Women’s March 2020

On Election Day in 2016 I was living in San Francisco. We were watching the election results come in with my friends at COVO on Mission Street. I was working on a startup and these amazing people welcomed me in.

Quite frankly everyone was in shock that a TV reality show star who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth was elected. I certainly was shocked.

But being a BS Political Science Major I had hope that the man who would occupy the office of the President would rise to the occasion. After all, no one person can be President. You have to surround yourself with good people and listen to them.

When 9-11 happened many wondered if George W would be able to unite us in recovery.

And he did. Damnit.

He rose to the office of the presidency.

Fast forward to 2016: Still I felt shocked and terrified that the electoral college and both political parties had failed us in 2016.

In January after the 2016 election I both marched with the Women’s March and photographed it.

It was peaceful but strong. A clear example of our nation’s long history of peaceful and strong protests.

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

Growing up the son of a Father who was first a Marine, then Army, he served in Vietnam as a Medic. Then got out, went to Medical School and re-upped this time as a Major.

Retired honorably and decorated as an LTC. Buried at Ft. Sam National Cemetery.

Further, my Mother served as an officer in the Army Reserves retiring honorably as a Major. So yes, my “Mom wore combat boots.” And was a qualified marksman like my Dad. I’m proud as heck of them both!

Next… back to our story…

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

There I was in SF trying to raise funds for a robotics startup. And randomly this uninformed TV guy who shares no values at all with the Midwest or Christians of any kind, is talking about “walls” and a “Muslim ban”?!

And people were buying it.

Baroo! Has he ever been to the Bay Area? Or south Texas? Y’all know ranches cross the border, right?

I simply couldn’t imagine a draft-dodger who completely lacked discipline being our Commander in Chief. Because it’s kind of a big deal.

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

As I’ve said many times, I have *not* served in the military.

We had our kids young and the economics weren’t there. Absolutely I registered with selective service in case the country needed me. But at the end of the day – I have not been shot at in the context of war in a foreign land. (Only at a college party in SA. Oh the irony. No bullet holes – because I run fast? I dunno. Lucky I guess. And stupid for being there.)

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

I remember talking at length with one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever worked with, and saying.

“It’s the women. The women are going to have to save us. It’s not fair to dump that on y’all. But I can’t see any other way out of this mess.”

Women’s March, January 2017, San Francisco, CA credit: Ed Schipul

At the time I still had hope President Trump would grow into the job, surround himself with good people and listen to them. And I prayed he had the wisdom and knowledge to make wise decisions based on what must be an overwhelmingly complex job.

I felt the same way about President Obama. After all, he wasn’t exactly experienced in the world stage. McCain probably would have gotten my vote. Then “Palin” happened and it was an immediate observation that he was surrounding himself with the wrong people. John McCain was an amazing statesman and a hero in my book. But Palin being one heartbeat away…. I just couldn’t do it.

So here we are.

I for one, knowing the demographics, the actuarial tables, the generational trends (most of which I view as healthy), am hopeful.

I am hopeful for America, the United States of America, primarily because of the women who are rising to power.

This, the rise of women in power, is no threat to me; it is hope. Hope for the country I love.

ICS/DCS Control Systems Aren’t prepared for this. Still.

An ingeniously simple control systems experimental power grid hack attack from 2007. Source:

https://www.wired.com/story/how-30-lines-of-code-blew-up-27-ton-generator/

A protective relay attached to that generator was designed to prevent it from connecting to the rest of the power system without first syncing to that exact rhythm: 60 hertz. But Assante’s hacker in Idaho Falls had just reprogrammed that safeguard device, flipping its logic on its head.

At 11:33 a.m. and 23 seconds, the protective relay observed that the generator was perfectly synced. … It opened a circuit breaker to disconnect the machine.

When the generator was detached from the larger circuit …(and)… relieved of the burden of sharing its energy with that vast system, it instantly began to accelerate, spinning faster, like a pack of horses that had been let loose from its carriage. As soon as the protective relay observed that the generator’s rotation had sped up to be fully out of sync with the rest of the grid, its maliciously flipped logic immediately reconnected it to the grid’s machinery.

