Monday, March 31, 2008

Standing room only at Other Cinema.

Me and a few friends came to the Mission to the Other Cinema for's official launch party and film screening. My "Fungus Among Us" film along with some other great shorts (some which inspired group sing alongs) played to a full house! To see more check out David Silver's Flickr photos of the event.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cole Valley

My mom recently asked me, "Lulu, if you could move anywhere in the city from your current apartment, where would you go?"

Good question. Although I love my current neighborhood, there are several other San Francisco neighborhoods in which I would consider living - ones that have compelled me to linger in their sidewalk cafes and boutiques a little longer than I normally would.

Kelly Quinn, assistant professor of American Studies at Miami University, would call this feeling a "celebration of slowness." After reading Jane Jacobs' book about urban planning, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, over spring break and then discussing it with Kelly in class, I learned that the special "atmosphere" I love in many San Francisco neighborhoods can be traced back to their particular geographic features.

"There is a short word for this assumption of support: trust. The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts. It grows out of people stopping by at the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery and nodding hello to the two boys drinking soda pop on the stoop, eyeing the girls while waiting to be called for dinner, admonishing the children, hearing about a job from the hardware man and borrowing a dollar from the druggist, admiring the new babies and sympathizing over the way a coat faded." (Jacobs)

The small San Francisco neighborhood called Cole Valley just south of Haight St. and east of the Inner Sunset district is one I return to often. To me, it is an ideal neighborhood. In a city chock-full of variety stores -- strange shops to inspire or satisfy every particular need -- Cole Valley offers a selection of shops to support all of its residents' basic needs:

There is a bakery, a coffee shop, a grocery store or two...

Fresh Produce, originally uploaded by luluisforlovers.
Fresh fruit for the walk home.

...a couple of bars (including one wine bar), a cheese shop, a burger joint, a small gym, a laundromat and dry cleaners, a post office, a liquor store, a pharmacy, a video store...

A lone survivor, originally uploaded by luluisforlovers.
Many video stores fall by the wayside with big competitors like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster moving in nearby, but Video Nook has withstood the test of time thanks to local patronage.
...a beauty parlor, a garden center, a handful of good restaurants...

Lunch at Zazie, originally uploaded by luluisforlovers.
Zazie is a perennial favorite for brunch with both neighborhood locals and visitors to Cole Valley. 

... an auto repair garage, a hardware store, and a pet store (which is entirely necessary in this area).

Barking Lot, originally uploaded by luluisforlovers.
This guy gets a lot of attention," said Esther, an employee at Cole Hardware. She calls the parking meters along Cole Street a "barking lot" because of the large number of dogs usually tied up there (don't worry, they get plenty of attention).

In the center of Cole Valley, where the N Judah rolls through on a regular basis, musician Patient Zero plays for people while they wait for their bus. He watches the people as they exit the Muni, altering his performance to respond to what he sees. Kelly discussed how public transportation offers an opportunity for citizens to connect with others: "the bus as theater".

Protest Songs, originally uploaded by luluisforlovers.
Patient Zero sings about things like Walmart and voting from different perspectives. Check out his snarky tunes at

Kelly also emphasized the importance of trees, noting that they help control microclimates and guard against hot temperatures.

Full bloom, originally uploaded by luluisforlovers.
They also look nice! These bright purple trees (don't know the variety) line a Cole Valley side street. You can learn how to plant trees in your San Francisco neighborhood here.

"Customs vary: in some neighborhoods people compare notes on their dogs; in others they compare notes on their landlords." (Jacobs)

I would say Cole Valley does the former.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Note to Self:

Pic-a-day is harder than it initially seems -- especially on Spring Break. 

Saturday, March 22, 2008


My mom's new blog is up and running. Lucy is dog, interrupted. Tonight she posted her first entry, in which she (Lucy, that is) details our family adventure into the desert. Check it out!

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Blog, My Self: Understanding Online Identity

So you are a budding musician with two cats, a Vespa, a college degree in computer science and thing for extreme frisbee on the weekends in the park -- that's not what your MySpace says.

