April 30, 2009

Sacramento Workshop

Here I am ready to present. Note that I'm wearing the good luck earings from Leah and necklace from Simone...and the same outfit from the final leadership session we presented in the UK in February.

April 29, 2009

Back on the Road with Leah

This is my first evening of no Statistics class!

I'm in Sacramento with Leah, my UK co-presenter and best travel peep. Tomorrow we present the full day workshop Strategic Planning for Arts Organizations on behalf of the Center for Cultural Innovation. We're so totally prepared, thanks to Leah's approach to presentation content planning.

Signing off to watch the replay of Obama's press conference. Is it OK that I'm in love with him?

Zen and the Art of Collaboration

I love collaborating. This is new for me, something I've embraced in the last few years. Actually, it is more than embrace, it is the work that I do every day. Previously I thought I had to have all the answers and everyone else was just slowing me down,or watering down my ideas. Now I know that collaborating takes good ideas and makes them great. Perhaps this evolution of my working style has come from maturity, good co-collaborators, or more confidence in being able to step back and not feel threatened - or a love of learning.

The challenge I am now facing is how to maintain "zen" when you collaborate. I have very high standards around service delivery and being on-time. Any barrier to being able to live up to my working-values, makes me zingy. But when you collaborate you only have control over yourself and not others. So, how do I find balance in these situations without having a total meltdown?

I suppose letting go of perfection is one step. Or, realizing that there is no such thing as being perfect. We use to say about our graphic design projects that there is always some error you find after going to print. That was the "zen error". Once you discovered the inevitable snafu you could let go because there was no more anxiety about waiting for the imperfection to appear.

Collaboration is like theatre and sports. Interactions may have an intended outcome and move along an agenda-driven progression. But in the end, when you bring many folks together, you have to give up control. Even more important, you want to raise your entire team up to a higher level and avoid that pitfall of blaming others. So not zen.

April 28, 2009

A Secret Straight Addiction

I confess, I have a secret addiction that began about three weeks ago - using a Chi flat iron to straighten my hair. So satisfying to crank up the iron and flatten out the hair. Makes it so glossy. Check out the results in this image from last Friday. These irons look a bit like crocodiles without teeth. Go ahead, chomp out the frizz and curls. I can take it. With this hair tool I could possibly even live in Houston without humidity making an impact.

April 27, 2009

Selma Hayek Ties the Knot

Well, Selma Hayek is off the available list. You go girl!

What is Selling Out?

In the Strategic Planning for Individual Artists workshop one of the participants brought up the "elephant on the table question" - what is selling out. It was the perfect question for professional artists trying to make their living from their art.

I asked the group to note that the two words "selling" and "out". Notice that selling means sales and out means getting your work out there. So if you are successful in making sales by getting your work out there you were living your goal and yet...that is bad? Logic does not compute.

The grand take-away was that you need to be clear about your values, beliefs and vision. Without that in mind you really don't know if you are selling out because you could end up going down the wrong path without knowing why.

Really interesting discussion.

Strategic Planning for Individual Artists

I'm about to start teaching my Strategic Planning for Individual Artists class for CCI.

April 25, 2009


Amazing improv belly dance. These are intermediate students in a demo class for National Dance Week.

New Shelves

Here are the new shelves. Super cool design. No nails and solid wood. It even came with its own matching wooden mallet for hammering in the handcrafted pegs.

New Setup

Here are my new table and chairs. The intention is that I eat at the table instead of at the computer. It worked for one meal and then I totally forgot and ate my lunch whilst reading emails.

April 24, 2009


I just bought a table, two chairs and a bookshelf. Are these signs of commitment? Table and chairs fold so still on the edge.


Got my City Car Share pickup truck and blasting the 90s tunes.

What Would You Do?

Last night I was riding BART home from SF to Alameda. It was a crowded 8:45pm train filled with all kinds of folks, some gathered in small groups and others riding alone. As the train doors closed at the Montgomery Street station a man leaped onto the train and grabbed the overhead handlebar as we began to speed away. Nothing unusual here.

The man, who appeared to be in his late 20s, early 30s, was dressed in a suit but had a very strange behavior that was out of step with his appearance. As the train began to travel he spread himself out like a bird, using one foot to touch the ground and one arm to hold on to the overhead bar. He began to talk to himself and make strange facial expressions. Again, nothing unusual here.

