November 30, 2008

Holiday Photo Expedition

Images from my annual holiday card photo expedition taken yesterday on the Alameda-Oakland-San Francisco ferry. The day started with thick fog and ended with a perfectly clear sky. My favorite image is the one of the American Flag but in consideration of my UK friends I decided it was too go-go America for them.

November 29, 2008

San Francisco Bay

What a beautiful day for a ferry ride!

On the Bay

Windy ferry!

Kaiser Knows All?!?

I just had the most freakiest experience when signing up online for access to my new Kaiser Premanente health insurance plan. I had to answer a few questions - with multiple choice responses. How in the world they knew this information about me I will never know because it was not on my health care application form and I never previously enrolled with Kaiser.

It knew...

My address when I lived in Salinas, CA
I am/was connected to Stephen
My sister Marlene's age - how did it even know her name?
That I graduated from Golden Gate University

Either they are reading my blog, I am being stalked or everything is connected through my social security number.

Flash Back to College

Find Amy in this photo.... from the archives of Kate Butler. This must have been 1990/91? The Photography majors - how many of us are still in photography? At least Clay Enos who is doing some scary stuff to his face, as are Kate and I.

November 28, 2008

Mini Winter Wonderland

I love this giant mini city that is setup in the futuristic lobby of the downtown Hyatt in San Francisco. This morning the Designer and Engineer were getting it all ready for the masses.

Himalayan Pug Cat

Dan with his cute cat Samantha on Market Street in San Francisco. The perfect combo of pug and cat. She even snores.

November 27, 2008

Tofurkey Trio

Here are the Tofurkey, Foturkeys we had for Thanksgiving at cousin Diana's house. When you spellcheck Tofurkey on a crackberry it suggests the word "divorce" and I can understand the thinking.

Lady Bug Sanctuary

I've just noticed that there are at least three lady bugs living in my room. You can just about see one here on the top of the window shade. Two others were racing up either side of the window.

Are these fairies watching over me? They need names... Lady, Sandy and Penny. Starting to wonder if I am losing the plot.

Mellow Thanksgiving

This year is a mellow Thanksgiving and a bit melancholy. Feeling a bit homesick for my US and UK families.

I'll be dining on Foturkey/Tofurkey with my cousin Diana in Berkeley whilst my folks are dining with her parents in Westchester County. So, we're having a virtual bi-coastal gathering.

Turns out that my schedule allows me to be off work until Tuesday. My project over the next few days is to take my annual photo expedition to make images for my holiday greeting card. I'm scoping out the Golden Gate Bridge this year. Last year it was The London Eye from the Millennium Bridge over River Thames. Maybe I should make this an annual expedition to bridges around the world.

Ah yes, thinking about photography has pulled me out of my Foturkey stupor.

As a side note, my crackberry doesn't like to spell check Tofurkey and keeps suggesting that the actual spelling is "divorce". I suppose that could be a meat-eating computer programmer's hidden message.

November 23, 2008

Breaking My Heart for Baghdad

Carrying on my marathon arts week I attended Berkeley Rep's Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman with my arts peep Julie. This two and a half hour production transported us into the world of lessons learned through storytelling. Each tale was a mix of comedy, tragedy and romance.

The conclusion was understated tragedy of legacy lost in this endless war, instantly breaking my heart for what was Baghdad.

Photo: Sofia Jean Gomez whispers tales into the ears of the king (Ryan Artzberger) when Mary Zimmerman returns to Berkeley Rep with The Arabian Nights.
Photo courtesy of

Crying Out with Social Insecurity

Now that I'm facilitating retreats and coaching on a regular basis, human behavior is becoming as interesting as organizational development. In fact, I believe the two are linked.

I am especially interested in folks who are driven to undermine themselves and their organizations. Sounds harsh but I'm seeing it regularly. In coaching there is a concept called Limiting Beliefs. These are negative and undermining thoughts that directly connected with your core values, even if they are in direct conflict with your goals. Limiting beliefs need to be explored and hopefully dispelled if you want to reach your goals.

