Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween in Napa

Many craftspeople, actors, chefs, musicians, and
display artists like making their home in the Napa vineyards.

This is our neighbor's house
and every year their Halloween display becomes grander
because locals take Halloween very seriously. 

My neighbor down the street has the most elaborate holiday displays. I never see children on their property, so I suppose this is an obsession that is meant for public viewing. But we are so far out in the county and off the beaten path that there is not one treat-or-treator on Halloween - ever! They must have a huge warehouse in which they store their props. I would have loved to play in their yard as a child, October is typically the warmest month in Napa, with thick morning fog - perfect place to be on Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's not where you work, it's HOW you work, that's important.

My Chair at Work: The Stability Management Machine

Work Cubicle Chair

My very expensive maroon-colored work cubicle chair wants each day to be the same and uses its authority to maintain stability (i.e., keep the established system from changing). I find this chair much too controlling; it thinks that it is the only place where work can be done. It stops me from leaving it to go out for a walk unless it is my break time. It monitors jealously all my movements and whereabouts... a fearful testimony that it knows it could easily be replaced by any other chair, anywhere, anytime... Is control by a chair smart management?

Home Office Chair
This is my black chair in my home office. I bought it on Craigslist for $20. I much prefer this little chair to my chair at work as it doesn't get upset if I walk away for a few minutes when it's not my official 15-minute break time. It understands that things have changed from the 1950s, and even since the '80s and '90s. It's lightweight and mobile and allows me total flexibility. It understands that I can work anywhere, anytime (with or without it). 

This is what some people think working from home is like:
Is she holding a new mini-iPad?
Well, I could do that, kinda, except I don't have a maid servant...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Shift from Knowledge Economy to Social Economy

"Creativity is how you think. Innovation is how you act."
- Andrew Razeghi, Do You Hire For IQ Or Klout Score? (10/29/2012) Fast Company, Inc. Razeghi is a lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

Creativity and innovation are two of the most misused and misunderstood words in business today. Creativity is doing something new and unique. Innovation is taking that creative result and finding different and new ways to use it. Creative individuals channel the creative source - the intelligence of the universe. Innovative individuals or organizations find ways to take the creative product, service, or result and make it more useful to others. Jazz musician Pat Metheny channels music. He is creative. He makes music. He is a "maker" of music. He is a clear channel of the musical sounds of the universe - that is his magic.

In a quantum universe, magic is not the exception but the rule.
— Arjuna Ardagh

Source: The Translucent Revolution: How People Just Like You Are Waking Up & Changing the World

Pat Metheny doesn't work on ensuring his music is available and distributed - his manager does. His manager is the innovator who thinks of better ways to market the music. Pat Metheny's music is the creative "magic", Metheny's manager is the business innovator. Treat the manager poorly and you might not secure the business deal. But treat Pat Metheny poorly and you won't get the "magic". Creatives and innovatives need to work together for success in business. It's difficult, but not impossible, to do or be both. (I'm doing both.)

Razeghi goes on to say that in order to shift from a knowledge economy to a social economy organizations must develop external and internal coalitions to nurture creative ideas. Top-down hierarchal systems aren't structured to employ creativity because they are set up to do the opposite: inhibit self-expression. Management by authority, not by expertise. Therefore creative ideas are not promoted, distributed, implemented because the knowledge is not seen or heard.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Finds of the Day

I need to downsize in the event I relocate for a new job. But every time I go online to upload and sell my items, I find something I have imagined in my mind and then I can't resist buying it. It's strange, it's also happening to my friends - they seem to be finding what they're looking for, too... 

Handmade lampshade.

I'm a shopaholic on a very limited budget, which makes my obsession challenging. I must be extremely selective in my purchases. I like vintage items when it comes to furniture and non-electrical housewares, preferably from the 1920s. I scout for treasures on ebay and craigslist. Here are this weekend's finds:

Old cedar-lined chest from winery.

Origami dollar heart made by the lady who sold
the lampshade to me - it's a good omen.

Garden swing.

Sometimes it amazes me how I find what I am looking for - this is becoming more and more commonplace for me which gives me hope that the perfect employment or business opportunity will present itself at the right time. Here is an example of true serendipity that occurred yesterday: I discovered on Craigslist the match to my antique brass marble-top side table made in France. I bought the first table several years ago from a woman in the next county who had just inherited things from her mother's antique store in Marin. Then, just yesterday, I decided after many months to browse the antiques on Craigslist for the North Bay and found its "mate". The seller, located in another county, informed me that it originated from an estate sale many years ago. So the two French tables are back together again. The strange thing is that I had not visited Craigslist in several months; the fact that I was able to find these two items and buy them the very first week each was being sold is, in my opinion, quite remarkable - I believe that they just wanted to be back together again... does furniture have consciousness or is my consciousness causing this to happen? Maybe just luck? Coincidence?According to physicists, water has some consciousness and responds to differently to music (see previous post on "Superconsciousness"). Here's to the "Happy Couple" from Paris:

Happy couple is together again after many years.

And, last but not least, a baby basket carrier I found at a garage sale is repurposed to hold towels. It's the perfect size in length, width, and depth to place on top of my bathroom dresser:

“Everything you can imagine is real.” 
― Pablo Picasso

Friday, October 26, 2012

Telework in Your Self-Driving Car

To quote an U.S. Treasury executive visiting the San Francisco area from DC, "California drivers will run you off the road if you don't know where you're going". Yes, I agree, and I want to add that even if you do know where you're going, it's the 18-wheelers changing lanes at high speeds that cause me the most concern. After sharing the road with truckers for 2.5 hours a day for over 4 years on my work commute, I think I might want self-driving car:

Google predicts we'll be able to buy a self-driving car within the next decade. (First, they'll need to ensure that hackers will not be able to interfere with a driverless vehicle.) I doubt many people will actually need to "drive to work" in 10 years as many people will already be working via the Cloud with an internet connection - anytime, anywhere. They'll drive to visit other people and on the way to their destination they may or may not "work". In fact, their car may become a room, maybe an office or whatever kind of room they need - maybe a multi-purpose room that is designed to be transformable. I think that in this case I might want a metromorph car:

As for telework - look at the savings:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Accessing Superconsiousness

This video (and the linked videos), demonstrate how our observation of reality changes reality. This is a fact of physics. Thoughts really are things. I plan on changing my reality (it's great now, but I plan to make it even better) - stay tuned...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quantifying Soul

I was advised that my resume should show metrics. That I need to quantify my accomplishments.

“What? I need to note quantity as opposed to quality?!”

My success in private industry was measured by how well my creative work enticed customers into purchasing the organization’s products and services. My creative marketing made the business owners millions because my work has "soul". Now, there’s some metrics for you!

Can Soul Be Measured?

Without data, many people don't know how to place value on things or concepts. Soul can't be measured, captured, held hostage, let free, stolen, or lost.. It exists. It is.

In 1907, a Haverhill, Massachusetts, doctor by the name of Duncan MacDougall managed to put six dying people on a bed equipped with sensitive springs, and claimed to have observed a sudden loss of weight – about ¾ of an ounce (21 grams) – at the exact moment of their death. Dr. MacDougall therefore concluded that the human soul weighs 21 grams. This conclusion was published in American Medicine. 

21 grams = the weight of 5 nickels; 
the weight of one hummingbird. 
How much does love weigh? 
How can we measure such things? 
Why should it matter?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Offices are not meant to keep us secure

"...we must continue to find ways to help meet the challenges of balancing work and home life. You can be sure that I will continue to fight for our nation’s families."  
-Lynn Woosley, Congresswoman for California

Being a parent does make it difficult to balance work and family and commuting hours a day to work makes it so much more stressful - especially if you know you could being doing that work at home or anywhere using an internet connection. So why do we still do that? Could it be because both the employer and the employee believe it safeguards their jobs? Those days are gone!

The Twilight Zone episode
The Shelter
Scene from the Twight Zone The Shelter - busting open the shelter's door.

The Shelter is about a doctor (Bill) who builds a bomb shelter in his basement to save his family in the advent of a nuclear attack. The disaster shelter becomes the obsession of his neighbors who, upon hearing of an impending nuclear bomb, break into the shelter so that they can protect their families, too. The threat turned out to be a false alarm, but not until the neighbors nearly destroy each other breaking into the shelter and then fighting over space and food - all in quest of  "safety".

