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If it wasn't for comedy…

If it wasn't for comedy, I'd have no personality at all.

I just found this video of me and the First Lady. I think it had to do with the "craigslist for good" concept.

 

 

This was in Washington, DC at an allforgood.org event, which has since subsumed into the Points of Light, where I'm an advisor. At this event,  Michelle Obama launched the National and Community Service Program.

A sense of humor helps you realize that things like status and prestige are illusions.

 

Help me give back to military families via DonorsChoose.org

Okay, teachers in a lot of schools never get a break, and that's often true in schools that serve military families.

Remember that the families of active service troops also serve when troops are deployed.

A really good way to give teachers and military families a break is via DonorsChoose.org. They're a great example of how we all use the Net to help each other out, by pooling a few dollars to give people a break. DonorsChoose is something I can understand. It's like microfinance applied to classroom projects; we all can contribute a little to fund a classroom projects. Teachers are under-appreciated and underpaid, and if we all work together, we can help them out.

As many of you know, I work closely with lots of orgs who support vets and military families. I teamed up with DonorsChoose to sponsor a Double Your Impact Offer. I'm giving $10k to match half the cost of projects with the keyword “military” if someone like you provides the remainder. This offer's for projects geared toward grades 6-12 and with a total cost of $800 or less.

There're a lot of underfunded school districts out there, and it's real unfair for teachers to fund stuff from their own (inadequate) salaries. This match will remain on DonorsChoose.org until the funds are fully matched, or for one calendar year from today. After just 24-hours of being live, 5 projects and counting have already been met with my match

After I introduced Stephen Colbert to DonorsChoose, he began to focus on milfams, and I tried a similar effort later, but it didn't persist.  However, I'm talking with people in milfam groups and the DoD about creating a program that'll keep on helping. And am working on this matching campaign with DonorsChoose right now.

craig newmark & stephen colbert

photo credit: the future Mrs Newmark

Here's a video about why DonorsChoose works with Internet people, like myself:

 

Speaking of Colbert, he and I did some stuff for DonorsChoose with Vanity Fair and Annie Leibovitz that'll be released online soon. I can't let the squirrel out of the bag yet, so more to come…

In the meantime, if you're able, I'd really appreciate it if you can give to the military family projects on DonorsChoose.org. I figure if they're willing to give so much for our country, this is just my small way of saying thank you. A nerd's gotta do…

 

Easter Seals Advocacy Awards Honors Gary Sinise, Tom Brokaw and CITI for Work with Veterans

The Easter Seals Advocacy Awards for the Washington, DC; Maryland, and Virginia areas honoring Tom Brokaw, Gary Sinise, and CITI for their work helping veterans, were awarded in Washington, DC on April 16, 2013.

In addition to Sinise and Brokaw, in attendance were Phil Panzarella, Chairman of the Board, Easter Seals (DC, MD, VA); Lisa Reeves, President and CEO of Easter Seals (DC, MD, VA); Executive Vice President and Head, Global Affairs of CITI Candi Wolff; combat veteran, wounded heroine and congresswoman Tammy Duckworth; 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral (retired) Michael Mullen; Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, General John Campbell; and Defense News’ Vago Muradian .

Gary Sinise and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth

Gary Sinise and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth

Easter Seals has been around 100 years, “providing a wide range of programs to support people of all ages.” They saw a need in helping our veterans and are committed and focused to that mission.

Easter Seals has programs specifically focusing on active duty military, veterans, and their families through their programs: military family respite program, veterans employment program, family caregiver training, little warriors child development program, and senior and adult day services.

CITI was honored for its “CITI Salutes” program. The CITI program focuses on employing veterans. Reeves shared, “ CITI employs more than 2,000 military veterans and has been recognized as a ‘Best for Vets’ work place, making them a logical choice to earn this honor.”

Congresswoman Duckworth introduced Sinise. This was the first time the representative and Sinise had met. However, Sinise remembered when she was injured in a plane crash and he called her at the hospital.

Sinise was honored for his work with veterans through his Gary Sinise Foundation and his co-founded Operations International Children. Sinise quoted Winston Churchill about doing his “bit to help.” He shared how during WWII the elderly would knit socks for the soldiers fighting, as everyone was doing their bit to help. His foundation is holding an event with the wounded heroes at Walter Reed on May 17. Sinise comes to DC often because his daughter goes to college here, he hosts the National Memorial Day Concert with actor Joe Mantegna, and his advocacy for our veterans. He has no plans to run for office as he is “just an actor.”

