I’m not superstitious but …

I'm not superstitious but if I thought it'd help, I'd throw some salt over my shoulder.

  • During my trip two weeks ago, I got a sinus infection, my plane got hit by lightening, and we diverted to Wyoming.
  • During my trip this week, I got a stomach flu, my plane was late and I had a flat tire at 1:00 am.

It's been exciting but I think I'm going to stay home for a bit.

New chair time …

This is my old chair. (Or rather Frank's old chair which he has resisted replacing. I'm not too sad it's gone. And if you have ideas on fixing it, "sshhh!")


This is my temporary chair. I have discovered that while sitting in it I'm much more likely to get up and do something else, so while it's probably good for my health, it's probably not the best work chair …


I wish I had a chair room like HP used to have … When I started at HP, I got to go to the "chair room". There, in a room of 20+ chairs, you got a short lecture on ergonomics and then you got to bounce around trying out all the different chairs until you found one that worked for you. I even found one that prevented me from slouching and from sitting on my foot.

Make everyone feel like your favorite

My two year old's favorite saying right now is "it's my favorite." I believe he picked it up from his granny.

Which made me think … I thought I was both of my granny's favorite. Both of my grandmothers had a huge influence in my life. And I am absolutely sure I was their favorite.

Actually, I'm not that sure anymore. I think they somehow managed to make every one of their grandkids feel like their favorite. Whenever I talked to them, I was sure I was their favorite. They loved me, cared about me and supported me 100%. That empowered me to take on the world. To stand up for others. To make the world a better place.

Make sure everyone in your life knows that they are your favorite! Your favorite developer, your favorite partner, your favorite kid, your favorite advocate, your favorite blogger, … give kudos! Pass it on!

Photo by jaeWALK.

7 things you probably did know about me

Zonker tapped me for the 7 Things meme. Since it sounds infinitely easier than the 25 things that I've been tagged for several times on Facebook, I decided to do the 7 things and count it as both.

How the 7 Things meme works:

  1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

I pretty much tell everybody all the things I want people to know about me, so this is a bit difficult but here we go with seven things you may or may not know about me:

  1. Driving on icy roads is much, much more terrifying than public speaking! There's not much I let scare me but driving on icy roads tops the list. The first snowy day after I rolled my truck, I opened and closed my garage door at least 10 times before I decided I really was going to drive into work.
  2. I don't think I'm very good at knowing when I've done good. I could tell you a hundred ways this post could be better, that last email could have better or that last talk could have been better. By the time I'm finished critiquing myself, it's hard to tell whether it was good or not.
  3. During my first public talk ever, my manager's manager's manager held
    up a sign with the word "SLOW!" written on it. I never saw it.
  4. My heart rate is lower when I'm reading than when I'm sleeping. (Honest, I wore a heart rate monitor through a nap once just to check. My dad didn't believe me so he woke me up one morning with the heart rate monitor in hand to double check.) So reading is good for me!
  5. I got my first guide dog puppy to raise at the age of ten because my parents wouldn't let me get a dog so I talked them into a dog for a year. My last guide dog puppy got to go on business trips with me and she's now working in Alabama.
  6. While everyone talks about how few women there are in technology and open source, I found it much harder being young (or looking young) than being female. Martin Fink once told me that going gray prematurely was a huge asset to him and I actually debated whether coloring my hair gray would help!
  7. Frank and I met on Match.com. We hadn't talked about whether or not we were going to tell people that when someone asked us … we ended up making up a rather confusing story about meeting in the grocery store until I finally broke down and blurted "we met on Match.com!" In spite of us both living in the same area and both knowing hundreds of people, in six years we still haven't met a single person that we both knew before meeting each other. Our worlds were several degrees of separation apart.

Here are the people I've tagged: (And it's really too bad they had to have a blog because I found that some people that I really wanted to tag, didn't have blogs. Or at least not ones they've told me about. 🙂 Actually, I ended up surprised at how many of my friends don't blog.

  1. Frank (because he needs to blog again!)
  2. Jack Repenning
  3. Ragavan Srinivasan
  4. Dirk Riehle (because he followed me on Twitter while I was writing this)
  5. Deirdre (because her blog always makes me laugh and sometimes cry)
  6. Christian Einfeldt
  7. Ken VanDine

Setting up a computer lab in Mexico, how it all came about

Some friends and I are setting up a computer lab in an elementary school in Huajuapan de Leon, Mexico. You can read about our project on a new blog I set up. I'll write there about what distribution, software, and hardware we end up using. (And if you have an old but not outdated computer lying around, we'd love to have it for the kids!)

I thought I'd share here how the project came about, as I get asked that a lot.

When One Laptop Per Child came out, I thought it would be really cool to set up a school here in the US with a sister school somewhere else. My dad said he could work out the Mexico part, but then OLPC had distribution problems, our one computer took months to get to us and I decided to wait. I must have mentioned the idea at SCALE last year because I met Dan Anderson there, a high school computer science teacher in Los Angeles. He wrote his email address on a piece of paper and told me he'd be very interested in helping.

Then, luckily for the project, Dan followed up with an email a few months ago. It was perfect timing – my parents had moved to Huajuapan de Leon just a few months before. I said, hold on, I think we can make this work. I then waited impatiently for my dad to call me (he calls me with Skype.) Dad checked in with his friend Blanca, a high school teacher, and they found an elementary school that was perfect. The school "18 de Marzo" has primarily Mixtec students and they were really anxious for computers. The parents and teachers had chipped in and build a room for computers but then the computers had never come. The students have no access to computers at home or at school and aren't well prepared for using them when they get to middle school or high school. Most of them don't graduate from high school. (The school doesn't even have a phone line at the moment. No air conditioning either.) At the same time, I called my friend Ragavan Srinivasan who I'd been talking to about this type of project for a while. We've since been joined by several others like Alex Mayorga Adame (and I'm excited to have another person translate while we're there) and my friend Serena Robb who knows the world of non-profits and social services well. Arthur Langham, one of my college friends, sent us our first computer donation and since then we've got a few others. We're looking for at least 20 computers with hopefully some laptops for the teachers.011

Christian Einfeldt has given us a lot of info on his experience setting up free and open source computers in a school and has done intros to a lot of others.

So that's how it all got started. Hopefully we'll be shipping computers down in April (we have a customs free way to get them to the school system – just need money for shipping) and we'll all head down in June to set up the lab. School will still be going on in Huajuapan so we'll get to meet the teachers and students. Then the plan is to repeat it all next year with another school!

(So if you have an old but not outdated computer, we'll take it! Send me an email at stormyscorner at gmail dot com and I'll send you info.)

Diet coke is like cigarrettes for me … and how I quit

I heard a stop smoking ad yesterday and I thought they were talking about diet coke:

"I have one at 6:30 in the morning, after every meal and right before I go to bed."

I also think my diet coke addiction is somewhat like an alcohol-addiction because even though I've quit drinking diet coke, I think I'll always have a problem with it. At any moment, I could drink a diet coke (it sounds good!) and I'd be drinking 5-6 or more a day again.

While a diet coke habit is easier on those around you (no second hand smoke, no embarrassing behavior, no dangerous driving), it's still an annoying habit. You can't carry a six pack in your pocket and even if you could, it wouldn't be cold. I was always preparing. Did the hotel I was staying at have diet coke? Would I be able to get one before my afternoon meeting? Maybe I could take a smaller cooler and stock up … (Don't laugh, I know a guy that carried a 12 pack of diet coke with him on every trip to Asia because he didn't like Coca-cola Light. Another, rather high level, manager had every meeting room stocked with diet coke before he got there!)

I haven't had a diet coke since September 8, 2008. While I think I don't have any physical dependencies on diet coke (no head-aches, no mood swings, no shakes, etc when I give it up) the psychological dependency is huge. (And by the way, I read a *lot* about dependencies and addictions and I'm convinced we don't really know much about them.) I found no good advice for how to quit drinking diet coke. Or for that matter how to stop any addiction. The best advice seems to be to attend AA meetings which hardly seems like a practical suggestion for most of us.

So how'd I do it? Three key things:

  1. I made giving up diet coke my number one priority. I didn't care what I ate, how much I exercised, what else I drank, …. as long as I didn't drink diet coke. It was my number one goal. This is important because when I tried to combine it with eating healthy, I failed miserably.
  2. I substituted with carbonated water. I drank a lot of sparkling waters for a while. This made business trips to Europe and Asia pretty easy. Not so much in the US. But you can get soda water in any restaurant and 7-11s sell Perrier. I don't drink carbonated water as much now but there for a while I was drinking a lot of carbonated water. (By the way, business trips were the hardest times not to drink diet coke.)
  3. I told everyone. Especially when I was feeling particularly tempted, I'd tell everyone around me. I told complete strangers. They'd all smile and nod. Some would ask why. I'm sure they thought I was a bit strange. But I have to tell you, I never broke down and bought a diet coke after I'd just told everyone around me that I'd given them up!

Lots of people also advise keeping in mind why you want to quit. I wanted to quit because I hated feeling dependent on anything – it's really annoying to always be trying to figure out where you're going to find a diet coke – to feel like you have to have one. There were a lot of other good reasons to quit, but that was my main one. That said, knowing why didn't help me as much as the three points above: making it my #1 goal, having a substitute, and telling everyone!

Good luck with all your new year's resolutions!

Photo by cackhanded.

See … I really was meant to be a community manager, executive director type person

There’s something about those self quizzes in magazines that always grabs me. (Although I have to admit that I usually cheat and check what the categories are before I start reading so I can read each of the answers and see how they relate to the conclusions.) So when someone pointed me to the Color Career Counselor, I had to try it. (Note that it asks for registration information but doesn’t confirm. But unless you’re bored or insanely curious, there’s not much reason to try it.)

What’d it say?



Key Words: Tactful, Cooperative, Generous, Understanding, Insightful, Friendly, and Cheerful [Hmm. Shouldn’t everyone have a balance of good and not so good key words?]

This very social type enjoys working in groups, sharing responsibilities, and being the center of attention. Fields of interest are instructing, helping, nurturing, care giving and instructing-especially young people. They discuss and consider feelings in order to solve problems, lead, direct, persuade, guide, organize and enlighten others.

So there you go. I’ve found my best career. (Well, second best according to them.) Although I keep the young kids at home.

And in case you’re curious, my first best occupation was "CREATOR" which along with yet another long list of greatly flattering adjectives came with jobs that varied from Public Relations to Musician to English Teacher. Let me tell you, I would make one terrible musician.

Now back to work.


So today I decided to quit (or at least seriously cut back on) caffeine, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and carbs. So you can blame any behavior you don’t like on that – for a couple of days anyway. (And if you see me drinking a diet coke, please remind me that I’m cutting back!)

On that note, a new study (yet another study) shows that consuming fructose actually changes the way our bodies process sugar. Fructose is mostly commonly consumed as high fructose corn syrup that is added to just about every packaged food.

The researchers found that lipogenesis, the process by which sugars are
turned into body fat, increased significantly when as little as half
the glucose was replaced with fructose. Fructose given at breakfast
also changed the way the body handled the food eaten at lunch. After
fructose consumption, the liver increased the storage of lunch fats
that might have been used for other purposes.

I don’t think they’ve figured it out yet, but I think it’s fascinating that the calories in, calories out model is finally being challenged.

An issue with controlling stuff

Some people collect stuff, some hoard stuff, I control stuff.  I’m not talking about events and people – I’m talking about all those things, clothes, knickknacks, cars, etc, that you collect in life.  I’m usually happy to lend stuff out or let people use my stuff (reluctantly at times, I’ll admit) if they ask.  But take my stuff without asking and my brain screams "thief" and if anything goes wrong, it’s not an accident, it’s your fault. 

I still haven’t forgiven a roommate ten years ago for borrowing my brand new shirt (with tags) without asking, washing it and shrinking it.  If she’d asked I might have said yes (I can’t really tell now), and I wouldn’t have blamed her for the shrinking.  Now it’s totally her fault.  Even 10 years later.  (She didn’t apologize – ever.  Probably because I was so mad.)

Take my power cord at work without asking?  And not even offer to give it back that day,  so I’m stuck scrounging for a spare so that I can use my laptop that day?  I may act nice but my brain is screaming "thief" and my internal image of you is forever tainted.

And if you borrowed something from me and haven’t given it back yet, I know.

So obviously this is my issue.  I say obviously, because while you could argue that the people in the stories above – one ten years ago, one last week – were rude, I think the anger I feel towards them is way out of proportion with the crime.  But I haven’t had to deal with how I feel about people borrowing without asking because usually the people around me figure it out pretty quick and are very careful to ask before borrowing.  I’ve only ever had one roommate issue (the one above.)   But now I live with someone who lends and borrows freely without asking.  (I thought for sure his parents would kill us the first time they were out of town and we "borrowed" something but they seemed quite ok with it when they got back.  For the record guys, I still feel like a thief!)  And he’s someone I’m supposed to share all my stuff with.  And I’ve got this issue.

So the way I understand psychology, you are supposed to think back to some childhood event that caused this.  Did someone borrow something precious to me without asking and never return it?   I can’t think of one.  I do know that I never would have borrowed my parents’ stuff without asking.  And I never wore any of my sister’s clothes or even listened to her music.  (She never wore my mine either.)   

Hmm.  Maybe it’s a sibling thing.  If you have siblings are you more likely to want to "control" your stuff than if you are an only child?  My dad always talks about defending the food on his plate – he had ten brothers and sisters.  On the other hand, the guy I live with is an only child.  And my stepson was an only kid for six years and he’s got no issues with anyone borrowing any of his stuff.  To the point that I wonder if he’s got issues.  But he’s healthy and I’m the one with issues!

So I’ve got this issue with controlling stuff and I’m trying to work on it … (Does that count as an apology, Frank? 🙂

Everyone is in it for themselves

So when your seven year old doesn’t listen to you – don’t take it personally.  He just doesn’t want to do what you were saying.

When the cashier grunts at you – don’t take it personally.  She just doesn’t want to be at work.

When the guy in front of you in line glares at you – don’t take it personally.  He’s probably thinking that the cashier hates him.

When your kid’s teacher won’t talk to you – don’t take it personally.  She’s probably just too shy to talk to any parent.

When nobody at works stops to say hi to you – don’t take it personally.  They are probably worried about that deadline.

But when it feels like the whole world is being mean to you … well maybe you better figure out what’s wrong with you.

I know!  I forgot to put on my happy face this morning.  Seriously, it’s a good thing Caleb greeted me this morning jumping up and down and giggling.  Otherwise it would have been a long day.