Archive for December 2009

40 Questions for 2009

Time for my annual reckoning — in question form — of the year that was. This is my sixth year for this list — wow! really?

  1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
    Attended a presidential inauguration, toured around the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, read a book in the New York Public Library reading room, visited Hyde Park, visited Rhode Island, grew a tomato (about 14 of them, in fact!)
  2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
    Of course I didn’t keep my New Years’ resolutions, but I’ve already made about 34 for next year. A sample: I will wake up by 7:00 am every morning, I will walk to work at least one day a week, I will read a biography of each of the 43 U.S. presidents, I will go to two movies a week, I will start yoga lessons again, etc., etc., etc.
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
    A member of the bridge club had a lovely daughter, and co-worker friends adopted a son who is too cute to be allowed.
  4. Did anyone close to you die?
  5. What countries did you visit?
    Ireland, Canada.
  6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
    A healthy routine.
  7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory?
    January 21 — the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama. I was on my feet for more than 12 hours straight in 20-degree temperatures, but it was worth it.
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    Um, did I already mention I grew a tomato?
  9. What was your biggest failure?
    I quit yoga classes even though I really enjoyed them because I couldn’t get out or work early enough to make it on time. This really sucks, since all I was trying to do was leave at 4:30 one day a week. It seems like no one cares if you come in a half hour late, but try to leave a half hour early, and good luck to you. Am trying again later this month with a later class.
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
    Nope, another illness- and injury-free year, touch wood.
  11. What was the best thing you bought?
    My new car, a Psion xA. It’s fantastic! It’s purple with a tan racing stripe down the side. It looks like a 1970s track suit. It’s the first time I actually purchased the car that I had a car crush on.
  12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
    Every year I answer this question last! What does that say about me? I’ll say President Obama, because I remain hopeful that he knows what he’s doing.
  13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
    Whoever the hell organized those “tea party” ass-hats who went around this summer calling President Obama a Nazi and a communist and a granny killer.
  14. Where did most of your money go?
    Usual stuff: mortgage, electricity, Internet access, trinkets.
  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    The World Series, though it didn’t end to my liking.
  16. What song/album will always remind you of 2009?
    “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.
  17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    * happier or sadder? The same. * thinner or fatter? Fatter (sigh). * richer or poorer? The same.
  18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
    Blogging. Running. Going to movies.
  19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
  20. How will you be spending Christmas?
    Down in the ‘burbs with the ‘rents.
  21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
    it’s a close call between Mr. Goddess and my mother and father.
  22. Did you fall in love in 2009?
    I fell in love in 1990, and it took.
  23. How many one night stands in this last year?
    This year marked the 19th year of my one-night-stand dry spell.
  24. What was your favourite TV program?
    Have loved loved loved season 4 of Dr. Who this year, and am indecently excited about the series finale tomorrow! Will dearly miss David Tennant.
  25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
    I don’t “hate” anyone who I actually know. I hate people in the abstract. People like Glenn Beck and Tiger Woods.
  26. What was the best book(s) you read?
    The Illustrated Elements of Style, by Strunk and White
  27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
    I have to say Glee. If it weren’t for Glee, my knowledge of both the Beyonce and Wicked oeuvres would be severely limited.
  28. What did you want and get?
    A Palm Pre!
  29. What did you want and not get?
    A repeat Phillies world championship.
  30. What were your favourite films of this year?
    As usual I haven’t yet seen most of the “important” movies this year, but if we’re going by movies I enjoyed the most, I have to say Up, In the Loop, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Star Trek, An Education, and Another Harvest Moon.
  31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    I turned 38 this year, and was in Levittown vising the parents and Mr. Goddess who had a summer job as a park ranger at Independence Hall this year.
  32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
    A much better healthcare reform bill than the one it looks like we’re ending up with.
  33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
    Dark jeans, long sleeves, high-heeled boots, shorter and shorter hair.
  34. What kept you sane?
    Mr. Goddess, that long-suffering man.
  35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    It’s a toss-up between David Tennant and John Barrowman. I love me my androgynous British sci-fi guys.
  36. What political issue stirred you the most?
    Healthcare. Don’t even get me started.
  37. Who will you miss?
    Harry Kalas. “That ball is ………. outta here!”
  38. Who was the best new person you met?
    I met a bunch of great Twitter people in real life this year — most at the HighEdWeb 2009 conference. Including @Robin2go, @rachelreuben, @lanejoplin, @TImNekritz, @KarlynM, and @tsand.
  39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
    It’s a lot harder to get away with mediocrity these days. You *must* be awesome, or you will be called out. This is both a good thing, and exhausting.
  40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
    Take up your arms
    Sons and daughters
    We will arise from the bunkers
    By land, by sea, by dirigible
    We’ll leave our tracks untraceable now
    –”Sons and Daughters” by the Decemberists

Thumbs Down to Facebook Dislike Button

On Tuesday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted an open letter describing some upcoming changes to Facebook.

The changes involve updated privacy settings and the discontinuation of regional networks (read the open letter here). But judging by the comments, it’s not privacy settings that most users care about.

What the users really want is a dislike button.

This past February Facebook unveiled its “Like” button, which allows friends to give each others’ status updates, Wall comments, photos, etc. a big thumbs up. There is no corresponding thumbs down button. And it seems Facebook users don’t like that one bit.

Here are some typical comments:

please dude make a “dislike” button! everyone wants it!

BUTTTT………Dislike button pleasssee mark!!!

a fail button!

dislike button- hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

dislike button!!! thatd definitelyyyyy be awesomeeeeeee!!!

(By the way, the second most commonly requested feature based on these comments? Customizable background graphics/wallpaper and music. MySpace, in other words.)

I vote thumbs down on the dislike button. Its proponents say they need the ability to say that something sucks. And I know we can all learn positive lessons from negative feedback. But I feel like there are already many, many venues to express our dislike of something. Facebook is supposed to be about sharing and connecting, or asking questions.

We’ve certainly had legitimate criticism and negative comments posted to our university’s Facebook page — and that’s totally fine and appropriate. But imagining how a dislike button would affect higher education pages is a bit depressing. What would happen if I posted, say, the upcoming Glee Club concert (sorry, Glee is on) and it’s met with a fistful of downward facing thumbs? Total bummer, man. A dislike button would make it that much easier to toss off a thoughtless, hurtful diss and could turn a community of “fans” into a much sadder place to be.

So no dislike button for me. And no wallpaper while you’re at it, please. I dislike wallpaper.


The Goddess Watches President Obama’s Afghanistan Speech (so you don’t have to)

Critics have accused the president of “dithering.” Supporters say it’s been a period of “thoughtful reflection.” Whatever the case, this speech has been months in the making (the war in Afghanistan has been eight years in the making). So I have a feeling the speech won’t be one of those seven-minute George Bush specials. I’m predicting 35 to 40 minutes of thoughtful reflection.

8:02 — Lots of handsome dress greys in the audience.

8:04 — The president starts with a succinct and effective recap on the events in Afghanistan so far, from 9/11 through the war resolutions in Congress to the NATO commitment – as cadets break out their digital cameras.

8:06 — “Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq War is well-known and need not be repeated here.” You’re so right, sir. Let’s not bicker and argue about who invaded who…

8:12 — “I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions.” Did the president just honestly admit that he opposed a war in front of a military crowd? Very classy, sir.

8:15 – The president breaks it down: We must deny al Qaeda a safe-haven. We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government … We will meet these objectives in three ways.”

8:16 — Way the First: 30,000 troops will deploy in 2010 to target the insurgency and get more Afghans into the fight.

8:18 — Way the Second: Pursue a civilian strategy with the Karzai government. “The days of providing a blank check are over.”

8:19 — Way the Third — We will recognize that our success is linked to Pakistan.

8:22 — To recap (the president has obviously taken a public speaking class) — “These are the three core elements of our strategy: a military effort to create the conditions for a transition; a civilian surge that reinforces positive action; and an effective partnership with Pakistan.”

8:24 — Obama takes on some of the critics of the war in Afghanistan. To those who say this is another Vietnam, we were attacked first! To those who say we should leave the troop levels where they are, this would just be “muddling through.”

8:25 — And to those who say we should have a more expansive, open-ended commitment? “As president, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, our or interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I don’t have the luxury of committing to just one.”

8:26 – PBS keeps catching cadets nodding off in the audience. Did these guys have a 14-mile march before the speech or something?

8:31 — Time for the president to wake this crowd up! “Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation’s resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for — what we continue to fight for — is a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity.”

8:35 — Bring it home, sir. “It is easy to forget that when this war began, we were united — bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack …. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. … We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. Thank you, God Bless you and God Bless the United States of America.”