My Friend the Photoshop Goddess

While I worked at IBM, I met some pret­ty impres­sive peo­ple. A fel­low con­trac­tor, Maria Masiar, recent­ly achieved what I’d call deity sta­tus, hav­ing been to Adobe’s Pho­to­shop Con­fer­ence, also known as the Art Direc­tors Invi­ta­tion­al Mas­ter Class in San Fran­cis­co for two years, and both of those times, won prizes for her work dur­ing the con­fer­ence (First Prize the first year). Maria, who moved here recent­ly from Toron­to, has now just had one of here projects here appear on Pho­to­shop Magazine’s cov­er as a run­ner-up in the Fourth Annu­al Pho­to­shop User Awards. Because I know the artist, I not only got a copy, but also the orig­i­nal pho­to that she used to pro­duce the final one. It’s help­ful to see it, because it shows Maria as the mod­el, and then her as a flesh-eat­ing zom­bie, and a damned fright­en­ing one at that! Click on each pho­to to see larg­er, more detailed ver­sions:

Maria Before Zombification Maria As A Zombie

So not only is Maria a Pho­to­shop God­dess (or Guru), she’s also got to be her own mod­el.

Hav­ing Pho­to­shop ‘chops’ like Maria’s means that you can pret­ty much do any­thing and make it look believ­able. The next time I need some syn­thet­ic real­i­ty (I’m think­ing, per­haps, of a pho­to for my wall of me sit­ting like For­est Gump at the White House with Pres­i­dent Oba­ma), I know who I’ll call.

A View with a Room

Photo By Derek Miller

Pho­to By Derek Miller

Last week’s Best of 604 Awards, a cel­e­bra­tion and awards cer­e­mo­ny that brought out many of the local blog­ging com­mu­ni­ty, con­firmed my the­o­ry that Van­cou­ver is becom­ing a key cen­ter of what’s being now gen­er­al­ly called ‘Social Media’*. I’m going to write a much longer and more com­plete post­ing on why I think this is the case, why the con­di­tions here are so favor­able for this move­ment and activ­i­ties and how well they mesh with our lives, but one clear rea­son for the social media com­mu­ni­ty being so close-knit and active in Van­cou­ver is some very strong and charis­mat­ic lead­ers like Miss 604, who planned and host­ed the event. Many thanks to her and those who helped and spon­sored the affair. Pam and I real­ly enjoyed our­selves, and I was thrilled to see so many peo­ple who I knew (and read) be rec­og­nized for their efforts by their peers and read­ers. Like many suc­cess­ful fêtes in this town (like the Fringe Fes­ti­val, Film Fes­ti­val, Bar­Camp, the Fire­works Com­pe­ti­tion, etc.), it will sure­ly become an annu­al event.

Another Business Using Social Media

It hasn’t tak­en very long for com­pa­nies (both large and small) to pick up on the mar­ket­ing poten­tial of social media, and many of my friends and fel­low blog­gers now make their liv­ing help­ing to bring their clients up to speed on the rapid­ly chang­ing and grow­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for mak­ing use of blog­ging and oth­er online ‘con­duits’. Some of them clear­ly ‘get it’. In fact, one of the cat­e­gories of the Best of 604 awards was the cat­e­go­ry of ‘Best Com­pa­ny Blog’, and this past fall’s Mol­son Brew 2.0 event showed that even large cor­po­ra­tions can indeed be very savvy regard­ing this new medi­um. Case in point:

The Opus Hotel in Yale­town

High Tech Com­pa­nies, Mar­ket­ing Shops, and Large Brew­eries aren’t the only com­pa­nies blog­ging.  Van­cou­ver has some great hotels, and one of them, the Opus Hotel, has a blog.  How did I know about that? The Opus Hotel is also on Twit­ter, the microblog­ging plat­form. What’s more, they post­ed a ‘tweet’ of their blog post about one of their guest’s reac­tions to stay­ing in their rooms. The ‘review’ (whether it is the real thing or not) is not only laugh-out-loud hys­ter­i­cal, but I also think it’s a bril­liant piece of mar­ket­ing and won­der­ful use of a blog to talk about their busi­ness with cus­tomers.  While I’ve not stayed at the Opus Hotel and haven’t even been to their well-known bar or equal­ly well-known restau­rant Elixir, I have to say that this piqued my curi­ousi­ty.

