Monday, June 25, 2007

Phoenix, summer sings, tech for non-profits, PHP

Last week, we returned from our visit to Phoenix. We celebrated Sugar Daddy's grandfather's 90th birthday, and boy, was it an uplifting experience! Despite his age, he is feisty, funny, and in pretty good health. He even danced the "Waikiki Walk" with every lady present at the party!

I've been working through the PHP tutorial at W3Schools. It's not the best tutorial I've ever used, but at least I learned something when I had to debug why the tutorial instructions didn't result in the expected output...

I stopped at the library and hunted for books that would provide some guidance on the legal/financial/procedural aspects of setting myself up as an independent contractor. Two useful finds: Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Independent Contractors, Freelancers & Consultants (which is exactly the information I'm looking for) and Starting a Business in San Mateo & Santa Clara Counties (info that is locally pertinent).

I spent some time reading articles about tech for non-profits, specifically the ones at TechSoup. There are more blogs/feeds on tech for non-profits that I'd like to check out, like the ones listed at Beth Kanter's nptech blog. Plus, there's an interesting article on How to Pinpoint the Right Social Networking Tools for Your Nonprofit, and Get the Support and Budget to Put Them to Work that I'd like to get to. But despite all this interesting reading material, I don't want to develop a case of blog reading fatigue like my buddy Oluf. So I looked around for some different free feature-rich RSS readers, and am currently experimenting with JetBrains Omea Reader to see if it will successfully tame the information monster.

In addition, I've just started brainstorming about what new online tools for activism and enhancements of existing tools might best benefit New American Dream. Comments, ideas on this topic are welcome.

On the music front - my recent listening has been following the Schola Cantorum Summer Sing schedule. Last week, the Verdi Requiem (and I found a pretty decent recording by Claudio Abbado at the library). This week, Poulenc Gloria and Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzer. As a bonus, I borrowed a recording of Carole Farley singing songs by Ned Rorem, one of my favorite art song composers, with Rorem at the piano. I've got my next two voice lessons scheduled, and am getting back to the piano after a couple of weeks of practice hiatus.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Every day is casual day! And, the walking lifestyle

Two more benefits of "temporary retirement" that I am really enjoying:

Every day is casual day! It's T-shirts, shorts, and sandals...and best of all, I have so many T-shirts that I can go for weeks and weeks without doing laundry! I don't even wear socks these days, unless I'm feeling dressy and formal :)

And, since I now have the time, I've been doing a ton of walking to do errands around town. I contrast this with my former life:

Driving every day: Scowl at other drivers and their idiotic maneuvers. Listen to bozo honking behind me. Try to avoid accidents. Crank up NPR to distract myself from the tedium of my commute. Pay $3.65 for a gallon of gas. Contribute to global warming.

Walking every day: Enjoy sunshine and fresh air. Get RDA of vitamin D from sunshine. Get errands done. Smile and say "Good morning" to passing pedestrians (who respond with their own nice smiles). Stay fit. Get nice tan.

I've pared down on car use quite a bit and am reaping the benefits. I wonder if I can stretch my current tank of gas through the rest of this summer?

Concerts, socializing, learning PHP, dealing with apartment issues

This week in review:

On the social scene: Saturday I attended G.'s party to celebrate 5 years of cancer-free living. It was an uplifting and life-affirming experience. While I was there, I also got to catch up with some colleagues from my former workplace. That evening, we went up to the city to visit my uncle and an aunt who's in town from Vermont. (Note to self: I also saw my cousin C. who just finished filing for non-profit status for his organization, the Wilderness Arts and Literacy Collaborative; he might be a good contact if I ever want to start my own non-profit.) Sunday, I called my old high-school friend J. who lives in CT, just because. Monday, I visited a relative of mine who's distantly related to me, yet happens to live maybe a mile away (and yet I haven't seen her for years). This coming weekend, another aunt is coming to town from Toronto; gotta make plans to see her. And the most surprising encounter of the week: I got an email from B., a junior-high friend I haven't been in touch with for years and years. Sounds like lots of changes and challenges in her life recently; hugs to you, B.!

Apartment issues have been a time suck this week. There was a situation with the landlord that we thought might escalate into something unpleasant, but miraculously, it might be headed towards the happiest possible ending. It did get us talking about our future housing needs. Ideally, we'd like to live close enough to Sugar Daddy's workplace that he can commute by foot or bicycle. We might shop around for an apartment in that vicinity. We talk about buying on and off, but never really get serious about it, although we did go to our first-ever open house on Sunday - a condo in Mountain View.

Music has kept us really busy this week. Voice lesson Tuesday, dress rehearsals Monday and Wednesday, performing in concerts this coming Saturday and Sunday, went to my friend R.'s concert last Friday, and also saw R. sing yesterday with the HP Choir (and Sugar Daddy accompanied them in the orchestra). I'm doubling up on practice hours this week because I'll be in Phoenix all next week and won't get in any more practice time before my next voice lesson. Between all this and the apartment situation, I had to slack off on piano this week. If I can get a couple of hours in on the piano before leaving for Phoenix, I'll have to be satisfied with that.

Two-and-a-half months after leaving my software job, I was finally able to look at code again...I just started giving myself a crash course in PHP to prepare for the contract job with New American Dream. At least the basics so I can fake it until I make it :) I've also started reading a bit about technology and non-profits at TechSoup. I want to do some high-level reading about social media/networks, find out what's out there today, and think about how it can be incorporated into a non-profit's strategy.

Off to Phoenix next week for Sugar Daddy's grandfather's 90th birthday bash! The man has three times as much life experience as me, and he still has a sense of humor, pretty decent health and mobility, and probably a more active social life than me! Amazing!