today I like the seasons.



Autumn 2008 Photo Safari from steven mandzik on Vimeo

Gadgets Porn

After listening to the first of two episodes on Real Deal about gadget obessiveness, I decided to rummage through my collection. Turns out I have little to nothing in gadget porn. I guess my minimalist strategy is working well. Here it is:

Despite there only being 8 items on the list I don’t feel deprived. They are awesome and my favorites. Mostly expensive and catered to my individual hobbies:

  • Movies, Internet, & Podcasts

An interesting note is that as recently as 6 months ago, I had way more stuff. Due to a combination of craigslist, amazon, and ebay, I’ve offloaded all my old stuff for a good return on value. Which in turn has allowed me to purchase more, creating a sort of tech-geek life cycle.

2008 Xmas Wish List

I love gadget dreams. I was looking over my old dreams from Jan of this year (2008) and realized how much I have changed in the last 11 months. Of the 7 things I was dreaming about, I only got one!

  • Media Center PC
  • A Robot
  • Wireless iTunes Sync
  • 5 Wireless Devices (already had 3: iPhone, Lappy, Bluetooth)
  • New Laptop
  • High Def DVD
  • Xbox 360

The one dream that I satisfied was a new lappy. I’m typing on it right now, my MacBook Air. Of the other dreams only one carries over, but it has changed from a media center PC to a Mac Mini. I think the new list represents a change in my dreams: basic gadgets –> gadget hobbies: movies and music.

Here is the new list for Xmas 2008:

Well, that’s it. I am super stoked about the list. I can’t wait to go browsing and learning about which ones I want, and then add them to my Amazon Wish List. Yay!

My Amazon.com Wish List

Computer Troubles

Is it possible that computers are just too hard. That they are just so complicated that it requires a degree to understand them. Yes.

Is it also possible that we have been turned off by computers. They prevent us being outside and experiencing things. They make things harder instead of easier. They are just not that important to our lives. Yes.

Those are the two most important problems I see in our culture. We are afraid of computers and turned off by them. It goes deeper than that though. They challenge our basic beliefs about the value of things like books, one on one encounters, and more.

Most believe its just not possible be into computers and have a healthy lifestyle with a balanced family and outdoor activities. In our minds computers and technology have ceased to make things easier and become a burden on us.

Most of us take a half-n-half approach. We will invest some time in computers to get our jobs done and then go home and stay away from them. Yeah we know email, but when we get home email is business and we want to play. News is easy to get on the internet but we still like the paper. We want to have keep a sense of nostalgia and intimacy with our world that computers just can’t provide.

Its too bad really. We can have the best of both. It is possible to be completely invested in computers and have the life we want. The trouble is that no one’s really doing it. Not that it can’t be done, just no one’s doing it.

It takes a new approach to our thinking and our methods. It takes change. Not dramatic, deep change like a political campaign would spout off. Just tweaking of your lifestyle. Subtle tips that can make it happen for you and even bring you back to the simple lost traits of our culture:

  • Community – technology is now social and you should look to friends and family for new tools, tips, and uses. Ask friends what they like and don’t like. Share with them what you have learned.
  • Fresh Perspective – not every new tool is amazing and a good dose of skepticism is good, but that can quickly cloud your judgment. In today’s rapidly evolving market new and amazing tools that can make your life better are constantly coming out. Your skepticism could prevent you from finding them or being open to the ways they could improve your life.
  • Research – research is one of the basic fundamentals of learning in our lives. Learn how to do research on the internet. Start with search engines like Google. They are so advanced at this point that your query can simply be your question. Then take some time to browse the answers/results. Learn how to differentiate quality from conjecture. After a certain point you will notice patterns and can develop routines that allow your research to be fast and effective (and on any topic you want).

Finally, its all about fun and making our lives better. I recommend that everyone look to their future and notice our impending alliance with technology and computers. They will be a part of our lives, forever.

The best thing you can do is enjoy it. Watch a cute video on YouTube, laugh at silly photos of cats, form a “fan of Indiana Jones” club on Facebook, or just post pictures of your Halloween adventures.

Thanks for reading and please share any subtle tips you have found.