According to MySpace, you are the recently-single drummer for a band called The Death Tulip who likes to "rrrrrOCK!", collects psychedelic 60's concert posters, rides a "hog," and maintains an athletic build through rigorous weekend activity ("about which one need not elaborate"). On Facebook, one learns that you are the founder of the Phoebe Cates's Bikini fan club, are "friends" with over 400 people from your school, are an Atheist, and have recently graduated to the Pioneer level of Oregon Trail status. One might also speculate by your decision to include both men and women under preferences that you are bisexual (although this was not really your intention). On your online company profile for the software-related magazine to which you contribute, they have you listed as a "quiet guy whose true personality comes through in the many ARG's he plays." Oh, and you just tweeted that you "think Hilary(sic) is a racist."

So, who are you really?

Well, you are someone I just made up, if we are to be fair. But the figurative you reflects the increasingly common issue of cultivating one's online identity -- and maintaining it.

Upside of creating multiple online profiles: One can, as blogger sweetheart Dana Boyd says, "write oneself into being." In other words: go wild! Be who you want to be! You can be the quiet journalist AND the hog-riding athletic drummer of a supposedly kick-ass band! 

Downside of creating multiple online profiles: There is a reason that people take medication for schizophrenia. One finds plenty of challenges managing a single identity (as we do when we enter this world) -- managing two or three or more identities (especially if you throw in the ones created by other people about you) is understandably stressful. What does my intended audience need to know about me? What do I want them to know about me? Who am I to these people? v. Who am I to these people?

Deciding how to represent oneself in different areas of our online life is only half the battle. The other half is about controlling these potentially disparate representations. People like Fred Stutzman and his colleagues at ClaimID are attempting to address this issue.

ClaimId addresses what Stutzman calls the "Google Problem" -- the (at time, unfortunate) results of someone plugging your name into a Google search. You may not be ashamed of your first website or online high school science project, but when they pop up as the number two and three entries in a search for your name, it becomes somewhat problematic if you are trying to impress potential employers (or dates?). Those sites represent the yous of a past era and there is no reason for them to receive the attention they would in such an important slot in your ego roll.

Stutzman refers to claimID as an "activist tool". It allows you to regain control of your online identity by creating identity awareness. " The site allows you to group your blog, website, news articles about you, and any other relevant sites that might otherwise be over looked in a Google search, into one place. "With claimID, you can put your best face forward and let people see the identity you with to present," the claimID site reads.

The final kicker about online identity is that nothing you put out there ever really goes away. The things you say about yourself, the things others say about you -- they are in there somewhere forever, especially now that organizations like the Internet Archive are busy trying to record it all (thankfully). This could be a good thing or a bad thing for you, depending on the context. Is there any way to delete unfavorable entries that keep popping up on Google searches? "Whoever figures that out will be rich," said Stutzman.

With this in mind, I might be inclined to say something like "blog at your own risk", but even the cautious blogger cannot anticipate all of his or her future publics. We might think we are beating the system or using it to our advantage by crafting different profiles -- different selves -- to match various audiences; however, we are merely just creating an interactive, multidimensional image that grows richer in ways we might not anticipate nor appreciate (not always, anyways). We must learn to cultivate this library of our selves.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Getting Mom & Dad to Blog

So, I've been trying to convince my parents to start blogging. My dad already spends a lot of time on the computer (doing...?), so I figure this would be a natural move for him to set up a Blog. My mom also spends a lot of time on the computer, but less time socializing over the Internet. For her, it's more about uploading photos and reading articles online.

I tried to sell them on the idea of blogging over dinner tonight. I mentioned that they could share photos with me and my sister, Bailey, like they already do through e-mail. The difference would be that we wouldn't have to save the e-mail to access the information. It would be up as long as they wanted it.

I told my dad that he could post his thoughts on what's happening in the sports world and read comments from other sports fans. I suggested that my mom could update me on her vegetable garden with photos and explanations. I'm sure that there are plenty of gardeners out there who would like to chat with mom about the troubles of growing vegetables. My mom seemed excited. She asked if she could do the blog from the perspective of our dog, Lucy

Sure, why not? 

My dad remained skeptical, so I showed him my blog for the first time (Hi, Dad!). I hope that seeing his daughter in the blogosphere will inspire him to take the plunge -- even if it means countless posts about sports happenings that I won't understand. 

Gardening, sports, Lucy... anything works for me. I'd just be happy to have another way to keep up with two of the most important people in my life.

