Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Case for Open Source

The Case for Open Source

My brain is so frickin’ full right now. I attended a tech conference in SF from Sunday through Tuesday. The Nonprofit Tech Conference rocks. Seriously, if you’re not on the bandwagon yet, get on it. I attended my first NTC last year in New Orleans. This year’s production was even bigger. In fact, they sold out at 1600 attendees. Anyway, it was intense. As usual, I was a lame networker but it’s ok. I learned tons and of course, now I have a long list of things to research further. I’m psyched and yet very overwhelmed by how much there is to study.

Btw, the plenary speaker, Eben M., a law prof from Columbia, gave a totally deep talk about the ownership of knowledge and how that restricts education and access to a better life. Everyone knows I heart Microsoft AND Google, but he spoke of them like they were Sauron in Lord of the Rings. Interestingly, he suggested that if Gmail were a “free” tool owned/operated by the government, people certainly would not be handing over all their information so nonchalantly. Rather, they would be throwing fits about the violations or potential violations of privacy. Eben is hard core. Dude does not have a Gmail account, and he runs his own servers and shit. In the end, I couldn’t help but feel a bit whorish, like I had sold myself out to all of them : Yahoo, Gmail, FB, Twitter… He suggested that all of this knowledge (behind the tech tools) should be open source; it should be treated similarly to physics: everyone should have free access to knowledge because by depriving people of knowledge, we are depriving people of a right to education and to a better life. I dunno, I’m probably muddling all this stuff up, but let me tell you, at 8:30 in the frickin’ morning, this was heavy shit. Still, I appreciated his boldness, his sort of unapologetic candor, particularly at a conference where half the expenses are underwritten by Microsoft and Google and the other tech titans. In the end, I suppose I hang on the belief and hope that MS and Google ultimately do care about things beyond making money. I want to believe in a sincere goodness. Maybe I’m naive. Or maybe I’m just too damn lazy to go totally open source. Do you know how much of a hassle that would be? Baby steps perhaps. Maybe we’ll start by opening our home wifi network: everyone should have access to free wifi, right?

In other news, yoga class is moving along. I enjoy yoga a lot, but I’ve come to realize that I don’t love it as much as I used to and I attribute this shift to my ADD. Seriously, I find myself thinking about work-related items even as we’re getting ready for the “yoga sleep.” Thankfully, my grampie instructor has upgraded his cassette tape (?) from the 15 minutes/side format to like a 45 minutes/side version. Nice to have a bit more peaceful music before being jarred by the flipping of the tape. Anyway, teach is really good but I need to get on with things, you know, move on to standing poses and shit. Enough with the stomach exercises, please! Ugh.

Speaking of exercise, John got me an exercise ball for our anniversary. I’m skeptical but opening up to an alternative to my conventional desk chair. I also ordered “Miracle balls” online. Can’t wait to give those a try. Would be wonderful to work out all the knots in my back on my own on a daily basis.

So you know how my latest thing is bboy/bgirl dancecrew events? Well I totally found one on Saturday, and I was all up for going. And then I read the flyer again more closely. Admission is $5 and requires a middle/high school ID. Say what? Can old geezers not enjoy such events? So then I was thinking: well if they required college ID, I’d rummage around for mine and go. But middle and high school? Do you know how fucking long ago both of those were for me? At this rate, I probably identify more with senior citizens than I would middle/high schoolers. Totally depressing.

K. Other interesting developments but can’t share right now. More soon I hope. Off to bed.

Inner Turmoil

Inner Turmoil

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately… I’m back in a funk again, of sorts. I don’t know what prompted all of this, but I just feel dissatisfied, incomplete. Now before you suggest children as a probable fix, let me just stop you right there. My issue is with myself. I just feel so damn unaccomplished. Ugh, it’s frustrating really. I should just focus on learning and enjoying but I can’t help obsessing about the end point. What’s the final deliverable? What do I have to show for? Why do I drive myself insane with all of this nonsense?

