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America, December 13, 2008

First Week of Hanalei Fatherhood

Exhausting, exhilarating, and entertaining

hanalei at birth
Hanalei one week ago
hanalei today
My little love now, sleeping
Wow! Now that Hanalei is home, the shock of her birth is starting to set in. The counsel of "nothing will ever be the same" is gaining value as Amy and I shift to the role of parents and I watch the reactions of our friends and family.

I'm surprised that everyone seems to be fixated on numbers, specifically her birth weight and length. Hanalei was 8 pounds 5 ounces, and 21 inches at birth, but what does either number really mean? Does that convey something different than if she were 8 pounds 1 ounce, or 19 inches long?

I'm just happy she's healthy, with 10 fingers and toes, and all the needed bits in between. Now if she could just let Amy and I get needed sleep, the whole family could be much happier. And that lack of sleep is serious!

People always talk about the sleep deprivation of a newborn, and I thought they meant a little less sleep. No big deal, right? Well with a maximum of 2 hours of sleep at any time this week, I've felt more knocked out than the worst jetlag. Seriously. From punishing headaches to general exhaustion, I was whipped.

But now that she's starting to find her rhythm and her parents are adapting to it, Hanalei is a little less disruptive member of the family. She is still making us change our roles. Amy is the mom - the provider for Hanalei. I am not the momma - the maid, cleaning her up when she bequeaths us a diaper load. During the day we share time with her, alternating holding, watching, loving her as the other enjoys independence for a bit.

Amy is also home now, taking a three-month maternity leave to care for Hanalei. As I work from home, we're finding ways to share the house where we can both have our space and I get work done.

Yet I still step away from the office every so often and marvel at this child in our lives. How seemingly quick she's gone from Ziggy the Zygote to a real person. Nine months passed in a flash! Others say her whole childhood will too, but it's hard for me to believe that right now. I am still in awe that she will some day be a whole grown woman.

So parents of young and grown, please feel free to share tips and tricks on newborns. Amy and I can sure use the help.

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America, December 6, 2008

Please Welcome Hanalei Stockard Vota

Our bundle of joy and love has arrived!

After nine months of looking at life through her own belly button window, a new girl-child came into this world. Please welcome Hanalei Stockard Vota into the family.

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America, November 5, 2008

Going to the Largest Barak Obama Party: Kenya!

An American Dream Realized
Last night in a Seattle airport bar, I learned we would have the son of an immigrant as our next president. I have never slept better on a redeye flight. While I dozed in happiness on the way home to DC, joy and relief passed through the hearts of the world.

We just proved the American Dream is alive - anyone can be President.

And even though I missed the epic Election Day parties here in DC, I'm headed to the biggest Barak Obama party ever - Kenya.

The country is in a fit of ecstatic delight. The son of a Kenyan, President of America. I am crying as I type this, overwhelmed with pride in my country. I cannot even imagine what a beacon of hope Obama brings to Kenya.

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America, October 29, 2008

Petworth Dog Walk Halloween

A scary DC police dog
Last night we had an amazing celebration of costumed canines in Petworth. Around 30 dogs + owners came out to Domku Restaurant to compete in the Petworth Dog Walk Halloween.

We had everything from ladybugs to pigs in blankets, to pumpkins, all tail wagging happy to compete in three categories:

  • Best Doggie Costume - the classic, dress 'em up!
  • Best Twins - celebrating how dogs and owners can look alike
  • Best Trick - Costume or not, show your dog's skills

Continue reading "Petworth Dog Walk Halloween"

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America, June 20, 2008

A Bi-Coastal BBQ Lifestyle

inveneo's goal
See that Iridium flare?
Now that I live in Washington, DC and work for Inveneo, based in San Francisco, CA, I am living a bi-coastal lifestyle. I spend an average of a week every month or so in the Inveneo offices, living at the "Inveneo Hotel" - the home of Mark and Kristin, Inveneo's co-founders.

