April 29, 2007

Darling, Want to See My Etchings?

My creative juices need some inspiration so I've signed up for an Introduction to Etching course at the London Print Studio. The course began last Wednesday and I knew instantly that it was a good fit as the studio is located on the Canal that I love so much. Doors open out onto a patio and we can stand out over the water and watch the wildlife.

I'm finding etching to be very exciting. It is one of my favorite art forms because it is so moody. Yesterday Stephen and I went to the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts to view classic and contemporary prints. What I realized - and this is very opinionated of course - is that prints are so much better than contemporary painting. Most likely its because you have to take your time to prepare the etching plate, work long and hard to create the image and then spend a good amount of time printing. The press is something that you have to share with others since they are so large and expensive and not something you can do in your own home. You have to really love your image and believe it is worth printing.

We made two practice plates and started printing in the first evening. The works are drying. I'll scan them in and post to the web later this week.

April 27, 2007

Take the Lead

After giving the new blog's name a good nights thought I woke up this morning and realized it needs to be a call to action - for me and others.

A description of Take the Lead (formerly My Leadership Coach):

Exploring leadership development through a collection of resources and thoughts that I am collecting for my personal growth and to advance the field of Nonprofit Management. A heavy focus on arts management and the question of leadership transition as baby boomers reach retirement. How do GenXers, a sliver of the work force, Take the Lead, as GenY and others fill the gap? This exploration looks at ways to develop the leadership pipeline both organizationally and individually.

April 26, 2007

Another Blog is Born

Speaking of addiction to blogs I have launched a new one called My Leadership Coach. It is a place for posting resources, research and thoughts on leadership development.

Thoughts on the name? Still open for discussion.

Blog addiction

Since Stephen launched his blog watchstevego earlier this week he has had something like 15 hits a day. I'm blown away by the response. Now I've started checking all kinds of blog reports including this uber one called technorati which seems to be a monitor of all blogs. Good thing I'm home sick today so that I can feed this addiction.

April 24, 2007

Feathery Flat Mates

This weekend Stephen and I returned home after a day out and about to find pigeon pooh on our bedroom dresser. I had left the window open about 8 inches while we were gone and apparently we had some unwelcome visitors. The mystery was that they/it was no longer in the flat. A smart pigeon?

On Monday I returned from work and cracked the window and within minutes two pigeons were sitting out the outside sill. I recognised one of them – a black and white male that seems to live on our back patio. Now that I’ve noticed him I see that he “owns” the corner on which we live. He’s often on our front porch or hanging out wooing chicks on the corner across the street. Perhaps a pimp pigeon?

For the past three days one of his main squeezes has woken us up with purring cooing at 6.15am. I am trying to see it as cute but just can’t seem to make the leap. So, I slam my hands on the doors to the patio and try to scare the pigeons away. No such luck, they find it amusing as they walk all over our patio furniture and nest in empty pots.

Just an hour ago I returned to the flat after a long day at work. It is warm in here so I opened the window. This time it took about a minute for Mr. Pigeon and his latest date to fly in and this time sit on our bed. I heard them cooing, stormed into the room and said, “out!” The sinful pair delicately flew out the window. I distinctly heard giggling.

Hum. Is this what its like to have a teenage son?

April 22, 2007

London Marathon

Images from today's London Marathon.
Men's leaders mile 23. The man on the far right, Lel, won the race. The man in the yellow and black, in third place, had never run a marathon before and he came in second! From the marathon website "Martin Lel (Ken) regained the Flora London Marathon title in style today, showing that the 26.2 mile distance can be as much about speed as it is endurance.
Lel won in 2:07:41, three seconds ahead of Abderrahim Goumri (Mar) with last year’s champion, Felix Limo (Ken), third in 2:07:44."

the wheelchair athletes were fantastic! They kept flashing past my little mobile phone camera before I could get the photo.

Here we are on London Bridge mile 12. It was a beautiful day but a bit hot for the athletes. Especially ones in costumes as captured in the final photo of Cat Woman being interviewed by the BBC.

Watch Steve Swim, Bike, Run!

Stephen is training for the London Triathlon, August 4/5, to raise money for the Leukaemia Research and has just launched his first blog http://www.watchstevego.blogspot.com/. Today was super special for Steve as he purchased his kit (British for sports gear) which includes a wetsuit, bike, bike shoes, helmet and running outfit. Our flat is now officially the training center.

