June 29, 2009

The Knights Who Say "Mama-se, mama-sa, ma-ma-coo-sa"

I went to see Spamalot last night with Rene in San Francisco. It was his first time at the show and my third, having seen it in London and Las Vegas. By far Vegas was the best performance. Perhaps it was my fourth row seat and King Arthur being played by John O'Hurley (who was supposed to be in last night's show but was replaced by an understudy).

Last night, unfortunately the woman in front of me leaned forward for the entire performance so that I had to constantly dodge back and forth to see the action. I wanted to gently take her shoulders and pull them back. This is what makes live theatre so different from sitting on your couch.

The beauty of live theatre, audience and all, is that potential for spontaneity. Each performance is different because of the chemistry between actors and audience. Last night's show had a particularly wonderful moment when the Knights Who Say Ni changed to the Knights Who Say Mama-se, mama-sa, ma-ma-coo-sa, the famous chorus from Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something." The audience took a collective sigh and the actor then said, "it is so hard to say good bye to the King of Pop. He touched so many people." This made us all laugh. It was the perfect adieu to such a theatrical and mysterious pop icon.

June 28, 2009

Open Sesame

BART train operators are so considerate, especially when you experience bus drivers who pass you at a stop. In the past few months I've had several occassions when the BART train doors have just closed as I am approaching, often with Ike the Bike in hand. Every time the operator has re-openened the doors for me. They really do look out for passengers before leaving the platform. It makes the whole system seem a little more human.

Writing about this because the BART train re-opened it's doors just now for a lady with a baby carriage. She was overjoyed.

Four Wheeling... soon?

Now that I'm committed to staying in the Bay Area I'm starting to crave four wheels. I think that because work was my focus, two wheeling was fine because I would go into San Francisco for meetings and then back home. Now that I'm invested in staying here my life is expanding out past this back and forth commute.

Earlier this week I used City Car Share twice and unfortunately the second time my special key wouldn't work when I was leaving the Marin Headlands. This meant I was stranded for a few hours and ended up getting home at 10:30pm. The lock didn't work because of the keys getting run-over last week when I dropped them. This experience in combination with the bike fall on Monday are pointing me towards getting a car. Also, showing up at meetings all sweaty and bike-greasy.

I'm thinking a used Miata - cute an sporty! Probably some good deals out there.

June 25, 2009

Groovy Bug

Spotted in Oakland's Montclair district.

Tres Leches Fantasy

Yesterday I had a fabulous client meeting and rewarded myself with the world's most delicious slice of Tres Leches (three milks) from DeLessio Bakery on Market Street. Ironically, this huge slice of cake cost me $3.95 and last week I had the worst bowl of oatmeal there and it cost me $10.00. Clearly, Tres Leches is the new breakfast food for price and taste factor.

202 to 415

Finally, after a year of living in the Bay Area (officially one year next week) I have changed my cell phone number back to 415 from 202 in DC. The reaction from family, friends and clients, "so, you're going to stay!" I guess everyone got my message for the past year that I was uncommitted. Well, I've committed.

June 22, 2009

Stuff Run Over

Reading through my recent blog posts I realized that the post I wrote on Saturday didn't make it from my iPhone to the blog. This means that my post "Runover in Threes" doesn't make sense. So, here's the back story.

My "stuff" that has been stored in Houston for three years arrived in the Bay Area last week. Saturday I went to check it out. Although I was able to open the lock on my storage crate it was drilled shut on the top of its door. On the front was a handwritten note saying, "you may want to consider upgrading to a new crate that is in better condition." Just then a man on a forklift came over and I told him that I couldn't open the crate. He took a crowbar and was able to pull most of the door open and then used a drill to remove the screws that were holding the remainder shut.

Finally the door opened and the inside was filled with boxes and boxes of stuff. I instantly felt overwhelmed, having lived so simply for the past three years. The one and only box I opened was filled with memory boxes - memories I had hoped to forget. Some of the storage boxes were crushed.

The helpful man said that I could change storage containers right then and there. But that meant that I would have to unpack this giant crate, the size of a small bathroom, and pack all the stuff up in a new crate. No thanks. He offered to keep this crate near the front door so that it wouldn't fall apart in future moves if I needed to access it again.

