Sunday, August 10, 2014

Throng Forest (Angel Prayer)

Storm is on the horizon
dark clouds to test what holds us together
where is the warmth in all the world around us
where is the fire that burns beyond our sorrow

All I know for now
the stars will rise again
the angels are my friends
on this I can depend

The sun burns down like dry wind from the heavens
the heat dries hearts as we wander in the desert
where is the rain to cool the world around us
where is the water to fill the ocean waiting

The light reveals a seedling in the morning
with dreams to grow a thousand years beyond
branches stretching out and roots beneath the ground
a shelter from the storm amidst the throng.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What Color Is Your Parachute - Finding Your Passion

When I originally read chapter 2, I passed on by this chart, but on re-reading, I think it is worth printing out, and using as a guide, as a reminder, as accountability for action.

(you can click it to see a larger version)

For example, as part of a daily routine, if I'm serious about finding fulfilling work, I think i need to be willing to "pause to think daily about what we have done or seen", because at least part of me fits into the "intuition" category.

The context of the chart is where the chapter is suggesting that the reader might fall into one of three categories, in terms of how you go about life; and in turn, there's the suggestion that how you go about life is typically how you go about the job search. So there are some concrete suggestions in addition to the chart, which are matched to each "type": luck, step by step, intuition.

For more information on Chapter 2, see the blog post on Chapter 2.

If this article has been interesting, I invite you to consider doing one or more of the following:
  1. Buy a copy of the book for you, a friend, or someone you love. It's reasonably priced, and very much worth reading. Maybe even invest by buying two copies - it's most valuable when you work through it with someone else (talk once a week). Your career is one of the most important things in your life. it's worth investing in. Amazon link
  2. Visit the JobLife Facebook page, and click the Like button, to receive updates when new posts are made
  3. Make a post on Facebook about how the book/blog triggered thought/inspired you. For example: "Check out this blog; it talks about a helpful book, What Color Is Your Parachute, which can help anyone to find a job, or more fulfilling work, or both."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What Color Is Your Parachute - Intuition and Step by Step

Time to think!

In Chapter 2 of the book, there's discussion of setting out to search for a job based on thinking about what kind of approach you tend to take in life: by luck, step by step, or intuition. And on page 29 (in the 2011 edition), there's a chart at the end of the chapter that helps you to identify "next steps".

So I think I probably fit into the "Intuition" area, but I also see the value of going step by step. As a person with a creative background, I have room to grow with discipline; I've known plenty of creative people with a great deal of discipline, working hard in their field to achieve. But it can also be the case that you can spend a lot of time with ideas and visions, and then not accomplish much, because of spending so much time in the (comfortable) realm of the imagination.

So I'd say that I greatly value intuition, but want to continue to grow in step by step - and this book has a lot of wisdom in it, and in a situation where I do want to find long-term, sustainable work, with a mortgage payment due, student loans around the corner, etc. - I do believe that working through this book can offer the best possible chance for finding work. So i think that it's worth placing your faith in, and I'm putting my money where my mouth is.

Because I fall into both categories, I'm going to think about which of the "Intuition" areas I fall into first. In this section of the book, the author invites an "intuitive" person to consider,

"What kind of footprint do you want to leave here on this earth, after your journey here is done?"

And there are a series of suggested categories, which might be areas of concern/interest:

Mind, Body, Eyes/Beauty, Heart, Conscience, Spirit, Entertainment, Possessions/Simplicity, The Earth

Each area has some discussion and description, and it's an opportunity to consider what you are drawn to.

These are the areas that stood out to me, that seem to fit:

Body: I do think it's ridiculously important to try and make the world better, and because of my worldview, I do consider my neighbor to be my responsibility; I do answer yes to the question: "am I my brother's keeper?" -- from a sense of wanting to grow in love. This area touches on health, feeding the poor. I don't see myself being a health trainer or doctor, but I do feel like part of the "footprint I want to leave on the earth" in some peoples' lives, is to help them explore ways to make the world better. So I guess the Body is one of my "areas". This area relates to a project I'm working on, called xCredits - I'd like to see if it's possible to help simplify the process of sharing, by helping people explore organizations, and giving them a way to share with "points" -

Heart: I would like to work towards inciting passion, compassion. I'm not sure if this means supporting organizations that do this type of work, or working for one, but it is an area of interest/concern.

