Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area


Pinching Pennies? Time to Give

Posted on Oct 13, 2009 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Giving |

Somehow I’ve always believed that the more you give, the more you get. Of course, it’s not true, but I like the idea of it being true. It’s sort of like karma and justice mixed together — give and you’ll receive. Maybe I give so I can receive? I know that when I receive I think it must be in response to something I must have given and if I can’t think of how I’ve given, I try to make it up and give right away to make sure the scales are balanced. When we’re waiting for payday, I try to take leftover food with me in the car and find a homeless woman to give it to. Somtimes that backfires (one woman screamed at me that she didn’t want my sloppy seconds). Sometimes when I feel particularly fortunate, I make sure I give, however small, as a bargaining chip for my own desire to stay in the good graces of karma.

It seems that no matter where I turn, I hear of charities in desperate need since in economic times like we’re in now, people give less. Actually, correction, well-off people give less percentage to charity. Believe it or not, poorer people give more of their income during hard economic times.

Today is a good day to take a moment to give. No matter how small. Tip the karma scale today.

Some of my favorites:

The George Mark Children’s House — Hospice for Young, Dying Children here in the Bay Area is in deep jeopardy.

Sacred Heart Community Center – Offering clothes, food and shelter to families in need in Silicon Valley

and my personal, most dear charity: Pro Mujer — Microloans (as low as $5) to women in Latin American countries to benefit their health and families

What’s charity is close to your heart? How about giving just a few bucks today?

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Thirsty Neighbors

Posted on Oct 8, 2009 in Food, Giving, Rants |

No Water in the Reservior

No Water in the Reservior

Every time I walk into Starbucks and see their Ethos Water campaign, I want to cringe. It’s not that I’m against bringing water to the countries and areas of the world in need, but moreover that the need begins right here. And it’s not not need, it’s a desperate cry. Our neighbors right here in California are losing their livelihood (and in some cases, lives) to the lack of water. This isn’t Rwanda, folks, this is Central California.

People want to beat the crap out of the Governor and Congress for rationing water in the area, but truth be told, as my mother-in-law puts it: “Congress didn’t keep the rain from falling.”

There are signs up and down 1-5 that I’m sure you’ve seen saying “No Water = No Crops. No Crops = No Jobs.” You can see the parched land from your air conditioned car tearing down the highway, only stopping for In-N-Out or a pee break. But off the highway, it’s even more serious.

Generations of California families have been sucker punched to a standstill. There are pumps, there is acreage. There is a need, a want to save miles of trees and agriculture in just about every direction you look. But there is no water running here.

This isn’t a new problem, of course. But it’s becoming increasingly harder for me to swallow. I just can’t watch huge marketing campaigns flinging around God complexes like they’re white flags. I have such a hard time understanding how we can turn a blind eye to our own neighbors, our own state’s citizens who have brought damn good agriculture to the nation for a frigging long time. There is really no reason to blame politics, as Jon Stewart points out, we wouldn’t have this land to farm if it weren’t for The New Deal about a good few decades ago. Look in your backyard, people. And the next time you think about giving, think about the families in Central California whose lives are literally being dried up.

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Waiting for Work

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 in Giving |

Waiting to Work

Waiting to Work

I never seem to get over the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who are out of work, who are without jobs and without the means to get one. In my family, there’s no pride: you need a job, you get a job. Nothing is beneath you. My mom sold underwear at the equivalent of KMart to put my dad through law school; I sold pantyhose to make a go at being a professional writer. I have friends that have done everything from being a glorified Call Girl to working at Starbucks and everything in-between. You gotta do what you gotta do.

I see these guys at Osh Hardware at Home Depot at most painting shops. The men themselves are different, but the look is all the same. These mostly illegal men are  waiting to work. They’ll do anything. They’ll get in your car without knowing you, they’ll bargain for a cash/food combination of pay to support their families. They will literally storm your car shouting “FUERTE!” “AMABLE!” “I WORK!” — and in the end, only one or two are picked to go work a day job somewhere, doing something, anything to put food in their mouths, make money to survive. Tomorrow they will beg to work again.

I’m not sure I see citizens fighting for jobs with the same vigor. Somehow sending in resumes, tweaking intro paragraphs and working networking events doesn’t equate to storming the car, ready to work. Strong, compatible, worker.

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The George Mark Children’s House

Posted on Sep 24, 2009 in Giving |

I am irrationally protective over my kids’ safety. Not crazed, but protective. I refuse to drive down a street near a mortuary, and if I have to, I do so very quickly and drive fast. I don’t like them getting near one side of the street where we know a homeless guy was killed. I am superstitious about their safety, I can’t imagine them anything but safe. God willing.

The first time I heard of The George Mark Children’s House was a few months ago at the first Silicon Valley Tweetup. La Gringa and I mingled and networked like we’re supposed to. We traded business cards and banter like the pros. We had a couple drinks. But there was nothing, but nothing that stops a mom in her tracks like the story of a sick child.

The charity that benefits the Silicon Valley Tweetup is The George Mark Children’s House, a hospice for children who are dying. They are d.y.i.n.g., not recovering, from illness. This is the kind of thing I steer far from. It’s one degree of separation from the world’s worst horror and I don’t do that shit. But this time, somehow, it got me.

I got home that night and looked up the website. Indeed, an acclaimed 501c3 charity with a slew of volunteers, programs and support for the families of dying children all in a peaceful, private environment. You go to The George Mark Children’s House to die. If you’re a parent, you likely have already died a thousands deaths in bargaining with God to not take your child.

I don’t know much about this charity other than looking at the photos online, reading of their desperate struggle to stay afloat during this economic crisis we’re experiencing. I know a guy who’s niece died in a dignified manner at the House. I know that I can’t bear to think of a child dying. I know that somehow this charity got me in the gut.

So here’s how you can help: Visit The George Mark Children’s House website, look at their “wish list” and go find something in your garage that fits the bill and send it to them. You can donate online with stock or cash. You can write a note to a family. You can send good juju. You can speak with your very loud, influential voice to beg others to do the same.

I turned two streets out of the way tonight to avoid the mortuary again. Kids in the car. Don’t do mortuaries. And came home thinking of families that are sharing their child’s last breaths. And I felt so grateful to be home.

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Free Networking

Posted on Sep 23, 2009 in Giving |

We spent tonight at The Silicon Valley Tweetup — probably the hottest Tweetup in the U.S. with some seriously heavy hitters in the social media industry. There’s the founder women, the PR chicks, the pro networkers. There’s the serious Twitter folks who do business and build reputations with events like these. There are the hangers on. There are the people that double-take when they realize you’re YOU and they know YOU in real life and maybe they shouldn’t have tweeted that thing awhile back. Then, there’s me.

In the elevator tonight, filled with business-dressed, chin-up, Blackberry bearing, Plantronics headset-wearing networkers, I made an outloud announcement: “Hi, before the door opens on the roof, I want you all to know, I rocked the PTA meeting today. No really, I rocked it.” And the door opened. And everyone went their separate ways. And I went on to a night of stress free networking. I have no stake in this game. It’s a hell of a lot more fun this way.

And as the hashtags will tell you, this was a killer event tonight. I watched people work, work the work and work the weak. La Gringa even worked it, chatting with the best of them. I ogled Brian Solis. I heard business being done.  And I thought, “this is fun, but rocking the PTA today was better.”

Being semi-retired to work with my kids is a great challenge, but in events like these, a great advantage. I had nothing to gain but a good time for a good cause and the chance to meet some folks who are driving  social media to it’s next era.  Pretty fun from where I sit, Tweeting the night away.

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Thank You!

Posted on Aug 18, 2009 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Giving |

This note is from our buddy at Sacred Heart Community Center. I can’t thank you, my literal and the online communities, and especially Twitter colleagues, for your generous gifts. Sacred Heart delivered, and delivered big, thanks to you.


I wanted to thank you and all of your friends and family for helping to make a difference in our community!

I truly I witnessed a miracle the last two weeks we were way down in donations and ultimately we came out with abundance (loafs and fishes comes to mind)

Click here to see the miracle unfold yesterday.

Thanks again and God Bless,


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