Several months ago, I needed to mail a book to a friend. Not having a plethora of packing supplies in my office, and being tight on cash at the time, I put the book in a box I had lying around from my last mail order, and taped it with scotch tape. It was a pretty shotty tape job if I do say so myself, but I figured I could reinforce it at the post office. I was running out the door to a doctor’s appointment, I had a headache, and I needed to get the box in the mail ASAP.The line at the post office was long. Like forty-five minutes long.When I finally got to the counter, the gentleman behind it — a sixty-something Chinese man — asked me if I wanted to send it First Class or Priority Mail. I’m the first to admit I don’t know the difference between those two, considering I only need to go to the post office about once a year. But I didn’t care if the book took two weeks to get to the east coast — it just needed to get there eventually. So I asked, “What’s the cheapest way to send it?” His expression changed and he looked annoyed. “What’s in it?” he asked.”A book.” “You can send it media mail for four dollars.” “Okay, I’ll do that. Do you have any packing tape I can use?” His expression changed again, this time to anger. “No, we do not have any tape you can use. The post office is a business and we can’t just give things away. There’s some over there you can buy for three dollars, but there’s none for free.” He kept ranting. “The post office loses money all the time on cheap mail and giving things away. If we don’t make money, we can’t stay in business and mail your letters.” His face was turning red. “This is a business just like any other business. You can buy the tape or you can send it like this, but we do not have tape that you can use for free. Nothing is free.”I listened quietly and threw in the occasional “okay…,” trying to slow him down and let him know I heard him. But he went on for what seemed like forever, and I had to stand there and bear the attack. What an awful man. So grumpy. How could he treat me like this? Doesn’t he know I waited in line for so long, and that I’m late for my appointment? I was all ready to buy some tape when he took the box out of my hands and tossed it roughly into the bin behind him. I was too shocked by the whole experience to argue.On my way out, I called my friend. “I sent you the book… but the box is barely taped, so I hope it’s still in it when it arrives. Long story. I hate the post office.”So why am I telling this story? Because this morning, I had to go to the same post office to pick up a package. The same man was behind the counter, and i froze with fear when I saw him. But he was helping a very quirky elderly woman in a red sweatsuit, and he was smiling. Laughing. “Do you need stamps today?” “Oh, yes! Please show me what you have! I love your stamps!””Well, we have the superhero ones. Have you seen these yet?””Oh, those are darling! Look at the detail on their faces. I hadn’t seen those before! Give me two books of them! What else do you have?”She probably bought five books of stamps, and made him feel incredibly important in the whole process. He had the biggest grin on his face, and kept laughing at her exclamations of appreciation. I was next in line. I marched up with a smile and started by asking how he was doing. He kept grinning and laughing and talking about all the stamps she bought. I think he literally skipped to the back room to grab my package, and you should have seen the beam in his face when he asked me, “Do you need any stamps today?”I smiled and laughed. “No, I’m still working through the last ones you sold me!” He didn’t sell me my last set of stamps. But he believed he did, and it added to his sense of pride in his sales. He straightened right up, smiled, and said, “Alright, you have a great day.”It’s amazing. Truly amazing. The effect you can have on people when you show them you care about what matters to them. I have a lot to learn from that quirky old lady. I wonder if she gives lessons.

Another pic of me (hey, they only show up when I go to women’s blogging conferences, so let me bask in my vanity for a moment). This one was taken from Badgerbag‘s camera phone while I intently studied that weird article written about me in the San Francisco Chronicle.The WoolfCamp Afterglow was amazing. But since I’m running out the door to a Dresden Doll’s concert (an event I was invited to about 20 minutes ago), please allow me to direct you to the Woolfcamp Blog for more details.Cheers to community, women, technology, writing, and all the awesome people I met this weekend!

“Like a lot of bloggers, Sarah Dopp, a San Francisco writer who attended the second annual BlogHer convention in San Jose on Saturday, wanted to know if she could make a few bucks off her gig. With a shaved head and wire-framed glasses, Dopp, 23, who comments about tech trends and Bay Area life at sarahdopp.com, pulls in an impressive 23,000 hits per month — just the kind of niche audience some advertisers would like to reach.”From Advertisers circle realm of blogging — Web journals could become the next marketing frontierJustin Berton, SF Chronicle

Props to Mary Tsao for catching me mid-conversation with a very awkward “I see you taking a picture of me and I don’t know how to pretend this isn’t happening” face. I have so much processing to do… so many thoughts and experiences to put into words. I haven’t put them out there yet because

  • My brain cells were totally fried yesterday.
  • The Hyatt had inconsistent wireless internet access (apparently 800 blogging women freaked out their servers).

