November 30, 2007

Limitations of Technology

Okay, trying to communicate verbally via the internet is really not a reliable way to stay in touch with family and friends. I've been trying to conduct coaching sessions with friends and family to get practice on my new coaching skills and every time something really frustrating has occurred. Skype has died numerous times mid-conversation and now my vonage phone isn't working and I can't get my email account to come up.

I miss face-to-face conversations and old school telephone landlines.

Geni Family Tree

Build it and they will come. That's my mantra for creating a family tree. Lori, the same friend mention in the previous post, alerted me to the website which is a utility for creating your family tree. I've started creating the tree and it shows me who from my address book is also registered on the site. Some family members are already using it - are my siblings secretly building a family tree house in the virtual backyard?

November 29, 2007

Nostalgic for Stamford

My friend Lori sent out an email to her friends listing all the things that she misses about Stamford, CT from yester-year. It spurred a flurry of emaling activity. Since I have many Stamford readers (I can only assume) she has given me permission to share the list. Please add some of your own in the comments section.

Bedford Records
The Horsey rides in front of Sears in Ridgeway.
Gimbels,Card Coop, Party Palace,Caldors, Woolworths, JC Penny
Pants And...and a store called Countdown for fabulous striped shirts, also in the shopping center that's now the Sheraton.
Buying an Album for $6.99 at Record World in the mall.
Bramberts 5&10
Remember the jeep in front of Banana Republic?
When Abercrombie & Fitch was a geeky store
Palmer's grocery store on Hope Street.
Franklyn and Simon clothing store playing with the toys at (where bed and bath used to be on high ridge)
B&G store at the town and country shopping center
B&G (now Planet TV)
Shoe store on Bedford street where you could ride the mini carousel.
Pottery Barn next to Brock's
Art Explosion in the mall (I think they used to have dirty cards in the back)
Andrea's Craft Center on High Ridge (that's where my favorite birthday party was)
Ticket Tron outlet
Putnam Deb. They had a fish tank and a cool area in the back that looked like a space ship!
2 different kids clothing stores - 1 in the Newfield shopping center near Cerbones and the other was on Bedford street (I think), where you earned points with your purchases that could be redeemed for toys
Shoe store in the Friendly shopping center where you could choose either a red or blue Nike swoosh and then when Velcro became an option
Sears in the Ridgeway shopping center
The way Ridgeway used to be with Gimbles, 40 Boutiques and Baskin Robbins
Sols Toys Store, before it became Baby & Toy Superstore
Having Bloomingdales in Stamford

When King and Low Heywood were separate schools and not coed.
When Willard Convalescent Home was Willard elementary school
When Trinity Catholic was called Catholic High.
UCONN Branch on Scofield Town Road
When Rippowam was a high school the 1st and 2nd times
Westhill Halloween parade around the horrible blacktop track
Westhill pep rallies getting canceled due to rumors of rumbles
Riverbank Elementary School in North Stamford (now the Mead School)
The entrance to Westhill from the Southbound side of Long Ridge.
The first Bi-Cultural Day School behind Agudath Shalom
The student parking lot that was in front of Westhill