What I am now interested in is what compels people to derail meetings by trying to make others fearful. Is it control? Power? Ego? Actually, it seems to come down to insecurity. I've always been dazzled or perhaps dazed by people who are loud, critical and negative. In the past I've interpreted this behavior as power and security. After much exploration I now realize it is really insecurity that drives their actions. In fact, it can tip over into bullying quite quickly.

I don't have a psychology degree but what I do recognize amongst these folks is the need for attention. If they say something outrageous they immediately get our attention, even if it is negative attention. It is like they are crying out to be noticed, literally. Within an organization these people often, mysteriously rise to the top. Perhaps others step aside to avoid conflict?

As a facilitator and coach I focus on solutions. As these folks raise their endless criticisms and complaints I reflect on the goal and how these negative comments aren't getting us closer to what we've all agreed needs to be accomplished. It is a constant test of my "power" in the facilitation, and as the meeting leader I do have to hold that space. Plus, I need to ensure that the other folks, who may have fantastic contributions to make to the organization, are not derailed and disillusioned. It is become an easier task as I practice stepping back and not to getting all wrapped up in their issues.

In the past I would have taken their comments to heart - even as personal attacks. Now I know that they are just crying out to be heard.

Zen of the Prairie Dogs

On my drive up to Napa yesterday I heard this interesting report on NPR that indirectly talked about prairie dogs. Apparently half an hour before sunrise and sunset prairie dogs silently stand facing with their little paws in a prayer position. Who knew they were so zenned out?
Photo from Parade Magazine.

November 21, 2008

Rene Magritte Gets Googled

In honor of Rene Magritte's 110th birthday today Google is using this fantastic logo. One of my favorite images and I had the pleasure of seeing it at the Menil Collection last week in Houston.

November 20, 2008

Glowing Teens

My friends John, Maureen and I were I East Palo Alto this evening to observe and help. Volunteer at a teen program called GLOW. It is a college planning series for teens that are high achievers but from economically challenged families. Tonight's session was all about student loans and believe me. If I had had this advice I wouldn't be carrying some tremendous student loan debt.

What was most wonderful and brought tears to my eyes was the first question the facilitator asked the teens, please tell us your dream college." They each were able to immediately share the school of their dreams. I was so impressed. We were also asked to share the school of our dreams and I was surprised that Rode Island School of Design was my response.

I was shocked that through the course of the evening I had learned so much about student loans and financing that I was able to work with two young guys to explore the best financial aid options based on financial obligations.

The highlight was when they asked us what we studied, what our first job was out of college and what we do now. They were so impressed that I studied Cinema/Photo, English and Arts Management and especially liked that I had worked at CopyMat. Who knew that would be considered cool some day.

There's No Place Like Home

I had the most spectacular feeling this evening coming home to my house. My friends John and Maureen drove me back to Alameda after dinner in Hayward and as we approached my house I though, "hey, that's my house." As I walked in I felt like I was really coming home as opposed to just arriving at the place where I stay. These warm feelings of love for my housemates Stacey and Stefan welled up in my heart.

A few factors were at play. First, the fancy mixed drinks we had for dinner put me in a happy state-of-mind. But also it was the affection I saw between Stacey and Stefan this morning as they flirted. This is the couple I knew before they had two boys. It was a little peak into the affection that holds their relationship together at the core.

So fantastic to live in a loving home with great friends, their sister and two crazy kids and their. Redefines family.

November 17, 2008

Felt Skirt

I am still in shock from yesterday that I made this felt skirt, in eight hours, starting from raw wool and didn't have to sew an inch! However, it mat require a button.

November 15, 2008

Used Photographers for Sale

A photographer-friendly bookstore on the Oakland/Berkeley border.

Prolific in Felt

Here are just a few of our class creations. The ones on the left are mine; apple cozy, blakberry cozy and vase. More tomorrow.

Textile Lab

I'm taking a 3D Felting weekend course at California College of Art with my friend Megan. My mom's passion for felting and Megan's encouragement inspired me to take the course.

This is a photo of the textile Lab. I love the windows and the great shadows. The room has a deep silence as sound is absorbed by the fabrics and low ceiling.

November 13, 2008

Healing Your Soul Deep in the Heart of Texas

This trip back to Houston has healed my soul in so many ways. I had mixed feelings about heading back to the city that I thought would bring up sad feelings about me and Stephen and our failed marriage. Instead I found friends and serenity.