Take, for example, my job. Frickin’ best job I’ve ever had. EVER. Great hours, good pay, awesome boss, stable, steady… I just got approved for a flex work schedule too: work 9 hrs/day and get every other Monday off. Totally sweet. But what do I obsess over now? Staying nimble, staying relevant, keeping everything at the cutting edge. I have this fear of losing that edge, of falling behind, of letting the agency down if I’m not constantly learning the latest and greatest. And then what about five years from now? There’s nowhere up… is it ok to be in the same position five years later? How do I know whether that’s acceptable or not? And let’s just say, however unlikely, I lose this job. How marketable am I in this current market? Ugh. The worry and anxiety. Why does it come in waves?

Last weekend, John and I were in Long Beach visiting his sister and some of our friends. Was a great short trip, but I found myself envying others. I had all this hype and excitement about getting style advice from Pamela and even though I thought I had make progress, as soon as I climbed into Pamela’s car, I realized, I was only at 2 of 10. I blame it on flying and traveling: it makes me way too minimalist and then I wear the laziest outfits. But anyway, yeah Pamela looked great and so effortless (even though I know otherwise). And then of course, she is a native Spanish speaker so that’s something to envy. 🙂 John’s sis? Totally stylish and beautiful and healthy and completely independent and self sufficient. Like why can’t I be like her? Project manager for a gabillion people, making good money, supporting herself, doing her thing, reading, learning, being healthy. Living comfortably in the OC. A few months ago, she said she was sick of the OC– very comfortable but too damn boring, like being on autopilot. She was thinking about moving to SF. But now, she’s rethinking… I mean, why move, really? The weather in southern Cal is beautiful. Good job, friends… why uproot?

I wouldn’t want to NOT have John. That’s not what I’m saying. But I suppose what bothers me is this realization that I depend on him for a lot of things. And that vulnerability bothers me. Now I could argue that I don’t HAVE to rely on him, that I could be self sufficient if I really needed to… maybe deep down, I question whether that is really true. Perhaps I need a test to prove this to myself.

This is my problem. Again, the constant searching for something. This week I started thinking that I was becoming too complacent, so I started backing into my garage again. My logic? Gotta keep up those skills you know… and I proceeded to back into our storage boxes in the garage. Nice.

I enrolled in the Spanish II class at the community center, and fuck, now I’m at the bottom of the class. Seriously, the competency spread is way too wide. I partnered with a lady this week in conversation, and she got all frustrated having to practice with a dumbo like me. And I’ve been listening to CDs in the car and studying the book! So frustrating!

I must have ADD. Seriously. I’m turning into a perpetual dabbler. I recently watched Planet Bboy, a movie about breakdancing. Now, a few days later, I’m contemplating a bgirl workshop in SF on Sunday… yeah in like 2 days! Am I crazy? And I already found two upcoming “battles” in the area. I mean honestly, what the fuck is a dorky Chinese suburbanite and her Boy Scout hubby going to do chilling out at a dancecrew event? We’ll have to go to PacSun or Zumiez to get the right attire just to be spectator. What a freakin’ mess. I’m telling you: I got problems.

Allergies, Nostalgia, Meltdown

Allergies, Nostalgia, Meltdown

The weather was absolutely gorgeous this weekend. Full sun, blue skies, warm temps. No reason to complain…except that I’m highly allergic to pollen and grass. So what started off as a wonderful weekend, ended with me in bed at 3 p.m. on Saturday with bee-stung eyes, a runny nose, a sore neck (from sneezing maybe 50+ times), and a huge pile of used tissues. I swear, I felt like I was on a muscle relaxer or something. Everything felt so tingly and weak. Yes, I took Zrytec. Yes, I did the nasal spray. It was simply a beautiful day with blooming plants, and well, my body just couldn’t hack it. So Saturday, sadly, was a bust. I didn’t wake up until this morning (Sunday).

Thankfully, today fared much better. John and I ran a bunch of errands to prepare for the week: farmer’s market, Trader Joe’s, Costco. In the afternoon, I did laundry and basked in the warm sun through our office balcony. I tried to use up the remaining couple dollops of self-tanner (which had expired last year). Yeah, nothing happened. No sunless color. What a drag.

Later on, John went to the gym (since he skipped paddling practice this morning) and I dusted off my old xlider skates. What a workout! I was glad to see I still had enough coordination to skate around the rink a bit, but boy, my abs were feeling it. Maybe I’ll get into this whole fitness thing. As it is, I’m trying to bike during the week at lunch and then add some kind of activity in the evening. As you can see from my tweets, I recently read an article about achieving and maintaining the highest level of fitness… normally, I have little interest in physical fitness, but this article actually intrigued me. Deep down, I think I just want to have a dancer’s body. Ha. Anyway, I suppose it’s a good thing to schedule regular daily exercise and to try and change it up to have some diversity. We’ll see how long this lasts…

Anyway, this evening I got to surfing around on some sites I used to read when I lived in Shanghai. Next thing I knew, I started to miss the old stomping grounds. Maybe it wasn’t even so much the city, but rather, the adrenaline… the constant motion, the diversity, the risk-taking, the new ideas… not mine but others’. As I read posts from bloggers I used to follow, I recalled how important my blog used to be to me… how throughout the day, I used to jot down notes about my experiences. I would write them down, so that I could return later to write about them. And I actually did.

I barely even posted twice last month. And just like that, I felt deflated. Disappointed that I had let up on something for which I had once felt so much passion, and sad that I no longer seemed to have stories and experiences worth sharing. In essence, I had become boring. While I obsessed about filling up my Google calendar with the tedium of my daily life, others were writing about their continuing explorations and discoveries in the ever-changing Shanghai cityscape. All these months, I had thought I was making progress, progressing towards my life goals: becoming active, learning Spanish, cooking, doing my makeover, and so on… and yet in the end, I felt quite ordinary and unaccomplished. It’s difficult to explain really, but it seems to return again to this endless search. What is it that I want from this life? I want to be happy but what the fuck does that mean? Why does my rubric for happiness seem to always shift? It used to be that I wanted to have the experience of living overseas. Then, I wanted a kickass job… Perhaps I am just destined to never be satisfied. I don’t know.

Is it that I want it all? I don’t even think I’m that greedy. I just want to be the best that I can be. Does that sound totally ridiculous? Am I just all demands without the necessary efforts. For example, I want to be smart, but I don’t read. I want to have a dancer’s body, but I don’t follow the dancer’s workout regimen. I want to be musical, but I don’t practice. I want to be multilingual, but I think/speak/write only in English. I want to be stylish but I resist/question expert fashion advice. Wtf is wrong with me? Maybe my parents are right: I’m intractable and freaking unruly and in many instances, a know-it-all. I’m downright annoying. Seriously, I’m annoyed with myself. Ugh. Swear to god, this “work in progress” shit is a frickin’ pain in the ass. Time for a hot shower. Gotta re-examine this bullshit tomorrow and figure out what the hell is going on.

Staying Alive

Staying Alive

Eeek! April already. Fuck, I need more time. My dear friend Pamela and I had been trying to connect for days, maybe weeks. She was wondering what the hell I was doing that was keeping me so busy. I know, seriously, you’d think I was saving the world. Not even close.

So early last month, John and I survived our first time skiing. Hurray, hurray. Normally, this probably would not even be news, but given the recent death of the famed Natasha Richardson from a fall on the beginner’s slope, I count us doubly lucky. And no, we didn’t wear helmets. So despite putting ourselves in a high-risk, dangerous, potentially fatal situation, we had a pretty fun time. Prior to our lesson, we went on a bunny slope that was well, probably not a good idea for people with zippo experience, but you gotta love peer pressure. Our damn friends conned us into going and by the time we finally made it down the hill, we were 10 minutes late for class! And you know how I am about class and punctuality. Anyway, the ski lesson was helpful. I skiied down a big hill afterwards. Definitely put in a full day’s work. All in all, the Tahoe trip was a blast. My buddy Dave rented a cabin and a group of us lived it a la MTV Real World, with a pool table, ping pong table, and most importantly, a hot tub. Perfect after a long day on the slopes.

I fully expected Day 2 to be lax, but screw that. We went snowshoeing and well, let’s just say it was awesome for like the first two hours. For the last hour? A bit much. Dave and Jeff worked us to a frickin’ nub.

Come Monday, I was like Kramer in his tight Frankenstein jeans. Seriously, I even had trouble going up and down the stairs… for the entire week following. Yeah, these snow sports whipped my ass. Enjoy the pictures of me looking ridiculous in my winter gear. In my defense, let me just explain that I am deathly afraid of the cold and thankfully, my snow clothes kept me warm and dry the entire time. So remember: function over style… at least this time. Don’t hold it against me, please!