The moment the diesel generator was again linked to the larger system, it was hit with the wrenching force of every other rotating generator on the grid. All of that equipment pulled the relatively small mass of the diesel generator’s own spinning components

Yup, it self destructed by reversing the logic of a safety relay. Brilliant and terrifying hack – both.

We are not prepared.

Hospitality Industry Jobs Killed by COVID

Hospitality industry jobs are f’d. Big time. You care. You need us/them/we. We take care of each other.

If you have never worked in the service industry, then you might not know that a Monday or Tuesday night (it varies by geography) are called “Industry Night.” And in every town there is/are one or two establishments that stay open a bit later and focus on catering to other professionals in the service field. If you are “industry”, special pricing and special consideration is given. And thus you ALWAYS tip your compatriots 20% or more. It’s an unwritten rule we all follow.

If you have never worked in the service industry, the people, like I was and still am, who behind the scenes make everything work smoothly, then their health, safety, economics and future, might not resonate with you.

But if you have always been served, and never the server, give it another 12 months and you will seriously care. Because you won’t have a pub or restaurant to go to.

From the article: https://www.npr.org/2020/09/29/917756656/pandemic-threatens-long-term-job-security-after-hospitality-industry-layoffs

“Nationally, hotel occupancy is hovering at around 50%, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. In urban areas, business may be even slower — in the 20% to 40% range.”

“Virtually all business travel has halted. … Conventions have canceled for the year, or postponed. Pretty much all we are seeing in hotels are the leisure travelers,” said Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association.”

I am not suggesting opening everything up and a return to the wishful and fictional recidivist memories of what makes America “great”. And I don’t have all of the answers. That’s the point; none of us do.

I am posting this as a former busboy, waiter, fill-in bartender-of-last-resort in my youth. It’s how you partially pay for college. Or at least it was for many of us.

I am proud to have kept the (your) cutlery and dishes sanitary and well rinsed, the industrial ovens and grills on giant wheels cleaned with just the right amount of industrial strength cleaners. The kind that eat into your skin if you don’t wear elbow length gloves. And again rinsed and washed so customers didn’t get sick.

You do your “industry” job “right” because it’s the right thing to do. And hey, don’t forget, we also eat and drink where we work. And we bring in our family and friends.

The food and beverage “industry” is honorable work. I’m proud to have done it for years. And I’m not too prideful to return to working in the industry of restaurants, bars, and hotels if I needed to. I bet the 6 AM prepper is still is terrified of paper cuts (tomato juice is a killer) and I bet they still slice the prosciutto last (it’s greasy so you do it last before cleaning the blade.)

In conclusion, as painful as it is to write this, we must *not* fully open the service economy back up until we solve COVID. All that will do is endanger, and sometimes, literally kill my friends in the industry.

And to achieve that, in a time of international crisis, the people in industry should not be forgotten.

For your own research: https://www.bea.gov/data/gdp/gdp-industry

The k in COVID

“…. we don’t need to know all the sufficient factors that go into a super-spreading event to avoid what seems to be a necessary condition most of the time: many people, especially in a poorly ventilated indoor setting, and especially not wearing masks.”

“As Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, told me, given the huge numbers associated with these clusters, targeting them would be very effective in getting our transmission numbers down.” “

source: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/09/k-overlooked-variable-driving-pandemic/616548/

HHS Ads on Coronavirus

Me: clearly the country is feeling despair regarding the over 200 thousand Americans who have died from the Coronavirus. Many of our people are in quarantine, self-quarantine, unemployed, dead, sick, recovering, feeling guilt from passing the disease to others, mourning, confused, in anguish, and looking for any light.

Therefore a public relations campaign to educate the public on causes, prevention, treatment, the facts, and yes “hope” for life with and hopefully after COVID is appropriate imho.

