Thursday, June 12, 2003

I had bronchitis from my trip, probably due to the 30 hours being in a plane. I'm fine now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I'm home now (in Silicon Valley) from Bs. Aires. Arrived yesterday late morning. Getting to and from Argentina is truly the travel trip from hell. It takes 22 hours door-to-door. Most people don't realize it but Bs. Aires is 2 time zones further east than New York City, in fact South America is not even under North America.

Coming back involved an hour + drive out to the Ezieza Airport, hanging around for 3 hours, a 9 1/2 hour flight to Miami that arrives at 5am Miami time (4am Bs. Aires time). 2+ hours of passport control, customs exams, and security procedures, then finally a 5 1/2 hour flight from Miami to SF. [During daylight savings time Bs. Aires is 4 hours ahead of SF, during standard time they are 5 hours ahead]. For the first time in my life I had a little argument with he random person sitting next to me. He insisted on sticking his feet on my side under the chair in front of me. This of course left me no place to put my own feet unless I wanted to intertwine them with his, which I did not. I asked him to please keep his feet on his side and he started to argue with me. I just told him I was not going to argue and we both shut up and endured each other's silence for 5 hours.

Unfortunately I caught a cold, a sinus infection, pneumonia or SARS (I'm not sure which) in Bs. Aires and I couldn't even visit my ill friend for the last 3 days. As explained below, I idled away my time in internet cafes and made international phone calls. Everything is dirt cheap for Americans in Argentina -- even I, jobless for 20 months, felt quite comfortable spending money. For example, a dinner at a very nice restaurant for 3, no wine but with dessert, cost $33 TOTAL including tip.

The Argentines make beautiful clothes and there are thousands of shops all over Bs. Aires. Given their terrible economy, I'm not sure who the heck is buying the stuff though. When I first started going to Argentina 20 years ago I was obviously "the American visitor" because all of the women wore dresses or skirts, even to do grocery shopping! It was like the 50s were here. I was wearing casual clothes and comfortable shoes and really stood out. Now, I was mistaken many times as an Argentine. For a day I had laryngitis and couldn't speak so I was able to keep up the charade (my Spanish is awful but it gets me by).

Update on my friend -- I went to Argentina urgently to be with my friend of 25 years before she went in for brain surgery, and to visit with her afterwards in the hospital. She is recovering well, but for those of you who have had a friend or family member of colleague with a brain tumor, you know that this is a very, very serious problem. Her diagnosis is the same as that of Dan Case, former CEO of Hambrecht and Quist and the brother of Steve Case, founder of AOL and Chairman of AOL Time Warner. I remember very clearly when Dan announced he had a malignant brain tumor as it seemed so senseless and uncommon. I now know a lot about brain tumors, and the kind that my friend has in particular -- Glioblastoma. Dan and Steve set up a fund called ABC2 and today I spoke with the Executive Director John Reher. He was very kind and helpful. John mentioned that although glioblastomas are not a common disease, there seem to be more of them in middle-aged Silicon Valley male executives but they don't know why. Actually, from my studies, doctors don't know what causes any of the brain tumors. Along with helping my friend plot and execute a treatment path I am also hoping to find another Latin American person with this disease so she has someone to talk to (in Spanish) who is going through the same process.

Here's a wonderful quote from Dan Case "If there's one lesson I got from this,'' he said, "it's much more than we have to fix brain cancer, it's that people are amazing if you just give them a chance to be kind.''

Sunday, June 08, 2003

I'm in an Internet Cafe in Bs. Aires, Argentina. I've been trying to blog for several hours but the Blogger site was out of commission. I just read on their homepage that new software will be available soon. I sure hope it is more robust than the current software. I know some of the other blogging sites/tools are better than Blogger but this seems like the least painful way to keep track of what Google is doing with blogging.

I've been in Argentina almost one week, will be returning home (Silicon Valley) in a couple days. Unfortunately I had to miss the Planetwork Conference due to this emergency trip. I was scheduled to give a talk yesterday, Saturday, titled Professional Guilds on the Web (note: the title of my talk changed but due to this emergency I was not able to notify the conference organizers, that´s why the title on the conference site is "Web Communities and Social Software"). I wish I could have been at the conference -- there are (it is still in session thru Sunday then a special software meeting tomorrow) many interesting presentations, people, and ideas. Jan Hauser, one of the authors of the Augmented Social Networks [ASN] whitepaper, gave my presentation for me. I know he did a good job because he and I have been in continuous discussion over the last year about the concepts.

When I return home I will put my presentation on my website. By the way, I have now finally updated my website to contain many of my presentations, whitepapers, etc. I will soon add a lot more information about the products developed by my previous company, RealCommunities. Unfortunately, due to the economic meltdown, I had to sell RealCommunities prematurely to another software company called Mongoose Technology.

Full title and link to the ASN whitepaper:
A Link Tank Report
by Ken Jordan, Jan Hauser, and Steven Foster

One big problem with these Internet Cafes in Argentina is everyone smokes. The air inside is oppressive. In fact both the indoor and outdoor air is so polluted that yesterday when I woke up I could not speak at all! I had laryngitis for the very first time in my life. I´m better today and hope tomorrow to be fully recovered. This Cafe is in the center of the city, open 24 hours, and very active. There are 40 or so workstations, good performance, and lots of people here. About half or more are all kids playing multi-user games. Actually right now I think I am the only adult in the whole cafe! The kids are all about 12-16 years old, all boys. It's 4pm Bs. Aires time -- 4 hours ahead of CA time during PDT, 5 hours ahead during PST.

On a personal note - I came to Argentina urgently as my very best friend for the last 25 years was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. I got here just a few hours before the operation. I've seen her every day since as the hospital. She is doing extremely well -- she was in intensive care for only 2 days and is now in a regular hospital room. On Tuesday she will go home. Unfortunately I have to leave on Monday -- I was able to get a pretty good last minute e-fare from United for $670 but the dates are very rigid when I can travel. Also, I need to return home to continue my quest for revenue-producing activities.

Dang this stupid Blogger tool. I see now it has decided to ignore all of the paragraph and new line feed control characters. They are still here in the edit area, but the display is just one big blobby blog.

I can't take the smoke in here anymore, or the horrible TV noise where they must be watching a sports event, hard to say what since I can only hear it not see it. Lots of announcer frenzy and loud noises.

Just one last point -- go here to see Jay Fienberg's blog of "my" talk as given by Jan.
The Future of Professional Guilds Part I
The Future of Professional Guilds Part II
my comments (at the bottom of this page)