March 24, 2010

a spoken word experiment

my spoken word poem about social media, performed live in los angeles on march 23, 2010.  a four-minute shout out to the wild world of facebook, twitter, myspace, and all their social media playmates:

maybe you can't tell in the video, but i was shocked by the lack of audience reaction to my indonesian facebook friend request reference. is this not happening to anyone else?  i get (no joke) at least half a dozen facebook friend requests from random indonesians every day.  i thought they had some kind of widespread facebook spam problem over there, but maybe i share a name with some indonesian soap star or something.  if anyone can help me solve this mystery, i'd be very grateful.  i guess i'll just have to rewrite the beginning of this poem, since clearly this isn't the widespread problem i thought it was...

also, i'm painfully aware of my egregious grammatical faux pas.  as it was leaving my mouth, a little piece of my soul died. but, alas, there are no retakes in live performance.

UPDATE:  joy and kristen get indonesian friend requests, too.  see, it's not just me!

also, to those who've asked, the "fail whale" is twitter's error message image:

party for a better future

i am very proud to announce that philanthro productions, the non-profit i've been involved with for three years, has released its 2009 annual report.  i'm biased, but i really think it's one of the best non-profit annual reports i've ever read.  check it out for more information about our all-volunteer team that raised over $100,000 for charity in 2009 by throwing unique social events.

the best part about this report is that it highlights the tremendous work done by our all-volunteer team of young professionals across three cities: los angeles, san francisco, and san diego.  philanthro would be nothing without its dedicated and passionate staff members who give up their free time to make sure the members of generation Y have fun, affordable, and efficient ways to party for a better future. 

2009 annual report (PDF)

ode to social media

Ode to Social Media

I ignore random friend requests
Because I'm worried about the rise of the Facebook cruiser
Especially since "I aspire to star in an adult film"
Became the unspoken mantra of every Myspace user

So now you @reply to a retweet via a hat tip to that one semi-stranger
Because you read a little bit about her life each day
And even though you two will never snail mail
Nothing separates you now but the fail whale
That one breathless moment when your monitor is stale, frail, and ailing
From the hale and hearty clickity clack
Of hackers and slackers and web traffic trackers
Who wonder each day who reads, who heeds, who needs RSS feeds?
Speed-keyed with the control-alt-delete of a complete tweet
Replete with a neat little hashtag

And I'm left wondering, "When is it okay to poke somebody?"
Maybe after you spend the time to tend and mend and bend
Until you can no longer amend that email you've penned
(Well, actually it was a Facebook message)
And then you wait for them to confirm that you're friends
So you pretend
You fake it till you make it
Then you take it until you break it, till you shake that Fail Whale wide-awake
For goodness sake
It's complicated
And I'm looking for...whatever I can get
In a world where open relationships
Are next to siblings and Republicans and Mormons and Zen
She's looking for friendship, and he's interested in men

And they say, "Congratulations, you're now the mayor of the bathroom stalls,"
Where instead of phone numbers, they write
Twitter handles on the walls
And unlocking the over-sharing badge can lead to staring and tearing your hair out
As you fill the air with every spare pair of quotation marks
Paired down to favorites, TV shows and movies
And excerpts from other people's wisdom

If Facebook were your high school crush
Your love would be a trending topic
You'd have 23 friends in common
And she'd probably suggest you become a fan of her pet cause
And you'll do it
Just so she'll keep inviting
So she'll keep asking, so she'll keep posting, so she'll keep tagging
So she'll be your social media girlfriend
Until your social network is so full of connections
It explodes into a million tiny thumbs up
You like this

And your retweets are like cocktail napkins
Envelope flaps, gum wrappers, and weather post-it notes
Smudged with crumbs of information
That you squirrel away for later in your pocket
But your pocket is a hole to your soul with a scroll bar
Blasted across cyber space one tiny bit, byte, bit at a time
Spend 160 characters on a text message
Save 20 more on a tweet
You have to stay on your toes to untag those drunk photos
Then you refresh, refresh, refresh you outlook on life
And you'll never be as sad as a Sunday night

