Saturday, March 31, 2007

Eco-Fads in Magazines & Atherton Green Event

Green is the new black, gray, white, and everything in-between this month. With Earth Day around the corner, everyone is jumpimg on the eco-bandwagon. San Francisco led the publication frenzy, with Town & Country and 7x7 not far behind. Oddly enough, Town & Country was the only one to include a section printed on recycled paper. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of research put together by each of these magazines on sustainable and environmental design and lifestyle options. Definitely a step in the right direction.

I'm helping with Atherton's Earth Week celebration on April 21st, putting together some eco fashion for the event. If you live in the Bay Area, come join the event - it's open to everyone, not just members of the Atherton community. If you don't live here, check out the site anyway because it is a fabulous model of how to educate people about how to make an environmental impact locally. (More news to come as we complete the planning.)

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Arthur Miller Theatre Finally Opening Thursday

Arthur Miller is one of those names that always comes up when American Playwrights are discussed. He first wrote plays at my alma mater, the University of Michigan. I don't know if any were ever produced there when he was a student, but I certainly have fond memories of my playwriting classes and the play I wrote/directed/co-produced. Miller was lucky to live a long life and knew a theatre was being built at UofM in his name but was unable to see its completion.

According to a Detroit Free Press article, the Walgreen Drama Center, a building named after its primary donor, Charles Walgreen Jr, (former UofM grad in pharmacy school, founder of Walgreens) houses the Arthur Miller Theatre and the first production will be performed this Thursday. It is, fittingly, "Playing for Time" by Arthur Miller. Sadly, Mr. Walgreen also passed away during the construction, but he made it to 100 years old! (Kinda makes me want to shop at Walgreens more, although I'm already a frequent customer.)

I spent half of my time at UofM on North Campus where engineering classes were held, and half my time on Central Campus where drama, literature and general courses were held. It seems odd to me that the arts and engineering are now all in one place. So much has changed since I was there - campus looks so different now. I'm actually sad they will be replacing the Frieze Building with a dormitory, although I'm sure it's a smart move. I have fond memories of many classes in the Frieze Building - Russian and Writing for TV being two that come to mind.

I'm glad to see that Michigan is making a stronger commitment to the arts. They always had good programs, but I felt they haven't been known for their arts as much as for business, engineering, sports and other areas. Maybe the time has come for the alma mater of Lawrence Kasdan, Judith Guest and James Earl Jones to take its place as a wellspring of great performing artists. (Not that I'm biased.)

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ballet San Jose Trades in Pointe for Blue Suede Shoes

Back after rave reviews for previous performances of this piece, the Ballet San Jose is currently performing "Blue Suede Shoes", a dance ensemble paying homage to Elvis and others during that era. Two weekends ago, the ballet hosted their annual gala, this year entitled the Blue Suede Shoes Gala, and it was one of the best parties I've attended in a long time and featured a few of the dancers from this week's performance. It closes on Sunday (I'll be at that one), so get your tickets while you can. Due to the new ownership of the Elvis brand and permission issues, this ballet may never be performed again. Last call!

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mountain Lions & Leopards & Lynxes, Oh My!

Last night, I attended an event for Leopards, Etc. that brought big cats up close to the attendees. For a small venue in Los Altos Hills, they packed in more people with cameras than are at major philanthropic events in San Francisco. This was way better than celebrity-watching, IMHO. These big cats, brought down from Occidental, CA, where they run amongst Redwoods and Oaks when not working for the organization, represent all of the threatened and endangered big cat species around the world.

The Leopards, Etc. organization provides educational programs where the big cats go out and show the world how special they are. I've never seen such gigantic paws on such gentle creatures. They also raise money for other organizations, like the Snow Leopard Conservancy that saves Snow Leopards from being stoned to death when they encroach on livestock. These other organizations funded raise awareness around the world by putting up fences and teaching locals that it is possible to live in harmony with big cats around the corner. My favorite cat at the event was a Siberian Lynx, named Oksana. Leopards, Etc. allows "adoptions" where you can adopt-a-cat from a distance, like many other animal organizations allow.

For Bay Area locals, you can see the big cats in action at Foothill College at 2pm on Sunday, March 25.

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Clinton Foundation's Next Generation of Philanthropic Leaders

If you've never seen Bill Clinton speak, this is a relatively inexpensive way to do so. It's a nonpartisan, tax-deductible event and benefits some wonderful causes. Please join Chuck and I at the event. Let me know if you would like to attend (post a comment or email sairy[at]sairy[dot]com) and we'll get an official invitation sent your way. Normally I wouldn't post full event info, but since there's no web page yet to submit RSVPs, this will have to do for now.


