Friday, August 31, 2007

SVMoms, Politics, "Good Morning America" and Child Rearing

It's really late here and I've had a long day out, but I wanted to remark about some happenings... I write often about politics both here and on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. Today, ABC's "Good Morning America", where I was interviewed last fall about Internet privacy, covered a post by one of the other SV Moms, Rebecca Eisenberg. Rebecca wrote a post giving her own opinion about what the New York Times said about candidates taking their kids on the campaign trail and gave her opinion on the matter. I commented on Rebecca's initial post so I won't repeat what I wrote there, but I was trying to bring out points others didn't make.

The comments in general proceeded on a level still quite tame compared to most political blogs aka "you're wrong, but not totally", back and forth, which spurred Rebecca to consider her original post, make some changes, and then write a follow-up post about it. On "Good Morning America", Cokie Roberts spoke about the reality that a lot of candidates have young children and they each have to make decisions about taking them on the campaign trail. I think that's the reality of modern campaigning. Each candidate has to make a decision what's best for his or her child(ren) as it applies, and if what they try first doesn't work so well, then they readjust. I'm fascinated by this discussion because it's so important to many parents (and voters). Follow the discussion at the SVMoms Blog.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007 Presidential Fundraising Widget now has a really cool Presidential Fundraising Widget. The widget is configurable in terms of candidates' names, parties, colors, graphing type, and font sizes. Check it out at

I wanted to put it up on my blog here but the embed code isn't being pasted in its entirety into their box and I didn't feel like spending very long looking at the source... anyway it's a fun widget to play with on their site.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Emerge Seeking Northern California Democratic Women Interested in Running for Office

I'd always thought when I was young that perhaps I might run for office someday. I served in various board positions on student organizations growing up and then became elected as student government president for the engineering college at the University of Michigan where I gained some of the best leadership training possible through university and affiliated programs. Some of the student leaders at UofM were the best I've encountered.

Then I graduated and moved to the Bay Area where I rapidly became involved in my job and realized that holding positions of leadership was very difficult as a newbie in the workforce. I got my break to become a manager and began participating in more local nonprofit organizations as a volunteer, learning the ropes and meeting people. The idea of serving in a public office was not on my radar.

My passion through college was the intersection between technology and society, including a lot of policy-related issues so I became involved in organizations like the Association for Computing Machinery and its U.S. Public Policy Committee, USACM. Then I interned for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and became a contract project manager for CPSR, the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility under a grant. I was excited to finally be putting my energies toward what I considered important issues surrounding something I was passionate about and knowledgeable about - technology. I thought every once in a while that it would be cool to be involved in a political campaign if I could find a candidate also passionate about things meaningful to me, but I hadn't found one.

Finally, I got into politics the way many do - I helped a friend of the family with a campaign - and I was hooked. In my case, the family friend was former Senator Gary Hart, who was contemplating another presidential run in 2003. I used my technical and writing skills to manage Internet strategy, launch his blog and edit online content. Through that, I met some incredible people both locally and nationally and I learned that although there are some in politics who are just in it for power, most people truly do it because they honestly want to make a difference.

That leads me to Emerge. I've mentioned Emerge once or twice in the past, but I wanted to tell a little bit about my story and why I'm so enthralled by the program. Emerge America trains pro-choice Democratic women around the country to run for office and work on campaigns.  I heard about it from a friend of mine who graduated in their first class in 2003. I applied for the 2004 program but didn't have the local experience at the time, so after helping out with local campaigns and learning a little more about politics, I reapplied in 2005 and was accepted into the Emerge California program. The program meets one weekend a month in locations around the Bay Area, and I met some of the brightest, kindest, most interesting women I've ever known.

Emerge provided a variety of opportunities for me and opened many doors. I learned about campaign nuts and bolts, fundraising, public speaking, network building, and the legislative process. I sat at a table with Nancy Pelosi and other program members. I was part of an event with Jackie Speier, who I later worked for on her campaign for Lieutenant Governor. I met several other notable local women like Dianne Feinstein, and I had the chance to see Anna Eshoo, Silicon Valley's representative to Congress, whom I admire. I haven't run for office, but I applied to and was appointed to a Menlo Park's Environmental Quality Commission, where I continued to learn more about how local government works.

