Rock People

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We are rock people. When my family travels or goes camping, we come home with rocks. We send each other photos of the rocks we have collected, and give garden stones for holiday and birthday presents. I have shipped rocks home from trips to Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. (When a Customs agent asked “What do you have in there – rocks?” I replied “Of course!”) After a trip to Brasil and a week camping in the Sierras, I gave my mother a necklace with a natural Brasilian agate pendant, plus a river rock from the Sierras. These were much appreciated!

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Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Embrace an Oak

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Kristoffer is a 7th grader at St. Andrew’s School (Saratoga, California). He presented his Heritage Oak Initiative today to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Kristoffer collected 1,000 acorns from the immense oak tree that dominates the church-school campus. These acorns were grown into 250 starts that are being sold to collect donations for Embrace.

The award-winning Embrace Warmer is designed for hypothermic infants in developing countries. It costs a fraction of the price of a standard incubator, doesn’t require constant electricity, and is portable, hygienic, and reusable.

Embrace now works in 11 countries and has helped over 87,000 low birth weight and premature infants. Kristoffer wrote on the Heritage Oak Initative website:

The Heritage Oak Initiative was founded with two objectives: First and primarily, I wanted to help people who are less fortunate than me, and second, I wanted to give the church and school community a living memory of Saint Andrew’s. The Oak provided a perfect opportunity to do both through its annual production of acorns, which means that the program can live in perpetuity benefiting a separate charity each year.

In addition to being an impressive and generous project by a very young man, today’s presentation was of particular interest to me because Everwise CEO Mike Bergelson and I and used Embrace as our example for quick and successful product development when we presented at the FutureNow event last month. I just bought two of Kristoffer’s oaks today for my own garden!

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Images Copyright 2013-2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Lake and Sky

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I recently caught this lovely image of clouds among the shore grass in the Herring Creek Reservoir. We saw the lake during a family hike in the Stanislaus National Forest while at the University of California’s Lair of the Golden Bear Camp Blue.

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Image Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Highway 108 – Shoe Tree

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Driving west of Pinecrest and the Lair of the Golden Bear on California Route 108, you will find the shoe tree. I don’t know why people have thrown dozens of adult-size sports shoe pairs around the branches of this large pine tree on a mountain highway far from any town… but there it is.

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Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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21 Years at the Lair of the Bear – Camp Blue

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Last night, we celebrated Paul’s 22nd birthday at the University of California’s Lair of the Golden Bear Camp Blue. We have been Lair campers since before Paul could walk! We started in 12th Week and have slowly moved to earlier weeks as school start dates crept back into August. This is our second year as 9th Week campers. My niece and nephew start classes on Monday. Paul starts at San Jose State University in a few weeks.

My brother Pete, sister-in-law Julie and kids, with friends Steve and Olivia and their son are also with us. This week, other members of the family have been going on hikes, running, and swimming in Pinecrest Lake. We also went rafting on the Stanislaus River out of Knights Ferry. Our immediate family has mostly been playing board games and enjoying Advanced Lounging with Electronics. Jessica and Matthew celebrated their 3rd wedding anniversary with pinatas full of candy and little plastic dinosaurs.

Jessica and I have been in email communication from Camp Blue Lodge with Susan Rodger (Professor, Computer Science at Duke University), collaborating on the design and content of our Notable Women in Computer Science and Wikipedia poster for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, to be held in October 2014. GHC14 is almost sold out – as it has been every year since at least 2009.

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Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Moby Dick, or, the card game

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This week my family has been playing “Moby Dick, or, the card game” almost daily at the University of California at Berkeley’s Lair of the Golden Bear Camp Blue. This game was a Kickstarter project by King Post that I invested in last year. I gave it to my son-in-law Matthew, who loves games of all kinds. “Moby Dick” is great fun – we plan to buy more copies! The card graphics are interesting and well-executed. The game play is fast and dependent on both luck and strategy. An added benefit is that the classic 1851 whaling story Moby Dick by Herman Melville is one of my favorite novels.

Matthew, Jessica, Paul and I made some rule changes to improve play:

  • You cannot progress past the first chapter until a whale has been fought (this allows players to get some oil – so that more sailors can be hired).
  • Any time there is an uneven number to be distributed, we roll a die to see which player got more.
  • We designated any sailor without a specific name as a forecastle sailor.

Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Watching New Cities Grow

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I grew up in San Francisco and live in San Jose, California, two relatively-old cities – for the American west. SF was founded in 1776; SJ was founded in 1777. Both were incorporated in 1850. I have recently returned from an Everwise business trip to run a Mentoring Design Workshop in Brasilia (Brazil).  Brasilia was founded in 1960 and had a population of 2.8 million in 2013. A few years ago, I worked for Huawei in Shenzhen (China).  Shenzhen was founded in 1979 and had a population of 10.4 million in 2010.

Besides being new cities, Brasilia and Shenzhen have in common that their quick creation is associated with a great leader. I was last in Shenzhen in 2010, the 30th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. During that time, there was much honoring of Deng Xiaoping. Deng lead China 1978-1992. In Brasilia, we stayed at the Kubitschek Plaza hotel – whose name honors Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, Brazil’s President 1956-1961.

Both Brasilia and Shenzhen are still in a skeletal stage of civic development. That is, I saw big buildings and well-developed districts like good bones providing form and identity but also large areas of open land that were marked with actual or virtual/mental “Under Development” signs.

My son and son-in-law like to play the virtual land development game Minecraft together. Minecraft in multi-player survival mode has the concept of identification/ownership “waypoints” to mark areas someone plans to build on – even if nothing is there now. I think Brasilia and Shenzhen are full of waypoints where development is under long-term consideration. It will be fascinating to watch the flesh of mature cities grow up over the coming decades around their lovely young bones.

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Images Copyright Katy Dickinson 2010-2014

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