It wasn't until I stepped outside that I understood what he was saying. As I walked to the pickup truck I had borrowed for the visit, I noticed some strange papers here and there on the parking lot. They were there when I had arrived but I didn't give them a second look. Now that I did I noticed that they were my photographs and artwork - images I had made in college. They were run over. What was going on? I picked up the various piles and put them in the truck. All I could feel was shock. As I drove out away I noticed another pile of my work several parking lots away. I retrieved that one too. What had happened? How long were they out there?

Telling Rene about the story he helped me figure out what probably had happened. We put all the clues together and realized that the crate probably fell apart in transport and perhaps my stuff started to fall out. That's why the door was drilled shut in places.

The experience was like having my most private thoughts exposed to the world and run over. The only spin I could put on it is that these are the objects that wanted to be with me and therefore made themselves visible. The rest of my things can just go in the dump.

Runover in Threes

Well, the old adage that things happen in threes holds true. This morning, when I got on Ike the Bike, I neglected to tighten the seat after having folded the bike the other day. As I headed out for my ride, down a steep, steep hill, I got up on my feet and put my weight down on the handlebars. Then I sat down to begin my descent and the seat just sank. Flip, flip, flop, skid, wipe out. Now I have my official biking war tattoos.

One: Keys run over
Two: Photos run over
Three: Me run over

Enough of that.

June 19, 2009

Morning Bike Ride in Alameda

This morning I was up at the crack of dawn because last night I lost my keys and I had to find them. They were in my hands when I locked up my City Car Share vehicle. Then I went to Alameda Bicycle to get my tires filled. From there I cycled home from Fruitvale BART. Arriving back at the house I went to open the storage room door to park Ike the Bike for the evening...no keys! I didn't fret. What's the point. They're only keys.

As soon as I opened my eyes this morning I called Alameda Bicycle to see if they found my keys. Nope. Okay, I pulled myself out of bed, put on my sporty biking clothes (what a nice change from biking in fancy business outfits) and started retracing my route back to Fruitvale BART. I figured the keys could be anywhere along the route or even on the fender of the City Car Share vehicle - hopefully.

Just a few blocks into my ride I stopped to adjust my seat and when I looked down at the ground - there were my keys! What were they doing on this side of the road? If I hadn't stopped I certainly would not have seen them. They were run over by a car and a bit mangled but most of them still work and just one was lost in the accident. Ah yes, another lesson in not fretting and just getting on with the search.

Took advantage of the beautiful morning and did some bike riding along the beach. Alameda is so beautiful. This image got a bit weird because I moved the iPhone mid-shot. But I'm liking the effect.

June 18, 2009

Headlands Again

Another evening spent up at the Headlands Center for the Arts. This time I was conducting a focus group followed by a community dinner with the artists. Absolutely yummy local, organic ingredients. This is how you keep artists happy and healthy.

June 17, 2009

Trout Fishing in America

This weekend, looking at the Arion Press website, I discovered a book that I'd never heard of before called Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan. Rene informed me that it was not at all about trout fishing and I knew immediately I had to give it a read. Although it was a trippy set of random incidents, all somehow linked to Trout Fishing in America (as a person, place and thing), it was easy to read, unlike Naked Lunch which worked better as a film.

After finishing the book, which was centered in 1961 San Francisco, I had a realization that Jim Kweskin was probably some how connected to this work. Searching the web I found this fantastic map called Humbead's Revised Map which mentions both Jim Kweskin and Richard Brautigan.

I can only imagine the stories these two men could tell about life in San Francisco in the 1960s. Luckily Jim Kweskin is playing July 11 at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. We have tickets. This is the first time I'll have seen him perform live.

June 16, 2009

6 Billion Others

An inspirational international communications project that I recommend viewing 6 Billion Others. Click on the intro and when it finishes click on any person to hear their story. Inspirational.

June 15, 2009

Sleep Walking

Our adventure down to Ontario, CA (who knew there was an Ontario in California?) and back was fantastic. Yes, several hours of lost sleep but beautiful sites. Here are images from our adventure.

Shell station at sunrise.
The Oliver vise we picked up as an aside purchase to the "machine" purchase. Here's the machine on its side getting lifted into the pickup truck.

We visited Cal Poly Pomona. It happened to be commencement but we found our fun in visiting the working farm.
This dog was showing us how easy his job was hanging out with sheep. In fact it was so easy, he was bored.
Cal Poly Pomona is home to the W. K. Kellog Arabian Horse Center. This was a foal who was super friendly.

