Thursday, September 28, 2006

Double Inbox Implosion

"Damn, damn, coal burning, dithering, ding, ding, ding." That's how I feel, anyway. (My favorite quote from "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", the musical.)

In some cosmic twist of fate, I lost both my cell phone text messages and my e-mail inbox in the past 48 hours. My confidence in Pine has been shaken, and I feel naked and empty, nightshirt notwithstanding. Good thing I practice safe backups. Still though, not being able to recover the data in its original form leaves me shaking like some kind of addict.

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Studio 60, Bloggers & What Makes Good Writing

This week's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" episode (it's getting better, by the way, like we all knew it would) had a joke about a woman blogger who was bashing their fictional show where the director thumbed his nose at the blogger saying she was probably (I'm paraphrasing) "in her pajamas with her 5 cats". Well, I'm here to say nothing could be further from the truth. I'm blogging in my nightshirt with my five cats (actually four - one is at the vet overnight.)

Seriously though, as someone who has worked hard to get articles published in paper publications and is currently going through the arduous process of looking for a publisher for a book, knowing how easy it is to get "published" online via a blog does make it an easy target for people in older media to tear down bloggers. Also, bloggers don't necessarily always blog in a traditionally journalistic way meaning some are more news-oriented, others are editorialists and many just want to write about their navel lint like in a diary.

The Palo Alto Weekly yesterday published another article about the Silicon Valley Moms Blog (with two quotes from a post of mine) and I had began wonder why a local newspaper is writing about women in their pajamas blogging, as well as a nationally broadcast TV show? I guess we're a hot commodity. But that will soon pass and then it'll be child bloggers that get the attention: Janey the three year-old prodigy blogging about her stuffed pony's nose ring.

What interests me more, however, is the question of what makes good writing. Because after the blogging hype dies down (soon enough, I'm sure, since we're well past the early adoptor stage), blogging will become like TV talk shows - just another place to change the channels.

I like to think of good writing on four levels: 1) objective - grammatically correct, stylistically accurate text according to major conventions, 2) subjective - appealing to the majority of readers when it comes to language usage, flow and interest, 3) promotion/popularity - the old adage of a tree falling in the forest applies here, meaning it would be a lot more wonderful if more people knew about it, and 4) literary - creative combinations of words into prose that transcends popularity and becomes an object of art standing the test of time on its own.

In traditional (offline) media, most published writers have mastered level 1. They can only hope that the editors did a good enough job choosing the topics and molding the work so it fits in level 2 and connects with a large audience so that publishers can work to make their writing fit into level 3, judged by sales. Level 4 is the elusive quest for excellence that many writers seek but never achieve either from lack of talent, training or both and three is judged by academics who have studied the masters of literature over decades or centuries.

Where blogging fits can confuse people because it tends to be self-managed. Bloggers don't typically have editors and publishing teams that fine-tune the works and there's no screening process. Anyone with Internet access can blog. (I realize I'm stating the obvious here for most people who read my blog, but for the less technical people, I like to spell it out a little.) In the case of the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, however, the reason we attract attention is because we do have editorial and promotional processes. So my hypothesis is that the bloggers that perform highest in levels 1-4 will be taken seriously by all media; and those blogs that are merely wanking will be like the pamphlets left on cars that get tossed in mud in the parking lot.

Time will tell what happens with this blog, but for now, I'm content when most days I can check-off level 1 and get half way through level 2 while still in my nightshirt.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

RSI Resources

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Menial Epicondilitis, Tendinitis, Cumulative Trauma Disorder - they're all repetitive strain injuries and they all sound menacing, but really they're just a function of the human body not being well-equipped for modern living.

I was diagnosed with a whole host of RSIs in 1997 and spent the better (or worse, as the case really was) of five years relearning how to do things like type, drive, and drink (not together, of course). And once I got a little better, I spent 2 years researching RSI and ergonomics and building a company ( - put indefinitely on hold for a couple of reasons) to help people and companies respond to the dangers of computer-related injuries.