But I’m at WoolfCamp now, chilling with BadgerBag and the crew, and I’ve got some serious processing to do. (hey, i’m still a poet, even though i pretend not to know it.)

Maybe it’s for the best that I missed my chance at a two-day pass. More than one day of women, writers, and tech geeks all at the same time just might send me into epileptic seizures of joy. But I’m zooming in for Day 2 of BlogHer in San Jose, and I’m ready to get my tech chic on. Let’s go through the schedule with commentary, just for the sake of getting über excited:7:00-7:45 – Free Morning Yoga SessionIf I can get my San Francisco butt out of bed by 5am, I am totally there. This computer-chair body needs some crazy cat poses like a PHP needs MySQL.7:30-8:30 – Breakfast/NetworkingThis is where I wander around with big scared eyes and a bad-breath onion bagel, looking for people I know from WoolfCamp.8:30-9:00 – Welcome SessionThis is where I feel officially included, and my big scared eyes start to relax.9:00-10:00 – Opening Discussion: How are your blogs changing your world? The theme of the conference. I look forward to being able to put the answer to this question into words… besides “well, I go outside a whole lot less now…”10:00-11:00 – “Blog Crushes”. Test drives of sports cars, hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cell cars will also be offered at this time.Yeah, I’ve got my share of blog crushes… but ooh! shiny gas-free cars!11:00-12:30 – Workshops! Mommyblogging discussion, Craft Chick conversations, Online Identity Analysis, Deep Geeking, and Educational Blog Talk.This is where I become accutely aware of the fact that I’m not a MommyBlogger, unlike 75% of the women here. So I book it to the Online Identity and Deep Geeking, where populations are lower… because everyone else is discussing how the Internets viewed the flickr posts of their placentas.12:30-1:30 – Lunch: Networking by the PoolBy this point, I’ve found a few WoolfCamp cronies, introduced myself to some of their cronies, and struck up a few conversations with some random anti-social new cronies by the water cooler. Anyone who does anything remotely related to building websites has my business card in her pocket now. I think it’s about time to start a french fry fight.1:30-3:00 – More Workshops! Outreach blogging with Danah Boyd, Entrepreneurial Blogging with Dooce, Community Assistance blogging with Grace Davis, Blogging for Business with no one I’ve heard of, and Sex Blogging with Melissa Gira.This is where my head explodes with indecision, because I have to choose between seeing one of four of my heros speak, or going to the workshop that probably matters the most to me. I’ve been following Danah’s work for years. Dooce is a superstar. Grace is my blogging queen. Melissa Gira has a no-holds-barred attitude that will inspire any woman to stand on the front lines. And really, my interest is blogging for business. I will make this decision at the last minute based on who grabs my hand first and says “Come with me!”3:00-3:30 – BreakThank GOD!3:00-3:30 – MORE Workshops! NakedBlogging, ArtBlogging, PoliticalBlogging, GroupBlogging, and TransformationalBloggingThis is where I glare at the organizers and say, come on, couldn’t you have split my heros up between these this session and the last one? I’ll probably be in with the transformational folk… but really wishing it was being led by danah, dooce, grace, and gira.5:15-6:30 – Closing Keynote – Creating Your PlatformsThis is where I stand at the back of the room, point wildly at Grace Davis who’ll be on the panel, and scream “I know her! I know her!” really loud while she’s trying to speak.6:30-9:00 – Cocktail Party…and since I’ll have been inundating you with liveblogging entries all day long, this is when I’ll start mispelling my words.Wish me luck!

I’ve been working on this project for almost a full year with Interbrand, and I was starting to wonder if it would ever see the light of day. But all parties involved are happy with the final product, and it’s officially launched for the public. Check it out:

I handled a good chunk of the site architecture (both page development and navigation), a bunch of the image editing, and all of the final XHTML/CSS templates. The best part is that it’s a children’s hospital. You can’t help but feel all warm and fuzzy when you think about it…

Yes, I’m wayyyy late on the registration process, but I am going to BlogHer. I got a Day 2 pass (we’re talking about July 29 here), and I will über hardcore be there. (Thanks to Jess Brown for pointing out that there was still a ticket I could buy!) And yes, the full weekend pass was sold out, but it’s all good because there’s a party for the Technical Writing department on Friday, and I am going back to school in the fall so I ought to make an appearance and beg for college drop-out mercy. (Okay, so I’m really only planning on taking one class in the fall… but at least I’ll be in the system!)And that Sunday, I intend to be on Grace Davis’s couch talking about all that is chicky and bloggy with other WoolfCampers at the WoolfCamp Afterglow. Moreover, I will be car-sitting during that time, so I’ll actually have transportation to get to all these events scattered across the Bay Area. And possibly even sleep in my own bed every night. How phenomenal!