Entertainment: true enough; I've really enjoyed participating in projects that have brought laughter or joy. It's a dream I've had, and for awhile, I lived the dream full-time, in a past life in rock n roll -- and when we didn't have a hit radio single, I felt like I had to move on. But the most joy I've had truthfully has been in making albums and videos. Not sure this is a career, but to put my money where my mouth is, I guess I need to "keep this on the radar". And perhaps it will at least be a creative outlet. Probably part of the process in thinking through these is giving yourself the freedom to think about where your heart is really at -- and not closing the door on yourself, but allowing yourself to dream.

The Earth: this is a theme too, I suppose. My interest in the environment is more about sunflowers and appreciation of nature than anything else, but it does seem that things are out of balance, and that the things we've put into the environment have come back and affected our bodies. Just about a month or two ago my Aunt Joan passed away from cancer, and I can't help but think that it may very well have been affected by toxins that we put into the environment, and end up back in our bodies, through food. So yeah, even though I'm somewhat apolitical, I guess I do care about the Earth, because it comes back to affect people, and their health, and families. So if I could do something to help bring balance to the earth, that would be cool.


So those are the "Intuition Areas" for me. The best thing to dig into them a bit is to read the book.

As for "Step by Step" -- I guess that will be later on; the author discusses how the "Flower Exercise" can help you work through step by step considerations, like thinking about transferrable skills, and making a plan to find work or find more fulfilling work or both. Frankly I think everyone should probably go through the "step by step" process. But if you're like me and have an intuitive side, I think working through the areas mentioned above makes sense.

Best wishes!

If this article has been interesting, I invite you to consider doing one or more of the following:
  1. Buy a copy of the book for you, a friend, or someone you love. It's reasonably priced, and very much worth reading. Maybe even invest by buying two copies - it's most valuable when you work through it with someone else (talk once a week). Your career is one of the most important things in your life. it's worth investing in. Amazon link
  2. Visit the JobLife Facebook page, and click the Like button, to receive updates when new posts are made
  3. Make a post on Facebook about how the book/blog triggered thought/inspired you. For example: "Check out this blog; it talks about a helpful book, What Color Is Your Parachute, which can help anyone to find a job, or more fulfilling work, or both."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Color Is Your Parachute - Ch2 - Where Do I Go From Here With My Life?

Chapter 2 is basically talking about putting passion first, job-hunt later.

There's a good quote in the chapter, that directly addresses the sense of urgency, which may be on the verge of panic for some. It's from Alice in Wonderland:

"Will you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the cat.

"I don't much care where--" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the cat.


So you can certainly go for whatever you can get, but it also makes a lot of sense to make the effort to figure out where you really want to get to.

It doesn't claim that the process is easy, or that any part of the job hunt is easy, but it makes a strong case that working towards a fulfilling job is worth doing.

The main reason is pretty simple: the more enthusiasm you have about what you're looking for, the more energy you'll have to put into the hunt.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Color Is Your Parachute - Ch1 - There are Always Jobs Out There

The first chapter is both compassionate and realistic. (The Introduction and Preface are also worth reading, to get a sense of context, to get to know the author)

Nelson Bolles, the author, has a kindness about him and the way he regards things, but you can also place faith in his realism, because he has a knack for digging deep into the background. So he's not just writing down his personal thoughts - he's done the (hard) work of really understanding the job market, all the statistics, all the "hard data". So his perspective is valuable, because it's based on thorough research.

But as a reader, you're not just a statistic - the author does seem to truly care. He cares enough to take an entire week, four times a year, just to talk to job searchers, to keep up to date with what they're saying, to really listen to them. He's aware of what's going on, what things are like out there.

Chapter 1 is pretty light, it starts out including some of the things people are saying, what they are going through, and that's addressed, and then what the chapter goes on to say is to tell the reality of the job market - not gloss over things, not sweep things under the carpet, but not to foretell doom and gloom either. Realism.

And I like that he critiques the media a little bit, in terms of how dire the picture is painted, and I agree with his critique. Sometimes journalists, in an attempt to get readership, may dramatize things in a way that doesn't give the whole picture. A sensationalist headline is more likely to get read than a drab one. Dire predictions are more likely to get clicked on than just saying what the situation is.

So the reality of all the people who are out of work is addressed, but basically, through relating statistics in an easy to understand way, the author shows how things have pretty much always been this way. That is, that there always has been millions who can't find work, so while the numbers might be higher, even in the best of times, there are always those who haven't found, won't find, or who give up on finding work. So the media will claim statistics, and the impression you get is not really based on considering that even though the numbers increase, millions are always out of work.

