Tuesday, November 09, 2004

No northern lights

I just got back from the south shore of Lake Calhoun. Tonight was supposed to be another night where the Aurora borealis would be visible from the city, so I biked down there in hopes of getting a good view of the northern sky, away from the streetlights and light pollution that goes with them. Despite the numerous backpacking trips I've taken in Northern MN as well as out west, I've never been lucky enough to see them. Alas, I couldn't see them tonight, either.

Do I deliver what they pay me for?

I was supposed to go to a movie with Paul tonight, but then I got a call saying I was accepted to participate in a focus group I had applied for last week. The pay was $55 for an hour of participation - not too shabby, especially when you toss in the 2 sodas, granola bar, and M&Ms I scarfed down while I was there.

The focus group was on various ads being considered for a foreign language CD-ROM called RosettaStone.

It was actually a lot of fun, although I'm not sure my feedback is the kind they're looking for. They want to know our feelings and impressions of these various ads. But I take it a step further, treating it like a mind-game, trying to ferret out what feelings and messages I think they're trying to convey based on their selection of type-face, imagery, sense of scale, etc. So I'm probably just telling them what they want to hear, which probably doesn't help them hone their marketing.

But you know what - I'm totally fine with this, because I have a special little disdainful place in my heart for marketing. To me, marketing is just so much energy being spent trying to create a need for a product, when in fact people just don't need most of the crap being produced today. I'm treading dangerously close to launching into a rant here about how people confuse needs with wants nowadays, but I'll save that for another day.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Another click forward

My birthday yesterday. The big three one (31). Whenever I think of my bday, I think of this decorative plate commemorating my birthday that my mom has (she has one for each of her three children). She got it from one of these deals where you send in your childs name, exact birth date and time, and birth weight, and some manufacturer prints up a custom commemorative plate using that info. The plate has on it a drawing of a crib with my name on the footboard. In the picture, there's also a clock on the wall with the hands indicating my exact time of birth. Thinking of it now, this is kind of odd - according to that picture, all time stopped upon my birth. If only I could wield that kind of power in real life...

I was born around 6AM - sometimes I wish my birth time was later in the day, so I could wake up on my birthday and take comfort in knowing that even though it's my birthDAY, it's not yet my birthTIME. I'd still have a little time until the odometer of my life clicks on another mile.

In truth, I don't mind birthdays all that much. I felt a little twinge when I turned 30, but once I came to accept that it's all downhill from here, it's cake. Actually, I'm kidding, I'm not that fatalistic. I'm probably healthier than most, so I could well have another 70 years left in me. Now that's pretty weird to think about ... imagining I could live another 70 years is almost more strange than realizing that I'll die someday. Hmmm.

Anyway, for my bday NQTYD, no name slob, CB, and Brian took me out to the Lotus for dinner - many thanks guys! But here's a tip - if you're heading to the campus location, it may be worth your time to check out the uptown location instead.

Afterwards, we took in a documentary next door at the Oak Street Cinema. The film was Monster Road which tells the story of claymation dude Bruce Bickford. The movies spends a lot of time connecting the dots between Bruce childhood and his work (or at least laying the dots out in front of you). I won't delve into that here. But here's one of the most interesting tidbits from the film - something I had never heard of before. Bruce's father was an aerospace engineer with Boeing during WWII at Boeings Plant No 2 in Seattle. During the war, the entire sprawling plant was disquised as a suburb. I don't mean they dressed the buildings up as houses ... I mean they covered the entire campus with a 1/2 scale facade of a town, complete with trees, streets, homes, streetsigns, everything. Pretty incredible.