Monthly Archives: March 2008

No Electricity… Still.

No Electricity… Still.

As tourists, John and I had a rather superficial experience of New Orleans. With the French Quarter as our playground, we saw little evidence of Katrina’s destruction. In fact, the downtown area weathered the storm mostly unscathed, suffering only wind damage (according to our airport cabbie).

We noticed lots of vacant rental spaces, but we were told business had been in a slump well before the hurricane. On our visit, shops and restaurants seemed bustling with activity. And Bourbon Street was the same insane debauchery I had remembered from a decade ago.

On our last day, the cabbie drove us through a very nice suburban neighborhood not far from the airport. The homes were beautiful, all-brick structures but two years after the storm, this area still awaited electricity. Watermarks on columns under the overpass showed water levels as high as 7 feet. The water had remained at this level for 6-7 weeks. While the homes were magnificent on the outside, their insides required complete gutting. After being underwater for six weeks, everything had to go– furniture, appliances, utility lines, everything.

Obviously, rebuilding takes time. The sad news is, it’s taking longer than it should. At the conference, we met some of the amazing people credited with helping the community move forward. Among the online resources that have sprouted are Louisiana Rebuilds and NENA (Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association). I hope you’ll consider making a donation.



John and I are in New Orleans… I attended the Nonprofit Technology Conference this week. What a wonderful event. I so love the nonprofit community– these peeps have so much heart. So the conference was cool. Lots of people doing amazing stuff using very cheap or free tools. Saw really moving and engaging videos from Oxfam and Amnesty; powerful email campaigns from Care, and awesome mapping of demographic and CDC data from the Lucile Packard Foundation. Crazy. There is so much to learn.

The keynote speaker was David Pogue from the New York Times. The guy was hilarious: he played all these videos he’s made for his tech column (starring him and his wife). Also, the end of his talk was the best. Apparently, he used to be a conductor for Broadway shows, so they pulled out the baby grand and he started jamming these two jingles, including one ragging on the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). OMG, was frickin’ cool.

Now I have a ton of new tools to check out: GrandCentral, Google 411, Miro, voice to text services… can’t wait to play around after I get home. In the meantime, I’m stuffing my face with the phenomenal Cajun/Creole foods of Noo Aw’lins. So rich and hearty. Too bad the two pounds I dropped last week are back on (and then some). Oh well, gotta indulge while I can.

Head back on Sunday. Yeah, jet setters like that. 😉



I can’t sleep… this evening we learned that our friend is recovering from drug addiction. We’d been out of touch with him and his wife for several months (they live back east). Just five years ago, they were a happy couple attending our wedding. They married a year or two after us, sent copies of their wedding pictures to us in Shanghai, and I swear it was only a year or two ago when everything seemed great.

Good people with hearts of gold. There was so much patience and thoughtfulness and love in the few simple and quiet gestures I witnessed. They were building a life together, a home. They worked, attended classes: there was a plan.

And then this happened. First it was cocaine, then crack. Depleted shared savings. Theft, break-ins, arrests. In the months following, he went in and out of rehab. He’s been clean for two months. That’s the good news.

But now, so many questions, so much uncertainty. I crumbled when I heard the news. How? Why? God damn this world. God fucking damn it.

I Love Acapella

I Love Acapella

Earlier this month, the office staff attended a 2-day workshop on “Influencing Skills.” John jokes that people at my small government agency never actually get shit done. We just hold meetings or attend conferences or trainings or whatever. Pshaw, he’s one to talk. His company holds scavenger hunts and posh “team building” events and then their “business dinners” in Asia consist of getting clients shit faced at strip joints. I should also mention that at the holiday part, a freaking Board member offered $100 cash to the first person to drink the most shots at the bar. Whatev. At least my shit is still professional. For realz.

Anyhow, the training was so-so. Apparently, I’ve been communicating all wrong in my personal life. That could explain the growing-shrinking rift over the last two years. My poor communication skills and/or his workaholic schedule and unreliable promises to be home “normal time.” I suppose like most relationships, ours is a work in progress. Still, in most matters, I’m happy. Work and friends compensate for the sometimes on-off disconnect at home. So honestly, I don’t know if I’m convinced about the skills training. I don’t necessarily agree with the suggested approach. Sounds too much like running a business. Then again, sometimes I’m just rather resistant to personal change. I like how I am. 🙂

John turned 32 this month. For his birthday, I got him a couple really cute stuffed orangutans. That’s our thing now. And we adopted (co-sponsored) a baby orangutan on Orangutan Island. Kesi’s not on the tv show; she’s just a baby. Poor girl got her hand chopped off with a machete. And the fuckers killed her mother. She’s doing well now though at the Center. She’s a super star student, and Orangutan Outreach assembles really cute updates and photos. A nice touch for an NGO. I’m always collecting data points and ideas.

