April 29, 2010

majority gay

i was voting for the webby awards today when i came across this delightful little meme: how hetero

this fun little tool will analyze your last 200 tweets for language that indicates your sexual orientation.  it's a product of stockholm pride 2009, the theme of which was to explore how heteronormativity affects everyday life.  they developed the "how hetero" tool as a funny, pointed way to show how norms affect how we're perceived by others.  i'm very keen on this topic, so i was intrigued to try it out.  turns out, i'm only 49% hetero, since my last 200 tweets included terms like gay, leather, closet, and leslie jordan.

find out how hetero you are here.

April 27, 2010

the secret weapon: new kids on the block

in light of manuel noriega's extradition to france this week, i have a great little piece of history to share...

during the december 1989 invasion of panama, the country's dictator holed up inside the papal nuncio residence in the capital city.  in addition to the grave matters of deposing a leader and managing civilian casualties, the united states military had one other important task: figure out how to get noriega to come out of hiding.

their solution? blast him with some good old american rock and roll.  as soon as the media heard that the military would be setting up loudspeakers around noriega's residence, requests started pouring in.  you can find official military documentation of the song requests here, here, and here.  most of it is pretty solid classic rock, but new kids on the block snuck onto the list somehow...

NOH8 in LA

it's been pretty cool to watch how photographer adam bouska's small project to protest marriage inequality has turned into a full-fledged national campaign.  i always enjoy his NOH8 photo sets, so it was fun when my buddy sam and i got to do a NOH8 photo shoot this weekend.

on our way in, we ran into father geoff farrow, an outspoken critic of proposition 8 who gave up a lot to stand up for what's right.

they handed out NOH8 tattoos while we waited at the united methodist church in hollywood.  i'll post the photo when we get access to the "official" prints later, but here's one that was snapped before the duct tape:

April 26, 2010

next-generation philanthropy: what's in it for me?

i just read jordan viator's  summary of the nonprofit technology conference's session on the generational divide in philanthropy, a topic that's close to my heart.  as the leader of an organization that seeks to engage generation Y in philanthropy, i was struck by the negative connotation assigned to generation Y asking "what's in it for me?"  that might seem crass if you embrace the old-school notion that creating social good requires unflagging sacrifice and altruism, but the new model of social enterprise is starting to prove that wrong.

i used to think the “one-way” business model of traditional non-profits was the best conduit for positive social impact, but subsequent exposure to next-generation social enterprises, whose business models are inspired by the private sector, showed me that i was wrong.  the “two-way” models of the private sector are more sustainable and may be even more effective.

the business models of traditional non-profits are “one-way” because they don't necessarily give the funding sources anything in exchange -- they are completely dependent on a donor’s financial excesses and/or generosity.  as a result, many traditional non-profits struggle if there is an economic downturn or if their causes go out of vogue.  business model sustainability is important because funding shortfalls mean poorer quality programs, difficulty retaining high-value employees, and inability to reach the scale needed to make widespread change.  as a student, i had only a vague understanding of these concepts; i thought it was just part of the noble struggle required to do good work.

after years of working in the private sector, i've realized how important sustainability and efficiency are to maintaining an enterprise’s viability.  that's why i've made it a priority to work with organizations that employ a different business model.  rather than simply solicit donations and funnel them to charity partners, event production company philanthro productions creates ways for young people to give back in sustainable ways -- by giving them a valuable product in return.  philanthro satisfies our generation's need to know "what's in it for me?" all while raising funds and awareness for partner charities.  the company's “two-way” business model ensures its sustainability, generating loyal patronage, constant revenue, and high contribution rates.  philanthro has also made it a goal to work with partners (like online micro-lending platform kiva) that embody the same “two-way” philosophy.

i agreed with most of the conference summary, but it's not enough for organizations seeking to reach generation Y to create a facebook page.  my generation may come across as selfish, but i think our tastes are pushing forward-thinking organizations to develop business models that sustainably solve social problems.

April 25, 2010

where are the good men?

saw this booth for the good men project at the los angeles times festival of books this weekend.  wondered if it was meant to be ironic...

April 24, 2010

how to make boggle: geeking out in excel

i talk a big game when it comes to boggle (the parker brothers word search game).  it's pretty much my only talent.  consequently, my coworker had asked me bring my travel boggle on our business trip last week so we could play.  so, there we were: thursday night, sitting on our connecting flight back to LA and he suggests we play boggle.  of course, i'd left it at home.  for the first 10 minutes of the flight, we whined, lamenting that we couldn't play.  that is, until i had a brilliant idea: i could MAKE a boggle.

the timing was right because i'd just hosted a company-wide microsoft excel training earlier that day.  it was the perfect opportunity to showcase my nerdy excel model-building skills.  for those of you who think this is super simple, i want to remind you that you can't just assign a probability to each letter, because once a letter is picked on a die, the other 5 letters on the die are out of the running.  you need to write a model that randomly picks a letter on each die, and then randomly assigns a position to the 16 selected letters on the board.  i buckled down, employing VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, RANK, RAND, and a macro.

twenty minutes later, we had a fully functional game of boggle, complete with a clickable button to "shake" the box of letters for a new game.  i set my screensaver to turn off the monitor after three minutes as a de facto timer.  we played for the rest of the flight, and it was awesome.  i had figured out how to make a boggle game using nothing but excel.

the only thing that wasn't 100% accurate was the distribution of letters (which i just had to guess, at the time).  i've subsequently adjusted the model to reflect the letter distribution in a real boggle game, so my excel model is exactly like playing the real game.  so nerdy.  so sweet.

if nothing else, five years of management consulting was good for something.

