Sunday, June 1, 2008

Karina helps the earthquake relief effort in Sichuan Province

My (almost 7 y/o) daughter, Karina, was a star at a fund-raising event for the victims of the Sichuan Province earthquake. I'll give a bit of background, and then I'll let the quotes from the press speak for themselves. This event was originally supposed to be a victory party for the newly elected president of Taiwan, and hence highly star-studded.

A few hours before the event (a crowd of 5000+), Karina got a call asking if she would come on stage for a few minutes during the fund-raiser. Nobody told her what was expected of her, but she was happy to participate. She got on stage and was asked a few questions, at the end of which she offered the emcee to share a poem with the crowd. The poem recital apparently moved the crowd greatly and opened up their check books. Her impromptu performance was covered in the Chinese press following the event.

For the readers who do not know Chinese (e.g., me), here are a few snippets from the articles (kindly provided by Oriana). Also note that most of the Chinese press uses her Chinese name -- CunZhong, but I assure you she could have done it perfect Hebrew too.

Notable quotes from the Sing Tao site: (1) "This first-grader was born and raised in the US. Her mother is a Chinese from Beijing, her father Jewish. Standing in the center of the stage, wearing her hairs twisted high into two traditional buns and holding her piggybank, little CunZhong delivered an original poem, entitled "Home", in impeccable native Mandarin Chinese." (2) "Thunderous applause followed her performance." (3) Karina told the reporter: "Television images of the earthquake victims really scared and worried me. I memorized this poem after reading it three times. I want to share it with all the children in the disaster zone, so that they will not be afraid!"

This site carries the original news release with a photo. This site also contains several photos from the concert, including one where the audience responded to the emcee's tribute to "the mom of this courageous little girl." The notable quote from the site is: "Li CunZhong's outstanding and emotion-filled performance deeply touched the hearts of the entire audience, and brought the outpouring of donations to a crescendo."

And finally, here's the YouTube video with the post-interview with, titled "Karina, the six and a half year old who touched many hearts with her live recitation of the poem". If you're Chinese, the management requests that you go here to see the video and read more background.

The Macchiatone

Do you often feel like your cappuccino has too much milk? And then the macchiato is a bit too dainty? A conundrum I'm sure many people face on a daily basis.

This morning I went for my usual sunday coffee at Cafe Del Doge in Palo Alto, and I had the chutzpah to point out that their cappuccinos have too much milk. After a short discussion, the barista pointed out to me that I should try the macchiatone. It's basically a cappuccino, but with less milk. I've been making macchiatones for several years now and I didn't know it!

Something tells me that the Starbucks barista course does not cover this material, but feel free to spread the word (note: a macchiatone is NOT a dry cappuccino; very different concepts!)

The Remote Agent

I just returned from the 5-year Database Self-assessment workshop (will post something about this soon), where some of the discussion naturally focused on identifying high-impact ambitious projects for the community.

When I returned, I found Pandu's blog post, describing the Remote Agent Project at NASA that he was involved in about 10 years ago. Now that was a very inspiring project that received a lot of attention in the AI community at the time (including a Best Paper Award in AAAI 1997), and really demonstrates the amazing things that can happen when an incredible group of people get inspired.

I wonder if the database community can come up with something as inspiring.