As we reached West Oakland BART and folks began to exit, some of the seats opened up and he sat in a spot next to the door. He was surrounded by women of various ages, some traveling alone and others with friends. As the train doors closed and we began to move he started grabbing his face, bending over, swirling around, talking to himself and acting generally insane. All the women were looking at him curiously but no one asked if he was OK. I was a few rows away watching the scene.

Next we stopped at Lake Merritt BART and here he stood up, then bent down, crouched, stood, leaned out the door, leaned back in and then grabbed his face. Now he was green. Again, everyone just stared. Frankly, he was quite scary and I for one thought he was either insane or... I don't know what. The doors closed and then for some reason they opened again. All the women were staring at this man, waiting for his next move. I got up, ran out the door with my hand in the air to get the attention of the driver. Then I ran up to the front car (we were in the last one) where the driver was leaning out waiting for me. She was a very nice woman who wanted to know what was wrong. I told her that a man seemed to be going insane and was very sick in the last car. She called for help. We waited a few minutes until help arrived and then I ran with the officer down to the last car.

The train had now been stopped for about three minutes, very short time and an excellent, quick response by BART officials. Some people were looking out the doors but generally passengers were fine with waiting a few minutes - even if they didn't know what was causing the delay.

When the officer and I arrived at the final car there was already a BART official standing inside keeping an eye on the guy. A woman in a seat near the door looked at me with fierce eyes and screamed at me, "did you do this? Did you call the police? What is wrong with you?" Thankfully the officer said, "we are from health and safety, to arrest anyone, we're here to help this man." Still she screamed, directly at me, "how dare you have this man arrested, what is wrong with you?!? That man didn't do anything wrong!" (I noticed that during the entire journey this woman talked to herself and didn't look up from here lap.) I looked at her flabbergasted and said, "I thought that this man was ill and I was worried. My intention was to help him, not to hurt him." She was still furious with me.

The BART officials helped the man out of the car. He was green, sweaty and could barely walk. As the doors closed I sat down in the sick man's seat. The woman continued to screamed at me while a man tried to get her to back off and calm down. Now I sat amongst the women who were sitting around the sick guy. They started to talk. "He was very drunk. I'm pregnant and if he puked on me I would have puked too. What if he had gotten into his car and driven away? I knew he was going to get sick and I was afraid it was going to be on us. You never know with all the violence on BART what is up with someone. You did the right thing. Don't listen to that lady. He is going to get arrested for being drunk in public. He'll be put in a holding tank to sober up..."

I don't regret what I did. Working in a city you see mentally and physically ill people all around you every day. I suppose that this time I decided not to stand by. The one thing I could have done differently was to talk directly to the man to see if he needed help. My instincts told me he was dangerous - seemed like he could freak out. In reality he was drunk beyond his senses. I probably helped five women stay clean and dry. Perhaps I stopped a man from driving drunk. In the end I didn't let that angry woman get to me. She was scared by the presence of the cops (something to hide?) and took it out on me.

Just another evening in the City by the Bay.

April 23, 2009

Stepping Up

I've been waiting a week to post this because I have been downplaying my achievement. A week after the fact I am proud to say that I facilitated a five hour board retreat on the 32nd floor of a San Francisco skyscraper and even got close to the windows without breaking a sweat. How's that for a run-on sentence?

April 22, 2009

The End of Statistics

Tonight was our final statistics class. Although the course was painfully difficult I had a wonderful experience in the class getting to know a few of my classmates. As we prepared for the final we created an ad hoc mini working team and held each other up in our darkest moments of multiple linear regression.

Making these friends reminded me of what I had loved so much doing my Masters in Arts Administration at this same school 12 years ago. It was the friendships I made that were often just as valuable as the coursework.

Tonight three of us went out to dinner and drinks after we handed in out final papers. It was the first opportunity we had to talk about our lives outside of the "statistics setting". These two classmates are so totally different and interesting. One is from Thailand, here to do her MS in Finance. The other is an artist also doing his MS in Finance. It was wonderful to hear about their lives and career goals.

Also interesting is our ages. The woman from Thailand is also 40. I think we can both pass for younger. She is living in that same state of transition that I've been in for a year now. The other student is 32, a real spring chicken compared to us oldies.

Talking to them I realized that I am about two weeks away from being back in the US for a year. What a long, strange trip it's been. in the past few weeks I've turned a corner and have started feeling more comfortable being here. No longer do I day dream about "London or have mini-moments of anxiety about "what am I doing with my life?" Actually, what I am doing is strategic planning for arts non-profits and in fact I am working my way to being an expert in this area of business focus.

Now the question is, what to do about school? I am taking the next semester off. Just can't afford to take the classes - financially or emotionally. In July I will be a legal resident of California which opens the doors to highly discounted tuition at State universities. I need to consider my options.

The parting words from our professor today were something to the tune of, "if you go into business you'll be using statistics every day. That hit me like a ton of bricks. Reality check please. Is it a Doctor of Business Administration that I need? To be continued...

April 21, 2009

Another Garden

Here's the front garden of one of my other neighbors.

Poppy Garden

This is the front garden of one of the houses on my street. Filled with hundreds or giant dancing poppies. If I had a front garden I would try to replicate this beautiful scene.

Summer in the City

It may only be April 21 but it is summer in San Francisco. Hot and a bit humid. I was in a meeting this morning and someone made an interesting observation about San Franciscans - they stop functioning in the heat. We're only having 80s and 90s, mild compared to Houston, but the entire city slows down to a crawl and people call in sick to work - not just to hang out at the park.I, however, am at school preparing my Statistics final paper.

Frida at Lincart

There is a fantastic and quite secret exhibition of Frida Kahlo photos at Lincart Gallery in SF 1632 C Market Street.

April 20, 2009

More Good Stuff

Here's my name on the Trader Joe's re-used bag draw list of winners. Found out that in addition to the $10 gift card I also get a cool bag. Loving Trader Joe's of Alameda!

April 19, 2009

Practicing Parents

My peeps Rachel and David are expecting their baby any day now. We're at a baby shower and the hostess' daughter settled onto David's lap to get a story. Great practice. We are all oohing and aahing this cute scene and Rachel felt a kick.

April 17, 2009

New Terms

I'm expert at creating new social terms. Here are my latest:

Peep-up for meeting up with your peeps (friends).

Meowow for very cute and happy - can also be meowbow of you're OK with mixing cats and dogs.

Fabu! Short for fabulous - this one derived from my spelling weakness but I like it.

April 16, 2009

Me and Mom

Here's me and Mom in Matt and Rachel's in-process-of-renovation kitchen.

The Shock of Seeing Yourself

My brother Matt posted some photos of me taken during last week's visit to DC. Goodness, I look like my mom. That 40 factor is kicking-in rather quickly. Here's the best shot - me and Matt displaying our Swatches a the Easter brunch.

April 15, 2009

Trader Joe's Winner!

Yippee! I won this week's Trader Joe's "bring your own shopping bag" raffle at the Alameda, CA store. I get a $10 gift certificate. The perfect good news for tax day.

April 14, 2009

Vintage Swatches

Matt and I purchased "new" vintage Swatches at Union Station in DC.

Mine is called Vintage 1995 SWATCH WATCH new Kimiko GR123
Here's what Matt found out about my Swatch:

"Kimiko" is Japanese for "your girl". So the Japanese lady on the top part of the golden strap is your girl. On the bottom side a Japanese text and a red design are depicted. The red transparent case has a golden sunbrushed dial with no further markings. Blue hour and minute hands and a red arrow second hand mark the time.

Here's info on the artist, Jennifer Morla of San Francisco, who created Matt's Swatch Dotchair GR115.

We scored in a very big way as we only paid $35 for these watches.

Added Benefit

Ooh, I had no idea my student loans would be deferred when I started school again. What a shock to see that my next payment is due in February 2015. Suddenly I am eager to keep taking classes.

Can not conclude this as a cost-saving hypothesis, more information needed. Perhaps another semester of Statistics?

Blooming Back Garden

I'm back in sunny California and out back garden is blooming. Cold and windy today, but beautiful.

April 11, 2009

Mandeep and Sam

Uncle Mandeep and the Samster.

Travel Memories

I am visiting a house of a friend of Matt and Rachel. When this friend travels he takes a bit of sand home and puts it in a jar. I love this idea.

April 10, 2009

Sam's First Album

Matt and I are doing a cool game where we create a band, song a album cover based on the following instructions:

Make your own album cover!
To do this ...

1 - Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random”
or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random

The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to Quotations Page and select "random quotations"
or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3

The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days

Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover. (Click on pic then right click and "save image as").

We've done this for Matt's baby Sam and here are the results:

Band Name: Hoyerswerda
First Album: the silence of our friends

April 9, 2009

Sam and Grandma

Relaxing in the sun.

Mobile Blogging Fixed!

My brother Matt has the technology Midas touch and has fixed my mobile blogging. Alive again!

Amy and Rachel

Chatting at Passover. Discussing child birth - that explains the serious pose.

I Want to Suck Your Blood

My housemate Stacey has me hooked on cheesy vampire novels. I can't get enough. When she first mentioned them to me I thought, "oh yeah, not" but then I started reading Twilight and couldn't put it down. An entire weekend was spent reading about high school romance between a social outcast and her blood-sucking boyfriend. It was the worst and I loved it. Now I'm reading one called Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. Like eating a bag of chips, you can't stop.

April 8, 2009

Heading to DC

Tonight, after my Statistics class, I'll be taking a red-eye flight to DC. Should be able to sleep well after pushing my brain to its limits. Plus, Nytol will help. This will be the first visit to see my new nephew Sam. Our family is all loved-up over the little guy. My parents and grandmothers are camping out in DC for a week to fully enjoy the Sam experience. I am thrilled to meet Sam but even more excited to hang out with my sibs.

April 6, 2009

New Desktop

Images of my new workspace. A bit messy but for some reason I can work amongst this chaos. Note the nerdy calculator and kissing mice.

Cinema Paradiso

Listening to the beautiful theme from one of my favorite films Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore with a soundtrack written by Ennio Morricone. Hits me in the heart. Haven't watched the film in over ten years. Need to see it again.

I remember being in France with my post-college boyfriend John and watching the European extended version of the film. Such a romantic film and uplifting soundtrack.

April 5, 2009

Secret Chef

My friend Nicole who has eaten more meals in restaurants than she has cooked at home over the course of her life, is a secret chef. Last night she had me over for dinner and prepared a meal of items she purchased at the farmers market. I didn't even know she was aware of farmers markets.

What was most surprising is that she prepared the most delicious brussel sprouts. I notoriously dislike brussel sprouts but didn't want to hurt her feelings since she so rarely cooks. To my surprise they were actually delicious. The secret seems to be fresh sprouts, cut in half, sprinkled with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, grilled with onions in a light layer of olive oil until lightly charred. Outstanding taste! I even noted tones of lemon in their natural flavor.

For the "protein" she sauted boneless chicken thighs in garlic and olive oil. That too was scrumptious. Dark meat chicken is my new favorite simmer dish.

This photo of brusel sprouts form the blog "What We're Eating".

April 4, 2009


In the past 24 hours I feel like a weight has been lifted and life got a whole lot easier. Reasons why:

1. Filed for Divorce - big step
2. Retired my laptop - so slow and frustrating
3. Bought a Mac - fast and wonderful, I feel younger
4. Amazing arts clients - new clients every week
5. Sun - crisp, clear and sunny spring

Ahhh, I'm breathing so much easier.

Warm Touch of Michelle Obama

Yes, Michelle Obama broke protocol when she, dare say, touched the Queen. But look at the warmth and attention. Apparently the Queen touched her back. Go Michelle, building bridges one warm touch at a time.

April 3, 2009

Plug and Play

My first blog post from my new iMac which I've named "April". Plug and play to the extreme. I plugged this beautiful baby in and it sang to me. What a welcome! First the happy mac welcome sound, which I didn't even know I missed until it played, then a welcome show with music. Sing to me. 

Photos soon...

The experience of walking into the confusing Apple store nearly turned me off from buying April but I kept my cool and found a "Specialist" named Zac to help me figure out which Mac to purchase. He was very patient and followed me around, both the store and my thoughts, as I tried to figure out which system to purchase. April has a GIANT 20 inch monitor. Zac was enticing me with the 24 inch one but this was already over-kill. 

Buying a Mac feels totally self indulgent, and you know what, I'm ready for a little self indulgence. Today I filed my divorce paperwork and to celebrate I'm nurturing my inner-creative by purchasing a creative computer. 