Because it's always followed by #musicmonday
And #charitytuesday and #wisdomwednesday
But who follows Friday?
Well, the weekend, of course
It's our open-source force for good
In this social media platform networking portal
To the world's wildest web

-Anneke Jong, 3/23/10

March 23, 2010

panda mum and an indie rock coloring book

for my "double bat mitzvah" birthday last week, i received several thoughtful gifts, but two stood out as particularly "me" -- worthy of sharing.

as they are intimately familiar with my homecoming mum fascination, two of my co-workers (sam and danielle) made me one from scratch! natives of states other than texas, they had to watch instructional youtube videos to pull off this epic feat of craftiness. i'm told the absurdity of the videos alone made the endeavor worthwhile.

two of my other friends (luke and annie) got me a lovely indie rock coloring book. rock star luke just returned from sxsw where he played bass for dreamier-than-juanes gustavo galindo. as a fellow music lover, he knew i would delight in the pages of clever homages to artists i love like bon iver, stars, the shins, the new pornographers, broken social scene, and MGMT.

birthday card from pau pau

got a birthday card from my adorable paternal grandmother today, and it's too cute not to share.  we call her "pau pau" even though that's mandarin for maternal grandmother.  although, maybe it's not as ironic as it seems, since my mom and my pau pau have loved each other for over 50 years.

A note from Ms. P.P. [removed] Jong
Dear Anneke,

Thinking of you every day. On your birthday -- sending fun wishes for happy birthday today + many  happy years to come!

My fingers so numb can't hold pen

Pau-P [removed]

she suffers from arthritis, so it's especially touching that she took the time to write this note.  i can't imagine how long it took her.  it's hard to see your loved ones age, but she's so inspiring and full of grace, it overwhelms me with happiness each time i think of her.

March 22, 2010

the story of bottled water

in honor of world water day, the creators of the story of stuff (which i enjoyed) released a new video called the story of bottled water. several friends have sent it to me because i work for one of the main targets of this video: FIJI water.

folks who know me know that i'm a fairly outspoken proponent of eco-friendly behaviors, and although i don't claim to be an angel, i do try to to be conscious of my actions. i'll be honest: 6 months before i started working at FIJI water, i quit drinking bottled water for the exact reason laid out in the video: tap water is more eco-friendly than bottled water.

now that i've worked for FIJI for almost two years, i have some more perspective on the product and the market. i would never assert that bottled water is more eco-friendly than tap water, but i do know more about how our product is made and marketed. i can't speak on behalf of the company, but i am happy to share my own experiences.

i totally agree with most of the story of bottled water video, as almost all of it is true. her criticisms of "big soda" are particularly apt (that they started selling bottled tap water to make up for dwindling soda revenues and that they believe tap water is the enemy). however, it is unfair to lump FIJI in with nestle/coke/pepsi, and i have a few points of rebuttal for her video:

  1. i think i can fairly say that no one at FIJI thinks tap water is the enemy, nor will any of us say that FIJI is a more eco-friendly option than tap water. what FIJI is competing against is other packaged beverages. if your alternative is a packaged soda or juice, bottled water is definitely a healthier option (boo high-fructose corn syrup!). and of the bottled waters on the market, FIJI water is the only carbon negative product, so it's arguably the most eco-friendly. i realize that this is a "lesser-of-two-evils" argument, but it's the reality of the marketplace. 
  2. FIJI knows it made a mistake with its "cleveland" campaign. the company has apologized for that campaign and repeated that its intention wasn't to poke fun at the municipality -- it was to highlight its water's origin. there are lots of rumors still rampant today that FIJI water comes from the tap in cleveland. having been to our bottling plant in the yaqara valley on the island of viti levu, i can assure you the water does, indeed, come from FIJI. the fact that FIJI water comes from an artesian source in a pristine environment distinguishes the product from those of nestle/coke/pepsi, so obviously the company would like to market those attributes.
  3. to use the cleveland story to characterize FIJI water as "unsafe" is extremely misleading. FIJI water has never been deemed unsafe to drink.

in addition to questions about the eco-friendliness of FIJI water's product, i'm also happy to talk about the conditions on the island of FIJI and the company's presence on the island. back when the mother jones article came out, i had lots of conversations (some with complete strangers) about my experiences on the island. i'm not an expert or a spokesperson for my employer, but i have had first-hand experiences and would be happy to share those with anyone who asks.

