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Every year I send out holiday cards by request. This year Ubuntu QA extraordinaire Nick Skaggs reciprocated in the most fantastic way – I received a Skaggs family card with a brownie recipe!
Finding espresso powder took some doing, fortunately a specialty cooking store here in the city carries it. Tonight after class I was on my way to baking these delicious-sounding brownies.
So I mixed:
And I baked:
Then we ate!
Awesome brownies! Thank you Skaggs family!
And in true open source spirit, Nick gave me permission to share the recipe, enjoy: skaggs_family_brownies.pdf
I’ve been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with event and news posts here on my blog, but it’s been over a month since I’ve posted a “miscellaneous stuff” post. It’s great because it makes my life sound exciting! But in reality I’m somewhat a hermit on days that I don’t go out and I spend a ridiculous amount of time with my computers and cats.
After the trip to Hong Kong it took me several days to recover from jet lag, after which I was immediately hit with a very bad cold that I’m still suffering the tail end of.
On November 14th MJ and I headed down to the San Francisco Courthouse to get my name changed officially from Elizabeth Ann Krumbach to Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph. It was all very formal and repetitive and felt like a terrible waste of the judge’s time, but it was done quickly and I got to see other people in the court change their names too. Last week I finally got around to updating my name at the DMV and we’ve been spending all kinds of fun times changing my name everywhere else so I believe all the important stuff is completed now. As for everything else… it’s going to take months. I’ll be updating my passport when I get home from Australia next month.
TV-wise the geek in me got to enjoy both the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who (great episode!) and the 25th anniversary of MST3K (I got the tin!). I’ve also been watching the latest episodes of Sleepy Hollow and Once Upon a Time on Hulu. MJ and I recently started interweaving Stargate Atlantis episodes into our SG1 watching schedule.
For Thanksgiving MJ and I headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to Murray Circle Restaurant at Calavallo Point for a wonderful dinner. I discovered it while browsing OpenTable for places that still had less-than-a-week-out reservations available and it turned out to be quite a gem. It was warm enough to enjoy a super comfortable outdoor table that had a view of the bridge and a spectacular multi-course dinner. I went with the wine pairing too.
I spent the Thanksgiving holiday weekend catching up on a lot of Ubuntu and Partimus related work. I hope to write more about the Partimus work soon, but I sent my photos over to Christian Einfeldt and he wrote up a post about some work we did on Sunday, December 1st here.
MJ and I celebrated Hanukkah together again this year.
The day after Thanksgiving we went over to Wexler’s for a Hanukkah dinner. It was really great, particularly since I love and still can’t manage to make latkes myself. And those jelly doughnuts? The stuff that dreams are made of! My dreams anyway.
In addition to satisfying the history geek within with a class at the synagogue, I’m almost finished with the Coursera class A Brief History of Humankind that I mentioned in October. I’m really loving the class and the format, no big homework assignments or essays to write, it’s all very loose which fits my audit-style learning on Coursera well. I’m very often among the students who watches and learns from lectures but doesn’t bother with homework, so sadly I contribute to statistics that say “hardly anyone finishes the classes” but I do learn! I just skip things that I don’t find value in. With this class I’ve been able to take the low pressure multiple choice quizzes and will probably even do the longer final too so I actually complete it.
It also occurred to me recently that I take a lot of photos and should probably learn a thing or two about photography. I had some friends offer some great recommendations, so this weekend MJ and I watched Better Photographic Composition – Beyond the Rule of Thirds recommended by my friend Terri Yu. The B&H videos are great and I’ll be checking out more of them soon. Carla Schroder and a couple others also recommended books by Bryan Peterson, so Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera is on its way to me. Though in the midst of this I have taken Jim Fisher’s suggestion on the subject to heart in order to keep my geek obsessiveness in check, “sometimes it’s ok to do things casually.”
This past week was a bit of a rough one for me. I learned about another downturn in my grandmother’s health and Simcoe’s blood work from a recent vet visit hasn’t turned out great so we had to go back yesterday for more. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was also the anniversary of my father’s death this weekend, and that always puts me in a sad and solemn state.
In more cheerful news, MJ and I have booked a trip to Fort Lauderdale at the end of the month. We’re planning on visiting with some of MJ’s family in Miami, and some of my family in Miami, and taking a drive up to visit more of my family in Palm Bay. After booking I also learned some of my other side of the family will be vacationing in Vero Beach for the new year, so I’m excited to visit with them too. Oh, and go to beaches. And pools. I expect it’ll be too cold for locals but weather in Florida always feels hot to me!
