Category Archives: about me

Storyteller

My dad was a virtuoso storyteller. He could hold a roomful of people spellbound, recounting events from his life and others’ with wit, style, and humor. Most of his stories he presented as fact and, for the ones I could personally vouch for, this was mostly true. He was not above embellishing for effect, but Read More…

My dad was a virtuoso storyteller. He could hold a roomful of people spellbound, recounting events from his life and others’ with wit, style, and humor.

Most of his stories he presented as fact and, for the ones I could personally vouch for, this was mostly true. He was not above embellishing for effect, but his life had contained so much real adventure that this was hardly necessary.

(Having a storyteller in the family has its drawbacks. The storytelling art must be practiced, each story burnished to a shine by retellings to different audiences. As a family member, you hear those stories over and over again, and some you get tired of – a common complaint, especially among storytellers’ spouses!)

As he became increasingly house-bound in his later years, I urged my dad to write things down, to capture those stories forever and share them online. I knew that people would enjoy them, and the interaction with an online audience might alleviate his boredom and isolation.

But he never did. Partly because he was working for many years on a sprawling, complicated novel, the research for which led him eventually to a quite serious attempt to convert to Judaism. But maybe he also resisted because, to write down the stories and finally capture them in text would be to acknowledge that he might not always be around to tell them in person.

Whatever the reason, he did not write down his stories. When he died, one of my first reactions was regret that he had not. All those wonderful stories should not be lost! I wondered if I should try to write them down, but quickly decided against it. I had already lived much of my life as my father’s audience. It’s time to tell my own stories. Where our story lines run parallel and his stories are also my own, I will tell them, and maybe a few more, strictly his, that happen to crop up in my mind. But I will not make a concerted effort to be his scribe. I have plenty of stories of my own!

Yes, I have inherited the storyteller mantle. It’s only since his death that I can admit that I am my father’s daughter in many ways, including (perhaps above all) this one. Now I’m the one who entertains people (at least, I hope it’s entertaining) with stories from my rich, strange life. Sometimes when I do, I catch echoes of him in my own voice, gestures, and physical presence. I’m not large enough to have his rich, booming laugh, but I do have his sense of humor and delight at the vast, ironic complexity of the world and everything in it. And that’s a fine inheritance.

 

Memory, Truth, and the Stories of My Life

My parents’ divorce was a textbook study in “how not to handle your divorce with your kids”. The bitterness, acrimony, and cycles of revenge lasted for decades, and led, among other things, to my decision a few years ago to have no further contact with my mother. But there were earlier periods when I asked Read More…

My parents’ divorce was a textbook study in “how not to handle your divorce with your kids”. The bitterness, acrimony, and cycles of revenge lasted for decades, and led, among other things, to my decision a few years ago to have no further contact with my mother. But there were earlier periods when I asked them both questions about the whole mess, trying to understand what had happened and why. Their responses were at best confusing and contradictory. I ultimately came away with the meta-lesson that, where strong human emotions and motivations are concerned, there is no such thing as absolute truth.

If I had been able to record every moment of my life, I’d be able to play back an event, such as a marital spat, and know exactly what was said by whom. But I still wouldn’t know for sure why it was said or what the speaker was feeling at the time – even when that speaker was me.

Our emotions, decisions, and reasons are not completely comprehensible even to ourselves, even as they are occurring. Some feelings are too intense or too painful to grasp even as we are feeling them. I have had conversations (or arguments) in which I realized that, from one moment to the next, I had already erased the memory of what was just said, perhaps because it was too overwhelming. Sometimes I later recalled those words, sometimes I never did. I’m sure I remember many of my life’s events incorrectly. We all do. Under the pressures of time and emotion, events become telescoped or conflated in our minds, some are made up of whole cloth, others completely forgotten. Some are edited into a form more flattering, or at least palatable, to ourselves. As actor Willem Dafoe once said: “The bad guy never thinks he’s the bad guy.”

Recent brain research is finding that we edit our memories continuously throughout our lives, not just discarding those which are no longer important, or deleting (temporarily or permanently) those which are painful, but also re-editing and re-interpreting old memories in light of later experiences and feelings. Age means having a wealth of prior experience and knowledge against which to measure both new and old experiences. We are capable of constantly drawing new lessons from past events (when we choose to do so – that is what wisdom means, I believe).

It was a relief to me to realize that, when I share my stories, I need not strive for an objective truth that some neutral third party might agree upon – because no such objective truth is possible. Objective truth may be available about what was done or said (if we can remember accurately, or have other evidence), but not about why it was done or said.

So, let us be clear: the stories I tell do not claim to be objective recountings. These are my stories as I remember and currently interpret them. They may be subject to re-interpretation and change at any time. If you were part of any of these stories, you may or may not agree with my memory or interpretation of them. You have your own truths, just as I do. And that’s okay with me.

Birthday Portrait

After way too much to eat and drink at Fogo de Chao in Austin (as my colleague Tirthankar says of churrasca: “It’s a meat festival in your mouth!” We persuaded him that it wasn’t a good idea to say that too loudly in public…) For the family files: here’s my brother Ian, me, and Ross. Read More…

After way too much to eat and drink at Fogo de Chao in Austin (as my colleague Tirthankar says of churrasca: “It’s a meat festival in your mouth!” We persuaded him that it wasn’t a good idea to say that too loudly in public…)

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For the family files: here’s my brother Ian, me, and Ross.

The Twitter Diaries: 2009-09-20: CO

lazy Sunday morning in bed, enjoying the fog outside (unusual in these parts). Harbinger of a move to San Francisco? # any Arabic speakers? Is this really an Egyptian novelty song about Italy’s Berlusconi? http://bit.ly/8vRsO # RT @angadsingh: http://bit.ly/3dhnVF An article on Larry Ellisons’ effective right hand and driving force behind the corporate giant Oracle Read More…

