NewDirectionsInSensoryDeprivationDear Reader,

I often wonder what the introspection of a 20-somthing in the technology age looks like.  Lindsey Arsenault realizes the experiences of life provided by technology pale in comparison to those experienced in reality put her reflections in a recent blog post.  She coined the phrase, “Sensory Deprived Existence” while reflecting on the place of technology in her life.   As an artist, she is a self-proclaimed “raw emotion addict”.   Perhaps its the drive for experience that reinforces the dichotomy of real vs. virtual to her.

40sAs a 40-something adult who remembers rotary dialing telephones and 3 tv networks, technology is not foreign to me; but I conceptualize life as defined by real interactions with people.   When I was 20-something; life consisted of time with friends, family, and real experiences.  For myself, technology is merely a supplement to enhance relationships and my journey through life.   Its a tool not an end of itself.  Even so, there are times that the sensory-deprived existence threatens to encroach on the fullness of days lived out among others.   How often have I been guilty of saying “yes” to the sensory-deprived existence when my love of all things digital takes over?  Saying Yes to a Sensory Deprived Existence.


EmbracingTheGreysDear Reader,

imagesCAM94OVNI’m not overly artistic although I have some sense of design – evidenced by my blog design and matching Facebook Fan page.  When I saw Fresh Paint on my Windows 8 Laptop, I was mildly interested at best.   Until I combined my stylus with a paint brush with the touchscreen….  Witness my mid-life crisis, also named “Embracing The Greys”.   I started a blank canvas, and the app accessed my webcam.   This started as a picture.   I chose a brush shape and color and dragged my virtual bristles through the picture on the screen.  But wait!  There’s more!

I uploaded a picture I had taken with my digital camera while driving around Rhode Island and took an impressionistic approach… Mystic Scenery came about.  Do I expect to launch a career in art?  Not likely.   But I figure if I can do this with Fresh Paint, I can only imagine with a real artist can accomplish.MysticScenes

Dear Reader,

logo @NEGiveCamp is always a surreal experience.   For one weekend, I’m in an environment of total teamwork absent of self-interest, political agenda, financial goals  – everyone pulling together to help the organizations depending on us.  I planned my week of vacation around this event.

This year, the experience was healing for me.   New England Give Camp is annually hosted by Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center at 1 Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA.   For those of you blog followers who aren’t familiar with Boston’s geography, that is literally about a block or so from the bombings and where the officer was killed.  In addition to being so geographically close to the horrific events it was chronologically close to the events as well – about 3 weeks after.   I was terrified to get on the train to go into town.  The first night I was awakened at 3 am by a loud bang!   It turns out one of the other campers had stumbled during the night, but I was panicked for a bit.

However, being a New Englander, rather than head to the Bahamas for vacation, I pick up my weapons of choice (my trusty laptop and my courage) and I head into terrorist country.   logo

There is healing in community sharing.   I met old friends and we talked.   We processed the events together.   We worked to fix the problems in the world together.  I saw the young children that were not traumatized by the events, but were rather energized to make a difference.    Joy Olaes Surprenant always comes.   She began a wonderful organization, Catching Joy, that teaches the children the joy of givi559643_312590812203058_1173642950_ang back.   After the events of the terrorism, her organization was flooded by children wanting to know how to make a difference.

My team was helping out the fledgling organization, GVNGTogether – a non-profit that is innovating philanthropy.   Rather than philanthropy being one individual helping others, GVNGTogether is creating a community of philanthropists benefitting others.

I realized that those two terrorists made headlines and an impact.   New England Give Camp may not make the same headlines, but our impact is greater.   We outnumber them.  There are 120 of us volunteers, 24 non-profits and uncounted numbers of people positively impacted by that.   It doesn’t always feel like it, but the good is winning.   Its just not quite as flashy as Superman.

DSCF7321Dear Reader,

Here it is, the last day of Give Camp.   We have approximately 4 hours to finish up our work…  much like Celebrity Apprentice or Face Off! some of us are frantically coding DSCF7320and putting on the finishing touches of our work in the final 4 hours.  It’s been another crazy, while awesome adventure as always.  What is different than other years is engaging in this event in the shadow of the events of the Boston Marathon only a week past.  The impact on our non-profits and this event has been profound.   Profoundly good.   In addition to our technical work, we have raised funds for the victims of the bombing and for Sean Collier.   Catching Joy spearheaded creating cards for all the wonderful protection and support people of greater Boston.   Catching Joy’s growth as a non-profit has been skyrocketed this year with an overflowing of interest from children wanting to better the world and not knowing where to start or how.   TDSCF7336hey will be holding 26 special events during the coming year in anticipation of the next Marathon and in memorial of this last one.  Catching Joy’s entire impact will be on the very young children of the area and growing them into adults who know how to redirect the negative back to the positive.

There were two terrorists for those events.   Give Camp had 23 nonprofits + approximately 150 volunteers + many corporate sponsors.   Although the impact of the terrorists was profound, our impact will be greater.   I always tell my friends that this weekend is good for my soul.   It refreshes my humanity and reminds me of the beauty of the world around me.   No year has this ever been more true than now.

Dear Reader,

Baseball and baseball players equate to hope ….  an American institution …  personal difficulty doesn’t stop them from playing, personal injury doesn’t stop them from playing and war doesn’t stop them from playing …  and we have hope.  They are good for us.   We are going through a recession about as bad as the great depression and we can get away from it all by going to the game and having a hot dog….