During that time, I found some good resources for RSI and the last couple of weeks, I've been sadly reminded how important it is that people be able to find these resources. As a new mom, I'm meeting more women who suffer from CTS, tendinitis, etc. and it's heartbreaking to see people who can't even pick up their kids. So for anyone and everyone who may be concerned about ergonomic injuries, don't waste time. Get help - and make sure it's the right help.

Top priority is the best doctor possible. I know of several really good ones now, so don't hesitate to ask. Second priority is a good physical therapist. And from there, massage therapists, chiropractors, nutritionists, and personal trainers can be incredibly helpful as well as occupational and psychological counselors. Trying out a variety of keyboards, headsets, chairs and pointing devices can make a world of difference as well. I could write a book on this subject and maybe someday I will, but for now, I'll recommend three: Repetitive Strain Injury, by Dr. Emil Pascarelli & Deborah Quilter, The Repetitive Strain Injury Recovery Book, also by Deborah Quilter, and Computer-Related Syndrome, by Dr. Richard Dean Smith & Steven Garske.

Many of the resources I found while doing my research are in a box somewhere, but for now, here are some good places to start: Working Well, Typing Injury FAQ, ErgoWeb, Office-Ergo, and University of Michigan Center for Ergonomics.

Good vendors include Relax The Back Store, Hello Direct, Remedy Interactive, Levenger, and The Ergonomic Resource.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Hart at Stanford Wednesday

Gary Hart is doing a book signing at the Stanford Bookstore at 6pm on Wednesday evening, Sept. 27 for his new book, The Courage of Our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats. (See my related post from a few weeks ago and see also: today's CBS News article.) I'm hoping to make it. The last one of these I attended was more of a Q&A than a reading from the manuscript. I expect high-level questions and intellectual banter with the Stanford crowd.

For those curious about how I know so much about Gary Hart, I hate to disappoint that I'm not one of the psycho-political pandering followers that some of these guys attract over the years. My interaction with Senator Hart was initially due to nepositm: he and my dad grew up together in Ottawa, Kansas.

The first time I met Gary was during the '88 campaign - he was on a float for the 30th class reunion from their high school, Ottawa High. He and my dad are both coming up on their 70th birthdays in the next couple of months. Born in 1936 during the Depression, they were small town scruffy boys running around with dogs playing baseball in the street, later to become lawyers via Yale and Stanford, respectively. (This is important because that's what brought my family to the Bay Area initially.) My dad, a registered Republican, helped Gary with a couple of his campaigns. He was interviewed for What It Takes, a fascinating behemoth of a book about the '88 race.

When I heard whisperings that Gary might consider running in '04, I used a few different vehicles to try and get involved, persisting until I heard back and then I dove head-first into the pre-campaign mush, first working on speeches then eventually managing the entire online effort. I'll write more about this some other time, but that experience led me to develop some great friendships with the others involved, one of whom is still Gary's publicist which brings us back to the book signing.

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Sinatra in New York

Not often does a national dance troupe pay homage to Old Blue Eyes - let alone a ballet company - but this fall, the American Ballet Theater (ABT) is performing a work entitled "Sinatra Suite" by renowned choreographer, Twyla Tharp, who has worked with Barishnikov, David Byrne and other greats. (I love her work.)

The ABT Opening Night Gala at the New York City Center is on October 18, also featuring Balanchine's "Symphonie Concertante".

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Listen to Ed Felten Re: Voting Technology

Ed Felten, Princeton Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, also known for Felton v. RIAA and Freedom-To-Tinker, spoke with Scott Simon on NPR about an voter verifiable paper trail for electronic voting systems today.

A lot is happening right now with respect to e-voting with recent and upcoming elections, particularly with recent problems in Maryland. Check out the recording. He also spoke on "Science Friday" on voting technology yesterday.

Aside: I just found out that Ed Felten and Barbara Simons both been invited to testify at a Congressional hearing on voting technology Thursday at 10am (in room 1310 LHOB if you are in DC) and will be webcast. See also: USACM weblog.