April 21, 2010

the business of giving back

claremont mckenna college's magazine published a feature article this month about me and philanthro productions, my non-profit event production company headquarted in los angeles.  we now sit on the board of directors, but the other former co-president austin kiessig and i have been involved since philantho's founding in 2007, and we've seen tremendous growth thanks to the tireless efforts and passionate commitment of our all-volunteer staff.  austin and i are both CMC alums, and over the years, our staff has been packed with many other alumni of the claremont colleges.

"the business of giving back" (PDF)

when they first approached us about the article, i thought we could just send them a stock photo from our step and repeat, but it turns out, they had a vision for an elaborate "work-meets-play" photo shoot.  i have to admit, it was a kick.  my dress in the main shot is from cache, and although i loved it, i had to return it after the photo shoot.  sigh.

April 16, 2010

betting on baby

not that i'm judging them in their time of great excitement and relief, but most people send out pretty boring "the baby has been born" emails.  you know the usual, she's-X-lbs-Y-oz-and-mom-is-doing-fine schtick.  in contrast, my co-worker and his wife just had a baby last night, and he sent out one of the better "announcing baby so-in-so" emails i've seen.  i work in a fun office of minor gamblers, so we had some bets going about when the baby would be born.  never one to pass up on the fun, mom was in on it, too.  although she arguably had a conflict of interest, she managed to win the office pool.
Everett has found his way to the outside world and is adjusting well to his new responsibilities (mainly crying and pooping).  Mother and baby are happy and healthy.  He popped out at 5:52 pm (eight minutes to spare for Mom to win the office pool - he's a gamer) weighting 7 lbs 3 oz.

So far he's learned:
1. To breathe
2. That most, but not all, of his hand fits in his mouth
3. That his mother doesn't take any back talk and that his pops is a push over
4. To grab my pinky (which is awesome)

Thanks for all the support today and for all the cash (suckers - never go up against a Sicilian when death in on the line)…

April 15, 2010

green advice

goodness knows, we all want to be eco-friendly.  this mcsweeney's list might help:
Eco-friendly alternatives to running water in the bathroom so your new boyfriend doesn't hear you.

Blast locavorian timpani band on solar-charged iPod before excusing yourself. Connect to recyclable cardboard speakers for extra effect.

Wait until he falls asleep, then stuff his ears with applicator-free non-bleached tampons.

Demonstrate new bio-fuel powered vacuum cleaner on post-industrial fiber carpeting. Ask him to finish the room while you excuse yourself.

Biodegradable colostomy bag.

Ask him to open several fun-sized fully compostable SunChips bags before bike ride to sustainable fishery. Quickly excuse yourself while he struggles with nature-sanctioned packaging.

Go in the bushes outside.

April 14, 2010

smile...you're getting educated

my beloved alma mater, claremont mckenna college, was named the happiest college in the nation.  close runners up included our sister schools (#3 pomona, #5 harvey mudd, #6 scripps, and #22 pitzer) and my alma mater to be.

i find it interesting that you don't see a public university on this list until #13:  UCLA...right down the street.  does that mean money (or, scholarships and financial aid, as the case may be) really does buy happiness?  or is it sunshine?  most of the west coast schools in the top 25 are in southern california...

we were, indeed, happy...

April 11, 2010

i grew up in a theater...

...but not in the a-thespian's-stage-is-his-home sort of way.  i literally lived in a restored theater in berkeley, california.

i've long been a strong proponent of skills-based volunteerism, and i have my parents to thank for their selfless example.  i visited my dad last weekend and came across this 1993 article.  although there are a few errors in the piece (e.g., zoe's name is misspelled), it's a great summary of some of the key points of my childhood and the influence my parents had on me.  in 1989, my parents used their professional skills to renovate the julia morgan center for the arts -- the architectural masterpiece and historic building originally designed in 1907 by one of america's great designers.  we did, indeed, live in the one-room caretaker's cottage above stage left, where all our meals were cooked on a portable camping stove.  i love this article because it's peppered with interesting jong trivia on topics like bilingualism, exposure to cross-dressing protagonists, and marriage proposals 25 years in the making.

(click for detail)

April 7, 2010

stanford, from above

my flight to the bay flew right over stanford's campus.  my trusty little camera snapped some great hi-res shots, so you can see how construction's coming along on the new knight management center.

click for detail

April 4, 2010


i have always loved unintentionally ironic protest signs, and i'm excited to report that the new york daily news finally coined the term teabonics to describe the phenomenon. their top-24 list is pretty great. here are some of my favorites:

April 2, 2010

designer knock-offs

with all due respect to my industry, the only thing lamer than the idea of "designer" water is knock-off designer water.  you'd think we found this blatant copy cat in the back alleys of hong kong, or maybe even canal street.  nope.  you can buy it at albertson's.

who do these jokesters think they are?