disclaimer: the opinions in this post are of a private citizen and reflect my personal observations only. i do not presume to speak on behalf of my employer.

wide berth advised

fell in love with this passage from page 93 of david foster wallace's massive tome infinite jest:

"It's a herd of feral hamsters, a major herd, thundering across the yellow plains...With respect to a herd of this size, please exercise common sense. Feral hamsters are not pets. They mean business. Wide berth advised. Carry nothing even remotely vegetablish if in the path of a feral herd. If in the path of such a herd, move quickly and calmly in a direction perpendicular to their own."

this is how i imagine them:

zoe jong at burning man

March 21, 2010

white whine

in the grand tradition of semi-racist websites that allow me to make ironic reflections on my lifestyle, i'd like to share my latest find: whitewhine

#601 this fiji water bottle doesn't fit in my cup holder
#591 the rice on my sushi is too sticky
#586 ugh. the only vegetarian options at this ski resort are all so carby

March 18, 2010

4AM is the tweet nadir

mashable released a neat little infographic about twitter's usage statistics today. i was particularly interested in the time-of-day stats. apparently, 4AM is the tweet nadir.

of course, mashable isn't the first to point out that 4AM is the loneliest hour.

don't ask. do tell!

great piece of satire in the new yorker by paul rudnick. rudnick responds to general mcpeak's op-ed in the new york times in which the general asserts that openly gay soldiers would weaken the armed services' "warrior culture." money quotes:

Sing it, sister. I love male bonding more than anything, and I live for unit cohesion. Just the sound of the words makes me tingle with manly aggression.

Hey, Mr. Jihad, how about a brunch date with my rocket launcher? I’m not an openly gay soldier; I’m a secret gay soldier, and that makes me fierce!

In a nude war, I’d be proud to have my buddies’ backs, and their fronts.

twitter for news, myspace for trash

when people ask me where i get the news, my answer is always NPR. but, when they press me for a website, i have to say: twitter. i thought this was kind of an usual answer, but it turns out, lots of twitter users turn to the bird for their news. hat tip to chitika for the analysis of what kind of content social media users want.

March 9, 2010

"homecoming mums" live at the moth

i share the shocking (horrifying?) story of the texas tradition of homecoming mums for the moth. recorded live at air conditioned supper club in venice.

the mum:

March 8, 2010

phishing warning

i just received an email from one of my best friends, and it is a clear phishing scam. i thought i'd take the time to warn others.

on my computer is shows as coming from his gmail account (the one i'm used to seeing), but on my blackberry it shows that it's actually coming from a yahoo account (probably a fake one they set up to look like his gmail).

Subject: My Predicament..

I'm writing this with tears in my eyes,my fam and I came down here to London,England for a short vacation unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We've been to the embassy and the Police here but they're not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now but we're having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills.

Am freaked out at the moment.

[My friend's name]

it should be obvious to anyone that this is a scam, but since it comes from a trusted source, it's trickier than usual. also, you can't report the sender as a spammer because they're using your friend's account to send the spam. beware!

March 4, 2010

pressure-cooked homoeroticism

in light of the latest gay anti-gay conservative scandal, and in the wake of so many others, i'm reminded of mark morford's brilliant and hilarious 2007 repudiation of this duplicitous hypocrisy. money quotes:

"...the American right is simply teeming with so much murky, pressure-cooked homoeroticism it might as well be a Young Republicans kegger at Mark Foley's pink Miami Beach condo."

"...megachurches with their deep, eternal, fetishistic fascination with all things anal and perverted and hookeriffic and yummy."

"You can only lie to yourself, your wife, your children, the nation, your own miserable and intolerant genitalia before the backlash, the recoil, the nasty acid reflux comes right back up to bite your ass in the cold, cold bathroom stall of life."

March 2, 2010

texts from the airport

6:54pm: Got some shortbread cookies at Starbucks. Just lost them and made THE SADDEST little sad panda noise. Only a couple people heard it, but they knew...
6:55pm: Oh, nevermind. Just found them in my hoodie pouch