From the Blog
I’ve been contemplating a 2013 reflection post for a few days but then I feel embarrassed, which is really strange because I don’t have what most would consider to be a traditional relationship with self-awareness, shame, or regret. The problem is I’ve had a genuinely amazing year. Like, whoa…I didn’t think life could get this good. I do want to celebrate my success…But at a time when so many people are suffering in the world it feels a little weird. (Especially if everyone knew how many hours I spent doing little more than sitting around in my boxer shorts, drooling on myself in front of a video game.)
Tying the knot
That said, there are some things too important not to commemorate. On the top of that list: Jackie and I got married, and it was like a fairy tale. Our closest friends and family traveled to St. Thomas with us and we tied the knot at what could aptly be described as a castle in the clouds on top of Wintberg Peak. This video montage of the weekend does a pretty good job of capturing the spirit.
As for my bride…Mrs. DiMare (I love calling her Mrs. DiMare)…Charming, beautiful, and intelligent. These are just a few of the words I use to describe Jackie. But anyone who has met her a single time knows these self-evident truths. What you might not know is she’s also witty, hardworking, patient, inquisitive, open to new experiences, elegant, sophisticated, and one hell of a sailor.
Jackie proved to be a perfect first mate during our week long sailing honeymoon adventure in the Caribbean this year. That may sound trivial but nothing could be further from the truth. Jackie’s considerable skill on the water is the direct result of three years of classes, reading, and practice…All so we could have the honeymoon of my dreams…And I love her all the more for that sacrifice and effort.
As it turns out, She’s also a perfect little fish when it comes to snorkeling and you’ve never seen anyone so adorable in a diving mask.
Whenever I look back at the most important moments in my life, my brother Max is always there with me and my wedding this year was no exception. But he has his own life as well, and I really want to take a moment to reflect on how deeply I admire the hard work and dedication that has led him to his most recent in a string of professional successes: Executive Chef of the Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica, CA. In his new role Max is leading a complete restaurant re-branding effort in addition to bringing his considerable talents with food to an entirely new menu. As has been the case in fine dining restaurants in California for the last 15 years, the Wilshire will benefit from the old-school, hard-working leadership that drives Max’s success wherever he goes.
Among those closest to me brother Max isn’t alone in the success department. My friends Brian, Julian, Mike, and Duane, all already successful in their own fields, are all taking risks and making moves that I can’t wait to see pay off. But more important than seeing them be successful in business, I love seeing them be successful with their families and friends. These men, and their lovely wives, are all people I feel immeasurably fortunate to have in my life because they show me every day what it means to be a good person, growing in poise, charity, and understanding.
Although getting married and the honeymoon were the high points of this year, there were many other epic moments and I do want a record so I can look back on this in 20 years and remember…Here are the highlights:
- Traveled to Hawaii and spent an incredible long weekend with Max and Tommy and met Tommy’s family.
- Traveled to Seattle and spent a weekend with Tommy and his family.
- Traveled to Los Angeles and attended Alex Santana’s wedding, spent lots more time with brother Max
- Got my Blue Belt from Back Bay Gracie Barra while consulting on their digital presence.
- Made lots of new friends in the local sailing and Jiu Jitsu communities
- Grew even closer to the friends I’ve had for years
- Spoke at 3 industry conferences including DrupalCon and The Gilbane Conference
- Sailed in countless regattas and took honors with the Sparkle Pony team
- Sailed multiple times on the Cone of Silence, including the overnight Beringer Cup.
- Got Google Glass and as a result hung out with Dana White and Joe Rogan.
- Consulted on a new Boston area real-estate startup web business called Demorati.com
- Continued my pro-bono work with various non-profit organizations
- Helped my friend Lindsey Walsh build her business Soul Flower Wellness in exchange for countless hours of therapy.
So here’s the deal 2014: You’ve got some big shoes to fill. I’m going to keep working hard and doing my best to be a good man. Keeping things ship shape on my end, so to speak. Here’s to fortune continuing to blow a little wind in my sails…
Some people like to jump out of airplanes. Others like to climb mountains or shoot the rapids in a kayak. There are many ways to satisfy the need for adventure in life. I find this need interesting because it hints at the lingering power our evolutionary legacy as hunter gatherers, leading dangerous lives not nearly at the top of the food chain, still has over our lives.
