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March 2nd

Mike asked me if I was all excited about March 2nd. Yes! I exclaimed, and proceeded to tell him about how I had rewritten my shopping list to only shop for a couple of days, so I could shop again on the 2nd ... and then it turned out that he had meant the upcoming Apple event, while I am all excited about the fresh & easy grocery store that's about to open just a couple of blocks from where I live. 


New Day Resolutions

I haven't made New Year's resolutions in a long time, because usually what happens is that I get all gung ho about a new thing and am totally into it for a while. And then one day, my routine gets disrupted and I can't do the thing, or I just don't feel like it, and then the next day passes by without me having done the thing either, and soon enough three months have gone by when I haven't even *thought* about the thing. "Out of sight, out of mind" is my middle name.

Lots of articles and web sites say that it takes about 30 days to form a habit. That may be true, but it only takes me a split second to fall out of it at any time. It doesn't help much that I am not a very habitual person. I don't keep set hours to get up and go to bed, my work hours are flexible, my leisure activities vary wildly, and I generally do things in fits and spurts. I like it that way, and I don't think there's anything wrong with it - it's just how I work. 

The downside is that consistency is not my strong suit. Anything that requires long-term sustained effort (training for a marathon, gardening, losing weight, meditating regularly) works for me for a while ... and then I drop it, because, oooooh, shiny!

Things that work for me usually have an external trigger. I take my meds because the doctor told me that I must. I feed the cats because they look at me expectantly when I come home. I do laundry because the hamper is full. I work out because the classes and personal training sessions are scheduled and paid for (and because I like the teachers, and don't want to disappoint them. And I know I work harder in a class or with a trainer than I would if I were by myself.)

A recent external trigger that has been working really well for me is a game: Health Month. The blurb on the home page says: 

Health Month is game to help improve your diet, fitness, mental health, relationship health, and financial health – while enjoying it!

Health Month is about taking the SCIENCE of nutrition and behavior change and combining it with the SOCIAL GAMES of the recent social web to help people improve their health habits in a fun and sustainable way. If you can enjoy the process of living healthier, you're much more likely to stick to it.

I'm playing my third month, and am really having fun with it. Here's how it works: you set up rules that you want to follow for the month, like working out at least 3 times a week, or limiting fried foods to once a week, or spending 30 minutes of quality time with yourself or your kids or your partner, or flossing every day. Could be anything, really.

The neat thing is that the rule QUANTIFIES it, which makes your progress measurable. (You can't just say "I want to work out more" or "I want to eat less" - you really have to put numbers around it. No wobbling. I think this is another reason why so many New Year's resolutions fail - because they are too vague.)

The other neat thing is that you get a daily reminder email. This one is tailor-made for me! Helps me keep the rules close enough to my frontal lobe so they won't slip. All the time increments in here really work well for me - daily reminder, weekly goals, month-long game. The weekly goals help with the measuring and to parcel out your efforts evenly, and keeping the game a month short prevents it from seeming endless.  

And the other neat thing is that you can play on a team with your friends, and cheer each other on, and help each other out if one of you loses points for not sticking with the rules. 

And the other neat thing (can you tell I really like it?) is how it asks you questions about your rules when you set them up (is this something you like doing? how helpful/important do you think it is? how much effort do you think it will require?), and over time, you can look at your chart and see which kinds of rules work better for you. Some people do better with "don't rules" or with rules that require more effort. I know that I fare better with "do rules", and with building in a little bit of slack, so I don't get discouraged. My only 7-day rule is taking my meds, on everything else, I get at least one day off a week. 

Pretty nifty, if you ask me. 

When I first started playing this game, I just thought it was fun. Now that I am reading Jane McGonigal's "Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World" and hearing more bloggers say that most health solutions aren't medical, they're social, I am much more conscious of why this works for me.


Gonna Get Myself Connected

Aaaaaah, BlogHer. I started meeting and connecting with people right at the airport yesterday. I was sitting at the gate and looked up from my magazine right at Liz Henry's purple shock of hair. She introduced me to Rick Bucich and Lea Armstrong from Tinyprints.com. We were all standing there talking and texting when Mary came over and said, "Are you bloggers?" So nice to meet another local blogger!

And this is exactly how it goes at BlogHer - people will come to you and introduce themselves and be friendly, and I make a point of doing the same thing. Even if I feel too tired or shy to talk, I'll still have a smile ready. Because for me, it's all about connecting. The panels and sessions are great, but I don't mind if I miss a few. There are three categories of people to meet:

  • People I already know, and am thrilled to see again
  • People whose names I've heard/blogs I've read, but whom I've never met in person.
  • Entirely new-to-me people and blogs.

Here are some more of the fine women (and men) I met:

And some of my blogging friends I've bumped into:

And I had no idea that my employer Motorola was one of the sponsors! I visited their booth in the exhibit hall, and shook hands with Becki the Techie, whose name I recognized from several email exchanges.

And I got some great swag - always great swag at BlogHer! Fun kids stuff (a Mr. Potato Head), fun tech stuff (a couple of USB sticks), fun girlie stuff (EOS lip balm), and fun health stuff (a DVD titled "Pain Free" from Andrea Metcalf, with Pilates and Yoga workouts for back and shoulder health - great for all us desk jockeys).

But enough words. How about some pictures?


I'll Sit At The Table When Company Comes

Your Seat at the Table | Change.gov: The Obama-Biden Transition Team.

In a memo released today, Obama-Biden Transition Project Co-chair John D. Podesta announced that all policy documents from official meetings with outside organizations will be publicly available for review and discussion on Change.gov.

This means we're inviting the American public to take a seat at the table and engage in a dialogue about these important issues and ideas -- at the same time members of our team review these documents themselves.

That's great news. And it's exactly what I meant when I was talking about Obama being Web 2.0.


We Might As Well Be Strangers

Just saw this in today's San Jose Mercury News: Majority of Santa Clara County families speak foreign language at home.

After decades of immigration from Asia and Latin America, Silicon Valley has hit a linguistic milestone that is rare in America: For the first time, a majority of Santa Clara County residents speak a language other than English at home.

In 2007, Santa Clara was one of just 10 counties in the United States where more than 50 percent of residents speak a foreign language at home, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data being released today.

It's one of many reasons I love living here.

Oh, and me? My household languages are English, German and Catinese.


Just Like Watching The Detectives ... It's So Cute

Jane Hamsher writes: "The Revolution Will Be Twittered."

There's absolutely nothing interesting about what the GOP is doing here in Minnesota. The party itself is like an enormous cadaver whose funeral is being held in the Xcel Center, and the wakes thrown by its drunken hedonist powerbrokers bear more than a passing resemblance to Roman vomitoriums.

Not that the Democrats in Denver were much more interesting -- more lifelike, to be certain, as the baton of power and pork passed over to them, but completely staged and lacking in spontaneity nonetheless.

What happened on the streets of St. Paul yesterday was something else altogether. Whereas Denver was the site of young people clutching their blackberries and hustling passes to more and better parties, in St. Paul they were creating a whole new model for communication, documentation and activism.

Members of the Coldsnap legal collective fanned out across the city and communicated with each other (and the world) openly on Twitter about what was happening during the protest, and were thus able to alert and steer journalists, observers and anyone else with an interest immediately to what was happening on the street throughout the day. Nothing that law enforcement did happened in secret, and ACLU lawyers and other observers were able to be quickly alerted to anything that was happening. When we first arrived we started following their bulletins in the wake of the weekend raids, and as more information came in verifying their reports it became clear that they were a highly trustworthy source of information.

Meanwhile, the Uptake provided an army of video journalists with Qik cameras that broadcast live on the internet. You could track their whereabouts on a Google map, and they provided on-the-spot coverage of what was happening in real time. Really, I can't recommend enough going to their main page and taking a look at what they managed to do yesterday. They also provided a lounge where visiting bloggers could have internet and video editing space, and that's where we were headquartered yesterday. We were able to not only hear about what was happening all across the city virtually instantaneously, but see their reporters quickly diverted to anything that was happening and watch as their cameras went into action.

It was like a million ants scurrying around the city, passing back bits of information that formed themselves into a whole in a completely decentralized manner. Its very nature defied efforts to control and spin and propagandize.


That's Me In The Corner, That's Me In The Spotlight

JP from Confused of Calcutta talks about The real revolution in the making.

There’s a not-so-quiet battle going on during the US election, one that is going to get harder and grittier as the days go by. On the face of it, it’s a battle between “Mainstream Media” (or “MSM”, as it gets called) and “New Media” (principally the blogosphere, flickrworld and twitterverse).

I think that the battle can be framed differently. It’s not really between MSM and New Media, it’s between MSM and Citizen Media. That’s an important distinction; the debate is about the ways in which humans gather the news, validate the facts, edit the stories and then publish them; it is less about the tools used and more about the process; and when it comes to the process, it is more about the values and ethics that drive the editing and publishing process than anything else.

Excellent point, methinks.


Let My Love Open The Door


Willow Glen Branch Library
Originally uploaded by elkit

The Willow Glen branch of the San Jose Library re-opened yesterday. It was well-attended. Mayor Chuck Reed spoke, as well as my councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, Library Director Jane Light and several others.

I'm really looking forward to hanging out here - not that the vast and great downtown Martin Luther King Library is inconvenient, but it doesn't get much better than a local library just a block and a half away (it's at 1157 Minnesota Avenue [map], in the same spot as the previous incarnation).