The point is not to discourage, but to address the possibility of finding work. And month by month statistics are given about the number of jobs that are available and being created, the number of people being hired, and things like the continual need of the 178 million people who are working, to buy things.

And the chapter ends up with a good thought: "Even in the worst of times, people in the U.S. have been finding jobs in the millions, this month and every month. Moreover, after that, millions of vacancies remain unfilled . . . all of this is an opportunity for you, if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and spend some decent time doing some hard work figuring out where you want to go with your life, and mastering job-hunting skills that are more than just elementary . . ."

What Color Is Your Parachute - Intro

If you're looking for a job, or wanting to switch jobs, or trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, What Color Is Your Parachute is the best book you could possibly read, in my opinion.

It's sold 10 million copies, the guy who wrote it has updated it constantly, and there's a lot of good wisdom in there. There's practical advice that is immediately useful for preparing for an interview or job search techniques, and there's also another dimension to the book, much more valuable, an open door for those who are willing to put the effort into it - the book can help you figure out what you'd be happy doing.

WCIYP is not a "magic bullet" or panacea or whatever other word you might like to use for something that will solve all issues. But it is rock solid, and because of the wisdom of it, which has happened over the years from someone focused on this issue - there is at least a bit of magic in it. Because you can take the book, read it, and if you put the effort into what it recommends doing, I personally believe you can find a job, for one - and if you have an open mind, I also believe you can find a job that would be fulfilling.

So it's not like it does the work for you, and there's no hidden tricks. It's all about addressing realities - like the fact that the typical way we send out resumes is the technique least likely to result in getting a job. But what it does show is a series of helpful techniques that are proven to increase your chances of getting a job. It's not late night television. Unrealistic promises are sometimes made on television commercials, which often promise to deliver something fantastic without requiring any effort. This book doesn't do anything for you - but it shows you how to do it yourself -- or ideally, with a friend. It won't reduce the amount of effort required to find a job, but it can reduce waste.
you can't get the book for "only $9.95!" - but you can get it at the time of writing for $12.91 USD on

And I really do think the job can give a person hope. Like if you're out there and got laid off, or have been looking, doing the best you can - this book is like having an expert working for you, to give you the best techniques.

And part of the technique might involve identifying your transferrable skills -- that is, skills you have, things you are good at (which you might not even realize or place value on). And in most cases, there are some things that you actually enjoy doing, or skills you had in your last job, or current job, which can be transferred to another "type" of job.

So when you start thinking with an open mind, and when you consider how the book has sold 10 million copies, I think it's a solid source of hope. You get out of it what you put into it.

The book won't get you a job.

But I do believe it is a powerful tool for finding one. And even if you already have a job, the book is worth reading, to help you think about getting into a career that would make you happy, or at least happier. And yes, sometimes there's no choice, for whatever reason. But for the other majority of cases where there is a choice (but where many of us just stay in a job even though we're not really satisfied or happy) -- wouldn't it be worth spending 13 bucks on a book, and putting the time into going through it - if the result could be a job that we'd be happy doing?

I think the answer is yes.

So I'd *highly* recommend reading the book.

And I'd also recommend getting two copies, and finding someone who will go through it with you. Because we're all human (except for Google, which will read this blog post at some point) - and it may help to go through with someone.


1) Get 2 copies of book
2) Find a friend who wants to go through it
3) Read 1-2 chapters, discuss once a week

Do it.

If you are like me, you'll never actually "feel" like doing it.

So really, you just need to do it.

2 copies = 26 bucks plus shipping. A small price to pay.

Amazon link below:

And what this blog is all about is simply that I'm going to go through it and put down a few thoughts about each chapter, to spur some thought; so feel free to come back and check the blog out after you get the book.

Note: the book is updated every year. Libraries sometimes have it - but I do think it's worth buying whatever the latest edition is.

Best wishes!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Next Important Bed


those who live by the sword

die by the sword

those who live by the fossil fuel fire

die by the fossil fuel fire

thanks be for the antioxidants

red pomegranates

green tea


ten thousand years

before you were conceived

on cotton sheets

before a relationship evolved

and the events of your creation

were set in motion

ages before

your mother sat propped up in bed

with you nursing at her breast

something lived on the earth

something died

when you burn that fuel

it's shock and awe on your cells

blessed be the peacemakers

red pomegranates

green tea


the choices you make now

influence where your body comes to rest

on the next important bed


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flying Dutchman (music video)

A song about a legendary Huey pilot in Vietnam called the Flying Dutchman.