I would like to announce two things:

  1. Despite the tone of my last post, I was actually starting to look forward to jury duty. I thought, at the very least, it would be a really interesting story to tell (after the fact, of course). And at best, it would educate and interest me in our government systems.
  2. Thursday was an 8-hour day in the courtroom, listening to other people get interviewed. I was at the bottom of the randomly generated list, and they found a suitable jury before they reached my name. Therefore, I will not be serving. And given how god-awful boring the jury selection was, I’m once again opposed to spending time in that courtroom, and all kinds of crazy glad that I’m off the hook. At least for this year.

I spent the past month trying to come up with ways to get out of jury duty. None were very successful.So this morning, I went through the metal detector at the San Francisco Superior Courthouse without beeping, and made my way to room 007 (James Bond served up justice, didn’t he?). I had a piece of paper in my hand that I didn’t understand, and I got into a line that didn’t have a stated purpose. The man at the desk took my paper, said “Perfect,” and then called “Next!” No instructions. I just had to follow the crowd.The crowd was about 150 bored and irritated San Francisco residents. The crowd was business executives, construction workers, stay at home moms, trendy students, desk clerks, and tired seniors. The crowd was reading newspapers, napping, staring off into space, and playing tetris on their cell phones. The crowd was sitting in a room that looked like a bank lobby on steroids with pictures of the constitution on one wall, and artsy etchings of faceless white men with curly white wigs on the other. About 20 minutes passed before I heard a man at a microphone speak. “Welcome to the Superior Courthouse and thank you for fulfilling your obligation for jury service.” Oh, great! I’ve fulfilled it! I can leave now!, I thought. Did you know thoughts can be sarcastic? Anyway, the introduction commenced. San Francisco has a “One Day or One Trial” policy. This means you show up for the first day of your jury duty. If you don’t get assigned to a trial that day, you’re done. If you get assigned to a trial and it ends that day, you’re done. Most trials are no more than a few days. A week max. Jury duty is easy and fun. It’s about serving your country. It gives you a feeling of satisfaction. In short, Please don’t walk out of this room right now. We know you hate it, but please for the love of god just suck it up.They told us it would be awhile before the judge required our presence. I leaned back and pulled out my Treo to catch up on my email and pass the time — only to find that there was no cell phone service in this armored basement room. And suddenly, panic set in.Two hours passed, and the crowd went from bored to cranky. Eventually the announcer called a long list of names, mine included, and told us to go to the sixth floor to see the judge. Picture a miniature court room, and 80 cranky misplaced civilians sitting in every chair they can possibly cram inside it. Picture a geeky guy with black plastic frame glasses asking us to swear we’re going to tell the absolute truth (and nothing but the truth!) about our qualifications as jurors, so help us god. Picture a friendly blonde woman who starts her name with “The Honorable,” sitting at the front of the room in a black robe, explaining that this will not be your average civil trial.This will be a criminal trial.This trial will last four weeks. Picture 80 cranky misplaced civilians wincing in unison. The Honorable goes on to explain that if you have serious, legally-arguable hardship associated with serving for that long, you won’t have to serve. And if you know any of the witnesses, you won’t be able to serve. And this trial deals with an event that was in the local news, and if you followed that story carefully by the media, you may not be able to serve. And this trial deals with a particular event that many people have a phobia of or serious bias against, and if you do, you won’t be able to serve. Picture 65 cranky misplaced civillians sigh with relief.Picture your hero, Sarah Dopp, with a panicked look in her eyes, as she realizes that she’s in the minority group of fearless and ignorant jurors who don’t have any major conflict with living in a courthouse for a month. I will find out on Thursday if I’m needed to serve.Aaaaaannd… I’m freaking out.

Well, I finally got around to updating my own website (funny how everyone else’s sites always come first…), and I decided to compile some of the nice things people have said about me. It’s a good thing I don’t podcast these blog entries with a web cam, because then you’d be able to see how much this page makes me blush:http://www.sarahdopp.com/testimonials.htmWhile I was at it, I also pulled together a more interesting writing portfolio. You can take a look at it here:http://www.sarahdopp.com/portfolio-writing.htmBut now, of course, I step back and a take look at the whole site. And of course I think, It’s really time to buckle down, become a Flash expert, and build a full-on multimedia interactive art experience out of this website. And then I laugh at myself, and add it to the “someday when I have lots of extra free time and want to put tons of energy into something that’s not all that important” list. And I get back to work.