2013 year in review (photos)

Because there aren't enough year-end review blog posts out there, here, have mine. This year I decided to do it in pictures. Because I have tons of pictures from last year. Not significantly more than any other year (and maybe fewer than some other years), but they are many, and they've asked me to share them with the world.

1. We've lived in the new house for a full year now, and are slowly hacking the life in the mountains. If you look carefully, you will see a teeny-tiny man in the Douglas Fir on the right. The man is actually normally-sized, the fir is just really really big. We had a few trees trimmed, for fire clearance, to keep critters from climbing into the attic, and such.

2. Tasted a lot of wine, and drank some really good bottles. Didn't do any sub-10-bucks wine reviews on my blog, even though I drank plenty of that kind. The photo is from a wine tasting class at Cinnabar winery, who make some really nice reds. Do yourself a favour and try their Malbec.

3. Drove on track. Didn't race any, but did some time trials, and some open track days. My car's been mostly holding up, only needing a new alternator.

4. Instructed beginning drivers with several clubs, and got this nifty recognition from NASA (no, the other NASA).

5. Designed some furniture for my office: industrial shelving with ply-boo inlays, and a standing workstation, also made with bamboo ply and metal. The workstation I assembled myself, and got some help with the shelving from a professional.

6. Got back into role playing. The kind with dice and character sheets. I almost forgot how fun it can be! Glad I didn't.

7. Worked with some brilliant people to launch Nebula One.

8. Finally got my green card.

9. Went on an epic road trip across the USA. Saw the Andy Warhol museum, the Fallingwater house, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse memorial, the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, drove on the salt until I was giddy, and generally had a good time.

10. Totally geeked out on cooking, and got pretty good at it.

11. Got a new job.

12. Went to Berlin and London, for the first time in almost five years. That was good. Saw many of my good friends, drove on the autobahn, visited the Sherlock Holmes museum.

13. Did some digital art. Still figuring it out, but it seems like I can adapt to creating directly on a screen.

So that's about it for the year. Turned out pretty good, considering that I mostly winged it. Here's to the new one.

Recruiter spam that pretends to be creative

Most of you will know Linkedin, the professional network. I won't complain about it too much, because it got me two out of three jobs in the past five years. Most recruiter in-mail is even coherent, if not always targeted.

Last month however, I got this highly spammy message in my inbox.

Admittedly, I was biased by the double exclamation points and the "3 reasons" subject, ever before I opened the message. However, I invite you to judge for yourself.

3 reasons to open this in-mail!!
Recruiter, Marketing Division at SPAM Recruiting
December 2, 2013 4:57 PM
Hi Alex,

I hope all is well! I have no idea how happy you are in your current job - maybe all is well. If so, congrats!

If you are actively looking or just started your job search, we're both in luck.

My client is a full service ad agency that promotes global brands targeted towards a young adult market. They are looking for a Social Media Manager in San Francisco to own the social and community strategy for a division of one of their newest clients. Your background at Google in Social Media and Community Management could be a great match based on what they are looking for.

Below are 3 reasons you might be interested in talking to them:
- They have a very solid client base of well-known brands
- Opportunity to work with other members on the same account
- Great culture and leadership - everyone who works there loves it and they are about to move to a brand new office in SF!

If you aren't a good fit, do you know anyone who would want to hear about this opportunity?


Considering that at the time I got this message, I've only had my new job at Google for 4 months, and it is fairly widely known that Google is not a sucky place to work; knowing all this, you'd think the spammer would be able to make an assumption about "how happy I am in [my] job." I mean, how bad does it have to be for someone to want to jump ship mere four months into a new role?

I felt waves of snark wash over me, and could not resist. Here is what I wrote back.

Here are top 3 reasons I will neither work with you to find my next job nor forward your request further: 

3. The position is with an agency, and I have no experience (or desire) to work for one. 
2. The position you are recruiting for is significantly below my qualification, and also not quite aligned with my current specialization in community building. 
1. You sent me a generic email, not personalized in any way, which tells me that I will not get any individualized treatment as your client, and neither will my qualified friends. 

I'd like to say that I appreciate the thought, but I'm afraid you wasted no such thing on me. 


Men act and think. Women are pretty.

Was stocking up on vitamins yesterday, and saw this wonder of modern marketing in the store. Behold:

See? They're for women and men, because they're different. Purple! Blue! One gives you "physical/mental energy" and the other "supports bones/skin/nails!" OMG! Are you sure the two sexes are even from the same solar system? Because men DO shit that requires physical and mental energy, and women just stand around looking good with their healthy skin and nails.

Our physiologies are sooooo different! The one sex' gummy vitamin is probably so radically different as to be harmful to the other?

Welp, no. There are some minor differences in dosages of a few elements, and two or three elements are completely different, but the rest is pretty much exactly the same.

After admiring the display for a few moments and snapping this picture, I went and got a non-gendered vitamin D. In a white bottle.

Algorithm red wine

Meet 2011 Algorithm Red Blend. The bottle is empty because of how yummy it is. Erm, was.

From the label:

Algorithm balances the equation between your digital world and the tangible one. A common denominator between friends, it enables you to step beyond life's virtual parentheses and appreciate the absolute value of true friendships. Algorithm red blend creates a network of dark cherries and plums, interlaced with rich notes of chocolate and vanilla. Mature tannins create a silky backbone is linked together with ripe concentrated fruit flavors.

I must confess that I bought this wine primarily for its label and the clever, if somewhat cheesy word play. But cheese goes well with wine, so hey, have another bad joke.

We were entertaining last night, and I opened this bottle to enjoy while we waited for the dinner to be ready. I was pleasantly surprised by the richness and complexity of the flavor. They didn't lie on the label about the rich dark fruit: cherries and plums were there in abundance, and I would even venture to say I tasted halfzware tobacco or dark cigar notes. The wine was well-balanced and left a nice lingering flavour when I drank it.

Whoever authored Algorithm, didn't make it elegant, but I think we should not judge them too strictly for creating liquid indulgence. We're in California after all. Oh, and true to my cheap wine tasting tradition, it was just $8.99 at Nob Hill.