For some reason, civilian medical rescue "medevac" helicopter pilots, and especially medevac pilots who flew in Vietnam, are powerful, inspiring symbols to me.

When I was growing up, I'd stand outside looking up at the summer sky, and realize that I was not just looking at the flat "roof" of the sky, as if it were a painting, but that I was looking "out" into eternity. This realization of eternity was a heart metaphor for a glancing inward, and this was how I would describe my sense of God, there but somewhat distant, but not necessarily a person.

Things were pretty turbulent for me in high school; I came to a spiritual transition and eventually developed a different view of God - my cultural paradigm was sort of classic rock/60's/counterculture, which included the backdrop of war and the desire for peace - and out of this and in conjunction with spiritual searching came a new regard for God. I came to appreciate the aesthetic beauty of the idea of a powerful god reaching down in humility and love to make an artistic statement, performance art as it were, to meet us and show what kind of love we can have for each other, through the symbol of sacrifice.

So for some reason the idea of a pilot flying through the bullets to rescue his friends was powerful to me, and the song shows some of my musical influences, including Jimi Hendrix. In my searching in high school, I was influenced by his music, and also by a poem he wrote just before he died:


The Story Of Life

The story of jesus
So easy to explain
After they crucified him,
A woman, she claimed his name
The story of jesus
The whole Bible knows
Went all across the desert
And in the middle, he found a rose

There should be no questions
There should be no lies
He was married ever happily after
All the tears we cry
No use in arguing
All the use to the man that moans
When each man falls in battle
His soul it has to roam
Angles of heaven
Flying saucers to some,
Made easter sunday
The name of the rising sun

The story is written
By so many people who dared,
To lay down the truth
To so very many who cared
To carry the cross
Of jesus and beyond
We will guide the light
This time with a woman in our arms
We as men
Can’t explain the reason why
The woman’s always mentioned
At the moment that we die
All we know
Is God is by our side,
And he says the word
So easy yet so hard

I wish not to be alone,
So I must respect my other heart
Oh, the story
Of jesus is the story
Of you and me
No use in feeling lonely,
I am searching to be free

The story
Of life is quicker
Than the wink of an eye
The story of love
Is hello and goodbye
Until we meet again


> So the chorus of "Flying Dutchman" wraps it all together I suppose: (A "hot LZ" refers to a dangerous landing zone.)

Flying Dutchman in a hot lz
trying to land, so he can rescue me
flying through the bullets like a bat out of hell
like jesus christ with rotors and an olive green shell

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Am Strong

(This is a poem I co-crafted; I was helping a friend from Bosnia to express herself. Little do we know the likes of which people experienced in the Balkans in the early 90's. If you want just a taste, netflix "Shot Through the Heart", an HBO movie, or ask your library to get it.)

I am strong
I was born in the jungle
I designed a house so stable
that a hundred bombs weren't able
to destroy it

I sat on the roof
and drank tea with a ghost
I got bored in awhile
so I went back inside
I gazed as I stood
just thinking of spring
and the beauty of heaven

I am strong
I was born in the jungle
I designed a house so stable
that a hundred bombs weren't able
to destroy it

For my sister's birthday
I gave her a ring
she liked it so much that she planted a tree
just for me
but my dad is silent, across the river
he has no trees
it's hard to breathe

I am strong
I was born in the jungle
I designed a house so stable
that a hundred bombs weren't able
to destroy it

I stood there and watched him
I sailed across the river
to find a cure for me
but never reached the other side
I am so happy, so alive
I mean, I am so alive
that I don't think I could die

I am strong
I was born in the jungle
I designed a house so stable
that a hundred bombs weren't able
to destroy it

Heartwind (unearthed from the archives)

spark that ignites
fingerprint touch
wind that urges onward

starlight pinprick
distant sun's surface
thermonuclear bloom

solar flare flower
warm blood blushing
passion, rushing

Monday, June 8, 2009

Song: Darlin' please put that cigarette down

I can't believe I wrote a country song yesterday. It's not a personal anecdote per se, but was at least inspired by some people I love who are smokers. Lord knows I don't judge smoking or drinking, but since I love these friends, I can't help but want to spare them the lung cancer, the lymphoma, and I may be idealistic, but do believe there's a quality of life that can be had without them.