Next weekend Stephen does his first open water swim and in his sporty wetsuit no less. Here he is trying it on.

April 19, 2007

Humor me Google

My friend Lori allerted me to this amusing Google "adventure"...

Follow these steps
1. go to www.google.com
2. click on maps
3. click on get directions
4. go from "new york, new york" to "paris, france"
5. scroll down in the directions to number 24
6. Get moving!

It works for Edinburgh, Scotland as well.

Gas Update

Just as the British Gas tech was leaving I realized he hadn't actually tested the water during his visit. Sure enough, no cold water. He then very professionally turned on the bathroom tap and blocked it with his hand forcing the water back up into the pipe. Turns out it was an air bubble and he forced it out. All fine, for now.

What the heck was he doing the rest of the visit?

Also asked to have some of our vitamins since he had a tooth ache. You can't make this stuff up.

British Gas strikes again.

Getting High with British Gas

Yet another disaster with British Gas. Our cold water died - yes, not hot, cold. The latest tech is here now and is completely upset about the poor quality job on the boiler. He is a Rastafarian dude that is absolutely freaking out. He walking around looking at all the problems and saying, "you will have problems every day with this boiler.”

Now the tech says that this condensing boiler will create lots of muck and it will never go along the crazy pipes they setup. He has no latter and I don't so he's standing on our dining room table and has placed our benches on top of each other and is on top of those too. I had to hold it in place so he didn't crash.

“They are useless jonies.”

Now we’re on a conversation about the Virginia Tech situation and guns and Mr. Bush and Christians. Never a dull moment with British Gas.

So as not to reveal his identity I have a photo here of British Gas Man’s getup on our table.

April 16, 2007

Etiquette Shmediquette

Etiquette Shmediquette

How do you eat a pancake? Those big fluffy pillows of beige carbohydrate yum should be enjoyed in mouth sized ragged bites perfectly soaked in maple syrup and melted butter. European etiquette says otherwise.

Stephen and I enjoyed brunch in the Notting Hill pub called Harlem on Sunday and I was shocked by patrons’ approach to pancakes. One woman carefully extracted little triangles from her pancake with fork and knife while the man next to us waited a good ten minutes before pouring syrup on his. Injustice to pancakes everywhere.

Proper way to eat a pancake:

1. Immediately spread butter on and between pancakes when they arrive in front of you.
2. Pour syrup on pancake. Make sure it puddles.
3. Cut into pancake with side of fork.
4. Extract segment with tip of fork and carefully place into mouth while turning head to ensure all dripping butter and syrup drip on tongue.

The entire process should take no more than three minutes. Longer and you risk the key melting temperature.

photo credit.

April 12, 2007

Two Hour Visit

My sister Marlene and brother-in-law Mandeep are on their way to India today (as well as yesterday and tomorrow). On the way they had a little stop-over in London and we were able to hook-up. We had two hours together and it was super. What did they do in their visit?

1. Fix our internet connection - unplugged modem
2. Shower
3. Check email
4. Stretch
5. Eat!
We're very open to having two hour guests. I've plenty of hotel size soaps and shampoos - only the best for my family and friends.

This is post 400!

April 8, 2007

Developing the Leadership Pipeline

This year's Americans for the Arts Convention is themed Risk and Reward and what better city to take risks and perhaps be rewarded than Las Vegas. We will be there June 1-3 and I am presenting a panel called Developing the Leadership Pipeline.

Details follow:

Finding qualified successors to aging baby boomers has become a critical concern for many arts organizations. At the 2006 Annual Convention, Americans for the Arts posed Art in Changing Communities as its theme, setting the stage for addressing the field’s impending leadership transition. This concern is further complicated by U.S. census data that indicates a shrinking labor pool in the next 10 years, as more Americans than ever before hit retirement age. For many in this career stage, an executive director position is perceived as the only viable leadership pathway. Join this interactive session as we launch a dynamic dialogue that will explore strategies for attracting, engaging, developing, and retaining midcareer professionals.

Amy Kweskin Duncan, Principal, Arts Management Consulting
Shannon Daut, Associate Director, Programs, Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF)
Brechin Flournoy, Director of Public Relations, Quinn & Associates
Essence Newhoff, Director of Major Gifts, Folger Shakespeare Library
Eric Wallner, Cultural Affairs Supervisor, City of Ventura Cultural Affairs Division

Hanging with my peeps at the Cambridge Oxford Rowing Race

Friends and family are sending me Peep related websites, recipes and videos which is a good thing since London is peep-less. I did get a cupcake with a fuzzy little bird on top. I put the bird on my baseball cap so that I could be hanging with my peep. British people didn't get it. I got a few odd looks on the Tube. Odd, meaning that people actually took a moment to look at me sideways.