But not like this. Copy/paste from the article:

‘It’s like every red flag’: Trump-ordered HHS ad blitz raises alarms

Excerpts:

The health department is moving quickly on a highly unusual advertising campaign to “defeat despair” about the coronavirus, a $300 million-plus effort that was shaped by a political appointee close to President Donald Trump and executed in part by close allies of the official, using taxpayer funds.

The ad blitz, described in some budget documents as the “Covid-19 immediate surge public advertising and awareness campaign,” is expected to lean heavily on video interviews between administration officials and celebrities, who will discuss aspects of the coronavirus outbreak and address the Trump administration’s response to the crisis, according to six individuals with knowledge of the campaign who described its workings to POLITICO.

….

(My opinion: Perhaps the only good news is the director is undoubtably familiar with how to sway American public opinion.)

….

“Two HHS officials said that Caputo had spent weeks extolling Tolmor’s work, arguing that the Russian-born filmmaker — who had been nominated for an Oscar, but had no prior experience producing U.S. public health campaigns — would bring a fresh eye to the work and could execute Caputo’s vision.”

Source: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/09/25/trump-hhs-ads-coronavirus-421957?cid=apn

Crash of US Dollar

“… the dollar’s share of official foreign-exchange reserves has declined from a little over 70% in 2000 to a little less than 60% today, according to the BIS. That downtrend could gather momentum in the years ahead, especially with the U.S. currently leading the charge in de-globalization and decoupling. With America’s share of reserves well in excess of its share in world GDP and trade, such a correction might well be inevitable in an increasingly fragmented, multi-polar world.”

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-06-14/dollar-crash-how-will-it-unfold

My opinion: the author does not mention the supply chain. Or “purchase orders” upon which the supply chain depends. Or the incentive for other countries to free themselves from the impacts of tariffs.

Pause for a moment and ask yourself, do you think China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the EU, etc aren’t avoiding VAT and US economic sanctions using blockchain backed “purchase orders”?

Is it just a coincidence ETH, the dominant player in both “proof of work” and “proof of stake” crypto blockchain smart contracts, was created and backed by Russia, the largest energy supplier to the EU?

Forget politics and think like a Neanderthal for a minute. Maslow’s hierarchy.

Life depends on mundane stuff like food, water and energy. All of these involve complicated supply chains that can be manipulated in a trade war.

If we, the United States of America, were being controlled by a foreign currency, would we tolerate it? No.

Russia didn’t start this break towards independence from US economic hegemony, Europe did with the Euro. But they kept Central Banks’ central control so it hasn’t provided freedom.

Meanwhile China was like “heck-with-it, just pin it to the dollar and choke their supply chain.. Oh and invent BTC, let Binance flourish, etc etc…

The American-centric worldview is just that, a “world view” which by definition has built in bias and distorted perceptions. It can be blinding.

For the sake of future generations in every country, we must consider their future, not just ours. Loss of monetary influence would be a world changing event. Nobody knows how this will shake out.

It is hard for me to shake off the words spoken to me recently while on a walk. To paraphrase their words:

“Dude just accept it. We surrendered in 2016 to a history of racism and sexism. 2020 is the year America finally is starting to see what happens when you surrender to some imaginary and some real dragons. But is it a bad thing to let other countries deal with their own problems? Who made us world police?”

I don’t have an answer. It’s like the first time a child sees a horrific car accident. You can’t “un-see” it.

Our President Hasn’t Been a Unifier

“All I ask is he keep his disrespect, his foul language far away…. Our president hasn’t been a unifier.” – Justin Blake after the [redacted**] shooting of his nephew ***

“Justin Blake declared that President Trump must be defeated as he stood over the spot where a police officer shot his nephew in the back seven times.”

Source: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-09-01/trump-kenosha-jacob-blake (Edit: As of Sept 18, 2020, this link is not working and cannot be used as verification of the quote, which I find ridiculous. The media IS definitely part of the problem.)

There are facts like America has passed 180,000 COVID-19 deaths. And that our culture, when scientifically tested by social scientists, has a proven racial bias against Black Americans. Those are facts.

There are opinions, frequently based on facts. But lately many people are forming opinions based on lies they believe to be facts.

These people have been tricked.

It is no secret that I did NOT vote for Trump. I expected, sadly, that President Trump would be an ineffective leader.

Yet by “ineffective” I was thinking corruption, tons of White House dinners with dignitaries and CEOs, grifting, illegal activity, disregard for the Hatch Act, ignoring the emoluments clause in The Constitution of the United States of America – that type of garden variety criminal stuff.

But just wow. The damage Trump has done to America, the deaths caused by his inaction, his rancor, his divisive speech and actions, the actual carnage he has left in his wake… for lack of a better phrase, bring me to the point of despair.

And let me be clear – we, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – we, still and forever want you, the Trump voter, the Trump supporters, to rejoin this great nation. You are part of our strength, ya just made one heck of a mistake. Own it, “man up”. Shake the memory of this loser off your shoulders and help us rebuild.

To those who voted for him, that was foolish, but simply put, you were tricked. This is forgivable. Everyone gets tricked at one point or another. The definition of “fool” is technically:

So you foolishly voted for Trump. And now our Nation is weaker, in my opinion, than at any time in recent history. Putin laughs at our puppet in charge.

Wait. Hang on. You now need to help us clean up this mess.

You, Trump voters, are still my fellow Americans. I love and respect you. Yes, you made a mistake, a terrible miscalculation, by disregarding the character of this fool. Yet you are not a fool, you just acted foolishly based on the data you had at the time.

Your data has changed.

And for those of you who still support and want this trickster, this loser in chief, I ask you one question:

“Do you believe, if re-elected, Trump will change course, in words and actions, to unify the country he has divided?”

YES or NO?

If you do NOT believe Trump will change course and UNIFY the people, you have to accept that you are not for the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

Donald Trump is, by far, the worst President in my lifetime. He is a loser. Period.

Yes, I agree with Justin Blake when he says “Our President Hasn’t Been a Unifier”

And I am FOR:

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

——- the following is an addendum in response to my error in a post on linkedin —-

[*** CORRECTION: There was an error in what was supposed to be just the “pull quote” to articulate the issue. It was discussed on linkedini and I was incorrect in my replies to a good friend. I apologize for this.

Specifically the original blog post stated INCORRECTLY one phrase from the article that I believe I screen scraped. But I’m human and possibly I just retyped it? I can’t verify as the link to the LA Times no longer works.

Regardless, Given no further proof, and the original link being broken, I must assume it is MY ERROR. I apologize Oscar.

I apologize thrice for incorrectly stating that Jacob Black had “died” from being shot 7 times in the back. The following link states Jacob is alive but paralyzed from the waste down. (source: https://www.npr.org/2020/08/25/905926959/jacob-blake-paralyzed-after-being-shot-in-the-back-by-the-police – but who knows how long that link will stay up.

All of my other thoughts in the above post still stand. I love the United States of America.

I am an independent and have voted in both primaries over the years (which is legal in Texas). I have supported and done web sites for candidates on both sides of the aisle, I worked very briefly on George W’s reelection campaign, I supported Obama, worked with Sylvia Garcia. And I’m proud to have helped John Culberson launch the first WordPress Website on the Whitehouse network when he was my representative. I believe all of the above politicians to be Patriotic and that they put country over party.

I, very unfortunately, have come to the conclusion that our current President does not understand or even have the mental capacity to occupy the office he currently holds. I do however pray (literally daily) that somehow he will step up to the task, gain the self confidence to lead this great country, and as he says “make America great again.” So far, my prayers remain unanswered. And that is why we have elections and a system for a peaceful transfer of power.

Given I don’t see Trump changing, I simply can’t remain silent and forever be on the wrong side of history as America’s hegemony slides away right before our eyes. The President needs to step up and lead, or just step aside.

Either option can be done with strength, honor and peacefully as is the American tradition.

But make no mistake about my allegiance or Patriotism. The President is our Commander in Chief, the Presidency is an Office, and I respect and would do my duty if called regardless of my concerns with his ability as a leader. My dedication to country is guaranteed because that’s how I was raised and that’s who I am.. WHOOOOP!

United Arab Emerates Officially Recognizes Israel

Part of my studies at Texas A&M University in College Station included a political science focus on China, Africa, and the Middle East. All three are incredibly fascinating.

It is from that historical perspective that I must congratulate President Trump for achieving a significant step towards stability in the Middle East and a safer path forward for the nation of Israel.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/uae-israel-deal-trump-s-first-genuine-foreign-policy-success-n1236769

I recognize there will be radicals on both sides who will use the “slippery slope” fallacy finding something negative in an Arab country recognizing Israel as a country. But I see the opposite.

For example, previously the Arab states didn’t have diplomatic relations with Israel. In denying that acknowledgement, it left the Arab states with little leverage to negotiate regarding what will hopefully be an acknowledged state of Palestine.

It won’t be easy, the path forward will be fraught with peril. But this has been the case in the Middle East since ‘67.

The first step towards peace, anywhere, is for people to communicate with words instead of bombs. UAE is taking a leadership role here, being the adults in the room, and acknowledging Israel as a peer. And communicating formally with respect.

I view, I predict, I am hopeful that years from now we will view this as a turning point in the never ending quest for peace in the Middle East.

Today I congratulate the Trump administration for being a part of the solution on this issue.

Wear a Damn Mask

Source: https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2020/06/417906/still-confused-about-masks-heres-science-behind-how-face-masks-prevent

“Two compelling case reports also suggest that masks can prevent transmission in high-risk scenarios, said Chin-Hong and Rutherford. In one case, a man flew from China to Torontoand subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. He had a dry cough and wore a mask on the flight, and all 25 people closest to him on the flight tested negative for COVID-19.

In another case, in late May, two hair stylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients while sick with COVID-19. Everyone wore a mask and none of the clients tested positive.”

Juneteenth – We Must Remember History to Not Repeat It.

We must remember our fellow American’s EARNED it. And by “it” I am not speaking of their “freedom”. The Constitution makes clear that Freedom is “God Given” and “Inalienable.”

Juneteenth was not the day that ended slavery. It was the day they learned that a wrong had been righted, and the truth had been withheld. Another lie to slowed the healing of America.

“My people have a country of their own to go to if they choose… Africa… but, this America belongs to them just as much as it does to any of the white race… in some ways even more so, because they gave the sweat of their brow and their blood in slavery so that many parts of America could become prosperous and recognized in the world. ”

Josephiner Baker

– Josephiner Baker, legendary entertainer and activist

Quote Source: https://www.becauseofthemwecan.com/blogs/culture/juneteenth-10-powerful-quotes-to-remember-on-freedom-day

I believe in the power of freedom, in the power of truth, and in standing in solidarity with black Americans who to this day do not enjoy freedoms and laws that protect all of us. But are still enforced and applied unjustly and unevenly.

The next equivalent of Juneteenth in America, I predict, will be the day when White people get the news. When white people understand the news. News of what is already written, news of what is already the law of the land. We just have to acknowledge our equality and acknowledge we are far stronger as one nation.

Image source: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:JosephineBaker1964NL.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

Image description from wikimedia:

English: Josephine Baker and her 10 adopted children in a tour boat (President John F. Kennedy) in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), 4 October 1964Date4 October 1964SourceGaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL)916-9642AuthorHugo van Gelderen (ANEFO)

to live in a world where tech companies get to decide what they publish

Just read Mark Zuckerburg’s comments on Holocaust Deniers. A direct quote:

I also don’t want to live in a world where tech companies get to decide who has the right to speech and get to police content in a way that is different from what our legal system dictates.

