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Feb. 17th, 2011

bonnie looking up

Grief, animal friendships, and other people's reactions

In case you didn't see it on Facebook or Twitter, Karsten and I had to put our cat Bonnie to sleep yesterday morning.

It was a tough decision to build up to, but a surprisingly easy one to make the morning of. She had a squamous cell carcinoma growth on her tongue which was diagnosed nearly a year ago, and over the past few weeks it had grown enough to make it difficult for her to eat. Once she could no longer eat at all, there was no way we were going to let her suffer to death, so we helped her die without having to starve.

So we've been grieving pretty hard over the past 24 hours, and I expect that's no surprise to many people who know us. We're obviously animal lovers, after all -- when you're living with six cats at once, and you're vegan, and you advocate for animal rights, and you support organizations like Farm Sanctuary and HSUS and ASPCA and PETA, it should be pretty easy to be profiled as an animal lover.

But the thing is, there've been a number of interactions with people over the past day, both online and in person, that have suggested that those people view my grief as a little over the top. I'm not someone who goes out of my way to be emotionally dramatic, so it's a little surprising to get this reaction, but it's clear these people are genuinely surprised by my grief reaction in the first place, so I can't fault them for what feels like insensitivity.

In fact, I guess I feel a little sorry for people who don't seem to understand why Karsten and I are experiencing so much grief over losing Bonnie. They must not have ever had the kind of close relationship with an animal friend that forms a true, genuine connection.

Bonnie was more than a "pet" to us; she was part roommate, part hang-out buddy, part comic relief. I never thought of her as a child. (We don't generally think of these cats as our "furkids" as some folks do.) Bonnie was a good deal smarter than our other cats, and incredibly loving and sweet. She was one of the three tightly-bonded littermates we adopted in '98 -- our first time adopting animals as a couple -- and she was the surrogate mother-figure to her two brothers. She would nurture them and groom them, and then she'd swat them on the head when her patience ran out. She had so much obvious personality, it was hard not to imagine her as a human in a cat's body.

I've truly never met anyone like her, and I'm going to miss her like crazy. But I also know this: missing her doesn't make me crazy. It makes me someone who's lost a dear and special friend.
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Oct. 11th, 2010

hand on head - b&w

The Social Network, and what's difficult about it

I guess it's natural, if you're someone like me - someone who's been close to (and part of) a few online startups, and someone who's been an avid user of various online social platforms from the earliest days - to want to write up your reactions when you see a movie like The Social Network. This won't be a movie review, though, I don't think. I mean, as a film, it's a fine piece of storytelling with good dialogue and good acting, beautiful sets and many solid directorial decisions. So that's about as much of a review as I feel it needs. If you haven't already, I'd suggest you go see it.

When you do see it, though, I want to know what you took away from it. Because I was pretty conflicted. I saw the dynamics of growth and loyalty pitted against one another, not because of flawed young personalities, but because of an institutionalized idea of what it means to succeed, and while I believe that's a common dilemma, I want to believe that it doesn't have to be.

I also saw the premise of innovation as a hybrid of plagiarism and derivation, and maybe there's something to that, but it's a pretty disappointing thought. I've thought a lot about creativity and innovation lately, and I do think it's often a marriage of two or more existing ideas that yields a novel outcome, but how novel the idea need necessarily be before it's innovative: that's the rub. In the case of this story, what was allegedly ripped off was itself a derivation: a Match.com for Harvard students, as the Mark Zuckerberg character says a few times. And at least in this retelling of the story, the Match.com-iness of the prototype of thefacebook.com didn't enter the equation until minutes before launch, and even then only as a marketing angle, not as a core feature.

And even when movie-Zuckerberg is conceptualizing thefacebook, he already has MySpace and Friendster to compare it to and contrast it with. It's not entirely new, it's just a little different.

And yet it's $25 billion dollars' worth of different. So which nuance is responsible for the value? Probably not any one nuance, but a whole magical set of nuances and circumstances that lined up just right. And as a student of innovation, that's both inspiring and frustrating.

