Monthly Archives: March 2013

It Smells Branded in Here

Things go in cycles. I know this, and yet I’m always a little surprised when the entrepreneurial¬†cycle comes around to me again. Yesterday, I was at a St. Patrick’s Day party as my genius wife’s plus one, and I wound up having several conversations with people who are working hard on their new projects. I love that people are building things, are working out new solutions to problems, and are excited about getting their solutions out into the world. I especially love that some of these people are in my area code. And then…

Then today I got an email introducing me to a local entrepreneur. The fellow making the introduction is familiar with me via TechRaising, and he remembered that I have experience with high performance and highly scalable middle-tier and back-end systems, but he didn’t go beyond that in making the introduction. I thought I’d point the other fellow at my LinkedIn profile to let him see more of my resume before taking the conversation further, but when I went over there to get the link I got distracted by this post. Suddenly, I felt catapulted back in time to the early 90s.

Branding an entire generation is a pointless exercise. Or rather, it’s pointless unless you’re selling something. I’m feeling very Lloyd Dobler about the whole buying, selling, and processing exercise.

When I go shopping at Safeway, I often hear pop hits from the late 70s and the 80s on the in-store sound system. “Heart of Glass,” “London Calling,” I mean, is there nothing from my teen years a retailer won’t use to convince me that I should stay in the store and spend a little more money there?

The last thing I want is to be lumped into a demographic package and sold to whoever’s buying. I know, it’s kind of too late and it’s already happened (see above) but that’s just the same realization that every generation has made. Still, what kind of crazy person wants to be boxed up and sold like that? Resist!

 


My brilliant and lovely wife offered this insight while reading my rant, and I think it’s important to share:

But this started with the Baby Boomers. That’s why all the music we hear at Christmas is the Christmas music from when they were little. The first big wave of nostalgia TV was in the 70s, when we were all idolizing the fifties, and that’s when they figured out they could repackage everyone’s past and sell it back to them and make a mint. But you know what? Fuck that. Fonzie has moved on.

What Globalization Means to Me

In 1995 I decided to stop eating animals. As I was living in San Francisco it really wasn’t hard to find good food made by someone else and which didn’t contain meat. Traveling inland even a couple of hours, though, was traveling to a world where “vegetarian” meant, “eats alfalfa sprouts and avocado and, um, cheese.”

In 1996 I stopped eating dairy and eggs. This necessarily meant that traveling to anyplace without large populations of hippies or Buddhists meant I needed to be prepared to make all my own meals. The American South is particularly fond of gratuitous meat, for example, but even Fresno was a trial.

Today, I’m eating lunch at the food court at a mall in Boston. I’m eating a burrito with grilled vegetables and no dairy, without alfalfa sprouts and without gratuitous meat broth. Globalization has plenty of critics but today I ate lunch in a town distant from my home and I didn’t have to make it in my hotel room.

It’s in the Air

Junglemonkey and I are in Boston for a few days. She’s here for the AWP conference, and I’m here as her plus one. I love that she wanted me along. I would absolutely have missed her if I’d been at home all week while she attended the conference, never mind that she’s going to be busy nearly all the time and I’ve got lots of practicing to do¬†since I’ve got several competitions coming up. What this really means is that I’ve already spent several hours walking around Boston on my own. As I walk through crowds, I wind up overhearing snatches of a zillion different conversations. It’s always interesting to me what the gists of conversations in a locale are. For instance, in Santa Cruz the conversations I overhear tend to be local politics or technological, tending to be design or marketing. (There are a lot of folks working in Internet-related jobs in Santa Cruz.) In San Francisco, there’s a lot of tech, mostly web development, and of course people are talking about their plans for what they’re going to be doing later on — which clubs or concerts or whatever. Here in Boston, it’s been financial snippets — lots of people talking about investments and business plans with time horizons in days or months — and men talking about women.

But here’s the weird thing, the thing that makes me write this. The conversations about women are all weird and kind of objectifying. Example: the guys behind me in line at Starbuck’s this morning. They sounded like stereotypical frat boys; very materialistic (luxury goods purchased or used, padding corporate expense accounts, partying) and objectifying women in a way I haven’t really encountered personally in many many years. The way these guys were talking about a particular woman — her breasts, her suitability as a status symbol — I was really surprised. I had to tell Junglemonkey about it just because I needed to talk about it to figure out if they were really as obnoxious as I thought. But then I walked around for a couple of hours and heard other snippets of other conversations and these guys were not different. Holy cow!

You know, I’m sort of accustomed to keeping my trap shut as women I know talk about male privilege, patriarchy, and sexism. Let’s face it: there’s not a hell of a lot that I can bring to that conversation. Even so, that doesn’t mean that I’m not paying attention. Guys in Boston seem, upon cursory inspection, to be far less considerate (because I have a hard time thinking that women in Boston are any less bitter about it). Dudes, step up your game and stop being dicks.

Postscript

So, here’s a joke I know about feminism:

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?

A: That’s not funny!

If you think that joke is really not funny and you’re mad about it, then that joke is about you. If you think that joke is not funny because feminism is about freedom and the joke presumes the teller and the listener have a perspective on feminism that doesn’t include that notion, then a) that joke is not about you and b) you can probably (95.2% likely) provide one or more personal acquaintances whom that joke is about. If you think that joke is funny then you’re a) a man and b) you live in Boston.