  • lazy Sunday morning in bed, enjoying the fog outside (unusual in these parts). Harbinger of a move to San Francisco? #
  • any Arabic speakers? Is this really an Egyptian novelty song about Italy’s Berlusconi? http://bit.ly/8vRsO #
  • RT @angadsingh: http://bit.ly/3dhnVF An article on Larry Ellisons’ effective right hand and driving force behind the corporate giant Oracle #
  • @ajkeen – look out for Brazilian TV show Caminho das Índias http://bit.ly/ryLUg – globalization strikes again! #
  • People wear the oddest things (said the woman in the “bitch is back” t- shirt) #
  • There are moments when time moves verrrrry slowly. #
  • @missbhavens it’s not the kids who have problems, it’s the parents. in reply to missbhavens #
  • RT @oracletechnet: “Open source’s double standard” – crystalline reasoning from @mjasay http://bit.ly/wvegg #
  • @missbhavens and here I am sending my kid off to India, Australia (to work with horses, those big dangerous beasts!)… I’m a really bad mom in reply to missbhavens #
  • “why are they being encouraged and instructed to fear this kind of progress on the part of their government…?” http://bit.ly/wf0NW #
  • @missbhavens thanks, tho for people like me it’s normal #
  • @trine I’m reading Stephenson’s “Anathem” – wow! in reply to trine #
  • @webmink dunno what that means, but sounds ax if it could be useful… in reply to webmink #
  • @India_Insights Indian laundry industry…? They’ve been called dhobis for centuries at least, still going strong AFAIK in reply to India_Insights #
  • @webmink thanks but can’t get to my numbers from my current loc, go ahead and give to steve #
  • “A person’s last days can be spent in any # of ways. But on the phone pleading with an insurer, that’s only in America.” http://bit.ly/uUcZ7 #
  • Now my relatives are arriving in FB and asking to be acknowledged as relatives. Are y’all ready for the fact that I’m from Louisiana? ; ) #
  • Le donne italiane non ne possono più (Women in Italy can’t stand it anymore – in Italian) – City http://bit.ly/aEOEC #
  • @pizzocalabro mine, too. The older portions of the site are fine, but the blog is down. in reply to pizzocalabro #
  • @pizzocalabro Dreamhost. It’s back now, though. in reply to pizzocalabro #
  • would like to see a graphic of who follows all the social media experts, besides each other. Love you all folks, but the shout-outs get dull #
  • @ThinGuy Thanks! tho I must admit that @lskrocki and I are guilty of shout-outs to each other. ; ) in reply to ThinGuy #
  • “You, in your refusal to acknowledge your interdependence with everyone else, are a bigger problem than they are.” http://bit.ly/rmi9g #
  • @lbridenne76 is the performance what we should expect? I’m seeing very out of sync and jerky video #OLTP #oracle #sun in reply to lbridenne76 #
  • getting a look at the Oracle community thanks to the live Larry webcast http://bit.ly/1YfuH going on how #
  • RT @empoprises: @DeirdreS i’m seeing no video, had to switch to the dial in phone line #oracle #sun #exadata2 @lbridenne76 TAKE NOTE #
  • @ma_donna might have been his yacht, but I doubt he was on it, unless he’s trying to sway the EU in the traditional European way ; ) in reply to ma_donna #
  • @empoprises looks as if we’re doine #oracle #sun #exadata2 in reply to empoprises #
  • @dboyll thanks for the link, got to it too late – esp as I don’t have Real installed. in reply to dboyll #
  • RT @saraford: Good morning from NZ! Full length CodePlex jump video found on my blog: http://bit.ly/ZjUwk – whoa! #
  • @dboyll thanks, we did manage to see it, tho horribly out of sync. Was good anyway. in reply to dboyll #
  • @KathySierra and self-promo, unless done creatively, can get very, very boring. in reply to KathySierra #
  • @ThinGuy my, what a big forehead you have in reply to ThinGuy #
  • @ThinGuy took me a minute to parse that one – LOL! in reply to ThinGuy #
  • @dboyll the sun.com/launch link in reply to dboyll #
  • oh, good – at least I don’t have to run the early meeting that I dragged myself out of a cozy bed for. I’m nornally a morning person, but… #
  • RT @clickryan: RT @Merlene – The Muppet Show’s 10 Weirdest Moments http://tinyurl.com/la59jr (via @JulieTyios) – thanks, an excellent start #
  • there are lots of Twitter ranking sites out there that say we’re hot (on Twitter). Which ones do we actually believe? #
  • RT @sogrady: OH: “What’s the definition of an Australian? An Irishman who got caught.” #
  • RT @giovanni: Can you use $100,000? I’ve posted enough hints on the http://budurl.com/eot100k website fr contestants to start making videos. #
  • my voice is rusty this morning; let’s pretend I sound like Lauren Bacall (minus the cigarettes) #
  • Listening to Carol Alm present on “Your near perfect performance”, a women@sun event. #
  • Common mistake is to assume that, because you know something well, it must be obvious to others as well. But you may actually be unique. #
  • “without talent… Repetitive training creates burnout, confusion, frustration” #
  • “we don’t expect Labrador retrievers to act like Border Collies” #
  • Talents = yearnings, rapid learning, satisfaction, exceptional performance #
  • @giovanni I disagree – msft could create trust from inside. Would take time and be a challenge, but by no means impossible. in reply to giovanni #
  • “focus on yours strengths, not weaknesses” – seems so obvious, why do school systems get it so wrong? #
  • Now I need a FB setting for “don’t tell me anyone’s quiz results, game stuff, etc. EVER AGAIN – because I DON’T CARE”. Stop wasting my time. #
  • starting a dance class next week: Bollywood West – bollywood and indian dance classes (Denver & Boulder, Colorado) http://bit.ly/qksWI #
  • @vdotw I’m looking forward to it, esp since I already know and love a lot of the music. in reply to vdotw #
  • RT @shawnferry I have that problem… This is simple anyone should be able to understand it – worst is, you then undersell yourself – don’t! #
  • RT @pizzocalabro: http://bit.ly/TC0Ee – Perhaps even more than separate of church & state, the world needs separation of church & sex. #
  • …and I’m about to stop following everyone who auto-tweets about foursquare, whatever the hell it is. ENOUGH ALREADY. Give me substance! #
  • And, BTW, for anyone who hasn’t noticed: the bitch is most definitely back. #
  • finally broke loose some key C1 videos, including the incomparable Ben Rockwood on “Becoming a ZFS Ninja” http://bit.ly/1pqwlK #
  • @ThinGuy somehow I don’t think the Men of SunRay need protection from cougars in reply to ThinGuy #
  • @thepartycow you underestimate my speed of reading in reply to thepartycow #
  • WTF, Dowd? Good col, except “But partly due to the Internet, the standards of behavior in this new country are terrible” http://bit.ly/uPhPe #
  • crap. The FB apps seem to have figured out how to circumvent the “Hide [app]” setting. This is going to drive me off FB or to drop friends. #
  • listening to music I enjoy on YouTube – Neri per caso – Sentimento pentimento [Live Festivalbar] http://bit.ly/bdcE0 #
  • RT @TheOnion: Would-Be Burglar Killed With Sword http://ow.ly/15Pu9Z – I actually know a real-life story like this, tho no one died. #
  • @jeffreytaylor I used to call out Italian kids on the bus for racist remarks. “When Italians first came to the US…” in reply to jeffreytaylor #
  • RT @gserda: OSUM Community mobilizes and organizes 300+ events for Software Freedom Day: http://bit.ly/V4LRV #
  • “This italian journalist” | Wittgenstein http://bit.ly/aPeND #
  • @jowyang meh, maybe everyone should just use OpenOffice. I haven’t missed those MS apps since I switched. (well, maybe Excel a little…) in reply to jowyang #
  • RT @jbernoff: Only 1 hr left until today’s Webinar: The Groundswell Power of WOM -http://bit.ly/pUEtS – hmm, okay, I’ll bite… #
  • doing what I do best – connecting people. ; ) #
  • RT @dltq: I am very happy to see my pal Jeffrey Taylor will work for equal rights for marriage in California http://tinyurl.com/kw9fel #
  • “you’ve been bam­boozled, flummoxed, played for a sap by the propaganda mills of schooling. Get rid of yr assumptions.” http://bit.ly/lqZ8B #
  • Updating Sun Video http://bit.ly/19B0bm with a bunch of newly-translated videos – cool stuff on grid engine, HPC #
  • there are good days & bad days. This one is not particularly good, but, being a Thursday, should be destined for improvement. #
  • “Have you been a good girl, Jane?
    And why should I want to be bad…?
    – And should I be likely to say if I had?”
    http://bit.ly/1b29uq #
  • now subtitled in Spanish, Russian, Br Portugese, Chinese & Japanese: ZFS: The Last Word in File Systems – Sun Video http://bit.ly/4nWM3f #
  • @osum_brasil – Lots more video subtitled in português at http://bit.ly/18n1dR #
  • RT @mschoenu: Could not remember how to say “windshield wipers” in Italian – it’s a funny word: tergicristallo. #
  • Woke early as usual, but it’s Saturday so I can laze in bed with a cup of coffee and do what I bloody well please. Which is nice! #
  • @ThinGuy you guys are a one-family soccer empire! in reply to ThinGuy #
  • From Neal Stephenson’s “Anathem” – “The Powers That Be would not suffer others to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stories.. #
  • …that had been made up to motivate them. People who couldn’t live without story had been driven [out of mainstream society]… #
  • All others had to look somewhere outside of work for a feeling that they were part of a story, which I guess was why [they] were #
  • so concerned with sports, and with religion. How else could you see yourself as part of an adventure?” #
  • RT @angadsingh: Why a Geek Will Steal Your Girlfriend in 2008 http://bit.ly/4mKIgv #
  • @nautibitz The iPhone app I really want is IMDB with face recognition. in reply to nautibitz #
  • domesticate wkd: put together new bookcase, rearranged rooms a bit, still need to hang pictures. Would really prefer to nap… #
  • @nautibitz – would have saved me some embarassment once upon a time… http://bit.ly/14zHdM #
  • roomie’s having a party. Being the geek, I supply the playlist. Wd prefer the company of my geek peers, but at least the food is good. #