On a side note, I get a funny reaction when I see Silicon Valley startup culture portrayed in movies or TV, and I think "I want to go there and be part of that." I forget, almost, that I sort of have been there and been part of that. But only sort of: I wasn't an entrepreneur, I was only along for other entrepreneurs' rides. I think the yearning has more to do with the fullness of it, and the large-scale-ness of it: of starting a company like Facebook and seeing it through to undeniable success.

I don't know what I envy so much about it: the pace, the genius, the accomplishment, or maybe a combination of it all. But I do know that as much as I love Nashville and want to see startup culture thrive here, it will never have that same thrill. That's OK, I guess: folks trade off that thrill for a quality of life in Nashville and other similar places that's harder to attain in the Bay Area due to cost of living and that same pace of work and competition.

Anyway, it feels only right to post this to LiveJournal, since that's where Mark was doing his blogging in the movie. I also haven't posted anything here in who-knows-how-long.

So who's seen it? What did you think?

Feb. 2nd, 2010

hand on head - b&w

Sitening stops providing services, focuses exclusively on Raven

The Ethical Dilemma of Providing Marketing Services and Tools « Internet Marketing Blog

It's been almost a year since Sitening and I parted ways, and it was clear even at that time that their hearts were wrapped up in Raven, not in providing consulting services. My understanding is that, since then, they've been whittling down the clients they were consulting to, but this post declares services entirely gone.

Kudos to Sitening/Raven for taking a bold, decisive step to eliminate the chance for conflict of interest, or even the appearance of it. And of course, if you get good leads for SEO work, you can always refer 'em to [meta]marketer. ;)

Dec. 27th, 2009

hand on head - b&w

The ups (my mood) and downs (my jeans size) of my raw switch

If you're following along at home, you may recall that I switched to a raw diet over two months ago. I wasn't sure how far I would take it, but I just wanted to give it a good solid effort. A lot of people have asked me if I see this as a permanent thing, and my answer is always that I don't know. Based on how good I've felt since I switched, I'd like to, but it definitely requires an investment of time and money that have been considerable.

Perhaps I should give a more detailed update. Week by week...Collapse )

I had a great pilates workout this morning, and I'm feeling peaceful. It feels like a lifelong change, but maybe it isn't, who knows. Either way, I had a conversation with Karsten yesterday about the label I use to describe myself (hey, I'm a language geek at heart - of course this matters) because I've run across terms like "rawfoodist" and "living foods" and "sun foods" and they all seem to miss the point for me. I pointed out that "raw vegan" appealed to me a lot more because being vegan is much more the identity that matters to me. Not only my diet, but also my lifestyle, my politics, and my entire worldview are first and foremost about compassion. Raw is just a modification of my vegan diet to make me feel as healthy as possible.

So yes, apparently, I've become a raw vegan. And so far, I'm doing great, thanks.

Nov. 1st, 2009

hand on head - b&w

Child-free and quite fulfilled, thankyaverymuch

At a Chamber of Commerce mixer the other night, the woman who is my membership representative was telling a story about how she met me to someone else there. (She was in the audience when I was on a panel on women in technology at last year's BarCamp Nashville.) She mentioned that, at one point, when the panel was discussing children and family and I said that I had no interest in having kids, the woman next to her in the audience muttered something like "what an empty thing to admit."

I'm glad she told me that story because I do like to have a read on people's reactions to my choices and lifestyle. But that woman in the audience? Fuck her.

(P.S. - Also? I can't believe I didn't already have a "child-free" tag. Have I truly never talked about this here before? I mean, Karsten and I organized the Nashville Child-Free Meetup for the first few years we were here. How did this never come up before?)

Oct. 26th, 2009

hand on head - b&w

Raw again, food tourism, and whatnot

Courtesy of Boris Lauser
The raw-food chef Boris Lauser, left, and one of his creations.

BERLIN | Organic, local edibles that are not only vegan but … raw? In the land of the greasy currywurst? Aber ja — but of course! Since March, Boris Lauser has been quietly spreading the raw-food word, serving gourmet uncooked meals out of his own apartment in a glassy new building where Kreuzberg meets Mitte. He’s also been gathering a following of curious Berliners looking to taste something new.
Raw Food, Fully Cooked Concepts - Globespotters Blog - NYTimes.com

I've decided to switch to a raw diet for a while. Again. I've done it a few times before and I always feel incredibly healthy and energetic, but it takes so long to prepare enough food for a day that I usually find I don't have enough time.

And that will probably happen this time, too, but at least I can get a few good days of it in, hopefully, or learn to mix it into my lifestyle as a day or two each week of raw eating.

The other side effect I'm hoping for, predictably enough, is to shed some of the extra me I've gained since my thyroidectomy last year (and there's a pretty generous amount of me gained). I'd prefer to be a somewhat thinner me again. (I want to stress that I'm not dieting in the women's magazine sense of the word - I'm changing my lifestyle in a way that feels great and has historically resulted in my body dropping some of its excess.) We'll see how it goes.

(Ooh, and I went for a pretty decent run Saturday for the first time in weeks, if not almost months. I think just the idea of eating raw gives me energy. :) )

Anyway, the above article caught my eye because Karsten and I were just chatting yesterday about making a trip to Germany. We weren't specific about whether we meant for our next vacation or just sometime in the indefinite future but I kind of think it might be within the next year, which is exciting! I haven't been back to Germany since I spent a summer there as an intern in 1993. But I was also not vegetarian then let alone vegan, let alone raw vegan, and I was totally unaware at the time of the groundswell of alternative diet support there seems to be throughout pockets of Germany. This time it will be essential, but also exciting to explore and discover veggie-friendly places to eat and shop. Basically, I want to be a food tourist. :)

Sep. 29th, 2009

hand on head - b&w

Women like to have sex. For a lot of reasons.

From The 237 reasons women have sex - Holy Kaw!

"Nobody has really talked about how women can use sex for all sorts of resources." Their main reason was "orgasm, orgasm, orgasm."

That this was in any way elusive is a mystery to me. :)

Sep. 27th, 2009

hand on head - b&w

What tasks go into "developing relationships"?

In my Remember the Milk account, my lists generally correspond to the greater goals I have for my life. (I borrowed that concept from Life Balance, actually.) I just changed the name of a list in Remember the Milk from "Reach Out" to "Develop Relationships." Functionally, the tasks that go into the list are basically unchanged, but I think this renaming appeals to me because it reflects a significant shift in my thinking over the past months, which is two-fold:

  1. The nature of the company I started this year lends itself to meeting a lot of people, all the time. (It's a web marketing agency, and the billable work is done almost entirely by freelance and independent talent so that we can fit the right people to the tasks. So I'm always recruiting.) I naturally meet a lot of people that [meta]marketer doesn't have any current work for, but I have been paying attention to when I can make introductions between people who might be able to help each other. So I'm interested in developing relationships between other people. So some of the tasks that go into this list read like "send email introducing so-and-so to so-and-so."

  2. My social networks are growing, and I'm less interested in having a vast collection of people around me that I have no connection to than I am in having at least SOME connection with most of them and always deepening the connections with as many as possible. So I'm interested in developing relationships between myself and others. Some of the tasks that go into this list, then, are things like "Follow up with so-and-so from the mixer the other night."

I also have a daily recurring task that reminds me to check Facebook for birthdays. I really enjoy wishing people a happy birthday, and it means that I can count on at least one interaction with most of the people in my network (some don't list their birthdays) every year. That may not sound like much, but that one birthday wish has often led to messages back and forth catching up a bit and getting to know people I may have only gone to school with or hung out with at a conference.

How do you approach developing relationships? Is it something you just do, or do you have methods of organizing it into your life, as well?

Sep. 7th, 2009

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My new Posterous blog

I know, folks are probably sick of me having so many sites. But I like the idea of a Posterous-style tumbler blog, and I want to see if I actually use it.

Subscribe or don't, it's up to you. :)

Posted via email from Kate O'Neill and then some

Sep. 3rd, 2009

hand on head - b&w

My namesake sushi roll

Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN,
originally uploaded by TheTravelingVegetarian.
I'm trying to get a local sushi place to create a menu item based on a custom roll I devised. Some friends have since named it the "Kate O'Roll."

It's avocado, cucumber, and mango inside with seaweed salad over top.


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February 2011




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