22 November 2008

Death by Facebook

Alyssa wrote at 5:52pm
What is the world coming to. First, my mom joined facebook and now you. It's a good thing I only get the joys of technology a few hours every few months. I don't think I can handle all of these advancements.

:) I miss you
Wall-to-Wall - Write on Alyssa's Wall

I am sure some (including myself in the recent past) would argue they are better off not caring about such matters. But is it my obligation to “study” this phenomenon, even if I don’t want to? Perhaps (evidently) it is.

In a letter to a friend:

… whereas a letter takes longer to compose (as we must more thoroughly compose our thoughts before we pen the thoughts to the paper) I can relay the same message to you in person, seemingly more personably (exactly?). And you know me and Facebook: Where is peoples’ time going these days – to ephemeral internet preoccupations?
Though these newer types of communication may indeed be the new letter writing, I just think these new forms of communication tear down more authentic types, like direct meetings, and, maybe more accurately, less time is spent composing such thoughts and conversations…

[July 20, 2005]

Until very recently, my only knowledge of Facebook was that it was a website created by a twenty-something university student, who sold it for a billion dollars. I am sure I could read the entire history of Facebook summarized in an article on Wikipedia, or I could simply and ask a few questions to the first high school student who walks into my classroom. For many reasons, this is one phenomenon that I had opted out of.

I do know what is important: the degree to which all of culture is defined by what happens to be the most popular at any given time. Over time, this website (and in general, Web 2.0) will come to represent the mainstream ethos of our future popular culture. And until recently, I had no interest in any of it. (Learning occurs best when there is a desire to attain specific knowledge.)

Me: one of my arugments for not joining was that the average facebook user spends 20 minutes a day on facebook, which seems like a long time, until i actually joined. now i know why
Friend: um id say like an 1hr a day bc i sign on at least 5 times a day lol. im sad i know lol
Me: it probably is more, i read that statistic a long time ago
Friend: wait there was a stat?! lol. sad
Me: so they are probably all laughing at me spending so much time on facebook. i refused to join, and now am on it 24/7. death by facebook

Then I moved across the country, away from all of my friends and family. Fundamental to the effectiveness of living 2000 miles away from friends and family is how to maintain communication. Moreover, difficult tasks seem easier when they are “need to know” rather than “nice to know.” A course in art history is nice to know, but contemplating Facebook satisfies a fundamental need for communication.

I wondered: “How much of a problem was this distance and hesitation towards Facebook going to become?” Even in my stoic regard of the future, I still have to ask why things have to go the way of Facebook. My resolution is plain: things will. Part of me has realized that there is an intangible downside to having complete intellectual detachment from whatever most Americans consider to be common knowledge.

Me: Guessing you found me on facebook?
Friend: ha yeah i did, totally creepy i know
Me: I am beginning to find out how creepy facebook can be. I had avoided joining it for years now, much to the dismay of my friends. well i gave in. and now i find myself finding people from years past. in a certain way i feel stalkerish
Friend: ha no i totally know what you mean i feel ober stalkerish but i mean its not like im like "stalking" them. I mean i use it to keep up with friends
Me: yea i know, that is how i need to think of it. it’s networking, not stalking

Over the last few years I have found my criticism of Facebook becomes eccentricity. The networking savvy users logging on to Facebook will almost certainly go on to influence mass media. In five, ten, fifteen years, they will be publishing books and directing films, using their shared knowledge and experiences as the foundation for discourse. So I wondered: “Because I don’t understand Facebook, am I doomed to become disconnected, thereby misunderstanding everything else?”

As I think out the process it becomes more and more related to philosophy. either I can choose to become the rogue dissident who conforms to none other than his own desires. Or the individual can conform to an established system or trend. The true challenge is achieving comfort. What if resolve can belong to the person who most readily absorbs into the trend?

11 November 2008

After Moving (Read: Fighting) for Hours

There comes a time in all of our lives that we are required to make changes.

----- Original Message -----
From: Cassie
Date: May 26, 2007 8:41:22 AM PDT
To: Tony

Hey Tony-- I just read your latest blog entry, and I really think you should switch your blog to blogger or wordpress or vox so that we can all leave lovely comments on your entries.

Change (begrudgingly) made.

'After Fighting' has moved. Its old home was foreclosed upon a couple of weeks ago. Its new home is at Blogger, which I am happy about, but it hasn't come without moving pains.

A couple of weeks ago, while attempting to post, I realized I was unable to upload to the server (owned by the University I used to attend) I had been using (perhaps bumming is the right word) to house my blog. I don't know how the University found out about this (I blame Ernesto) or why the University cared that I was using their server space, but at any rate, I was kicked out.

Ernesto. (Also a representation of how my attitude when I learned I would have to move my blog.)

Not that a move wasn't long overdue, it is just that I wasn't ready to find a new place. Perhaps I would have never been ready to move, that the only way I would have moved was to be evicted from the space I was using. So do I blame Ernesto? Or do I forget about the fighting (for hours) and move on, set up a new shop, and continue posting?

Obviously I have done the latter. It has taken hours (many of them fighting) to learn the code behind blogger so that 'After Fighting' could look similar to its prior appearance (I proceed with an impulse to hold onto the past, with my penchant for all things European, particularly European memory), and more importantly, so that it didn't look like one of those "right out of the box" templates used in countless blogs (queer survival lays in artifice, in decorating, syntax, couture, in short, having voice: the realm of taste).