You ALREADY DO CENSOR***  RESTRICT WHAT WE CAN POST. YOU ALREADY RESTRICT OUR SPEECH based on your terms of service. And that is within your purview. The point of this post is that given only a government can “censor”, the capricious nature of what is allowed does not, in this author’s opinion, measure up the values of our country. ***

An obvious example would be #freethenipple. Because what is natural is bad according to FB and they have to put X’s over their nipples, the very ones that give us life?

Yet moronic thoughts of holocaust denial, a denial that ignores history, ignores evidence, and promotes hate, a denial that is factually untrue and is based on blatant falsehood – that is somehow OK? No. No those pages are not OK. And YES you can do something about it. 

Mark – as a leader, if you chose your path or not, it is your DUTY to approach it with respect for the power you have. Every hate speech site, especially including “deniers” and “supremacists” can and should be shut down. That is YOUR decision.

I run a tiny software company. TINY. And I make ethical decisions every day that aren’t profit motivated. I bring this up because it is beyond ridiculous that women’s rights are blocked by facebook but hate speech and idiot speech is not blocked. The dissonance is stunning. THINK ABOUT IT.

And yes, I do want to live in a world where companies act with dignity and that includes standing up against hate speech. Oh wait, I already do. You are just making poor decisions currently.

Think of it this way – company leaders get to dictate our health care. And they are ZERO knowledge of your needs. I know this. Because, as a CEO, I promise you, and you know this, there is no class we get sent to on how to pick a healthcare plan for people. In other words – we are absolutely UNQUALIFIED to make that decision.

Consider: I have personally made the decision that our company will not represent big tobacco. I’ve lost relatives and friends to lung cancer and I choose not to host sites that promote it.  Meanwhile I *absolutely* support an individual’s right to smoke. And I have smoked myself many times. I’m a hypocrite in that regard. I just know smoking tobacco is addicting and I choose to not host those sites. I choose. Because choice is part of being a leader.

Tendenci is open source so if someone else hosts a tobacco site using our software, well, that’s fine. I’m in NO WAY denying them access to our technology in any way. I’m in favor of OPEN.

Hell, I might have even made that decision while smoking a Lucky Strike debating Edward Bernays’. But ya, I made the call.

Zuck – do the right thing. Don’t hide behind the second amendment and allow people to spread hate, and in this case, completely ignorant speech. Then after that, tell Jack and Ev to do the same thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the President of any country, we must not allow or tolerate utter bullshit.

PS – Zuck – I’ve never spoken to you directly, although also a speaker at SXSW back in the day I seem to recall my room was a bit smaller than the main stage.  I have spoken to Randi years ago on a joint proposal, and I understand you are playing at a different level (by far). Just if you see this post, consider my words or call me to discuss if you wish.

PPS – yes, I made the #freethenipple photo the featured image on this post, because I am choosing to censor OUT people who don’t know facts and history like deniers. That is my choice. I get to do that. I get to focus on the positive. You do to. So damnit man, exercise your own freedom of speech Zuck.  Do it.  

Edit: https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/wireStory/rubens-facebook-fight-artistic-nudity-56889860

*** This text was edited on Friday August 10, 2018 based on reasonable and logical discourse in a thread on facebook. You can view that thread here. But the bottom line is only a government can technically “censor” and I agree with that point. Therefore there is an even lower bar for companies to make the decision to kick scumbags off of their sites.

Cindi Crigler – Celebrating the Life of a True Friend

Cindi Crigler is one of the most beautiful people I have ever known. Best friend to my wife, our families have been intertwined for 15 to 20 years, we aren’t even sure of the exact date of when we all connected. Cindi loves us so much she adopted our backyard chicken when we were looking for a home! I could go on, and have written three different tributes, and they all digressed into thoughts I can’t publish.

All I can say is that truly amazing people are still out there. They are humble and quiet and strong as hell. Because love conquers all. Cindi personified that. Words from her family are below the images. Please read them.

Cynthia Farlow Crigler
1958-2017

Cynthia Farlow Crigler,58, passed away peacefully at her home in Houston, surrounded by her loved ones on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas to Frank and Clare Farlow, Cindi grew up in Houston with her siblings Julie, Allison, and Katherine. Cindi was a carefree spirit and a beautiful light that shone brightly on this earth. Her smile, laughter and gentle soul cannot be erased. Together with Michael Crigler, she had four children and 8 grandchildren. Her beautiful family was her greatest joy and proudest accomplishment. She had a love for all living things and always kept a menagerie of animals. Her life has been a tapestry that she has woven with different fabrics, full of vibrant colors.

She is survived by her parents Frank and Clare Farlow, her step-mother Jan Farlow, and her siblings: Julie Farlow Grote, Allison Farlow Simmons and Katherine Farlow Richardson. She is also survived by her children and grandchildren: Shannon and Mike Taylor and their children Zoe and Chloe; Jamie and Oliver Salgado and their children Vince and Lyla; Casey and Jeffrey Poche and their children Aidyn and Ali; and, Mikey and Taryn Crigler and their children Nate and October. Lastly, a special thanks to her loving partner Stephen Dean and all of her close friends who have supported her throughout her life.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, January 7th, 2017. In Lieu of Flowers, donations can be made in her name to TWRC Wildlife Center www.twrcwildlifecenter.org.

Published in Houston Chronicle on Jan. 6, 2017

See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=183374597#sthash.NESlitY8.dpuf

deep thoughts by a whale

Vegas with Night Lights
Alien Landing in Vegas

The Book:

It is important to note that suddenly, and against all probability, a Sperm Whale had been called into existence, several miles above the surface of an alien planet and since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity.

This is what it thought, as it fell:

The Whale:

Ahhh! Woooh! What’s happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I?

Okay okay, calm down calm down get a grip now. Ooh, this is an interesting sensation. What is it? Its a sort of tingling in my… well I suppose I better start finding names for things. Let’s call it a… tail! Yeah! Tail! And hey, what’s this roaring sound, whooshing past what I’m suddenly gonna call my head? Wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do.

Yeah, this is really exciting. I’m dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind? There’s an awful lot of that now isn’t it? And what’s this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like ‘Ow’, ‘Ownge’, ‘Round’, ‘Ground’! That’s it! Ground! Ha!

I wonder if it’ll be friends with me? Hello Ground!

[dies]

The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb

On openness and open minds. While you read “the facts,” who is to say that the author of the “facts” isn’t incorrect themselves given the “history is written by the victors”?  (Note  quote and article – via @SarahWorthy)

From “The Other Side is Not Dumb

I implore you to seek out your opposite. When you hear someone cite “facts” that don’t support your viewpoint don’t think “that can’t be true!” Instead consider, “Hm, maybe that person is right? I should look into this.”

Because refusing to truly understand those who disagree with you is intellectual laziness and worse, is usually worse than what you’re accusing the Other Side of doing.

and

high-culture

My take away from the article is similar to what I have always advocated (maybe it’s a meta-meta-meta loop and I’m being duped again?). Anyway, those principles in communication are:

  1. Be present.
  2. Listen first.
  3. Be open minded.

I believe I am qualified to speak on this subject for a few odd reasons.  Like the fact that it is hard for me to be present. Being open minded is always a challenge. And listening first is also a challenge. I’m qualified to venture an opinion because I have failed so many times. Sometimes failure teaches more than success.

Then, you get older. You listen more. You respect facts but question bias in statistics. You trust your gut. Your pattern recognition carries more weight than a persuasive graphic alone.

Mostly, in my opinion you learn to listen to other people deeply. You are “present” and you “hear” them. You learn to “see” people in a different way. You aren’t present because you have to, but because you desire the wisdom they are sharing even if you don’t agree. You listen because, maybe with their input, you might come to agree and learn from them! Your passion for wisdom and knowledge outweighs the biases and prejudices we all develop.

I had a friend describe working for me (I’m paraphrasing as it has been a while.)

“It’s hard to get your attention. But when you have your attention, its 100%. It can be a bit much.”

I may have gotten the wording wrong, but it was said by one of my true friends who has been there for me for over 20 years. I respect his opinion and I used his feedback to try to tone my presence down without turning down the attention with which I listen and speak.

Changes I made? Everything from changing my attire to be more casual even in business-suit-Houston and studying my own body posture when listening. Crossing my arms and looking down was my habit when listening deeply. It turns out not everyone interprets my posture for what it was; it came across as disapproving to some when it was in fact the exact opposite. So I changed. I learned to lean against a tree and nod my head, not always in agreement, but to acknowledge what they were saying. So when I say I took my friends feedback seriously, I mean it. I even read two more books on body language.

My reward for my changes? I get to learn more from more interesting people. I LOVE THAT!

Speaking and sharing knowledge

As they say, “the thing with introverts is that it is NOT that they don’t like to talk. It’s that they like to talk about things they are interested in.”

That of course is why we must listen first and learn about things we know nothing about without interrupting people, because that curiosity might uncover something new we are interested in. It is respectful to others. And learning is a lifelong endeavor – I have no intention to stop being curious or learning from others as long as I am breathing.

Avicii’s video for Wake Me Up really captures the loss if we fail to listen to our youth in particular (more after the jump).

2016. This is a unique time in history. Seriously.

Modern knowledge in the Internet age swirls around like a whirlpool, regardless of age, gender, nationality or some certificate on your wall. Degrees in my field for example are close to irrelevant. This amazing kindling of knowledge I am seeing is practically a cauldron  about to spill over for those not paying attention.

Example: you are likely to learn more from those younger than you this year than those older than you if you are over 40.

Youth of course has it’s own arrogance and may not want to learn from their elders because like EVERY generation they believe they know more. But they MUST have this arrogance or they won’t take risks, start companies, invent calculus,  and push our society forward. Still, they can learn from their elders. But only, only if they respect you first. And they are the future. So yes, if you are over 40, get off your high horse and earn THEIR respect even if when we were 20 it was our job to earn the respect of 40 year olds.

I have traditionally, and will continue to respectfully, listen to my elders by being fully present. To learn from their wisdom. Yet…..

I must observe that in the last six months in particular, I have learned more from carefully listening to people sometimes much younger than me. To give them the floor and listen deeply and respectfully.

If you listen, our youth from 5 to 20 are particularly generous with their knowledge. I am so grateful to my younger friends and acquaintances who “grok” that I am interested in what they are teaching me. That I am fully present and grateful to them for sharing their knowledge with me.

This respect is the same as how appreciative I am of my 70 or 80 year old friend who share with me. Tell me stories. It’s kind of awesome. People are people, we should not underestimate them regardless of age. 

The reward from these interchanges is truly priceless. Knowledge, respect, love, a human connection. Pay it forward in a time when knowledge is flying back and forth between all generations and cultures. It’s an exciting (and stressful) time to live. But definitely not boring, my friends!

For the curious ones out there, now is the time. Shut up and dance. Listen first. Be present. Be open minded.

Stories are the best way to share knowledge. Tell yours to those who are intently interested. And be interested in others and ask them to tell you their story. It’s a start. For example I know Alie will teach me to fire dance.

Fire dancing is something I will not do. But if asked, there is a possibility of zero that Alie would not share this knowledge with me. It is knowledge one question away from me. What a cool world we live in!

allie-fire-dancer-houston

Instead, I choose to photograph my friends, be present, listen to them, and learn what I can while wishing they would keep the fire farther away from me. (Even if my mantra is to move fast and break things.)

#peace

PS – Day job stuff. As the founder of Tendenci – The Open Source Membership Management Software project, these topics in sociology do apply very much to our vision. Systems of interaction can change behaviors (do you “like” or not click “like” on FB when a couple breaks up. It’s a serious question. Thus I value your feedback to make https://github.com/tendenci/tendneci/ even better for the open source community.)