I really enjoyed this, mostly fictional, account of Heath Ledger’s last days.

After I died, people dissected me. They put words in my mouth: This is how he felt when he wrote this, this is what he thought of me, this is why he did it. Fuck them. But also bless them. They made me famous. Immortal. Suddenly, my songs, which once were strange and ill-conceived, now were fat with meaning. When you die, you become a Virgin Mary, an untouchable exalted thing with a golden breast and a mink brow. You lose yourself, and they win you. You have no voice, and so a million people breathe and talk for you. Your art is their art. Your casket is their temple, your last words are their next ten commandments.

We had one of the most amazing weekends in New York City.  We had one very long and exciting day in Manhattan/Queens and another in Brooklyn with friends.  I was in Manhattan giving a presentation and decided to stay for the weekend, so Amber flew out and we started our tiresome adventure.  We visited many friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our in “the other city”.

New York Times

A friend at the New York Times invited us both on a tour of their Manhattan building and the printing/production facility in Queens.  Familiar with large companies an their clandestine operations was thrown out the window as both buildings are clearly emblazoned with the company name across the side.  I’m an avid NYTimes reader and have so many fond memories reading the Sunday edition with Amber at Herb’s (no longer there) in Noe Valley.  It sounds so hipster, but memories I strongly enjoy.

The Manhattan office of the New York Times is the first entirely ‘green’ building in the city.  The building itself is entirely customizable.  There are window shades that automatically open and close as the sun moves to keep the building cool.  The lighting system will adjust to the specific needs of each department or office.  There are ventilation ducts throughout the building to enable a seamless flow of air.  The artistic nature of the building is reflected in the art pieces that decorate the hallways.  From the flat screen monitors projecting daily images from the paper itself to the Italian leather furniture the interior is something to behold.  Each floor matches the ethos of that department.  For example, the fashion floor is covered in fashion photos from the Times Magazine; the book review department has desks stacked high with submissions and copies of the OED; the science section has even more books including copies of every field of scientific research.  It’s a culture that enables the employees to live and work in their famous building.

From there we went to the printing facility in Queens.  The innocuous exterior does not reflect the almost surgical precision happening inside.  Upon entering we walked through (literally) the printing presses from start to finish and marveled at the miles of special track they have for moving thousands of newspapers efficiently.  When warming up the presses they may print a few thousand papers just to make sure the alignment of the colors and printing is correct.  They showed us special codes on the paper that show what press it originated from and how many times that page was updated.  There are even special dots on the front page that depict what edition of that day’s paper it is.  The de Vinci code of the NYTimes!

The paper starts in a 9 story warehouse that looks more like the door storage facility from Monster’s Inc. than anything else.  Robotic arms move 1.5 ton rolls of paper onto a conveyor belt that unmanned robots lift and load onto the presses.  We were able to walk among these robots as they moved and maneuvered around us as if secretly guided by invisible beings.  The paper is then run through the presses, different sizes depending on what pages of the paper are being printed.  It’s not until fully printed that the paper is cut and folded.  At top speed these machines can print 85,000 papers per hour – that is not pages, but entire papers!  Some papers are printed on the evening before distribution, but thicker ones such as the beloved Sunday edition are too big for one run.  Instead part of the paper (i.e. book review section) is printed early and held in reserve on massive wheels.  These reserve sections will be inserted into the rest of the paper when it is finally printed.  All of this is done by massive machines and miles-upon-miles of track that move the papers throughout the factory floor.

Bruce Lee – Enter the Dragon

The following day we stayed with friends in Brooklyn.  They are extreme kung-fu fans and got us seats to an open air showing of Bruce Lee’s movie Enter the Dragon.  This was one of the many open air movies showing in Prospect Park.  It was nice having friends who could hook us up with VIP passes meaning we had access to the beer tent and, most importantly, had a seat for the screening.  As the movie began, even in the opening credits, the audience cheered over and over.  I could tell there was something different about this screening but didn’t catch on quite as quick as most.  The music was new, updated and could not have possibly have been part of the original score.  It was not.

At this special screening Karsh Kale was mixing a new and updated live score.  In addition Soh Daiko was on stage drumming.  It has to be the most amazing version of any kung-fu movie I have ever seen.  The music matched each scene and reflected the intonation and intent of the original soundtrack.  I left there with a new appreciation for this movie.

Kristin broke the news about a newly engaged couple.  I’m so happy for them both because I’ve known them for years and we have been through so much together (good times and bad.)  I’m excited to see them engaged and what a great place to propose – Paris!