The song is about a guy who knows a girl from hanging out at a local bar, and inviting her to join him in setting aside the lifestyle they've both been living, of killing the pain with alcohol, coping with cigarettes, sleeping around, and he finally gets up the courage to ask her to marry him. I might turn it into a short story sometime, and if I do, some of the unwritten lyrics will wind up in it - because the guy is basically saying, let's both put our cigarettes down, I want to grow old with you, I want to have a quality of life with you and it will tear me apart if I'm sitting at your bedside someday and you have lung cancer - it's not just about you darlin, and your coping - it's about me and you. I don't think our life will be ideal, but I love you; let's stop killing ourselves; let's try to make babies, and I do want to sit by that bedside.


She sat in her seat at the bar on the corner
I drank up her beauty, which gave me the courage
to walk straight ahead and look deep in her eyes
and say what my heart has made me realize

darlin please put that cigarette down
take my hand and i'll twirl you around
and I'll hold you real tight cause I love you so much
I like how your skin feels so warm to the touch

darlin please put your whiskey away
give me your hand and I'll whisk you away
and We'll make sweet love and raise kids of our own
and we'll reap what we can from the seeds that we've sown


She said honey I'm flattered but far from a flower
I'm just off from work and I sure need a shower
But I said you're the rose of the evening to me
now stop all your fussin and listen to me


darlin please put that cigarette down
take my hand and i'll twirl you around
and I'll hold you real tight cause I love you so much
I like how your skin feels so warm to the touch

darlin please put your whiskey away
give me your hand and I'll whisk you away
and We'll make sweet love and raise kids of our own
and we'll reap what we can from the seeds that we've sown


she started to smile and my heart felt like thunder
she gave me her hand and I felt ten years younger
and now we just dance by the moon and starlight
and grow old together and share every night


darlin please put that cigarette down
take my hand and i'll twirl you around
and I'll hold you real tight cause I love you so much
I like how your skin feels so warm to the touch

darlin please put your whiskey away
give me your hand and I'll whisk you away
and We'll make sweet love and raise kids of our own
and we'll reap what we can from the seeds that we've sown

Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama Speech in Cairo

Obama in Cairo, to young people. "You more than anyone, have an ability to re-imagine this world. To re-make, this world."

It seems to personally that he said exactly what needed to be said.

I went to college w/Todd Beamer, who died on 9/11. Since then I've been trying to think in small ways of how I could help make the world better, and one of the areas I've been interested in learning more about is Middle East issues.

I think Obama's hopeful Cairo speech may be one of the most important speeches you may ever have the opportunity of seeing. It's not that the speech can do much in and of itself (although it has had good effect and is an important statement), it's that it represents a sensitivity and historical understanding of issues important to Muslims, and represents an opportunity to work towards making peace.

The entire speech can be watched at:

(If the link is no longer available someday, the YouTube video is at

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Poem - Hope Supernova

This poem was written in 2007 to honor the efforts of One Laptop Per Child, an organization that makes computers for kids in the developing and developed world. I've also blogged a bit about OLPC from time to time; there's a nice anecdote about a farmer father in Peru, which shows some of the impact:


Hope Supernova

This unfolding hour
this blooming dreamflower
such breath-taking beauty
my mind is on fire

I capture that butterfly
and hold it in my heart
thank you *so* much
for playing your part

I gather the sleep
and the moments you've lost
with children and family
so precious, such cost

From this seed comes a flower
a blooming sunflower
a hope supernova
and the world is on fire


III - Holding a Child

This poem was written in May of 2008 - I ended up putting in a sequence with 3 other poems, a sequence of darkness, healing and wanting to heal others. | This poem came from a dream I had of holding a child in hell, and the child reached up and touched my forehead.


