Woolf Camp is amazing. I was just gushing last night, in the group of women sitting on bean bags on hardwood floors, overlooking the foggy Santa Cruz ravine, that this place is a new experience for me. I often lament that my particular brand of tech geek, writer, and entreprenuer rarely exists in another person. Being here, being surrounded by these women (and a few men) who collectively embody all these qualities I love in myself but can rarely find in others… is validating, exciting, and most of all inspiring. You can check out the party here: WoolfCamp 2006 Blog.The people here are incredible. I want to tell you about all of them. I probably will when I get home and have the space to decompress. I performed two memorized slam pieces last night, in a candlelit impromptu poetry reading. The classic manifesto piece about what we put into our bodies, and the intense drumming piece about the woman dancing. The reception was wonderful — and it launched me into another hour of lamenting my unconscious decision to stop writing. It’s been years since I took poetry seriously. And yet, I still have these pieces memorized. It’s a constant internal battle, so it must mean something to me. I justify my absence from line breaks by saying my new creative release is forming work and organizations — and most significantly, The Writ. But really, I hate that I don’t write value poetry like I used to. Between fulltime work and fulltime school, I can honestly argue that I don’t have time, but that never stopped me before…

Tomorrow morning, I leave for Woolf Camp, a gathering of bloggers–mostly of the female variety–at a home in Santa Cruz for a weekend retreat/workshop/geek party. The question of my weekend is: “How do I want to use this blog space? What do I want my image and message and connection to be with you?” It’s time to get philosophical, introspective, and inspired. I think between cups of tea in a room full of women, each with one hand on her knitting needles and the other on her laptop, watching a jack terrier fly across the front yard… the answers will come.

I heard a blind woman talking about the weather today. She said, “It was so beautiful!”Beauty is in much more than the eye of the beholder. It’s also a feeling, an intuition, a sensation, and an experience. We can know beauty with our eyes closed, just as we know when a forced smile isn’t real.I’m intrigued by how the blind experience life. There’s a blind man in my neighborhood whom I’ve observed walking around on several occasions. He’s always smiling. He’s always cheerful. He strikes up conversations with the people sitting next to him on buses. He knows what he needs and asks for it from others, rather than trying to quietly slide through life on his senses. In China, there’s a significant market for blind massage therapists, because their hands know so much more than the hands of someone who relies on sight. I sometimes see a truck around town that says “Mobile Blind Cleaners” on its side… The first time I saw it, I thought, “Wow, that’s great. Employment specifically for the blind.” The second time I saw it, I thought, “Wait, but how do they drive the truck?” And then finally, I realized it was a company that cleans window blinds, and they were suddenly a lot less interesting.

After much grief, I finally got insurance for my PDA cell phone (Treo650) from Sprint’s third-party insurance provider, lock/line. And I’ll have you know, it’s covers damage or loss from just about everything except for nuclear explosions and acts of war. They really felt the need to point that out to me in bold type.My first thought was of mild impending doom. “Even my phone company thinks we’re about to be obliterated!” My second thought was, “Now where is their patriotism? If they’re expecting acts of nuclear war to destroy my phone, why won’t they replace it for me afterwards in the name of Uncle Sam?”Here ends the story of my cell phone gripes. Go in peace.

If Sarah’s going to accomplish something at home, it’s mostly to succeed if it involves:

  1. The Internet
  2. Other People

Problem: How can we get Sarah to practice her Chinese at home on a regular basis?Proposed Solution:Make a new blog, in which she can journal in Chinese and network it with the language-learning community. There’s no guarantee it will work. She might spend more time tweaking the layout and customizing the settings than translating her thoughts into Chinese. But it’s better than trying to disguise a pill in peanut butter.

In the coming months, Craiglist will begin charging fees for some of its listings. New York City real estate listings will be the first to get the fees. –Slashdot

I’m sure everyone who read this did a double take. But what defines your place in life is why you stopped to look twice. You had one of these reactions:

  • Begin charging fees?! This goes against everything Craigslist stands for in my life! What’s going on here?!
  • Begin charging fees?! You idiots, Craigslist has ALWAYS charged fees!

And if you had the second reaction, you’re probably a San Francisco Bay Area resident who has worked at an office that tried to hire people. Those ads cost $75 a pop, and they’re the source of much pain. Did you know that Craigslist is a for profit enterprise? Don’t be fooled by the dot org… anyone can use that domain suffix. And their lovely Victorian house-turned-office-building on 9th and Irving has a bright, happy staff that gets paid. Yes, I’m a Craiglist junkie. I’ve gained a desk, a bookshelf, an apartment, a job, and several graphic designers from them. I’ve even used them to find my soul mate. His name is Craig Newmark. And he doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll be mine someday. But I digress. The kicker to this story (for all you who fell into the first category of double-takers) is that the community BEGGED Craigslist to start charging for ads. Some people take advantage of Craigslist by deleting and resposting their ads several times a day. It moves them to the top of the list. So if you’re apartment hunting, service hunting, or job hunting (in a city that doesn’t currently have to pay to post ads), you see the same handful of ads all day long, every day, pushing the others out of the way. It’s just plain obnoxious. The fee will discourage that behavior. Why do I really care? These days I can identify with Craig-my-soul-mate in this dillemma — how do you keep a community in check when you know imposing limits will anger many of them? The internet is based on freedom and self-regulated anarchism. People get mad when you mess with that. The Writ (that literary community I help manage) is going through a surge of growth and development right now. In the midst of all this, there’s a heated debate about censorship. One community member has been testing the limits, commenting disrespectfully, posing as other members, and generally pissing people off. I said let him be, ignore him, and he’ll get bored, but apparently my plan failed. This has been going on for six months, and cyber books are starting fly at cyber heads. Some sites shut down in these situations. Others try to grin and bear it. And still others impose restrictions. As we see with Craigslist, sometimes a community actually wants restrictions so they can feel some peace… even if it discourages newcomers and limits who can participate. I don’t have any answers on this one yet. I know we need to promote peace and respect, but I really don’t want to inhibit freedoms. To me, online community is about fluid structure, collective mentality, expression, opportunity, freedom, and respect. It’s interesting — I can’t really wrap my brain around any deviation from that concept.Even though I know Craigslist has always charged fees, I’m in the first category of double-takers. This goes against everything Craigslist stands for in my life! What’s going on here?!

Recommended Site: The Snowsuit Effort

I’m in awe. This site is powerful. It’s a blog. Each post is a detailed, beautiful photograph. Each photograph is of someone living on the streets of Detroit. Below are quotes from the people. Just click through and meet their eyes.