ConFab2012: Observations by a First-Timer

This post has been relocated to: http://digitalanthrop.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/confab-2012-observations-by-a-first-timer/

Watching Waves Crash and Tattoos Fade

This week, after 2 months, it’s finally starting to sink in: I used to live in Israel, and now I don’t.

tel aviv street art - robot with i <3 tlv sign

Beachside street art in Tel Aviv

I spoke to my friend Meital the other night. She called from Tel Aviv, on her way to work. It was 3:30am for me, and 10:30am for her.

As we spoke I could picture exactly where she was, walking up Dizengoff street, one of Tel Aviv’s busiest thoroughfares that runs all the way up north to the new port, where our company’s offices are.

I knew the way the air must have felt, in the morning at the beginning of the summer in a coastal city in the Middle East.

I knew the pace of street life she was passing by: shared taxis shuttling people up and down the city, bike riders on their way to work, storekeepers opening shop for the day and sweeping soapy water out their front doors after a morning wash.

The further north you head, the closer you get to Tel Aviv’s new port. The ocean becomes visible as Dizengoff ends and you turn west toward the beach. Then it’s just up another few hundred yards (meters, there) and you’re at the Wix office: a freshly renovated building looking out onto the Mediterranean.

my dog at the Tel Aviv port

Tel Aviv’s northern port, on a mid-day work break

I used to see the ocean from my desk, and watch the sunset on my way to the roof for a smoothie, and go upstairs with friends for cigarette breaks and look out at the view and say to ourselves “We work here.”

Wix offices in Tel Aviv with sea view

Mediterranean views from the office

The sea-side office opened over a year ago but you never really get used to working in a freshly painted space with full floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over a Mediterranean sea.

Even during rainstorms it was a novelty, being shuttered in from the weather but  still with a dramatic view of overcast skies and dark, choppy waves.

~~~

I got my first tattoo in Israel, right before I moved home. And this week – only 2 1/2 months after getting it – I’m starting to go through the process of getting it removed. It’s on my arm, and it’s a sea urchin, to remind me of the time I stepped on one while snorkeling in Cambodia, thinking as it stung me that I was going to die from some exotic combination of blood poisoning and a lack of traveler’s insurance. I love the idea of the tattoo; but the design never grew on me. It’s too dark, and spidery-looking. It’s harsh, and sort of goth. I wanted it to be delicate, and sort of goth. The process of removing it is relatively painless – just some novocaine shots, and a laser I don’t feel.

The painful part is that it’s removing a connection with my previous life.

sea urchin tattoo

My sea urchin tattoo

The story behind it is from a trip to Cambodia, but the tattoo was made in Tel Aviv, my home for the past 4 years. And the more it dawns on me that that part of my life is over, the more frantically I’m grasping for connections to it.

And as my tattoo will fade after the next few sessions, it feels like I’m shedding layers deeper than skin.

Apps for New Yorker Dogs and Their Owners

I feel like pet owners could be the new special-interest group.

Apps for New York Dog Owners

Maybe I’m just spoiled from living in Tel Aviv for almost 4 years where you can literally take your dog anywhere, but now that I’m living outside Manhattan, the lack of options is disturbing. I feel discriminated against, not being allowed into stores with her.

What I Want in a Dog-Lover App:

There’s gotta be an app for dog lovers to share pictures of their babies with other obsessed, antisocial crazy pet owners, right? As someone in dire need of this service, I set out to discover what apps are out there for not just myself, but for my little friend with glorious eyebrows.

  1. Location-based info about nearest dog parks, pet stores and garbage cans
  2. Who’s nearby and wants to play? Foursquare for pet owners, with breed, sex and age info (of the dogs, too).
  3. Ability to share photos and video with Betsy’s fans and followers, not my own
  4. No cat pictures whatsoever

Apps for Finding Dog-Friendly Places

Dog Parks

Yessss! Look at all those green dots! There are plenty of dog parks in Manhattan, and a bunch out on Long Island I didn’t know about. You can also see if the parks are fenced in or not, and if they have separate sections for small dogs only. Plus it’s free!

dogpark - dog lover apps for new yorkers

Look at all those green dots!

DogFriendly.com Mobile

This is the head honcho of New Yorker dog owner sites. Stores, travel, park hours, accommodations, etc. for all US and Canadian cities. It’s not location-based, so it doesn’t automatically detect where you are to show what’s nearby, but what it lacks in usability it more than makes up for in providing practical information. Find  off-leash hours at Central Park (9am – 9pm), MTA and LIRR rules and a list of restaurants with outdoor seating.

dogfriendlymobile - dog lover apps for new yorkers

Everything but the kitchen sink.

Dog Friendly

A variation on a theme. Almost same exact name as DogFriendly Mobile, but more user-friendly and with less content. It is location-based, unlike DogFriendly Mobile which forces you to manually scroll…….so such a thing does exists, but there aren’t enough users adding dog-friendly locations.

dogfriendly - location based app for dog owners

Locator app for dog-friendly places

Apps for Socializing and Photo Sharing

Sadly, it appears that Dogster (Facebook for dogs) used to have an app called Dog Park that let you meet up and socialize with dog owners nearby…but such a thing apparently no longer exists.

Rate My Puppy

I can see this app being popular for girls who are going through difficult break-ups. Immerse yourself in a sea full of adorable up-close shots of doe-eyed puppies looking all forlorn and in need of more votes for Cutest Puppy.

ratemypuppy - apps for pet owners

An app to ease the pain of a breakup

I didn’t end up using it because you need to register, and it’s not clear if they want your name, age and sex or your dog’s. In my moment of pondering, I lost interest. Then I berated myself for my short attention span, and attempted to register again, but they didn’t let me use a proxy email address I set up for purposes like this one.

Apps for Pet Health

iKibble

This one lets you check what “human foods” are safe to feed your dog. I’m a huge sucker and always give my dog leftovers and stuff I know I shouldn’t, just in terms of discipline and getting her to like her dog food. But it’s not that hard to remember the handful of foods that are really bad for dogs: onions and garlic, grapes and raisins, chocolate and nuts. I don’t think you need an entire app for that list, but I guess there are apps out there for a lot less useful things. Also, watercress? Really?

ikibble - apps for pet owners

For people with memory problems.

Pet First Aid

This one seemed to be the most useful and legitimate app I found for pet owners. It’s $3.99 to download, a smart price point for marketing to the pet-obsessed. I’m not a monster. I’ll pay $3.99 to have instant emergency health info.

petfirstaid - apps for pet owners

First-aid & medical record for your pet

There are plenty of stupid apps for taking pictures of your dog, games involving dogs (one app lets you adopt a virtual puppy), translate your dogs barks into words, and so on. DogiDuty is a cool way for dog owners to communicate with their dog walkers, for poop updates and feeding times.

But there isn’t one go-to app that feels freshly updated and popular enough to include useful user-generated content. It’s the catch-22 of apps. If you build one, they will come…but unless they stick around and are active users, the app fails.

So for now, the winners are Dog Park and DogFriendly.com Mobile.

I know there are ways to accomplish what I want in a dog-owner app, using platforms like Google+ or Pinterest. I could create “Circles” for my pet-owner friends…but that would require me to use Google+, which I just can’t be bothered to do. I created a “board” on Pinterest and I called it MinPinterest, but that doesn’t take care of everything I wanted out of a social app for dog-owners. I joined Dogster at one point, but sort of forgot about it.
Do you know of any other apps for New York dogs?

My First Time at Comedy Cellar, NYC

I wrote this in an e-mail response to the Comedy Cellar after they wrote to me asking how my experience last night was. I love providing customer feedback so felt this was a terrific opportunity to make myself feel accomplished for the day.

Image

Last night was my first show at Comedy Cellar (as an audience member. I’ve been a presenter hundreds of times.) 

That’s a lie, it was my first time all together.
 
I really didn’t know what to expect, especially since I forgot my ID at home and wasn’t sure I’d be allowed in (I’m 27), but you guys let me in, just said I wouldn’t be allowed to drink, but I don’t really like drinking anyway so it was really a win-win. The bouncer was very nice and professional and also scary looking, which is a nice combination for bouncers.
 
The comics were outstanding. My favorite was Kurt Metzger. He was extremely offensive, had impeccable delivery and really made me want to become his best friend ever. Mike Vecchione was also great, and I actually think he came on right after Metzger which was nice since their styles are so different, and he had a lot of “positivity” in his act. I felt like the 1 girl comic, Nikki, made a few too many vagina jokes. Like 15-20 are OK but when you reach 459 it’s too much.

My server, Paul, was a sweetheart. Even when my friend sent back her soda by just stating “I don’t like it”, he was very apologetic. 
 
I hope to return for many more shows, and to remember my ID next time. 

Thanks,
Emily