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The Alumni Blog : June, 2011

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    Don't Cry For Me, HOV Lane (Actually, Do)

    This Friday, July 1, 85,000 hybrid drivers will be kicked out of California’s carpool lanes and into the log-jammed ghetto from whence they came six years ago. I’m one of them. I’ll be the one sobbing in my 2003 Prius.

    In 2005, California offered precious, shiny yellow stickers to cars that got at least 45 mpg: the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic and Insight. We were special. We could drive alone in the carpool lane, blasting by SUVs in the regular lanes as we commuted to work. And in California we have serious commutes. This sticker is not a little thing. This is better than money*. We special people were given the gift of time. TIME! And for six years we lived like sunburned teenagers—thinking that time would always be on our side.

    Until it wasn’t.

    On Friday, I become Goldie Hawn thrown Overboard into a life of drudgery. Except Goldie had it way better because at least she couldn’t remember having been rich. I remem...

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    Posted by Ms. Summer Batte on Jun 29 2011 2:26PM | 2 comments

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    3 Steps for Transforming Anger into Action

    I came across an article in The Daily Beast the other morning entitled "" America the Angry"." In it, political consultant Douglas Schoen discusses the findings of a recent Newsweek/Daily Beast poll revealing that the vast majority of Americans are in a bad mood.

    As unemployment, gas and grocery prices are on the rise, so are people's levels of anger, anxiety and frustration. Three-quarters of those surveyed blamed the government and a lousy economy for their relationship problems, sleep loss and low sex drives. Two-thirds said they were "angry at God."

    Sure, times are tough relative to the recent economic boom. Still I couldn't help but think, "What a waste!" All that energy people are churning and burning, when they could be channeling it into creating positive change in the world.

    Here are my 3 steps for trans...

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    Posted by Ms. MeiMei Fox on Jun 28 2011 3:59PM | 0 comments

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    When It's Dangerous to Write - art as insurrection

    During the spring, I was telling audiences on the West Coast that my book would likely be banned in China for its scenes of peasant protests. “Does anyone have connections to publish it underground?” No one raised their hand; a few smiled.

    Ai Weiwei, the artist that China’s government loves to hate, was taken away by authorities in early April. Until his release on bail just a few days ago, he had effectively been disappeared for almost three months. Internationally known for his art and activism, he was a persona non grata in China. It’s a harsh reminder that my freedom to write as an American cannot be taken for granted. I wonder if I would really have the courage to push the boundaries of artist expression if I lived in China, where the personal is increasingly political, and art is seen as insurrection against the state. And if I published this blog in Chinese, on my native soil, would the authorities come after me, too?

    It’s e...

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    Posted by Ms. Li Lovett on Jun 25 2011 9:14PM | 0 comments

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    The State of the Student: Can You Go Home Again?

    Charl DormWhen my son was four years old, he promised to live with me forever. Being that he was my first child, I took him at his word. And it didn’t occur to me that Thomas Wolfe might have had a point. 

    Now, some 20 years later, I’m finding that living at home forever might not be the best idea. For one thing, my kids have too much stuff. It all started innocently enough with our well-intentioned efforts to make sure that each child (one he, one she) started college life as well-equipped and comfortable as possible. A UC Berkeley dorm-regulation mattress? Ugh! That old desk in my daughter’s freshman dorm room in Stern Hall? Not! I remember those from my days in Larkin North…and that was many days ago. 

    This summer we have suffered ‘re-entry syndrome’ as one soon-to...

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    Posted by Charlene Margot, MA on Jun 25 2011 11:59AM | 1 comments

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    Nine Kid Show Lines I Can't Get Out of My Head

    Kid shows are melting my brain. Some are definitely better than others: I love Sesame Street (which Sally knows, so she claims it is boring) and I enjoy Olivia. But most have these incredibly annoying repeated lines, or just types of lines that make me want to back over the flat screen with my car.

    Bubble Guppies - "What time is it? It's time for lunch!"
    These weird little mermaidy kids live in a world without physics, one of my pet kid show peeves. Though annoying, their lunch line has become embedded in the Batte family arsenal of quasi-witty comebacks.

    Dora the Explorer - "Say MAP! LOUDER! SAY MAP!"
    If ever given the chance, I will kill Dora.

    Berenstain Bears - "Gosh, I didn't think of it that way."
    The Berenstain kids are super-duper wholesome, yet somehow manage to spend 20 of the 22 minutes available to them teaching your kid how NOT to act. But you know what bothers me most ...

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    Posted by Ms. Summer Batte on Jun 24 2011 8:03AM | 2 comments

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    "Are designers? in a position of power in the corporate structure?"

    "Are designers’ in a position of power in the corporate structure?" – has been the topic of my blog on Linked and Facebook the past month. Together we have collected data from the industrial design community and compared these with the literature. "The Prince", by Machiavelli, has been the textbook on power for 500 years. Last year Jeff Pfeffer wrote "Power", the book on the subject for our generation. Apart from maybe torture and killing, not much has changed. It is a "touchy feely" topic. The next couple of weeks I will highlight some of the conclusions.

    To be continued June 26.

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    Posted by Dr. Soren Petersen on Jun 23 2011 12:00AM | 15 comments

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    Better Together

    Welcome to the Alumni Blog! We're taking our alumni writings in a new direction—forming one big community of bloggers rather than many blogs with specific topics. Think of the Alumni Blog as a virtual water cooler: Go there to read about what other alums are writing about and to join in the conversation, or to start your own.

    Any Stanford alum can post, on just about any topic. Maybe you've just had a baby; maybe you're facing retirement; maybe your town has been hit by a natural disaster; maybe you just finished reading a great book you think other alums would enjoy. Whatever it is, the Alumni Blog gives you a space to write about it one, twice, or 20 times; and it gives you a community of readers you already have something in common with—your home on the Farm.

    If you are interested in writing for the Alumni Blog, tell us! Contact Amy Wolf at

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    Posted by Mrs. Amy Wolf on Jun 16 2011 1:47PM | 1 comments