I use to be a Mac person. For college graduation my parents bought me a Classic. The screen was so small I had to scroll back and forth to see a full sentence. It was best used for Tetris. Then my first job in California introduced me to the big design type systems, perfect since I was working at CopyMat in Salinas the Design Center Manager. That was ions ago. 

I had a big old Mac for a long time until I sold it at a yard sale in Oakland. I think the year was 2000. Actually, not that long ago. But the nine years between then and now were when the Mac got fancy. Selling my Mac I instantly felt out of the cool-Mac loop. As the years passed the gap widened. 

In Houston my job with Aurora Picture Show was in a full Mac environment and by that point I was full PC. I instantly took a disliking to that clever Mac sitting on my work desk with all its fancy gadgets and whoo haa. But you know what? I think I was a bit jealous of all the creative stuff I didn't know how to use. 

Here's my chance to get jiggy with it. Where are all the wires and the clunky CPU? Gone! Now to figure out how to download images and why is that globe bouncing at the bottom of my screen?

The nicest feature is that I can partition the hard drive so that it can be a Mac and a PC. The best of both worlds. 

At the Mac Store

Which one?

Mac Me

My laptop is now on its final legs. Up until about an hour ago I was 100% ready to replace it with another PC. But, after posting a question on my Facebook status - PC or Mac? I'm 90% certain I'm going to go Mac. One step further, I'm going to get a CPU and monitor instead of a Powerbook. That does sound old school but I don't take my laptop out and about with me. In fact, I'm hunched over looking at this monitor all day and typing on a mini keyboard when I could be sitting in an ergonomically correct position looking at a full size monitor.

I feel particularly green because I've reserved my City Car Share to toodle over to the Mac store and will be utilizing my student discount. How San Francisco Bay Area of me.

Did I say I'm cautious?

April 1, 2009

Favorite Snack

My sister Marlene told me about this fantastic snack bar called Larabar when I was living in the UK. I am now totally addicted. They seem to have about 20 flavors and the ingredients are all natural (if not organic).

Trader Joe's carries the apple pie flavor picture above(they also have the best prices), which also happens to be larabar's flavor of the month. It takes like chocolate but its just fruit. Of course, I don't eat chocolate so you may not agree with my flavor comparison.

Random Sample Comes to Life

For one of my arts clients I have conducted an online survey and one of the questions asks respondents if they would be willing to participate on a focus group. First of all we had a whopping 10% response rate on our survey. Unbelievable. But then we had a 30% response of YES on focus group participation. I was hoping for 10-20 folks. We ended up with 500!

So, using my new found statistics knowledge I created a list of random numbers using an Excel macro and selected a sample from my population of respondents. Last night I facilitated the first of two focus groups and it was amazing to meet that random sample live and in person. We do it again on Thursday with another group.

What was most interesting about this sample were the similarities and differences amongst the group. Similarities were that they all live in San Francisco (not that amazing) and are all connectors in their network of friends. This actually wasn't one of our survey questions but it did tell us a lot about who loves the organization, responds to online surveys and the type of people that attend the arts programming. What was different was their ages, ethnicities, nationalities, and careers. Also, there was only one man and he definitely had the body language of, "protect me from these extroverted arts lovers."

I knew I would find a use for statistics. Now can I get a passing grade in the course?

Survey Says: Allergies

Friday night I was sitting downstairs participating in a pre-Passover sedar and suddenly I felt a tickle in my throat. Was it Passover or was I getting sick? The tickled turned into scratchiness and it lasted for a couple of days. I dosed on Airborne thinking I could battle the cold before it hit hard. No such luck. Finally I bought some cold medicine which eased it a little but in the middle of the night I kept waking up choking for air.

Last night, while taking a cab home from Fruitvale BART, I was chatting with the driver and he said, "get Claritin, it's allergies." He was kind enough to drive me to Walgreens for no extra charge. The Walgreens generic version of Claritin helped somewhat but today I went one step further and bought Zyretec to see if that does the trick.

I am not the only person walking around coughing, sneezing and with watery eyes. The checkout woman at Walgreens says that people are really suffering this year. Believe me, she is the authority. This is a difficult year for allergies. They say it takes something like seven years living in a place to develop allergies and the funny thing is that when I previously lived in the San Francisco Bay Area I didn't suffer. Now that I've been gone for three years and returned I'm feeling it.