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A Little Something To Tide You Over March 30, 2009

Posted by thepixelsuite in Top Chef.
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from OurSceneTV

from OurSceneTV

Season 5 of Top Chef wrapped up some weeks ago, and with Season 6 still casting, television foodies are experiencing severe cases of Colicchio Withdrawl Syndrome. Every day serious fans scour the web for any article, clip, or blog post relating to the upcoming season as well as news of their favorite chefs from seasons past. Just in time for some of those diehards comes a story from a Season 5 fan favorite which will hopefully satiate their appetites.

A member of OurSceneTV’s Production & Development group contacted me via e-mail to check out a piece they created featuring San Francisco’s own Jamie Lauren. It’s an entertaining five minute piece during which Jamie visits a few New York eateries, interviews the principals, and samples some of their fare. The production values are a little uneven and Jamie needs a little more media training before she can carry pieces like this, but, overall I think it’s a strong start for a group looking to provide “Life/Style TV for LGBT”.

For those of you entranced by every stir, whip, blend, and chiffonade of Top Chef cheftestants, this clip will hopefully serve as an amuse bouche to tide you over to the next season. Bon appetit!

Click here to view the clip and interview on OurSceneTV’s web site.

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I’m Not A Qwitter March 27, 2009

Posted by thepixelsuite in social media.
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Pretty sure they didn't unfollow me

Pretty sure they didn't unfollow me

A quick update on a story from the beginning of the week.

You may recall my dismay over losing sixteen Twitter followers at once. Since they had all quit at exactly the same date and time, I chalked it up to my uncovering some sort of machine-driven alien plot. After all, if you’ve ever tried to get sixteen humans to do the same thing at the same time, you know how difficult that can be. Only hive mind-driven cyborgs could pull off a stunt like that. The truth behind this seemingly coordinated mass defection, however, is a bit more mundane.

I believe most if not all of The Twitter 16 unfollowed me simply because I wasn’t following them. Furthermore, they probably unfollowed me quite recently, and the Qwitter servers saved up all the quit messages and sent them to my e-mail box at the same time. While I’m only assuming the behavior of the Qwitter servers, I have some good evidence I lost followers simply because I wasn’t following them based on a comment to my post. A comment which contained the message: “Mystery solved”. The comment included a link to a story written by @thirstycrow for his off topic blog. One of the Twitter 16 had read my post and responded with more backstory explaining what had happened.

That night I saw a tweet in the person’s feed, a blip.fm song reference about which I made an @reply comment. Then I typed out a direct message and sent it off only to be told that I can’t send a direct message to someone who is not following me. Strange. I checked my small list of followers and, yep, I’d been quit….Better to just un-follow and move on…Well, as it turns out I hadn’t been quit. I had mentally checked the box that said this person had followed me when I received the direct message when in fact he had not. (I backtracked through my email trash and found no ‘This person is following you on Twitter’ message.) I had not offended him by not responding, and he had not un-followed me.

So, no alien plot against the world unmasked. Only bad Twitter ettiquette on my part. Had I followed @thirstycrow and the rest of the Twitter 16 when I received their initial follow all of this would have been avoided. Lesson learned.

By the way @thirstycrow and I again mutually follow one another on Twitter, and, if you’d like to read his whole account of this affair, it’s here in a post entitled: Twetiquette and Qwitters.

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The Search For A Sponsor March 25, 2009

Posted by thepixelsuite in Running.
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On their last legs?

On their last legs?

I’d like to think this all sprang from a more exalted instinct. A vision of myself still-framed. Captured from a low angle mid-stride my face set in a determined expression. My eyes focused on the finish line out of view but just ahead. Perhaps I’m shattering an age-group record, or upholding my promise to a charitable group. Or maybe I’m at the Games bringing home another medal for America. If any one of those conditions were true, I’d feel a lot better about what I need to do.

Instead, this all started because I need a new pair of running shoes.

Over the last couple of days I’m exerting a lot more effort when I run, and I feel like I’m pounding the pavement harder than usual. I haven’t yet felt the hamstring strain which, for me, is a sure sign my shoes have passed their expiry date. But, when I thought about how many miles I’ve run since I first slipped them on, I realized my shoes were running on borrowed time and I would need to replace them soon. I realized all of this during last night’s six-miler, and I inwardly groaned at the thought of laying out so much cash to replace a pair of shoes which still looked fine and which I’d only used for a few months. Just then, it hit me-I needed a shoe deal.

Of course, for an unknown like me landing a sponsorship deal with a shoe or an apparel manufacturer is a long shot, and there ar a lot obstacles to overcome before I slip on a pair of sponsored kicks. For one thing I’m not a well-known athlete, and I haven’t spent my life either training for or competing in world class running events. I’m not particularly fast, I’ve come to the sport relatively recently and haven’t run that many events. I don’t represent a charitable organization or cause a shoe company could get behind and build a campaign around, I don’t have a compelling story, and I’m not really photogenic.

