Positive Changes

I’ve decided that this summer will be the Summer of Self-Discipline (doesn’t that sound fun??). It’s very hard to change bad habits, but I’ve found that one easy way to do this is to replace your bad habit with a slightly less-bad habit.

For example, I used to drink wine most evenings. I wanted to quit doing this, because it’s expensive, unhealthy, and puts weight on. But I had a problem: when I didn’t have some wine, I wanted some really badly!

Now, I don’t know if this is just a weird quirk about me, but I don’t like to want things I can’t have. If I want something, I prefer to have it.

So I found a solution: instead of wine, I wait until I actually crawl into bed every night, and then I have a couple of fingers’ worth of good whiskey. See? A healthy swap!

Maybe I’ll turn this into a healthy living/personal coaching blog and teach all of you how to be as healthy and disciplined as I am.


Sister Cities

Here’s why I’m a bad blogger: I recently returned from a week-and-a-half long trip to Philadelphia and NYC for work and to visit my mom and my friends. Here are all the things that I could blog about related to this trip:

  • Preparing group presentations
  • WordCamps and the open source community
  • Returning to a place you lived for a long time
  • Leaving NYC (a topic that every writerly-inclined young woman who’s ever lived in NYC for a hot second and then moved feels compelled to write 2000 words on; yet another horror we can blame on Joan Didion)
  • Seeing old friends from various stages of your life
  • Introducing old friends from various stages of your life to each other, and trying to remember what you might have told them about each other, and hoping they don’t mention any of it
  • Continuing to take risks and learn and fail as you get older
  • Some ponderous shit about your goals changing over the years
  • A bunch of photos of all the restaurant food I ate
  • Etc etc etc

But here’s the only thing I can think to say about my trip: what the hell are sister cities? Does anyone know? As I arrived home to the Albuquerque airport, exhausted and hungry, I noticed a plaque announcing all of Albuquerque’s sister cities, and it occurred to me that you only ever see these mentioned in airports and on Wikipedia. And it seemed like at first, all cities only had one sister city, but now there are like ten for every city.

Here are some benefits I might expect from a sister city, such that people would actually care to have it announced in an airport: you can fly at a discounted price to the sister city of the city where you reside. You can visit your sister city without a visa or work permit. If you travel to your sister city, you can take advantage of “sister city” hotel discounts, free meals, and/or a free taxi from the airport or something. But I don’t think any of this is true, or we’d hear about sister cities more.

Also, why “sister” cities? Why not brother cities or partner cities? I guess because of the alliteration, but that’s only in English, and all the sister cities of our cities are in other countries. Which brings up another question: what do the other countries call “sister cities”? Or do they even know about them? Wouldn’t that be just so American, to assign every US city a bunch of sister cities around the world, but then not tell those cities anything about it?

Since now we have the internet, and there is almost no question that can’t be immediately answered, I looked up sister cities. And I learned that it’s an organization formed by Eisenhower in 1956:

A sister city organization is a volunteer group of ordinary citizens who, with the support of their local elected officials, form long-term relationships with people and organizations in a city abroad. Each sister city organization is independent and pursues the activities and thematic areas that are important to them and their community including municipal, business, trade, educational and cultural exchanges with their sister city.

Sister city organizations promote peace through people-to-people relationships—with program offerings varying greatly from basic cultural exchange programs to shared research and development projects between cities with relationships.

I’m not sure how much ability “ordinary citizens” have to pursue “municipal, business, trade, educational and cultural exchanges.” So it seems like basically, if a bunch of people in Albuquerque cared to get together on a volunteer basis and make friends with a bunch of people in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, they’d be welcome to do so?

I dug more and found this article:

Outcomes of these sibling partnerships do vary considerably. As a result of its relationship with Spoleto, Italy, the city of Charleston, South Carolina, has a huge Italian festival every year that generates millions of dollars for the local economy. The partnership between Tempe, Arizona, and Regensburg, Germany, inspires an annual Oktoberfest that raises money for student trips.

So your city’s sister city can also be a source of inspiration for local festivals, should you need help coming up with a theme!

WordCamp Philly 2014


On Saturday, my colleagues and I gave a talk at WordCamp Philly on how to get a reputation for outstanding support without significantly increasing the time you spend giving it. If you’re a developer, designer, or website builder (or if you ever have occasion to work with clients), check out our slides here!

Originally posted on Karen Alma:

Two of my colleagues (Deborah Beckett and Elizabeth Urello) and I spoke about support at WordCamp Philadelphia this weekend. This is a modification of the talk I did in Nicaragua a few weeks ago. Elizabeth Urello gets credit for the original idea :)

Sadly, these images don’t let you hear our delightful anecdotes and as I like simple slides with not too much info you will just have to imagine the spoken bit. Someday soonish I am sure it will be up on WordCamp.tv. So stay tuned.

Here are the slides:

View original


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