Cove Beach before landscaping
When Summer Street and Bedford Street became One way roads.
The Korean War memorial on that property was a rotting piece of wood with a few names on it- now much more respecful.
The old train station
Before the Sheraton Hotel on Summer Street there was a shopping center
The "nature center" was better known as The Stamford Museum
Camp Jaycee on Briar Brae Road
The rated X movie theater and the prostitutes that used to hang around
The hotel on summer street kept changing names Hotel Stamford Plaza, the Tara, The Westin
Before the Stamford Town Center.
The old Turn of River library on High Ridge Road, with the little attached house in the back for the kids room / and having to use the card catalog to look things up
Ice skating at Landmark and then eating at The Ground Round
Before there was a traffic light on Vine Road by the entrance to TOR - and you could speed down Vine from Newfield all the way to High ridge
Lord & Taylor parking lot as make-out spot
The horse stable on Newfield Ave. across from King School.
After the skating rink closed- Stamford had a giant Christamas tree in that spot for a few years.
When the cool thing to do was drive laps around the parking loop outside Friendly's. Then, when the cops cracked down- we all moved across the street to Burger King parking lot- not as glamorous.
Hanging out at West Beach after track meets (because there was nowhere else to go except Friendly's & Burger King parking lots)
When Scofield Town Park had a pool set up in the summers- 2 feet deep.
Greenwich Avenue, anyone? all the local normal stores (Marks Bros., Caldor) replaced by upscale chains
When there was a Methodist church right off of exit 33 - it burned down.
All the old Victorian houses on Summer street - before they got knocked down
St. Joseph's hospital
When Motor Vehicles was downtown on Magee Avenue.
Does anyone else remember when Summer street was paved with Cobblestone?
When Brennan Golf Course was called Hubbard Height
Noelle's where Kinkos in now (actually I think where supercuts is)
The first JCC - where the Yeshiva is now
The first JCC on Newfield - a little house by the duck pond
Olin Corps headquaters on Long Ridge Road
When there was ugly oil tanks down past Crabshell restaurant - where the Avalon apartments are now.

The "open door" (sabias)
Mustard's restaurant next to the movie theater at Landmark
The Sitting Room - now Bull's Head Diner
Fried chicken from Redi Rooster, nothing else like it!
Star Confections, which was an old fashioned soda shop across from the Mall, now an Avalon project
Haagen Daas Ice Cream at the entrance to Landmark
Dimitri from the Century Dinner on summer street.
The Japanese hibachi restaurant on Main Street in what was then a "bad" section of town magic shows at burger king
Allens deli on high ridge
When Mario the Baker shared it's building with a tailor and was only 1/2 it's size
Colony pizza
When we had South Pacific chinese on High Ridge (where Kinko's is) Also at one point Hunan Garden and when someone got shot there.
South Pacific had those light fixtures made out of blowfish.
The Farm Shop
Mayflower Deli in the Town & Country Shopping Center (now Sheraton Hotel
Liz Sue bagels was the ONLY bagel shop in town
Country diner (which is now parkway diner) had jukeboxes at very table
The Quarter Deck, then Sunrise Pizza, now Fio's
Friendly's BEFORE it got renovated.
Eating at the lunch counter at Woolworth's on Hope Street
Brock's and the famous salad bar
Remember when Chimney Corners was a restaurant? They had the best popovers!
The restaurant 19 March street
When Baskin Robbins burned down next to Ready Rooster and all I could imagine was the bubblegum ice cream blowing giant bubbles
Ben and Jerry's in the Newfield Shopping Center

The Pink Tent Festival
When Springdale Volunteer Fire Dept used to have a parade down Hope Street.
Stamford Thanksgiving parade pre balloons--and marching in it with the Cloonan band MISC.
"the Moonies"?
Listening for school closings on WSTC when 1400 WSTC AM was a locally owned and operated radio station with its studios on Prospect street ( now it is corporately owned and the studio is is Norwalk)
There were 2 other supermarkets on high ridge besides A&P, shopwell and grand central Ridgeway movie theater
The murder in the Bloomingdales parking lot
The Teen Life Center
When the park on Scofieldtown Road was a dump?
Arnie's Place - arcade in Westport
Old McDonald's Farm - amusement park in Norwalk

November 25, 2007

Photo Expedition

Instead of buying holiday cards Stephen and I are making our own this year. Last night we took a photo expedition along the River Thames to get "that perfect shot" for the front of the card. Luckily it was not too cold, wet or windy (a little of each). Stephen was the location scout and I was the photographer. check out some of the images.

November 23, 2007

Results of British Gas Tech vs. Amy Poll

The grand conclusion is that 62% of you think that the situation with British Gas will never end. Well, I happen to agree.

