Friday, September 30, 2005

Clear !

A shocking development has recently surfaced in the form of an email sent to all employees at my work. After five years of political wrangling and budgetary issues, the Safety & Security department has just deployed its compliment of AEDs (Automatic External Defibrillators) across our campus.

I never thought this day would come.

AEDs are compact machines that can be used to revive a person who is experiencing sudden-onset cardiac arrest. They automatically detect if the heart is in a deadly rhythm, and deliver shocks if needed. Make no mistake, these things save lives. It has been proven again and again with research. And because they are so easy for the general, untrained population to use, they are becoming ubiquitous in areas where crowds gather - malls, airports, fitness centers and workplaces.

Many of us on the Emergency Response Team had nearly given up hope that we would ever have them here at our company. For years, the program was shuffled around in circles, always stalling, continually being placed on the back-burner by a management team that didn't have the guts to fight for it. Us volunteers all believed in the life-saving properties of these devices, but passion alone could not guarantee their procurement.

Let's face it. We work in an extremely high-stress environment, one that encourages long hours and 110% dedication. There are several thousand stressed-out employees, who barely have time to go to the restroom (let alone eat and exercise), all in the same place for 40+ hours per week. This Silicon Valley pressure cooker, dispersed across our sprawling company headquarters, is a recipe for disaster.

Now, we have one more tool in our arsenal to help our fellow employees.

I'm so excited. I literally had tears in my eyes when I picked mine up.

We even had a formal ceremony with an official hand-off to Rick, our most vocal and passionate proponent of these live-saving devices.

Lance, Rick and the Fluffy Rick Bow.

I hope we will never need to use them. But if we do, they are here.

Take a look around you the next time you're at a shopping mall, convention center, airport or bus terminal. Chances are, there is an AED within reach. Be comforted knowing that they're available if needed.

It took years of fighting, steadfast dedication, and the cooperation and hard work of a courageous manager and team, to make this happen.

If it saves just one life, it will be worth it all.

Links to articles:
Red Cross AED Informational Page
2002 Study Results Underscore Need for AEDs in Public Places
2003 Study on Public Use of AEDs

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Work to Live Part III

A couple of months ago, I wrote extensively about the "Work to Live" mentality, and how the Silicon Valley culture both encouraged and epitomized it. Previous entries are here and here.

An email exchange today at work is another shining example of this phenomenon.

Hi [Boss and team],

It was a close call !! [Wife] had to go through an emergency C-Section, the baby girl was born at 11.57.

Both the Mother and the Baby are recovering.

Boss's response was as such:


Congratulations! However, don't open your laptop from the labor ward like you did this morning!

That says it all.

At least Boss wasn't thanking him for doing so.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cultural Studies

It always amazes me how people's perception of their own culture (or lack thereof) can be so out of line with how others view them. Case in point is my parents.

My father was one of eight children born in southern Italy. His family immigrated to Canada in the 1950s and 1960s. My mother hails from a small town in Ontario, Canada, with lineage that originates in the British islands. My father's family is an outgoing, rambunctious group that laughs loudly, drinks lots of Sambuca, and proudly declares that good food and a good soccer match are all that one needs in life. In contrast, my mother's family is the more subdued and unassuming neighborly type that you say hello to while walking down the street.

This past weekend, while driving to Monterey for a sightseeing excursion, my father quipped that he and his family had so much more culture than my mother and hers. It had to be so because she knew very little about classical music. My mom's response ?

"Well, you grew up in a cave."

In actual fact, he did.

My father's family is from a small town in the south-eastern region of Italy, near the heel of the boot. It is named Matera, and is characterized by a towering mountain in which ancient caves were created by the earliest of human settlers. Those caves became thriving habitations, adorned with brick facades, metamorphosizing into apartments and churches where modern people lived, worked and played.

It was in this rock, this complex architectural maze, that my father and his family lived until their relocation to Canada several decades ago. It was also in this city that the Mel Gibson movie "The Passion of the Christ" was filmed.

This may look like a painting of an ancient habitation in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, but in actual fact, it is a photograph of how the mountain looks to this day. An obvious choice for the location of the Hollywood movie. Read a short history and see some more pictures here.

Those stories that your parents used to tell you about living in caves, and walking 14 miles to school, barefoot and uphill both ways ? For my father, this was true.

As we continued on our drive along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, my father, the caveman, remained steadfast in his playful assertation that he had much more culture than his wife. Her retort:

"Yeah. In your feet."