Highlights of my visit...

- Staying with Sara Kellner at her tree house apartment for 6 days and. Experiencing the serenity of her lifestyle.
- Reconnecting with Roberta Levy after 30 years and being blown away by her achievements.
- Every minute of the National Arts Marketing Project Conference
- Catching up with Jenny P over dinner at Niko Nikos and having her offer to join me to go visit my stuff in storage.
- Connecting with the folks who run or are considering starting Business Volunteers for the Arts in Houston, Portland, Miami, LA, and Phoenix. They've all inspired me to keep moving forward on the feasibility study.
- Facilitating the Release Your Inner Blogger roundtable discussions and making a new friend, Clay, who works at Theatre Bay Area in San Francisco.
- Adventuring with Jenny P. to locate and visit the three containers of stuff Stephen and I have in storage. After three years of dreading the visit it turned out to be a healing experience.
- Visiting the new Aurora Picture Show now located across from the Menil Collection in the heart of Montrose. Reconnecting with Andrea Grover, seeing how beautiful and relaxed she looks and bringing closure to feeling like I let her down when I left the Assistant Director job.
- Dining with Bob and Lillian Warren, catching up on all their adventures and viewing Lillian's new video work. How wonderful to be trusted by an artist to share their latest ideas.
- Seeing the new and improved Houston Center for Photography with its digital darkroom and fantastic library.

Leaving is bittersweet. There are a few more folks I would have loved to have seen but ran out of time. What was so surprising was how happy I felt here and that I could pick up and start living in Houston again with hardly a second thought.

The stars at night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas.
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Goodbye Houston

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November 12, 2008

Storage for Life

Here's one of three storage containers with all my stuff in Houston. It is all in good shape and I even snagged a pillow.

November 11, 2008

Releasing Your Organizations Inner Blogger

Still in Houston at the NAMP conference. Facilitated two roundtable sessions yesterday on the topic of Releasing Your Organizations Inner Blogger. Excellent turnout at both roundtables which tells me this is a hot topic. The first session were mostly folks thinking about setting up a blog for their arts organization.

The biggest challenge was getting started and then who will keep it going. There was lots of concern about letting people post bad reviews of arts performances. We're so enabling in the arts.

Getting staff, board, artists and volunteers to blog was like climbing a mountain. Came up with some great solutions.

- give people a tape recorder, have them speak their post and then transcribe. Even better post it as an audio podcast. Better yet, get them on video and post it.

- give people a digital camera and have them take photos and post those. How about backstage shots during the performance and posting them in real time. Imagine the buzz you'd build.

- have people complete questionnaires about there arts/involvement and post the responses.

- ask everyone to post a minimum of three words or a maximum of three sentences about how their work/involvement in the organization relates to the current production/exhibition.

The second session had many folks who post personal blogs. They had good advice about how a blog communicates your values and the same could be true for your arts organization's blog. This is done through the various topics, links and which blogs you recommend reading. One woman said that when they post bad reviews about a member theater company they actually get the most comments and sell more tickets because people want to see the show and witness just how bad it is...or is not.

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November 10, 2008

The Influentials

The National Arts Marketing Project Conference just launched and our keynote speaker was Ed Keller from Keller Fay Management. He's the guru of word-of-mouth marketing. Just published a book called The Influentials and I picked up a copy. What I realized during Ed's presentation is that my mom is an influential. Go mom!

November 9, 2008

Houston Rocks!

I'm loving being back in Houston. Resisted at first visiting my old house but did a drive-by and it was fantastic. I noticed that the new tenants have the same rickety old table on their porch. This city has so much to offer. Chatting with Roberta about her quality of life and seeing her huge house filled with art I realized that living in an affordable city certainly has its advantages. Food for thought.

This evening I hook up with my friend Jenny and then possibly George and Victoria. But first and foremost I have to find an ATT store to fix my crackberry and the Dessert Gallery to get a huge slice of cake. Satisfy two addictions.