It’s December now. This year has gone by too fast.
This probably describes a lot of the folks reading this post. Do you have the time and desire to love and polish Kaffeine? Please join the Kaffeine-devel mail list and step forward. https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/kaffeine-devel
If you know of any other projects needing more love and care, please write the Community Working Group, Communityfirstname.lastname@example.org. Another good list to connect to is the new general Community list: KDE-Community@kde.org.
Good cheer to all this holiday season!
I love history and I love the spectacular design and architecture of cathedrals, mosques and synagogues. When I read that Sherith Israel was offering a Sharing the Beauty class I checked my calendar and then immediately sent an email to sign up.
“Discover more of what makes our sanctuary — and Sherith Israel — so special. Two workshops offer an in-depth look at one of San Francisco’s great architectural and spiritual treasures. A third prepares volunteers to serve as docents and to lead tours.
Dec. 2: History, art, and architecture of Sherith Israel
Dec. 9: Religious symbols and worship environment at CSI
Dec. 16: Docent training with Ellen Rosen”
The class started off with introductions and a historical presentation by Ava Kahn, author of several Jews in the American west books. I picked up a copy of her California Jews book a few months ago when I was browsing the local history section of a used bookstore in Point Reyes and noticed the cover featured the fascinating west window from Sherith Israel. I’ll have to write some day about why I find such kinship with the image of Moses handing down the ten commandments with a backdrop of El Capitan in Yosemite.
Kahn’s presentation was very interesting, but since I’m not writing a book myself I won’t copy my notes from the class verbatim here. However, there were some portions that were particularly striking to me:
The congregation was established in 1851, but the building they are in now was completed in 1905 and was one of the only major structures in San Francisco to survive the 1906 earthquake pretty much intact. As such, doubled as the San Francisco courts while the city was rebuilding. As such, “the famous corruption trial of San Francisco political boss Abe Ruef took place at Sherith Israel.” In 1945 the building was also the setting for a meeting of national Jewish organizations to commemorate the founding of the United Nations.
The building was built under the leadership of Rabbi Jacob Nieto, who was a pretty awesome guy. It’s said that he’s responsible for that west window and other beautiful religious iconography in the building as he worked with artist Emile Pissis, brother of Sherith Israel’s architect Albert Pissis. He also known for treating women as equals in the congregation and in 1908, under his leadership, women became voting members of the congregation.
Tomorrow I’ll be going over to class a bit early to join others in a tour of the inside of the dome at 6:30. The class then picks up with an exploration of “Religious symbols and worship environment” during which I hope to take many more pictures!
More photos from that first class here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157638304617065/
December 7th is a tough day for me, it was on this day in 2004 that I lost my father. It was expected after a long illness, but nothing quite prepares you for this kind of thing.
My father inspired my love of learning and pursuit of productive hobbies, especially geeky ones.
In April of this year MJ and I were married. Though I was honored to have my grandfather there with me, there was a particular bit of pain as I didn’t have my father to walk me down the aisle.
But the wedding wasn’t fully without him, in the cozy room where we signed our Ketubah, I brought along a framed photo of him from when I was little:
I love you and miss you Dad.
Here him explain it on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt72ORXUlao
But we have that flame too. Ubuntu the community and Linux distribution family takes inspiration from the concept of ubuntu. To me, the world encapsulates all of what is good in the open, free, software movement, and the free culture movement too. Mandela saw himself as human, no matter how inhumanly he was treated. He knew that bitterness and hatred on his part would engender bitterness and hatred in his beloved South Africa, and he wanted instead love, understanding, forgiveness, and democracy. I hope to continue to see his ideals in the Ubuntu community, and in my Kubuntu corner in particular.
I've often thought of Mandela as the embodiment of the saying be the change you want to see. Rest in peace, Madiba.
I launched erica.biz on December 4, 2007. This week, I’m celebrating 6 years of blogging here. Wow!
It’s been just over 6 years since I sold my last company, as well, and I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown. This week, I figured I’d do something special, and share some of the deep, heartfelt lessons I’ve learned in the past 6 years. Some of these were tough for me to grok. All of them have changed me as a person. This may be a tough read for some of you…but I hope these lessons will have as much of an impact on your life as they did mine!Lesson 1: You Come First.