Here I am with my two peeps - Stephen and the fuzzy bird - while watching the annual Cambridge-Oxford rowing race along the Thames yesterday. Stephen is giving me an air kiss as I take the photo. Peep is on my head.

Photo of the race...

Also photo of the British Navy moving dangerous water obstructions such as logs.

Plus a photo of a lady who was using her dog as a pillow and it caught my eye.

April 5, 2007

Dazzle them with your accent

Stephen told me that it is my turn to be exotic. Back in the States people loved his Scottish accent. Simone had the same experience with her London tones in San Francisco. I never really understood what they meant about peole's reactions...until now.

For some reason this past week (Spring?) people have been really bedazzled by my American accent. At work it is customers, board members and vendors. I answer the phone and they stumble with their words. In person they go googly eyed.

Yesterday I was working the registration table at one of our organisation’s seminars for legal professionals. These are mostly senior level folks who make a living being aggressive. At least three of the men went weak in the knees and got all smiley when I spoke to them.

As Simone said in San Francisco – I’m a person, not an accent. Actually, let me be an accent for a while. ...or is it the spectacular hair highlights?

April 3, 2007

Fooled again by Retail Discount Demons

Way back in 200? My friends in San Francisco staged a Super Cuts hair intervention. It was after the disastrous haircut now forever known as Bowling Ball with Fringe. The woman hadn’t wanted to do it, she protested, but I insisted.

Hairdresser: “No, I can’t, I can’t.”
Amy: “Yes, its fine, I know it’s what I want.”
Hairdresser: “It will look bad. You won’t like it.”
Amy: “I will like it. Don’t worry.”

30 minutes later I walked into Starbucks to meet up with Stephen and I smiled shyly as I displayed the new haircut which was frankly, horrible. Stephen, always the good sport aka diplomat, told me how cute it looked. Unconvinced I spent the next several months keeping it under a baseball cap. Five years later he tells me that it really was the worst haircut.

I learned my lesson and never again went to Super Cuts despite the price.

Now that I’m in the UK everything looks so posh and hip that I can’t tell what salons are the British equivalents of Super Cuts. Well, now I’ve found out the hard way – with bad highlights. Previous to last week I’ve had my hair highlighted twice already in the UK and the outcomes were really quite spectacular. Very professional. But being the bargain shopper that I am I of course had to go to a new flashy place which offered me a 30% discount coupon. Oh how easily our demons speak to us.

The first clue that this wasn’t going to be good was when the receptionist turned out to be my “stylist” or should I say “technician”. She is probably a year out of high school or whatever the British equivalent is. Now this should have alerted me to run fast, but now, like being in the doctor’s office and feeling really confused I was a dear in headlights obeying Vanessa the reception’s every command.

We talked about what I wanted agreeing that she would do a “T” section (front and top areas), blending the highlights naturally and subtly with my existing color and blending it to the ends. Something felt wrong. She never showed me any color samples as stylists had in the past. But I was easily distracted by the free granola bar, cookie and peppermint tea placed in front of me on a tray much like first class air travel. Demons be gone, I am so weak.

She applied the mystery color and then placed me under the heat lamp. Dutifully she checked under the foil that was cooking my hair to check progress and seemed pleased. After 20 minutes she brought me upstairs to the sink and had little-miss-pre-teen-assistant rinse my hair and “apply the treatment” for which I was charged a whopping 22 pounds without forewarning. Washed, treated, shampooed and ruff-dried I departed the salon after an hour and a half of processing and returned home. All seemed OK although I was still not feeling like it was a very professional experience, yet I still couldn’t articulate my concern.

A few hours later I looked in the mirror and noticed that the color was nice on top but in the layers it was more like a checkerboard - here and there. I’m not talking long strips of blonde but rather squares. Then I noticed that the front, near my hairline, was downright funky. The little wisps started with my regular color for about half an inch and then suddenly went blonde. This was very not good. The more I looked through my hair the more strangeness I found.

I returned the next day and showed receptionist B my hair and she stepped back in horror.
Amy: “See, I think it isn’t correct.”
Receptionist B: “Oh my yes, I am sorry. Oh so sorry.”
Amy: “I need to get it fixed.”
Receptionist B: “Yes, of course. Vanessa will fix it.”

Not the dreaded Vanessa yet again. I didn’t have time to come back for several days to have the highlights fixed so for the entire weekend I thought about how to deal with Vanessa and her sorry little error that was unfortunately on my head. I decided to take the “learn from your errors” route and not get upset but rather see it as a training opportunity for her. I had to give her the chance to make it good since I’m certain she intended to do her best.

Tonight I returned to test my fate with repairs. Vanessa was not happy to see me. She hid in the corner while Receptionist C sat me down in the chair of destiny. But Vanessa bucked it up and came over to see what she could do for me. I very politely told her how much I liked the color on the top portion of the highlights (good managers start with positive feedback). Then I revealed the patchwork of her handiwork. Vanessa was not sorry. She said that that was a T section and if I wanted something else it would be a full head. I plainly showed her all the errors of her ways and over and over she said that that was how it was supposed to look.

Amy: “See, over in this area it is just a block of color that starts about centimetre from my hairline and ends abruptly after about three more centimetres while my hairline goes on for several more.”
Vanessa: “Yes, that’s how it works.”
Amy: “I thought it was supposed to blend with my ends.”
Vanessa: “No.”
Amy: “How about these around my face?”
Vanessa: “They are small wispy pieces that can’t fit into the foil. Okay, fine, I’ll ‘fix’ them for you.”

Well now I felt stupid as well as a bit scared. Was she going to fix them or “fix” them? I noticed that since the initial appointment she had added magenta to her hair. Was that my destiny?

Vanessa quickly put some goo and foil in my hair and again cooked me up. I just knew it wasn’t going to be OK since again we hadn’t talked about color. She came down to check the progress now apologizing for her errors and saying that she would offer me a “treatment” at no charge. Was this an admission of error? Demons of free please free me.

Cleaned, treated, shampooed and ruff dried once again, I now looked critically at the highlight improvements or should we say adjustments. Just as I had expected, now I have shocking blonde highlights that frame my face, except, yet again, for the first half centimetre. The patchwork in the underparts is gone as I now have white streaks. She asked what I thought and I dutifully said “just fine” as I planned my escape.

At the till she offered me a coupon for 30% of my next color. This reminded me so much of when I had an oil change on my college car and the technicians forgot to remove the old gasket. The filter fell off, the oil leaked out and the piston went through the engine killing the car while me and three fellow students attempted to get home for spring break. After that incident I had also been offered a coupon for a discount on my next oil change. Too bad I no longer had a car.

Demons I see, embrace and dare you to take my hair away. I am wiser to your ways. I take your coupon and dump it in the trash. I gleefully eat your free dry granola bar, drink your peppermint in a tall white porcelain mug that reminds me of first class tea and laugh in your face. As soon as this disaster grows out I will not be fooled again.

Too bad I’m too cheap to get it fixed.

Photos from various blogs.

April 1, 2007

Spring Wedding

Another highlight of our US tour was the wedding of our friends David and Rachel. They tied the knot in Tilden Park on a beautiful Sunday highlighted with sunshine and Spring flowers.

Their ceremony was unique in that they stood inside a circle of flowers with the officiator and the flower girl at their sides. It was lovely. A little confusion amongst the guests as to which “side” – bride or groom – they should sit on when all the seats were actually in a circle.

We danced it up Scottish style with friends and family providing the music. I actually felt proficient on the dance floor after the Ceilidh party in August 2005. Stephen and I added a nuance at this wedding – kissing when we met on the dance floor after each turn. We started a trend and other folks followed our lead. If only Stephen had been decked out in his kilt. Well, he chose instead to give the bride a chance be center of attention.
The photos are a bit swishy but they capture the speed of the dancing.

Behind the Scenes in DC

More photos from visit to DC. We went behind the scenes at the Smithsonian with my brother and his girlfriend Rachel. This is us in the bug zone. It smells like moth balls but the work is interesting. Don't mind the ants.

Later that day we went to the Capital for a tour with one of Senator Lieberman's budding new interns. Funny thing is that the intern admitted to having never been to Connecticut. Politics at work. Well the tour was by far one of Stephen's favorite experiences in DC. We took the little underground train between the Senate building and the Capital. It was like bird watching - spotting the Senators. Here's Stephen preparing for his political career as he enters the wee trolly.