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The Semi-Regular Newsletter


America, December 21, 2006

I'm in the Blogging Big Leagues Now!

And I'm enjoying the wild and wooly ride!

Little Nicos
The next geek generation!
news scoop!
Hot tip? I'm on it!
Over the last year or so, an initiative has slowly formed to change education in the developing world. Based around the idea that children need to "learn learning" and computers are the best tool to do this, One Laptop Per Child has developed a cheap (in price, not technology or manufacture) laptop and proposes that developing world governments buy these computers for internal distribution.

From the on-set, as a techie, an uber-Geek even, with experience in and love for the developing world, I've followed OLPC with deepening interest. I also noticed that while there were many articles about the program on various websites, there wasn't a single website focused on the computer, now called the Children's Machine XO, or its professed goals of changing education.

So I started a website about it all, One Laptop Per Child News, with the main goals of staying educated on OLPC and to enter into the debate about its merits. OLPC News was also the next step in my blogging career, running my own collaborative blog, experimenting with different management and promotional techniques along the way.

Now, only five months later, I've succeeded beyond my wildest dreams!

This unpaid hobby of mine, a loose association of writers and commenters myopically focused on the One Laptop Per Child program, has jumped into the forefront of the international debate.

Everyone from the OLPC leadership to national news media reads One Laptop Per Child News. Leading websites and news organs regularly republish our scoops of OLPC-related news. Controversial posts have altered the conversation around the OLPC program and ideas and memes from the site have entered the vocabulary of other OLPC followers.

And just this week, I've had the greatest compliment of my blogging career. Conspiracy theorists, so amazed at how informative the content and professional the site, have come to the conclusion that OLPC News cannot be the humble work of yours truly. That there must be an invisible corporate mandarin behind the scenes, orchestrating the site's success.

To be honest, at first I was offended. As long time readers of mine on all the sites I write for know, I call life how I see it, warts and all, with no apologies and no hidden agendas. I write for OLPC News in exactly the same style - honestly how I feel at that moment based on my experience and the knowledge I have at hand, other protagonists be damned.

That my voice could be bought, by an employer or companies I associate with in my profession, was so absurd I finally realized the underlying flattery. Not only is everyone involved with One Laptop Per Child reading OLPC News on a daily basis, the site is so insightful and so influential, that key players are becoming paranoid about what we'll talk about next.

And that, my friends, is the very definition of blogging success.

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America, November 26, 2006

Over One Million Served

Nine years and six hundred or so posts later, and I just passed a amazing milestone. By my calculations, the humble Belly Button Window has just past one million readers. That's one million people who've read about my life, many for just a few minutes of course, but others who've been following my adventures for years.

Thank you.

While I don't write this site for others really, its just to remind myself of all my adventures, and let my friends and family know what I am up to, I am always amazed that others find Belly Button Window worth reading too.

Continue reading "Over One Million Served"

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America, October 31, 2006

31st Annual Marine Corps Marathon

It was a beautiful morning for a run, cool, clear, crisp, to the joy of the 21,000 runners awaiting the starting gun at the 31st Annual Marine Corps Marathon.

As they waited to cross the start line, a few thousand held up by a race-day heart attack, I bid them well. I was not in the pack, I was not at the start, I was in bed, sound asleep. Remember that I am an Olympic distance triathlete, not a marathoner.

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America, October 20, 2006

Movable Type Re-Mastery Recommendations

Yesterday I went to the Six Apart conference on business blogging, and while I didn't learn anything new - I am a blogging expert of sorts - I did learn new and more efficient ways to promote blogging.

So while the conference wasn't worth the $150 for the content, though I did enjoy the complimentary quality liquor open bar, I did have an amazing amount of face time with Marissa Levinson to bitch about Moveable Type, Six Apart's flagship product.

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America, September 29, 2006

Congratulations Jingmei!

Congratulations, Jingmei! Yes congrats. I know that sometimes strikes people as odd, that I would be happy for your wedding, but I am. Very happy. Why shouldn't I be? It's not like I dislike you, or even have any ill will.

We tried, we really did. We tried so damn hard, over so long, over such great distances - of space and culture. We tried and we did not succeed. We also didn't fail.

Failure would be not learning, not accepting, not moving, on. I don't see us as failure. I see us as life.

Continue reading "Congratulations Jingmei!"

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America, August 14, 2006

My Couch Surfing Cousin

This is my cousin, Jose Manuel, or as I call him, "the Hottest man in Juarez" after we went bar hopping South of the Border a while back. Now he's no longer bar hopping, he's couch-surfing with me. Arriving recently for the start of his first year at GW Law he's looking to find shared accommodation convenient to the law school at 21st and H Streets.

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America, August 6, 2006

Its All About the Bike

A year ago, I was excited, I was happy, I was victorious. It was moments after the 2005 New York City Olympic Triathlon, and I crossed the finish line 2:30:51 after I started and I was screaming with joy.

Not only was I a finisher, I was faster than I ever imagined, and I came in several minutes in front of my most dogged competitor, my cousin George. He beat me in the swim but then I took him on the bike and the run.