Friday, March 07, 2008

My good friend Elizabeth Carroll has become a local talking head on San Francisco Public Access television! Here we are watching the Academy Awards. From left to right: Sky Madden, Sam Culk, and Liz, before she became a star.

Here is a clip of Liz's debut on a show called SF Live. The subject is a documentary film, "King Corn", and her guests are from an organic garden organization in the city:

Online Videos by

"It was my first one, so I'm a little nervous, but hopefully you can't tell!" She said.

No, Liz. Aside from your generally professional tone of voice, it feels like we're just hanging out in the living room, you know, talking about organic farming like we always do.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Firestone: Rubber or Rubbish?

Emira Woods discussed the Stop Firestone Campaign as part of the Global Women's Rights Forum at USF this week, focusing specifically on Firestone's involvement in the issues of "modern slave labor" and child labor. Firestone's workers are, in order to get paid, required to fill a quota, hauling large, heavy quantities of rubber sap over great distances for little pay. Additionally, the wives and children of these men are dragged into the equation because the men need the extra help and have no other way to spend time with their families during long toilsome work days. A more in-depth account of Woods' points on the matter can be found on my friend Lis' blog.

I wonder... would the Michelin Man force his workers to live in shanty houses?

Adventure with the Mushroom King

A Deadly One
Originally uploaded by luluisforlovers

Wild foods expert Todd Spanier's specific love of mushrooms has earned him the title "The Mushroom King." This is also the name of the store he runs out of Daly City, a large warehouse painted sunshine yellow with Porcini mushroom illustrations that provides just about every kind of fungus one could hope to find popping up locally. He and his team gather mushrooms and ship them to well-known local restaurants such as Chez Panisse.

Last weekend, Spanier let the How to Homestead crew join him on a mushroom foray into the Santa Cruz mountains.

Picnic Time
Originally uploaded by luluisforlovers

Kevin Kunze, part of the camera crew, holds some of the mushrooms we gather along the way. These are Candy Caps. They have a sweet maple smell and taste. Todd even makes them into a gelato back at his shop.

Todd joked around with a Black Trumpet mushroom he found. The Black Trumpet mushrooms look like a (duh) black trumpet and have a musky chocoatey smell and a rich deep flavor. We found a bunch of these.

Hollywood in the middle of the forest... Todd documents a mushroom while we document a Todd.

This one is poisonous -- you can tell by the gill around the center of the stalk.

I was responsible for holding the poisonous ones... nice, huh?

At the end of the day, the King demonstrated how to make a delicious omelet featuring the mushrooms we harvested.

Here, I have recreated the dish at home -- to see how I do it, check out my visual step-by-step here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Alexander Technique

"How many times a day do you tweet?" asked Bryan Alexander, Director of Research at the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, a non-profit initiative dedicated to promoting liberal education.
"Six to ten times," the student responded.

No, this isn't bird school.

Guest speaker Alexander was simply talking about, a site that encourages individuals to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of brief, frequent answers to the question "What are you doing?" These exchanges are known by those who use the site as "tweets."

Bryan Kicks Back
Originally uploaded by luluisforlovers

Alexander is definitely a frequent tweeter. Even as he lectured us on pedagogy and Web 2.0., tweets of various hellos from around the world scrolled on the projected computer screen behind him.

Originally uploaded by BryanAlexander

The long-haired, bearded technology buff was visiting USF from his home in snowy rural Vermont, where he conducts research primarily on mobile and wireless computing, digital gaming, and social software. "It's fun to lecture on 3D technology and then go off and chop wood for an hour," Alexander said.

One area of particular interest to Alexander is "ARG": Alternate Reality Gaming. An Alternate Reality Game is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions. The first two Alternate Reality Games, according to Christy Dena in her essay 'Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games', were Microsoft Game Studio's The Beast and Electronic Arts Majestic. In his lecture, Alexander also mentioned, Perplex City, and World Without Oil as good examples of Alternate Reality Gaming.

Reflecting his easy-going approach to technology, Alexander followed discussion of "Connectivism" (G. Siemens, 2004) and "Wikipedagogies" by taking us to the Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator.
"Web 2.0 is easier than web 1.0," he said.

If that's true, then I should have no problem disintermediating my A-list web services and designing social folksonomies later this week.