*For those who aren’t familiar with the term, Social Media include blogs, micro-blogs like Twitter, social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace, and even web sites made up of contributions by their members like YouTube and Flickr. The Wikipedia article sums up Social Media well, and I particularly liked this sentence: “Social media depend on interactions between people as the discussion and integration of words to build shared-meaning, using technology as a conduit.”

A Boyhood Friend, Now a TV Star (and in a commercial)

Like many peo­ple, I’ll bet you, dear read­er, grew up with a few peo­ple who end­ed up being in the pub­lic eye, either as a celebri­ty or just some­one who got their ’15 min­utes of fame’. As for me, one of my clos­est friends when I was about 16 was Lance Red­dick, who shared my love of music — he was a fel­low com­po­si­tion stu­dent, and just as a pal through many of the tri­als and tribu­la­tions of being a teenag­er. Lance and I also end­ed up as fel­low stu­dents years lat­er at the East­man School of Music in Rochester, New York, a place that both of us left before grad­u­at­ing back in the 80s. After that he went into act­ing, and I went into com­put­ers. His act­ing paid off big time; He starred as a reg­u­lar char­ac­ter, Lt. Cedric Daniels, in one of the most crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed shows of all time, The Wire, which Pam and I watched reg­u­lar­ly before we moved here (it was on HBO, and we didn’t get that after the move). Lance’s height, strik­ing looks, and nat­ur­al but intense act­ing style all made for a great fol­low­ing, and besides his roles in some movies (The Siege, Don’t Say a Word, I Dreamed of Africa) as well as either small parts or or reg­u­lar roles on oth­er TV shows (West Wing, Law and Order: SVU, CSI: Mia­mi, Oz, Fringe and Lost), he’s now attained the sta­tus of an iden­ti­fi­able star. No red car­pet appear­ances at the Emmies or Oscars that I’ve seen yet, but I’ll bet there are some.

So last week, on CNN, his face shows up in a Cadil­lac com­mer­cial:

I asked him (via Face­book) if they gave him one, and nope, they didn’t. I hope he gets a chance to shoot a movie or TV show up here, as it would be great to see him again (we got caught up at a friend’s wed­ding about 4 or 5 years ago). I’d say it’s only a mat­ter of time.

Generosity

When Pam and I first moved here, I remem­ber writ­ing about how nice every­one was to us, from the real­tor who helped with the pur­chase, to the banker who set up new accounts for us and got us cred­it cards, to our new neigh­bors and even the law offices who helped with our immi­gra­tion issues. The postal car­ri­er for our build­ing was help­ful and friend­ly, as was our build­ing man­ag­er and var­i­ous trades­peo­ple who came dur­ing our ini­tial months of set­up. I took some of this to be, per­haps, part­ly the West vs. the East coast, part­ly the Cana­da vs. US, and part­ly just being lucky.

These days, a lit­tle over three years lat­er, I’m now con­vinced it wasn’t luck, because the kind­ness and gen­eros­i­ty that we ini­tial­ly met with have con­tin­ued. This past month, a friend of mine sur­prised me with lunch and Canucks tick­ets out of the blue (I won’t embar­rass him with nam­ing him, but he knows who he is). For Pam’s birth­day a few weeks ago, our neigh­bor Estelle brought in sev­er­al vas­es of flow­ers, because she was leav­ing town and though Pam would enjoy them. She also gave Pam tick­ets to see the Speed Skat­ing tri­als at the Pacif­ic Col­i­se­um today. Yes­ter­day, my friend Dav­eO, who was work­ing at the happyfrog.ca booth at the Health Show, gave us free tick­ets. Last week I vis­it­ed with two of the first friends I met just as I moved here, Matt and Mak­taaq (in fact, I’m hap­py to have known them even knew them before they were mar­ried!), and at their Hal­loween par­ty, Ryan offered to lend me one of his bicy­cles.

The fre­quent gen­eros­i­ty of my friends has been seen online in this blog, with offers from Mon­i­ca and oth­ers to twit­ter that I was look­ing for work (as well as oth­ers who have put the word out on their blogs), mes­sages of good will on birth­days and anniver­saries, and even flat­ter­ing blog posts about me (com­plete­ly unex­pect­ed as well, I might add. Thanks Raul.). Com­ments from fel­low Bush Refugees Bob and David fre­quent­ly make my day. They also gave us a bot­tle of their own wine.

