Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Super Moon on New Years, 2014

When the moon, earth, and sun are in alignment, as during a full or new moon, it is called syzygy — an astronomical term. January 1, 2014 has a Super Moon, a New Moon. 

2014 will be awesome. All thoughts should be on manifesting happiness. Bliss. Good dreams come true. Health, love, prosperity, joy. Looking forward to it!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brooks Hall, University of Virginia

I became lost a few weeks ago driving through the University of Virginia campus and came upon this building. I knew that it was the building from a dream I had several months prior to my move to Charlottesville. I discovered that it is Brooks Hall, originally home to the Paleontology Department. I also learned that Thomas Jefferson was the first paleontologist in the New World. This fact made me think of my Paleontology Professor, Dr. Ron Parsley. I did a search for Dr. Parsley on Google that afternoon and found that he was attending his retirement ceremony that day after 47 years at Tulane University. It has been over 23 years since I last communicated with him - I was his illustrator! How serendipitous!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Japanese doctors are now prescribing walks through the woods to help with mental health. And they have an awesome word for it: shinrin-yoku, or "forest bathing."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Learning and the "Dislocation Theory"

"Learning eventually results in changes in action not just taking in new information and
forming new ideas."
- Peter Senge,
The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization

Dislocation theory seeks to replace what the enemy thinks should be occurring
with something that is happening faster than he can understand.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Notes from John C. Maxwell's book: "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player"

You've got to think of "big things" while you're doing small things so that all the small things go in the right direction. – Alvin Toffler

Adaptable people are good team players because they are teachable; they are willing to face the unknown to learn and go to higher levels.

Stodgy: Dull and uninspired; commonplace…

“A person’s age can be determined by the degree of pain experienced when he/she comes in contact with a new idea.” – Quincy Jones

Adaptive people are creative – when difficult times come, they find a way.

Really creative people aren’t afraid of failure because they know that they can do something different and make it work next time – or the time after that.

Commitment is a choice and lasts when it is based on values.

There are no half-hearted champions.

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way.” –William H. Murray

Most communication problems can be solved with proximity; make it easy for others to communicate with you (and each other if on a team).

“Friendship is a slow-ripening fruit.” – Aristotle
Be accessible; follow up within 24 hours; follow up on important matters in writing.

There is no union without good communication: open communication increases trust; trust increases ownership; and ownership increases participation.


“People forget how fast you did a job - but they remember how well you did it.” – Howard W. Newton
“Building a team is as important as producing a product… You have to let the people be a team. That means fostering an environment where people say what they really think. You can’t be dogmatic.” – Bob Taylor, Taylor Guitars

Competence: to be well-qualified, fit.

Highly competent people never settle; they pay attention to detail, no matter how small; are highly consistent; try different things but do what they are best at – they ‘edit” themselves.

Dependable team members possess the desire to do the thing that they are capable of doing.

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“No matter what I’m working on, I like to do what I’m not doing.” – Woody Allen

“Obstacles will look large or small to youaccording to whether you are large or small.” – Oreion Swett Marden

No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.

“Every successful person finds that great success lies just beyond the point when they’re convinced their idea is noy going to work.” – Napoleon Hill

“Success is like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired, you quit when the gorilla is tired.” – Robert Straus

“You beat 50 percent of the people in America by working hard. You beat another 40 percent by being a person of honesty and integrity and standing for something. The last 10 percent is a dogfight in the free enterprise system.” – A. L. Williams

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reminiscing about New Orleans

New Orleans is a sexy place if you're into music, food, and have an active imagination. It's so Gatsby-like. I can relate to Daisy as crazy as she was... N'Orleans makes it easy to live in the moment, because no matter how fast you peddle, you don't get anywhere. The only way to advance is to accidentally run into the right person. And then play hard-to-get because that person also wants to "meet the right person". Then you got to be street-wise or you'll lose it all in a heartbeat. Good training ground for life.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

True nature of existence

If you would like to reveal the true nature of existence you have to move away from your familiar ways of perceiving reality, for example knowing that opposites such as meaning and no meaning dwell in the same moment, while for the mind it is always either this or that.

If you need to have a confirmation that there is absolute meaning in order to have a meaning in your life, your life is meaningless.

If you do not have a space left in your moment to wonder about meaning because it is filled by your experience, your life is meaningful.

What Not To Do At Meetings...

From Fast Company: "Don't Meet Like That..."

