Friday, November 30, 2012

Laura Kumin is "Mother Would Know"

Hey there,

On Paper.Li, I've got weekly papers for every day of the week. Friday is "Friends Friday", and it's a collection of tweets from people I know by one degree, in real life.

So I thought I'd start a weekly blog highlighting a friend of mine, as well. And last week, I knew exactly who I'd start with: Laura Kumin.

My friend Liam was in town from Los Angeles. We met a decade ago (geez!!) at Montgomery College's, Summer Dinner Theatre program. And he is how I know Laura, his mother. Anyway, Liam's back in town, hits me up to catch up, and invites me over to kick off the evening with leftovers, a Thanksgiving sequel.

Now I have been familiar with his mother's cooking since we first met, it's always been delicious, and now she has her own blog, Mother Would Know. And I love her tagline: home cooking beats take out.

My plate barely had room to fit a little bit of all the dishes that were on the table, not all of which were hers, but most of them were. And she had several blog posts leading up to this Thanksgiving feast, both of which were still on the table the following night, Thanksgiving menu - Vegetarian alternatives and Thanksgiving - A tale of two chutneys.

And then there was dessert.

Okay, so that last one wasn't dessert. It was Liam, WITH dessert, attempting to the smallest slice of pie ever. And his sister in the background.

So, yes, delicious. Everything was delicious. I highly recommend keeping up with Laura, at Mother Would Know. You should also like her Facebook page, and/or follow her on Twitter and on Pinterest.

And, yeah, I will probably be blogging about both Liam and Eleanor for a Friends Friday post soon. They're both doing amazing work in their respective fields.

Until next time,


P.S. Eleanor, hope you don't mind I included this pic on my blog!! Let me know if you do. :-D

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The lights flickered

Hey there,

This is another Ingress-related post. And as the title suggest, it had to do with lights flickering...traffic lights...flickering...

I'm not even sure if flicker is the right term. Regardless, here's what happened. I was driving to drop-off my roommate at work at the Brixton for his brunch shift. I recently recruited him to join the Enlightened faction and have been walking with him through training as well as some of my portal missions.

Anyway, we make this turn, and we're stopped at this light. The light turns green, as does the couple immediately after turns green just long enough for me (and the cars across the intersection from me) to release the brake pedal. And JUST as I'm about to step on the accelerator, the stop light and the two immediately after it suddenly change back to red.

Like, right away. No yellow, no flashing broken signal. The light turns back to red long enough for me to begin to ask "what the he-", and long enough for me to notice that immediately to my right, right at one of the corners of the intersection, is a portal that I upgraded and reinforced with shields only last night.

Just as I realized what we were next to, the lights turned back to green, and we were back on our way, like nothing had happened. I got my roommate to work, and headed home.

I'm sure there's some..."logical" and "rational" explanation involving a technical glitch that is more common than we think. But I couldn't help but wonder what was going on, if it might be related to Ingress and the Niantic Project? Did someone just attack a portal I claimed, or another Enlightened one near by? Is this only the tip of the iceberg regarding real-world manifestations of our struggle with the Resistance?

I hesitated to pull out my phone to check the Ingress "app", resting assured that should one of my resonators bite it, I would get an email notification in time to recharge and refortify the rest of them.

But I digress...just need to take this all day by day. And see what happens next.

- JR aka AWayofLife0, #TeamEnlightened #Enlighten DC

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ten things to know about the Niantic Project

Hey there,

So for anyone interested, just wanted to blog about what has become my latest...obsession: Ingress. Here are 10 things you should know, primarily links. Also, please note, this is not a review, but rather more of a post for people interested in participating in Ingress, or who already are. Definitely check out Google news for "Niantic Project" as there are a host of individuals who have already covered the review angle better than I could.

1. XM (Exotic Matter) - "A rare and powerful form of tri-polar energy leaking into our universe from another dimension. This energy forms the basis for all Shaper technology. XM is needed to power your Scanner. If XM falls below critical levels, your Scanner will be disabled. You can collect XM (represented by glowing orbs on the Scanner Map) by moving through those areas. The XM will be automatically harvested by your Scanner."

2. Two Factions
  • The Resistance - Faction defending the Earth from the Shaper ingression. They are seen by some as being fearful of change or progress, but the Resistance is firm in its belief that it is protecting humanity.
  • The Enlightened - Faction attempting to help the Shapers infiltrate Earth. Followers believe that the Shapers bring a powerful Enlightenment that will lead to an evolution of humankind.

3. Vocabulary - The above terms and all other game related ones came be found at this Ingress Vocabulary support page.

4. Support - General support, particularly for using ingress scanner technology and troubleshooting, as well as the root page for the previous link, can be found here.

5. Investigation - A brave young soul has been tracking...phenomenon and sharing his findings and musings at his page for the Niantic Project.

6. Intel Map - Players can use this intel map to strategize, either alone or with others in their faction, as the mobile app will only display your immediate surroundings.

7. Player Maps - Players from both factions are adding placemarks to their respective group's map.
8. Google Groups - There are groups, for the endeavor as a whole, as well as each faction.
9. Social Media

10. Resistance is not futile - But humanity has constantly defined itself by change, our capacity to adapt to it as well as create it, especially by aspiring to ideals that transcend our immediate  reality. Beauty, joy, truth, and the say those belong solely to the human experience negates every ounce of humility we owe to the very fact that we exist, and that there is more to us than mere flesh and bones. To resist change is to deny our own fundamental humanity, and our capacity to constantly be more than we were before. No matter how much we grow and are inspired, whether by each other, nature, or any other source, it is not possible to ever become less human than we are. And there is so much more out there than what we can measure or explain, yet we've never doubted our ownership of our own fate, whatever combination of nature or nurture, of science or faith, affected our own growth as individuals or collective paths as communities. For any who are willing to take the ultimate leap of faith, you understand why joining the Enlightened in partnership with the Shapers is not a choice, but rather our destiny.

And that's all I've got. Anyone else 'playing'? Let me know, as well as which faction you chose and why.

Any others on either side in the DC area? Hit me up. We need to figure out a cover story so that local authorities understand (the multitude that we have), are informed as to any increase of activity around portals that they observe.

And if you're still not sure what Ingress and the Niantic Project are about, check out this trailer:

Post about actual Ingress use and strategy coming soon.

- JR aka AWayofLife0

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Many Voices, an LGBT movement in the Black Church

Hey there,

As some of you might know, I'm a member of the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington (GMCW). We rehearse every Sunday from about 6:15-9:15pm (except as we get closer to showtime, then we'll have double rehearsals starting in the afternoon). During this rehearsal, we get a break halfway through which is kicked of by announcements. And occasionally we'll have a guest come to speak to us from an organization in the community.

Recently, we had members of the DC Metropolitan Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit speak to us, and this past Sunday, we had Reverend Cedric A. Harmon, Co-Director of Many Voices, come visit to share more about the work of Many Voices as well an outreach opportunity through partnership with GMCW.

If you're not familiar with Many Voices, from their About page:
Many Voices is committed to creating a national movement for gay and transgender justice from within the Black church. Working in partnership with nationally-recognized pastors, theologians, and Christian educators, Many Voices is laying a foundation for respectful and loving dialogue. Through trainings, mentoring, and online resources that provide a safe place to ask questions, learn, and take new steps, we equip African American pastors and church members to publicly share the faith journeys that have led them to affirm love and justice for gay and transgender (LGBT) families.
As some of you might have noticed with my blog, I'm a firm believer in letting organizations describe themselves, if they've made the effort to do so, as I wouldn't want to exclude or diminish anything by trying to paraphrase it. But I digress.

It was really neat having him come to speak to us. It was particularly interesting to me, having recently joined GMCW's Marketing & Outreach Committee. I had read of and studied such things in grad school for Arts Management at American University, but obviously theory and discussion are much different than practice in reality. But I bring it up because it's great to be a part of an organization I've been a member of, in a way beyond performance, and to see all the other work manifest itself and come to fruition step by step, like this community outreach partnership with Many Voices.
There's actually a picture of his visist at the original tweet. Unfortunately, it didn't show up when I embedded it here.

Anyway, his visit and the organization with its work was very timely, in terms of the larger fight for civic rights and equality. Many Voices is just one actualization of a windfall, in terms of a major paradigm shift in terms of how the African-American community discusses and accepts it's LGBT members. Two major events to help this sea change were mentioned inn Ebony, in an article written right after this past election:
Black voters tend to be more religious and have historically have been slow to accept gay marriage. But national and regional polling has suggested that Black support for equal marriage has dramatically increased after President Obama and the NAACP's historic announcements supporting the position.
The article brought this up in the context of marriage equality passing in the state of Maryland, and how crucial black voters were to its success. So in all of this, Rev. Cedric coming to speak to us about the work of Many Voices...well, it's just wonderful to see progress in action, and to meet and work with some of the individuals and organizations who are helping to lead the charge towards equality.

As always, I left rehearsal that night feeling very humbled and grateful. And very excited to keep you updated about it all. And for those who made it, as you  might know, this is part of my LGBT Tuesday series. If there's an organization that serves the LGBT community you have worked with or are involved with that you'd recommend I highlight, please let me know, as well as your connection to it.

And definitely let me know what you think of Many Voices. If you've heard of it before and are engaged with them, or if you haven't and what your initial thoughts are? Whatever's on your mind, to keep this conversation going.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Finding balance with social media content


First off, what a crazy month. It's been a while since my last post, and losing my laptop to a run-in with liquid at an election night party last week didn't help. Regardless, I came across a quote over a light breakfast read, that prompted this post.

So I finally got around to begin reading a book I ordered earlier this year, Networked: The New Social Operating System. Chapter one begins the book with a story of a couple of crisis. A life-threatening accident happens, and over the course of emergency treatment and recovery, they discover the power of their social network.

At one point, they put the following question out:
"What's the right balance of optimism, humor, and candidness?"
And, because I can never take my Arts Management lens off, I immediately realize how much this sums up much of the challenges I'm encountering as I do more new media work with arts organizations, and explore using social media to increase transparency by way of sharing more institutional content, in addition to programmatic stuff.

In no means do I mean to take away the context of what this quote

But most of the arts organizations I'm involved with are nonprofits. And, not that's it's always gloom & doom, but the combo of being an arts and nonprofit organization means that we are constantly looking to engage, stay relevant, as well as garner support. This is especially crucial as social media calls on all involved to be more transparent.

While support is needed all the time, it's particularly important during times of economic hardship, such as what we've been experiencing for years.  So with all that, the quote above is a nice trio of qualitative measurements for messaging. And, no, each communication or interaction does not have to be one or some combination of all three. But I would say that in terms of quick ways to check, this question does get down to the essence of what to consider, to do social media well.

Thoughts? Let me know what you think, if there are any other questions you ask yourself? If this applies more to you personally or professionally? Also, please leave a comment if there are any other books you'd recommend checking out!