That was 1960, it's 2012 now.

Hurricane Katrina proved that without text messaging, many people would have lost their lives. Landlines were down and cellphone calls were clogged. An organization's Disaster Recovery Plan should include texting... and it's efficiency plan should include virtual workers. In this century, if you work in technology, you don't "go to the work", the work goes to you wherever you might be. It's better for the worker, the employer, and the environment not to commute to work when the work can come to you.

“Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.” Albert Einstein

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I believe that in order to make something happen in your life it helps to step into that reality which you desire - imagine what it would be like, feel like, even smell like... In other words, if I want to live in a particular area I need to be there mentally to make it real. I usually do this by learning everything I can about the area. I read the City Data website for info demographics and go to various review sites like Yelp for info on restaurants, farmers markets, shopping. As a storyteller and artist, the perfect town for me is Carmel, California. Fortunately, I live close enough to drive over for a weekend at Carmel-By-the-Sea - I love the smell of the ocean. 
Carmel Tea House
- Carmel is a storybook town. 
I want my new reality to be in Carmel Valley. I applied for a position in Monterey, California, so this weekend we drove to Carmel from Napa.

Monterey beach's sand dunes in October.
Strange how the birds' flight formation resembles a bird in flight,
makes me think of how fractals are found everywhere in nature.


Carmel beach sand is soft underfoot and is a light almond-gray color.
Although dogs are allowed to run free on the beach,
it is the cleanest beach I have ever seen.

We stayed in our semi-neglected beach cottage in Pacific Grove. I envisioned how we could remodel it on a budget. I think it would be okay.... actually, I think it would be great! 

Overgrown path to beach cottage has become a rainforest.

Il Forniao/Pine Inn Cafe in Carmel-By-the-Sea has the best coffee
and pastries - so much better and cheaper than Starbucks.
The atmosphere is unique and exceptionally inviting.
Il Forniao/Pine Inn
Mon Amie consignment, downtown Carmel.
Carmel's Spanish/French influence.
Dennis the Menace Park
I like this outfit... so retro, so Urban Outfitters...
Carmel is dog-friendly. This dog is actually male (the owner says that he "likes" to cross-dress). This illustrates how many humans demonstrate the assumption of anthropomorphism—projecting human instincts, characteristics and motivations onto animals. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Napa in October

October Day in Napa

It's warm, humid, cloudy today. That Napa in October - the best month to be here. I'm thinking about what it might be like to move to another US city or to Europe for my work and what I would miss if I left. To put the idea of relocating into perspective, today I thought I would tour my neighborhood as a photojournalist or "culturista" (cultural tourist). I've lived in Napa county for the past 10 years - in Carneros, to be exact. Carneros is a region of Napa that originally was mostly ranches and fruit orchards, but now is renowned for its champagne grapes (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). You can still see horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, coyotes, and even the occasional mountain lion. But as the land is rapidly being converted into vineyards for local wineries, the small farms disappear and are replaced by residential properties of about 2 to 8 acres interspersed amongst the vineyards and wineries. Here is a microclimate as the temperatures are cooler than surrounding areas which makes it a desirable locale not only for champagne grapes but also for bicyclists.

What I would miss about Napa should I move away is the peacefulness. Mostly because I have not experienced living without the noise of traffic since moving to California many years ago. Noise-wise, Napa is more akin to what I am accustomed to growing up in the southeastern United States -  but weather-wise, the Carneros region of Napa is quite different. Mornings in Carneros are have no wind and there is rarely a sound except for the occasional tractor. At 7:00 a.m. the air is cool and I can barely see through the fog. Around 9:00 a.m., it looked as though a storm front was brewing. From noon onward, it has been nothing but clear skies and bright sun with a perfect temperature of 72 degrees. This afternoon around 4:00 p.m. the winds will arrive, strong enough to blow a bottle off the table. In Carneros, we have what I call "diversity of weather".  In one 12-hour period we can have fog, rain storms, clear bright sun for several hours, strong winds, and a starry, clear night sky. My favorite weather in Carneros is cold and misty. I like to heat the house from the fireplace and have a cup of hot tea with honey. From where I live I can smell the salty sea air coming off the Napa River a mile down the road.  I find that food seems to taste better when the air is cool and humid and, when I smell salty sea air, I am inspired to bake bread and make chicken soup.

Carneros was once considered the "B neighborhood" full of old and neglected properties. Our little house was once one of those neglected properties not much unlke the tear-downs you see in this slideshow. We renovated it ourselves and although it is an ongoing effort, have made it into a nice little country cottage. It is a creative lifestyle to live in the country, in a house that you built, growing organic veggies, and supporting the local vendors.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why Starbucks is Starbucks

Have you ever wondered why 
Starbucks is named Starbucks? 

Today I am celebrating the 161st anniversary of Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick, 1851. For me, that means a trip to Starbucks. It is a tradition where I work to find good excuses to go to Starbucks because it is one of the few places where you can order a coffee drink and something to eat within walking distance. Today is a great reason - Starbuck is the chief mate of the ship in Moby Dick.

Coworker Kevan Gross at Starbucks
I recommend the pumpkin bread.

Today, Rick Corrigan and I had lunch at Ruby's in Emeryville. Also walking distance from our work, it was a lunch meeting to discuss the pros and cons of contracting and many virtues of blogging.

Ruby's CafĂ© in Emeryville

A veggie pocket at the Ruby's.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Dress for a Telephone Interview

Today I was just thinking of how to dress for a telephone interview:

The Twilight Zone's
 Valley of the Shadow

Weird as it may sound, I like being at work even more now that I am in a RIF. It’s interesting and absurdly intriguing... in fact... it is sort of like being in a Twilight Zone episode.

In this scene, the reporter (played by Ed Nelson) encounters the force field keeping him from being free to leave - and he's MAD. I like this scene because it shows his determination to not have limits set upon himself.

Come to think of it, maybe I am in the Twilight Zone's Valley of the Shadow! The plot of this episode can be summed up as follows: A reporter stumbles into a small town named "Peaceful Valley". The reporter learns of higher technology, so the town's authorities will not let him leave. He can't get out of town due to an invisible force field around Peaceful Valley.

The technological knowledge involves quantum physics. The technology has the power to change the world for the better - or can be used for evil... Fear ensues. The reporter fears being controlled; the authorities fear not being able to control the use of the new technology...

A resident of the small town uses a cell phone - one of their several high-tech gadgets.

All parties are well-meaning - it is only fear that creates the drama. Fear of losing freedom. Fear of losing what little peace the world still has because of the application of disruptive technologies... Gadgets, mobile media, and other hi-tech stuff that makes for a more efficient lifestyle.

The episode is classic - the 1963 clothes, car, furniture. The adorable dog. His aggressive glares. Not to mention hints of 3-D printing (scene where a ham sandwich is materialized on a plate for his lunch)... Exciting and well-written, with the tinsiest bit of romance and violence, this is one of the best one-hour episodes from Season 4.

The Twilight Zone is okay with me. This is where I want to be - for now, anyway.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reasonable Commuting Distance?

Do you think that San Francisco or Emeryville is a
"reasonable commuting distance" to Sacramento?

- Applying for Work in Sacramento with your CTAP -
Capitol Corridor Train commuters
look quite comfortable.
Photo: Jim Merithew / SF
Between four morning trains, 1,000 passengers ride from the Bay Area to Sacramento daily. Emeryville is by far the busiest station, with 135 daily commuters. The fare from San Francisco to Sacramento is $496 for unlimited travel for an entire calendar month. Not bad.  But let's see commuters have to say:

"Most of what you give up is sleep."
"The commute is, in reality, much longer than the four hours on the train when you consider the walking and buses..."
"I have two offices, one of them is on the train."
"The quiet car is upstairs and that's where people sleep."
I would never be able to sleep
with my computer out like that.
Photo: Jim Merithew / SF

How does the Employee’s Guide to Career Transition on the website define "local commuting area"?

Your local commuting area is based on the duty station of your position of record when you receive your [CTAP/ICTAP] notice. Agencies determine the local commuting area for jobs they announce. It is the geographic area usually considered a single area for employment purposes. It includes any population center and the surrounding localities where people live and routinely travel back and forth daily to their jobs. You can only get selection priority for vacancies announced in your local commuting area.

For more info:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

My "Inspirational Post of the Day"
I like her blue hair...
Tony Bennett is 86 and he is making a jazz album with Lady Gaga.
His voice is still incredible. I think it's because he keeps on working, not to mention that he is doing what (I suppose) he loves to do: sing and write songs. (Did you know that Tony is also a fine artist? He also likes to paint.) See/hear the video on youtube.

Nothing makes me feel older than thinking/planning about my retirement. So I decided that I will never retire. Never. I may not always be employed by an organization, but I will always work at something I enjoy. Look at Tony Bennett's smile in the video on youtube, he is the embodiment of happiness. Actually, I now think the key to longevity is happiness. Sort of makes me think I should do a "Happiness Project".

Speaking of happy, I just received an email notification stating "not referred to selecting official" for a job I applied for in San Francisco: "Public Affairs Specialist". The reason that I thought I should apply for this position is because the requirements included graphic design and social media. But I'm happy that I was not selected because I'm actually more interested in creating publications, iBooks, blogs and websites to promote myself. I like being my own "Public Affairs Specialist"...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Life will beat you to your knees..."

"...It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much can you take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!"   - Rocky Balboa

I'm creative and a high achiever. Stopping creativity from flowing is like holding my breath - I just can't do it for any length of time... therefore, I often have a hard time realising that my personal life is out of balance. My manager, Margaret Tong, noticed how hard I have been working taking on extra projects. She reminded me that children grow up fast and that I need to make time for activities outside of the house and away from the computer. Like most people on a budget, it's hard to spend money on museum entrance fees, bridge tolls, parking, meals (not to mention "Twirl 'n Dip" rootbeer floats from the ice cream vendor in front of the museum), and childrens' souvenirs - especially when you are losing your job and especially in San Francisco where nothing is cheap or free! So, to finance my adventure, I finally sold a Persian rug on craigslist this morning which I had been advertising for a couple of weeks. This gave me the means to treat friends and family to the Cal Academy of Science in San Francisco today. We had so much fun! See my slideshow of our visit:

Friday, October 12, 2012

It's daunting...

This is how I feel.

Today I emailed my resume out for the position of Visual Designer at Google in Paris. I also applied for Head of Design, Creative Lab in London Google. My resumes will arrive, along with thousands of other resumes... maybe along with hundreds of thousands of other resumes... it's daunting.

“Hold fast to dreams, 
For if dreams die 
Life is a broken-winged bird, 
That cannot fly.”  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

This is how I feel.

We have 50 weeks left - counting down to 09/30/2013 - then the door closes. We are RIF'd.  I agreed to take an early morning telephone interview. Today at 5:00 a.m., I interviewed with the U.S. Army in Virginia for a position as a Visual Information Specialist. The job looks perfect for me. Taking the conference call, I was immediately at ease hearing their southern accents (I grew up in northern Florida).

"Tell us about yourself. What are 3 things we should know about you?" ... "I'm creative, an achiever, and I also keep up with new media technologies." Asked what I was looking for, I answered that "I want to work with people that I like and who like me"....There was silence at the other end... "How would you lead a team?... How do you describe your work procedure to someone who does not know how to do what you do?" I answered that, as a project lead, I like to ask team members what they do well and what they really want to contribute to the project. I also ask what they need in order to accomplish their project goals. I ask about their communication preferences (email, telephone, or both), and I ask for a time estimate. The only question which was difficult for me to answer was, "What would your coworkers say about you?"  I answered that they would say I am a "nice person".  However, I really don't know what my coworkers think or feel about me, I never asked them...

Maybe all that matters is that I want my coworkers to feel I am a nice person. I researched why this question is asked. For example, if asked by a manager, he/she wants to know if you are self-reliant or if you run to the manager for help about about every little thing or can't solve your own conflicts. If asked by a potential coworker, that person just wants to know if they can tolerate working with you day after day. So, in any case, I think my answer was reassuring because interviewers can already see from a resume if an applicant is qualified, they just want to know if they can stand working with the person.

Just for the record, I am posting the logo, website, 
and marketing collateral I designed for the 
"Bureau of the Fiscal Service" 
- these were created by me in August, 2012: