#occupywallstreet vs #thathighmoment

I just had another discussion about the amount of media attention (or lack there of) the Occupy Wall Street protest was seeing. There have been slews of reports that Twitter may be blocking the trending topic. I just did the most basic of tests. I searched over and over again for both #OccupyWallStreet as well as many of the current trending topics. Over and over again, it seemed clear to me that #OccupyWallStreet was experiencing far more posts than any of the trending topics… by a considerable margin. Check out the post times in the following image capture:

Polar Bear Progress Report

It’s been over 9 months since I last blogged about Polar Bear’s status. A lot can happen in 9 months. I’ve invested a fair amount of blood, sweat, and tears.

I laid down new flooring. Currently I have bed liner coating against the metal, a foam later next, wood on top of the foam, and finally a vinyl mat on top. Ultimately, I’ll lay carpet in key areas. This is the single biggest improvement in sound dampening yet.

For a while, I installed a roof top tent on the roof rack. The rack was a huge project, but cost me less than $150.

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The Mess Of Social Media

Did you know kids don’t use email? They say they prefer social media and txt messages. The other day I opened up Pidgin for the first time in a while and realized that I haven’t added any “new” contacts in years. I barely write to my own blog and have failed to visit my RSS feed reader in a very long time.

Meanwhile, I use Facebook on a daily basis. Sometimes I keep tabs on my mobile. My problem with Facebook has recently become what my problem on MySpace used to be. I don’t like the software. I want something very different. I stay for two reasons. First, I know a lot of people who are active on Facebook. Second, I haven’t found an alternative I would want to encourage my friends to join.

The recent closure of Internet connectivity in Egypt during the revolution sends a strong message about ownership of the Internet. Ownership should be distributed. The tool that replaces Facebook should be distributed. Diaspora perhaps?

It’s really pretty simple. If we the people can hang on to the Internet – even if it means building our own – then we stand a chance. Otherwise, nothing changes from the way things have been for thousands of years. This is about to become very important.

The Ash

And I remember these two things… The project called Phoenix and that song Center of the Sun. The cleansing fire may have been the best solution, but I never thought my soul would burn. The Phoenix is not known for compassion nor apathy, just fire.

Never give up, never surrender!

My dad is the one who I first heard quote that silly Sci Fi movie, Galaxy Quest. He would pop off around the house with, “never give up, never surrender!” When my last long term girlfriend and I were first getting to know each other, I found out she was a GQ fan. I felt right at home. It would seem, however, that we came from opposite sides of the universe when it comes to our understanding of “surrender”.

My father wasn’t much of a “dad” to me in the traditional sense. We never played ball, he didn’t attend any of the my extracurricular activities, etc. If it wasn’t for my brothers, I might not have learned to ride a bike. When it finally came time for the birds and the bees conversation, dad seemed really nervous about it. The memory still makes me laugh a bit.

However, my old man was an amazing father. As a provider and a protector, he took care of his family. He was doing really well for himself in the 80s and decided to go into business for himself. Some bad timing and the total collapse of the oil industry put him into severe debt. My father never took the self pity path, he just got to work. Before he started his own company, he was already the fancy exec as well as company pilot. After his own company failed, the next job he landed was as a fuel truck driver. He worked hard, very hard, to rebuild his career and take care of his family. He took his trashed credit rating, bruised ego, and worked his way to a point where he and my mother are now retired to a beach front home in Mexico.

My dad is a hero to me in this way. It was only more recently that I realized what a hero my mother is as well. I do remember them fighting a bit during the hard times, but they saw it all through. My father grew up without a father, he had no real role model. He left home when he was 16 to escape his abusive mother. To put it lightly, my father wasn’t always the best at being sensitive. Still, through feast and famine, my mother stuck by his side. I know she struggled at times. She went from fancy diamond rings to raising chickens in the back yard so we could survive off of eggs. She could have left, she could have looked for another man. She didn’t, she just jumped in and got her hands dirty too. They’re approaching 40 years of marriage together now.

Everyone likes to talk about what a problem attachment can be. Sure, you could say that my parents are very codependent. (Don’t tell my father that, he won’t like it much.) On the flip side, if you were witness to my life growing up, you could find many brilliant examples of how powerful a dedicated couple can be. My family built the home we lived in through my high school years. My parents lived in that home for over 15 years. We built that home from scratch, all by ourselves. To be completely fair, an extended family member was involved. My mother’s brother Tommy built and installed our kitchen cabinets.

Through thick and thin, my parents never gave up, they never surrendered. I took their bond for granted. I am now 34 years old and am taking on life independently. At least this time I am fortunate in that I’m sharing a living situation with some amazing house mates who feel like family. Maybe there’s a lesson here I have yet to learn before I’ll be ready to meet my own life long partner…

Megan

I fell in love with her when she walked into the room. She inspired me to learn to liquid dance that night, just from the way she used her hands. She was the most intensely beautiful woman I’d ever seen. Normally I would have been scared to talk to her, but I wasn’t in my right mind that night. I asked her out and she said yes.