New Old Friends

When I lived in Houston I had no idea that just a few miles away my classmate from elementary school had settled her family in the same city. Through the power of Facebook we reconnected and today I was able to visit Roberta. She looks the exact same after all these years. Amazing reconnecting first with Hal and then Roberta. Next Stephanie who lives in San Francisco.

November 8, 2008

Back in the Bayou

I am back in Houston for the National Arts Marketing conference and it feels fantastic to be here. The past couple of days I was getting worried about my visit. Didn't know how it would feel to be back here, especially considering al my stuff is in storahe in some mystery Houston location. I have the opportunity to go visit it but what's the point really? I'm doing fine with my few posessions in Alameda.

Driving out of Houston's Hobby airport in my snazzy rental car a few hours ago the first thing I noticed is that this city smells like BBQ. A lovely welcoming fragerance. My friend Sara is hosting me this week andher cozy little garage apartment is about six blocks from my former Houston home. Driving around is like re-drawing latent map ib my mind - the same experience I had upon returning to San Francisco four months ago.

I had some Tex Mex for dinner at Chuye's which I actually only dined at once in the ten months I lived here in 2005-06.Would you believe I even bought one of the restaurant's t-shirts? It has martinis on the front and says "group therapy". I think I needed a Houston full-on experience to get in the Sothern groove. Let's just hope I don't meet any Palmetto bugs.

This blog was actually launched when I moved to Houston! Am I retracing my steps?

Life Without Crack

My crackberry has lost access to my email and as it sourches the battery is draining. Now the blackberry has an addiction to battery juice and I'm inrehab as it crashes.

November 5, 2008

We the Electorate, In Order to Form a More Perfect Union

The electorate spoke for change and by pulling together we are now moving in a new direction. It was a long road to electing Obama and the train that got us there was driven by volunteers and powered by the technology. Could we have been as successful without the internet?

We used our internet-based social networks to get out to the vote. We used our cell phones to call swing states. We drove our cars around the country to implement voter drives. We carried a message of hope, a message of change, an undying optimism that brought us together towards change as opposed to four more years of living in fear.

Watching the electoral votes stack up for both candidates I had my arms and legs wrapped like pretzels - my expression of concern. Even after McCain's concession speech I was not yet believing that our hopes would come true. Finally seeing Obama and his family standing on stage I felt somber hope for the future and hearing his victory speech I was proud of our country's leadership and the possibility of regaining respect and influence around the world.
Democracy, Liberty, Opportunity and Unyielding Hope!

November 4, 2008

Fw: News Alert: Senator Obama Will Win Presidency

From: NYTimes com News Alert

To: Amy


Sent: Nov 4, 2008 8:11 PM

Subject: News Alert: Senator Obama Will Win Presidency

Breaking News Alert

The New York Times

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 -- 11:08 PM ET


Senator Obama Will Win Presidency

The New York Times projects that Barack Hussein Obama will be

elected the 44th president of the United States, sweeping

away the last racial barrier in American politics with ease.

Read More:

Dreams do come true!

President-Elect Obama!

Watching Election Results

I look how I feel, concerned. Watching tv at the election house party hosted by David and Rachel.

Election Party

I'm at Rachel and Dave's house watching election results with 30 or so folks including this little guy who is eagerly awaiting good news.

Over-Social Networked

Or is it over-networked social? How many of these social networks can one person maintain without getting a personal assistant. Now I've been invited to Plaxo which has many friends and former associates that I didn't find on Linked-In or Facebook. But really, when am I supposed to eat, sleep, relax when I'm bombarded by these sites?

November 2, 2008

Hal and Art

Here's my childhood friend Hal enjoying art at the Open Studios instead of watching football. Image approved by Hal.

Open Studios

Bayview Hunters Point Open studios with my friends Megan and Hal. A break in the rain.

McCain Has Future as Standup Comic

McCain did a great job rolling with the punches here with Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live.

Hockey Mama for Obama

Folks are getting so creative this election!

November 1, 2008

Vote Early

I just put in my vote! Brought tears to my eyes. There were hundreds of people at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters also casting their vote for change. Go ahead and vote early, you'll feel great.

Go Obama!

The Rain is Here

Rain, rain, rain and although it looks like Houston flooding this is San Francisco. I had to buy some rain gear today and have waterproofed everything.