reminded me of something remarkable: my 20-month-old son has become proficient in manipulating the photo display feature of my iPhone. He is an electronics enthusiast -- we've had to resort to using a laundry pin to secure the doors of the armoire holding our video and stereo components -- but he figured out the iPhone's touchscreen interface pretty much instantly. In fact, any time he sees another screen, especially a small one like that on the back of a digital camera, he puts a finger on the screen and tries to flick it to the next picture. If that doesn't work, he puts the camera to his ear and listens intently for the voice on the other end of what must surely be a phone call.
Buttons are interesting to him, and he'll figure out what they do, (oh yes he will, and don't think you can distract him once he's started the figuring-out process) but you can see that using a button to get something done seems like a whole unnecessary step in his mind.
Anyway, it occurred to me yesterday that he will remember the iPhone the way I think of the 8-track tape player: it was good enough in its time to be remembered, just good enough to be the punch line of a joke about old technology.
As Pete Newcomb says on the Forbes on Fox show dedicated to Michaels' memory, Jim was adept at using fear to motivate the troops, but, as I found out, he also had a personable, warm side. A year and a half after moving to San Francisco to help start Forbes' Silicon Valley bureau, I received an attractive offer from a competitor. Knowing how important loyalty was to Jim and the Forbes organization in general, I was all but out the door, just hoping I'd be able to slink away before Jim's storied wrath descended on me.
The phone in my office rang. It was Jim. I steeled myself for a verbal beatdown...
Honestly, when I thought of this in 1995, it might actually have been possible for me to learn most or all of the stuff I would've needed to learn to pull it off. Though I must say it wasn't inter-dash-active, the way I imagined it at the outset. Originally it was more of a 3-d environment where I would kind of riff masterfully (huh?) on the varied expressions of genes, all laid out visually in the form of a double helix you could cruise up and down on each chromosome to see the masterful things I had decreed. The verse (oh yes, it was to be verse) would have somehow corresponded metrically and rhyme-ically to the base pairs making up the genes, and somehow I would have been able to cover a meaningful number of genes. Hah. Somehow.
So, back in April I ran in Muffy's Run, a charity 5-mile race put together by my buddy Chris Husband in memory of his sister Muffy and for a great cause. So check it out - I lost to some formidable characters, as you can see below (extra props to Grosey for finishing so strong after carrying me for the first 2.5 miles). Most interesting, though, is my overall finish. Random? Not hardly!
13. DAVE GROSE, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 38 0:39:27 O'All: 20
18. DAVID LINSMAYER, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 38 0:44:02 O'All: 29
22. DOUGLAS LLEWELLYN, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 34 0:45:02 O'All: 34
24. NEIL MUNRO, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 36 0:46:06 O'All: 37
28. BRETT JOHNSON, VENICE, CA 36 0:48:00 O'All: 42
29. JOSH MC HUGH, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 36 0:48:00 O'All: 43
The nailbiting scene at the finish line (photo) That's Brett Johnson on the right - I let him win so I could come in 43rd.
Note the beagle, apparently not worried about the speed of the creatures approaching him. (Thanks to Bruce Taylor for digging up the photo!)
The SF Chronicle did a nice write-up of the LitCrawl Reading from Saturday night at 12 Galaxies. Tom Barbash and I were the co-hosts, though I must say Tom was the alpha host, corralling people to read (including me) ahead of time and printing up the intro scripts. I was pretty keyed up about my reading, being sort of a rookie at the whole public-reading-of-personal-essay thing. But it went quite well, all in all. The crowd was great - must have been a couple hundred people there or more, and the whole crew of Grotto readers was fantastic.
Due to jocular demand, the approximate text of my reading follows:
From rodcorp, a great list of links to work-methodology info on many of the finer minds in the game...
We're interested in the habits, rituals and small (and occasionally big) methods people and teams use to get their work done. And in the specific anecdotes and the way people describe their own relationship to their own work. Here's a list of some stories and habits. Not sure it is actually useful for anything. Do any patterns emerge across stories, other than the obvious stories of super-focus, super-dedication?
These examples are mostly "names" because the list so far is mostly from published sources, but everyone's stories and habits are interesting, so go ahead and add yours in the comments.
My fiction-writing workshop classroom is set up in a circle, about 30 of those chairs with the little wing-desk attached.
We'd just finished the discussion of my story, "Stone," and had moved on to the next person's effort. I'd been munching on peanuts, perhaps to ameliorate my anxiety at having my story critiqued (it went pretty well, considering), and I'd gotten a chunk stuck between that nasty #19 and the neighboring molar. While old #19 was in its dissipated state, I had developed an internal suction-powered irrigation technique that was effective and fairly subtle, except for the squeaking, squilching or quacking noises that sometimes resulted, much to Margaret's chagrin.
So, in the attempt to dislodge the stubborn peanut particle, I automatically applied the tried and true method. This time, perhaps due to the presence of a spanking new crown, the noise emitted was of the "quack" variety, and a good octave lower than normal. What's more, in cranking my jaw over to the side to increase the effectiveness of the irrigation, the right corner of my mouth was open, projecting the startling noise through the classroom.
The discussion paused, briefly, then I saw two of my fellow-students, a man and a woman on the opposite side of the circle, look at each other with their eyebrows raised, then try to stifle their laughter.
I wanted to stand up and declare "It wasn't a fart!" but that was pretty out of the question. Everyone else sort of wrote it off, it seemed, but those two across the way kept cracking up. I would have too. It felt very grade-school. My face got red, further implicating me in the nonexistent flatulation. Miserable. What the hell do you do in that situation? Eventually, I reminded myself that an imaginary fart once removed is nothing to be ashamed of, and thus I got over it.