January 31, 2009

Girls Night Out

Two of my housemates, sisters Stacey and Jessica, joined me for a girls night out in Alameda. Jessica is a total cutie so we had the boys buzzing around her. It was quite amusing as Stacey is married with two kids and I may be single but the eldest of our little trio. Jessica got us the good service and free drinks we needed to feel like royalty for the evening. Plus, we found a wonderful restaurant to haunt - Barceluna. Superb drinks, excellent food and fantastic setting. My drink was highlighted with rose water. The first time I've had rose breath after a meal. Lovely and refreshing.

January 29, 2009

100% Victory!

Do the Rocky victory dance with me as I celebrate getting 100% on my third Statistics exam! This is after trying to figure out some of the questions with the math tutors who gave up and said it was impossible. Go ahead Statistics, make my day. I'll show you impossible!

Seriously, I think I may cry. Could I possibly be getting this stuff?

Last night we had a meeting of Doctor of Business Administration students. We are a funny lot. All a bit "different" which makes sense if you are doing a MBA on steroids. I finally felt like part of a community at the school as opposed to a lone student fumbling through Statistics and knowing that this was only the beginning - I would have to take the Doctoral level Quantitative Analysis course next. However, I am not alone. My fellow students gave me all kinds of Statistics advice and said that it freaked them out too but not to worry, the rest of the program is where you get into the meaty stuff.

My noodle could use some meaty stuff.

A Moment in Time

This afternoon I took the transbay bus home from San Francisco to Alameda. Usually I'm traveling in the late evening with commuters. As it was still daylight and the middle of the work day my fellow passengers were a different sort of lot.

Whilst waiting for the bus I noticed a dapper elderly man at the front of the line. Next to him was a rickety old bike and I just assumed it was his. However when the bus arrived he left the bike behind. I found a seat near to his and said that I thought that that was his bike. He was quite amused. "I've not been on a bike in over 60 years." That was the opening to a ride-long conversation, mostly one-sided. He proceeded to tell me the story of his career in the military, women he met in his travels and a particular event that had clearly impacted his independence. Over and over he told me how his son had invited him to come to Alameda for two weeks to visit. To the man's surprise his son packed up his father's belongings and moved them from LA to storage in Oakland. That was seven years ago.

It was clear that that was a pivotal moment in this man's life. Perhaps his loss of independence? He wasn't angry about it but rather a bit stunned that it had happened. "He wouldn't tell me why the truck was there. He put all my things in storage. He sold my car. I need to get a new one so that I can get back down there. I should just fly down and not tell him. He doesn't know I went in to San Francisco today."

Fascinating and heartbreaking how we can be so impacted by an event like this. It becomes our reference point moving forward. I didn't ask him any questions or try to rationalize that he was probably in a better place up here with his family. It was the story he needed to tell and perhaps just sharing it would be enough for him to move on.

January 28, 2009

January 27, 2009

The Craft of Math

Here is my new Crackberry cozy co-mingling with my Statistics text. Math meets craft.

Finding Quality Time

Being a consultant has its benefits and one in particular is being able to bring school and homework into the mix. I have no idea how people can work full time jobs and take graduate classes. Maybe it is Statistics homework that requires more study time but I put at least two full days a week into getting it done.

The pattern is becoming Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is homework with client meetings mixed into the day. Thursday and Friday are more client meetings and actually completing client work. Saturday and Sunday are a mix of client work and stuff I need to get done for myself plus yoga time.

What isn't fitting into the mix very easily are the various lunch and dinner outings with friends. They are just too expensive, both the meal and the public transit investment, but also in terms of time. I need to limit these to one meal get-together a week. Sounds easy but dining is a huge social factor in the San Francisco Bay Area. If I had my own kitchen/apartment I would have folks over for meals. But even that takes up tremendous time. It would be lovely to start a tradition of a rotating dinner night with friends that is hosted at a different house either once a month or every couple of weeks. A time to kick-back, chit chat and create a warm, family environment.

I've joined City Car Share which is came in handy for my cousin Diana's birthday party this past weekend. For $7/hour and .50 a mile I was able to drive to and from her house. Of course I still have to ride my bike to and from the car's pod location, but it was freeing to have four wheels for a majority of the trip. Would a car make this easier? Perhaps city living instead of being in the outskirts? Maybe a place of my own that I could invite people to for dinner? I'm going to wait until after my birthday in March to figure out if I am ready to move.

January 26, 2009

Relationships and Pets

I had a realization today. Having a relationship and having a pet are alike in that when they are alive it feels so great and when they die you think, "I'll never do that again." I wonder if I will ever have another relationship or another pet. Hard to open your heart up to either companion after the pain of loss.

January 25, 2009

Date Logs

I remeber making these date logs when we were little. They are stuffed with peanut butter mixed with a dash of cinnamon and topped with a sliced almond. The perfect healthy comfort food pick-me-up.

This post is part of Rachel's Sugar High Friday Childhood Delights blogging event.

January 23, 2009

Cupcake Incubators

They are saying "free me, eat me!" Can you hear them?

Thriving Health Insurance

Since returning to the US in May I have become more fully aware of the search for health insurance - affordable or otherwise. For the past 15 years I've always been covered by an employer or spouse's coverage. This is the first time since I first moved to California in 1992 that I've had to pursue coverage on my own.

Yes, in the UK there was socialized medicine, which thankfully I never needed to use. But it was there if I did need it. For the past nine months I've purchased short term plans and was on an employer policy for a whole month (sarcastic, wow). Now, I am afraid to admit, I've been without insurance since January 1, 2009. However, this is not by choice. I'm just waiting, waiting, waiting, for the California COBRA (coverage when you loose it from your employer) quote from Kaiser Parmanente. Their big ad campaign is called Thrive! Yeah, I'd like some of that. As I wait I am actually thankful for every day that passes that I do not get sick or injured.

It is a dance I'm playing as I wait for this quote that is now three weeks late. Do I wait to see what outrageous sum they are going to charge me for the equivalent of the coverage I had with my former employer or do I apply for a new policy? I took the leap and applied and today was the deadline. Getting through to Kaiser caused me a total meltdown. This afternoon I went to the local Kaiser office, just a few blocks from my house and across the street from my favorite Alameda Yoga Station. I was told by my friendly Kaiser sales representative that I could use their fax machine to send in my application. If only the man behind the front desk had been willing to make it happen. He wasn't. He barked at me. He barked at everyone so it wasn't personal. But it felt personal. I immediately called the Kaiser help line and started crying. Build up of frustration exploding. The nice woman on the other end helped me figure out a solution for getting my application in on time. I imagine that in the past three weeks I've talked to nearly all of their thousands of employees and the majority are very nice. However, a few are super not-cool. But they do have a fantastic complaint filing system that I've used.

As for processing my application it will take five to six weeks and during that period I still have no coverage. I think I may purchase another short term plan since I do ride my bike for my main form of transportation. Plus, every ache and pain has me worried about it being something bigger than just a cramp. This will give me the peace of mind I need for now.

I know that I'm not alone in this pursuit of coverage. The five to six week wait is because Kaiser is inundated with applications. At least I am one of the lucky folks who can afford health insurance. The policy I have applied for is the bare minimum but I am healthy so it should do the trick. If I wanted anything close to excellent insurance it would cost me nearly the same as my monthly rent. Thrive for a price.

January 22, 2009

Forgotten Angle

The little angle that Christmas packers forgot when they put their tree out for recycling.

January 21, 2009

No Problemo

After totally under-impressing my teacher last week, when I volunteered to do a problem in front of the class, I hit it home this week. Contingency tables, I dare you. They are just about the closest thing to art and creative writing we've had so far in Statistics.

Rewarding myself with pizza.

17th Street Oakland

Walking to an appointment on 17th Street in Oakland I am seeing the smashed windows of small businesses along the BART murder protest route. These businesses were hit by vandals two weeks in a row. Perhaps this evening there will be a third protest march. Maybe the Obama good feeling wave will have changed the tone of protest.

January 20, 2009

Best Seat in the House

Have to note here that my parents' friend Bernie, who is close friends with Lieberman, had Hadassah Lieberman's seat at the inauguration today. He ended up in the front row directly underneath Obama and in front of the band. Bernie is always having some kind of adventure.

First Order of Business

It is a beautiful day.

Inaugural Poem

Elizabeth Alexander's Obama Inauguration Poem
(text from New York Times)

Praise song for the day.
Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other,
catching each others' eyes or not,
about to speak or speaking.
All about us is noise.
All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem,
darning a hole in a uniform,
patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."
We encounter each other in words,
words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."
We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain, that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce,
built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love,
love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light.
Love with no need to preempt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Lift OFF


Dawn of Hope

We did it!

Focus and Calm

Barack Obama preparing to meet the country.

January 19, 2009

Back Online

My laptop was so settled into my home office that I forgot that it is portable. Funny how that is. I am particularly sensitive about moving it around since it is so old, delicate and still recovering from its fall off my desk over the summer.

I had this sudden realization this morning that I could work at a cafe offering free wifi. So, here I am at my favorite cafe, Julie's on Park in Alameda. Of course they conveniently have decaf roobios chai late which helps my case.

January 18, 2009

Lost in the Internet

Besides being so totally distracted by Statistics homework I have been without internet access at home for 36 hours. Completely throwing me off. Although I have ye olde crackberry, from which this blog post is being crafted, I am out of sync with my regular internet activities. Plus, I've had to go into San Francisco to do my homework, at school!

A note about my schoolmates. Using the computer lab has turned into a cultural experience. Golden Gate University has many international students and the lab offers a cross section of the UN. I've never seen so many Chinese websites being accessed in one room.

A super strange thing happened today in the lab. There were only four of us there. One was an Asian woman who kept walking over to an Asian man at his computer and asking him something. Both of them seemed older than most international students and I started to wonder if perhaps they were lab crashers. The Asian man started to scream and at the Asian woman and he eventually stormed out of the room. She then went up to another man (not Asian) and asked him something. He didn't scream but he did pretty much ignore her. Uh oh, I thought, she's coming to me next. I didn't know what to expect but I figured I would give her a chance.

She couldn't speak a word of English but through her gesturing I figured out that she needed numbers on her pages. She kept showing me her printouts, which were all in Chinese, and pointing at the page number at the bottom of the first page, 38. That happens to be a combination of my two favorite numbers (as they are my birthday) so I felt compelled to help. I setup the page numbering and she was in business.

I thought maybe she would be thankful, especially after the first man screamed at her, but she really didn't respond to my help. Perhaps it was a culture clash - me expecting gratitude and her expecting...I'm not sure what.

I can tell that pursuing this degree at GGU is going to expose me to some interesting learning both I the classroom and beyond.

Claiming 40

I usually love my birthday, just ask any of my family and close friends. But for some reason 40 has taken the wind out of my sails. Not sure if it is because I am living quite a different life from what I had expected a year ago. Or, maybe the reality of "aging" is hitting me. I'm sure no one would guess that - am beginning my 4th decade if they looked at me and I certainly don't feel old. It is just a giant landmark in the middle of the road of life.

I've been working on ways to get my birthday mojo back. One is an extravagant trip to the UK with my friend Leah to meet up with our buddy Simone. We'll be presenting a leadership training course together in London, Bristol and Leeds. That makes the birthday a lot more special.

Now to figure out some more adventures. I need this to be a wonderful memory that I can build on, as opposed to something dreaded that I hide from. Living out Loud on the edge of 40.

Texas Art Car in Berkeley

Ah yes, a reminder of Texas living.

January 14, 2009

Quiz Fever

I studied statistics for 25 over the past four days and took my first quiz today. It is administered online so you ca immediately see your score. Out of 12 questions I got 11 correct scoring a 91.7. For some reason I am disappointed. Really wanted to score 100%. Shouldn't I be rejoicing for getting this far in my most challenging subject?

As soon as I completed the exam my body started having flu-like symptoms. My carrot cake with room temperature cream cheese icing felt like eating nothing special instead of an award for work well done. Clearly I was holding a lot of tension around the quiz.

Now I have a clue about how to study for this class. Reading every single page and working every example doesn't seem to be necessary. But it was good to get a strong foundation for the rest of the semester.

I have one hour before class starts tonight and I receive my next reading and homework assignment. Altoids please.

New Shoes

Take a look at his handiwork.

She Shining on Market Street

Mr. Saline is shining my boots on Market Street at Sansome. What a fantastic job! They look new.

January 13, 2009

Math Matters

Homework for Data Analysis for Managers week 1 has already taken me about 12 hours and I'm only three quarters (or is that interquartile?) Done. I need to have a strong foundation in these first chapters or I know I will be in lala land by the time class starts.

The data is hugely practical and it is like learning a new language. Slow and steady is my approach. Also many Altoids to keep me from exploding. Not sure why that works. If the entire course were just based on these two chapters I would be happy. Imagine, this is just the Masters level Statistics course. Next I have to take the Doctoral level one. Breath, Altoid, breath.

January 11, 2009

Self Portrait with Obama

Got my hair done today and felt inspired to take a self portrait with my Obama t-shirt.

January 10, 2009

Approaching 40 and Making a Difference

Last night my friends Megan and Dallas joined me to see the film Milk. Hard to believe but up until now I didn't know the story of former San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Sean Penn's performance brought to life the local and national impact Milk had on Gay Rights and reminded me why San Francisco is such a special city.

The opening scene is the eve of Milk's 40th birthday. He reflects on his life and realizes he has an opportunity to make a change, to live "out loud". He takes the risk and within eight years has reached a seemingly unobtainable goal of being the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the US.

Ironically, prior to the film the three of us discussed turning 40. Dallas had his 40th birthday on New Year's Eve and mine is in March. We talked about how so many of our friends are turning 40 too. In fact nearly every day on Facebook I receive a 40th birthday notice from a friends around the globe. We've all got to be reflecting on the same questions... Where am I going and what have I done. When the film opened with this appropriate scene Dallas and I looked at each other in wonderment. An unexpected opportunity to reflect.

Harvey Milk makes a prediction on his 40th birthday that he will not live to see 50. Unfortunately this prediction comes to fruition when he is assassinated at 48. It certainly made me recognize that much can, or can not be accomplished as we ReGenXers move into our next decade. Time is short and we better get moving.

January 8, 2009

Squeezing In

The past couple of days I've gotten back into the swing of bike commuting. Yesterday was challenging with the heavy school book but I made it work. Even took the bike on the transbay bus to get home from class. Brave Ike was out in front of the bus on the bike rack.

Today I have toodled all around from a lunch meeting in Civic Center to picking up my City Car Share key then out to the Mission for a strategic planning session (photo from previous post was showing client how to blog in real time), from there down to San Francisco Cameraworks to see my friend Leigh's show opening and now on Muni T Line with Ike all folded up as we head out to Bayview for a girls night out with Nicole and friends. How's that for a run-on sentence? You get the picture.

The big question is how am I going to keep this lifestyle now that I have homework?

City Car Share allows me access to a car when I need it at a very affordable hourly rate. One of the pods is at Fruitvale BART, close to home. Seeing how this helps.

Table and Rug

January 7, 2009

I Will Do Math!

My first evening of class is over and it went well. I was really humming at first and then the teacher pulled out the Greek formulas and I felt the brain cloud trying to invade. I held it at bay and know that I can figure this all out. In just one class I learned oodles of helpful Excel secrets and met classmates from Thailand and China.

Obama Shines

I love this photo because it says so much. Funny how Republicans are wearing blue ties and Democrats are in red...except for Obama.

January 6, 2009

Starting School Tomorrow

Tomorrow's the big day, starting school again! I keep wondering if everyone is going to have a laptop to take notes. Will I be old school with pen and paper. Will I need a laptop for my Data Analysis for Managers class since the textbook has Excel in the title?

More important - I look forward to unlocking the possibilities of Excel and using it in my work.

How am I ever going to sleep tonight? So exciting! Do you think my classmates will be concerned if I take photos of the class and post them on the blog? I am a blogging fanatic.

Marin Headlands

Although not the best self portrait I did want to take a few moments and commemorate the day. I conquer a few major challenges getting to a Headlands Center for the Arts for a meeting in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area of the Marin Headlands this morning.

First, I drove my former boss's Mini Cooper. Super cool of her to let me borrow it and let me tell you that little vehicle packs power! Second, I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge without freaking out. The last time I drove it, probably three years ago, I had a meltdown - that control thing again. Now to ride my bike across and I'll be wondering what's left in my panic zone!

January 5, 2009


This evening I registered for my first course Data Analysis for Managers with a text book that cost me $160...used. I am thinking positive thoughts about math, especially since the book has Excel in the title. I am all about mastering Excel.

After registering and getting my student I'd (with a very decent photo) I attended new domestic student orientation. One of the features I love about GGU is the diversity of the student body. Nearly all the new students seem to be international.

The highlight of the evening was talking to the security guard, Henrick, who I remember from when I was a student in the Arts Administration program. He asked me if I was a student here last semester because my face looked familiar. When I told him that it was ten years ago when we first met he seemed only somewhat surprised. He's been there for 15 years.

Seems that as a student, once again, I have more in common with the faculty and staff. The Assistant Dean remembered me and my friend Leah is a Director for the Center for Student Success.

I first moved to San Francisco to attend GGU back in 93 or 94. Here I am again, back in the Bay Area and at GGU. Feels a bit like Cheers where everybody knows your name.

034850 Visits and Counting

My brother Matt tells me that the hit counter I have on the blog may be an unfriendly thing-a-ma-doo offered by Bravenet. It leaves cookies, the kind you can't eat. So, I am removing it. But let the records show that up to today I have had 34,850 visits! Thank you for reading. Carry on.

January 4, 2009

Back to School

Tomorrow begins my new long-term commitment of starting graduate school. I return to Golden Gate University from which I graduated with a Masters in Arts Administration in 1997.

New student orientation is tomorrow and my first class is on Wednesday - Data Analysis for Managers. Could sound like a sleeper to some but I am totally jazzed. Working towards a Doctor of Business Administration is exactly the business grounding I want to pursue in my career.

This is going to take around four years to complete but I see it as a journey. Chatting with Matt and Rachel's housemate Tyler I said that I didn't want to take 13 years to complete the degree and he responded that that is his dream - to be in school for 13 years. You know, he's got a point. But I do plan to finish before that long. My intention is to couple the courses with my consulting work...and to continue to work internationally...and not incur debut.

Happy Pedi

My toenails are a lovely shade of purple, by choice. Waking up this morning I rolled out of bed, literally, and got a view of this inspirational color and thought, "now this is setting the tone for 2009!"

January 1, 2009

Closing Out the Old and Preparing for the New

I took some time yesterday to reflect on 2008 in preparation for starting 2009.

2008 was a year of significant and powerful life choices. I took a huge step to move into a healthy life for myself and moved back to the States on my own. Certainly not easy but I do not regret my choice.

I was also was accepted into a Doctoral program which was a goal I set upon returning to San Francisco. That is a huge commitment of several years. I plan to use it as an anchor for my work.

All this was possible because I clarified my core values. Yesterday I took some time to reflect on these again. One that I have difficulty with is recognizing when I am in an unhealthy relationship or situation. My tendency is to try and make it work by increasing my tolerance for discomfort (aka weirdness). Looking forward to 2009 I am going to be more aware of this and be more precious with my time and my value. This is especially important with grad school starting in just a few days.

As for specific goals I need to take some time to reflect on these. As I've mentioned before I have my goals posted on my bedroom wall. There are a few to add and some that have been met. I see it as a life in progress.

Beautiful Blue

Just an observation but it seems that JetBlue has more than their share of beautiful, gay, flight attendants. Perhaps it is because I'm flying between DC and Oakland/SF, two of the country's gay meccas. Eye candy supreme.