Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Go go go'

Did it start with dialup for you?

October 7th, 2017 · Comments Off on Did it start with dialup for you?

Oh those quaint old days of the 20th century! Do you remember them too?

Do you remember the soft creaky groaning of dialup, when you waited for that connection? Do you remember when Netscape Navigator added images to internet pages of text? Did you make your own animated GIF avatar for Compuserve forums? Do you remember why we called it the World Wide Wait?

In 1998 (or thereabouts), our family moved to the Netherlands for 3 months, because Frank had a Lorentz Professorship. About two days before takeoff, I figured out how to sign up for Hotmail, just in case it turned out to be useful. In those simple days, short email addresses were super easy to get.

When we moved to Cambridge, about 2000, I was very anxious to have good internet cables running up through a wall between Frank’s study and mine, so we could both work at our desks with computers online. I also proposed, as a bit of a lark, that we might try something new I had read about in MacWorld, something called wifi. Without much expectation, we bought a new wireless router, which affected our lives in ways we never imagined.

Now you could unplug your computer from your desk and use it in the kitchen to try a new recipe, or even out in the garden on beautiful day. And every time you looked, there was something new online that ysou wanted to try. There were blogs, and anybody could start one! And then Cameron Marlowe made a blog tool tracking which blogs were following certain news stories, and there was a big news story about GOP shenanigans that I wanted to see blogs linking to, so there was a reason for me to start a blog, so of course I did.

Then out of nowhere, there was a guy named Dave Winer at Harvard holding big meetings where amateur bloggers could even meet tech superstars. There was a “social software” from Google called Orkut, where you could ask techy acquaintances to “friend” you, a heady rush of pleasure when they said yes.

Then bloggers got RSS, and then I got a job working for Scott Johnson at Feedster, and then along came Bloggercon and Joi Ito’s chatroom and SXSW, even more connections that put real life and your computer together. Because there were always more web things to try. Things like made by a #joi chatroom friend Joshua Schachter, which we all had to try. Things like Second Life, where a 2003 Newsweek story about becoming a real life millionaire selling virtual stuff there motivated so many people to give it a try. I must confess that although I did make some real-life money in Second Life, it was never enough to cover the real-life money I spent, mostly on “rent” for beautiful places to put the wild buildings I also bought, but also on bubblegum pink hair and beautiful “textures” and other fun things.

So now, just a bit more than a decade later, I can visit foreign countries without learning the important local language sentence, “Where is the nearest internet cafe?” In fact, now I am writing this blogpost while riding an airplane from Shanghai to Boston. There is probably room for another blogpost to cover the time in between, but I want to finish this one before I run out of my airline wifi!

Tags: Go go go · Metablogging · Stories · Travel · Wide wonderful world

“I don’t know where I’m going to be on July 11”

June 30th, 2015 · Comments Off on “I don’t know where I’m going to be on July 11”

When I was a little girl, a sentence like this would have made no sense to anyone in my family. We all knew exactly where we were going to be, just about every day–waking up in our own bedrooms in our own house with our own family all around us.

My sister and brothers and I also knew, just about any day in the future, what we would be doing. Each day moved through a series of stylized programs almost as predictable as (later on in my childhood) a TV schedule. Getting up. Getting clean. Getting dressed. Getting breakfast (mostly bacon plus eggs in various shapes.) A lot of this “getting” by children and my father was the result of “giving” and “doing” by my mother, something we never thought about then, when it was happening.

Today, Frank and I live in such a different world. We’re not little children, or parents of little children, so our lives are full of enormously varied choices, many quite appealing. Our friendship groups link us to time zones around the world, so Skype meetings get scheduled via with friends in China online at 11 p.m., friends in Boston online at 11 a.m., while here in Sweden we’re in the middle at 5 p.m.

We just spent a month living in a hotel in Sweden, where having a private meal by ourselves requires more work than just going out to a restaurant. Our summer is going to be similarly peculiar, because Frank has a new book coming out July 14 (A Beautiful Question, wonderful book if I say so myself.)

The quote that gave me a title from this blogpost is from a friend who is similarly location-challenged… but who DOES know where he will be on July 9, viz. “On July 9, I’ll be stuck in JFK airport for 5 hours, so that would be a good time for a Skype conversation.” How astounded my childhood self would have been by such dislocations!

Our grown-up rootlessness, our freedom to travel and adventure, is both sweet and bitter. It is sweet because our freedom comes not only from financial and personal privilege, but also from a sense that whenever Frank and I are somewhere together, we’re safe inside “family.” (This wouldn’t work, of course, if we weren’t confident that a few weeks will bring us back into connection with actual family back home.)

It is bitter because for us both, the “home” where we set our roots back in our childhoods… those homes are gone. The jolly family dinners that seemed so eternal as they repeated year after year… the houses of grandparents, aunts, uncles, multiple feisty cousins, almost as familiar as our own childhood bedrooms… if we could even find those houses now, strangers live there.

So, I also don’t know where I’ll be on July 11. Sometimes, I’m not even really sure where I am right this very moment.

Tags: everythingismiscellaneous · Go go go · Life, the universe, and everything · My Back Pages · Sweden · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Curtain up, light the lights …

March 31st, 2011 · 2 Comments

Lighting board by betsythedevine
Lighting board, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

After this weekend, it will be curtains for Curtains in Arlington, MA, and I am really going to miss this show. I started working backstage for them in February and soon worked my way up from worst painter to worst lighting tech!

Yes, I have risen so far in the Arlington (MA) Friends of the Drama that now I have to climb two ladders when I go to work, in the tiny lighting booth above the back of the theatre.

Fortunately, I now enjoy climbing ladders. Thank heaven I lost my acrophobia somewhere, most likely in Second Life where avatars easily leap from the tops of tall buildings (the quickest way down), crash to earth, stand right up, and just feel perfectly fine.

The songs by Kander and Ebb (they also did Cabaret and Chicago) are toe-tapping and singable. The singing, dancing, dynamic cast is such fun to watch, and let me tell you I have now watched them quite a few times but I still hate to look down when the light cues require my attention. If you live near Arlington MA, there are still some tickets for sale there for this weekend’s shows. And be sure, if you come, to be amazed by the great lighting.

Forgive my long non-blogging, but I have been “making trouble today for a better tomorrow” elsewhere … multiple elsewheres, for too many yesterdays.

Tags: Boston · Go go go · Wide wonderful world

Too much on plate?

February 22nd, 2008 · Comments Off on Too much on plate?

roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and veggies, traditional Sunday dinner in England

English Sunday traditional roast beef with Yorkshire pudding just got multiple updates–from a bright orange Mexican plate to the colorful veggies, steamed lightly to please modern taste buds.

But this photo is symbolic–not so much of what I’m eating as it is of the too-many too-tempting things distracting me from my current blog troubles.

Aside from Gilbert and Sullivan, lectures on Darwin, springtime in Iffley, work on my book, trying to set up a non-fiction writers’ workshop, and the glories of Oxford Botanic Garden, there are distractions less delightful taking up far too much time…grocery shopping with no car, just for a starter.

And then there are cross-cultural gotchas, like the dry cleaner who phoned to tell me that somehow he’d broken all eight buttons on my best jacket. He did pay for ten new buttons and sew them on free, but I did have to go find them in a tiny second-floor sewing store on a small back street.

Do less, write more–what a good plan. I plan to try that plan now.

Tags: Go go go · Metablogging

NH librarian in Sweden and the NY Times!

February 3rd, 2008 · Comments Off on NH librarian in Sweden and the NY Times!


From today’s NY Times, here you see mother and daughter jaunting and laughing through summertime in side-by-side bus seats, because “My daughter and I wanted to see the Swedish countryside, and a bus is a good way to do it.”

I always love visiting Mary in her lovely and welcoming small-town NH library. I’m glad NY Times photographer Jacob Silberberg captured her and Kerstin in such a lovely but truly typical moment. I’m also glad he mentions that Mary is 60.

It seems to me that the natural active fun for a person at any age is whatever stuff that exact person has real fun doing.

My Time Goes By friend Ronni Bennett pushes back when older people talk about being active or happy as feeling young. I know why she does–for the same reason I once wrote about “I’m too bleeargingledly for my shirt.” But I think what most people mean by “feeling young” is just that we don’t feel some (bad) way society told us we’d feel when we got “old.”

My mom when she was 80 liked gardening and doing crosswords and reading Colette, and far be it from anyone to say that she should have been out riding back roads on a giant Harley while clad in black leather. Though that’s an image that would have made her smile…

And far be it from anyone to say she shouldn’t have ridden those roads and that Harley if she wanted to.

Tags: Go go go · My Back Pages · Sweden · Travel

Useful: 101 quick dinner ideas for summer

July 20th, 2007 · Comments Off on Useful: 101 quick dinner ideas for summer

Smoked salmon with horseradish-flavored whipped cream

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Mmm, restaurant food–but that quickly gets old.

My quick-dinner fall-back, which I learned about in the Netherlands, is handfuls of mixed chopped vegetables tossed into the boiling water when I’m cooking pasta. Top with pesto or nuke some chunky red sauce in the microwave.

Today’s NYT has 101 more ideas, including an easy recipe for gazpacho.

Tags: food · Go go go · Useful · Wide wonderful world

Twitter: Social string theory, not just nextbigthingitude

March 16th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Nextbigthingitude? What a great word Halley has dreamed up for Twitter. But it’s more than that.

Twitter is an experiment in turning OFF a few social taboos, to see what happens next.

Twitter, like blogging, shuts down the taboo that says “Don’t talk about yourself, people don’t care.” Twitter, like Orkut, gives delicious permission to ask for and offer friendship to people you like, while withholding your friendship from people you don’t like so much.

Don’t string theorists believe that the world has tons of extra rolled-up dimensions? Twitter-ers are playing games with the social dimensions, collapsing a few just to see what might happen next.

And what happens next is, most likely, that we all get bored. Or maybe we don’t.

Maybe we decide we want this crazy new-fangled interaction toy that nobody wanted before it was invented–just the way we decided we want email and cellphones.

Besides–it’s fun being part of this experiment–join me!

Tags: Go go go · Metablogging · twitter

Einstein might have gone about this a little differently…

March 14th, 2007 · Comments Off on Einstein might have gone about this a little differently…

EinsteinPrinceton: Illustration by Ron Barrett: Albert Einstein stands on his porch in Princeton, shining a flashlight toward the starry sky.

Here you see Einstein (happy birthday, professor!) on the front porch of the Princeton house where Frank and I later spent about eight happy years.

It’s an artist’s conception, so you don’t see any tourists ringing the doorbell.

Welcome to my new blog. Please pardon me if it’s now a (messy) open house. I had been planning to fix it up more before sending out any virtually-engraved invitations. Things moved too fast for me.

Einstein’s ninth law is that nothing moves faster than gossip through the blogosphere.

Or maybe something moves faster–but that something sure isn’t Betsy!

Tags: funny · Go go go · Metablogging

Hi there, we’re just moving into this new place…

March 13th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Happy birthday party with pets and hats

Wow, looks spacious–clean–no cat hair on anything–we’ll, we’ll soon fix that.

Cecil Coupe with his MvManila software managed to collect all the posts and all the pictures I created using Manila over the past four-years-plus, and move them into WordPress so that they all link to each other in the appropriate way, despite the changed URL. Pretty amazing–we ran into some ISP obstacles along the way–through it all, Cecil remained a (very hard-working) pleasure to work with. Cecil with very cute little white Westie named Katie

Thank you, Cecil!

I found Cecil using a Google search for “move Manila blog” but I put some links in here so that you can find him even faster.

Tags: Go go go · Metablogging · Useful

More funny ha-ha and peculiar political ads

November 8th, 2006 · Comments Off on More funny ha-ha and peculiar political ads

People around the world are interested in the crazy excesses of political spin.

What was the funniest TV ad this campaign? The stupidest? The meanest?

Go to MSNBC to see some amazing candidates. Here’s one election where it’s not (yet) too late to vote.

Tags: Go go go