It can be difficult for women to find out about Emerge, so that's why I'm posting about it here. I also want to emphasize that Emerge trains women of all ages, all ethnicities, all sexual orientations, all professions. (Although I've noticed at least half of the alumni are moms.) The only requirements are that the women be pro-choice, Democrats, have a record of community involvement, and a serious interest in running for office in the near future. Counties where Emerge California is recruiting include Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano and Sonoma. Several program graduates have run for office and been elected. (Stats: 114 alumnae, 17 runs for office, 10 wins, 3 more running for November '07, and approx. 60 board and commission appointments.)

Information sessions are this week - Monday in Palo Alto at 6:30pm at 2091 Barbara Drive, and Wednesday in San Jose at 6:30pm at 1191 Carolyn Avenue. To RSVP, please email the Emerge California Executive Director, Gretchen Schoenstein, gretchen[at]emergeca[dot]org. Applications are available on the Emerge California web site. They are due September 24, interviews will be in late October and/or early November, and the program begins December of 2007.

(Also posted at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.)

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Alek Wek's Incredible Journey

If you can find a copy of August's Vogue, check out the article "From Refugee to Runway Star" about Alek Wek's journey from her life as a girl with severe psoriasis in the Sudan to England where she worked hard, studied and was discovered by a model scout, later to become an international supermodel. It's excerpted from her upcoming book, Alek, coming out next Tuesday the 28th. Puts things into perspective.

(Also posted at


William Gibson's Latest Novel

Spook Country, I read in a recent Wired interview that William Gibson's latest is more of a spy novel than sci-fi, so I decided to pick it up one day at the Stanford Bookstore and start reading... it had been a few years since my last foray of Gibson's work - Idoru, I think it was - and I thought it was about time to pick up another. I've always been a fan, since Neuromancer first came out, but this book seemed to come from a different genre all together. Until I began reading.

The character who Gibson first introduces the reader to is a woman journalist who is technically astute and a risk-taker. I like her already. She finds herself in unpredictable circumstances, as do many of Gibson's characters, and although it's a book set now rather than in the near future cyberpunk timeframe, the world he creates around these characters still has a similarly gritty feel because of the way he crafts the language as well as the story. It fascinates me.

Gibson has an essence in his writing that I always loved. Somehow through the depth of his character creation and his ability to craft stories through a mellifluous cornucopia of language, he develops novels of a deeper quality than most modern authors. I've noticed two types of successful authors - type a) churning out 1-2 books a year, following a formula, providing wonderful stories that entertain a broad audience and type b) developing through great detail in research and/or language more complex chronicles. Gibson falls into the b category. Neither, in my opinion, is better than the other; they are different styles that work for different writers. Isaac Asimov was type a. He wasn't trying to be James Joyce. Nor, I'm guessing, is Gibson, but he seems to fit more into type b. I like both.

Anyway, I digress. I haven't finished Spook Country yet, but I shall report back when I do. So far, it doesn't disappoint.

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Vote in BlogHers Act Poll on Global Healthcare

BlogHers Act is taking on a year-long initiative to make an impact in an area selected by BlogHer members. We voted and the topic selected was global healthcare, but since that is so broad, we're trying to narrow it down some. Here's a poll on sub-topics. You can select more than one...

Here's the related post. My choices were clean water and training healthcare workers. I'm very passionate about the maternal healthcare issue, but I think that clean water supercedes it - if you have a bunch of babies that can't drink clean water...

I think 3 action items for the campaign would be great:
1) Clean water campaign
2) Train healthcare workers
3) Provide birthing kits to communities

I think these could all 3 go together - the clean water is harder because it's related to infrastructure, but the other two are more easily achieved... anyway this may be biting off more than we can chew, but raising awareness is the first step.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

My Review of the iPhone

I'm a late early adopter often... I like to see what other people think of things before getting the first version, or I hop on for the second version rather than wasting money on something brand new. I wasn't planning on buying an iPhone on the first round after I heard they didn't have keyboards, but when I first heard about the concept - an Apple phone-pda-ipod combo, I was all over it.

Fast forward to last week when my Treo 650 suffered from a severe stroke and I was forced to decide whether to get another refurbed version, get a new one, or try the iPhone including switching from Sprint to AT&T, whose customer service I never liked. Once I used an iPhone of a friend's, however, I was sold. I haven't read a lot about what other people think about their iPhones because honestly I haven't had the time, but I have heard the buzz. In any case, this is my report.

Here's what I like:
1) The resolution is awesome - being able to view photos and videos on such a great small screen is major.
2) Being able to check email with a real email reader that looks nice and being able to send email from that program is also major for me.
3) Auto-syncing with iPhoto, iTunes, iCal, Mail and Safari is nice. Very nice.
4) It's about time they put a speaker on an igadget... It's great to play songs or video when you don't have a headset handy. Better quality than I would've expected as well.

Here's what I don't like:
a) Apple doesn't have a really good task manager. I was hoping iCal would have been upgraded by now to include a better system for managing daily todos and lits, but it hasn't. So I'm going to have to hack together some sort of new system, after I had just gotten used to the one on the Palm. This is a major negative in my book.
b) The camera UI is a little weird and a little slow.
c) In general, I'd like more preferences, and I'm not a fan of the preferences within preferences and multi-levels when editing contacts - it screams of Windoze to me. Ick.
d) The absense fo a cut-and-paste feature bothers me. I'd like to be able to copy a phone number from a web site and paste it into contacts, for example.
e) I'm sure everyone feels this after having iPods that hold 40 Gigs and more - I want more space for data! I'm sure that will be provided in the next generation(s) but it's amazing how quickly you can use up 8 Gigs.

Overall, I'm pleased. I wish more software companies worked better together in general in terms of data transfer - all of my contacts from Palm have been mangled so I have to manually clean-up all of my data which takes a lot of time. Calendar entries came across ok, but not contacts. And again, my todos are lost in limbo-land until I come up with a solution that works Excel. We'll see how that goes.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Temporarily Overloaded

Sorry for not posting in nearly a week for anyone who actually comes more often than that to check what I write... I'm a little overextended at the moment with family visiting in town, my daughter starting preschool next week, my husband on sabbatical (and some related family travel), publisher negotiations, work client projects, political advising, and a couple of potential startup opportunities.

On top of all of this, my Treo suffered a major stroke and although I'd backed it up fine, it's been a real pain to use and cost a lot of extra time in trying to a) fix it and b) decide whether to just replace it with an iPhone. (My daughter keeps saying "iCat" so she must know about some new product that's coming out soon that we don't... or maybe she just wants to turn on iChat and can't pronounce it right.)

In any case, I have about 20 posts planned to write soon so I will do what I can soon. There are some great events coming up in nonprofit, arts and political realms as well so I'll try to get those up when I get a chance.

Thanks to everyone who comes back to visit this site. I really appreciate your interest in what I write here and in my writing in general.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Two Interesting Presidential Election Stats Sites

Chuck found these also...

Presidential Candidates on the Issues - this is an interesting table that really lays things out, but you have to know what they mean by each issue in order to understand the table.

David Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - includes polls and predictions for this year's election showing Democrats winning the general and showing Clinton winning the Democrats.

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Hillary Clinton in SF on August 12 - $250 for Young Professionals

I'll be out of town for this, but the Bay Area LGBT Community and The Young Professionals of San Francisco for Hillary invite you to a cocktail reception in support of the Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Sunday, August 12, 2007 at Trader Vic’s, 555 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco. VIP tickets are $2300 and the general reception begins at 5:30 and is $250 for young professionals. RSVP here.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Kos's Keynote

If you didn't make it to the Yearly KOS convention, you can still see and read Kos's keynote. It's an inspiring look at what one person can really do to make a difference given the technology we now have at our fingertips.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

StumbleUpon and South Park Create-A-Character Game

Chuck has become addicted to StumbleUpon and has been flooding my inbox with his stumblings... I haven't gotten to half of them, but this one caught my eye and I must admit, it's really fun - a South Park Create-A-Character game. I created a Kenny, Angel of Death, complete with a halo and wings, splattered with blood and wearing a Slayer logo on his shirt, carrying a chainsaw to complete the look and with the spooky forest behind him. You'd really have to see it for the full effect. It's like playing virtual paper dolls with your favorite cartoon.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Exciting News for Hillary Clinton Supporters

Hillary supporters can be excited about a few things - first, Dianne Feinstein endorsed Hillary Clinton last week. In terms of powerful Democratic women and California, this is very significant. I got a tip a few weeks ago this was going to happen, but it's always inspiring when it hits the news. I met Senator Feinstein once and found her to be both gracious and a good listener. Senator Clinton is fortunate to have her support.

Second, Hillary is actively leading on more issues I care about like disability rights and the environment. According to the ADA agenda on her web site, she believes "we must shift our orientation towards a new approach that helps those with disabilities thrive and reach their potential in the workplace, community and nation." I wrote about this in yesterday's post on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. Everyone needs a more flexible work place and I believe, based on factual anecdotes presented from former members of Senator Clinton's staff, that she feels strongly about this and will push forward on the issue in office.

On the environment, families, and health, she's reintroduced the Family Asthma Act to "improve our ability to examine the environmental pollutants that are linked to asthma." It's not just asthma that's a problem - lower income families often live near toxic dumps and factories where all kinds of environmental pollutants get into the air and water causing cancer and now there's some proof of links to autism. My father worked on environmental class action lawsuits and saw first hand what Erin Brokovich and others found was affecting hundreds of families. And for those who think this is not a key environmental issue, think again - how do you expect families who can't afford solar power and new appliances to make changes if their needs aren't addressed?

Third, Dana Singiser, Director of Women's Outreach for the Hillary Clinton campaign put up a very nice post on her blog about visiting with us at BlogHer. I recommend everyone interested in women's issues in this campaign - regardless of whether you're a Clinton supporter or not – stay in the loop on this. We must rally women voters in the general election for whoever the Democratic nominee is. The women's vote is so crucial, especially for the general election. And if you want to get involved for the primary and/or the general, drop me email. I'll be providing more information about this on my blog and through an email list in the near future.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

YouTube Videos a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

I know their strategy - I've figured it out. The Republicans are the ones really behind the videos like "1984", "Obama Girl" and "I Feel Pretty" (or whatever it's called - aka, Edwards's hair). They purposely chose images and audio that would get stuck in our heads and cause psychological trauma in order to weaken us, and it's working. Now every time I have a quiet moment or read an article where Barack Obama's name is mentioned, that infernal song immediately forces itself into my mind. It's like Voldemort to Harry Potter or the ring to Frodo - I just can't shake the thing. So my only conclusion must be that it's a vast right wing conspiracy. The only recourse I have is to then start singing "I Feel Pretty" and picturing Julie Andrews in my head instead of the Presidential candidates. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Women and Flexible Work Options

I just wrote a long post on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog about the recent series of articles in The Mercury News by columnist Sue Hutchison, discussing various issues relating to work for today's parents. (It focuses on the moms, but to be fair, these issues relate to dads too.) I was quoted in two of the articles and I go on in my post to explain the reasons behind my quotes - there really are a lot of moms who want to work part-time and still be able to spend a significant amount of time with their children, and I think this is an important issue.

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John Edwards in Palo Alto Last Night and in SF Today

I've now had the opportunity to see Elizabeth Edwards twice including last week at BlogHer and last fall with the Silicon Valley Moms Blog in a small group, so I was eager to go as my husband's guest to see John Edwards speak last night at a gathering in Palo Alto. (Disclaimer: Chuck gets the contribution credit for anything for John Edwards; I get it for Hillary Clinton and it's likely we'll end up voting accordingly, but we both see things we like in both candidates and we will both work hard to get either one elected next November.)

My friend and co-blogger from the Silicon Valley Moms Blog, Glennia Campbell, has a fabulous post about the event at her blog, The Silent I, so I don't feel the need to expound upon the event much more myself except to say that Edwards began by talking about the environment and he continued making references to it all throughout his talk and the Q&A. Given what I know about the crowd that attended, I think Edwards is really targeting the environmental vote, and he's smart to do so. His environmental policy isn't the most aggressive of all of the Democratic candidates, although he won the MoveOn poll - Richardson's is - but it's out in front with his passion about poverty issues.

I just heard from a friend who attended the Edwards event in San Francisco with 800 people and another small group event that both went well. For those who say he's falling behind in this or that poll, I wouldn't count Edwards out yet. We still have six months until the primaries. A lot can happen.

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