Millennium Network's Inaugural Reception Benefiting the William J. Clinton Foundation
with President Bill Clinton

Saturday, April 14, 2007
Fairmont Hotel
950 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA

Tickets: $100 (Tax-Deductible)

“President Clinton's vision is to encourage the next generation of leaders and philanthropists to address the challenges of global interdependence through the Clinton Foundation Millennium Network, which seeks to engage under 40- year-olds in the work of the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation delivers tangible results to meet pressing issues in the United States," such as:

- Fight Against HIV/AIDS
- Poverty
- Global Warming
- Urban Development
- Childhood Obesity

All Contributions benefit the Clinton Foundation, which are also tax deductible. If you are unable to attend, you are encouraged to donate in support the organization.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Green Day

I go in waves as to where I post and on what topic, depending on what's going on in my life at the time... this week I've spent most of my time writing about fashion and posting to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. Last week, I was tuning up technical articles for a couple of clients. remains an amalgamation of all my interests, but I'm going to try and do a better job linking people up with news and what I'm doing elsewhere from this site.

Today, I wrote a post for the SVMoms Blog about how it really is easy to be green - environmentally, that is. I encourage anyone who wants to take a few small steps at home to make a difference to check out the post. Don't forget to visit Nadine Weil's site, Heart of Green. Wear it on the inside and on the outside. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Have a green beer and carpool (with someone else driving).

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Fashion Week Live, SF Luxe & Sergey's Story

Yesterday, I attended Fashion Week Live in San Francisco. The mother of all fashion shows, it took my breath away. See my detailed post on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. SFluxe linked to my post and several other good ones as well. Great photos.

Just before the post above is one linking to a fantastic article about Sergey Brin (for those of you who have met him at my parties) that tells the story of his emigration from Russia which I found really interesting, having never felt comfortable asking about that myself. Even when you've heard the Google story a zillion times, this one is different - it reminds me of how scary the USSR was and how courageous those who fought to leave had to be. I've always admired Sergey for his tenacity, but this article, focusing largely on his Jewish roots, attempts to credit some of where it came from. And it cracked me up because my husband always runs into him at Costco.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What's Next?

As this site and blog have largely been an experiment to date, I'm now working on a new plan to take it to the next level.

I have two very diverse types of traffic on this site, so it will be undergoing a transition in the next few weeks to months, depending on what I decide in terms of design and development. Also, since my posting goes in waves in terms of whether I'm blogging about politics, technology, arts or something else that particular day or hour, I've decided to offload some of the content so it's better suited to encouraging return visitors and community participation.

My current thoughts are to put my consulting and writing business off onto its own site (something that is much overdue considering I help other people with their sites all the time - although I've discovered this is a common phenomenon that the people who know the most about the web have the least amount of time to put into their own sites). The business site will host my blog about technology, politics, startups, security and the like.

I'm going to start a new fun fashion & style blog with my friend, Beth B, so the audience that comes here to read about that (a very popular topic) can move to that site. I also still plan to contribute to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog for culture, parenting, and local posts. will likely remain as it is, only acting as a mini-hub to direct people to wherever they want to find the writing that most interests them (Security Focus, SV Moms Blog, my new technology blog or upcoming fashion blog). I may give it a design face lift in any case. I'll keep you posted... some people have already expressed great ideas to me via email of how to proceed. I welcome other thoughts as well.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Promise

I saw Hillary Clinton speak a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco. She packed a ballroom at the Sheraton Palace Hotel full of people for lunch. Most in the audience were women who heard about the event through word of mouth and womens' political organizations in the area, since the event was organized by Susie Tompkins Buell and Emily's List. I don't know how much money the event raised but it must've been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I've blogged before about how wonderful it is that a woman is finally a viable candidate both with respect to qualifications and fund raising, but I had no particular knowledge of Hillary Rodham Clinton's skills as an orator or policy maker beyond what I've read in the news before the SF event. What surprised me that afternoon as I sat eating sushi shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the Bay Area's most powerful women, was not what I expected. In fact, I tried very hard to go into the event with no expectations at all, but with an open mind to consider this person as a candidate in her own right - not as the wife of Bill Clinton, but as someone with deep policy experience, a Senator, lawyer, wife, mother, and someone who spent 8 years working closely with the President in the White House. I knew she was savvy politically and I knew she has gained a reputation for working across the aisle in Congress. What I didn't know was how impressed I would be.

First of all, I've seen a lot of candidates speak. She has skills that match the best of them. But more importantly, she did a few things to surprise me. A) She listened to her audience, without just talkinig about her agenda. She spoke about issues that concerned us. B) She responded to questions with detailed answers, not just canned sound bites. She talked for at least ten minutes about how to improve education and gave actual examples and thought-out policy changes. I've never seen a politician give such detail before. She spoke a lot about how important pre-school is, for example. It really made me think more about that issue than I ever had before. C) She admitted her mistakes - particularly regarding her attempts to work on universal healthcare in the past.

As someone who has worked for the government in security, I'm always concerned about any details that relate to security detail and the other thing that interested me about this event was the level of Secret Service attachment Senator Clinton has. I assumed there would be some, but as a Senator, presidential candidate and former first lady, she has a serious security staff and motorcade. This got me thinking about another issue that I don't think most people have considered with respect to her run: she's a huge target. So many people dislike her for a variety of reasons, so she needs that security. And on top of that, she's taking a major additional risk becoming a presidential candidate. People can say what they want about her political agenda and formulating a path to run for president for years, but it takes a lot of courage to put up with the kind of criticism and risk.

The question on everybody's minds, of course, is: Can she WIN? This is an incredibly unique case, so my answer still is that I don't know. Of course Bill Clinton and political pundits with experience say she can, but they have to say that. Hillary herself says: "we won't know until we try." (She was referring to getting a woman elected in general, but since she's the only woman with a chance right now, she's our sample.) I just don't know. It's a numbers game and she has to convince enough moderate and liberal voters to vote for her. Most conservatives detest her and will never consider voting for her and will fight tooth and nail to defeat her. But it is theoretically possible that if she swung enough moderates who see her work across the aisle that she could do it. And if she could capture the majority of the women's vote (which I think she can), that will be huge. That's assuming she can win the Democratic nomination, which I believe she can. I don't know if she will, of course, but she's definitely a strong enough candidate that she's viable in that area - unlike Joe Biden, for example, who just doesn't have a chance at this point. We'll have to see how the debates play out with Barack Obama, the youthful favorite, and Chris Dodd, who I believe is a dark horse.

The bottom line is that Hillary Clinton is worth considering. Take a look at her site. Don't count her out. Read about her policy plans. Go see her speak next time she's in town. The one thing that I took from the event was that day 1 in the White House, she will hit the ground running and make major policy changes to improve the environment, education, health care, and foreign policy. Whether she can lead as well as she can collaborate remains to be seen, but she definitely has promise.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Treading Carefully Online & "Good Morning America"/ABC News How-Tos

Internet defamation is hardly new, but the way it can happen to younger people in situations where they are hurt before even entering the workplace is a serious issue. "Good Morning America" put up a segment on this today and I was shown as an Internet privacy expert.

The ABC News video lasts 5 minutes and 22 seconds, of which I'm on for about 6 seconds (1:38-1:44). What's interesting is actually the advice delivered by Tory Johnson slightly later in the segment, also repeated in an article on the ABC News site. The article is entitled "How to Avoid Cyberspace" but that's not really a practical or realistic piece of advice in itself - I'm not sure why they called it that. She's not advocating avoiding the Internet and we all realize that's impossible. She does provide some good tips on fighting and preventing defamatory remarks.

Also, as noted by Kurt Opsahl in yesterday's Washington Post piece, you can sue and you can fight the negative information by posting positive information. I would add to that it's almost easier to post it in other locations on the web rather than getting into direct confrontations on the site in question. The Internet, unlike tabloids, is a 2-way street so you can control the information out there about you to some extent.

Other things I explained to the interviewer:
1) I advise my clients - even those who are not political - to think of themselves as candidates when they go online and only put up limited information about themselves that shows them in the most positive light.
2) Treat the people who are causing the trouble like hackers or school bullies - you can't completely avoid them, but you can ignore them - what they really crave is attention.
3) Remember that this type of damage fades over time and whatever's most popular and current out there on the web is going to be what comes up first in search engines.
4) Don't attack the search companies like Google and don't blame the Internet - they are merely vehicles for information and do not have any malicious intent.
5) You can make a difference with what companies do when they are pre-screening potential employees by contacting them and asking them to avoid certain sites.
6) The market drives this activity to a certain extent - if sites get a bad reputation for hosting misinformation, they will lose traffic and other sites will take over the dominant spot in the social networking sphere.
7) Utilize anonymity if necessary, but sparingly - it can still sometimes be traced.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lessons in Internet Culture on Tomorrow's "Good Morning America"

I was interviewed today as an expert on Internet culture for a segment on "Good Morning America" tomorrow morning about Internet defamation. The piece is related to the Washington Post article, "Harsh Words Die Hard on the Web" that broke today about law students who believe that derogatory misinformation online hurt their chances for jobs after law school. I'll blog more about this issue later after seeing the segment - there's a lot to be said about the dangers involved, especially for young people. I was told the video would most likely be online later in the day.

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I thought I was being creative coming up with the term, 'technolinguist', but then I discovered it's already being used in a variety of locations - the word nerds and Languate Technologies Research Centre in Canada as two of them. Several individuals use the term as an alias on various blogs as well. In any case, I think the word should be used more frequently in the context of explaining technology to the masses.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Vogue Letter & Linking Pain With Depression

According to a number of research studies, there's a link between depression and pain. Essentially they get into a vicious cycle and as a result of the trauma to the nervous system in both cases, they effect each other. I'm no expert on this topic, but I thought it was impressive that Vogue magazine covered it in a riveting personal anecdote. So I wrote a letter to the editor that was published in this month's (March) issue thanking them for shedding light on the subject. As a popular womens' magazine, it's important they feature issues like these in addition to fashion and lifestyle pieces.

While recovering from nerve trauma resulting from my daughter's birth-delivery and previously with repetitive strain injuries, I suffered from depression. It's no surprise that it can cause a person to be blue when s/he can't get out and do normal activities for whatever reason, but when I learned from doctors after my recent bout about the relationship between pain and depression, it made more sense as to why it's difficult to heal and break that cycle for many people - particularly those with chronic problems like back pain. For anyone who suffers from either chronic pain and/or depression, I recommend they learn more about the relationship between the two.

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