All posts by alanirwin

About alanirwin

Testing it all

Speaker's Workshop

Strategically Speaking Workshop

On Friday, September 25, I’ll once again be part of a powerful workshop on upgrading your skills as a speaker. The lead presenter, Kymberlee Weil, does an amazing job focusing on the content and structure of your presentation, and I spend time working on the presentation itself, applying the concepts and lessons of improv when working with an audience.

Our previous workshop was a big success and all the attendees did very practical, hands on work building their talks and making presentations to an audience. I highly recommend it.

Check out more details at the workshop website.




Back online

Whew – things were dusty around here!

I hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I’ve updated around here. Image my surprise when I discovered the site was offline!

Well, that’s all been corrected, the software has been updated, and there are a few announcements I want to make, so watch for a few new blog entries.


This year, Rwanda

rwanda map

This year, we have known for months that our vacation would be in Rwanda. We are travelling with a friend who has been doing volunteer work there for years. She started out doing therapy for survivors of the genocide and then went on to help with economic development. She’s been providing goats to various survivors’ collectives which gives them an immediate and tangible boost to their development.

This year may be her last travelling to Rwanda, so we said we’d join her to do what work and assistance that we can. So this trip may be more volunteer work than sightseeing. Rwanda is suppose to be beautiful, rolling hills and forests, and is where Dian Fossey did her work with the gorillas. There will be lovely sights to see as we are doing whatever volunteer work we can.

Now, I’ll try to address some of the obvious fears that people have expressed to us.  Mainly, the specter of Ebola. The most important fact to keep in mind is that Africa is HUGE. The outbreak is in three small countries on the western part of the continent. Rwanda is inland, but on the eastern side of the continent. Here in Santa Barbara, we are closer to an Ebola outbreak in Dallas than we will be in Rwanda. Here’s a map showing the outbreaks as well as the little country of Rwanda.

Ebola outbreak 2014

The irony is that because we are coming from a country with a known Ebola outbreak (the USA), we’ll need to go through a medical screening to get into Rwanda.

The second expressed concern is the Rwandan Genocide (as shown in movies like Hotel Rwanda). The genocide occurred in 1994, 20 years ago. There are still scars that the country is recovering from, but it isn’t an ongoing crisis, and is often discussed as a model of reconciliation. We’ll see what it looks like when we are there, but I don’t expect there to be any problems for us.

I’m sure we’ll be posting here at least as much as we have for our trip to Malaysia last year (that’s a sarcastic comment since I’m well aware that the only post was the initial “we’re going to Malaysia” announcement). As we discovered last year, posting to Facebook on an ongoing basis is much easier and a much more immediate form of communication, so watch for out updates, there.

Take care, everyone!


We’re off to Malaysia

Malaysia Map

After much indecision, we’ve decided to travel to Malaysia this year. For those who remember that we traveled to Malaysia in 2006, this year we are traveling through the Peninsula. Malaysia is made up of two parts, and previously we’d traveled in the portion on the island of Borneo (the eastern half shown on the map).

For this trip, we are flying to Kuala Lumpur where we have a hotel room reserved for the first three nights. From there we are improvising. Malaysia is a very modern country with good transportation and convenient communication. We have a few connections in the country that we will give us some goals and points of interest. We expect to find interesting  sights, relaxing locations, and amazing food.

Last year, we discovered how easy it is to just rely on Facebook for posting photos and status. We didn’t really make any blog entries. This year we plan on continuing to post on Facebook, but to also go back to posting on the blog. I’ll be sending out an email to our mailing list to confirm those who’d like to get notices when we make blog entries. Add a comment to this post if you want to be added to that mailing list.

As before, I (Alan) will be making the Facebook posts, and Harriet will be writing the blog posts. All credit for the well written words should go to her.

Our house-sitter will be taking care of Karma (and watching old black and white movies with her), and we’ll be back in time for Thanksgiving.


Yes we finally got married

Marriage Certificate

On October 3, 2013 Harriet Eckstein and Alan Irwin officially got married. We’ve been in a relationship for 28 years, but this year DOMA, the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and Prop 8, the California marriage discrimination law, were both thrown out as the obviously discriminatory legislation that they were.

So that led us to the Santa Barbara Courthouse at 4:00 pm on October 3. Gayle, Harriet’s recently discovered sister (a long and wonderful story for another time) was in town visiting and served as our witness. No one else knew in advance, and so no one else could endow the marriage with more ceremony than we wanted. Half an hour later (and after leaving the county clerks laughing  from our “performance”)  we were married. It cost us $237 (Harriet was outraged).

I wanted a simple Facebook status change to be my announcement, but Facebook makes a “marriage” status change into some huge announcement, so I scrambled to get some sort of picture posted with it. Harriet put together an official announcement which I’ve posted, below (click on the Announcement).

We appreciate everyone’s congratulations.  I understand the motivation and desire to somehow express approval and appreciation of the relationship that Harriet and I have. And I want to make it clear that we are in a committed relationship to each other, it’s just that we’ve been in that committed relationship for 28 years. The marriage licences has in no way changed our commitment, our relationship, and our intents. It has just changed certain aspects of our legal and financial situation. Those aren’t insignificant, it’s just not the typical aspects of marriage that are assumed in social discussions (“hey, congratulations on taking advantage of tax laws covering inheritance of real property you crazy kids”).

Yay social contracts!