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Fashion Month - Spring 2007 Collections

Now that it's officially fall, Spring-Summer 2007 collections have been on the runways the past 2 weeks in New York and London, and beginning today, the Italian designers are having shows in Milan, followed by next week's shows in Paris, ending October 9th. I watched most of the photo slideshows and videos from the American designers' fashion shows on the New York magazine site and saw a few of the London shows on

Essentially, what I saw was a distinct juxtaposition between soft, romantic, ruffly pieces and sophisticated, architectural, tapered looks.  A few designers did both, like Ralph Lauren (who, I just read is no longer using real fur in his clothes), but most stuck with one or the other - Vera Wang, for example, embellished the ruffles where Michael Kors created a tailored, slim effect.  The colors selected for fall are primarily muted, like olive green, bronze red and light mustard yellow.  Not really "spring" colors in my opinion, but compared with all of the gray and black out there right now, it's something.

Some common themes are along the lines of this fall's trends such as black and white, layering, oversized bags, embellished sleeves, poufy skirts and obtuse ruffles.  New for spring are doily patterns, artsy florals, horizontal stripes (yes, that's right - to make all of our hips look bigger), and some bold, wacky modern patterns.  I'm no fashion expert though, so don't go turning your Grandma's hand woven doily tablecloths into a skirt just because I said it was coming into fashion.

Hats abounded on the runway, along with tailored and cropped suit jackets, short trenchcoats, cropped cardigans, strapless gowns & dresses, shimmery fitted tank dresses, deep v-necks on tops and dresses (for nursing moms),  (oversized and belt-sized) satin bows @ waist (with long tails), pencil thin belts, medium brown leather belts, short shorts, half leggings, Mary Jane ankle-strap shoes and overlapped thick strapped sandals.

Overall, the American designers presented some solid Ready to Wear collections. The designers who grabbed the most attention were Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, Michael Kors, Derek Lam, Proenza Schoeler, Ralph Lauren, Badgley Mischka, Peter Som, Tory Burch, Carmen Marc Valvo and Cynthia Rowley. From London, I liked the Emporio Armani show and the Paul Smith Women show.

My favorite photos, however, weren't actually of the clothes on the runway but what the real people wore to the shows.  The site has an interesting photo blog by "The Sartorialist" showcasing his photos of New York fashionistas and friends.


If you like fashion and looking for a pair of sunglasses, go online to find the perfect sunglasses for you. You can find anything from big womens sunglasses to aviator sunglasses. You can find different brands of sunglasses when you shop for shades online.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bad Writing Jobs in Film and TV Land

What is it about TV episode guides that dictates they must be poorly written and loaded with typos? Don't these people use grammar checkers? Don't they know grammar? Aren't they getting paid to write these little summaries for their networks? (Just pick any show and read its episode guide online - you'll see what I mean.)

And what about movie video summaries - "Jane and Martha went on a car ride that changed their lives forever." I'd be willing to bet 9/10 films have their blurbs including that little phrase. Get real. Get creative. Film is art, not revelation.

Let's not forget that most TV still is complete crap. My hopes were lifted when I was first introduced to "The West Wing" and learned there are gifted writers in television. But now with RealityTV taking over everything and Aaron Sorkin's latest fling not quite as hot as his last (IMHO, his legacy), I have to wonder what's next? Each new season, 1-2 shows come out with some writing respectable enough to merit watching them, but it's rare that one really blows me away.

Meanwhile over in Hollywood, there are sequels to movies like "Sixteen Candles" in the works. With all of the starving, wannabe screenwriters out there, they can't come up with better material than that?

Luckily there is still life in the big apple. Tom Stoppard, one of my favorite playwrights of all time, finally has his three-play, nine hour epic, "Coast of Utopia", staged at Lincoln Center, starring Ethan Hawke.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sir Elton, Captain & Knight

Last night's Elton John concert at the San Jose Arena (aka HP Pavilion), complete with a video backdrop and band, was a reminder of why people become musicians. These guys aren't out to prove anything - they just play because they love music and they love to perform. Sir Elton, who I believe was knighted as much for his philanthropy as for his career success, always has a genuine smile for his crowd and holds up his energy as well as can be expected from behind a piano keyboard.

I've been checking off older artists on my concert attendance list the past few years - groups I'd always wanted to see but the timing was never right, like Yes, Simple Minds and the Doobie Brothers and the rare masters like Simon & Garfunkel. I haven't seen Rush in a while but they all have this same sense to them when they play - their ease from playing together a long time permeates throughout the entire performance, showing that age has as its advantage the ability to be comfortable in their skins.

I missed Ray Cooper, Elton's sometimes percussionist, who I believe is up there with Neal Peart as two of the best percussionists ever. He had this crispness to his performance - a perfection not to be easily emulated, and he is just amazing to watch within his castle of instruments. I saw Elton & Ray perform together (just the two of them) in Ann Arbor back in 1993. I sat in the next to the last row in the way back of Chrysler arena and still was floored by them.

More recently, I saw Elton John play for the Star Ball, a benefit for the Nick Traina Foundation in San Francisco at the Ritz last April. Clearly this was a different crowd and venue than last night's show, but we sat about the same distance from the piano in each case. The difference was that in a smaller group, the knight was able to show his softer side and the kindness that makes him such a steady force on the benefit circuit. This is a man who deeply cares about causes and who uses his life experience and financial success to help gain attention for others. In the case of the Star Ball, the cause was manic depression and related mental illnesses, particularly cases pertaining to musicians. Danielle Steel hosted the event as she founded the organization for her late son, Nick Traina.

Having seen Elton John now by himself, with only a percussionist, with Billy Joel, in a ballroom, in indoor arenas and outdoor stadiums, from in front on the floor and in back near the rafters, I will say it really doesn't matter where he plays or where I sat, even turning 60, he still is an incredible performer, worthy of the name "Captain Fantastic". His new album, "The Captain and the Kid" debuts on Tuesday. He played seven songs from the album and I liked them - a little off the track from his recent albums.

Of course, it must be said that the house lit up when the classics were performed - as always - "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)", "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me", "Levon", "Daniel", "Funeral For A Friend" and "Your Song" delighted the audience.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Artists Ball Online Auction Open

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, located South of Market in San Francisco, is a unique arts space for both visual and performing arts. I used to go to their events (modern dance, film, photography) regularly when I lived a few blocks away in the city, but now it's more of an occasional thing. For the next month, anyone can support their organization through their online auction.

The auction includes some interesting art - modern and some classic photography, participation in a modern dance practice, a wacky shirt, a paper and paint model of a Kate Spade shoe and shoebox, and ink drawings. The biennial Artists Ball Six: Stanlee's Brain, featuring San Francisco event producer Stanlee Gatti, will be held on October 13. Anything that doesn't sell online by October 11 will go into silent auction the night of the ball.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Security Analysis Post 9/11

I have written a lot about security over the past several years. I don't call myself a security expert because I know a lot of real security experts, but having worked in the field a long time, I am quite knowledgeable on the subject so I thought I should weigh in on how we're doing since 9/11/2001.

National Security - Better & Worse
It's better because we now have funds being directed towards infrastructure costs that were needed such as securing water treatment facilities and mail protection. Unfortunately, there are also places that are inherently week and must remain so in order to be productive. Can you imagine searching every truck that went over the Bay Bridge to make sure it did not contain explosives? Traffic would be impossible.

National Security is worse because most of our military is elsewhere. If we were attacked at home again, depending on how we were attacked, we would not necessarily be able to respond rapidly. Also the Department of Homeland Security has become a major bureaucracy without much real accountability and that accounts for some of the lack of speed.

Air Travel Security - Better
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has become another huge entity. The government has poured tons of money into it, but in the end, it's still a guessing game as to what tactics the terrorists will try to use next and whether it will even involve transportation at all. Rules keep changing to meet with current estimates of threats, including banning liquids. However, there are always holes in that system. For example, powdered infant formula is still allowed from what I've read. It is possible to make bombs out of infant formula, for example.

Air travel security is better because people are paying more attention to what's at stake, TSA employees generally do a good job (although they tend to relax when the terror alert is low, which isn't necessarily the right thing to do) and they tend to pay more attention to social engineering. A few basic changes that were made soon after 9/11 like locking the cockpit made planes much more secure. There are still issues with securing the airports themselves. Unfortunately, requiring biometric identification for passports isn't necessarily the right direction either due to inherent flaws in most of the biometric systmes.

Computer Security - The Same
With computer and network security, the problem is decentralized. And it rests on the shoulders on every company and server administrator to keep the Internet secure. A nasty virus could be released from anywhere to cripple systems across the globe. But computer security always gets put on the back burner when money is tight because it doesn't directly make companies money (although it does save them money usually in the long run).

The Cybersecurity arm of the Department of Homeland Security still needs to gain its footing. It has changed leadership numerous times since its inception and the only places I've heard of that really sounds like the government is taking any action are in securing government labs more tightly and creating an FBI hacker army of sorts - a computer crime squad. The NSA (National Security Agency) was doing wiretaps on international calls for a while but now that has been determined to be unconstitutional. I wouldn't really call that security anyway - it was more of an investigatory method.

Local Response - Better
I think this area improved more from the failures in New Orleans than due to 9/11. Much was promised for local response, but again it's an issue of money. Security and training is expensive, so with a tough economy, local responders are the last rung on the ladder to get paid. But since we had another (natural this time) disaster, it brought attention to the weaknesses in this process. The City of Menlo Park and San Mateo County have both sent out mailers on Emergency Preparedness and I have noticed more information sessions available to residents over the past few years.

Overall - Better
It would be sad to think that all of the money, time and effort going into security was not yielding some results after five years. I think overall, security is better (but don't let that fool you - there's still a lot that needs to be done and I still think the administration has been weak in this area). Awareness has increased and that is the first and most vital step in improving security. Unfortunately, we need occasional reminders that there are still terrorists out there waiting to strike and that not every nation is friendly to us in order to stay on alert. It's a delicate balance that must be struck between security and productivity, but that is the challenge we continue to face today.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Shuttle Atlantis Mission Going Well

Friday, the only remaining Space Shuttle from the original fleet, Atlantis, blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA blogged the launch. It's amazing how many little things go into a shuttle launch as I learned at Space Camp (technically Space Academy, Level II) in 1989. The blog reminded me.

It features a number of the potential concerns - temperature, emergency landing sites, recovery for the rocket boosters, etc. When you read about these details, it becomes clear why the space program is so expensive. (But don't be intimidated by all of the acronyms - they tend to explain most of them except MECO (main engine cut-off).)

This mission is a routine space station parts delivery mission to complete the station. "STS-115 will resume the on-orbit construction of the station with the delivery of the P3/4 truss and a new set of solar arrays. After the truss is attached to the station, the STS-115 crew will conduct three spacewalks to outfit the truss and to prepare the arrays for operation. The solar arrays are slated to be unfurled on flight day 6."

I remember in 1989 I learned all about the original space station "Freedom" design that was planned and we had a mock-up of it that we used for training. The ISS (International Space Station) we have now is different from what was planned, but it's not as bad as many originally thought it would be.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Fashion Week: Shows, Galas & Rocks!

I've written more about fashion this week than I usually would, but for good reason - it's Fashion Week. Actually, that term pertains to New York Fashion Week which started yesterday and goes through the end of next week including a variety of Ready to Wear fashion shows featuring primarily American (and mostly New Yorker) designers showing their Spring 2006-2007 collections. Yes, that's right. It's not even officially fall yet but spring collections are on the runway. That's just the way it works.

So far, BCBG & Alice Roi are the biggest shows that have taken place yet. Later this week will be (roughly in order) Diane von Furstenberg, Thakoon, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Reem Acra, Proenza Schouler, Marc Jacobs, Monique Lhuillier, Bill Blass, Derek Lam, Behnaz Sarafpour, Narciso Rodriguez, Michael Kors, Badgley Mischka, Vera Wang, Calvin Klein, Tory Burch, Zac Posen, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Edun.

Milan and Paris fashion weeks are September 23 - October 1 and October 1 to October 9 respectively. For you guys who have read this far, that's when the sexy Italian and French swimsuits and slinky dresses come out. Check out for that action.

Here in the Bay Area, it was a different kind of fashion week - time to bring out the gala gowns for the annual San Francisco Symphony Opening Gala and San Francisco Opera Opening Gala. I usually attend the SF Symphony event but decided this year was a good year to attend the opera - MTT wasn't conducting any of my favorites and the opera sounded like a good choice. It turns out I was right, but we didn't end up going due to my prolonged recovery. (Still blogging from bed.)

In any case, the news and photos of last night's soiree made me really wish I could've been there. The San Francisco Opera (anyone know why their site is a .com vs. a .org?) performed Giuseppe Verdi's "Un Ballo in Masxhera" ("A Masked Ball") with Deborah Voight as its diva du jour. Some people even arrived in masks. David Gockley, the new Opera Director, has been getting some good press.

And for more fashion fun, Elton John hosted "Fashion Rocks" at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night, aired last night on CBS. Performers included David Bowie, Billy Idol, Duran Duran, and Gwen Stefani. Sorry I didn't give out more advanced warning on this one - not sure if/when it will be on again. Tivo is the project manager for that. I just delegate.

For Elton John fans, check out AT&T's Blue Room tomorrow night, Sept. 10 at 7pm EST for EJ's new songs from his new album, "The Captain and the Kid", to be released September 19. We have Rocket Club tickets for his concert in San Jose on the 16th if I'm feeling up to it. (I'll blog it if we go.)

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Friday, September 08, 2006

My Neural Processor

I wrote a play back in 1992, "Invasion of Cyberspace", where the heroine had what I called a 'neural processor'. Basically it was an extra memory bank for contacts and data storage that connected directly into her brain. If only I had one of those today.

I've spent much of the past year in bed during pregnancy and recovery from some birth-related complications and using a laptop during this time hasn't been as easy as it might seem. I can't quite ever contort myself into the right position and most of them end up painful, so blogging is about the only form of writing that I can withstand - short snippets of writing. E-mail qualifies too, I suppose.

In any case, after spending a lot of time not only in bed resting and also nursing, I've done a great deal of thinking that would have been fabulous to document somehow. Sometimes it was an exercise in creating mnemonic devices so I would remember post nursing what I wanted to write but it was never quite the same. When the muse hits, it needs to be written or it's lost. And sometimes I don't have a hand free so I can't write down notes. I just want to think a thought and have it logged. Enter the neural processor.

Just think of it - a way to save all of those contacts for direct access at all times... yeah, I know I can do that from my Treo but not in the dark - the light could wake the baby. And if I'm trying to get to sleep and I just want to record a thought, or if I've woken from a dream and want to replay a scene - why can't we put that stuff on these new terabyte storage drives? What else are they for anyway?

I read an article a few years ago that led me to believe this kind of technology really isn't that far off. If I recall correctly, there's a guy who developed something that he was testing on himself that was a chip that somehow connected into his brain actually recording some of his rudimentary thoughts and muscle signals. And I found that British Telecommunications P.L.C.'s 'Soul Catcher' is a project that "seeks to develop a computer that can be implanted in the brain to complement human memory and computational skills."

Papers are already being written on the ethics of the topic. Who cares? It's my brain that I can fry if I want to! And of course with any avant garde invention, the military (in this case, the Air Force) has to put in their 2 cents for "Cyber Situation Vision" in 'battlespace'.

I'm sure something like my neural processor will exist in the next fifty years and I'll probably be an early adopter, but I really wish I had one right now. Just think of it - I could become a pack rat for mental junk. No more forgetting peoples' birthdays or favorite recipes - it would all be right there at my neuron tips.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fall Fashion Trends

It's the time of year I lust most after clothes - when all of the fall fashion magazines have arrived. Fall/Winter 2006 collections are out in stores and people are starting to wear them. Today, the Silicon Valley Moms Blog is featuring fashion posts so I decided to publish the list I compile each season for what's in style. (See also - my post, "Fall Trends That Go Overboard" today on that blog.)

Rather than finding this an annoyance and thinking half my wardrobe is outdated, I look at it as an opportunity to wear things I haven't worn in a while and combine outfits in new ways. It's a chance to find a few new gems while shopping and have a little fun.


thick knits
thick stripes
volume/big proportions
faux fur

black & white
black & gray
jewel tones
black & gold

oversized sunglasses
oversized bags
pocket-sized bags
opera-length gloves
high-neck blouses
cropped jackets
big turtlenecks
big sweaters
puffed shirts
high-collared blouses
tuxedo tops
ballerina cocktail dresses
metallic dresses
strapless gowns
double belt
super-wide belts
bell shaped skirts
micro minis
pencil skirts
skinny pants & jeans
50's style baggy pants
platform shoes
spectator shoes
ballet flats
all flats
thin boots
flat boots
long boots

hot designers:
Louis Vuitton
Piazza Sempione
Juicy Couture
Derek Lam
Proenza Schoeler
Christian Louboutin
Donna Karan
Tori Burch


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gary Hart's Latest Book Tells Democrats to Grow a Spine

Released today, former Senator Gary Hart's latest book, The Courage of Our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats, is full of nuggets blasting both parties for their ineptness. He challenges Dems to rise to the occasion in 2006 and 2008, refocus on the core principles that made the party strong - "commitment to the common good; internationalism; civic duty and participation; equality for all" and hold to their convictions rather than nearly always bending toward centrism.

See an excerpt at the Huffington Post. Hart writes: "security has become more intricate, and simply punching someone in the nose or unilaterally invading his country may not achieve it."

I had the unique opportunity to work for Senator Hart in 2003 during his "testing the waters" campaign for President. He decided not to run, but during the six months I worked on developing the Internet campaign, I read and a lot of his writing and learned that this man - no matter whether you agree with him or not - is a brilliant scholar and prolific writer.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Slate Politics

For some "non-partisan" races in California like the city council where I live, a phenomenon called "slate politics" is often employed. It's basically the same thing as partisan politics with the exception of the primary process. So a group of community (vs. official party) leaders get together and choose who they want to run as a slate in the general election. It's a different process because it seems to require more pandering than the usual party process but from my perspective, it looks like the same thing.

In Menlo Park, the city where I live, there are three seats open for this upcoming election. Two of the three incumbents have announced they will run for re-election and then their slate will add a new person who will run for the "open" seat. Then the opposing slate will put up three other people who have been active in city politics for the past few to several years. It's easy for communities to band together like this in campaigns because they can save money on printing, save volunteer time by distributing multiple flyers, etc. And they have a better chance of getting someone elected who fits within their comfort zone on certain issue platforms.

This process is tough on the candidates because it becomes increasingly difficult for them to make names for themselves as individuals. And it's tough for voters because they are left essentially with only two options - one slate or the other. It is challenging to discern how one candidate might vote and it is hard to find moderate candidates. Also, candidates often hide their party affiliations so as to not offend potential voters. I often end up abstaining or writing in names on one or more slot if I'm not comfortable with all three, for instance.

It's no different in the sense than what happens in the typical general election after parties have selected their candidates except that I am not a participant in the primary process. Frankly, I would prefer a party system on the local level where voters can participate equally through a legitimate primary process and have full disclosure on candidate affiliations. I had a few friends considering running in the Menlo Park City Council race who were basically told not to run and for them it's disheartening. I would've liked to have seen them try.

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