I’ve seen the fire­works from a fab­u­lous van­tage point in Yale­town with MJ and laughed myself sil­ly at a com­e­dy night host­ed by Tanya. I’ve got­ten patient iPhone con­sult­ing from John and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to write an op-ed piece for the LA Times, thanks to Travis.

I’m only scratch­ing the sur­face. With both Pam and I look­ing for work and liv­ing off of our sav­ings, and all the scary eco­nom­ic news (on CNN, main­ly) I still sub­mit that like George Bai­ley in It’s a Won­der­ful Life, I am tru­ly a rich man, because of friends, and they keep remind­ing me of this fact.

Political Youth

It’s no secret that the youth of Amer­i­ca have embraced Oba­ma as their can­di­date, and I’m thrilled, but also a lit­tle sur­prised, that for the first time in my life, there is the dis­tinct prospect of the US Pres­i­dent actu­al­ly being younger than I am (although by less than a year — 10 months and 22 days, to be exact).  Barack Oba­ma is at this moment, fly­ing to see his ail­ing Grand­moth­er in Hawaii. Mine is long gone. His age is on my mind, because I can relate to him as a mem­ber of my age group, Gen­er­a­tion JonesNot a boomer, much as they would like to lump us in with them (and I always think of Clin­ton and yes, Dubya as quin­tes­sen­tial boomers, rep­re­sent­ing much that was both good and bad about that gen­er­a­tion), and not a Gen-Xer, Gen­er­a­tion Jones doesn’t get as much press, but it I’m begin­ning to pon­der what it will be like with one of us actu­al­ly in charge. To quote Wikipedia’s def­i­n­i­tion:

Gen­er­a­tion Jones is a term that describes peo­ple in cer­tain Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries born between the years 1954 and 1965. Amer­i­can social com­men­ta­tor Jonathan Pon­tell iden­ti­fied this gen­er­a­tion and coined the term to name it. Gen­er­a­tion Jones has been referred to as a hereto­fore lost gen­er­a­tion between the Baby boomers and Gen­er­a­tion X, since pri­or to the pop­u­lar­iza­tion of Pontell’s the­o­ry, its mem­bers were includ­ed with either the Boomers or Xers. The name con­notes a large, anony­mous gen­er­a­tion, and derives from the slang term “jonesing”, refer­ring to the unre­quit­ed crav­ings felt by this gen­er­a­tion of unful­filled expec­ta­tions.

From Then to Now

Anoth­er age-relat­ed top­ic was on my mind: When I vol­un­teered to work on the Dean cam­paign in Mass­a­chu­setts, we used to have many peo­ple who were younger than us over to work on the Mass-for-Dean web site. Chris, Emi­ly and James’s lap­tops would be out at the kitchen table suck­ing down bits on the still fair­ly new wi fi net­work. We worked on the web site, on hand­outs, signs, coör­di­na­tion of resources and meet­ings, and a bunch of oth­er activ­i­ties.  I still keep in touch with a few mem­bers of the group that Pam affec­tion­ate­ly referred to as ‘The kids’. So it’s with a lit­tle pride that I view the Dean ’50-state strat­e­gy’, the stun­ning­ly effec­tive use of the Inter­net as a fund-rais­ing tool, and the sign­ing up of all of those new vot­ers as per­haps hav­ing ‘fetal’ begin­nings in our town­house in Cam­bridge. Nev­er­the­less, I don’t think any of us had any idea of how sophis­ti­cat­ed the online com­po­nent of the cam­paign would become.

There is also so much vital­i­ty and cre­ativ­i­ty of those who are now involved in the Oba­ma cam­paign, which I can plain­ly see, even from a dis­tance. Even though I’m not a fan of the music, this online ‘grass-roots’ web ad struck me as so pol­ished, so ‘pro­fes­sion­al’, and so emo­tion­al­ly appeal­ing that I felt that I had to embed it here. Some of the newest gen­er­a­tion of vot­ers in the US (and who are, of course, even younger than the kids who crowd­ed around the kitchen table 22 Lilac Court) have made a very impres­sive get-out-the-youth-vote video: