Monthly Archives: June 2009

Island update [My Haitian Vacation]

Haiti Wahoo Beach

The view from Wahoo Beach.

I’ve just completed day 13 of my Haitian Vacation (3 more to go) and I am alive and relatively well. I say relatively because in those 13 days, I’ve accrued about 500 mosquito bites, gotten sun poisoning, which involved a skull-splitting headache followed by nausea and puking my guts out, been stung by jellyfish larvae, attacked by a poisonous plant that had bee-sting-like venom, and endured 3 days of full-body urticaria that made my hands and feet swell up and feel like they were bruised. On top of that, I’ve spent the last seven days in a blackout with little to NO Internets!

Even though my family lives in considerable luxury here, there are some components of the Caribbean that this city gal isn’t so equipped to handle. The blackouts are quite common — as my sister said earlier today “You haven’t experienced Haiti unless you’ve experienced a blackout” — and this house has back-up power sources to draw from when we don’t get input from the grid. But it’s still not the consistent power input we’re used to in the States. It means cold showers, worrying about food spoiling, gas lanterns (which are actually pretty fun to use, especially when it’s storming and you are huddled under a mosquito net telling ZoMbIe stories!!), and not being able to just turn on the TV or computer without mentally calculating if you’ll be able to finish a movie or send an email before the inverters fall and you’re in the dark.

So I guess I did end up roughing it, but small problems aside, this has been an incredible adventure. I learned a lot about this little island and the people who live here, romped around the most beautiful mountains and beaches I have ever seen, and best of all, I reconnected with my long-lost family. I never thought I would get to play chess with my dad or watch my little sister graduate from high school, but it happened and they are really glad that I came here to experience these things with them.

So I probably don’t need to explain why I haven’t written in a week, and why I won’t write anything substantial until I get back. I’ve got one more trip to the beach, a chance to celebrate Father’s Day for the first time ever (In Haiti it’s on the 4th Sunday, not the 3rd), tearful goodbyes, and then it’s back to NYC for me! And then back to all the web surfing, blogging, and hipstering it up in Williamsburg I could ever want! Life is good.

Frank’s unsent love letters [FOUND at the Internet Garage]

This Friday, I introduce to you a man named Frank. Of all my Found items from the IG, his are the most plentiful, interesting, and deep. This is because Frank unfortunately left his leather-bound travel journal behind. When I saw it and realized what it was, I left it untouched in the Drawer of Random Crap for a whole week, hoping he would come back in to claim it. My leather-bound journal is one of my most sacred possessions, and from one journal-author to the next I wanted to keep it safe for him. After the week passed and the journal remained, I opened it up to look for contact information so I could return it to him. There was no email address listed so I tried looking him up on Google but found nothing. I called a few stray numbers I found in there trying to locate him, but none of them knew a Frank and I found it difficult to describe him effectively, only having his inner most thoughts and feelings to describe him by. And then, I did what any IG staffer bored on a 10-hour Saturday shift would do, and read the entire thing…. and scanned some pages.

This is one of my favorite things in Frank’s journal: The poignant reminder of how we come to live with regrets because of fearful inaction. After four pages of attempts that began “Catherine I –” followed by lines of text scribbled out, Frank finally managed to get these thoughts onto paper:

Catherine1

Oh, Frank. If only you would have had Internets sooner! I hope that when you came to the Internet Garage, it was so that you could email Catherine. There was also this:

Catherine2Ah, bittersweet regrets… Some of you may be thinking that I have crossed some kind of line by publishing Frank’s private thoughts, but I think he would have wanted it this way. If I ever lost my journal, I would hope that someone would find my thoughts interesting enough to publish, even if that publication was only some girl’s insignificant web log…

Happy Friday, friends.

My Haitian Vacation [New blog series!]

From taggalaxy.com, "Haiti"

I had no idea what to expect coming to Haiti. Taking into consideration the portrayal of this country in the American media, I thought I might be seriously roughing it for a while. Don’t get me wrong, lots of people do: The wealth divide is a large one and driving down the main streets every day I see many people living and working in conditions that are far less than favorable. But the picture that most Americans have of Haiti is not the whole one; we only see the bad, the poverty, the political unrest, the danger. And while it is important to raise awareness about these things, I’ve personally found it to have the effect of making people want to shut their eyes, cover their ears, change the channel, and write Haiti off as a place where nothing good exists.

But there is so much more to this country: Friendly, fun-loving people, beautiful mountain countrysides and a rich culture that is affected by the political and economic turmoil but not dampened by it. And I would like to share it with you, dear readers. Welcome to the My Haitian Vacation series!

Image: One combination of flickr photos tagged “Haiti” from taggalaxy.com. Hat tip: SciencePunk

I HAVE INTERNETS!!!

Well, I am here. It’s crazy awesome. AND it turns out all my fretting about not having internets was for nothing because they not only have a computer, they have THREE computers and ethernet! The factor that I did not anticipate though, is that even though I have internet, I can’t focus on writing anything because my dad won’t leave me alone! I’m sitting in his office area with him and every time I try to write he asks me a question. So…. Internets…. I must leave you once again to go hang out with this guy. He’s pretty interested in me. I guess he’s pretty interesting too. Here’s a pic of the view from here:

Heavy fog rolling over the mountains in the evening.

Heavy fog rolling over the mountains in the evening.

More later, au revoir!

Scary-unbelievable [FOUND at the Internet Garage]

With the advent of Internet technologies supporting online methods of communication, I think it is safe to say that fax machines are becoming outdated, if they aren’t already completely obsolete. But still, certain archaic agencies require transmission through fax only – mostly insurance and government. That’s why I was baffled to find this item in the fax tray:

Click for larger view

Click to open in a new window, then click it again for a larger view.

For your convenience, I will transcribe the text below:

Some comments made to me by different individuals of all ages and both genders from around the world after they have seen me dancing (Manhattan between the hours of 11:00 PM and 4:00 AM) “Michael you give us hope for an enjoyable life at your age” “We want to be like you” “You are my idol” “I want to be your friend” “You are amazing” “I am honored to meet you and shake your hand” (An Asian bank executive bowing low). From an expensively dressed matron “You are awesome”. A young beautiful wife celebrating her 40th birthday crying happy tears “You did something for me tonight that changed my life-refused to let go of my hand and danced with me the rest of the evening not with her husband. “Michael, your eyes are scary-unbelievable” All of the above were on separate occasions.

[sic]…. obviously.

While Michael sounds like quite the individual, who must he fax these descriptions to? I can’t imagine that being a requirement of an insurance company OR the government. Why instead would he not just find the recipient and dance before them or record a YouTube video? What does Michael hope to gain by communicating such comments about his awesome nature? Job application? This would certainly get my attention if I were hiring and this was submitted as a cover letter. What would the position be? Dancer? Life coach?

So many questions, but I guess we’ll never know…

On letting go of inhibitions

Inhibitions: The constraining of one’s behavior in social settings; the result of neurological processes involving the frontal lobe; a blanket for insecurity and shield against mockery and defamation. Sure they serve a useful purpose in subduing people’s violent and antisocial tendencies, but for the most part they are LAME.

That’s why when I saw this video posted to my bloggy co-conspirator‘s g-talk status, I came back to the topic I philosophized about as a sophomore in college while reading Erich Fromm: The manifestation of inhibitions in daily life. Or in this case, lack thereof. I present to you, Tommy Tucker:

Granted, Tommy Tucker has consumed some inhibition-reducing elixir (Evan Williams?), but the average person — even upon consuming the entire contents of that bottle — could not execute Mr. Tucker’s act of inhibitory defiance with such style and class. And note how others around him respond. People look to others for ways to break out of their own inhibitory patterns, and it catches on. Crowd dynamics, yum. Here is a particularly awesome example:

I wish that one out of every ten people, or maybe even 20 or 50, had the lack of social inhibitions that Tommy Tucker and the dude at the Sasquatch music festival did when these videos were recorded. If that were so, then life would just be one big dance party, and I think we would all be a lot happier.

Palm Pre + me = Love

Te quiero mi amor.

Te quiero mi amor.

From the instant I heard of you, through the murmured musings on my favorite tech blog, I knew I had to know you. They said you could be the one to finally put the iPhone to shame after all these years of its boasting… that arrogant device. You piqued my interest, dark horse. I had to know more.

I went to your website and that was the first time I laid eyes on you… your sleek frame, your compact numerical keypad, your large, wide screen. You made my heart race, Pre. I knew I had to have you. I surrendered my email address to your makers with confidence, something I am usually reluctant to do. I don’t trust so easily, Pre. I’ve been spammed in the past, and those wounds take time to heal. I don’t just give away access to my inbox anymore.

But you…. you were different. I didn’t know if I could afford you or if you were really as good as they said you were. I have high standards, Pre. But I also have intuition, and it was telling me with forceful persistence that I just had to know when you would be ready. Ready for me to hold you.

The media reviewers started to buzz about you, making me giddy with excitement. They loved you, Pre! Though some were weary to pick a favorite between you and your Apple enemy. I know it is no small feat to convert an iPhone user. They are comfortable in their mediocrity, and to question only makes them defensive. To convince them of your superiority, or even to have them rate you as merely an equal — to me that indicates you have already won the competition.

And you won my heart, Pre. When I saw the novice Gizmodo review of you, I felt a rage wash over me. How could he submerge you in soft cheese?? How could he defile you like that?? I took a stand for you, Pre. Because reading the empty criticisms of an Apple lover in that review, I knew. I knew that you were the one for me.

And then the very next day, I saw it. Waiting for me in my inbox. The alert from your makers:

Today’s the day. The new Palm® Pre phone on the all-new Palm webOS platform is here.

I knew you wouldn’t let me down, Pre. And it was destiny, you see. Did you know, my precious? Did you know that my Verizon contract had ended June 3rd? Did you know that my other beloved phone was dying? That it struggled to connect the audio when it was open in its primary position, forcing me to talk through speaker phone in the texting form, like it was some kind of Nextel 2-way? Shhh you don’t have to tell me if you knew, Pre. It won’t change how I feel about you.

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