Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Community centers.

Every once in a while I'll discover a little corner of the internet that has some tight-knit community that I'm not a part of. These little communities can spring up from a variety of common interests, and they sometimes (but not always) consist of groups of people that form communities in real life: discussion forums for people interested in running, the television show Lost, sushi restaurants in Chicago, or all manner of other things; community center or church websites with discussion boards; baking-themed blogs with copious interlinking; the people who show up on Yahoo! games to play Literati between 1am and 3am every night. Pretty much if you're interested in it, someone else on the internet is interested in it too. And there's a whole wide array of possibilities for when and how you choose to connect, and you can start, join, or otherwise affiliate with as many as you have time for or interest in. What started with chatrooms and Usenet has really hit the bigtime.

For most of us, the little communities that we find on the internet are the ones of which we're naturally already members. I like restaurants and cooking, so I get to know people on egullet. I like running, so I read shoe review boards and occasionally post. I'm on linguistics distribution lists. You probably have your own versions -- and since you're reading this, maybe you and I even belong to some of the same online communities (especially if your blog is linked on the left!).

But every once in a while, I'll encounter some very close-tied community on the internet that I'm not a part of. You're all familiar with the lurker phenomenon, where you read distribution lists or discussion forums without really posting yourself. But most of the time the conversations you're eavesdropping on are conversations among people who at least to some extent would recognize you as someone with shared or overlapping interests. It's far rarer and more interesting, at least for me, to bump into some flourishing online community that's chatting up a storm where those people don't have any real-life connection to anything you're involved with. The people you observe become more like characters in a novel, or in a movie, or even on some trashy night-time drama on FOX. Who knows what will happen next? And you get to watch it all from the privacy of your own monitor.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Faster than a speeding satellite.

I am planning to run the Vancouver marathon this year, so in preparation for that I've been slowly increasing my mileage over the last couple of months. I'm trying some new things in training for this one compared to how I prepared for my last one (which was Portland in 2003, so a while ago now). One thing I'm discovering is that my body is simply demanding more sleep. I mean I noticed this last time as well, but the last time I ramped my mileage up like this I was still in the just post-student phase of my life and didn't have a job as well, so getting enough sleep wasn't as much of a challenge. But this time I'm really feeling it -- I need a full hour more per night or so than I was getting by on a few months back.

One big change for me in training apart from the mileage and training plan itself is that since Christmas I've been running with the Garmin Forerunner 205 watch, uploading and analyzing my results at It's the perfect intersection of athleticism and geekiness. The watch is of course only as good as the quality of the GPS satellites that it uses to track the course, and I've had one run so far where it lost signal and wasn't able to correct for it and that entry in my running log is way off in terms of mileage and time. But otherwise I've been really happy with this watch, and I've started using the site to track the running log that I used to keep in Excel. It's been interesting to track my actual times for runs against how fast I'm feeling. It's not always as I expect.

I think I will likely do the Mercer Island half in March for a benchmark race about midway between now and Vancouver. Any takers for either race, let me know (Mercer Island also has an 8K category, and Vancouver has a half as well as a marathon). There are a few of us on board for one or both at this point, so it should be a good time.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

How three married couples with no kids spent Saturday night.

We have declared 2007 the year of having people over for dinner. Since it's only January, we're doing pretty well, even though our inaugural event yesterday didn't have all the planning time associated with it that we had wanted for a variety of reasons. We ate good food and drank lots of wine and talked about babies. We remarked how we felt very fake-adult, but we continued talking about babies anyway.

Over the years we've done our share of invite-everyone parties, with too much food and too much drink and way too much cleanup afterwards. This year we're making a play to rediscover the small dinner party, with just the right number of people to have either one group conversation or a few small ones, which happens to be just the right number of people to fit around our dining room table. Most of my favorite events at other people's homes are exactly the ones that successfully capture the intimacy of a small group setting, so now we too are working on dinners that might interest Neil LaBute or some Dogme director.

Ask me again in May how we're doing.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Various and sundry.

Once upon a time when I moved to Seattle I was very excited about the non-snowiness of the winters here. Those were the days! Gray January days in the 40s, oh how I miss you.

If this doesn't stop soon, I am moving to California. Is there any worse fate that nature could visit upon me?

I finished Hairstyles of the Damned for book club, which discussion I missed last night because Josh came over and we watched the Eagles lose. Whoo! It doesn't get much better than that. But anyway, this book -- not so much my thing. Though it did employ occasionally creative use of fonting, which might either delight or horrify my colleagues in the typography group at work. But the main good thing about this book is that now that I have finished it, I have started Reading Lolita in Tehran, which is turning out to be just what I wanted to it to be. Even though this woman who saw me reading it at the salon the other night told me that it was not at all what she wanted it to be. But I might as well admit this right now: I've read my fair share of Nabokov, but I've never read Lolita. And now I feel as though I ought to.

Speaking of the salon, I cut most of my hair off on Friday. Now I have less hair.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Post for Elsi.

Last week Elsi complained that I am not blogging here enough. So in the spirit of Elsi, one of the best linguists I know, I'm posting my links to my LSA write-ups:

How I got into linguistics, and what I got out of it. Or: Reactions to the LSA. (Part one)
Blogging the LSA: Epilogue. (Part two)

Let it not be said that I don't listen to my readers.