Three San Francisco experiences to have in the dark

Close your eyes, there’s so much more to see. Here are three spots in SF caught in your blindspot that you won’t want to miss. Oscillations

1. Oscillations – sound and lightscape
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in the Room for Big Ideas, Th-Sa, 3 minutes, Free

Dip into the the YBCA for an immersive and sensual experience. The installation space, curtained off for one person, made with wood, electric fans, lights, speakers and custom technology takes you through a 3-minute intense 360 light and sound experience. I attended the live performance of the scape but actually much prefer the solitary experience off the YBCA lobby and have been three times with many more to come. The installation will be on display until 13 January 2013, so it’s not to be missed. Read more about artists Surabhi Saraf & Sebastian Alvarez’s but wait to watch the video until you’ve felt the warm heat on your face and cool fans on your arms, yourself. You have one more month to enjoy this city’s gem.

Audium 2. Audium – Sound theater
1616 Bush Street San Francisco, CA 94109, Fri, Sa at 8:30, 1 hour, $20

Enter this sound-sculpture space created in 1975 and seems to have barely changed since for a truly unique experience. Artist Stan Shaff hosts an hour-long expression of live and recorded audio pieces for those seeking something truly experimental to hear ranging from obtusely abstract to comfortably familiar sounds. It’s rumored that the 40-year old theater will be shutting down and the shows change from month-to-month, so there’s no better time than now.

 

Moon Dipperton3. Float Matrix – Sensory Depravation
Nob Hill Wellness Building, 815 Hyde St. Lower Level, Mo-Su by appointment, 1hr, $75+

Lay your mind and body down in a shallow pool of water and 1,000 pounds of salt. With earplugs in, the lights off and the scentless water the temperature of your body, this is as close to feeling nothing as you’ll ever get. Your mind, relieved of all the sensory input processing takes many into deep relaxation or significantly emotional and creative places. I’ve experienced all three and have been twice. The owner has changed into good hands since I’ve last attended but this has been one of the best and most rewarding San Francisco experiences I’ve had. I cannot recommend this enough. In simpler terms, it’s the best tool for meditation, focus on the present and self-awareness.

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What small teams can learn from Burning Man

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We have the opportunity to build and create things all the time, and with groups of motivated, capable people. Sometimes we’re making a company, sometimes a party, sometimes just dinner. In the case of Burning Man, it’s easily the likes of all three.

After my second visit to Nevada’s Black Rock City, I found ways to bring home what I learned about working on a happy team. Having the time, resources and ability to realize any kind of dream at all is a gift.
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Burning Man is a week of camping, music, art, radical self-reliance and expression in a remote and inhospitable dessert. Last year I wrote about what designers can learn from Burning Man but best description of the festival comes from the Huffington Post.

During this year, our camp put in specific effort to be a team working and playing happier together with balanced responsibilities. Because if you and all your friends, and all their friends, and all of their friends choose to take a week off for the purpose of being together, without distraction and obligation, you better do it right. Here’s how.

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Meet in person
Short Stack Hamming to OrderYou could do all of you preparation in one week. Cliff bars, gallons of water and a small tent will get you through a week on the Playa. This year, we scheduled planning, working and playing meetings all year to strengthen our social bonds and increase investment and trust within each other as coworking group.

Physically sharing time together made work and tasks a pleasure, not a job. It helped generate new ideas and helped us figure out what we, as a group, cared most about.

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Share a common goal
Our camp, led by two DJs,  has a history of being a music and dance camp. Our camp had 7 sets of current or former roommates, 5 couples and 3 sibling pairs, so while having a great music camp was a priority, we learned having a family feel for each other and guests was just as important. By sharing the same ultimate goals, we were never left asking ‘Why do I have to do this?’ or shoving responsibility onto someone else.
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Do what you love
 Our teams were made up of people working on something for which they naturally cared.

I was happy as a clam choose a color palate for the camp and hang fabric for shade. Our DJs were best equipped to check the generators and sound quality. And those who loved to cook, set up a kitchen for homemade Chinese dumpings, guacamole, steaks, bacon quesadillas and fresh cut fruit for days.
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Share resources
When someone who enjoys their daily tasks and sees the need to get ice from center camp or that a group across the street is struggling to get the dome assembled, they will self-initiate and make the extra hand an act of gifting rather than resentment or tally counting.

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The people who make up a group have their own priorities and those to should be supported and celebrated. I had the joy to hear multiple people I love play the best DJ sets of their lives, build their most grand projects and come to new understandings of themselves.

And with surprise, family from all across our village came to dance on wooden platforms in a dust cloud, while I made music visuals at some epic dance camps.

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It’s ok to be human
Everyone is always going through something and figuring out something they haven’t done before. And when there are problems on a team, or I think, perhaps, I am the problem, here’s a fine reminder. We are far from perfectly automated, logical, mechanical, precise robots. We are just squishy little, irrational humans and that’s ok.

Same lesson, new year
Having dropped myself an other-worldy place, I’ve learned how delicate our fleshy, vulnerable, skin and bones and hearts are. If we’re going to work together to make chairs and phones and streets and clocks and code whatever else it is that we make together, let’s do it like people.

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Katy Perry trades in her whipped cream rocket launcher bra for rifles but misses the target

  

Katy Perry’s songs are produced to sound like Pop Rocks and taste like Orange Crush. While her songs messages lack intellectual merit, the production quality of her videos have actually been beyond impressive, though always candy sweet. Until now, the fiercest thing she’s done in a video is whipped cream and flames from her breasts.

In her latest video, Part of Me, Perry cuts her hair, tapes down her breasts, paints her face and joins the Marines. In an interview with MTV she says:

It’s an affirmation of strength, so I wanted to go the strongest route I ever could. Literally, I was like, ‘I’m gonna join the service. I’m gonna join the Marines.’

I wanted to celebrate this video, I really did. Besides it being a blatant PR piece for pro-war America, I wanted to be happy about a visual message showing a strong, hardworking women supporting a cause they believe is just but the whole message is rooted in 2nd wave feminism.  And she was so close with this video, so close.

Did she hit or miss?
But the narrative completely falls apart in the first scene. Perry only joins the Marines because a dude breaks her heart. She trades her pink cotton dresses for commando boots as a way to overcome pain of a a cheating boyfriend. To prove her strength she pursues something that’s a predominantly male activity and outside of something the main character’s desire.

Second wave feminism looks at sex and gender norms asking for equal parts of the same pie, essentially protesting stereotypes about women imposed by men. Whereas third wave, in this case, ought to seek a different pie all together and motivate actions outside of the gendered ideals from the beginning.

Does all the power she think she holds actually still belong to her ex-man? Challenge me on this one. How would the video’s message be different if she had chosen to join the Marines she believed in serving her country not her broken heart? So close, Katy. So close.

But she got some things right. Perry three days of intense training at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base in Oceanside, California to get her flips, jabs and underwater wrestling right. Minus the b-roll of her prancing under the flag like a country star (which is actually quite fitting), the color schemes, the angles and shots, the costuming are done quite artistically and thoughtfully.

What Katy Perry’s does well
It’s not popular in my community to like Katy Perry. Which means we don’t spend much time queuing up her videos on youtube. But they execute the philosophies of artistic (versus technological) remedation exceedingly well [Bolter & Grusin, MIT Press, and an excellent read].

In her videos we see cultural icons and old media imagery better than anything I’ve seen from pop media in the last decade and the production value is sky high compared to a Bieber video. Let’s look at her production team’s work:

California Gurls brings Candyland and, Willy Wonka, Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz new life.


ET is like a morphing of Erasure’s Always video with etherial creatures crawling around a futuristic snowy, Japan, Bjork’s All is Full of Love video with robot romance and costuming inspired by the children’s dystopian movie, Wall-E  and the psychological thriller The Cell. The female pop icons of my childhood could have never dressed, artistically in full, space cadet uniform in a beautiful way. The closest we got was Britney Spears in a red pleather jump suit.


Teenage Girl, maybe the best video of them all, is no question a homage to the part of the 80s era that her fans are just a few years too young to actually remember the epic teenager tale 16 Candles or the social makeover Cher gave Ty in Clueless.

So, dear Katy, while I hope to never hear any of your songs while I’m out dancing, I do love muting your videos and queuing up a Brahms sonata and while Snoop Dog pimps out ice cream cone buffets.
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7 online services for women that do more than mail you lipgloss

There are moutains of services out there targeted at women and the ones that I hear about most are selling a losing weight dream or discounted Dooney and Burke handbags. . I think the services below have some integrity and put a women’s needs, not her credit card, first. Here are some great tools to help women, specifically women, lead happier, healthier, savvier lives.

Peacock embroidery. Luxemi – The best way to wear Indian clothes
Shopping for sarees should be a delight and a pleasure. But Indian high fashion changes faster than the songs in a Bollywood film, the garments are expensive and unless you’re traveling to India every few months it’s too hard to keep the wardrobe updated. That’s why I love renting from Luxemi, so much they invited me to write a guest post.  I no longer have to go to an Indian wedding wearing a salwar 2-years out of style.

Unlike Gilt or Rent-the-Runway, Luxemi lives outside of the ‘fashion/lipgloss’ category. Their service solves a massive and cultural pain point for hundreds of Indian women (and any Indian bride-to-be’s friends) by making a hot, sweaty, crowded, difficult, expensive, overwhelming shopping experience possible and pleasant for busy women.
http://luxemi.com is founded by Swapna Chandamuri and Swathi Narra in Chicago.

BraYourTrueFit.com – Personal online bra fittings
Unhappy breasts make for an unhappy women. Our bodies change and undergarments wear thin. One morning you wake up tired of tugging straps and hooks but maybe you just don’t feel like spending hours in a store fitting room–again. I attended a trunk show for YourTrueFit a few months ago and learned a lot about what I should be shopping for. Stay tuned, they’ll help you find the bra styles and sizes that fit you best and match your style, then they’ll deliver those bras to your door.
http://yourtruefit.com is founded by Michelle Lam in San Francisco.

ritual Bedsider Reminders – never forget your birth control again
A  handful of my girlfriends swear by this reminder app. Choose the ring, the pill, the patch or the shot and get email or text to take your dose, get your refill or meet your gynecologist.
http://bedsider.org is operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Everyblock -Stay safe in your ‘hood
This crowd-sourced reporting site tells you what’s happening where you are (or where you’re going). Get real-time updates everything from crime reports to claims of suspicious behavior based on police calls, reviews, photos and other reports.
http://everyblock.com is founded by Adrian Holovaty. He lives in Chicago.

Threadflip – Enjoy the never-ending closet
Not everyone can have a bedroom-size-closet with touch-screen personal fashionista like Cher in Clueless. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an infinite wardrobe. Renew clothes that still have places to go and people to see. Keep your closet clean, your life minimal, your pocketbook happy and still walk out the door every morning feeling great about how you look. Think of it like a ‘naked lady party’ online. Stay tuned for their launch.
http://threadlfip.com is co founded by Jess Brown in San Francisco.

Period Tracker –  Stats for when you’ll be cranky
P-Tracker for iPhone tracks your cycle, fertility and your moods. Hello one-stop period data shop! I could do without the rainbows and flowers though.

Iridescent – Learning lab for young women in science
This great program keeps popping up up on my radar. I worked with a sharp high school intern who attended Iridescent. Before I knew it she was prototyping Andorid apps, wow. Iridescent’s goal is to inspire, empower and motivate young women to be curious and knowledge-seeking especially in science and engineering. If you have time for outreach they need local and offsite volunteers.
http://iridescentlearning.org is in New York, LA and the the Northern California Bay Area

I’d love to hear about the services you love or if you think this list is a stack of bologna. Oh but if you want lipgloss sent to you in the mail, Birchbox is really nice.

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