Before you cringe at the thought of working all day in the same room as your boss and then spending the evenings with him or her too, I have to say that Inveneo isn't your standard company.

First, we're a social enterprise, which means we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, yet we're run like a business. We're out there selling product and hustling for business like any other company. At the same time, we have a strong social mission that permeates everything we do.

Continue reading "A Bi-Coastal BBQ Lifestyle"

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America, June 7, 2008

An Announcement from Amy and Wayan

There is a Ziggy on the way! Conceived after our second wedding, Ziggy the zygote is now 13 weeks old.

That means Amy is just starting to show and we're both just beginning to freak out. Ziggy will one day soon be an actual child - it already has little arms and legs, and sucks it thumb. One day soon, we'll be actual parents, and of something way more intense than a Taxi, too.

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America, May 28, 2008

Directing Inveneo's ICIP Program

inveneo's goal
Inveneo ICIP in action
Back when I was Director of Geekcorps, we focused on developing appropriate technology to increase economic development. In the hot, dusty, off-grid environment of Mali, that meant developing solutions like the Desert PC.

While we only built a few for radio stations, another group, Inveneo, took the appropriate computing idea to the next level. They developed an entire product line of information and communication tools for rural and remote communities in the developing world.

But tools themselves are not enough. Technology is only truly sustainable when they are affordable and can be serviced and supported locally and the lack of qualified in-country ICT professionals is a great hindrance to technology diffusion. At Geekcorps we tried to solve this human capacity by linking international technology volunteers with local professionals for one-on-one training.

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America, May 14, 2008

A Whole Other Kind of Taxi Time

taxi learning
Taxi, getting some learning
"Taxi! Come here Taxi!" This is what I shout on a daily basis now. I'm calling a Taxi in the morning, during the day, and even late into the night. But it's not the taxi your thinking of.

This is not a New York Taxi story, nor a taxi experience in Macedonia, Russia, or even Bangkok, and its much better than the San Juan Taxi Mafia.

This is a story even better than Portland taxi driver perfection, this is a whole other kind of "taxi".

Continue reading "A Whole Other Kind of Taxi Time"

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America, May 6, 2008

Deconstructing Downtown Washington DC

Deconstructing memories of youth
Walking to work the other morning, I was struck by an amazing sight. A pinnacle of destruction piercing the downtown skyline, another office building deconstructed in the name of development.

This office building was special to me. Back when I first moved to DC, I worked at its sister building across Connecticut Avenue and the two were the only buildings around that had windows that could open. On beautiful spring days like today, I loved listening to the hustle of commuters exiting the Metro and melodies of the musicians singing for spare change.

Over a decade later, I find myself deconstructing my own downtown DC experience. No longer am I a clueless beginner accountant in a small nonprofit. No longer to I think Washington DC is the shit. Now I've lived on the world stage. I've circumnavigated the earth twice, and I've even been on 60 Minutes. And I'm the better for it.

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America, May 3, 2008

Thomas Lee: A Married Man Now

thomas lee
View of married life
Ladies, its time to mourn. The most eligible bachelor between New York City and Beijing, via Toronto, is now officially off the market. Thomas Lee is a married man, and a lucky one at that. This weekend Thomas married his long-time love, Holly Krambeck is a sweet and swank shindig at the University Club in Washington DC.

The formal wedding ceremony, where I was Best Man and kept Thomas focused on Holly versus all the other stimuli, was followed by wedding photos at DC's Spanish Steps. But not just any wedding photos.

Thomas, being Thomas, had the photographers take hundreds of photographs of the wedding party. His family, her family, both families, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and every conceivable combination that could include each group and Tom and Holly, or as they're now known as "Ta-Molly".

Continue reading "Thomas Lee: A Married Man Now"

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America, March 21, 2008

A New York Taxi Story

Where are we going now?
3:15 pm - Leaving a Battery Park office Its time to go. I have to give a speech on One Laptop Per Child in 45 minutes in Brooklyn. I'll be part of The World in Your Library at the LACUNY Institute Series, talking to librarians about one of my favorite topics and its impacts on the dissemination of knowledge in the developing world.

Brooklyn College has invited me to NYC, one of the rare speaking engagements where I'm going to be a paid speaker. Before you think that amounts to much, this trip is netting me train, hotel, and $100 for meals and such. In New York, a $100 lasts about a minute.

3:19 pm - Getting in a taxi I hail a cab, and climbing in, tell the driver to take me to the Brooklyn College Library in Brooklyn. I'm running a few minutes late, but I figure I can still make it in time. That's until, as we're crossing the Brooklyn Bridge I hear:

Continue reading "A New York Taxi Story"

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America, March 15, 2008

The Thomas Lee Bachelor Party

Thomas enjoying the night
I've never been a Best Man. This realization came to me late one night at my dinner table. It was around midnight, long after a party I'd thrown was over and Thomas Lee and I we talking. Or, more to the point, Thomas was asking;

"Wayan, will you be my best man?"

This was an odd question for me. Both because I'd not been a best man before, but also because I've not been to that many weddings. Yes, I've been to mine, both of them. But I didn't pay much attention to what Sean, my best man for both was doing.

Outside of those two moments of sheer terror joy, I've tended to avoid weddings. I stay so far away from them in real life that Amy stopped asking me to attend her friends' weddings. I don't even watch movies about weddings!

Continue reading "The Thomas Lee Bachelor Party"

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America, February 21, 2008

United for First Class Flying

Inflight ice cream rocks!
I was surprised at the first question the purser asked me as I took my seat:
"What would you like to drink?"
Here we were, just boarding the flight to Portland, and he had already taken my coat and hat, and now was offering me a pre-take-off beverage. A cold Heineken later, I realized the full difference between this United First Class accommodation and my usually seat back in Economy Plus.

Here, I was treated like a friend versus a customer. Note that I don’t have a real complaint against Economy Plus - I find it as bearable as any seat on an airplane, all of which are too small, too close together, and too high in the sky to make me at ease.

But Jimmy, my purser on this IAD to PDX trip, really made my frequent flyer miles upgrade worth the 5 E-Upgrade coupons I traded in for the privilege. After that first beer, the vodka tonics started quickly and never stopped till we landed. I had them right through a real dinner with real metal silverware.

Continue reading "United for First Class Flying"

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America, February 11, 2008

Amy and Wayan Wedding Day Photos

excitement in the air
Happiness in pixels
We now have wedding photos for your visual enjoyment of our happiest day:.

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America, January 12, 2008

Presenting Mrs. Amy Ross Vota

lucky me
Kissing the bride
Years ago, I saw a photograph of a joyous bride, a woman in mid-laugh and beamingly happy, being led to the altar through a crowd of wealth and stature, by a father swelled with pride.

In that photograph I saw a dream, a vision of a life I wanted to live, a moment I wanted to see with my own eyes. Yet, I never thought it possible. I did not have that wealth, and I did not know that bride.

Until today, January 12th, 2008, my wedding day. Today, after months of planning, weeks of preparation, and days of stress, I saw that joyous bride. That father filled with pride. That crowd of wealth and stature.

Today I saw that image, I saw that moment in my own life. No. I lived that dream! It is my life now.

Continue reading "Presenting Mrs. Amy Ross Vota"

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America, January 10, 2008

A Weekend Wedding Ceremony

lucky me!
Read for another kiss!
Yes, Amy and I are already legally married. We did do a Thanksgiving JoP run in Georgia. But you know what, that wasn't our real wedding ceremony. No, that was a legal contract, nothing more.

Its Saturday that is our real wedding ceremony. Its January 12th that we'll proclaim our love to closest friends and family. It is at 7pm that we'll be truly wed.

For we have the belief that marriage does not start with judges, cannot be enforced by courts, and will not be constrained by paper. Marriage comes from the heart, flows through community, and returns as a bond most public.

And here is a public proclamation of my feelings these moments before being a groom yet again:

Continue reading "A Weekend Wedding Ceremony"

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