Most companies would probably dismiss my application for sponsorship based on those facts alone, but I’m looking for the one visionary firm that can see past these supposed negatives. The one that realizes I may not be well-known but then again most runners aren’t. (Quick, without thinking, name three marathon runners of any nationality.) Someone who sees I may not have trained as a runner all of my life, but finds my training logs reveal a serious and committed athlete. I need to align with a company that finds my story might not be all that different from that of many other runners, but like me takes pride knowing I went from couch to a full marathon (3:35:31 thank you very much) in about a year. As for the modeling side of things, I’m sure they can take care of that with make up and lighting.

While I’m afraid I’m soon going to have to go to my favorite sporting goods store and plunk down a wad of cash for some new shoes, I’m hoping it will be the last time I need to do so. I’m hoping in the coming weeks I’ll partner with a company which wants to take a unknown, slow, mid-packer and transform him into a unknown, slow, mid-packer festooned with items from their product line.

And if any running shoe public relations folks are reading this-I’m a ten and a half.

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You Can’t Go Home Again March 23, 2009

Posted by thepixelsuite in Running.
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I feel so fortunate running has become an important part of my life. Lacing up and putting in five or six miles, a frightening prospect only a year or so ago, comes naturally to me on most days, and I feel confident I could knock out a half marathon distance if so challenged.

But it hasn’t always been like this for me.

Recently I visited my hometown of Petaluma, California (You can pet a dog, and you can pet a cat, but you can’t, well, you can imagine the rest). In the wave of nostalgia which sometimes washes over me when I pass near my former elementary school I was reminded of the grueling Physical Education classes I endured there as a lad and how they contributed to my long-harbored disdain of running. Back in the day once a week during P.E., after what seemed like hours of performing jumping jacks and windmills, we’d be forced to run around the entire campus. Of course, we objected, but our entreaties were met with high-pitched cackles and snorts of derision from our P.E. teachers.

At least that’s how I remember it.

So, off we would go-the popular kids, the geeks, the halt, and the lame alike-our mini-strides carrying us on a circumnavigation of the school grounds. In those days we didn’t have GPS watches to help us determine routes and distances, but I was certain that loop around the school was three or four miles long, and by the time we finished that run we were almost too tired to spend the rest of the class playing kickball or whiffle ball. Now, I realize childhood memories are not entirely accurate, so I’ve since gone back and used sophisticated web-based tools to calculate the exact distance we ran during those weekly torture sessions. Behold the horror:

Route of the St. Vincent Elementary School Weekly Death March

Route of the St. Vincent Elementary School Weekly Death March

It seems a lousy quarter of a mile was enough to get me to swear off running as a form of exercise for most of my life. Of course, you can’t compare the little kid me with the big kid me. But keep in mind back then I probably ran ten miles a day playing soccer, touch football, and hide-and-seek, and I never had any problem. Run a quarter mile around the school for P.E. though? Absolute torture.

I’m happy I’ve outgrown most of my childhood hang-ups about running. Although, to this day, I still don’t like running around tracks.

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“I wish I knew how to quit you.” March 22, 2009

Posted by thepixelsuite in social media.
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@ennis and @jack can't believe some of the things I've said either.

@ennis and @jack can't believe some of the things I've said either.

Apparently you can quit me.

I checked my e-mail this morning and found a whopping 23 new messages, a large number for a Sunday. On closer inspection, though, I found sixteen of them came from one service Qwitter, which “e-mails you when someone stops following you on Twitter…” Since I hadn’t received a message from them before (hey, I’m not bragging, I’m just telling it like it is), I was taken aback by this sudden mass defection of Twitter followers. “Was it something I said?” I wondered. Could my latest use of blip.fm have caused a particular song to get stuck in a bunch of peoples’ heads? Was it the occasional tweet about my daily routine?

I’d better get going. That cup of coffee isn’t going to buy itself.8:16 AM Mar 20th from TweetDeck.

Or did I rub a group of Star Trek fans the wrong way?

I like Star Trek, too, but this is going too far: » link to nytimes.com

As it turns out, Qwitter lets you know exactly what your last tweet was before one of your followers dumped you. My offending message? @bicoastalite Good heavens. You all are running machines! I don’t know why so many of my former Twitter followers found that particular tweet offensive. Perhaps they are all cyborgs who thought I was making some sort of joke at their expense. In fact, looking at the timestamps of each of the e-mails I received from Qwitter, I noticed a behavior only a machine could produce: all sixteen followers quit me at the same time. No group of humans could possibly do that.

So, I’m sorry @rents14, @abbyjaye, @thirstycrow, and all the rest. I didn’t mean to offend you with my 140 character observations and bon mots. And, if it’s any comfort to you, I for one welcome our new alien overlords.