Status Update staff meetings are best done one-on-one, it's a waste of other's time; besides, they are boring and ineffective. What to do instead? Try these ideas:
  1. What are the key outcomes we are on the hook for? How will know if we are achieving them?
  2. What are the risks we face? What should we do about them?
  3. What is the data we wish we knew about our business? Is it knowable? How will we find it? If it is not knowable, what scenarios should we plan for?
  4. What stupid stuff are we doing? I would have this as a staff topic at least twice a year. Grit always creeps into the gears, and old habits lose their usefulness. Question them.
  5. What has changed in our market, business, or customers’ markets and businesses? What does that mean for our plans?
  6. What process or infrastructure improvement would have the biggest impact on our ability to deliver?
  7. What has become harder and easier in our work and business? What should we consider changing?
  8. What should we all be learning about this year in addition to our core work? What do we want to be better at, or smarter about next year?
  9. Who in our organization has done something remarkable that we should recognize?
  10. Who are the stars in our organization that we should be investing in developing?
  11. Who/what groups should our team be communicating, networking, or improving our brand with? How should we do it?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Raw Orange and Blueberry Cheesecake

This looks so yummy - may not be low in calories, but most likely healthy enough for a dessert.
No dairy, no flour - I have to try it just out of curiosity...
Find recipe here.
Click here for more raw dessert recipes.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Art of Small Talk

I am comfortable in silence, and I have no trouble connecting with people, but I really wish I had the skills to be able to talk to anyone, anytime. Fortuitously, I came across a book this morning about "small talk" - something in which I could use some improvement.This is what I learned:

1) Small talk is the gateway to deep talk which is intuitively obvious, but something I did not realize before.

2) There is a technique that has worked on me from people expert in small talk: make eye contact, smile, exchange a greeting including names, remember the other person's name (hard for me as I am a visual person), ask open-ended questions such as, "What do you think about...?"

3) Use an ice-breaker such as, "How did you become interested in...?" or "What would you do if you weren't doing what you do...?"

To sum up, be a good listener and show an interest in the other person's ideas.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I have a wish to go to London, Paris, Prague - what to wear?

I decided today to work on my positive thinking. Lately, I have been reading the news too much and it is depressing. Now I want some of my "innocence" back - at least, I want to  keep my hopes and dreams alive. To start, I decided to go through my closet and start downsizing. Then, when I discovered that my favorite outfits have yet to be worn, let alone enjoyed, I decided to model them so I wouldn't forget to keep my dreams alive. 

Positive living

Whenever you are given an ultimatum that says, 
"if you don't do this, then we will have to do such and such," 
it's best that you just let it go and move on. 
Otherwise there is always another, "and this, and this, and this"...

-- Esther Hicks

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Republic (Plato)

From a review of the Republic (Plato):
The Republic is a dramatic dialogue, not a treatise... of the city-soul analogy.

On Justice

Socrates concludes that justice includes helping friends, but says the just man would never do harm to anybody (not even an enemy).

Socrates asks whether the ruler who makes a mistake by making a law that lessens the people's well-being, is still a ruler according to Thrasymachus' understanding of justice and injustice: "justice is what is advantageous to the stronger, while injustice is to one's own profit and advantage".

...Socrates' assertion that an artist (ruler) is someone who does his job well, and is a knower of some art, which allows him to complete the job well. 

Accordingly, Socrates defines justice as "working at that which he is naturally best suited," and "to do one's own business and not to be a busybody" (433a-433b) and goes on to say that justice sustains and perfects the other three cardinal virtues: Temperance, Wisdom, and Courage, and that justice is the cause and condition of their existence. Socrates does not include justice as a virtue within the city, suggesting that justice does not exist within the human soul either, rather it is the result of a "well ordered" soul. A result of this conception of justice separates people into three types; that of the soldier, that of the producer, and that of a ruler. If a ruler can create just laws, and if the warriors can carry out the orders of the rulers, and if the producers can obey this authority, then a society will be just.

I think that the difficulty is in knowing exactly just what is a "just law".

I believe that humans will eventually learn how to control an enemy without harming the enemy - it will be an art - the art of survival.

The dialectical forms of government[edit]

While Plato spends much of the Republic having Socrates narrate a conversation about the city he founds with Glaucon and Adeimantus "in speech", the discussion eventually turns to considering four regimes that exist in reality and tend to degrade successively into each other: timocracy, oligarchy (also called plutocracy), democracy and tyranny (also called despotism).
Socrates defines a timocracy as a government of people who love rule and honor. Socrates argues that the timocracy emerges from aristocracy due to a civil war breaking out among the ruling class and the majority. Over time, many more births will occur to people who lack aristocratic, guardian qualities, slowly drawing the populace away from knowledge, music, poetry and "guardian education", toward money-making and the acquisition of possessions. This civil war between those who value wisdom and those who value material acquisition will be in struggle until a just medium is compromised. The timocracy values war insofar as it satisfies a love of victory and honor. The timocratic man loves physical training, and hunting, and values his abilities in warfare.
Temptations create a confusion between economic status and honor which is responsible for the emergence of oligarchy. In Book VIII, Socrates suggests that wealth will not help a pilot to navigate his ship, as his concerns will be directed centrally toward increasing his wealth by whatever means, rather than seeking out wisdom or honor. The injustice of economic disparity divides the rich and the poor, thus creating an environment for criminals and beggars to emerge. The rich are constantly plotting against the poor and vice versa. The oligarchic constitution is based on property assessment and wealth qualification. Unlike the timocracy, oligarchs are also unable to fight war, since they do not wish to arm the majority for fear of their rising up against them (even moreso fearing the majority than their enemies), nor do they seem to pay mercenaries, since they are reluctant to spend money.
As this socioeconomic divide grows, so do tensions between social classes. From the conflicts arising out of such tensions, the poor majority overthrow the wealthy minority, and democracy replaces the oligarchy preceding it. The poor overthrow the oligarchs and grant liberties and freedoms to citizens, creating a most variegated collection of peoples under a "supermarket" of constitutions. A visually appealing demagogue is soon lifted up to protect the interests of the lower class. However, with too much freedom, no requirements for anyone to rule, and having no interest in assessing the background of their rulers (other than honoring such people because they wish the majority well) the people become easily persuaded by such a demagogue's appeal to try and satisfy people's common, base, and unnecessary pleasures.
The excessive freedoms granted to the citizens of a democracy ultimately leads to a tyranny, the furthest regressed type of government. These freedoms divide the people into three socioeconomic classes: the dominating class, the elites and the commoners. Tensions between the dominating class and the elites cause the commoners to seek out protection of their democratic liberties. They invest all their power in their democratic demagogue, who, in turn, becomes corrupted by the power and becomes a tyrant with a small entourage of his supporters for protection and absolute control of his people.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Toys from children's artwork

I love these toys designed from children's artwork! There are a few companies which do this: source1; source2.

Yoko Ono

"Sometimes it's better not to wish and just let the universe take care of it."

Yoko Ono

Discontinued paradigm shift in management

"Now, whether the business schools or managers want it or not, a discontinuous paradigm shift in management is happening. It’s a shift from a firm-centric view of the world in which the firm’s purpose is to make money for its shareholders to a customer-centric view of the world in which the purpose of the firm is to add value for customers."
The shift in management is a shift from shareholder capitalism in which the firm revolves around the manager to a customer capitalism in which the firm revolves around the customer. No amount of tweaking the shareholder model of capitalism can fix it, because the goal of making money for shareholder entails a set of management practices—hierarchical bureaucracy—that are inherently incompatible with the goal of delighting customers: each tweak entails a new set of problems, that sooner or later lead the firm to regress back to the norm of hierarchical bureaucracy."
(Source: Steve Denning)

This is one of the challenges the public service sectors (city, state, federal governments) is facing right now - how to respond to the wants and needs of its customers (the American people), and maintain its organizational status as a hierarchical bureaucracy. Governments were initially meant to be regulators of policy, but now that many functions and tasks are automated, operations are undergoing a transformation. I propose adding values as opposed to adding more policies.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Healthier Eating

Today, I decided to improve upon my already healthy eating habits: I will now embrace eating vegetables and fruits (at least 90%).  I have also started to see the first sprouts of my vegetable garden and the first grapes and cherries on our fruit trees.  I am wondering how tofu fares in raw food diets and whether it is desirable to ingest soy milk. But most importantly, now that I have made a mental/emotional commitment to this endeavor, I am concerned about protein. So I found this list of protein sources for raw foodists:

1. Hemp Seeds
2. Goji Berries
3. Sprouts
4. Spirulian/Blue Green Algae
5. Pure Synergy
6. Maca
7. Avocado
8. Figs
9. Greens and veggies
10. Sprouted Nuts and Seeds

Indian Mango Dal

  • 1 cup yellow lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Place lentils in a colander and rinse until the water runs clear. Combine lentils, 4 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and turmeric in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until fragrant and starting to brown, about 30 seconds. Add onion; cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cayenne and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
  3. Stir the garlic mixture and mangoes into the lentils. Return to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes more. Stir in cilantro.
Per serving: 186 calories; 3 g fat ( 0 g sat , 2 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 33 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 9 g protein; 9 g fiber; 398 mg sodium; 511 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Folate (45% daily value), Vitamin C (40% dv), Iron (20% dv), Vitamin A (15% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fruit, 1 lean meat, 1/2 fat

Friday, May 31, 2013

Confucius says

"A common man marvels at uncommon things; a wise man marvels at the commonplace."

A common man marvels at uncommon things: Beware of the seduction of the "next shiny object" promoted by the media in an attempt to convince you to buy that product or service.

A wise man marvels at the commonplace: Everything is a miracle.

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

Six new words I learned from the National Spelling Bee

An ill-tempered person who finds fault in everything, taken from Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy.

An important or self-important person, coined by the dramatist Samuel Foote.

Behavior befitting a second-rate actor, otherwise known as hamming it up for the audience.

An abnormal hatred of new ideas.

Senseless babble; foolish or stupid talk.

Divination by consulting with the shadows of the dead.

San Francisco/Silicon Valley vs New York

If New York and San Francisco/Silicon Valley (which I will henceforth refer to as the Greater Bay Area) were compared, who would make the better "leader"?

According to Auren Hoffman (a native New Yorker who now resides in San Francisco), in the Greater Bay Area it is more profitable to be ethical than it is in the ecosystem of New York. Hoffman uses spousal fidelity to demonstrate ethics:

"In my twelve years here, I have only known one SF guy who cheated on his significant other. Only one. (for some reason, I have known five SF women that were not true to their spouses). This is probably because the town is so small, one would likely get caught. Hence it is more profitable to be ethical.

In New York, by contrast, cheating on girlfriends and wives, while not commonplace and still unacceptable, is much more common.

And whether it is one's sex life, or their business transactions, one can screw over a lot more people in New York before one's reputation globally suffers." (Source.)

Hoffman observes that New Yorkers also tend to judge others more on their appearance as opposed to judging others by their brain power. Judging others by status symbols of address, clothes, family name – materialistic traps of the Industrial Age. New Yorkers are less open-minded, they tend to box others in with labels associated with religion, ethnicity, education, family ties - so not relevant in creative techno-wizardry of the Greater Bay Area, incubator and home of techno-geniuses... Like Hoffman, I have experienced the coldness of the people in the Greater Bay Area. New Yorkers are friendlier and my techy neighbors are connectors; they will connect you with an entity that can help. I read somewhere that Silicon Valley has the most greedy people in the USA, but also have some of the best public services. Generosity is not a trait I would associate with my neighbors, but generosity is a quality of the politics here where social services make for a more ethical appearing community. So, I conclude that the appearance of being ethical in the Greater bay Area is a driving force or, at least, being associated with a socially ethical community is a driving force. Maybe it's easier to obtain tax money if you have an "ethical" political agenda, at least in the Greater Bay Area?... Business connections are important in both cities, but in New York business relationships are coveted, networks are within old money circles, and found within embedded family relationships and established networks; whereas the Greater Bay Area is more collaborative and encourages new ideas and innovation.

My conclusion is that the Greater Bay Area (consisting of San Francisco and Silicon Valley) is the "leader". Home of creativity and innovation.

To sum up, Hoffman says,

"And clubs ... how many people in SF do you know that joined a social club? I think I might know three. But many of the people I know in New York are part of some club -- whether it is the Harvard Club, the Metropolitan Club, the banana-split with all the toppings club ...
Why the difference?
Because New York is about those boxes ... SF is about off with the suit and tie ..." (Source.)

Managers vs Leaders

There's a lot of hype online about "leadership" lately. I don't believe that the average worker really grasps what a leader is, so their expectations are low. Low for their company's leadership and low for their own aptitude to become a leader. I didn't know. I had a juvenile idea of leadership: the kid on the playground who was loud, dominant, often quick, and sometimes threatening. Those qualities may be relevant in some groups, but undesirable nevertheless... My first graduate school assignment was to write a 1200 word essay explaining the difference between managers and leaders. (Just so you know, it was a Master of Science in Management degree.) I really had never thought much about those two terms before, I just thought that managers were delegators of work and did performance evals, which they do, but I had never understood what differentiates a manager from a leader. Basically, a leader is a visionary. A leader is the inspiration to go the distance and reach the goal, whatever that goal may be... Who wouldn't prefer to be managed by a leader? In fact, who wouldn't prefer to have others around who have these leadership traits:

Managers give answers. Leaders ask questions.
Managers criticize mistakes. Leaders call attention to mistakes indirectly.
Managers forget to praise. Leaders reward even the smallest improvement.
Managers focus on the bad. Leaders emphasize the good.
Managers want credit. Leaders credit their teams.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I love artist/maker/giver Sal Randolph and the "Gift Economy"

My son met Sal Randolph in Portland, Oregon, while filming a documentary. 

"Sal Randolph lives in New York and makes art involving gift economies, social interactions, public spaces and publishing, including Opsound, (an site for the exchange of copyleft music) the Free Biennial and Free Manifesta (a pair of open “biennials”), Free Words (a book infiltrated into bookstores and libraries), and Money Actions (an ongoing series of interventions in which she has given away several thousand dollars to members of the public). She is currently investigating games, recipes, algorithms, codes, and texts, and is writing about about experience and participation in art." Source: http://salrandolph.com/about/31/about

15 social media strategy blogs I should read:

Here's the to-read list:
1) Pam Moore
2) Socially Sorted
3) The Social Skinny
4) My Social Game Plan
5) Top Dog Social Media
6) Social Media Revolver
7) Social Media Examiner
8) Razor Social
9) Ignite Social Media
10) Sprout Insights
11) Scott Monty
12) Social Media Collective Research
13) Radian 6 Blog
14) Chris Brogan
15) More Visibility

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Six strengths introverts use to influence others

I am an introvert - and proud of it! Freud was an introvert as well. Kahnweiler, author of Quiet Influence, reveals the six strengths introverts use to influence others: 1) taking quiet time; 2) preparation; 3) engaged listening; 4) focused conversations; 5) writing; and 6) thoughtful use of social media. Kahnweiler recommends that introverts should deliberately act with intent and utilize these qualities to their advantage. Is this the Age of the Introvert? Will people, instead of striving to be more extroverted, need counseling to learn how to be more introverted? Maybe... but I just want to be me. I make things happen with my introversion (not despite of it - this blog for example). Introverts don't like it when they are required to react; for example, to answer the phone. Introverts like choices. Give introverts the freedom to choose, and they'll answer the phone. Maybe they'll listen to the voicemail first. That's because they need time to think and reflect upon how they feel; they like to be prepared. Being thoughtful, reflective, and prepared is good. Good for conversing, good for creating. Good for social media. And social media is good for success in the 21st century.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Artists spun illusions for US military in WWII

Renderings and images of a few of the artist-warriors from exhibit catalog.

"The CIA Iran rescue operation featured in Argo isn't the first time the U.S. has used the arts to foil a bitter enemy...Armies have been using subterfuge to fool enemy forces for eons, but the Ghost Army was unusually audacious, and especially good at its job: Designing and deploying inflatable tanks, airplanes, and artillery, plus sound effects and other illusion-spinning tactics, to convince the German army that the Allied forces were stronger and more omnipresent than they were.

[Artists such as Bill] Blass and his brothers in arms were recruited from art schools and ad agencies. They were sought for their acting skills. They were selected for their creativity. They were soldiers whose most effective weapon was artistry." Read more here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

be free - create a void

Image by Tim Walker, photographer and visual storyteller.

Someone recently  asked me, "What inspires you as a designer?"
Me: "Everything and anything. Especially other people's art whether it be music, film, fashion, poetry, literature, fine art, graphic design, etc. And, if you follow my blog, you will find many treasures that inspire my creativity."  (Such as the Tim Walker visual, above.)

"Absence extinguishes small passions and increases great ones,
as the wind blows out a candle, and blows in a fire."
- Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld

"I discovered that what's really important for a creator isn't what we vaguely define as inspiration or even what it is we want to say, recall, regret, or rebel against.
No, what's important is the way we say it. Art is all about craftsmanship. Others can interpret craftsmanship as style if they wish. Style is what unites memory or recollection, ideology, sentiment, nostalgia, presentiment, to the way we express all that.
It's not what we say, but how we say it that matters."
- Federico Fellini

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler."
- Henry David Thoreau 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Artsy furniture

Tree dresser by aoneko. Created with painter's masking tape.

Graduated colors - not just for kid's room...

Wallpapered chest of drawers.

Metallic paint.

Love the country feeling...

Reminds me of New Orleans eclectic...

I love this chest of drawers by junkdrawerdivas.

Goes with this quote I found on Mona Simpson's eulogy to her brother, Steve Jobs:

 “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

Another chest of drawers by junkdrawerdivas...

Also by junkdrawerdivas...

wallpapered drawers

Visit here to see more vanities.

Red barrel-back captain's chairs.