Thursday, December 30, 2004

A Tsunami of Tears and Prayers 

Once you've spent time in a place and gotten to know some of its people, you gain a sense of connectedness to it. It’s an awareness that settles in slowly, as the country’s dust gathers on your feet and its people congregate in your heart. The place becomes a part of you, like your childhood bedroom or your first car. Your definition of “you” now carries with it this place, these people.

In 1980 I spent time in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Southern India, so those countries and their people are part of who I am today. I cannot read the Tsunami news or look at the pictures or video of the disaster without thinking of the people I once knew there, of the landscape that’s still fresh in my mind more than 24 years later. For the past few days I have been sitting here at my PC and discovered tears leaking from my eyes as I read about this disaster.

It’s easy, I think, to have a sense of disconnect when a disaster happens so very, very far away; someplace you’ve never been and likely will never go. I think most Americans will look at the Tsunami pictures and read the stories and say “oh, how tragic,” and then refocus on their own lives; their own challenges. It’s only natural.

But because of my connection to these places, I can’t seem to do that. I can’t get these people out of my mind.

The brother and sister pictured below are two such people. The pair, who would now be in their 30s, God willing, lived in a very tiny, very poor village on the road between Mahabalapuram and Madras (now called Chennai). The boy, Morgan, gripped my hand tightly and led me around his village as though I were his “show and tell” specimen for the day. He was so proud to take me to his tiny lean-to of a home and introduce me to his mother as his "new American friend." I remember his mother sitting on the ground, stirring the contents of a battered pot on top of a campfire and shyly offering me something to eat. His sister, a bit more shy, watched from afar, only coming near when I broke out the packs of gum I had brought as a treat for the children I knew I was bound to meet.



These are just two of the faces that I look for in every picture and video of the Tsunami's aftermath. I hope they are alive and well and helping others to survive. I hope that I can figure out a way to help their countries. I hope you can too.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Pre-Post Holiday Stress 

I have not even ripped open a single well-wrapped gift or eaten one measly Christmas cookie and ALREADY I am getting post-holiday sale flyers in my snail mail and e-mail. This does NOT make me happy. Stop the world, I want to get off. Just for a week.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Ten Million and Counting... 

As I suspected, Firefox is a hit and about to become an even bigger hit as Paul Festa explains on ZDNEt: Firefox ad readied as market share increases.

I really do highly recommend this browser (for Internet security reasons, plus Microsoft has enough toys), even though my blog page won't look as nice in it. (But I suspect that will be fixed soon.)
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Saturday, December 11, 2004

Holiday Eating Tips 

My sister-in-law sent me this today. I don't know who wrote it, but it's priceless, and I had to share it here.

Holiday Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party orget up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.

Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

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Friday, December 10, 2004

I Am Not Alone 

At least I know that I am not alone in my Luddite yearnings. Newsday.com published this article yeserday: Experts Urge People to Unplug Occasionally by Martha Irvine. I like the new term they use - "hyper-accessible" - it's a good way to describe the phenomenon.
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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Worry and Imagination 

Worry is a severe misuse of imagination.

Think about it, how many times have you gotten totally caught up in imagining terrible things? (People dying, accidents happening, health turning south, going broke, etc.) What if you made a conscious decision to "block that thought" whenever you found yourself doing this and instead imagined something wonderful? Think of all the good karma that simple act might bring.

Go on, try it. I dare you.
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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Karin, v.2? 

A student in my online Photoshop Elements course that I am just wrapping up for HP, read my Twas the Night Before Black Friday poem at Suite101 and wrote:
I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but you need a month's vacation on a South Pacific island, that doesn't have any technology...lol. I'm addicted, but you're obsessed!

Hey! I resemble that remark!

I DO admit to being a bit obsessed with technology, and I have been for many years. I tried resisting, but it just didn't work. When I first got a cell phone, I told myself (and everybody who would listen) that it was "just for emergencies," and that I would probably "rarely have the darned thing on." I just "didn't want or need to be that connected" and that I used the "time spent driving in my car as 'down time'." Now my cell phone number appears on billboards, bumper stickers and tee shirts and I hold teleconferences while driving to in-person meetings. I am beginning to seriously consider the link between these gadgets and cancer. SIGH.

My husband surprised me with a very early make PDA a number of years ago as a birthday gift. (It weighed about 2 lbs, could hold an entire megabyte of information, and was slower than getting your luggage at the Philadelphia Airport -- but it was cutting edge at the time.) After thanking him effusively I asked him to please take it back to wherever he got it because I "couldn't possibly see how it would be useful," and plus, he had given me that "lovely leather folder for my paper calendar and address book a few years back, and I certainly didn't want that to go to waste." 4 Palms, 3 iPods, 1 Clie, and a Blackberry later I am currently TEACHING a course titled PDAs, Cell Phones and More for CNET. The course has more than 13,000 students in it, and no, I am not kidding. This means that I am akin to the pied piper of geeky gadgets. SIGH.

I decided to take my student's advice this past Saturday. It was a rare day off together for my husband and I, with nothing planned. In the morning I said to him, "Sweetums, do you remember what we used to do on Saturdays before we got totally sucked into our computers? Let's do that today." Neither one of us touched our computers that day. Instead we did some yard work, took the dog for a walk, watched PBS cooking shows on TV, napped, and cooked. (OK, he cooked, I watched, but at least I was THERE.) It was a great break, and one I am planning to repeat on a regular basis.

I recently read an interesting article: No Internet for two weeks? How 28 people coped (written by Stacy A. Teicher). I cannot even imagine being disconnected for two entire weeks. I would feel so...well, disconnected. And I don't quite know what to make of my dependence on (and intense serious need for) e-mail, websites, and other Internet-based tools.

Don't worry...I am not turning Luddite by any means. (Frankly, I don't even think that would be possible for me; I am too far gone...it would take an intervention of serious proportion, such as the entire Eastern Seaboard being without electricity for an extended period of time.) But I AM going to remember to take a break from it every now and then.

Ahh...Karin v.2.
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