I brought her flowers on our first date. Turns out, she had a thing for orchids. I introduced her to sushi that night. I even remember the waitress. I used the perks of my job to impress her. I had a parking pass and access to a private basement arcade complete with a soda fountain. I knew she was the one when I heard her get all 4 ghosts in Miss Pacman. We had Amy’s ice cream. I had chocolate and she had vanilla with strawberries chopped in. While we walked down the street, I bumped her lightly with my shoulder. She asked if I did it because I wanted to touch her. I said yes. That night, she kissed me.

I don’t believe I had ever been so happy in my life. The rest of the story you’ll need to ask me in person… It becomes a complicated tragedy.

That was a decade ago. In March of this year, during a trial separation from her husband, all alone, Megan took her own life.

We had no friends in common. I was contacted by a stranger on Facebook who knew her well. He told me about the story of our first date in surprising detail. He was the only person with which I’ve been able to commiserate. He became the only other person I know who understands what made her so beautiful. In his own words, “she was pure light.”

I still have pieces of her artwork tucked away in a box. Tonight I looked at some photos from the last time I saw her (one is attached to this post). I thought about parts of our story I’ve avoided for a very long time. I’ve tried to write a blog post about her countless times during these past 6 months. I haven’t been able to finish one. Megan was always someone I could talk to. She was a true confidant. We’d often chat for hours every day, for months at a time. We had a very deep connection.

The whole of what’s happened in my life since her death is difficult for me to comprehend. I’ve changed my mind about how I’m living my life entirely. I’ve realized more options in life than I thought possible. I’ve started seeing people in different ways. I’ve realized things about myself.

However, in these past 6 months, I’ve also lost my job and my girlfriend. The job loss was unrelated. I’m not so sure about the girlfriend. My first date with that girlfriend was as beautiful, powerful, and unique as the one with Megan. For a year and a half, we made beautiful memories together. She’s gone from my life as well, she will not talk to me or see me. I didn’t always deal with situations the way I would have liked.

Today, I’m stable and healthy. I’m stronger today than I have been in a long time. I’m even fairly happy. Life is pretty good and I think I’ll remember these times well. It all still hurts a bit though.

Skull Cracking

It’s two and a half into the am and I can’t leave my conscious state. I haven’t been trapped here in a couple of months. My head feels like it’s going to split open right at the top.

For hours, a series of astonishing yet simple realizations pounded my awareness in the most violent of manors. My imagination poured with blood and rage as the most basic and most obviously integrated-bits of information finally formed together into a cohesive perception. The resolution was low and the data loss high, but there was a definite signal lock.

Perhaps it was too faint to know for sure.

This new perception slaughtered what was left of a beautiful feeling stored deep inside my soul. Beautiful, at least, in my attachment to it. A mental room faintly marked with a flicker of hope suddenly has no doors or windows. Not a single spirit remains standing in a space that was once, perhaps, a little crowded. In the center of this room is an alter to trust, resting silently now in pitch black.

And if this is life, if the signal reads clean, then the dream of salvia was not so much a nightmare but rather the reality. In the nightmare, there was nothing beyond I and I was all there is. In this room exists no one now but myself and it has been far too long since I held regular occupancy. Have I ever?

Something about this seems terribly terribly wrong. This gaping hole left in reality where the meaning falls out, into nothing. This can’t be reality? The purity and intensity of the irony would be far too great.

Is the illusion truly that grand? I certainly hope there’s noise in this signal.

Waking Up

It’s 3:00 in the morning and I can’t sleep. I’m not sure if it’s because of the heat or because I feel like I just woke up. This was a tough year for me thus far. For the first time, perhaps ever, I truly felt disconnected from my parents. Someone who was a heavy influence on my life committed suicide in March. In the beginning of the year, I moved out of my girlfriend’s condo. More recently, we stopped dating altogether. It’s felt like a lot of loss.

The loss of my Nino as my partner in life was my breaking point. I fell deep into self pity for a while. I have amazing people in my life. Some tolerated my pity party while others gave me just the right direction I needed. Tonight I am extremely content with my life. Furthermore, I’m really excited about my future. I haven’t felt this way in some time.

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Building Community: The Game Changed

My first online community effort happened in 1994. I didn’t have a vision or understand what I was doing. It was low tech and attracted a small population, but it filled a need so it sustained for several years. Back then, building an online community was actually rather easy.

In 2007, I was hired by a big name health and fitness company to develop an online community. The effort began well, but was quickly derailed by many of the most common mistakes that big companies seem to make. I departed the venture in 2008 and moved on to social media centric projects. I went back to check on their progress and found that the entire community, one that used to be hundreds of thousands of users strong, was wiped from the face of the Internet entirely.

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Rebuilding The Bear

Almost 3 months ago, I posted that I was gutting Polar Bear. The saga continues, and much has come to pass. I ripped out the flooring, headliner, seats and dash. I cleaned, painted, and started rebuilding. I’ve started migrating from brown to gray. I even added a rotating seat mount for the passenger. The new seat and a giant bean bag turned out to be rather useful.

On the outside, I’ve added a roof rack, rear ladder, and spare tire cover. Mechanically, I’ve had the transmission replaced, transfer case and front drive shaft rebuilt, a/c leaks fixed, rear brakes fixed, and other odds and ends. I attempted to have a leaky front windshield fixed and am still fighting that battle. Inside, I’ve installed a new stereo system. I fabricated a few doors panels to mount speakers on. I am replacing lights with leds. I also got some really neat new seat covers. (more…)