A new wrinkle in the plot. Last night water started pouring into our guest room, through the lights, from the flat above. Our upstairs neighbours were doing their laundry - same as always. So far I've not seen any damage.

Building a recipe list

On the right side of the blog I am going to start a recipe link. It is starting as soups but may evolve over time. If you have a particular recipe you would like to recommend please list the link in the comments.

The next edition to the list my friend Renaissance Creatrix's inventive Cantaloupe Soup.

Thanksgiving Across the Pond

Stephen and I made a spectacular Thanksgiving in London last night. We invited over a friend from my work and his partner. Adam is half American, half English and Tabitha is all English so we had a two and a half British and one and a half Americans. Pretty much the current exchange rate.

Even though there was no rush here for shopping I felt the same got-to-get-to-the-store anxiety that you get in the States when preparing the menu. It must just be part of Thanksgiving. We rarely entertain so I had to pick up some essentials such as napkins, placemats, a Pyrex dish and even some water glasses. Thanks to Woolworths it was no great expense.

Here's our menu:

Rack of Lamb - Stephen prepared
Quinoa stuffing - made with quinoa bread, everyone thought it was cornbread! (photo on right)
Roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes with dried fruit and maple syrup - yum
Minted peas - a bit of a British twist on the meal
Cranberry sauce - for colour
Smashed potatoes - my first attempt
Gravy - from a mix, I admit
Baked apples - studded with cloves and spiked with a Cinnamon stick, sweetened with honey - yum
Chocolate truffles - thanks to our guests

The best part of the meal was how excited Adam and Tabitha were to celebrate their first Thanksgiving. Plus, they kept saying how fantastic everything tasted. Guests like these are always welcome again.

November 20, 2007

Warm Smoothie

Could these the little hats be any cuter? I had to hold back and not buy them all.

The hats are part of the Innocent Smoothie fundraiser called The Big Knit which is in partnership with Sainsbury's. Each hat is handmade and if you purchase a smoothie with a hat 50p (=$1) goes to Age Concern, the UK's largest charity working with and for older people.

I highly recommend checking out The Big Knit link above as there are amazing photos and videos on the site.

November 18, 2007

Go ahead, ask me what I do

I've evolved my career description to:

International nonprofit business development consultant and leadership coach

Simone says it is too long but it is what I am. Notice arts and culture has slipped away. Interesting. I was reflecting on my Linked In title and realised that I have evolved beyond Arts & Culture Management Consultant. Feeling really good about the evolution.

British Gas Fan

Okay, whose the wiseguy that voted for the British Gas Tech winning spy vs. spy? Have you gone to the dark side?

Update: no call back from British Gas after the fifth missed appointment. See, I'm still winning.

Sharing soup recipes

My mom inspired me to share soup recipes.

Here's a link to Mom's Fresh Pea Soup St. Germain
A link to my Potato Leek Soup

Either post your favorite recipes in the comments, email them to me and let me know if it is OK to post or post a link to your blog/website recipes.

Let's get souping!

November 16, 2007

Potato Leek Soup recipe

My mom requested a copy of this recipe. I made it last week. Tasted good to me. Stephen said, "good effort" which I'm not sure how to interpret. Well, it tasted good to me.

Mom and Marlene - note that the version I sent you has garlic twice. This version is correct.

Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
Garlic - 1 clove grated or 1/2 teaspoon of dried
Leek - two good sized ones - 1 lb (pound)
Potatoes - two good sized ones - 1 lb (pound)
4 cups chicken or veg broth
Fresh ground pepper - 1/4 teaspoon
Shredded ginger - 2 tablespoons
Bay leave - 2

1. Clean leaks and potatoes (skin or skinless – up to you) and chop into small pieces.
2. Heat olive oil in sauce pan.
3. Cook leeks for 3-5 minutes, stirring.
4. Add potatoes and stir frequently. Keep heat on medium to avoid sticking.
5. Add broth, garlic, pepper, ginger and bay leaves.
6. Cook until potatoes are translucent.
7. Remove bay leaves.
8. Option to puree entire soup, part of the soup or leave as is. If you puree part of the soup pour it back into the pot with the un-pureed portion to create a creamy and chunky texture.

November 15, 2007

Social Enterprise Day

Yes, today is Social Enterprise Day, in the UK as declared by the Cabinet Office of the Third Sector.

This will take some translation for most people out there.

The following definitions are from wikipedia:

Social Enterprise: Social enterprises are social mission driven organizations which trade in goods or services for a social purpose. The need to deliver on financial, social and environmental performance targets is often referred to as having a triple bottom line.

Cabinet Office: Social enterprises are social mission driven organizations which trade in goods or services for a social purpose. The need to deliver on financial, social and environmental performance targets is often referred to as having a triple bottom line.

Cabinet Office of the Third Sector: Social enterprises are social mission driven organizations which trade in goods or services for a social purpose. The need to deliver on financial, social and environmental performance targets is often referred to as having a triple bottom line.

To celebrate I attended an event at the National Council for Volunteer Organisations to discuss the impact of social networking technology on the Third Sector and a Social Entrepreneurship panel discussion at the British Library.

The Opening of St Pancras Station

Two of my favorite buildings in London are located next to each other and just a five minute walk from my office in Kings Cross. They are the British Library and St Pancras Station. Yesterday was the re-opening of St Pancras Station after decades of not being used. It is also the new launch point of Eurostar, the railway that can take you to Paris from London in a blink of an eye. In fact, maybe I'll shoot off at lunch time for a mid-day break in France.

Here are photos from yesterday's opening day.

Tonight I am attending a social entrepreneurship event at the British Library. Perhaps we will learn some French secrets to success?

November 14, 2007

Getting ahead of headaches

Yet more on my headache state of mind. As you know I've had these horrible headaches for about six years now and for some reason in the past couple of weeks I've actually made some head-way on figuring out the cause.

Here is a record of my research:

1. September - City of London Migraine Clinic thinks that they could be related to my "overly flexible neck", food or hormonal related.

2. October - Reflexologist thinks that I am "holding my anger in my neck and head".

3. November - Physiotherapist Mike doesn't know what to think but says my neck and upper spine are hard as a rock and that my jaw opens to one side

4. November - I read an article in 13 November 2007 New York Times - A Lineman in my Bed: Teeth Grinding about about sleep bruxism

In 1993 I had Temporo-Mandibular Joint disorder TMJ jaw surgery because my jaw was stuck and wouldn't open. Don't worry, I still managed to get food and I wasn't in any pain. But I think that the pulling of the jaw to one side and the clenching of my teeth in my sleep (I wear a bite plate) have combined to cause these headaches. They are further triggered by wine, sugar and caffeine.

I'm now doing some long-ago prescribed jaw exercises to see if I can stretch the joint and get some blood flowing into that area.

This may be too much information for some people but I hope that it helps someone figure out their headaches and shares the mysterious cure - is there one?

November 13, 2007

British Gas - did he or didn't he

And the answer is... the Tech cancelled again! Appointment 6 done and dusted.

This is like Spy vs Spy.

November 10, 2007

Getting Happy in Photoshop

A little photoshop action. Click on photo to see large version.

Inspired to Photograph

I've been inspired to take out my "real" camera and get back into photography. Most of the photos on the blog are with my mobile phone. These are with my "35mm" SLR digital camera. Just starting to exercise my photo muscles again. Here are some shots from today.

Photo 1
British Library with St Pancras station in the background. Eurostar will start departing from this station on 14 November.

Photo 2:
Baker Street tube station.

November 9, 2007

Me and the British Gas Tech Give it Another Go

I'm admitting here that the British Gas Tech has made yet another date to fix the boiler. Yes, I know I said I was over it all but the customer service guy begged for another go. Supposedly both the Tech and the customer service guy tried to call me all day of the missed appointment but I didn't answer. Supposedly Stephen didn't answer his phone either when they tried calling him. So now they have my email. Yes, the communications are going high tech.