Fast forward a year and oh how times have changed.

Continue reading "Its All About the Bike"

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America, July 29, 2006

Piñata Party Performance

Here, after gorging on Tom's grilling and Tiff's amazing guacamole, we are about to duel to the death. We are doing our best piñata Jedi to beat a helpless burro open. Only then will treats rain down on us from its candy-filled belly.

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America, July 27, 2006

Am I a Transit Foamer?

Why would I, a techno-savvy world traveler already scribbling for this site, Geekcorps, and Metroblogging DC, want to write for a transit-focused website written by a self-proclaimed "team of dedicated transit nerds"?

Maybe because I love me some trains - worldwide!

Continue reading "Am I a Transit Foamer?"

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America, June 23, 2006

A LAX Layover Done Right

Not about to have the same four hours of boredom and sobriety, on my way back through LAX and facing a five hour layover this time, I decided to go for it, to make a run to Venice Beach and soak up a few ocean side drinks. I also took exacting notes to record the experience, in case anyone else has a long hour layover at LAX and wants to make out with hotties instead.

Continue reading "A LAX Layover Done Right"

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America, June 1, 2006

LAX Sucks After 10pm

So this is how it starts, eh? My twenty-four day odyssey through Taiwan, Philippines, and Sri Lanka for my cool international job. It starts with a plane full of California Junior High School students rowdy after a week of vacation in Washington, DC.

What I hoped would only be five hours of annoyance became seven when we waited on the runway for a storm to pass. Luckily, as this was the flight home, they were subdued hooligans, heading home tired.

Continue reading "LAX Sucks After 10pm"

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America, May 22, 2006

"Beertown" not "Beantown"

First I started with hard core hotel porn. What is "hotel porn", you ask? Just check out the Hotel Marlowe website or better yet, peruse the "Hotel Marlowe" Flickr tag. Hot, eh?

From the funky rooms to the great service, and of course, the leopard-print robes, Hotel Marlowe is swank-city. Swankiness that includes sex-music CD's!

Not one to let such opportunity pass me by, I head out, wandering around Harvard Square area, alone and sober. Looking to fix both predicaments quickly, I took an alley option and found myself on Winthrop Street.

Continue reading ""Beertown" not "Beantown""

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America, May 21, 2006

Navigating Boston's MBTA "T"

Dear Boston Tourist:

If you believe that your journey from Logan International Airport into Beantown via the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority, or "T" as it is known locally, will be easy and quick, I am here to disappoint.

First off, that MBTA T Map you are looking at is deceiving you. Your exit from Logan will not be on a clan and modern subway train. I know, that line around the airport may seem to be signifying a train, but its really a bus. A bus you'll need exact change for.

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America, May 8, 2006

I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell

Reading I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, I laughed so hard, so often, I could only finish a chapter at a time - my face ached and stomach hurt that much from all my laughing. I wanted to read the book on an upcoming plane flight, but there's no way. I'd be laughing so much and so hard, the flight attendants would make me sit on the wing.

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America, April 30, 2006

The 23 Annual Sallie Mae 10K

This run is my marker, my litmus test to see how far I've slacked in the off season and how hard I'm training now. Each year for the past three, I've checked my run in this race. If I do well, I know I can focus on the bike and the swim, confident the run is already ready. If I do poorly, I know I am in trouble.

Arriving at the Start Line without bike trouble, I grab my race number and get in the bathroom line. Long it is, slow it moves, the Port-a-Potty dance is another annual tradition, one I could live without.

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America, April 10, 2006

We Are All Immigrants

No matter where you start, and I can go back to where my mother's family came over from England during the founding of this country, or entrants to her family from the Blackfoot Indians or my father's family from Mexican Indians, someone, somewhere, in all our family histories was an immigrant to this continent. Even the American Indians walked or sailed here from somewhere. And with all that history of immigration, I am always amazed at America's schizophrenic relationship with immigrants today. Schizophrenia that has a whole nation on the march to protest the crazy plans of small-minded fools in Congress.

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America, April 3, 2006

I Have a Heart Murmur

Whoosh, sha.. Woosh, sha.. This is the sound of my heart beating. This is what I hear as I lay on this table while I get a Doppler 2-D echocardiogram. On a screen behind me, the technician is watching my heart beat, using the Doppler to see where my blood is going. Looking for what my doctor suspects and I fear: the source of my heart murmur.

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America, March 6, 2006

San Francisco Seduction Tour

Back in 2002, I wandered through San Francisco on my famed California Hype Deflation Tour. That trip was really a reaction to Jingmei's leaving and more a soul cleansing than a true adventure. This time I went for work, fun in its own right, but made sweeter with someone else's per diem money.

This time I also stayed right downtown at the Cartwright Hotel, just off Union Square, which meant my morning runs, up Telegraph and Knob hill were real thigh burning fun. DC might have the Exorcist Stairs, but that ain't nuttin compared to the 300+ stairs leading up to Telegraph Hill alone!