I really like Twitter because it allows me to keep up with my friends and what is happening in their lives.  In addition to keeping up on the life and times of friends it also enables me to meet new people who my friends are interfacing with.  I enjoy this peep into their lives, but only to a degree.  I want to open the Pandora’s box, but not all the way.  I want to be open about my life but protect my tweets.

And therein lies the problem.  Because I protect my twitter feed only authorized connections can see it.  I want to enable many people to read and follow my life, but there is a limitation in twitter that forces me to follow them as well.  I wish we lived in a perfect world where I could keep a protected feed, enable others to follow me, and not follow them back.  But this is a limitation of the technology.

Now I like hearing about my friend’s lives in 140 characters or less, but I want them to be succinct and keep their live media stream within those boundaries.  I enjoy reading about even the nuances of ones life but disdain being forced to wade through pages of IM conversations between two people in order to find the content I really want to read.  I loath reading tweets that read “@friend yeah!” or “@friend totally!”  To me these are pains on my existence and only worsen the signal to noise ratio.

I am forced to work within the confines of technology and simply “unfollow” these people who violate my personal acceptance for such noise.  Sometimes these are people who I don’t personally know and sometimes these are actual friends.  I am sorry that twitter does not allow me to let them see my life stream, but I find it unacceptable to follow them just so they can listen in on my life.  Why should I change for their benefit?

So that’s life and how things happen on the Internet.  I end up following more people who increase the ‘signal’ and unfollow those who increase the ‘noise’.

That’s right, I’m back in the Midwest again – ok, as much as St. Louis is considered as such.  I had a great dinner with friends.  It’s funny that when frequent business travelers get together all they talk about are TSA and the troubles of airports, hotels, etc.  (I’m told that once you have kids, the topic of “poop” suddenly becomes dinner conversation – ewww.)

I so rarely get to talk about myself but everyone seemed interested in my background.  It was nice that one of the dinner guests was German so I could pull that out and dust off a few words and stories.  Many of the others read my work blog and said they enjoyed it.  I’ve heard others say it but it’s strange to meet someone in person who actually reads your blog.  I’ve always said that the Internet gives everyone their Andy Warhol 15-minutes of fame.

I also met a fellow from South Africa so we talked about his past there.  S. Africa (.za) is a place I really want to visit some time – Johannesburg, not Cape Town.  Everyone else came from across the US, mostly on the East Coast.

I was surprised at how few of the people used social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter, but a few of them had Flickr accounts.  I suppose taking digital photos is more common than micro blogging, but I would have expected more of the younger people there to be on Facebook.  Maybe the masses are still a generation behind them.

I enjoyed both participating in conversation and watching the consultants talk amongst themselves.  I’m no longer a hard-core techie but still enjoy listening to them talk about operating systems and new programs.  It’s as if I’m looking back in time.

I’m going to enjoy the next few days, but am already missing home.  I’ll be on the road for two weeks solid (no going home between weeks), but I just started my trip so things are ok now, but ask me again in a few days.  I like traveling, but someone it gets to be a bit much.  I say this, because after a while you start to think of the hotel room as “home” and you end up in hour long debates about the efficacy of TSA and what constitutes a “zip top” bag.  Although these are rallying points for frequent travelers, they are not how I want to reflect on my legacy many years from now.  At least I’m meeting new and interesting people who I might be able to include as “friends” several years from now.

I’m such an Elise.  Wow, “jealousy and competition”? Yeah, I feel it all the time.  Solution? The Desiderata.

This weekend was fun. On Friday I went out to Friday Night Swing with the intention of having fun and ended up being a party pooper as I sat and chatted more than I danced. I don’t know what hit me but my lack of practice lead to a detrimental disinterest in dancing. Several people helped me begrudgingly dance a bit, reminding me that anyone can dance even if it’s just the basics.

Chipmonkey returned from Vegas, otherwise known as the land of burning casinos.
We ended up going to dinner with friends at Nola’s, a Cajun restaurant in Palo Alto. I’m not usually interested in that style of cooking but the food was great and I really enjoyed myself. I don’t think I’ll ever order a fillet again because the strip steak there was just so well seasoned.

These friends mentioned a funny online comedy piece they saw called Mr. Deity. It’s a rather funny series of sketches about God (Mr. Deity), his assistant, Jesus, and Lucy (Lucifer). The comedy is a little tongue-in-cheek and will be lost on anyone without an understanding of Christian parables, but I really enjoyed it.

From there we drove back to SF just in time to meet our other half for some karaoke at Do Re Mi in Japantown. I’ve been there a few times now and just can’t get into the feeling. I think that a little alcohol would smooth over my lack of singing skills – both for me and the others who must listen.