Holding a Child

I want to go into: Sudan, Palestine, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan

I want to go to hell, and bring some heaven along
I'm going with humility, to learn, to listen to the song

Sitting at the top of the heirarchy of needs
I stood at the cliff in a stiff winter breeze
Jumped off the top and dove down deep
I pray the lord my soul to keep

suffering suffering all around
but someone to love can always be found
the worm that wandered into the street
the child that is starving at my feet

everyone just wants to be held
so I held the child I found in hell
they touched my forehead and opened my eyes
as the death squad lost us to heavenly cries

II - Thousand Year Reunion

This poem was written in October of 2007 - I ended up putting in a sequence with 3 other poems, a sequence of darkness, healing and wanting to heal others. | The image of ice in the poem comes from an event, historic or legend I do not know – Saladin was an Arab who led several responses to the Crusades, and at one point, there was a battle near Jerusalem where the Templars ran out of water, and were defeated, and when their leader was brought to Saladin, Saladin gave him a cup that had ice in it. The poem is on the theme of a reunion between English and Arabic speaking people. I suppose it is addressed to the Middle East, anyone whose mother tongue is Arabic or Farsi. There is a version that has Arabic and Farsi translations at


Thousand Year Reunion

The river runs dry
like a desert

cherishing the memory
of water falling into sand
drops from Saladin's ice
and Jesus' side
now deep underground

I love you my brother, my sister
my tears will join that reservoir

I fall asleep, dreaming
in the distance I see a garden
I'm running, rushing towards it
like a waterfall, over the edge
and into your embrace

there's a river in my heart
your children, my children
are swimming, playing in it

it's so nice to see you
I haven't seen your smile
in a thousand years

forgive me
my brother, my sister
I love you so much

my eyes are growing dim now
let me hold your hand
and just look at you
like a flower, flowering

there's an ocean in my heart
your grandchildren, my grandchildren
are sailing, exploring together

I - The Void

This poem was written in March of 2006 - I ended up putting in a sequence with 3 other poems, a sequence of darkness, healing and wanting to heal others.


The Void

I'm here for the forgotten people
The ones who don't belong
The lonely, downtrodden, hungry and sick
the ones who might never embrace hope
but who need an embrace nonetheless

how can we sit in our throne cocoons
with suffering going on all around
and the tears of god washing up like waves
to lap at the edge of our castles of sand

is it not so much more firm and right
to venture out into the night
and light up the darkness with good intent
even if the light does flicker and fade?

i came back to myself the other day
on a rainy sidewalk, en route to class
with adult concerns, a childish mess
and saw a little worm crawling there

at first I thought I'd walk on by
and then I thought, "but who am I?"
I'm still the child who picked up worms
and threw them back in the grass to live

the childish mess is six feet tall
and there've been times I feel like I can only crawl
and cry at the computer
with my eyes shut tight
and typing by touch
right into the night

from whence do they come
the tears of today
I don't know where
it might be the weight that I carry inside

Thank god that the sun can shine through a void

Facing the Widowmaker

On a field of battle
underneath these wintry stars
in a nightmare of gloom
gazing at the shadows, the advancing doom

I'd find honor in standing firm here with you
facing that voracious darkness
holding fast with any that were foolish enough to fight
and wise enough to know that we must not give flight

those who'd rather wake and know they've tried
than yield to let the heart grow cold

defend the widows and fatherless
choose substance over emptiness

Friday, May 15, 2009

25,000 Kids

This is a poem I decided to write, late at night. I was thinking, ok, I can either watch a DVD, or write a poem for you. So I decided to write a poem. It's a bit surreal. The 25,000 figure may not be precise, but for some reason sticks in my mind as the number of children who die each day around the world from preventable diseases and the like.

I wonder sometimes if we may risk bringing judgment on ourselves, when we learn about poverty, and then don't try hard to help people lift themselves out of it (for example, by supporting organizations such as Opportunity International).

There's a reference in the poem to an ancient story about judgment, where people painted a red x on their door, and a death angel came through town, and spared those who had this mark on their door. Some people believe in angels, and that they also sometimes deliver judgment. So the poem is meant to be kind of a ghost story.

Update 9/1/09: recently the image of 25,000 kids has been coming back to me, but stretched over time - where you can recognize the past, and the lives that have needlessly passed into shadow, but where you can also make sure to be mindful of the kids who are still alive, and the hope that action can bring, such as attempts to bring education, like Sugar Labs, or Intel Teach. So it might be a kind of duality or paradox, like in physics - is light a wave or a particle? Are the 25,000 kids outside our door dead, or alive? And I think the answer might be decided by what we choose to do. Scary, yet amazing.