Back in Oakland I took Lilly and Joaquin for a walk and they jumped into the fishing ponds used to practice casting. How posh is Oakland to have casting pools in a public park?

Despite the dogs' bath earlier in the day they couldn't resist getting wet again. Lilly kept dropping her stick in the water so that she'd have a reason to go swimming. Joaquin, ever the jovial friend, happily followed her. In this photo Joaquin taking the lead on their third dip.

June 13, 2009

Up Early or is it Late?

Here I am, outside at 3:00am waiting for Rene to pick me up for our loco road trip down to LA. He is a man on a mission for more woodworking machines. I , on the other hand, am slightly loco myself.

Actually, it is a fun adventure. The best part is that I am resting on my pillow out here on the sidewalk, after breaking out of the house, and Rene is running late. Can we say over-achiever chica? Give me an assignment and I'll get it done on time.

June 11, 2009

Fill Me In

My fantastic dentist Shell Ragner recommended that I have one of my two silver fillings replaced with modern materials. It was cracked and causing me pain and he predicted. Bad news down the line.

Going to the dentist doesn't scare me because growing up my grandfather was our dentist. I associate good feelings with being in the chair and even hearing the drill. However, I have had some very traumatic experiences with getting my teeth pulled. For some reason my baby teeth wouldn't fall out on their own and on one unforgetable occassion I had ten teeth pulled at once. On that visit the doctor used Novacaine injections and it was so painful I screamed and my friend Lori, sitting in the waiting room could hear my cries.

So, when my current dentist said filling I said, no Novacaine. The dental hygienist shook her had and said don't do that. The dentist said good idea, the current filling is hardly below the enamel and you'll probably just feel a little push.

I made a date a month out for my return visit, which was today. Over that four weeks I barely gave it any thought. Then today I was telling Rene about my impending appointment and he proceeded to share his frightening story about getting cavities replaced and how he couldn't get enough Novacaine. Oh great, clearly the dentist and I were being dillusional. But then I recalled that my last filling, which I had done in Houston, was filled without painkiller.

Arriving at the dentist this morning for my appointment I was very quiet, working on staying calm. I was dead set on going without the injection. We got down to business. He drilled for about 60 seconds and I did feel some jolts of pain but I had actually been experiencing those with that tooth for a while. Clearly this replacement was needed. When it was done the dental hygeinist said I was very brave. My next question was, "do I have any more silver fuillimgs in my mouth and can we replace those now too?"

I am very lucky that I've only had three cavities in my life. I'm sure this reflects on my grandfather's good dentistry, my parents teaching me good hygein and those blasted floride treatments we took as kids in school. Memories of cold weird tasting liquid that we swooshed I'm our mouths for 60 seconds and then spat back into the paper dixie cup. It was worth the grossness.

Needless to say we went for replacement of the second filling. Now I kept thinking that I was pushing my luck with the lack of pain. In fact, this little tiny filling was very painful to remove and I kept inching my head up in the chair trying to get away from the drill. The dentist practically had to chase me but we got it done in about 30 seconds! Yippie, no more silver in my mouth. Then and there I swore I would brush seven times a day to avoid future cavities.

As an added bonus the dentist charged me half price on the second filling since he already had all the equipment ready and it was so quick. Now the dental hygeinest was pretty much blown away by my bravery and said as much.

Each time I got my teeth pulled as a kid my mom would take me out for ice cream or McDonalds, a real non-Kosher treat. There I would be with a numb face, chewing happily on a fish sandwich, forgetting the trauma of the pull. In the comfort food tradition I am sitting here writing this post in Julie's Cafe, eating an oatmeal raisin cookie and sipping my roobios chai latte and breathing deep.

Today in History

An interesting date in history - from the BBC Website:

1509: Henry VIII marries first wife

King Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon, the first of the six wives he had in his lifetime. When Catherine failed to produce a male heir, Henry divorced her against the will of the Roman Catholic Church, thus precipitating the Protestant Reformation in England. Henry went on to have five more wives; two of whom, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, he executed for alleged adultery after he grew tired of them. His only surviving child by Catherine of Aragon, Mary, ascended to the throne upon the death of Edward VI in 1553.


The state funeral of former US President Ronald Reagan takes place in Washington.


Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, is executed by lethal injection in America.


The UN declares a famine in Sudan.


Margaret Thatcher leads the Conservative Party to a third successive general election victory in Britain.


Angolan authorities put 13 mercenary soldiers, 10 of whom are British, on trial, accused of fighting for the opposition during the country’s civil war.


A monk, Thich Quang Duc, sets fire to himself in Saigon in protest at South Vietnam's treatment of Buddhists.


In America, Alabama Governor George Wallace ends his blockade of the University of Alabama and allows two African American students to enrol.


John and Clarence Anglin and Frank Lee Morris attempt to escape from Alcatraz federal prison. Whilst they do escape from “the Rock”, it is thought that they drowned in the surrounding water.


The Hovercraft is launched off England’s south coast.


At least 80 people are killed and another 100 injured when three cars crash on the Le Mans race circuit in France and smash into a crowded spectator area.


The Second World War: Five days after the D-Day landing, the Allied landing groups link up in Normandy to form a single solid front.


The Second World War: Britain lands its troops on the Italian island of Pantelleria, off the southern coast of Sicily, in Operation Corkscrew.


In America, English and Irish residents of Boston clash in the Broad Street Riot.


The Russian explorer Gerrasim Grigoriev Izmailov reaches the Alaskan coast.


The Battle of Jargeau, Joan of Arc's first offensive battle, begins in France.

June 10, 2009

Two Wheels or Four?

Perhaps I should promote myself as the "consultant on wheels" since I now show up to nearly every client meeting with bike helmet in hand and Ike the Bike at my side. This works in San Francisco. People are totally fine with me parking my bike in their offices. Sure, I sometimes show up a bit less beautiful in the hair department but always have a lovely glow in my cheeks.

I keep flirting with the idea of buying or leasing a car. As an independent consultant I believe I can write off at least a portion of my rental lease. Each time I mention going four-wheels to family and friends they say "don't do it". Interesting, they all have cars. But then they remind me that there are so many hidden costs: payments, insurance, repairs, and gas.

My concern is that I am using City Car Share more often each month and the money I'm putting into that company be paying for a lease and providing me with four wheels 24/7. Then again, I nearly always use City Car Share for business and that in itself is write-off.

Cost-benefit-analysis in process.

Autonomy, Complexity and Connection

I'm reading Malcolm Gladwell's latest book Outliers and learning so much about my family's history as Jewish immigrants in NYC. Why were Jews so involved in business, banking, garment industry when they immigrated to the US? Because they had not been allowed to own land in Europe and so were city dwellers who ran businesses.

Gladwell writes about the Jewish immigrant Louis Borgenicht who was able to first survive and then thrive in NYC because he and his wife Regina had expertise in sewing and the business of making dresses.

"When Borgenicht came home at night to his children, he may have been tired poor and overwhelmed, but he was alive. He was his own boss. He was responsible for his own decisions and direction. His work was complex: it engaged his mind and imagination. And in his work, there was a relationship bet wen effort and reward: the longer he and Regina stayed up at night sewing aprons, the more money they made the next day on the streets.

Those three things - autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward - are, most people agree, the three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying. It is not how much money we make that ultimately makes us happy between nine and five. It's whether our work fulfills us. If I offered you a choice between being an architect for $75,000 a year and working in a tollbooth every day for the rest of your life for $100,000 a year, which would you take? I'm guessing the former, because there is a complexity, autonomy, and a relationship between effort and reward in doing creative work, and that's worth more to most of us than money."

I agree with Gladwell's assumptions and am certainly have chosen a career that lives out those beliefs. However, I do not believe that everyone would agree with these values. Gladwell is speaking to a particular market/audience that is attuned to his research and "fans" of his analytical approach to the "every day". However, there are certainly people out there who are working in jobs they hate but do it to bring home the pay check. What I am appreciating is an understanding of my values and why, although I do not make a large income, I have chosen to be a consultant in arts and non-profits. Autonomy, Complexity and Connection.

June 7, 2009


This weekend and next are the East Bay Open Studios organized by Pro Arts Gallery. Rene and I checked out an artist-district on the border of Oakland and Alameda called Jingletown. It is chock full of artist studios in old industrial facilities. The Institute of Mosaic Art is located here and you can see its influence on the artists and the neighborhood which is filled with Mosaics on street-front walls.

Got a shot of this very strange setup. Reminds me of Cadillac Ranch in Texas. Here's a link to Jingletown's history.

June 6, 2009

Rediscovering Oakland

I find it hard to believe but come July 2 I'll have been living back here in California for a year. This whole time I've been quite San Francisco focused with my social life and work. There are areas of Oakland that I haven't seen, that is until yesterday. I tootled around Piedmont Avenue and Uptown. Reminds me of what I loved most about Oakland when I lived there.

This City Car Share is good and also a bit bad. Good because it gives me wheels, bad because at this point I could probably buy a car for what I'm putting into these rentals. Should I get a car? Ike the Bike is keeping me in superb shape. I don't even get winded doing some extraordinary hills. But, as I feel more settled I am missing the freedom to travel far and wide in the Oakland flatlands and hills.

My possessions arrive from Houston next week and I'm starting to make more significant "purchases" if yard sales count as major shopping venues. Two weeks ago I bought a ceramic painted sink for some future bathroom I hope to have. Today I purchased downhill skis, boots and poles. Clearly, I'm committed to being here.

Rusty Love

Hanging out at Alameda Bicycle in Fruitvale BART waiting for my City Car Share car to show up I took a little rest in the sun and was awakened by Rusty. Nearly every day I give rusty a little hello as I either drop off my bike for valet parking or ride by on my way to the train. Pretty much he just looks at me and that's about all. This time he nudged me as I daydreamed and then snuggled up to me for a cuddle.

June 4, 2009

Buy Products

While getting my hair highlighted and cut yesterday by Kathy at iSalon in Alameda I had reflected on the fact that I use a whole lot of "beauty" products every day. As Kathy put more dye in my hair than I've ever had before I realized that this was a turning point for my use of products - full immersion. Later she told me that she changed my base color to Ashe. Oh my.

It is 9am on a Thursday and so far today I've used 20 beauty and personal hygiene products:

Face wash (Burt's Bees)
Shaving cream
Vitamin E
Hair syrum
Hair goo
Hair spray
Face moisturizer (Burt's Bees)
Facial suntan lotion
Eye shadow
Eye liner
Eyebrow pencil
Suntan lotion

I highlighted the Burt's Bees products because perhaps they are more healthy than the other stuff I'm massaging into my skin.

On top of this I use a hairdryer and straightening irons. When Rene and I went down to LA last month I brought a very heavy backpack that was not weighed down with clothes but with a hairdryer and irons. It felt girly, which I like, but also way over the top hair-focused. Lately I've let my hair go curly for a day or two and it is starting to again become familiar and comfortable. That immediately eliminates two beauty machines and four products.

June 3, 2009

Moms Know Best

I've been stuck in my head writing a client's strategic plan and generally disciplining myself to stay on course whilst I prefer to wander. Leave it to my mom to notice I haven't been posting.
So here's what's on my mind:

Doctor of Business Administration
I recognized that I am very happy with my career, which challenges me every day to work harder, think smarter. The stretch goals I've set for myself are within reach and when I need to develop specific skills I will attend programs, workshops, trainings, read books and share best practices with colleagues. Conclusion: enough schooling.

Hands On Creativity
I need to express my creativity, artistically. Getting back to photography is essential for nurturing my creative heart. More work with my hands such as felting and cooking need to be higher on my list of creative outlets. This is now a personal priority.

Physical Experience
Most of my time is spent up in my head thinking for a living. Recognizing that I need to get creative I also need to get more physical. Yes, I ride Ike the Bike nearly every day which keeps me in-tune and tuned-up. I also want to ride Ike for pleasure, continue to practice my yoga, meditation and take some walks along the beach, hike, and dance.

My tendency is to start-up ventures such as the www.meetup.com/BizArts and over-commit myself to all kinds of social-pseudo-professional projects. Even though I'm good at this I actually do not derive personal pleasure - just stress. The Arts Management Consulting Community of Practice is a better focus of my time as it directly speaks to my areas of interest, expertise and builds community and collaboration. So, working on cutting back on these distractions to make more time for Hands On Creativity and Physical Experience.

Quality Time with Friends and Family
Yes, I'm making time for myself, and with that I am recognizing that key relationships with friends and family also must be nurtured. Identifying the relationships that are mutually-wonderful is becoming a personal practice of selectivity. This may sound hoity-toity but it is more about quality time with the people I love; celebrating, enjoying and savoring these relationships.

Perhaps this is a vision statement in my personal strategic plan.