Tag Archives: University of California

Understanding King Lear


Our Shakespeare reading group met on Sunday to read his 1606 masterpiece King Lear aloud, and share a potluck meal in a local home.  I wrote my Honors Thesis at U.C. Berkeley on King Lear, so I felt very well prepared for this reading.  John Watson-Williams presented the part of Lear wonderfully, and I very much enjoyed reading both Cordelia and The Fool (as a doubled role).  We had fifteen readers in all to cover characters of the court and countryside.   It is delightful listening to good people enjoy developing nasty roles like Edmund the Bastard, Goneril, Regan, Duke Cornwall, and Oswald.

When I wrote my thesis as a university student, I understood the interaction between Lear and his daughters in a 21-year-old’s context. Now (a few years later), after my father passed on at 85 (about Lear’s age), and I am managing my 84-year-old mother’s affairs, I hear the play differently. I know Goneril to be greedy, vicious, and unfilial but her plea to her father in Act I, Scene IV rings true:

Come, sir,
I would you would make use of that good wisdom,
Whereof I know you are fraught; and put away
These dispositions, that of late transform you
From what you rightly are.

King Lear is part of my life: a play that is deep and broad and always fresh, offering new understanding with every reading.  The Shakespeare reading group is based at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, California) but we welcome readers from the community.  We meet every other month: next up is Richard II, in April.

On 24 January 2016, I asked John Watson-Williams to pose as King Lear in front of St. Andrew’s Mark Adams stained glass window of Chaos. John WW gave me three aspects of Lear: benign, stern, and mad:

John Watson-Williams as benign King Lear 2016 . John Watson-Williams as stern King Lear 2016 . John Watson-Williams as mad King Lear 2016

Top Image: King Lear Act I, Scene 1: Image from Shakespeare-Gallerie, printed in Berlin around 1885


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Collection Agency Story with a Happy Ending

I am inspired to write about my own recent experience with a private debt collector (a kind of collection agency) by today’s article “Locked Up for Being Poor – How private debt collectors contribute to a cycle of jail, unemployment, and poverty” by Jessica Pishko (in The Atlantic, 25 February 2015). While I was certainly not locked up, it did take over six months and many phone calls to resolve my recent copayment discussion with University of California – San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF). Remarkably, the collection agency is the hero of my story.

I wrote a blog last year “P-Phenylenediamine – Allergy to Hair Dye” in which I mentioned that I was being treated by the medically-excellent UCSF Dermatology Clinic. My debt discussions with UCSF Financial Services started because on my 2 June 2014 visit, the clinic receptionist did not ask for the regular copayment of $15. I sent in the $15 copay on 7 July 2014 as part of the regular UCSF billing cycle. Something went wrong because my payment was not recorded. UCSF kept billing me each month for $15. I phoned them a few times but figured it would sort itself out. By 5 December, when I was still being billed $15 a month for the 2 June copayment, I decided it was easier to pay $15 again than continue to call. Then, I got a letter dated 24 December from Transworld Systems – a collection agency – asking me to pay them the $15 owed to UCSF.

I called UCSF some more and even mailed a letter on 7 January 2015 to UCSF (including copies of both of my cancelled checks for $15) objecting to being asked to pay the $15 copayment for a third time. UCSF Financial Services staff kept telling me that they no record of either my payments or my letter and said I still owed $15.  Communications were made more difficult because UCSF only wanted to communicate by fax (not email or paper mail). I send a fax maybe once a year.  However, I re-sent the letter by fax.  UCSF Financial Services still said they did not receive it.

Fortunately, I also phoned Transworld Systems, told them that the debt had already been paid twice and asked them to help work with UCSF Financial Services. I sent Transworld Systems a copy of the 7 January letter and copies of the two cancelled checks. The Transworld Systems staff were finally able to get UCSF Financial Services to recognize that the debt had been paid – they even said that UCSF would refund my second $15 copay! The refund hasn’t arrived yet but I am just going to let it go.

5 March 2015 update: A check for $15 arrived from UCSF (just the check – no letter – and sent to the wrong address) dated 11 February 2015.  Happy to get it.

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Lake and Sky


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.


Image Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson


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Highway 108 – Shoe Tree


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.



Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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21 Years at the Lair of the Bear – Camp Blue


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.

P1240667 . P1240674






Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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Moby Dick, or, the card game


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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Women of Vision, King Abdullah of Jordan, TechWomen


Last week, I sat with the Anita Borg Institute Advisory Board at a gala celebrating Women of Vision, and in particular, the well-deserved award for Leadership honoring Dr. Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College here in California. I am dating myself to write that I remember when Mudd was an all-male institution. Maria and her team have grown Mudd from 10% women in Computer Science to 40% – and have kept that 40% stable for years. This unique accomplishment deserves some celebration! Maria is amazing – she is also #17 on Fortune’s list of the world’s 50 greatest leaders.

The other inspiring winners were Tal Rabin (Research Staff Member and Manager cryptographic research, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center) for Innovation; and Kathrin Winkler (Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, EMC Corporation) for Social Impact. Bank of America won as the 2014 Top Company for Women in Computing.  Also attending the event were many of my sister mentors who have served in the U.S. State Department’s TechWomen program for scientific and technical women in the Middle East and Africa, including: Jameeka Aaron (of Lockheed Martin), Larissa Shapiro (of Mozilla), Andrea Leszek (of Salesforce), and Rahima Mohammed (of Intel).

Yesterday, my husband John and I drove to Berkeley to see His Majesty, King Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein of Jordan speak at International House on the University of California campus. I was pleased to see the slide saying that 30% of Jordan’s tech industry workers are women – better than the 26% in America as of 2013.

I have never seen the King in person before, although last year I was honored to meet his cousin, Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan. Also, when my daughter Jessica and I were on the bus to Petra in Jordan, we watched “The Royal Tour“, a video featuring King Abdullah riding his motorcycle to show off his country. Yesterday’s talk is yet-another event that entered my life because of TechWomen. Mentor Lucie Newcomb (of NewComm Global Group) posted information about the event – including how to get tickets.

TechWomen 2014 mentor sign ups open soon! Please consider expanding your mind, experience, and heart to join us!





Images Copyright 2014 by Katy Dickinson

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