Jan. 23rd, 2010

Today I...

...Went to Crisis Camp Boston
Earlier this week a call went out for tech people to come volunteer half a day to work on software projects to help people in crisis areas like Haiti. It was... a mixed bag. First, the turnout was amazing! About 100 people, and a lot of familiar faces. It's cool to know that so many folks in my circles also came out to take part. At first I was involved in a ruby project for aggregating and mining data from Twitter, but I don't know Ruby and was spending more time being walked through the basics by [livejournal.com profile] natbudin than actually being useful. Eventually, though, I got wind of a Python/Django project, which is right up my alley. Part of the reason I wanted to do this was to see if I could hold my own with "real" developers. As it turned out, I was the most technical person on my team, so there wasn't much basis for comparison, but I was able to get in there, identify needs, plan solutions, start on implementation, and write a nice summary of where things were left off and where they needed to go from here at the end, so that was good and validating. The project its self, eh... it was basically a Haiti-specific implementation of a webapp called "OurStories", which allows people to upload stories as text or, via a flash component, audio or video recorded using just the browser software. The stories are then categorized and mapped to the geographic region they came from and are searchable, among other ways, via a google map. Kinda cool. And yet, it also felt kind of wrong inasmuch as, if I had just had my entire world rent asunder, and was scrounging through the rubble trying to piece my life back together, how would I react if some first-worlder came up and effectively said, "here, use this website to record a stirring monologue about how much scrounging throughthe rubble trying to piece your life back together sucks, and then share it with the world so we can feel all cathartic with you" (and that's setting aside the fact that there isn't, you know, power, in most of the country). The main proponent of the project made the point that this project has a longer-term aim than most of the more immediate aid projects. The idea is to create a means by which the Haitian people can continue to have their stories recorded and shared after the world's spotlight has moved on to a fresher trajedy. I get that, and it could be a really useful historical archive for the future, I just... eh, like I said, mixed feelings. All that said, the experience was definitely a big net-positive. After ccamp, I took the T downtown and...

...Had a dinner and Chinatown adventures with [livejournal.com profile] how_low_am_i
which was loads of fun. Ate at My Thai Vegan Cafe, which was tasty but my least favorite kind of veg restaurant: the kind where they serve generic pan-asian dishes, replacing the meat with faux-meat. Strangely, a hot pot of fake squid, fake shrimp and fake beef really isn't much more appealing than the real thing to me. :\ That said, their pad thai is taaaaasty, and their thai iced tea was a bit odd but good. The highlight ofthe meal, though, was the strawberry iced boba... thing that [livejournal.com profile] how_low_am_i ordered, which tasted like cool, fresh, real strawberries in liquid form. Mmmmmm...

After dinner, we explored China Town, and a kitschy gift shop in particular, where my eye was immediately caught by a poster for Goth Yarn Mummy Pirate Dolls. At least, that's what I decided the poster said, not speaking the language. I mean, what would you call them???. We found a rack of them in the store and each fell in love with one. I call mine Adorable Topless Raver Cindy Lauper Voodoo Priestess Mummy:

Also got come schweet steel chophairsticks and a live bamboo stalk because my room needs to have more green, living things in it. It currently lives in a Denny's mug. Go Team Cultural-Juxtaposition! After shopping, she went off to see Title of Show (she has since backed me up on its wonderfulness, for those still on the fence about joining me when I go), and headed back to Belmont and...

...Had some mellowsocial at home
Returned home and had some nice, chill conversation with [livejournal.com profile] contradictacat, [livejournal.com profile] mirrored_echo and one of the former's college friends, who regaled us with tales of Catholic retreats and human dissections during physical therapist training, during which I happily finished my tofu from dinner before tearing myself away from people and heading to the basement where I...

I got a "trainer stand" that basically turns my bike into an exercise bike. I feel like kind of a tool riding it, but it beats riding outside during the winter and, man, I was only on for 15 mins, albeit sprinting much of the time, but my body is already thanking me. It is a *good* kind of exhausted after a thing like that, and I look forward to making a habit of it. Yay podcasts. The only problem with the thing is that it is loud and all of the housemates ended up coming down into the basement to see what was asploding.

Wow. I've typed a lot. Now I...

...Will now wind down and go to bed early in prep for a big day tomorrow. Go me.

Plans for tomorrow: Matinee of In The Heights, followed by a probable re-attempt at attending [livejournal.com profile] truthspeaker's comedia dell'arte performance, hopefully combined with hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] archangelwells. Busy weekend, but all good stuff!



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