But what do I do now?

Rhode Island has the worst economy in the 52 United States.  Enter our hero, Curt Schilling with his company 38 studios to revive Rhode Island!  Right in downtown Providence — I walk by there.  It’s right near the library.   It’s right near my favorite restaurant,  The AS220.   Right in my backyard.   We loaned him money we didn’t have to spare… $75 million dollars because our hero Curt Schilling would have created 450 new jobs over the next three years as well as bringing untold revenue into the state.

My nephew’s education would have been in much better shape.   My bus trips to and from the job I just got would have been more secure.   People could have received much-needed state-assisted training to meet the needs of employers. The revenue from 38 Studios coming into Rhode Island would have benefitted us all.

But this is where reality diverges from the fantasy of the heroes of movies.   The business failed.

What does the news from 38 Studios itself say?  A Twitter post on May 23, 2012 reads: “RT @ghrig38: Reckoning, 38 Studios first game, has outperformed EA’s projections by selling 1.2mm copies in its first 90 days”  There is a competed game and it will sell. When he was building 38 Studios, in his own blog, Curt Schilling commented on our economic crisis, “I also think there can be no question that it falls on us, the individuals, to find a way out of our own personal crisis, as we can.”  Was that advice only good when directed at others?

If someone takes out a loan to buy a house then loses their job — the house is foreclosed on and the bank gets it back to resell.   In this case, how do we recover our money?   Are we just left with more debt to bury ourselves and Mr. Schilling just moves on to his next project and says, “Oh well.”?  Do we get tied up in litigation paying lawyers more money and never getting ours back?  What does this mean when the individual in question is responsible for so much?  Starting a video game company for fun is a great idea!   But people’s lives and livelihoods were becoming involved in this.   It grew to something more than leisure.

So what now?   Does our hero come through for us?   Or do I tell my nephew that Curt Schilling, like so many others, was ony self-serving?   Do I tell my nephew tha38Studiost his hero was only in it for the glory or it mattered in the long run?

The test of character is what happens when you can get away with anything.  Curt Schilling has the money and fame.   He does not have to be a good guy.  The bulk of the press is on his side, the laywers are on his side, and his former employees are on his side.  I know it is painful to have a vision… a dream … fail.   It must be painful for Mr. Schilling.   This was a dream of his.  This can’t be the first failure he has ever faced.   He became a world-class ball player and that doesn’t come without hard work and some setbacks.  All I ask is please pay Rhode Island back.  Do what any hard working person with integrity would do.   If you don’t have the money up front, set up a payment arrangement over time and pay us back.   Or make whatever business arrangment makes the most sense to get us our money back and benefit us in the long run the way you would have.   Please don’t default on our hopes.

I do not share Forbes’ “silver lining” theory about defaulting on a loan to the state of Rhode Island.  Although Forbes gave a great analysis to why the business failed, I don’t know any bank that would willingly write a loan on what might happen.   “My business failed and I didn’t pay back the loan, but all my employees will find other jobs so its good for the state even if those jobs are in other states.   Can I have more money to work with?”  It doesn’t take an Ivy League education to know that not paying a loan back is a bad thing.

His blog spoke to personal responsibility.   Well, after finishing school, I went through three years of unemployment and plenty of mounting debt.   When I got my job, I began paying off my old debts and not financing new dreams until I could afford it.   Businesses were put out becaue of my financial hardship and they deserved to be paid back.   The reasons for my financial hardship were immaterial — the fact that I wasn’t working had an impact on those around me.  Even though I still qualified for money from the state I did not take it.   I paid out of my salary because I would not futher contribute to the problems in Rhode Island.   I suffered setbacks and failure.   I overcame and found a full time job in an economy where there are almost none.  I did the right thing and I’m not a world-class ball player.   I’m just an individual doing my part.   This is the standard I set for my nephew.

We believed in you enough to finance your dreams.   Please don’t crush ours.

Dear Reader,

This year 30 non-profits benefitted from the hard work and dedicated volunteers who gave up a weekend to devote themselves to improving the world.

I saw some old friends from the previous two years — RESPOND, Catching Joy,… and made new friends this year …  besideds my own group, If I Were President ….

In these final hours of New Englad Give Camp 2012 my team, “Team Invincible”, wraps up all the hard work from this weekend.  We created a new application for The Covenant Shelter in New London, CT.   It’s called CARE and for a brief overview, the 5-slide Powerpoint is on YouTube below.

Left to right, back row:

Shawn (developer),  Olivia (organization), Lee (organization), Dan (developer)

Middle row:

Phil (technical team lead), Evelyn (me – design), Chris (developer)

Front row:

Kara (Phil’s Daughter, Data entry, SCRUM assistant, cheeerleader, gopher, and future dev)

Although I have lots of experience with PowerPoint this was my first attempt at publishing on YouTube….  Its a little rough, but very viewable…

Cranky Woman Waking Up


Dear Reader,

Pre-dawn and coffee usher in the beginning of the first full day at Give Camp…  my cot delivered a decent night’s sleep…  Green Mountain delievered fantastic coffee as always…   The first stages of our project was worked on until the wee hours of the morning to gear up for a full day of coding from all of us… including our team lead’s 11-year-old daughter who is serving in some criticial functions as gopher, post-it maker, and data entry clerk!

“I love it when a plan comes together!”

The only flaw —  I left the battery charger for my digital camera at home and now the battery is dead.   No photo album this year. 


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