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The Twitter Diaries: 2009-09-13: Chicago

^ The Chicago Bears on the practice field at Halas Hall RT @Schlomo: Ok, I don’t follow celebs often, but following @Danny_DiVito kinda excites me! # “To celebrate 30 years in business, an Italian supermarket is staging a lottery where the prizes include ten jobs.” http://bit.ly/2OlRjZ # hang on. Why has Danny DeVito spelled his Read More…

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^ The Chicago Bears on the practice field at Halas Hall

  • RT @Schlomo: Ok, I don’t follow celebs often, but following @Danny_DiVito kinda excites me! #
  • “To celebrate 30 years in business, an Italian supermarket is staging a lottery where the prizes include ten jobs.” http://bit.ly/2OlRjZ #
  • hang on. Why has Danny DeVito spelled his own name wrong in his twitter handle? @Danny_DiVito #
  • I suspect my toes exist primarily to run painfully into furniture. #
  • @nonstick yup, have now crunched the right pinky in addition to the left “ring” toe. Will have to start wearing shoes in the house. in reply to nonstick #
  • @nonstick including toes?!? in reply to nonstick #
  • Watching Die Hard. You can tell a movie is old when gas costs 74 cents a gallon in LA #
  • @c0t0d0s0 after 17 years in Italy, I have no complaints about fuel prices in the US in reply to c0t0d0s0 #
  • is there a way in FB (and for that matter Twitter) to block the notifications on everyone’s silly games? Just taking up brain space. #
  • @lewellyn I’d also like a way to ignore some kinds of tweets (e.g. sports talk, workout stats) from people whom I othewise find interesting in reply to lewellyn #
  • yday got email from an old friend hadn’t heard from in years, bcuz she is visiting Lake Como. Turns out we now live “close” in US #
  • turns out there’s a Hide feature in FB to get rid of the stupid game notices. Now need same for Twitter. #
  • old thoughts appropriate to Labor Day » “What Do You Do?” Not Defining Oneself in Terms of Work in Italy http://bit.ly/38lcDn #
  • amused that TripIt tells me “Welcome back, you’re in Tulsa.” That cd actually be useful – sometimes I do get confused as to my own location #
  • Memorial Day: bought jeans at The Gap, size 10 (down from 12). Labor Day: bought jeans at The Gap, size 8! #
  • I highly recommend this, not just to people interested in fashion: Valentino The Last Emperor – http://bit.ly/8vlsS #
  • RT @templedf: I’m totally fried. Coordinating the #sunhpc09 is a ton of work! http://hpcworkshop.com/ – good luck, my friend! #
  • @SaraD I wish parents and kids would not waste energy lying to each other. What does either side gain by hypocrisy? in reply to SaraD #
  • yet another “I’m Blogging This for Sun” t-shirt entry http://bit.ly/etf6W #
  • waking up every 2 hours with nightmares is getting old. Modern pharmacology to the rescue! #
  • today’s activities: planning for LISA (Nov, Baltimore), editing video (puppets and brains, but not together), weeding my email pile… #
  • @jowyang re Twitter reliability, good service = go where the customers are. Your needs as a co. are secondary. Very secondary. in reply to jowyang #
  • RT @RepJackKimble: does McCain have the best smile in Congress? I melt when I see it – contrast w “McCain in the lead for shit eating grin” #
  • Countries Beginning with I » Interview at FISL http://bit.ly/1UAtiF – BTW, this includes me in FRONT of the camera, for a change. #
  • Well, he couldn’t state it any more plainly… http://www.oracle.com/features/suncustomers.html #
  • @c_bright I’m all in favor of clear and open communication – there’s not enough of it in the world. So Larry suits me fine. in reply to c_bright #
  • RT @ThinGuy: I’m going to try to shout out “You Lie!” on every conference call I’m on today. LOL! #
  • looking into a Bollywood dance class – there’s a form of exercise I would actually enjoy! #
  • I don’t care what politicians get up to in private life; it’s the hypocrisy and contempt for women that gall me. http://bit.ly/1eMews #
  • Must… confront… the puppet. #
  • Why is there a bird party on my office windowsill? #
  • thank heaven for colleagues – someone just gave me a cupcake with an inch of rich chocolate frosting. Thanks, I needed that! #
  • On airport shuttle with couple who have matching impassive expressions behind matching shades, chewing gum in unison. #
  • so for our 1st National Day of Service 7 Remembrance, I’m in Chicago, serving on the board of SAGE: http://bit.ly/12TPv1 #
  • Meeting at Halas Hall, home of the Chicago Bears – an honor largely wasted on me. Anyone want pix? #
  • Tons of ideas flying about international education, service and experience for high school kids. This is fun! #

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^ SAGE board members Rachel Kriss, Nathan Scott (who runs SAGE), Sharon Seto. Want to study abroad in India or take your school on a really cool custom trip? We’re your folks.

  • I think I just scared a football player. #
  • Meeting room overlooks the Bears’ practice field. If I got to see football this close up all the time, I might learn to like it! #
  • @ThinGuy I don’t care about the game, watching athletic young men run around is good enough entertainment for me ; ) in reply to ThinGuy #
  • Exhausting but productive full-day meeting. Bears’ chef produced passable Indian food for lunch, but we’ll have the real thing for dinner. #
  • OH “Christians like to get married young so they can have sex.” #
  • In spite of being a short week, it’s been a long week. Emotional fallout and three different cities, I guess. #
  • Amazing dinner at Tajine Casablanca in Vernon Hills – highly recommended! #
  • @Britopian would like to see job seekers turn the tables: are all hirers’ online personae as squeaky clean as they claim they look to hire? in reply to Britopian #
  • waking up slowly in Chicago, will go for a walk in the fog with an old friend, then we all head for the airport & our respective homes #
  • @JoyceSolano yrs ago
    In Milan woke up, thot “that was a bomb,” slept again. Had forgotten all about it by morning, heard the news – it was. in reply to JoyceSolano #
  • @missbhavens parents and teens mostly swear, too. Everyone needs to get over inter-generational hang ups in reply to missbhavens #
  • RT @DeirdreS: New blog post: Hallas Hall, Home of the Chicago Bears http://bit.ly/27MAKy @bklein34 – these are for you! #
  • @bklein34 sadly missed the chance to get an up-close shot if the players – wasn’t expecting them! in reply to bklein34 #
  • after being in 3 cities this week, I am perfectly happy chilling alone at home on a Saturday night, fixing my iPod & doing laundry #

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