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Not Just a Bunch of Ones and Zeroes March 21, 2009

Posted by thepixelsuite in Running.
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No pillows or pie throwing for me

No pillows or pie throwing for me


photo credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

I have so far stayed away from the whole flashmob meme with its pillow fights, shaving cream pie fights, and zombie gatherings. It’s just not my bag, baby.

I’m not a complete social Luddite, however, and last night I went to my first Tweetup at Polk Gulch’s SNOB. A sizeable group of Twitter followers gathered to help out a friend of ours, Julianne, in her fundraising efforts for the Hope Runs event she has signed on to complete. Next January she will set out to run seven full marathons, on seven continents, in seven days-the 777 Hope Runs Challenge-with the, “goal of bringing fundraising and awareness to the AIDS orphans of East Africa.” So, while you and I will be trying to stay true to our 2010 New Year’s resolutions, Julianne will be hopping around the globe, enduring seven marathons in seven weeks as part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Traveling the world running marathons sounds exciting, but I’m going to leave that task to Julianne and her fellow Hope Runners. I am happy and intrigued, however, to translate a lot of digital correspondence in the social media world, to actual people. If Twitter can be used to get a group together to enjoy good wine and mellow jazz music all in the name of helping a friend raise money for a good cause, that is my bag, baby.

For more information and to follow Julianne’s progress, click here, to visit her blog. While you’re there, why not support her efforts? Even if it’s a small amount, every little bit counts.

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Oh Noes! Black Toes(nails)! March 16, 2009

Posted by thepixelsuite in Running.
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Admittedly, the other toenails don't look so hot either.

Admittedly, the other toenails don't look so hot either.

Just as spring is starting to break I thought things were turning around for my feet. No more would children and the faint-of-heart run away in fear if I walked into the room wearing my comfy flip-flops. After months of patiently waiting for my black toenails to grow out, I was on the brink of recovering a full set of perfect toenails. Alas, as you can see from the photo above, my dreams of being a foot model have been dashed once again. According to Jeff Galloway’s website, here’s what happened to my toenails:

If a toe is under pressure from the shoe or a sock that is too tight or too thick, the sustained pressure, step after step, produces an impact or a friction problem between the toenail and the tissue surrounding it. When the tissue gets damaged, fluid accumulates. The red or black color is the result of a few blood capillaries that become broken in the process.

Since my black toenails pose a cosmetic and not a painful problem, I’ve never investigated the cause of this pedestrian phenomenon. Forcing your feet into a pair of shoes and then subjecting them to miles of pounding seemed an obvious source of toenail distress. As it turns out, there’s more to the problem than sweaty feet. In addition to shoes which are too tight and ramping up your training too quickly, there’s the weather to consider.

Hot weather also improves your odds of getting one. When it’s warm, your feet swell more than they would on cold days. Because there is more pressure, and more fluid, there are more black nails generated during the summer months.

Fortunately, here in San Francisco, we don’t get too much hot weather in the summertime. But with the races I plan to run and the training required to perform well, I’m going to be generating a lot of friction in the toe boxes of my shoes. So, I apologize in advance to all of those who will be nauseated by the sight of my flip-flop clad Frankenfeet, and, I can only hope my feet have a future in modeling as the “Before” set.

Read Jeff Galloway’s full post here: Injury Archives: Black Toenails

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Brush With Greatness March 6, 2009

Posted by thepixelsuite in Movies.
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Many years ago I dragged the honey to a talk given by Ben Burtt, a top film sound designer best known for his work on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. Even though he’s uncredited, Burtt even worked on the original Death Race 2000 film released in 1975. The upshot is, if you ever chased a sibling around the house with a simulated laser rifle going, “kewww…kewww,” you owe Ben a debt of gratitude.

After his talk he made himself available for anyone who wanted to ask a question of him or make a comment. Since I was a big Star Wars fan, I queued up with the intention of  thanking him for all the wonderful work he did on those films. Unfortunately, I was at the end of the line, and Burtt had spent a lot of time greeting and talking with other audience members. By the time I got to him he just wanted to go back to the hotel, and he gave me one of those, “What the hell do I care for your gratitude?” looks. Even now I know the man was tired, but instantly my enthusiasm for his work cooled.

Of course, Burtt’s career didn’t need my approval, and he even went on to win an Academy Award for his work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. So, when he lost out to The Dark Knight during this year’s ceremony, I gave an inward “serves him right” shrug. That is, until listening to a discussion on This Week In Tech set me straight. Burtt was up for sound editing on Wall-E, you know, the movie with the cute little robots. The movie that begins with about 30 minutes in which you enter a world created not only by fantastic visuals but also by what you hear. All of that beautiful animation, brought to life with all of the clicks, whirrs, and pings created by Ben Burtt. Oh, and he voiced the damn robot to boot.

So, I’m now willing to think more kindly about Ben Burtt and his obvious talent as illustrated in the clip below. And, hey, Mr. Burtt, now that we’re friends again, if you’ve still got any pull with the folks at Pixar, I’d love to talk with them about any upcoming editing projects they might have.

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