25,000 Kids

I've got 25,000 kids
in a pile, outside my door
a stadium full of children
who won't sing anymore

But thankfully, I'm ok
Thankfully, I'm able to ignore
the 25,000 dead children
in a pile, outside my door

My powers are tremendous
my mind, of infinite strength
and I've been able to hold these dead kids
at an infinite arm's length

Sometimes the dust creeps out
from under the carpet
in a corner of my mind
I know I could, I should do more

But then I'd have to change my life
the amount I spend on things
do you have any idea of how much it costs
to live like a relative king?

I really hate guilt trips
so don't throw one on me, ok?
I have enough to deal with
how can one person make a difference anyway

Thankfully, I'm ok
Thankfully, I'm able to ignore
the 25,000 dead children
in a pile, outside my door

A motorcycle gang cruised by one time
"Apollyon's Angels", with their black leather jackets
their engines idling, a dark silent roar
moving so slowly, like a funeral choir

One of them saw me and gave me the chills
he wanted to paint an X on my door
the next time they'd pass me over
if I chose to help the poor

But thankfully, I'm ok
Thankfully, I'm able to ignore
the 25,000 dead children
in a pile, outside my door


Friday, March 6, 2009

Scrabble with Mom

Tonight after a long hiatus I thought it might be fun to try playing scrabble over the Internet with mom, who is back in New York State. We had tried an electronic version based on CDs awhile back, which was fun, but it didn't work - presumably because our computers are connected to wireless modems and routers and whatnot that block direct access from computer to computer (not necessarily a bad thing; good for security).

Then I remembered hearing about Facebook scrabble - the unofficial version was down, but I wound up on and found my way eventually to this link, which will invite you to install the "official" Scrabble application on Facebook:

And it seems to work pretty nicely, and I like the idea of being able to invite friends or family into a game.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Website Credibility

I wanted to recommend that anyone working on a Web site take a moment to download and possibly print out page 23 of the PDF document available from the link below, and consider how it might impact your strategy for designing a Web site.

It's a study I was introduced to in graduate school a few years ago, which asked 2500 people to report on what affected their perceptions of the credibility of a Web site, and there are some interesting insights.

An excerpt from the Consumer Webwatch site:

"The data showed that the average consumer paid far more attention to
the superficial aspects of a site, such as visual cues, than to its
content. For example, nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the
study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of
the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font
size and color schemes."


One of the participants, Consumer Webwatch, has a page where it can be downloaded:

The Stanford "official" site:

Introduction to Open Source CMS

Introduction to Open Source CMS:


It's kind of funny. I got an email from being on an email list I signed up for at, which basically makes announcements of what the new Obama administration is going to be doing. And a day or two ago, I got excited; it was kind of hard to believe, but they said they were opening up all of their meetings to give people a chance to see what was happening, the meetings with various organizations who were presenting recommendations and ideas -- and inviting people to comment, share their own thoughts, and even share documents.

Then somehow my brain translated this into thinking that they were also asking for original ideas -- and this motivated me to pick up a powerpoint presentation I had made on open source CMS, polish it, import it into Google documents, publish it, and put it at this address:

Then I realized they were looking for feedback on existing recommendations and proposals and whatnot. But I still think it's cool, because at least they are involving people.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sajjil - Missile or Flower?

My first wikipedia article:

It may get deleted, but I thought I should try. When I read about the new missile, I thought perhaps it should also be the name of a flower, or children's character, or something - a symbol of hope that someday we would not need to point missiles at each other. At least they waited until after Veteran's Day. They are probably nervous Bush will do something before the Obama's inauguration. Israel is nervous. I pray everyone calms down.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Kids Caring 4 Kids

Today I walked into the Wheaton Post Office, to get some packages I was expecting. I'm putting together a computer museum, and gathering some old computers that I got from Ebay. It is a nonprofit venture,and the purpose is to help people understand the history of computers. Another purpose is to help people who are trying to retrieve a file that may be locked up on an old computer disk, in an ancient format.
Simultaneously I am also developing this museum in 3D, so that kids and adults can learn about and experience new computers even if they don't have access to that specific computer.

So I go into the post office, and a guy is standing there going through his mail just like me, and wearing a World Vision teeshirt ( We ended up getting into a conversation and I discovered that his thirteen year old daughter also cares about kids quite literally. She started an organization called Kids Caring 4 Kids ( It was a fascinating conversation, and it seems that there are a number of opportunities for convergence, with other organizations that I've been helping recently, such as One Laptop per Child and others.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Visit to Warm Blankets

I went to visit the Warm Blankets Foundation on Monday 8/13 and I have to say that Craig Muller rocks. Here's a guy who, when he came to believe that we should "take care of orphans and widows", as the good book says, he took it to heart, and literally started taking care of orphans, by starting a foundation and building orphanages in Cambodia. They now have over 150 orphanages in various parts of the world.