But, I have digressed into another (future) conversation.

Why complain about an event that already happened? You can’t change the past, all you have left is the future. We can either loathe our predicament and become caught up in it, or move on. To make the best of the future you might have to disregard the tragic past and make things work, because they have to.

And so in true existential fashion After Fighting for Hours is (re)born, named in honor of a poem by Kate Gleason and written like Pliny, the ancient author, did.

Needless to say, this is the new home of After Fighting for Hours. I will be attempting to migrate the entire blog in the upcoming months. For now, you can see all of my old posts here.

10 November 2008

Red, White, & Blue

For Halloween I had lacquered on a thick black toenail polish. Now it was the day after and the black was quickly becoming overly moody; too heavy (emo?) for the likes of me. So I picked up a bottle of remover and a bottle white polish. As I removed the black hue and began to apply the white, I felt the greatness of America. With one complete gesture, the cotton soaked in acetone thins the dense black, and the old nail polish is removed. Now with a clean slate, I can coat my pale, bare nails with the white polish. (A most fitting color?)

There! With that swipe of the brush, three layers of polish, the past has been obliterated. The nails gleam like new. You can feel like a new person: how promising and exciting at once.

A few days later, on my way home from work on Election Day, I stopped to pick up a bottle of red wine to have with dinner. I stood staring, my eyes rapidly shuffling (read faltering) over the mass of brands and varieties. I was baffled as to which wine to choose: Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz-Cabernet, Cabernet-Merlot, overwhelmed. Fatigued by the amount of choices, and wanting my choices edited, I finally settled on the variety of [yellow tail] with the blue label.

Not because I was particularly craving that variety (I can't even remember which I chose), but for the simple and sole reason that its label was blue. I chose it instantly and took it as a sign, foreshadowing of the outcome of the election and the direction of the nation: the impending inevitability of Obama.

This is a new age. I approved of the swipe of the polish’s small brush which could erase history, and the bottle with the blue label (along with the millions of voters) that represented some new force in America, an undoing of the Bush administration, doctrine.

01 November 2008

The Fresh & Easy

I simply love my Fresh & Easy grocery store. The name says it all! Fresh & Easy differentiates itself by: sustainability, freshness/healthy food, ease of shopping and everyday low pricing (without having to use those ridiculous loyalty cards).

Fresh & Easy is a chain of small supermarkets on the West Coast of the United States. It’s a subsidiary of the UK-based retailer Tesco, the world's fourth largest retailer, and is Tesco's attempt to expand into (economically re-colonize?) the United States. It has plans for rapid growth - the first stores opened a year ago, and there are now 93 stores in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. (They plan to open a new one every two-and-a-half days in America, to mimic the successful expansion of pharmacy chains such as Walgreens in the U.S. Creepy or… amazing?)

Perhaps a back story on Tesco is in order. They should have been included in my anecdotal, quasi-analytic run-down of supermarkets in England. Frankly, I don’t know how I even overlooked mentioning them. Well, anyway, here it is: a day late and a dollar short. Tesco is a British-based international grocery and general merchandising retail chain. It has the largest British retailer, and in 2008, Tesco became the world's fourth largest retailer. Originally specializing in food and drink, it has “diversified” into areas such as clothing, consumer electronics, consumer financial services, retailing and renting DVDs, CDs, music downloads, Internet service, and software (among others. Read: the Wal-mart effect).

A Tesco Express store in London

Though, I have to admit, that when I was living in Manchester I frequented the Tesco Express (on an every-other-day basis). Tesco Express stores, like the Fresh & Easy groceries, are neighborhood convenience shops, stocking mainly food. They are found in busy city center districts as well as small shopping precincts in residential areas. Tesco (like the Fresh & Easy stores here, provide an simple-living solution by offering fresh, organic healthy options that are quick and easy.

A Fresh & Easy market in Las Vegas

I think that is why I love this little grocery store.  It has mostly natural and organic stuff, and most made without preservatives/artificial colors and such.  Their milk is made without cows that were fed those funky hormones.  Prices overall aren't bad, so I've gone here quite a bit for my grocery shopping, and the staff is very friendly and personable.  Only down side is that it is a bit small, so they don't have a great selection of a lot of things. But that is also to their benefit.

I think shoppers are also becoming choice fatigued and want their choices edited; I know I am overwhelmed by the number of brands of sour cream to choose from. Tesco and Fresh & Easy once again answer by only carrying private label and just the category brand leaders.

Even in their aesthetic: their stores have a look that is both green-minded and at the same time modern-minimal. Fresh & Easy has made a commitment to building eco-friendly buildings. It recycles or reuses shipping and display products. Its food transportation trailers are hybrid electric-diesel. Stores are equipped with LED lights in freezers, coolers and for outdoor signage. Their stores even have reserved parking for hybrid cars.

And lastly, people are not cooking as much but are more sophisticated about eating. Fresh & Easy’s answer: outstanding take-away meals at a great value. They put together many pre-prepared (refrigerated, not frozen) fresh foods that are healthy in a sort of suburban-chic way that one might think are from a trendy restaurant if they were removed from their packaging and served on a plate.

But I have to say their stores (no matter which one you patronize) are easy to navigate! So I guess the store lives up to its name.

Anyway, there is the low-down on grocery culture in Vegas.