Friday, December 23, 2011

Procrastination Follows Me Home

Thanks to years of employment I finally got to know myself a little bit.  I procrastinate tasks I don’t know how to do. I can overcome it sometimes.  One time management guru taught me to break jobs down into small tasks. And to always list tasks with a verb.

We’re having a big Christmas Eve family gathering here, and I am having a great time getting ready. But there’s one task I'm procrastinating. My sister kindly lent me her glue gun for decoration repairs. I find it a bit intimidating so it’s been sitting on the kitchen counter while productivity is happening all around it.  Will Rudolph get his antler back? Will pine cones get back where they belong? Add to list “open glue gun”. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Places to go - People to see

My travel partner had to be in Singapore for work and asked her colleagues where we should head for a three day weekend. One of the locals suggested we head to Hoi An, Viet Nam, so off we went. From home we did the paperwork for visa on arrival, obtaining a letter of invitation from our hotel.  Travel note: visa on arrival is a better strategy when you don’t have a connecting flight to catch. We ran through the Ho Chi Min airport to catch our flight to Da Nang because a ninety minute layover was a bit tight for the elegant hand completed visa.

 Our weekend in Viet Nam was cool and rainy. We enjoyed strolling through historic Hoi An.  There are few cars and many motorbikes. The opening up into free markets has created lots of motorbike related entrepreneurs.

We were knocked out by My Son. It was misty and mysterious. According to Lonely Planet we bombed it destroying some of the largest temple ruins, until the French complained to Nixon. Another sign of the war was a newspaper story about a woman, infertile from Agent Orange, caring for children with deformities caused by Agent Orange. So I had to face it, and it was disconcerting. 

In a weekend I didn't glean the state of things. Current political conversations were fun. Living appears to be very basic. There weren't any Coca Cola signs in the villages we saw, and there's that "lack of development is quaint" ambivalence.  The food is terrific and was a highlight. Fresh greens in everything. It is somehow light and rich at the same time.


We came home for two days, headed to Miami for work and then up to Naples to visit our niece and family. I got the “slice of life” I was hoping for with wonderful kids age five, seven and nine. This is the moment I was seeking, complete with a Hannah Montana ornament.

When people asked me why I was retiring I sometimes answered  “places to go and people to see”. So far, so good.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Singapore Musuem Riches

This sign put spring in my step as I approached the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore.  I especially love textiles. This was a great show displaying woven, printed, waxed, or ikated fabric that traders brought from India to exchange for goods throughout Asia. Some of the fabric had been treasured and preserved in high safe spots by island families for a couple of hundred years.  It could be that Singaporeans are on the defense but the show made the point that globalization started a long long time ago. Singapore’s blend of cultures is evidence.

At the Peranakan Museum I learned about generations descended from arriving Chinese men and local Malay woman. This wedding headdress is made up of 600 individual pins.

Keeping Bad Company?

Singapore is a good place to worry about globalization. This city does shopping malls better than anywhere I have been. They are clean, cool, busy, and wind underground for miles. A December visit adds Christmas music and glitzy decorations to the dazzling commercial display.  I have layers of resistance to ”stuff” and universal brands, yet feel funny about wishing away modernity and prosperity when I have benefited from these environmental factors all my life.

 One result of Singapore’s prosperity is huge museums full of sights that enrich my brain and soul. At the National Museum of Singapore I also found companionship. The interpretive displays at a travelling Musee D’Orsay exhibit explained that some impressionist artists were resisting industrialization. That explains the paintings of peasants and haystacks. They sought them out and idealized them.  Occasionally they grappled with current realities by allowing an industrial smokestack in the distance.

The Pre-Raphaelites harked back to medieval painting before western rules of painting were established by Raphael.  I feel solidarity with their nostalgia. I am awed with how constructively they expressed it in gorgeous paintings that have lasted 100-150 years. And I appreciate the company as I sort through my layers of resistance.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Getting Outside

One of the few clear objectives of leaving my workaday life is to spend more time outdoors. I've had three great hits of fresh air and sunshine. This morning I got up at 4:30 a.m. to precinct walk for Measure L which is renewal of critical finding for our schools in Pacifica. I teamed up with a long legged 16 year old to dash up neighbors' steps to hang a "vote!" reminder on the door knobs of those who have said they are going to vote "yes". When we started it was dark, cold, and starry. Owls hooted, dawn brought a clear morning and we finished our list of  houses by seven a.m.. I am exhilarated.

This weekend I went with the Middle Mountain Foundation to finally climbed the Buttes of Sutter County. I've driven by them for years. Our guide was a geology professor, our companions were young, adventurous and super fit. I was the last one up Kodachrome Hill, and I fell once and rolled a few times on the steep uneven down slope.  I was exhilarated. My muddy pants and a small bruise on my hand are badges of honor.

My friend Pat came down the coast with her dog Charlie and did our beach, quarry, and headlands walk. This 5k is small potatoes for her, and especially for Charlie who had boundless Brittany energy. That walk on day two of my vagabond phase launched me into the outdoors.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


This name tag is from the October 17, 2011 Grantmaker's Gathering on Networks put on by the Monitor Institute and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. It captures my work identity.

Highlights of the meeting are over at, including a post from me. I got to enjoy the culmination of work that's been going on since 2009 with great colleagues. And due to a happy calendar accident last week I got to say farewell to my foundation Human Resources colleagues from all over the country at a meeting we hosted in Los Altos.

I am retiring from the best job ever November 2nd and I hear that I may encounter challenges in terms of identity and affinity. At the meeting today Eugene Eric Kim gave me the nudge I needed to share a bit about coming days and how I navigate after so many years of work fed identity and affinity.

Our nephew Sam returned from New Zealand this summer with this necklace saying that it is for new beginnings. It is my new talisman.