What else. Last weekend, John and I headed into downtown Palo Alto for dinner. Afterwards, we caught the some street performances by two college acapella groups. Totally reminded me of Duke: study breaks at the cafe or on the quad. The guys’ group was rockin’. Midnight Ramblers from the University of Rochester. They were having so much fun– smilin’, groovin’, singing their hearts out. By comparison, the Stanford women’s group was well, lame and lifeless. We left after the guys wrapped up. They put on a great show right under the Borders overhang on University Ave. Something else to research now: local acapella groups.



Regarding my previous post… I spoke way too soon. In the last two weeks, Power Pill’s been crushed to a very fine powder. Let’s see. First, I got sick. Granted, something is still going around the office (and certainly several peeps fell ill for multiple days) but still, obviously, I’m not as tough as I’d thought. Second, I started seeing a chiropractor, partly because I wanted to start using my medical flex spending account but more so because I was getting sick of the android comments. Plus, it would be nice to regain full range of neck motion, right?

My chiro seems good, but then again, I’m a newbie. He could probably hack me up real well, and I still would not even know. I mean, a crack here, a snap there, a jerk there… who the hell really knows what’s going on? Ah well. Blind faith in the medical community…

I do feel some improvement immediately following my visits. The unfortunate thing is though, as soon as I go to bed and awake the next morning, my neck is back to its good ‘ol fucked up self. I’ve tried pillows under the knees, pillows between the knees, sleeping on my side, etc. I’m still trying to break the code.

Of course sleeping on crunchy, formerly dog piss-saturated carpet last weekend didn’t help. John and I were in the OC visiting my sisters-in-law. Susan gave us an air mattress, but it was half-deflated and with my back issues, I opted for the floor. Needless to say, we had crap sleep for two nights. I’m getting too damn old for such slumber party-esque discomfort. Gotta have my Westin bed.

But going back to the chiro… I’ve been focusing hard on improving my posture. Yes, I have re-evaluated my worksplace ergonomic settings and also put an end to internet surfing on the couch. And I walk around like a bonafide prude with a straight back, shoulders back (no slouching!), and surely something stuck up my ass. I’m sure I look totally uptight, but hey, at this point, my body is shutting down and I need to take drastic measures.

In other words, I think I’m getting the shingles again. I know, how is this frickin’ possible? The first time (October 2006) was already an anomaly. After all, shingles mostly affects old people. I’m 31. I can’t believe I may be victimized again. Fucking A.

You see, several weeks ago I developed this rash on my right ribcage. I didn’t think much of it, but the itchiness has persisted. On top of that, I’ve been feeling a bit achy lately… I was previously attributing the discomfort to my neck/back chiro issue but maybe that’s not it. I don’t know. Last time I saw the chiro, he said my traps and upper mid back were the tightest since he first started seeing me in early February. He kept asking me if I was a really high-strung person, if I was under tremendous stress. I was like, uh to be honest, I’m the least stressed I’ve ever been in my life. Honesty, I have no idea what this could be. He looked at me like I was lying. Little does he know, I don’t (can’t) lie.

So now I’m curious and borderline paranoid. What the fuck is going on with my body? Are these manifestations of stress that accumulated over the years? It’s not as if I’m an EMT or ER physician or snow crab fisherman. Wtf? Meanwhile, my knee is starting to itch… fuck man. Shingles twice? I’m calling the derm first thing tomorrow. This ain’t right. I’m 31. Not cool. Gotta figure this mystery out.

Anyway, back to our trip down south. Sorry, for getting off track… Best part was meeting up with my dear friend Pamela. She and the hubby recently moved back to the States from Shanghai (where we met). They’ve only been back a few months, but they appear amazingly well-adjusted to American suburban life. Seeing Pamela was awesome and somewhat therapeutic… it was as if no time had passed. Kindred spirits indeed.

She and Joey took me out for Peruvian food (very tasty… reminded me a bit of Thai actually) and then all of us watched Oscars night and played Taboo. Good times. See, no stress? So why shingles again, why? Ok, maybe I’m jumping the gun. Will know more once I get this shit checked.