Oh, this one is so painful to write. For pretty much my entire life I put other people first. I never paid myself well in my businesses–the money always went out to hosting costs, offices, and–mostly–employees. And while I’ve had many fantastic employees who deserved to be paid well, what I couldn’t come to grips with for years was that I deserved to be paid well, as well.
This one was a big life lesson for me in 2013. As I am wont to do, I stretched myself too far financially and found myself in debt for the first time since I sold my last business in 2007. I didn’t do anything “stupid” with my money–didn’t blow a million dollars on gambling, or anything like that. No, in fact, I built two businesses off of it (Whoosh Traffic, which is morphing into MarketVibe, and Opportunity Space, my coworking space here in Austin.)
I realized that I’d continue to be in debt if I continued to pour money into my businesses without paying myself, so I stopped doing that. I drew a line in the sand: My businesses need to be profitable, and I need to take a salary. No more scraping by. I deserve better.
My co-founder, Parnell, and I split earlier this year while I was going through this personal transformation. So far, that’s been the right decision for both of us. I feel surprisingly calm about the entire thing, and also feel better than ever about where MarketVibe is headed. Paul Bonser, our senior developer, stepped up after Parnell left to become our CTO, and we’re happily shipping code and signing up some new beta customers.
None of this would have shifted if I hadn’t decided that I deserved success and that I deserved to be paid. That’s been my biggest transformation in 2013, and it’s setting up to make 2014 an epic year.Lesson 2: Your Health is More Important Than Your Business.
Strongly tied into #1–with my last business, I nearly killed myself (and my employees.) It’s not worth it. Nothing is worth sleep deprivation, eating poorly, and not exercising. Not even a million dollars. Yes, I can say that from personal experience!
I’m still dealing with health ramifications from the poor decisions I made in my 20′s: muscle and joint aches; intolerance to several foods; sleep issues. I’ve started by forgiving myself for making those decisions, and now I’m working with doctors to track down and help fix the physical side of my issues.
I believe that if you don’t fix the emotional breakage first, the physical issues keep popping up for you to deal with. By forgiving myself and believing that I deserve great health, I’ve started to repair myself emotionally. Now it’s time to repair the physical side. I believe 2014 will be a turnaround year in my health as well.Lesson 3: You’re Never Going to Be Perfect. Ship Anyway.
I’ve published over 300 blog posts here on erica.biz, but that’s not actually that many, for having blogged for 6 years. I probably have close to 100 fully finished posts sitting in my Drafts folder, unpublished for whatever reason…mostly because they weren’t “perfect”, or I feared backlash.
I’ve certainly published my share of controversial posts–some that I knew would be controversial, like my post about leaving California, and some that blew me away with the controversy, like my post about hiring a housekeeper that still sparks spiteful comments.
Many people read about bloggers or writers getting hate mail and think “So? Get over it.” It’s oddly difficult to not take hate mail personally, though. I have a pretty thick skin, but I admit it’s gotten to me several times over the years.
I realized this year that I have to push through that own crap in my head (since that’s where it starts–in my head, before I even publish a post!) and say what I believe anyway. I’m still not totally there yet. In fact, I’ve been focusing more on “shipping” in my business than here on my blog. This is something I want to continue to improve on in 2014.Lesson 4: Revenue Trumps Frugality.
I’ve always considered myself frugal. Sometimes it’s been a negative–I’ve had to unlearn doing stuff myself to save money, for instance. Many times it’s been a positive in my life–I rarely buy items I don’t use, and I’ve saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by negotiating with vendors over the 12 years I’ve run my own businesses.
There’s a fine line between “frugal” and “cheap”, however. I wasn’t typically one to buy “cheap” items–I do extensive research before I buy anything, which is why I usually end up with stuff I like and use. I felt I’d optimized my frugality well–so what’s the next step?
There’s only so much you can cut out of your life before you start feeling frustrated about cutting back. That line is different for everyone. When you hit that line for yourself, your emotions will let you know: You’ll get irritated at a cheap item breaking, or you’ll overwork yourself by taking on too much. What do you do at that point?
At that point, my solution was: I’ve optimized frugality to a fine point. Let’s focus on revenue generation.
And that was when I had to confront my fears and beliefs around making more money. You see, frugality is an easy pencil to sharpen for some of us. It’s satisfying to save money on a purchase, or do without an item you don’t really need. But frugality, for me, was also a crutch. It was easy for me to focus on saving money when I should have been focused on making more money. Making more money is hard. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone, learning new skills, and/or meeting new people. That’s a lot harder for me than sitting at home cozied up with my Excel spreadsheet of spending!
I’m still proud of my frugality. But I know it only goes so far. Now, I’m focused on revenue generation. It’s not (yet) as comfortable as saving money is. But I know it will get there.Lesson 5: Your Beliefs Create Your Reality.
I know I’ll be writing about this extensively in 2014. Did you know that if you don’t believe you’re lucky, that you will actually be less lucky? Yes, it’s true! Check out the study behind this (PDF).
2013 has been a crazy trip for me. I look back on who I was even 6 months ago and I have changed dramatically. I believe in myself now. I believe in my ability to create a huge business that changes the world for thousands of happy customers. I’ve watched people I know create businesses that are now worth over $1 billion, and even though it still scares me, I finally believe I can do it, too.
Success starts from within you. You have to believe that success is achievable–not just by “someone”, but by you. You have to constantly step out of your comfort zone. You have to do painful things (like splitting up with your co-founder/best friend when you realize it’s not the right fit.) And you have to have a strong core, to handle all the people who question what you’re doing–and to not take criticism personally.
You have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and know that you will make mistakes. You will hire the wrong people. You will make people upset (and you will have to learn to apologize!) You will make the wrong decisions. But you have to know, deep down, that you can do all that and still be successful. You can mess up all you want–you’re human. But you will learn from your mistakes and not make those mistakes again. That’s what will make you successful.
Many of you have asked me, “What do you think makes some people more successful than others?” And now I finally have the answer: They believe they can be successful, and then they go out there and move mountains in order to be successful. The belief comes first, though. What is inside you creates your external reality.Lesson 6: It’s Okay to Dream Big. Really Big!
Yep, I’ve read all the statistics. Women get funded less often than men. Women only hold 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEO positions. And, whenever I read those stats, I used to think in my head, “Who am I to change this?”
I’ve changed that belief to: “I am the one who can change this.” What better way to change the statistics than to become one–an empowering statistic? And not just a statistic, but a role model for many others as well.
There are so many brave women who stood up and made a change in this world. I’m inspired by their actions, and ready to be the next generation of that change. There are barriers in the way right now–to women getting funded, to women reaching the top of the totem pole and being CEO, and to being seen as technical and capable without coming across as “bossy” or whiny. It’s a tough balance to strike–but that doesn’t mean the problem shouldn’t be tackled head-on.
I want future generations of women–including any daughter I may have in the future–to look back at me and see that I was one of the few who parted the waves, who changed the stats and cleared the way for more women in technical and leadership roles. A woman who went out and got funding and built a hugely successful business with integrity. That’s what this world needs. That’s what I can provide in this world. More than ever, I believe that is why I am here, now, in this reality.
As I went through 2013, smashing the barriers and beliefs in my head, I saw my external world shift. Suddenly getting funding was easier (though I still wouldn’t call it “easy”!) People looked at me differently. “Have you lost weight?” one friend asked. “No,” I replied. Then I thought: But I’ve gained a purpose.
I’m here to do all this for future women and youngsters, to be an inspiration, to pave the way for others. But I’m also here to do this for myself, because I believe in myself and I believe I deserve it.
I’ve gone through so much, and now I’m able to look in the mirror and finally love who I am and who I am becoming. I couldn’t say that 6 years ago.
Here’s to 2014. May it be your best year ever. I’m stoked to see what it will bring for both of us!Copyright © 2008
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The post My Personal Transformation: 6 Life Lessons From 6 Years of Blogging appeared first on Starting Your Own Business with Erica Douglass.
I wrote a few weeks ago about my difficulties in signing up for a California health exchange (CoveredCA) plan. At the time, they said I should be hearing from the insurance company by the following day. I didn't believe that, of course, and indeed, it was a little over two weeks before I finally got something in the mail.
What I got in the mail was a letter from CoveredCA saying that we qualify for coverage for 90 days, but that they want to verify some things.
First, they need to verify citizenship. Fair enough. They want a birth certificate, passport, or INS form. No problem.
They they say "We are unable to match the Social Security number you gave us to our records. Please send us a copy of your Social Security card."
That's a snag. I had a social security card once ... maybe 25 years ago? but I've long since lost it and haven't had any need to go stand in line to get another one. Do I need to do that now? During the holiday season along with the thousands of other people in the same boat?
But the next part is the real kicker:
We are unable to verify that you do not have health insurance through your job or a government program.
- If you have insurance, we need a letter from your job or the deferal/state program. The letter should be on official company or program letterhead. The letter must state the names of the persons who qualify for now, the type of coverage that ended, and the date it ended.
If you do not have insurance, please call the Service Center for assistance.
Neither of us is currently working at a regular W-2 job, let alone one that provides health insurance. So, let me get this straight: it looks like what CoveredCA is telling us is that we can't get ACA coverage unless we can prove that we don't currently have employer coverage. How the heck do you prove that?
Looking at the list of documentation they'll accept, a letter from each of our nonexistent employers, on nonexistent company letterhead, would work nicely.
Right. Uploading documents (forget using Firefox)
I went to the website, logged in and clicked on the verification link at the lower right. (It's a little hard to find given that there's a bunch of other text on top of the link. Nobody seems to be checking the website layout.)
After clicking through a few more screens, I ended up at a page where it listed two items for each of us: Proof of Citizenship, and Proof of Minimum Essential Coverage.
The citizenship part had a long list of acceptable documents -- much longer than the list in the letter they had sent me (though nothing about social security cards, so I'm not clear where that part comes in). But a passport seemed the easiest thing. So I scanned the photo page from each of our passports, clicked on the link for proof of citizenship, clicked Upload, clicked Browse, found the link to the JPG I'd made of my passport, and clicked Upload.
And I got:
The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.I tried again, several more times. I tried making the file smaller (640x449, 128k), using tif and pdf instead of jpg (following suggestions I found on the web -- lots of other people are also having this problem). But it was no use -- I still got the same message every time.
Finally I found a thread where someone had discovered that it didn't work with Firefox, only with IE and Chrome. So I tried logging in with Chromium, and sure enough -- the upload worked.
It's sad to see how marginalized Firefox has become, when major sites like this don't support it.
Minor aside: there's no way to remove an upload once you've made it. I uploaded both our passports in the space for my documents, before realizing there was a separate link for his documents. I hope that doesn't get my application thrown out.
Okay, on to the next part. Proof of Minimum Essential Coverage
Under the "Proof of Minimum Essential Coverage" category was this list of documents:
- Notice of Action of discontinuance from Medi-Cal
- Notice of Action of discontinuance from Medicaid
- Confirmation of disenrollment from employer sponsored health insurance plan
- Confirmation of disenrollment from health insurance plan
None of them seem at all relevant to someone who isn't an employee and therefore isn't covered by insurance.
Well, the letter did say "If you do not have insurance, please call the Service Center for assistance." So let's try that. Online chat
I have trouble finding time when I can stay on the phone for the 30-45 minutes it apparently takes to get through the queue to a live operator at CoveredCA: I've tried several times, but always got called away to deal with real-world issues before I got to the head of the queue. The live chat link didn't do anything for me a few weeks ago, but this time I got a notice from the pop-up blocker and was able to get the window to pop up.
The chat window tells you where you are in the queue (I started at #47) and counts down, along with wildly varying time estimates of how long I had left to wait. After just over half an hour, I'd finally made it to position #1, and the page changed to say:
Status: CanceledThe only option was a button labeled Request email response. So I clicked it. It took me to this page:
There are no agents available to chat with you right now. Please try again later.
You do not have permission to access this document.
Honestly -- does anybody bother to test any part of this website? It's been live for two months now, and so much basic functionality doesn't work at all.
I tried it several more times (the nice thing about chat, as opposed to phone, is that you can go off and do other things while you're waiting in the queue), in both Firefox and Chromium, but got exactly the same results every time. Googling suggests that lots of other people are seeing the same thing.
Makes me wonder if anyone is getting through ... or are there just a bunch of employees sitting there at their keyboards at CoveredCA headquarters, wondering why no one is asking for help via chat.
I really wish they'd offer email assistance. That seems like it should be a no-brainer, given the long wait times for interactive help either by phone or (ha!) by the nonexistent chat. But there's no such link on the website.
Well, there is a space for comments in the Verification Request screen. So I typed in a question about how they want us to prove we're not employed. At the bottom of the verification page, the button options are "Close", "Save and Exit", "Withdraw" (greyed out), and "Submit". I wonder what the difference is between "Save and Exit" and "Submit"? I crossed my fingers and went for "Submit", and now my verification status is "Submitted". I guess that's good. Check your messages
Another thing I learned along the way was that there was another copy of the letter in my "Secure Mailbox" in the links at the top of the page after logging in. They apparently don't send any notifications that you have messages -- I wonder why they bother asking for email address, if they're not going to use it for anything -- so if you're waiting for any step of the process, be sure to log in periodically and look for that "Secure Mailbox" link.
When you do check your messages, they're in PDF! Not only that, but there's apparently something odd about their MIME type, because Firefox doesn't display them inline like other PDFs. They display okay in an external viewer, though.
So I'll be checking messages to find out what happens with the verification process, wondering whether it will all be finished by December 15, which is apparently the (unpublished) deadline for enrolling in a plan if you want it to be active by January 1.
Meanwhile, I'm trying not to think about the ominous coda in the letter they sent:
It's time to choose a plan. Your coverage starts after you choose a plan and pay your first premium (monthly cost).
Would that be in addition to the plan I supposedly already chose two weeks go? Or did they throw all that away, and I need to go through that step again when and if they decide my verification is complete? I wonder how I would know? Phone to Blue Shield
A friend who's been having similar problems signing up for a plan suggested I call Blue Shield to see if they'd gotten any signup info for me. Unfortunately, I got the letter during the Thanksgiving holiday, so I had to wait until Monday to call Blue Shield, and just called them today.
I got through after a 15 minute phone wait, and got a very helpful person who, unfortunately, informed me that they haven't gotten anything from CoveredCA about my coverage.
After establishing that, yes, CoveredCA still has their usual 30-plus-minute phone wait, he suggested that I put in a request on the CoveredCA website for them to contact me. I said, What? I'd love that, but I haven't been able to find any way to get feedback except the phone number and the non-working live chat link. He said he'd walk me through it.
We both logged in at the same time. He said, "See the tab in the row across the top that says Resources?" Me: "No, there's no Resources link. The four tabs at the top say Learn, Preview Plans, Apply, and Maintain." He continued to insist that I should click on Resources. I did a Find in Page -- the word Resources only appears once in the page, as a header down near the bottom right, and under it are a couple of things like links for where to download a PDF viewer. Clearly not what he was talking about.
I'm guessing he was logged in as an agent/provider, not as an individual customer like I was. Anyway, he used the page they offer to agents to put in my info and a contact request. I'm not holding my breath.
But just now, after CoveredCA timed out my log-in session and put me back at the home page (what's the point of the home page, anyway? You can't even log in -- you have to click on Start here before they'll give you a Log in link) I tried clicking on the Contact us link at the bottom ... and on the page that took me to, there's a Click here to request information or provide comments link that I suspect is the same form he filled out for me. Why they offer the non-working Live Chat link on every page, but not the Request information link, is another mystery.
(Oh, I think I've figured it out now. The start page is there because the real site is at v.calheers.ca.gov, not coveredca.com, and their website designers don't know how to make a website redirect automatically, so they make everybody click through an extra button to go to the real site.)
Meanwhile, time is ticking away. Nobody seems to know whether the deadline to sign up for Jan 1 is actually December 15 or December 23 (the Blue Shield rep wasn't sure either), but either way, if it takes more than two weeks for CoveredCA to submit any information to the insurer, it's hard to see how it will be possible to get signed up by the deadline if anything goes wrong and needs to be resubmitted.
Fortunately my existing health plan is still active (never mind that it costs $1000/month more than a subsidized plan). So I'm luckier than many. My friends whose existing plans have been canceled may end up with no coverage at all come Jan 1.
I had a couple of tasks aside from general review. The first was getting more images on the site prior to launch to make it more engaging to people. I reached out to LoCo teams and got a lot of great photos in, but then got very busy. My second task, finding quotes of community members, got stuck on my poor, long to do list.
But now I shall continue my quest! We need short, 1-2 sentence, quotes from community members.
What do you work on and why?
What inspires you about Ubuntu?
Email me: email@example.com
Please include the name which you want to be credited under for the quote, and what you work on if it’s not part of the quote.
We’d like to scatter these quotes throughout the site, so feedback from folks from a variety of teams will be super valuable. Once I’ve collected all the quotes I’ll submit the full list to the team and get to work adding them to the site.
A recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast What Do Skating Rinks, Ultimate Frisbee, and the World Have in Common?, talked, among other things, about Sportsmanship in Ultimate Frisbee versus other sports.
Ultimate Frisbee is self-policing. It has no referee: if someone on the field thinks they've been fouled, they call it out, and the two players reach a consensus.
Why don't the players cheat and take advantage of the lax rules and the lack of a referee? Because sportsmanship and honesty is part of the culture of the game, in a way that isn't true in refereed sports like soccer, basketball, tennis or nearly any other sport played professionally. The Ultimate players they interview talk about the culture of the game, the longtime attitude that every player is "morally bound to abide by the rules. The integrity of Ultimate depends on each playerâs responsibility to uphold the spirit of the game."
And that's great. But I submit that there's a more important reason: because there's not much at stake in Ultimate Frisbee, compared to football, soccer or basketball.
Ultimate is still a chiefly hobby sport which is only barely starting to get sponsorships and professional teams. I'm not up on the Ultimate scene, but I bet there aren't a lot of millionaire players yet, or a lot of poor kids practicing their frisbee throws as their way out of the ghetto.
To make my point, let me tell you a tale of two autocross classes.
Autocross, if you're not familiar with it, is miniature car racing. You race against the clock, one car at a time, on a course delimited by traffic cones on a large parking lot or airstrip.
There are lots of different classes, so cars race against similar types of cars. The classes cover different preparation levels, starting with Stock classes, where you can't make any modifications beyond tires, shocks and a few other carefully specified items. Next above stock is Street Prepared, where the cars are still more or less street legal (many are still daily drivers), but they have lower, stiffer suspensions, wider wheels, sometimes headers or high-flow mufflers or fancy intake systems. Then above that are Race Prepared, for cars prepped to road racing standards, and Modified, for purpose-built race cars like formula cars.
Autocross, when I was actively racing (and I doubt it's very different now), is almost entirely an amateur sport. There are some sponsorship programs, called "contingency programs", where you can earn a few hundred dollars if you win a big race using the right car, the right tires, the right shock absorbers. Some races throw in modest amounts of prize money, so that at a big national level event a handful of winners might be taking home a few thousand dollars over their travel expenses, maybe ten thousand at the absolute top end. Most class winners don't even make enough to pay their travel expenses.
Curiously, the best contingency money isn't in the superfast, exciting Modified classes; it's in Stock. Why? Because the money comes from manufacturers hoping that someone will see your stock Miata winning the class and say "Wow, maybe I should buy a Miata too!" or "Maybe what my Miata needs is those tires/shocks/whatever."
I ran my Fiat X1/9 in D Street Prepared. DSP is seen as a class for old clunkers -- some of the winning cars besides the X1/9 included the Mazda RX3, VW Rabbit, Datsun 510, Datsun Roaster, and CRX HF. They're all old cars, no longer on the market -- so manufacturers weren't very interested in offering contingency money for them. That was okay -- our cars were fast and fun to drive, we had great competition and a lot of fun. Everybody was friendly with each other -- sure, we were all out to win, but if someone had car trouble, you could bet that everyone would be gathered around the car trying to help. If the problem wasn't fixable, another competitor would offer a ride in another DSP car. I saw that happen even at Nationals -- everybody was intensely competitive, but in a friendly way.
That's not to say nobody ever cheats. Sure, occasionally somebody wanted to win badly enough that they'd make some illegal modification to their car. Sometimes they even got away with it for a year or two before anyone figured it out. But cheating was relatively rare ... at least until contingency money started to edge up into the thousands of dollars instead of just a few hundred. Then you started to see a lot more protests, a lot more engines and suspensions turn down, and a lot more cars found illegal and disqualified. And most of the protests happened in the stock classes.
And then one year at Nationals, I really learned how those big contingency prizes changed the sport. I was running my old Fiat in DSP as usual (actually DSPL, the parallel class for women drivers). A friend of mine was there in a stock car she'd bought just the year before. She'd worked really hard all year, was driving exceptionally well and was widely thought to have a good chance to win her class. (I'm deliberately omitting her details like name, make and class.) We were all rooting for her.
And then one morning, a day or so before her class was scheduled to run, she discovered that one of her brake lines had been cut.
Her brake line! On her daily driver car that she was going to drive 1,500 miles home after Nationals was over!
Fortunately, she found it in time, and lots of people pitched in to help her get the brake line fixed. But it was pretty terrifying to know that something like that was even possible in what I had always seen as a friendly, fun, amateur sport.
I don't know if anything else like that happened in other classes. It wasn't widely talked about; you might not have known about it happened if you didn't know someone involved. They never found out who did it, as far as I know. But there were a lot of protests in the stock classes that year, too -- nobody trusted anyone, everybody assumed their competitors were cheating, and there were engine and suspension teardowns. It all made me glad I was in unassuming (and fun!) old DSP and out of the money.
So, getting back to the Ultimate referee question. Yes, sports that have a friendly, sportsmanlike culture are terrific. But I think -- though I wish I didn't -- that the Ultimate players may find, as their professional league gets off the ground and they attract more sponsors, that the moral code they've taken for granted is partly due to not having much at stake.
Money, or the prospect of it, does something to people. And I'm not sure money and stand-up honest sportsmanship make very good bedfellows.
Few weeks ago, Sheryl Sandberg shared at the CBS This Morning show that "The data says that stereotypes hold us [women] back. The reason girls don't think they're good in math and science is because everyone tells them they're not good at science. Studies show that if right before a math test you tell girls, 'Girls are good at math' or 'Girls do well on the test,' they do better." Of course, people are not always available to tell you how awesome you are and how great you are going to do! That’s why you need to help yourself [and those around you]: Tap your back and convince your wonderful mind that you can do it [exams, projects, whatever awesome dream you have]! You will be amazed at the results.
Back on my lecture about “The Power Thoughts”, the professor - a well-known engineer - showed us how thoughts are converted to chemical, physiological actions and reactions. The next experiment perfectly proved how thoughts can induce a chemical reaction:
Think about a lemon - a sour candy - a green lime
Imagine cutting a wedge of lemon or lime
Imagine smelling the lemon or lime
Take the wedge of the lemon and put it in your mouth.
Chew the wedge of the lemon - the very sour juice of the lemon now comes into your mouth and stimulates your taste buds
Concentrate - close your eyes and don’t block your thoughts - make it a reality for yourself.
You will notice that your mouth became more watery. Salivary glands have responded to the sour taste of the lemon/lime thoughts. QED!
Don’t let that impostor syndrome fool you! Shut “anti-self” thoughts and shine bright. Success begins in your mind! So, next time negative thoughts creep in your mind, remind yourself (yes, you!) that you are awesome, smart and ready to rock the world!
P.S.: Just because I love quotes, here is a related to today’s topic:
Check out this blog about the power of choosing your thoughts: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/choosing-your-thoughts_b_3461686.html
Also watch the following TED talk to find out how your power posing can boost your confidence. It might help you if you feel nervous every time you have a presentation or an interview ;-) http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html
I woke up thinking about dinosaurs.
Specifically, Pachycephalosaurus, the bone-headed dinosaur, and her long-crested cousin Parasaurolophus (pictured at right).
The previous night, I had been reading The Know-It-All, A. J. Jacob's entertaining account of his adventures reading the whole Encyclopedia Britannica. I'd left off in the Ps, which included a very short entry on Pachycephalosaurus (A.J. is not particularly into dinosaurs).
Drifting along in a typical insomniac "I wish I could get back to sleep" haze, I couldn't help noticing that Parasaurolophus was six syllables -- in fact, it was a double dactyl.
And that meant it was a prime candidate for my favorite verse form, double-dactylic doggerel, a form with fairly strict rules which require, among other things, that the second line be a double-dactylic proper name. And as double-dactylic junkies know, once you've noticed a double-dactylic name, you can't rest until it's turned into a poem.
So now I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about Parasaurolophus.
Now, even aside from its mellifluous name, Parasaurolophus and the whole
are pretty interesting. The biggest puzzle is why they had those
elaborate bony crests.
Decoration for mating purposes? Fighting, like horns and antlers
on modern hoofed mammals? But in the late 1990s, CT scans of hadrosaur
fossils revealed long air passages inside the crests of many
Hadrosaurs, including Parasaurolophus ... and those air passages were
connected to the nasal passages.
That led to suggestions that the crests might have been tuned for
sound production -- a built-in wind instrument.
In Scientists Use
Digital Paleontology to Produce Voice of Parasaurolophus Dinosaur
a team at Sandia made computer models of the air passages,
and you can even listen to sound files of what Parasaurolophus might have
sounded like. The sound is wonderful, like a trombone. Sandia's
pages use a, <embed> tag that didn't work for me in Firefox, so
if you have trouble with their links, I've separated out the
wav file URLs:
and a higher quality version,
Anyway, I never did get back to sleep, but I did end up with some insomniacal doggerel:
How do you use that
"I play trombone in the
All hadrosaurs play, but
I am the best."