Following the Paths of Grief

(kick me under the table all you want, I won’t shut up)

Grief has kept me away from this space, away from engaging in the writing I love, and away from what seems like the barest minimum of human connections. A grief that shuts down, just as much as it can hone.

I didn’t write here, but I did write a lot about organic electro-optic materials in photonic computing, coming to a website near you. Even in grief, you must pay the bills.

My cat Hermione died. Her cancer came back, and there was nothing we could do. Hermione knew it was time, even if I still don’t want it to ever be time.

Me, Hermione, and Jacob
My precious baby Hermione

Continue reading “Following the Paths of Grief”

A Gardening To-Do during Quarantine: Simple Tips and Five Foods in Less Than 30 Days

My summer garden 8x8 feet full of green veggies
My small garden with two beds that are 8×8 feet. This is from August 2019.

Every time I open my phone, there’s another confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) case, or sadly, a death in the Seattle region I call home. Our governor’s declared a state of emergency, and our shops are selling out of face masks, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, bottled water, and milk. People are asking themselves what they can do.

Besides, wash your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Might I suggest starting a garden? Even starting a small garden in your windowsill. Continue reading “A Gardening To-Do during Quarantine: Simple Tips and Five Foods in Less Than 30 Days”

Bittersweet Goodbyes and New Trails

David Spinks and Erica McGillivray at CMX Summit 2018
David and me on stage and goofing around after CMX Summit 2018.

Every community professional knows: the hardest thing about job changes is leaving your community and team. Leaving the people you’ve met, interact with daily, and hopefully, have been able to help along their paths. Saying goodbye to your community, and to the team(s) you’ve worked with, is bittersweet because, at the end of the day, it’s the people who matter.

After two and a half years, last Friday, July 5th, was my final day with CMX/Bevy. When you work at startups — the incredible ups and downs — can feel even more impactful. In my time with two major programs, CMX Summit and the CMX Pro membership program, the team went from 0 to 100 mph, iterated in different ways, led with our hearts, and joined the Bevy crew.

I’ve been lucky and privileged to work in the most meta of communities: a community of community professionals. Which means putting together programs and working with the best minds in the industry — those tackling huge problems or on the innovated edges — like those at Amazon, the Coral Project, the Alzheimer’s Society, and more. They pushed me to be a better community manager. Continue reading “Bittersweet Goodbyes and New Trails”

A Community Approach to Leadership and Teamwork

If you scroll through Nobel prize winners — particularly those in science — you’ll noticed multiple winners and shared rewards. We’re at a point in civilization were major breakthroughs and innovations are created by teams. They are built on the work of others. They are solved by a group of different minds with different backgrounds and experiences coming together on one problem or project.

We have great looming, global problems to solve. Climate change — ignored by the vast majority of the government in the US — being one that may utterly destroy all life on the planet in my own lifetime. Problems of this scale won’t be solved by one great leader, or one amazing scientist with one answer, but hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of people with good approaches and behavioral changes. It is scientific breakthroughs, as much as it’s policy changes, regulation of large polluters, and community leadership.

Anyone who calls themselves a leader — from world leaders down to small companies — needs to address how they think of teamwork, and have active conversations about what teamwork looks like at their organizations. How do people communicate? How is power and rank distributed through the hierarchy? How are decisions made? How are teams operating? What is most efficient and successful? What is not? How can leaders empower teams and empower others with specialized knowledge to make company and industry-impact? How can an individual members achieve career goals, while the organization achieves their mission, vision, and goals?

If a leader cannot answer these questions with more than a work ethic philosophy, then they will not be able to scale and they will not be conscious of their impact on their teams or the world. Continue reading “A Community Approach to Leadership and Teamwork”

A Menagerie of Three Stars: Mini Reviews

Ah, the three star, right in the middle. Some three stars books are there because they’re slightly disappointing. Others get three stars because they’re interesting and decent, but not quite great. They may even be the start of a series I will enjoy greatly, but they’re by first time novelists or finding their footing.

My late 2018 summer reading was full of three out of five stars. And let me be clear, all of these books, I’m very likely to continue reading the series (if applicable) and following the author’s work. Continue reading “A Menagerie of Three Stars: Mini Reviews”

Books I Read in 2018 & Think You Should Read in 2019

In 2018, I hit 100 books read, just under the wire. I opened and ended the year reading trade paperbacks of Saga, volumes 8 and 9 respectively.

I also attempted to do a book a week (52 books) challenge. I made it 33 weeks, or 63% in my completion of this challenge. I, of course, read comic books too, and a few other books. I stretched myself to review the challenge books, which I ended up finding a bit too daunting and slowing down my progress.

I’ve upped my level of grading — on a 1-5 scale — and what I consider a 5 vs a 4 vs a 3. I had far less 5 star books in 2018, and it wasn’t because I read less books.

My goal #1 in 2018 was to read more full prose and less comic books, success. Goal #2 was to clean up my comic to-read pile. I feel failed at that after I got sick this summer.

This year, I’m looking to read 100 books again, and I’d like 40 of them to be books I already own. My single issue comic book pile does not count, but graphic novels and all my other books do.

Here are my book recommendations for those I gave 5 stars to in 2018:

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles1. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan

Genre: pink lions who don’t wear pants, personal is political, 1950s, comics
Recommended for: those who felt everything in 2018

Impactful. Exit Stage Left was impactful and left a mark each time I read it. I smiled. I cried. I felt things. This book follows Snagglepuss who navigates the Cold War as basically Tennessee Williams. Continue reading “Books I Read in 2018 & Think You Should Read in 2019”

The Hate U Give: A Great American Novel

The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Rating: 5/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: 2017 Goodreads Choice Award

Review contains no spoilers you wouldn’t find on the back of the book or in the upcoming movie trailer.

My post-The Color of Money read was supposed to be “light.” Hahahaha. This is what I get for never reading the backs of books as they can be spoilery. In many ways, The Hate U Give is a great complimentary read to The Color of Money.

This fictional book is about being a black teenage girl in today’s America, and it deals with layers of identity, trauma, growing up, and current societal ills. Thomas’ writing is so engaging, and I definitely stayed up too late to continue reading.

Starr was an incredibly easy main character to like and care about. I both personally, through lived experiences, understood Starr’s trauma so deeply — we both lost close friends as teens to hate (albeit in different ways) — and didn’t at all — my white privilege. I loved her family, and how she learned about her voice. Continue reading “The Hate U Give: A Great American Novel”

The Many Lives of Nichelle Nichols in Beyond Uhura

Beyond Uhura by Nichelle NicholsBeyond Uhura by Nichelle Nichols
Rating: 4/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: a biography

Nichols is an incredible person. Full stop. I’m so glad I read this book, and I recommend it to anyone who’s a Star Trek fan, interested in Nichols’ life, or generally curious about Hollywood and performing from the late 1950s to the early 1990s. Let me tell you, Nichols leads a life.

Beyond Uhura was published in 1994 when Nichols was 62. This was an interesting period in Star Trek history because creator Gene Roddenberry had just died; it was clear there would be no more Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) movies; Nichols and other cast members had started publicly talking about William Shatner (TOS’ James T. Kirk) being a shithead; and many TOS actors wrote or would write autobiographies in this decade.

Nichols is a clear storyteller. And you can see how the stories presented here are the stories she tells herself about her life, her career, and her worldview. These I’m sure are mostly the stories she’d honed from the 1970s to Beyond Uhura’s writing on the convention circuit and in interviews. Though I will never say no to hearing again the story of how Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her not to quit TOS. Continue reading “The Many Lives of Nichelle Nichols in Beyond Uhura”

Rural Queer Girls in the Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Rating: 5/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: a book that has been made into a movie

I have to stop reading books that remind me too much of my childhood. This story centered around Cameron, a tween/teenager growing up queer in rural Montana in the late 80s/early 90s. Cameron is about seven or eight years older than me and my rural hometown was more populous, but wow, the little cultural connections and relations I made while reading this were numerous.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post starts off slowly. I had a hard time getting immediately swept into the narrative, perhaps because it did remind me of small town Oregon. Where you spend your days outside with the girl you have a crush on. However, unlike Cameron, my crushes (except one) never panned out to be actual queer girls. Continue reading “Rural Queer Girls in the Miseducation of Cameron Post”

Finding Your Power — a Book Review for Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising (Grisha Verse #3)Ruin and Rising (Grisha Verse #3) by Leigh Bardugo
Rating: 5/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: a young adults bestseller

Last books in a series that leave me with a strong emotional impact always tend to get higher ratings. I’m not sure if Ruin and Rising is a 5-star read, but it absorbed me. I read The Color of Money, then The Hate U Give, and then this, and I joked with my boss that this was my light reading.

SPOILERS ahead… Continue reading “Finding Your Power — a Book Review for Ruin and Rising”