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USAir crashed into Hudson River; Twitter received the first picture of the scene

us air hudson full 785693 USAir crashed into Hudson River; Twitter received the first picture of the scene

This is the title of the blog entry: “U.S. Airways Crash Rescue Picture: Citizen Journalism, Twitter At Work“. A Twitterer sent a photo from his iPhone.

This sort of illustrated what I talked about yesterday. I guess THIS itself is a great reason for Twitter… Instead of coming to my blog, or emailing everybody I know, or updating my Facebook status, the first thing I did when I got an email about the news was to log into Twitter and read the messages there. I also Tweeted myself.

(All of this, I think, is made ok by the fact that all passengers are safe and accounted for, otherwise it would be heartless to talk about the role of social media in the face of a tragedy…)

What amazed me is the cause of the crash: Birds!

A flock of birds apparently hit the engine of the plane. Wow. Apparently this happened more often than we think.

ABC news coverage: The plane is completely submerged under the water now other than the tail. Extremely scary to think of, “What if…”

The hero pilot’s name is Chesley Sullenberger, and according to the news report, he even searched the aircraft before he himself left. Lots of people are saying now that this is NOT a plane crash, but a well-executed emergency landing based on an experienced pilot’s intelligent split-second decision which turned out to save all the lives on board. It is refreshing to hear of news where people are praising the airlines rather than complaining about the fees they are charging. On the other hand, I am so glad that Mr. Sullenberger did not leave the airline industry because of the financial difficulties felt by all major airlines.

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To Tweet or Not to Tweet…

refl01 789693 To Tweet or Not to Tweet...

Upon learning my having joined the latest phenom which is Twitter, my male co-workers asked me point blank, But, WHY?

Why not just use emails if you want to talk to people you know? Why not use TXT? You can email to an entire group of people if that’s your reasoning for using Twitter (”one to many” instant communication)

Or, is your intention of letting strangers know what you are doing at any given minute? Waiting in line in the grocery store? Watching TRM at airport lounge?

Why? What is the rational excuse for this? Or even, the psychological needs behind this?

Excuses I use for being on Facebook, despite not having lots of “friends” (or Peeps) nor being a teenager, nor leading an active interesting life, cannot even be applied to Twitter: I can share pictures with people that I know on Facebook, only when they want to know; I am not shoving my cute kids’ pictures down anybody’s throat. And my friends may not want to know that I have been up to on a daily basis (for some, perhaps once-a-year Christmas cards have been adequate?) , but if they check my Facbook status, again, only when they want to, they can see that I have been traveling a lot more for business and that my husband is traveling around the world for his own consulting gig.

No. The same rational does not apply to Twitter. So why indeed?

I happened to read an article in Spectrum, the less-techy (and more Wired-like version of IEEE’s publication), in the current issue: “To Twitter or Not to Twitter” by Robert Lucky (I wonder whether he gets teased for his last name a lot…)

(Right off the bat, the author showed his Newbie status by not using the correct verb “Tweet”… But it’s the type of endearing mistakes that anybody over 30 in this day and age could relate to…)

He mentioned his puzzlement over a young speaker’s Tweeting about “waking up in the morning now”. Any sensible (perhaps older person) would ask, “Why would anybody want to know?” And if they want to know, can’t you call them? TXT them?

This new need experienced by the Internet-generation to be connected to the World all the time is intriguing to me, and I doubt that our children ever even stop and ponder at the wonder of this. To them this is part of existence, “I TXT, therefore I am.” The real grown-ups say this now often as a gentle tease, but there is truth in this saying. “I am Connected on the Web, therefore I am.” A life that is not documented is not worth living.

Excerpt from Mr. Lucky’s article:

“Twitter, the social-networking Web site that allows users to broadcast short text messages to a group of friends, has burst into popularity with millions of subscribers. I’m a confirmed e-mail user, but that’s so 20th century. I feel a certain pressure to get with it. So, to Twitter or not to Twitter? I view it as a question for the ages—the ages of the users, that is.

It was my generation of engineers that created the Internet, but it is largely today’s youth who are molding the social connectedness that is coming to characterize cyberspace. These are the so-called digital natives, who grew up with the Internet already a part of everyday life. They’re always online, inhabiting multiple identities, living a culture of sharing and peer collaboration. For them, multitasking is just the way it is. We older engineers built cyberspace, but our kids live in it, and for many of them the technology is transparent and almost irrelevant.

So as a digital immigrant, already an adult as the new culture was forming, I am amazed at what I see. At a recent meeting a young speaker casually mentioned that every morning he Twitters that he has just woken up. Alarm bells went off in my head. I thought about the fact that several scores of people are going to read a message that this guy has awakened. Isn’t this is an incredible waste of time for everyone involved? But a more unpleasant thought also formed in the back of my head—the worry that no one would care that I myself had just arisen. There must be some social consequence that I’m missing. An older acquaintance told me that he had been using Twitter and that after a week he had begun to feel a sense of connectedness.”

Mr. Lucky referenced two cartoons published by The New Yorker 12 years apart to illustrate how things have changed through the years, and how things have not really: these priceless (and thought-provoking) cartoons can be found here:

22230 m To Tweet or Not to Tweet...
“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” (A dog, sitting at a computer terminal, talking to another dog.) by Peter Steiner, The New Yorker, 5 July 1993

dot clr To Tweet or Not to Tweet...
121304 m To Tweet or Not to Tweet...
dot clr To Tweet or Not to Tweet...
“I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking.” (One dog talking to another.) by Alex Gergory, The New Yorker, 12 September 2005

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I came up the term “Metablogging” on my own in my last post: blogging about blogging. I am a genius.

For safe measure, I googled the word and darn, it has been written to death. So now my hope is to meta the meta, a blog about the blogs that blog about the other blogs. But that has been done also. Search came back with titles such as “meta, meta, meta”… Sigh.

I wish I were still in grad school, majoring in Cultural Studies, or even Ethnography, the Blogsphere is a such fertile ground for dissertation subjects. Even for a Psych major. Darn!

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Where do people find the time to blog? And the Huffington Post’s guide to blogging…

I am seriously puzzled.  I have checked out the “competitions” out there: do a google search (or a google blog search, even better), and there are a lot of suburban moms out there, clicking away. Many of them are writers, professional even, were or still are.  Thank god!
They all have kids, well, duh, that’s the definition for “mothers”.  So, where do they find the time to produce such abundant material for their blog?
I have to decide whether I want to go to bed or blabber away in the cyber space.  And even in the cyber space, there are so many “social media” choices for my insomniac mind: Facebook, My Space, Slickdeals, Baby Bargain chat rooms, in addition to all the wonderful professionally written blogs: the Huffington Post, ReadWriteWeb, Micro Persuasion, and, let me not forget the most fun of them all, randomly searching the interweb for funny stuff to read or watch.  (Oh, YouTube, you are the ultimate time sinker!)  Even Twitter, the haiku model of the social media, proves to be a great aide to procrastinators, despite its claim to brevity: read the “Everybody” section like a great “found object poetry”, and click on all the TinyUrl links that people shared. FUN!
Hack, even reading reviews (and dueling comments) on is entertaining sometimes.
And actually, spending more time on my computer, now that the kids are in bed, requires me to put on the blinder and ignore the 3-day-piled-up laundry, the unwashed dishes, the toys strewn about the floor, oh, and yes, BILLS TO PAY, and Quicken to enter (I am proud to say that I have been diligently keeping records on Quicken since 1993…  that’s an astonishing record for someone who has never managed to keep a journal past page 10…)
Really, I could be watching one of the Netflix DVDs that I haven’t touched and need to return soon to get our money’s worth. Or, I could read the newspaper. Or, heck, I should take a shower!  I could also use some exercise on the machine that is now, as predicted, the clothes hanger.
It amazes me every time I think about this question.
In her latest (and probably the “lightest” and least political) book, The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, Arianna Huffington proposes that everybody should have a blog, and that one should write something down instantly, no thinking required, no minimum for length for each post. And that’s where the fun is, and probably what the point is about blogging.
I have taken a liking (more an affinity, actually) to Arianna Huffington ever since her appearance on the Jon Steward Show this past December (promoting the book, of course).  Jon true to himself wasn’t persuaded by Arianna’s ensued plea, “hey, you should have a blog!”  What got me was what she said, as a side comment, about why she personally likes blogging,
“This way my accent won’t be an issue: people cannot hear my accent…”
It was mind-blowing to me that with her wealth and power and position, she still minds her own accent.  Perhaps I read too much into this. But I now think of her often and wish her well.
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“I wish Mary Poppins is my mom…”

The other day when my 6-year-old was very frustrated with me for saying NO to most of his requests, he sighed and said with longing, “I wish Mary Poppings is my mom.”
Startled but not offended, laughingly I said, “Yeah, I wish she were your mom too.”
He in turn was shocked by my non-reactive reaction.
Then today, after pointing out to me that I didn’t feed him a “proper” dinner (Note to self: Bagel with cream cheese does not count as a “proper dinner”), he said, in mock-earnestness, “I am going to ask Santa for a better mom.”  “Oh, I am just kidding.”
Ah, a great sense of humor is the sure sign of intelligence, I always say.
Being self-reflective to a compulsive degree, I often picture my kids sitting in a shrink’s office, discussing their childhood with their unstable mother and her effect on their great novels of the decade.  Perhaps all the tribulations in our repressingly liberal suburban household will become cannon fodder for their artistic endeavors one day.  One can only hope.
Coda: Turned out that hot dog on a piece of white bread (since I don’t buy buns because they always go bad before we can finish them) is an acceptable entree for dinner.  Thank goodness.
p.s. I am well aware of this:
self-reflection + lack of action to correct any un-motherly behavior = rampant self-indulgence in the guise of mock self-pity
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Questions from your kids: How many people are there in the world?

Here is your answer, as of January 13, 2009 (US Time)
U.S. 305,610,552
World 6,753,669,055
This is pretty neat, courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau’s Pop Clocks.
At my boys’ insistence, here is the counter part: Statistics on death
(Yes, my kids are naturally morbid, considering how many comic books and movies inspired by comic books they have had encountered.  Neil Gailman is to be blamed, IMHO…)
Number of deaths: 2,448,017 (2005 U.S. census data)
Pondering when is the right time and age to explain to my 6-year-old the plights of people around the world, and how much to tell him…
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New Website I dig (this morning): Just Hear It (great search interface for random songs…)

imgJustHearItScreen 728691 New Website I dig (this morning): Just Hear It (great search interface for random songs...)

Thanks to ReadWriteWeb this morning, I am in the know for a brand new website for searching random songs on the interweb: Just Hear It.  Their tag line is:
Any Song. Legal. Free.
Legal is definitely a plus.  Free is a must!
This will be a great tool for when you need to show junior that great song in your youth.  When I searched for “I’ve Never Been to Me” (don’t ask me why…) though, the results shown included a few YouTube clips.  I don’t really mind since the one clip turned out to be quite funny.  Ah, nostalgia.
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What’s the strangest-looking package you have ever received in the mail?

Goodies: this one from my fav radio station (actually the only station I listen to, other than the station that starts playing Christmas music in October…) and one of my fav magazines:
Wired Magazine wanted to find out 9 years ago, so they started the "Return to Sender" Contest…
Wired Magazine's nine-year "Return to Sender" contest challenged readers to send any "mailable" item through the postal system without packaging.
"During the nine years of Wired's Return to Sender contest, we received some weird stuff in the mail: broken hard drives, a 5-foot felt "long tail," a wooden DNA helix, and an 8-track player containing an Engelbert Humperdinck tape. The rules called for readers to send us any mailable object; if it came in an envelope or a box, it was disqualified. Winners had a photo of their entry published and received—drumroll, please—a Wired T-shirt. Oh, and immortal glory."
Read more to learn how you can send your own POOP (permissible objects of postability)!
The same concept of POOP is behind this company called "Send a Ball": quite literally, you send a ball via mail!  I guess someone out there should be able to start a new company with a different sort of POOP…  (Ok, not the REAL kind, IYKWIM…) 


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“Pay-As-You-Go Airline Charges by the Minute”

This from one of my fav magazines, Wired.
When I saw the headline, I thought to myself, "Great, now they have run out of things to charge us for, since they are asking the passengers to pay for everything including tiny bags of pretzels and water, they are going to charge us for sitting on the runway too?"  Luckily for travelers, the upstart airline, Airtime Airlines based in South Africa, will not be charging their passengers more for time spent by the plane idling and waiting in line to take off.  Whew. Now that's a relief.
This reminds me of the "Onion-esque" unveiling of the fictional airliner Derrie-Air threatening to charge by individual passenger's weight: "the more you weigh, the more you'll pay. After all, it takes more fuel—more energy—to get more weight from point A to point B…"  (It's a shame really. That would be one urgent reason for me to finally follow my default annual New Year resolution of getting on a diet…)  Only that Airtime Airlines is not fictional, it is a real airline, or, well, almost a real one, as soon as they get their hands on real aircraft that can fly real passengers… 
"Taking a cue from the cellphone industry, an upstart South African airline is selling flights by the minute and allowing customers to buy tickets and book flights via text message…  passengers will buy minutes instead of a traditional point-to-point ticket. They can buy a "starter pack" of prepaid minutes and top off their accounts by purchasing more minutes — by text message — at the going rate of 5 Rand (about 53 cents) a minute. Flight times have been mapped out in advance, so sitting on a runway for three hours won't triple the cost of your ticket.

Topping off accounts is where things get interesting. The cost for Airtime minutes can fluctuate, presumably according to promotions and market factors, so topping off becomes an exercise comparable to fuel hedging. Buy a big block of minutes when you think they're at their cheapest and you look smart, unless the price drops again the next day. Then again, it might go up. The price recently rose from 3 Rand to 5 Rand, meaning the cost of a round-trip flight from Durban to Cape Town climbed from about 750 Rand ($81) to 1,250 Rand (about $134). Still that's cheaper than the $200 it would cost on South African Airlines."

Read the entire article here.

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“Is it difficult to take care of kids?”

My 6-year-old boy asked me this question last night when I was putting him to sleep.  (Actually, I still need to sleep with him every night to get him to fall asleep which has been a subject of heated argument sometimes between me and my DH…  I guess I do tend to take the easier way out.  Sorry, Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken” is simply not for the time-crunched…)
My boy asked, “Mommy, can I ask you a question?  Is it really hard to take care of kids?”  Startled by the innocent yet loaded question, I employed the age-old trick, “What do you think?”  He thought about it and then said, “It must be hard.  But why?” So I tried to explain to him that unlike complicated machines that we have, babies do not come with instruction manuals, and each one is so different, and they behave differently on a day to day basis, so it is very difficult to know what the right things to do.
I am such a lame parent…
Of course, now I wonder whether I have complained verbally out loud and he has heard me complaining about raising kids.  The natural extension of the complaint is, for a straight-forward thinker not privy to the complexities of parenthood, “I wish I didn’t have kids”. I hope he did not draw that conclusion on his own.
But I do have a confession to make: sometimes I do wish that I have kids that are more easy-going… which is, probably every other kid that is not mine that I have seen.
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