Dear Google,Google CheckoutI hear you just unveiled a new Payment Processing System the other day. And like everything you build, it’s simple and user-friendly. Online stores integrate it as a payment option, and then we, the consumers, only have to enter our credit card numbers once — for you — and all participating websites immediately become a one-click checkout for us. ::wince::I love you. I hate you. I lovehate you.You’re so good at what you do. I hear nothing but good things about how friendly and creative you are, and how well you treat your employees. You offer so much free stuff to the web community. You revolutionized advertisements to be less invasive to users and more accessible to small businesses. You help us find things at the speed of ethernet. You’re really awesome. Thank you so much for all you’ve done.Except that now you know everything about all of us and that scares the heck out of me. And now you just want all of our credit cards. And I can just hear you saying, “Really, for a company that already knows all of the websites you’ve ever visited and everything you’ve ever written in an email, is that so much to ask?”I hate to be a doomsayer here, Google, but I’m seeing the makings for an information age apocolypse with this kind of power isolated in one place. Would you just stop already? Quit while you’re ahead and still appreciated? Let someone else compete with PayPal? And what’s next? Are you going to archive our phone conversations with the new internet phone technologies? Are you going to record our street conversations when you install wireless internet across San Francisco? Are your Google Maps satellite systems going to zoom in on us in our backyards and display our actions in realtime? Do you really need to push these limits?I love you, and I don’t want to hate you. So knock it off already!Signed,Your friendly local Gmail user and hourly Google searcher

Ask Anna - IkeaI have an assignment for you.

  1. Go to The Ikea Website
  2. In the main menu, click “Ask Anna”.
  3. Talk to her. Ask her about bookshelves.* Tell her she’s creepy. Exclaim, “Oh my god.” Say, “This is weird.” Threaten to poke her with a stick.

First off, she’s creeping me out. Thank goodness they’re not pairing her with automated text-to-voice technology, because that would just be too much. The way she stares at me and blinks a lot and tips her head… I just want to hide under the desk I haven’t bought from them yet. Second, she’s awesome. Seriously. She handles non-customer-service-related questions so professionally. If you deal with the public in your profession, you should be taking notes from this robot. She’s trained to deal with the crass and curious public with flair.Third, she’s still creeping me out. *if you ask about anything on the website, she’ll open a pop-up window with a related web page for you. I had to turn off my pop-up blocker for it to work.

I know you’re all on the edge of your seats, checking this website every day (or maybe staring at its node on your super-fancy RSS aggregator), wondering what the heck I’m up to these days. ‘Cuz it’s a pretty good bet that if I’m going a few weeks at a time between entries, my “real world” life is packed full and bursting at the seams with some pretty neat stuff.

First of all, yes, I did go to New Hampshire for a month. It was wonderful and relaxing — I saw many friends, and spent plenty of time with family. I sat in a rocking chair on the porch of an old farmhouse and watched the trees. I swam in lakes. I screamed at the ocean. I told stories around campfires. I stood on the top of a mountain. I bought candy at a store that still sells things for a penny. I surprised the heck out of my mother by showing up several days early, in a wig, on Mother’s Day. I heard poetry.

Second of all, yes, I’m back in San Francisco now, and I love it here. Some people were apparently under the impression that I was moving back to New Hampshire. Let me set you straight right now: that’s not going to happen.

Third, yes, I’m working again (am I ever!) — and while I’d love to hear about your awesome new project, chances are I can’t help you with it for a couple of months if you’re not already on my backlog list. And for those of you who are already on my backlog list, rest assured, I will get it all done. I just did a headcount, and I’m working on eight websites right now. EIGHT! Some are bigger and more urgent than others, but they’re all on my desk.

It’s been another period of chaos recently as I’ve tried to grapple with both the Big Picture and the Daily Details… but I’m feeling in control now, and going merrily with the flow. And can I tell you a secret? 

I know what I’m working for now. I’ve nailed down The Dream into tangible terms: I’m amassing skills and resources to become a Producer of Projects. Our lives are made up of projects. The urgent ones get done, and the important ones often die from lack of support. I can’t tell you how many times people have come to me and described things they’d really love to do or create, but don’t believe that it’s possible. I’m becoming the one who makes it possible. I knew this excessive optimism would come in handy someday…

(And you’re probably wondering about the picture on this entry. This is you watching me evolve. Click it for a bigger version.)

First off, I want to thank Whitney Moses for her generous donation to the Workathon. Whitney is a talented massage therapist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I encourage you to read more about her. She’s also running a fundraiser of her own to benefit COLAGE — an organization that provides support and connections for children of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender parents and families. Please consider donating to this important social cause. I did.Secondly, I also want to thank Zoya Hayuk, my bold and fabulous landlady, for her generous contribution to the Workathon, as well. Zoya is trying to sell a couple of timeshares in Cabo San Lucas, New Mexico, and the location is absolutely gorgeous. She’s selling them at cost to get rid of them quickly, so if you’re looking for a cheap and exotic vacation spot that you can keep going back to, it doesn’t get much better than this. Check out the listing that she and I built together to find out more.Thirdly, I’d like to thank Matt Van Wagner of Find Me Faster, as well as Chris and Mike of MD Landscape for hiring me for technical work during the Workathon. I also want to thank my mother and grandparents for hiring me for home projects while I was in town visiting. All of this contributed to a successful fundraising project.I’m proud to announce that we’re donating $1,645 to Horton Center as a result of this Workathon. Thank you all!

Following up on my laptop-for-travel saga, I feel it is my civic duty to let ya’ll know that my beautiful refurbished laptop from Apple is now dead. Dead as a doornail, as Dickens might put it. Less than a month after purchase.The problem? Ya plug the AC adapter in, and it gives you the pretty glowing orange LED light that tells you electricity is running to it… and then the power source indicator continues to tell you about your battery… and how it is running out… 50%… 30%… 10%… 5%… uh-oh. Computer down. After much poking, prodding, and trying new power adapters, the Apple-authorized mac specialists in town (and I) deemed the machine dead. As a doornail. Fortunately, I have the famed Apple Care plan, and their customer service appears to be top-notch. At the very least, they’ve given me confidence in their abilities to resolve the problem. The machine’s been mailed out to them, and I fully expect to see it again.In the meantime, I embark on the last legs of my East Coast journey laptop-free (*horrible scream*), with my dear Treo in my back pocket (*sigh of relief*). I’ll be back in the Bay Area next Thursday. Until then, I wander the hills…

Thanks so much to Dabetswe Natasha for donating to my Workathon to benefit Horton Center! Dabetswe is also a talented poet, and very active on The Writ. Please check her out HERE, and show your appreciation for her generosity by providing feedback on her work.And special thanks to the friends and family members who have put me to work this week — building websites, documenting and selling valuables, and editing images in exchange for funds that will also be donated to the mountain. What can I do for you?