I think that was the first time I'd ever high-fived my mother.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Which Happy Bunny Are You ?

Check out this link: Which happy bunny are you?

My results:

congratulations. you are the kiss my ass happy bunny. You don't care about anyone or anything. You must be so proud.

A surprisingly accurate reflection of how I am feeling today. It's been a rough one.

Which Happy Bunny are you ? Post your results on the Comments link below. :)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Scientists Predicted the Devastation

The predictions of the magnitude of destruction from a large hurricane on the New Orleans region is, in a word, eerie.

From National Geographic - October 2004:

"Thousands drowned in the murky brew that was soon contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Thousands more who survived the flood later perished from dehydration and disease as they waited to be rescued. It took two months to pump the city dry, and by then the Big Easy was buried under a blanket of putrid sediment, a million people were homeless, and 50,000 were dead. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States.

"When did this calamity happen? It hasn't—yet. But the doomsday scenario is not far-fetched. "

Link: [National Geographic Article]

From Popular Mechanics - September 11, 2001 [The date of this article is creepy in itself !!!]:

"During a strong hurricane, the city could be inundated with water blocking all streets in and out for days, leaving people stranded without electricity and access to clean drinking water. Many also could die because the city has few buildings that could withstand the sustained 96- to 100-mph winds and 6- to 8-ft. storm surges of a Category 2 hurricane. Moving to higher elevations would be just as dangerous as staying on low ground. "

Link: [Popular Mechanics Article]

From American Radio Works - September 2002:

"Studies suggest that there's roughly a one in six chance that a killer hurricane will strike New Orleans over the next 50 years.


"Basically, the part of New Orleans that most Americans—most people around the world—think is New Orleans, would disappear."

Link: [American Radio Works Article]

Reading these has given me goosebumps.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Don't Just Change the Channel

The death, destruction and hopelessness in New Orleans and surrounding areas following Hurricane Katrina has dominated the news over the last few days. Videos and photographs show entire subdivisions almost completely underwater, people on their roofs awaiting rescue, the living and injured coexisting amongst the dead, while looting and anarchy prevail.

As is its custom, the great company I work for immediately stepped forward to sponsor the training and deployment of volunteers, supplies and technology. Within 10 minutes of receiving the recruitment email for Red Cross volunteers, I was in my boss' office, asking to be given the time off to go to New Orleans. As an EMT, already trained in large-scale incident management, this was seemingly the perfect opportunity to help.

Unfortunately, my boss couldn't spare the resources for me to be deployed for over a week. Our project is at a critical development point. Our group will be losing two of our members for 2-3 weeks each very soon. If we don't meet our deadlines, we may not have jobs. I was understandably disappointed.

But there still is a chance to do some good. Hurricane Katrina is precisely the type of incident that our product is designed for. It is a communications solution that will help fire, ambulance, police and other agencies to talk to each other. The potential impact is immeasurable. When it is done, it will revolutionize how local, state and federal agencies respond to major disasters. Everyone in my group, including me, believes in it, with every ounce of passion and dedication in their hearts.

If those photographs of the devastation move you, if the images and testimonials on television stir emotion in you, then I challenge you, all of you, to step away from your comfy chairs in your air-conditioned homes. I dare you to close your mouths and open your wallets. I implore you to get out there and do something - anything - to help those people. They need you.

Donate to a reputable charity, like the Red Cross. Give blood. Volunteer your time, either near the scene or at your local charity. Help displaced relatives and friends to find shelter. Don't just change the channel. Don't just close the newspaper. Don't turn a blind eye to the suffering of your fellow human beings. Get out there and do something !!!

Every little bit counts. Every dollar, every pint of blood, every hour of your time makes a difference in the lives of your fellow human beings. What are you waiting for ?

Last night, I circulated flyers around my entire complex, inviting my fellow residents to join me at our city's Community Emergency Response Team training this month. I put my name on the list to help with the Red Cross rollover phone system that my company has just installed at its headquarters. And I am hunkering down at work, likely for most of this long weekend, testing our product and offering 24-hour technical support to the teams on their way to the scene.

Granted, it's not the same as physically being there to man shelters, care for the sick and wounded, and distribute much-needed food and supplies. Some of my ERT teammates (bless them !) have done the Red Cross training and are shipping out this weekend. No matter what the situation, we're all doing our little piece to make a difference.

What about you ?
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