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America, March 4, 2006

Afro-Albinos @ Niketown

I'm in awe of the Niketown on Union Square. It's so big, flashy, and new. It also has some rather striking male mannequins. Mannequins I'm not sure if I should applaud or decry.

First, I noticed they had white mannequins in the men's soccer section and black mannequins in the men's basketball section. Thinking this a little too stereotyping, I mentioned it to a Niketown staffer. She told me to take a closer look. So check out the photo to the left very carefully. Click on it for the larger Flickr version even.

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America, February 26, 2006

My Big MUNI Bitch

I am wandering San Francisco on a Jim's Restaurant Sunday and in need of transportation to the Express for Men in the Stonestown Mall. How can I get there from downtown San Francisco? The MUNI of course!

Ah, but wait, to get on the MUNI you have to buy a single use ticket - $150 - in exact change. Okay, no problem, I'll just make change... where? The MUNI transit officer tells me to use the BART ticket kiosk to make change. One useless BART ticket later I realize there is a little button on the side that gives change for MUNI.

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America, February 20, 2006

Monday Night Trivia Fight

It's Monday night, and while you might think it's a sleepy night, in Washington DC that can mean only one thing: Wonderland's Monday Night Trivia Fight.

Like a live game of Trivial Pursuit, where teams compete for free drinks instead of pie pieces, Monday Night Trivia Fight is all about knowing fun, interesting, and usually very obscure facts that the host dug up before the game.

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America, February 16, 2006

Hi, I'm Wayan

To the untrained American ear, one used to the Southern "Wayne", my name, the Balinese "Wayan" sounds just different enough that the listener wonders if they misheard me. If my name was "Wayne" and I'm mispronouncing it, or as a quickly-ex friend once told another "His name is 'Wayne', but he puts on airs."

On the Indonesian island of Bali, where there are a few more Wayan's, Wayan is pronounced "why-YAN", with the stress on the second syllable. Since stressing the second syllable is impossible for Americans, I've always told people my name sounds like "WAY-in" just to make it easy for them.

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America, February 13, 2006

Welcome To 33 +1/3

Yes, I'm finally admitting my age, my real age, after four years of living the "I'm twenty-nine" lifestyle. It was fun, it was real, and it's now really fun to be me - all 33 +1/3 years of it.

Why 33 +1/3 you ask? Well I figure I was sliding by as twenty-nine for so long, I gotta play catch-up, and added the point thirty-three to make it true. What am I going to do when its August and I'm now more like 33 +1/2? Who knows & who cares. Its time to par-tay!

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America, January 28, 2006

A 1640 Hobart Redux

Drinking heavily at a house party at 11th and Park Road NW, who do I hear is the owner of the property but the same Martin Thomas. Shocked at his transfer to the bourgeoisie, I could only stutter something about him changing his stripes and going capitalist.

Then I hear a mighty "Wayan!" and realize that sharing the porch with me is Andrew, another 1640 housemate. We laugh, hug and start trading Russia stories non-stop. As we do, I realize the whole porch has a 1640 connection - a decade of people and parties that passed while I was off in foreign lands and other DC neighbourhoods.

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America, January 23, 2006

Getting What You Ask For

While in Lebanon, in between Beer Pong research, I talked with my boss about Geekcorps future and what mix we might need to take it to the next level. I was stressing the need to be selling it to donors and funders 24/7 - we now proved our execution in multiple technologies and areas but few knew, and fewer were funding.

Seems he was listening as he gave me what I wanted, a Geekcorps Director focused on bringing in more, larger programs. Guess who that Director might be? Yep, yours truly - the new Director, Geekcorps Division, International Executive Service Corps. Along with the fancy title and nice raise was a pat on the back, a point in the right direction, and just enough a hint to make it clear: bring home the bacon baby!

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America, January 16, 2006

Ode to Deans

Dena fa fina fee fi fo fafina da Dena! This is how I enjoy greeting you Dena. For what now, a decade? I've said hi and distorted your name. Do you let anyone else call you Deans? Do you know I even call another friend Sabeans in a take on your nickname? Yeah, Deans you're one of my longest-lasting friends, from why back - the housing office of UCF, right?

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America, January 9, 2006

Skatetown USA

We're gonna do the limbo, the real limbo rock, and do it the only way it should be done - on roller skates! That's right, no Rollerblades, no "in line skakes", not even in sock feet. No, it's an old-skol skating rink and we're doing this right, in 1970's roller skates.

Or I'm trying to do it right, and not break my neck in the process. Back when the idea was put to me, a night of roller skating, I was all excited that I'd get a chance to roller derby again. Backward skate, reverse directions, even limbo, all the fun/cool things I did as a kid in the hallowed Skatetown USA down the street.

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America, January 1, 2006

There goes the neighbourhood

Crack! Boom! That sound, its stately old pine trees snapping like twigs in the jaws of a land-clearing (bucket loader) bulldozer. Crunch, rumble, rumble. That's the sound of the bulldozer pushing years of palmetto and pine growth into one big pile, soon to be taken away to places unknown. The trees, maybe to a lumber yard, the palmettos, the dump I bet.

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