So I'll be home all morning on Tuesday waiting for the Tech to cancel appointment number five. Could this be an Olympic endurance sport? Or is it now a battle of wills?

The added nuance is that the heating pipes are making an extreme rattling noise every fifteen minutes once the heat is turned on. Hardly even notice it now. I was nervous when it happened during our Saturday morning yoga class but everyone must have assumed it was street noise. The only shocker was when the pump feature did its growling during our downward dogs.

November 7, 2007

Long Lost Relatives

In the past month I have made connections with a ton of Kweskins. Mostly we've connected through but some have emailed me directly. I wonder what is pushing us all to connect?

I'm thinking it would be cool to start a Kweskin family tree - maybe a Plotkin one too - both sides of my family. Could easily be a blog. Anyone want to get it started with me?

November 6, 2007

A New Type of Anxiety Dream

Have you ever had an anxiety dream where you are trying to use the to call for help but you can't remember the numbers? Or, maybe you can't push the buttons or the phone is not connected. I have a new tech anxiety dream which I experienced last night - no wifi connection. In my dream I was trying to write and send an email and I kept getting kicked off the network. Then I realised that I was using someones wireless network, not my own.

This reminds me of when I was a professor at University of Houston in 2006 and I had the reverse student anxiety dream. Student anxiety dream is that you forget to attend a course all year and then you show up to take the exam. The professor version is that you forget to teach a course for a year and show up to give the exam.

Presidential Hopes Smashed

CNN reported today that comedian Stephen Colbert has been pulled off the presidential primary ballot in South Carolina, the only state in which he was running for President. Apparently Obama supporters lobbied to have his name removed as there was concern he would pull votes from their shared market.

Here's the article link.

I am of mixed feelings. Yes, it was a joke, but somehow I found it really heartening that Colbert was running and with enthusiasm. There's even a campaigning application on facebook which you can add to your profile page. I liked that people were getting excited.

It somehow lessens Obama in my eyes - that his people were concerned about this competition. He now just seems like any other politician. I liked him because he was one of us - a ReGenXer. But now, he feels like another establishment dude with a big machine behind him.

November 4, 2007

Crack of Dawn

I've started a new weekend morning adventure - bike riding at sunrise in Hyde Park. This morning I encountered the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and kicking off at Hyde Park Corner. Here are some of the contenders.

November 3, 2007

Frida Kahlo in San Francisco

If you've been following my blog you'll know that I'm a huge fan of Frida Kahlo and have had several unique opportunities to work closely with the Museo Frida Kahlo. With the publication of a new book My Beloved Doctor, which is a bi-lingual printing of letters between Frida and San Francisco-based Dr. Leo Eloesser I have been inspired to create a new blog Frida Kahlo in San Francisco.

I'll find some previously un-published photos I took of the de-installation and packing of her painting that I took in Mexico City in 2005.

November 1, 2007

Smooshed in the City

Ever have one of those days when you feel like the world is pushing in on you? London is like that every day and today was the final push. People are so used to being close to each other and yet ignoring each other that it is a constant feeling of being alone and too crowded at the same time.
On the tube there was plenty of standing room yet a woman rested her back against my shoulder as I stood near the door. Although it was intimate and even a bit cozy it was strange. Why not get your own space?

Leaving Kings Cross station the authorities had yet again closed the gates so people were able to get out via a tiny space and no one could come in. Of course there was a huge backup of people on street level and we had to push our way out. Then the train came in so another flow of folks. One smashed into me and I got a severe case of pedestrian rage. Bastard! Another was about to smash into me and I stomped my foot, pissed.

But it all was better when they were handing out free Kit Kat samples just a few feet away. I don't eat chocolate but I gleefully took a bar and felt like I had earned a gift. Am I being controlled by the State?