Admiral Mullen, who called Brokaw a good friend, introduced Brokaw. Admiral Mullen’s wife, Deborah Mullen, was the impetus to get Mr. Brokaw involved with Easter Seals. Mrs. Mullen serves as the honorary chair for the 2013 Advocacy Awards Dinner. Admiral Mullen told the audience that he and his wife “will help our veterans until we are both unable.”

Gary Sinise and Tom Brokaw

Gary Sinise and Tom Brokaw

Brokaw was honored for his work advocating for our military and veterans through his journalistic endeavors. He gave an impassioned speech about how society is becoming disassociated from our military and we need to get reconnected. He believes the VA backlog exists because the government is not focusing on the issue and applying the resources it needs to fix the problem.

Veterans are encouraged to contact CITI Salutes, Easter Seals, and the Gary Sinise Foundation for help.

Guest blog post by Marlene Hall, former air force officer passionately dedicated to helping our veterans.

My Best Mistake: Not Playing Well With Others

Playingwell2-meme

Okay, I really am a nerd, and have had to learn normal social and professional interaction the hard way.

The first half of my career was at a major computer manufacturer, and you probably know the second half is craigslist, with some software contracting in there. The manufacturer is a very different company now, particularly since they kinda bet the company on Linux and software services.

Anyway, in the eighties I was in Detroit, mostly working with a major car manufacturer. Our customer was telling us they wanted Unix systems for factory automation, for car dealers, and so on.

Just so you know, Unix is the operating system developed by Bell Labs in the late sixties. It was rebuilt, recoded as Linux via an effort initiated by Linux Torvalds, which he gave away, making him one of the biggest public benefactors ever.

That is, Linux is kind of a clone of Unix, open source and built by many contributors in an ongoing effort. As open source, it's been extremely successful, running on many systems, and is the basis of the Android system for smartphones.

I recall three different episodes where I told my co-workers that they were being very wrong not listening to the customer and recommending systems that wouldn't do the job, and that we'd lose business. Let's say that I did so harshly, with other people around.

The most dramatic episode took place in frustration, given that we weren't listening to the customers' preferred choice of hardware for a specific environment. More precisely, the tech customers had one preference, but their executive chose the expedient route. Things were moving really slowly, but I tried hard to be a team player, until I lost my patience one day at a customer location, visible to a number of people on both teams.

That created an instant perception of not playing well with others, and that's valid. Frankly, impatience remains my greatest fault.

Doesn't matter that I was right, and that the project failed. Several years later, I spoke with an end user of that system, professionally, and I recall her describing the system as "nightmarish," so much so it stressed her out.

That started in the early eighties, and I didn't quite get understand and modify my behavior until the early nineties. Probably what really got me going right was starting to do serious customer service, and it's been eighteen years of that.

Really embarrassing to have taken so long, but sometimes, that's the downside of being a nerd.

Originally posted on LinkedIn: My Best Mistake: Not Playing Well With Others.

Mr Ed, and the burden of being [seen as] a spokesman

Life gets surreal, then, it gets even more surreal.

craigslist (CL) has maybe helped out a hundred million people, and that's a good start. Would be nice to do lots more, and that what's my craigconnects.org thing is about.

MisterEd

To that end, well, I do enough real customer service to keep my emotional investment in the CL and grassroots community. My involvement in CL management ended well over ten years ago, and you need to look elsewhere for a CL spokesman. Getting perceived as spokesman, though, is a big pain in the butt, with no solution.

That's why I'll direct you elsewhere for CL stuff.

In general, the world is full of people who are talking and getting in the way of stuff getting done.  For example, in Washington we got bad lobbyists who get paid by the hour, even if they're blocking solutions to real problems.  (I'm distinguishing the bad guys from public service lobbyists, who don't get no respect.)

The more I do, more in backchannels, the less I talk about it.  Sure, from high school I remember that "brevity's the soul of wit" but I'm more of a fifties nerd and a product of the TV of those times.

So, I try to be more like Mr Ed, the famous talking horse, who "will never speak unless he has something to say."

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