Here's a representative insight into what Warm Blankets does, and the kind of commitment they have to kids, a recent email from Craig that blew my mind (used with permission):


From: Craig Muller []
Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 10:20 AM
To: Todd Kelsey
Subject: RE: monday - Warm Blankets Foundation?

Hettwer might be interested in going to Kenya and Sudan with me next month or so. I may also stop in Cambodia. I’ll be visiting with AIM-Air because they can get me into Sudan by small plane without getting us shot down. (we hope) It will be a great photo opt I suppose. UN Troops have been moving into the area all week. I’ll also be going to Timor in Oct or so because of the fighting there. Lots of UN folks taking up space there as well, but we have six secured homes in the refugee camps there and are building six more. Lots of fighting since Monday there. Our team moved a couple hundred kids to safety during the night .. yesterday.



Back in the dotcom heyday, Craig started a company called Motivationnet, which merged with, and that's where I came across him. (MyPoints became my employer during the dotcom rollercoaster years of 1999-2000, after the rollercoaster years with the rock group Sister Soleil.) So he took his money from the IPO/acquisition, and rolled it into orphanages, and I always thought this was cool, the idea of using business to generate money and doing good things with it.

I guess you'd call it something like: "sell to the rich and give to the poor".

Here's Craig in the conference room, sporting a trendy goatee:

So they do things like rescue kids from garbage dumps or child prostitution, like literally go in there, get them out and give them a home, something to eat, education, hope. They help the kids to help themselves, and are doing crazy things like buying tractors and sending them over to help the orphans actually start a business.

Here's a couple of friendly Warm Blankets people:

Today in the midst of a business exchange, someone emailed me and wrote: "I also am personally looking to donate about 10% of the cash I make in random intervals. Right now I have about $100,000 I would like to donate to a good cause, but just not sure what."

So, mind you, I'm in the middle of struggling to figure out how I'm going to fund my PhD research, and start a non-profit organization, and create free learning material in different languages, which I think are all very good causes. But instead of mentioning this to the exclusion of all else, I wrote this sentence, among others:

"If I had a million dollars of profit a year personally, I might put 5% into opportunity international, and 5% into Warm Blankets."

(Opportunity International is a cool organization in the field of microfinance -- they basically help lift people out of poverty by making micro-loans and fostering business.)

I'm not patting myself on the back; I think that the grace to emphasize such things may have come from above, but it's also because Craig blows my mind. For more information see and

If you made it this far, I encourage you to click on the little envelope icon right (below and to the right of this sentence), and email this to a friend or two, and ask them to do the same.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sinsinawa Mound Center

Today I went to a very interesting event at the Sinsinawa Mound Center, in Sinsinawa, Wisconsin.

It was a commemoration/reconciliation event, on the 175th anniversary of the Blackhawk war, a conflict that resulted in the slaughtering of nearly every member of Blackhawk's tribe (something in the neighborhood of 1500), by members of the Illinois Militia. The handful that survived, from Blackhawk's own family, women and children who made it across the flooded Mississippi river somehow, did have descendants -- who had been forced up into Oklahoma. And one of Blackhawk's descendants is Chief Kay Rhoads, who is the leader of the Sac-Fox Nation, and was there at this event.

It was interesting, to learn about the events of the summer of 1832, from the native american perspective -- and to meet members of the Sac-Fox nation and learn more about their culture.

This is a view from coming up to the mound (keep in mind it is relatively flat farmland all the way around, so it rises up unusually; with apologies to experts -- I believe that the mound was sacred to native americans partly because of being a "high place".)

The entrance to the Center, with a view of land around:

Some tribal drumming (the voices were great! I'm planning on converting a recording to mp3 format so people can hear it on their ipods)

This was pretty cool -- a lot taller than sunflowers i guess -- wind power generators in the area:

This is a picture of the hopefully soon to be Dr. Todd, and Preston Duncan, a very interesting relative/descendant of Blackhawk, a noted speaker who gave a lot of insights (and who is a good traditional tribal dancer too!)

And this is Chief Kay Rhoads (on the right) and her sister. It was very interesting to hear Chief Rhoads talk about the Sac Fox nation, past and present history: