28 June, 2006

Many Thanks And Keep On Writing

Oh lovely… another woman, Catarina, has written something for the Red Tent Blog. Two friends and I set up this blog a few months ago, though we only officially started the blog in May. It took us a while before we could figure out the vision for the blog, the logistics, and, yes, the technology. We are really on our way.

We (I) had this goal to try and get thirty different women to commit themselves to write one or two entries over the next year. My two friends, Karen and Christine, have committed ourselves to writing at least once a month.

Already we have four more women who have committed themselves to write regularly (Maureen, Susanne, Marie, and Catarina), and two women who have written something for the main page (Tammy and Maria). All this, in just two months time. Wonders of wonders.

So, here is the thing, this is an appeal to all of you who read this blog and have yet to write something for the Red Tent Blog, it’s time to get moving! Just write anything or everything and send the text to us (virtualredtent(at)yahoo(dot)com).

And those who have written… many thanks and keep on writing. I truly love how the blog is developing, and hope you do to.

27 June, 2006

Warren Buffett’s Generous Act

Just finished watching an interview on Charlie Rose’s show with Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett on the Charlie Rose show. You have to see the interview. I discovered this link at one of my favourite blogs, Freakonomics.

I know I have a lot of “favourite” blogs, but it is true. I read between twenty and thirty blogs of my favourite blogs daily. Fortunately, each blog don’t doesn’t necessarily have an new entry each daily. They range from legal, economic (not sure about this), culture, education, and even a mommyblog (though that doesn’t do this wonderful blog justice). Yes, there is no accounting for taste. Nevertheless, I love them. all.

25 June, 2006

WOW Widow

You’ve probably heard of a soccer widow. (Though judging by the large number of females in the crowds dancing in the streets last night in the throws of jubilation, soccer no longer has a male-only fan club). Or even grass widows? But have you heard of a WOW widow? Well, I am outing myself as one.

My brother-in-law convinced Giui to participate in a free ten-day trail of the MMORPG (massive multiplayer online roll playing game) World of Warcraft last Christmas. The ten days trail came and went, Giuseppe subscribed to the game, joined a guild, and he has not looked back since. He plays this computer game every day for several hours.

Now Julien has started playing, so I am on my way to being a WOW widow mother.

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t hate the game, nor am I blind to its appeal, and I am well aware of the “socialising” going on, and appreciate the fact that the two of them enjoy participating in a virtual community. The only thing I do question, as so often in life, to what extent (i.e. the hours) they can play the game.

24 June, 2006

Oh Dear, And Oh Yeah, Congratulations

So, Germany won against Sweden and now on their way to the quarterfinals. Congratulations.

Oh dear, because I am writing this just a few minutes after the game is over and the unofficial parades of honking cars, shouting masses, and the occupying riot police has already begun. It will continue for the next four or five hours. I’m happy for Germany. But I just do not “get” the hysteria afterwards. Guess I am spooked easily...

23 June, 2006

Why I want the Germans to Lose

(collage of the preliminarly rounds from photos from the BBC cup coverage)

Just wrote an entry in the Red Tent Blog about why I wish the Germans would lose in the World Cup in the next round our two. It is not the sort of thing that I’d normally admit readily, considering that I am very much in the minority in my household (1 Canadian versus 3 Germans). Yet, both the children (Canadian) and my husband (Italian) were not born German, so there is no reason for them to get huffy about the matter.

21 June, 2006

I Know A Secret

Don't you love it when someone tells you some juicy piece of news and says, "Don't tell Anyone!"? Oh, how I love when this happens. It is something that this person and I can share. And, for as long as it remains a secret, it feels warm and delightfully tickling to hold this little bit of knowlege close to my heart.

19 June, 2006

Oh, Well, Tant Pis.

Just finished giving my presentation at the institute on the theme “What do women want…. when it comes to gaming?” The presentation went quite well I think; at least I had fun giving it. Tried a new presentation strategy of using lots of graphics and practically no written text. It was the first time that I just spoke freely and though this was initially quite a terrify leap for me to take, I did better than I thought I would.

In a nutshell, the hour long presentation develops as follows: most women like content/storyline (e.g. television drama series, so called “chick flicks”, women literature and magazines); guys like action and interactivity (e.g. see computer games); most media today (print, film (DVD), television, Internet, and gaming) promotes some successful products which contain both components though, obviously, of different proportions concerning storyline development and interactivity; my concept for a successful women’s game does not emulate a computer game but rather, it is simular to the experience of watching American television (60-70% viewing film (storyline development), and 30-40% gaming elements).

Think the fact that there wasn’t any text made it hard for some of the (male) audience to understand what I was talking about. They found it hard to listen. They also found it difficult to understand/accept/internalise some of the topic material. You could even say that some of them got a bit huffy about some of the things I said, suggested or even blatantly threw on the table.

I talked things over with two colleagues after it was over and it was surprising how much the fellows just didn’t hear. Was it because it did not present it succinctly enough, or did I not repeat myself enough at relevant moments in the presentation, or did the guys just turn off their ears and minds? They obviously “got” what I was saying on some level, but there were a few questions and observations posed which I was completely puzzled by. Oh, well, tant pis.

15 June, 2006

The Trails We Face As Girls

I got home this evening and Sara came running down the stairs in the entrance of the building to tell me the developments of their next musical/concert (given by the church choir she belongs to, though she doesn’t belong to the church. Reminds me of my friend’s Karen’s experiences as a child who loved church music and her parents were both atheists). Apparently Sara has been given a rather important roll, a forgetful doctor, and she is not only expected to sing, speak texts, but dance as well. The main protagonist, the witch, casts a spell and The Dizzy Doctor has to dance.

Sara was terrified about it all. I told her that there were only three alternatives: do a funny dance, just turn in circles or move across the stage so it looks as if it is dancing even though it is not, or dance an easy routine with someone else on the stage. Tears. Hysterics. She couldn’t think of anything worse than having to dance (yeaks!) in front of an audience. Singing, playing music (last weekend’s Rock and Pop School keyboard concert was brilliant), recite poetry, read out loud from a long text, or act a roll are no problems. But, to dance! God forbid. And this from a daughter of an ex-ex-ballet dancer.

I was trying to comfort her and give her some good suggestions; which translates that I was trying to steer her in the direction of dancing a funny dance. She stops me and says, “Mom, I really don’t think you understand the severity of the situation. You don’t understand how humiliating it will be”. I looked over at her and told her she was looking at someone who had to play a pig in the carnival of animals. Did she ever laugh!

We came up with a solution. When the witch casts her spell, she will go over to the coat rack (which I will be making) and use this as a dance partner. There will be a coat attached to it, which will swing around wildly when Sara is moving across the stage in sweeping movement. Phew! Now I can relax into my long weekend.

A friend and I are off to this wonderful place I went to last fall. Bliss. I’ll see if I can take a few more photos.

14 June, 2006

Pure Coincidence

A new collage… it is just purely a coincidence, or subliminal, that the poem I chose from Ryôkan is less than light. He is one of the most delightful, mischievous, insightful, joyous, mournful, elegant poets.


Ok, I'll state right from the beginning that I am sorry and I promise not to do this again, or at least not in the too near future, but I am at my wits end for I really don’t know how to change things both smoothly and radically and permanently as possible from the present, though long persistent, over-worked state of affairs, so that these changes would let me work less, play more, relax regularly, explore persistently a more balanced and joyous existence, thus making me a better person; one that my children could laugh with regularly over stupidly funny incidences, feel less protective of and more at ease with, especially the stressed-out idiot that has been walking through the door these last weeks and discovers that they haven’t done their chores, their rooms are impassable because of their untidy state, and she doesn’t want to cook a warm and nutritional meal, even though this warm meal is not just nutritional in content, but also in colour, flavour, scent, and in the most basic this-is-what-family-bliss-is-all-about sort of way, so why give in to the urge to pick up something from the (excellent) Italian restaurant down the street, though whether I pick something up or not is really not the issue here; I am talking about not being able to pick the right priorities, or at least, not with enough backbone that I walk away from an important task at the office simply because my childless, marriage-on-the-rocks, workaholic boss has no inclining of understanding that I, or any of my other colleagues, have a life outside of our work- actually, and not just a life but something so precious and enriching, that I must be a stupid, demented, spineless, insipid creature not be able to make it clear to him, and me (we don’t even want to start on my dear-but-long-suffering husband, or brilliant but perhaps too kind children) that no, sorry, I have to go home, NOW!

12 June, 2006

Moving Outside Of My Box

I am a bit daunted by all I have to do in the next few weeks: give a presentation/lecture next Monday on the theme of women and computer gaming, give a presentation and hold a discussion with the English teaching staff of a local high school on the theme of media literacy, help organize and run this big KiMM Live 2006 event, and prepare and give a presentation at a conference on mobile learning. Each and every one of these challenges I have done on the occasion, but never on mass, and never with any degree of confidence. I have the feeling of stepping out of my comfortable box.

The presentation next Monday will be interesting because I am trying to take the advice of many of the bloggers I have come to admire (here, here, and here). As far as I can gather, they say it is not possible even to follow the previously accepted 6-8 items listed on the page. They say, contrarily, lots of images and diagrams, and then just speak freely, concisely, humorously, and passionately about my topic. This of me: who has been known to prepare a full length script!

The only presentation, of the three that I have to give, where I think I stand a chance of doing this, is the one next week about women and computer gaming. I have a super idea about what a popular computer game for women should look like. Most of the persons (guys) attending the seminar like and respect me as a colleague; though why they do this remains somewhat of a mystery. I am confident that I can woo my two esteemed female colleagues because they are not only technically insightful people, but also like a bit of craziness as well.

So, I’ve chosen to do this seminar/presentation speaking freely. Sure, I will rehearse it, but I will try to go in without any written notes. Wish me luck.

11 June, 2006

New Projects

I've come up with two new projects. Yes, you say, why is she doing this? Mainly because it is fun. It's good to face a new challenge. I’m a stickler for punishment. Still, I am really excited about them.

The first project is conceiving and creating a game concept for the Desperate Housewives series. If you want to know more… read here.

Next is a family project. We are considering making up a few podcasts. I have the new laptop that is suppose to facilitate the who process. Julien and I have experience with audio editing (very basic). Giuseppe sings like a nightingale and plays the guitar better than most. Sara and Julien play keyboad. Sara sings sweetly and on-tune. We can all talk, it is just a matter of seeing whether any of us can talk into a microphone.

I got the laptop on the premise that it would not only geographically free me up, but it would also allow me to produce blogs, podcasts, and websites with a certain amount of ease.

Not sure when you guys can expect the first podcast… don’t bother keeping tune, I’ll let you know once anything exists.

09 June, 2006

Something In The Stars

Have you ever noticed how there are times in life when a cluster of strange coincidences occur? I am presently in such a phase. In the last weeks, a series of incidents have occurred and they really spook me.

Incident #1

I was trying to find the telephone number of a car rental we’ve used before from amongst the thousand bits of paper stuck to our pin board. I couldn’t, who could, find the number because of the chaos. My friend’s, R.’s, number falls down and as I pin it back to the board, I guiltily remember that I’d promised to call her months ago. R. and I do not talk to each other very often, once every one or two years, because she possesses a predilection to disappear, moving to another country, without sending a forwarding-address. Yet, we have, in some odd way, continued to follow the developments in our lives over the decades. Five minutes after I pin R.’s number back on the pin board, she calls me from southern Germany.

Incident #2

I am calling my friend, S., while gazing out of our living room apartment window. As the phone is ringing in S.’s house, she cycles by, looks up at our window, and gives a wave.

Incident #3

My husband and I are talking about a fellow, Mr. P., who used to work at a music store we went to often in town. This store closed down a year ago. We were wondering what he was doing since the store closed because he was one of those true and knowledgeable music enthusiasts, who served customers for over twenty years with grace and patience. Two minutes later just as we had continued onto some other topic of conversation, Mr. P. crosses the street in front of our apartment.

Incident #4

I was riding my bicycle through a suburb on my way to work (I ride from the city centre out to the city periphery every day). I saw two school boys, on their way to school meanly run away from a girl who wanted to walk with them. The incident made me think about how mean children can be in general. Then I thought about one of my ex-bosses, who I knew lived somewhere in that suburb, and who had a mean streak even as an adult. Then I started remembering some of the awful things he did and said when I worked for him (granted not a good thing to think about on a sunny summer morning). Two streets down, I passed his wife standing on the corner talking to two other women. They were the only people to be seen far and wide.

Incident #5

I finally got around to sorting through and throwing out the pile of Christmas cards last week (yes, I know, end of May...). I kept three of the cards because I wanted to write the senders soon. That evening one of the friends, whose card I’d saved, called to say she was coming up north for the weekend.

Giuseppe doesn’t like it when I go all esoteric on him. He keeps on saying the New Age is Old Hat, which probably is true. Yet, I catch myself trying to make sense of all these trivial, though poignant, coincidences. Should I go out and buy a lottery ticket? Is something big looming on the horizon?

08 June, 2006

Give Yourself A Treat

If you only have the time to read one blog entry or news article today, read Garr Reynold’s blog (Presentation Zen) entry, “You are creative (who the %$#@! says you're not?)”. In it, he summarises the advice Brenda Ueland wrote in 1938 in her book, "If you want to Write". Apparently, what she wrote about writing can be extended to any form of creativity or inspirational activity.

P.S. I've put this same entry into the Red Tent Blog as well.

Keeping Company with Dave

Last night I met a woman whose mother died last February. Her mother owned a holiday apartment not too far away from here. This woman had gone to the apartment for the first time since her mother’s death, to see how things are and try to decide what to do with the things in the apartment.

During our conversation we talked about material possessions of a deceased person: how it is difficult in times of mourning to differentiate between things that have material value, sentimental value, possible further practical use, and how, in the end, things are really just things. We also talk about how perhaps the only good thing about someone dying, is they are no longer bound by the material world, and thus, they can be anywhere, at any time.

In this manner, Dave lives in my heart. He no longer just emails me from Grenada, or calls from some tiny port on the west coast of Canada. Instead, he witnesses all of my family’s daily struggles and joys. He laughs, in that manner he has, at the funny occurrences that transpire, the curious encounters that happen, and the wonderfully crazy people who touch my life.

His presence makes burdens easier to bear; for he points out how rich I am in love and spirit. This is due in part to his continued presence in my heart, in part to the love and joy Giui and the children bring into my life, and also, in part though my own intelligence and creativity. He is not my guardian angel as much as my constant companion.

01 June, 2006

Long Long Weekend II

Another long weekend approaches. We, cross fingers, are all off to a holiday apartment in rural northern Germany. That is, even more north than Luebeck. Gelting is a place we have visited numerous times, so hopefully the familiar will allow us to "move in" quickly and just enjoy the time away.