When it comes to my own needs in this category, I like to sail. Sometimes it’s for relaxed adventure, like a sunset ride with friends on Boston Harbor, or a leisurely cruise around the Virgins on a big comfy boat with all the amenities of home. But lately I’m more often chasing the adrenaline. Racing is the easiest way to satisfy this need but my newly developing fetish is a rarely accessed combination of overpowered sportboats and harsh weather conditions.
Last Sunday I was invited to help deliver a pretty special boat from Boston to Plymouth where she’ll be hauled out for the winter. I’ve written about previous experiences on The Cone of Silence on my other blog dedicated to sailing. She’s a Reichel-Pugh Super 30 with a lot of victory in her wake and one hell of a ride. A carbon fiber sled, capable of traveling 20 knots downwind without using a drop of fuel, she does amazing things under a spinnaker but, like many hot dates, she’s also notoriously fickle. Every moment under the kite is no more than a single, breathtaking second from a hair-raising broach.
What’s a broach you ask? Oh yeah, well that’s when the entire boat suddenly veers of course, comes to a dead stop, and slams over sideways, turning the deck almost 90 degrees to the horizon and catapulting anything not tethered to the boat into the ocean. This is a difficult situation to resolve under the best circumstances. Add some harsh weather and a few miles of deep blue sea between you and the shore and it becomes a genuine moment for reflection on life.
The conditions for this trip Sunday were perfect for adrenaline seeking. Winds were 20-25 knots out of the north, air temperature was 45 degrees and raining. Big ocean rollers were following the wind with seas 8-10 feet and a couple of breaking waves over 12 feet. Though the fish-eyed lens on my GoPro does a terrible job of translating the massive, quartering waves in the video that follows, an experienced eye will recognize the combers we were crashing through off-shore in Cape Cod Bay.
In a recent post about jury procedure law blogger Scott Greenfield suggests there are many people who haven’t thought very hard about justice.
“People like justice, though few have given it enough thought to realize what a ridiculously meaningless word it is.”
I agree with the notion that people like justice and I don’t disagree with the second part of his statement. Many people give very little thought to anything besides what’s directly in front of their face. We should strive to resent the masses less over this. Western society is not structured in such a way as to leave people with much time or incentive for contemplation while powerful moneyed interests work very hard to ensure most people are as stupid as possible. Fewer still, who ever show any interest in philosophical inquiry, will have the resources to expand their understanding by connecting with other deep thinkers.
I do, however, have a big problem with Scott’s assertion that the word is without meaning. Though, it’s not surprising to me that an officer of the court system in this country would feel disillusioned about what justice is and isn’t. I have given the concept much reflection, and I have decided there are certainly two versions, with very different meanings:
- The justice of men, established by corrupt institutions such as governments and churches.
- Empirical Justice
In the case of the former, I certainly agree, it’s pretty hard to put your finger on meaning. After all, this is the justice established by powerful men with rules crafted specifically to ensure they are able to maintain power with impunity. The kind of justice that encourages stealing land from native inhabitants, building fences around it, and determining it should be for private use only. Maybe throw a few slaves out there for good measure. (By the way, if you think slavery doesn’t still exist…you’re not thinking hard enough.) The kind of justice where millionaire gamblers bring the world economy to it’s knees, while ruining the lives of millions of our fellows, and get by with a slap on the wrist while they are bailed out by poor people. Yet men are thrown in cages for inhaling the smoke of burning weeds.
The other kind of Justice, genuine empirical Justice, is certainly not a current trend. It asserts that all men and women are truly created equal (not the bullshit equality in the Constitution…Real equality) and are therefore owed an equal share of their birthright, the wealth and resources of our combined home, this planet Earth we live on. It asserts we are all due equal treatment from one another…Fairness. I can understand why a man who works in the American version of justice may have lost sight of the word’s true meaning…But I hope humanity never passes a point where it is too late for real Justice to make a comeback.
Empirical Justice* is most closely aligned with John Rawl’s Theory of Justice but, I think, even he gets it wrong. A key tenet to his thinking is that we start with people of different class distinctions who must imagine their circumstances from an original position, that is a superposition in which they do not know if they are rich or poor, and decide what the right system of distribution should be. Again, this is man deciding what is just.
Empirical Justice is far less complicated: You were born, therefore you have rights to an equal share of the gifts and fair treatment we all deserve. Can you work hard, and, through a market free from coercive power, convince others to give you some part of their birthright? Yes. In fact, this would be a necessary system for progress to occur since some people will undoubtedly still be better at making shoes than plowing fields. But it will be their choice to give up some of their inherited wealth in exchange for time to do nothing, or something else. In modern society we all start with nothing…A status which is the result of the coercive effects of society. Not nature.
So I wonder, what does Justice mean to you? Does it matter?
*Originally read: “In my estimation, empirical Justice…” It was rightfully pointed out that something being ‘in my estimation’ devalues the meaning of empiricism and I therefore edited it.
The Gaslamp Killer – Nissim (with Amir Yaghmai)
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success. – Ernest Shackleton
For starters this week…Ted Cruz and the rest of the do nothing congress can suck it. You lose. I’d do a little dance about how useless this bloviating GOP kabuki theater was…But unfortunately it cost the tax payer billions so, yeah, tell us again how you’re all so fiscally conservative. Jerks.
On a lighter note, I discovered The Baffler. I mean, I did a lot more than that…But I was delighted to discover The Baffler because I am slowly trying to replace my diet of headline news sources with more thoughtful news, analysis, and writing from smarter people.
From their About page:
The Baffler, est. 1988, is a printed and digital magazine of art and criticism appearing three times annually—spring, summer, and fall. We’re headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts; edited by John Summers, Thomas Frank, and Chris Lehmann; designed by Patrick Flynn; distributed by MIT Press; and delivered to subscribers and bookstores in all fifty U.S. states.
I highly recommend Facebook Feminism, Like It or Not in the most recent edition. Written by Pulitzer Prize winning, female journalist Susan Faludi, it does an incredible job of explaining what’s so hollow and upsetting about Sheryl Sandberg’s whole shtick. If you are like me and thought: “I’m not sure why…But this Lean In business bothers me.” Susan’s essay will provide really great talking points the next time somebody at a dinner party insinuates your disdain has anything to do with being a misogynist.
Speaking of misogyny, my favorite rhetorical sparring partner over at the Simple Justice blog was in the thick of it this week while in a debate over the merits of pending ‘Revenge Porn’ statutes. I should point out, Scott’s not a misogynist, but I shall not attempt to outline the finer points of the legal debate because I’m not qualified. I intersected with the conversation when the mystery of whether it is possible for someone to manipulate Google search results arose. It’s an interesting conversation about law, legal academia, and technology that I believe is worth checking out.
On a more personal note, tonight will be the last full moon I will see as a single man. On November 17th I will finally marry the woman of my dreams. Most people who know Jackie know I am genuinely punching above my weight…But that hyperbole is actually an understatement. She brings grace, class, thoughtfulness, love, and affection into my life in a way I didn’t even know was possible, let alone believe I was eligible for.
Walking across the Summer Street bridge that spans Fort Point Channel this morning I noticed sunlight glaring off the water and thought to myself, hmmm…That’s strange. The sun is on the other side of all those buildings in front of me…Now just rising above the horizon over the Atlantic. Then I realized the glare I was seeing was reflected off the west side of a building on Congress Street, which in turn was getting it’s sunlight from the mirrored building facing east on Atlantic Avenue, a block away.
Damn! I thought. As soon as I can get to work and Wikipedia how far those photons had to travel before completing a triple bank shot into my eyeballs…I’m going to write about it. Unfortunately, I have too much work to do today to take the time to say anything more profound.
File under: Just what the hell is it I do for a living? I had this interaction last week and it sparked one of those ‘how did I get here’ moments.
Last week I was standing in front of the counter at my favorite deli waiting for my sandwich when the girl behind the register suddenly cleared her throat and asked “What does ‘I am the CMS’ mean”?
I looked up from my phone, startled for a moment, wondering how she figured out what I do for a living. Then I remembered my tee shirt says ‘I am the CMS’ across the front.
“Well…” I began. “Do you know what a content management system is?”
She stared back at me blankly and shook her head to indicate she had no idea what I was talking about.
“I’m an expert on the subject of content management. CMS stands for content management system.” I continued. “People…Usually businesses, hospitals, or universities…They use them to add, update, and delete pages on their website.”
She still looked confused.
“Ahh…” She smiled with understanding.
“But…Why are you a CMS?”
“This tee shirt is a give away for a tech blog I write for when I’m not building content managed web and mobile experiences. We write about content management systems.”
“And people want to read that?” I grinned. She had a fair point.
“Yeah, I mean…Some people do. People who work with content management systems all day. And the people who pay for them. They can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to build and maintain.” My stomach rumbled. “Um, is my sandwich ready?”
She looked back at the window between her counter and the kitchen. “Nope. You still haven’t explained why you are the CMS.”
“OK, right…So, the name of the tech blog is ‘The CMS Myth’. Essentially the myth is that CMS buyers and users should be worried about technology first. In reality, the technology is table stakes. The best CMS design and build projects are heavily invested in figuring out the human factors around the technology…Like content strategy, business goals, and user experience.” She looked perplexed again.
I continued. “Imagine if your customers came in here and asked you what kind of meat slicer you used before ordering a sandwich.”
She laughed. “That’s silly! But I wouldn’t know the answer. I only work here a couple days a week to make ends meet. I’m actually a photographer.”
“OK…” I went on. “Well, imagine you met a new photography customer and the first thing they wanted to know was what type of camera you use.”
Her nose wrinkled up. “That would be unusual.” I nodded my head in assent.
“Yes…Yes it would.”
A while back I discovered a or law blog with some content I found interesting so I subscribed. After reading a couple of posts I commented on one and then an interesting thing happened…The author, a criminal defense attorney, introduced me to a strategy for handling commenters on his site I’ve yet to encounter. It works something like this:
- Comments must be approved to be published.
- However, (at least my) comments are always approved, with a response from the author.
- Finally, (at least my) comments are universally treated with disdain.
I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve taken an occasional interest in over the years. I usually forget about them pretty quickly because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of material out there. But the approach outlined above is awfully magnetic to my personality. I’m guessing it works on me because I always wanted to have a voice at the grown up’s table when I was a kid.
However, to suggest this is a strategy may simply be giving the blog’s owner too much credit. For a strategy to exist there must be forethought and calculation, as opposed to what amounts to little more than a curmudgeon, responding reflexively to younger, and/or less experienced audiences fumbling around him with a steady stream of discourteous insults and admonitions.
Aside from how I personally feel about the author’s treatment, I’m a web content strategist and this approach of treating readers like pests, and some other details are interesting from a professional perspective. For instance, he has taken the time to post his commenting rules and most of them make sense, if not a bit heavy handed…But there’s one underneath the comment authoring section that is simply wrong-headed:
“This is my home and I make the rules.”
Previously, I would have thought the problem with this statement, aside from the grandiosity, is self-explanatory. But perhaps, for older bloggers who are not digital natives, something is not so clear: Sharing one’s thoughts and ideas on a website with no password protection is not the equivalent of having a conversation at a private dinner party. It is the equivalent of standing in a public square with a megaphone. It is to be expected that occasionally someone who happens by is going to pay attention. If it makes the broadcaster unhappy that passersby may even want to discuss those things being shared in public, there is certainly no better example of the roots of unhappiness lying in the delta between expectation and reality.
Of course, a blogger is completely within their rights to ignore unwanted comments. I am a blogger who has, at times, enjoyed very large audiences with some commenters willing to share wildly variant and sometimes deviant perspectives, I can tell you that it is sometimes the best policy to avoid feeding the trolls, no matter how much they increase your engagement score. However, if I do choose to engage readers with a response, shouldn’t the basic rules of civility apply, whether I like what they have to say or not?
Who is to say what the right way to behave in public is? I’ve certainly vacillated in my own ability to behave according to how I think others should. But if a blogger’s goal is to be memorable and retain readers I can no longer advise my own clients, in good faith, that the only approach is to leave out a bowl of honey.