Missed connections?

While driving to Tuscaloosa tonight, I listened to the latest episode of The Moth podcast, Adam Gopnik’s tale of his daughter’s imaginary friend, Charlie Ravioli. Gopnik is perhaps best known as a New Yorker staff writer, and he and his wife returned from that city after living abroad because they wanted their kids to experience the wide-eyed New York childhood they envisioned.

So Gopnik was a bit concerned when his daughter created an imaginary friend whose New York-lifestyle mirrored that of too many adults (both in that city and otherwise). Olivia would call Charlie Ravioli frequently, only to be intercepted by his answering machine or assistant.

Gopnik began to consider life outside New York, and I’ll spare you the rest because it’s a sweet story better told by someone who lived it. But that tale did leave me thinking about busy-ness and how I’m in the midst of a concerted effort to scale back. I’m taking time away from some things I enjoy in order to pursue my greatest loves, and I’m setting goals such as blogging every day for a month. This project is, in itself, an effort to make time for something I consider meaningful.

And since I’m an information junkie, I constantly come across meaningful information others have communicated, whether via blogs, media or otherwise. Here are a few highlights from what I’ve read or heard this week.

Interesting timing: I read this blog entry about Facebook earlier today, and then tonight happened to listen to “On the Media’s” episode about Facebook, aired just before Facebook’s IPO. This program provides fascinating analysis of media trends week to week, and this episode may have been one of the best I’ve heard. It was also especially interesting to listen to after teaching a class at Alabama; when I was a student there, Facebook was brand new and didn’t roll out to UA students until the week I graduated. Now it’s a regular part of not only my personal, but also my professional life. Those interviewed for this program couldn’t predict a world without this kind of interconnectedness, whether for better or worse.

Today, the UAB medical system announced it won’t hire tobacco users after July 1.

My favorite class in grad school was review writing, and one of the most valuable lessons that Don Noble taught me was that it’s easier to sound clever when writing a negative review. I try not to take the easy way out, and when I teach I tell my students the same. But given that the New York Times was comfortable publishing this scathing review, I’m betting that the restaurant it describes was pretty awful. (By the end, I was laughing so hard I had to explain to my office mates what was going on.) (Oh, and I also re-established my Sunday NYT subscription today! So much more information to come.)

Now, I realized years ago that working in media meant that, in some ways, I’d always be on. But there’s a good novel waiting for me, and plenty of news to consume tomorrow. I think it’s time to curl up and read something that isn’t on a screen.

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