Let’s Help FT Make Work Poetry Happen

robert frost's mouth is poetry in itselfGet excited: the Financial Times has launched a WORK-RELATED HAIKU CONTEST. (Registration required.) (To read the full article, not to submit to the contest.)

Here’s all the relevant info:

+ The haiku is a powerful poetic form, in three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. David Lanoue, haiku poet and author, defines it as: “A one-breath poem that discovers connection,” and thinks of a senryu as a comic haiku. Keeping this in mind while you write will help you.

+ The deadline for submissions for the first week’s topic is noon GMT September 24. Please send entries to workplace.haiku@ft.com

+ The best examples of haiku will be narrowed down by FT editors, with a guest judge picking the winner each week. Judges have been nominated by British Haiku Society, the World Haiku Association, and the Haiku Foundation.

Come on, ‘Folders! This is so totally in our wheelhouse. I want to see you dominate like a squad of tiny, fierce Chinese gymnasts.


Friday Estimate

Firefly_class_shipSince Mike’s away, I’ve got the Friday estimate this week.

The biggest thing I want to do this weekend is absolutely free: I want to finish my library copy of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (the 10th Anniversary ebook edition that contains 12,000 more words). I think the book is magic because when I opened it on my Kindle, it said it would take me 3 hours and 50 minutes to read. I’m two hours into it—just at the part with the House on the Rock—and my Kindle is still telling me there are 3 hours and 50 minutes to go. Maybe the book is never-ending. With Neil Gaiman, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Tonight, I’m going to a Lit Series event at Seattle’s Hugo House, to hear Mona Simpson, Matthew Dickman, and Carter Sickels. I paid for my $27.40 ticket earlier this week (not $900!), so that doesn’t count for this weekend, but there will be a cash bar, so I had better estimate $10 for a drink plus tip. 

Tomorrow, I’m going to a Sereniversary party at Wayward Coffeehouse, which probably means another $10 for drinks/tip and $10 to tip the musicians.

I’d like to go rock climbing, which will cost about $15 if I can drag myself away from American Gods long enough to haul out to Ballard. Other than that, I’m pretty much stocked for food and other weekend essentials.

So… I estimate $45. I’ll round up to $50 because I can probably find something else to spend $5 on.

How about you?



Our 1 Thing: Remembering to Do 1 Thing, Oops

Thursdays are a great day to do that 1 thing you need to do but don’t want to do but need to do. 

We forgot about 1 thing! So now my 1 thing is to post “Do 1 Thing” before day’s end. Oops. No, okay, that doesn’t count. My 1 thing is child-related: Babygirl turned two and we’re throwing her a hopefully casual, low-key party this weekend in the park. Can any party really be casual and low-key when people travel to get to it, though? Probably not. My mom is coming, and various in-laws, and other family members, and they will want food to chomp on even though the party was planned strategically for a non-meal time. I said no gifts on the evite but people will bring gifts (we’ve received some in the mail already) so there will be thank you notes and clean up afterwards, as well as stress and prep work in advance, some of which is to be done today. So yeah! There it is.

What’s your 1 thing?


Our Money Daydreams: Orlando Bloom and Big Media

Lauren E. writes:

When I was in high school, I tried to write a screenplay based on a book I liked. I fantasized frequently about casting Orlando Bloom in the movie. He and I would fall madly in love and I would never have to worry about money again!

Orlando Bloom



How Wizards Do Money: Parvati Patil


The best thing about going to Hogwarts was that her mother could no longer worry at her to stop slouching.

“You are so beautiful,” Parvati could hear, the over-emphasis disproving its own words. “Why are you hiding your own beauty?”

The truth was Parvati didn’t care. She was never into shoes, or dresses, or cosmetics. She loved the Gryffindor uniform because she didn’t have to make choices about all of that anymore. She could get up, plait her hair, and be ready to go.

When Dean Thomas whispered that Parvati was one of the best-looking girls in her year, Parvati glared at him and slouched harder. She went off to Hogsmeade with the Beauxbatons student later that night because he hadn’t said that to her; he’d actually said something that was interesting. Parvati found him to be less interesting as the night went on, so she checked off “dating” from her list of curiosities and stopped worrying about brushing her hair.

Later her mother would ask “but aren’t you meeting any nice boys?” and Parvati would reply “I’m learning advanced defensive fighting skills so I can be in a wizard army, I don’t have time to meet boys.”

Because of this, Parvati was spared the crush of weddings that all seemed to take place immediately after the Second Wizarding War. Hermione and Ron, Neville and Hannah, Harry and Ginny—that boy could lead an army, maybe, but he was a right git—her classmates paired off and she and Padma were left standing alone.

Then Padma immediately got hired by the Ministry, and Parvati was left alone. Her mother and father both began asking “don’t you want to get a job?”

The answer was no, but Parvati knew that wasn’t a good answer.



Adventures in Sexting: An Interview with Kara Stone


Kara Stone makes the games she wants to play. A Toronto-based artist, her primary mediums are interactive films and video games; her first game, Medication, Meditation was a Kill Screen Playlist Pick. Her latest, Sext Adventure, was recently chosen to be showcased at Indiecade.

Users playing Sext Adventure will find themselves sexting with an automated bot. The results of your sexting adventure are entirely up to you—the bot’s responses vary wildly. There is no way to predict the outcome of the game. Sext Adventure was designed to give the bot its own consciousness, personality, and sexuality as players progress. The bot can even reject its sexuality altogether, if it so chooses.

I first played Sext Adventure at a Dames Making Games event, where I was working on my own project. Together with Nadine Lessio, who coded the txtr engine Sext Adventure was built on, Kara had been working on her project all weekend, and everyone was excited to try the demo. When we finally got to test it for ourselves, the room went silent as we hunched over our phones, sexting a bot, the only sounds a few nervous giggles.

Kara aimed to make a game that explores issues of technology, gender, and digital intimacy. She’s part of a growing number of female developers, such as anna anthropy, Zoe Quinn, and merritt kopas, amongst others, who are making video games on their own terms. Their games explore depression and illness, gender and sexuality, feminist issues like objectification and harassment.

Often, these games are maligned by mainstream game press and players as “not-games.” I have no use for that bullshit. These are all video games, and all the more important because people don’t want to see them as such.

I had the chance to speak with Kara at Bento Miso earlier this month. We talked about gaming, gender, sex, mental health, and exactly what qualifies as a game. READ MORE


Sobering Loan, Debt, Savings News; Or, Janet is Yellen at Us Again

Les-Miserables_students barricadeWe Americans are in dire straits. We need to pay people to find us roommates so that we can afford to live in grossly overpriced apartments on the outskirts of where the jobs are. Student loans are such a crushing financial burden, totaling $1.2 trillion, that an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street called Rolling Jubilee has started urging debtors to organize and fight back.

Americans have an average of about $30,000 worth of student debt, and one in ten borrowers default on their loans. According to Andrew Ross, a Rolling Jubilee board member and professor at New York University, this sizable group of people can make an impact if they act as a unit. … “Debtors often don’t identify their condition as permanent,” Taylor said. Unlike medical debt, which is usually perceived as unavoidable, “people with student loans feel like they made a choice. It’s their problem. They feel shame instead of outrage.” …

The long-term goals, group members say, are to challenge the very existence of student loans in the first place and advocate for free education. “There’s this strong sense in the United States of morality behind debt—that being a good person means paying what you owe,” said Thomas Gokey, 35, who has $67,000 in student loans and came up with the idea of buying portfolios on the secondary market for the collective’s first action back in 2012. “We hope to undermine this fake morality around debt.” Since the debt was bought for pennies on the dollar, he says, people “really don’t owe this debt at all. Someone is simply making a profit.”

The GOP blocked Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill, again. And now Fed Chair Janet Yellen has some more grim newsREAD MORE


“I Stopped Carrying a Wallet When I Became Homeless”

george wallet seinfeld

Maybe I should start carrying a wallet again. Maybe a nice, grown-up wallet would act as a talisman, attracting wealth and prosperity. The pink vinyl change purse I got at Target seems to only attract change. It’s not big enough to hold more than several bills and cards. Maybe a nice, leather upwardly mobile billfold would change my luck.

Since I was old enough to carry my own lunch money to school, I have had a wallet. Usually, I carried them until they fell apart, transferring them daily into whatever handbag matched that day’s outfit. Having a wallet felt like being a grown-up.

My father carried a wallet. Having lived through the Great Depression, he didn’t have full faith in banks, so at times his billfold was thick with over $1,000 in cash. My mother didn’t have a wallet. She placed her meager money in a delicate hankie, folded up into a tiny square and pinned inside her bra. Loose change went into one of those plastic oval holders that opened like a mouth when both ends were pinched. Momma didn’t work, but Daddy would always give her a few dollars for incidentals, nothing more. Early on, I learned that he who had the thick wallet had the power.

And when I got old enough to wear a bra, I never felt secure with a hankie and a safety pin.

When I became an adult, with a real job and responsibilities, I got a nice, fancy wallet to match. I remember the pride I felt when I placed by very first credit card in my wallet. As the years passed, I filled all of the slots in my wallet with every credit card known to man, while the amount of paper money dwindled. Even though all of those accounts are closed now, either by choice or by default, I still keep some of those cards, like photos of old friends that I used to know but have lost contact with over the years.

I stopped carrying a wallet in December 2011, when I became homeless. READ MORE


Wages For Housework!

6a00d8341e9b7953ef014e5fb46355970c-200wiWages for Housework is one of my favorite movements that will never happen but just talking about the possibility works to counteract the invisibility of this kind of labor. The Times has a nice roundtable debate on it.

Roundtabler #1, Noah Zatz, has great points:

If someone earns $15,000 and spends it on child care, the government sees income earned to help support the family. But if she cares for her kids herself, this economic activity disappears: no income, no work, no spending.

This economic invisibility has profound consequences. Unlike the low-wage worker, the “housewife” gets no credit for contributing to the household economy. That means no protection against future disability, unemployment or retirement via Social Security or related social insurance programs. Her labor also gets ignored by tax credits and other policies that support “working families” who struggle to make ends meet.

Heather Boushey, Roundtabler #2, advocates everyone spending a little bit less time at their paid jobs so they have time to do the laundry and so on. I also support this idea.

#3 is Milad Doroudian, who apparently doesn’t live in the world as it already exists, argues that paying for housework would create “disparity and inequality [in marriage], since money means power.” Lol, great point, Milad. You know what else creates disparity and inequality? NOT HAVING ANY MONEY AT ALL. READ MORE


Horrible Job of the Day: Hitler’s Food Taster

Well I may have finally found the worst job imaginable:

Margot Wölk was no Nazi, but she was one of 15 young women who were employed at Adolf Hitler’s heavily guarded Prussian “Wolf’s Lair” headquarters during the Second World War. Her job was to taste the Nazi leader’s food before it reached his lips, to make sure it wasn’t poisoned.

…“Some of the girls started to shed tears as they began eating because they were so afraid. We had to eat it all up. Then we had to wait an hour, and every time we were frightened that we were going to be ill. We used to cry like dogs because we were so glad to have survived.”

Margot Wölk, who’s 96 now, is the only food taster who survived. The job entailed having an SS officer pick the women up in a bus every day and drop them off in a school building where the tasting took place (“rice, noodles, peppers, peas and cauliflower”). They never saw Hitler.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons