Monday, June 28, 2010

A handy article that will help shape UKnow4Kids

I just came across this article, which I think will be very helpful in further adding to UKnow4Kids software collection: 50 Open Source Tools That Replace Popular Education Apps.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dante Preciado on my father, Bart de Castro

I just discovered this post by Dante Preciado on the NY Real Estate Lawyers Blog regarding my father. It's a wonderful statement about my father and I reproduce it here in its entirety. Many warm thanks, Dante. My father mentioned you often and was always fond of you.

Bart DeCastro was, is, and always will be remembered as a man of great wisdom, good judgment and ingenuity, and as an inspiration for many of us.
Friday, October 30, was a sad day and a huge loss for all of us, as we lost our friend and colleague, Bart. However, we should reflect upon how Bart affected and influenced all of our lives. He was a humble man, and his directive for his family was to have a "low-key" funeral, his body cremated and without a death notice or obituary published. Well, that was his wish for his family --since I’m not a part of his family, I want to give him the type of accolade he deserves.
For me Bart was a friend, a colleague, a supervisor, a leader, a voice of reason, an advisor, and most important, he was my mentor. I am where I am today, largely because of his influence and the trust and confidence he instilled in me. His management style was "firm but fair," and he pushed us all to excel, providing wisdom and guidance where needed.
I remember my interview with Bart before I began working with him at CSA. He used the analogy that working for him was like being the juggler at the circus. When I could manage juggling two, three, four, five balls, etc., his role was to continue to toss more balls for me to juggle. The analogy was right on, and it taught me to multitask and prioritize effectively. Working for him was an enlightening experience, full of challenges, successes and wonderful memories which I will treasure forever.
I remember going with Bart to my first Frankfurt Book Fair in 1996. That year, he lost his voice and I had to run most of the meetings for him --talk about "on the job training." It was a great experience, and he instilled confidence in me when he said I did a great job, and he was glad I joined him. That year, I also met his mentor, David Kingham, from whom Bart learned much about book and journal marketing back in his early days in publishing. David was to Bart as Bart was to me, and I am very proud to have been there with them both.
I can continue to share personal anecdotes and stories about Bart, but after the outpouring of condolences and stories received from many of his friends and colleagues around the world, I find some of these stories more entertaining than my own.
Over the years, several people have worked with Bart, and here are some of their personal anecdotes and stories:
David Kingham wrote, "As you know he and I go back a very long way. We first met when I arrived in Washington, DC from the UK in 1966 to join Butterworth Legal Publishers, now part of LexisNexis, where Bart was looking after sales. It was his first job in publishing but he was already a real professional; we had a great time working together and achieved a lot, managing to turn the company around. After Bart and I went our separate ways, we always kept in touch and met each year every year at Frankfurt."
Tina Moir wrote, "As a very young employee, he instilled in me a level of confidence within the workplace that I just simply could not have attained without a boss like him. He had an uncanny ability to identify and draw out the strengths of an individual and guide them towards success. A specific memory back in 1990, when I was attending the Israeli Library Conference and had to deliver a talk on information via a new media called CD-ROM. It was the first time I traveled abroad for the company and quite scary as a young lady in the early stages of her career. I was totally out of my league --scared to death to speak to a group of 300 or so librarians (much older and wiser then me) in an auditorium, about a media I knew little to nothing about. But Bart helped me prepare for it and gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed to pull it off. It was my first foray into sales, and I’ve never looked back. He will be greatly missed by this fortunate employee."
Bart also had a way to throw his employees into the line of fire with little or no warning. Michael Miyazaki remembers when he was asked to take photographs of the subscription agents with whom Bart had meetings scheduled during the Frankfurt Book Fair, while they waited for their meeting with him. These were people who Michael had never met and his role was to get photos of them for an album to help record and remember their faces. Some people felt uneasy and somewhat resistant, but the pictures were for Bart and that made it alright.
Danielle Thompson remembers Bart as a kind man, a tough boss, and someone who taught her to think outside the box and to be creative. He was a good man, "My Bart," as she referred to him, and she is proud to have learned as much as she did from her work with him.
Maria Rouco wrote, "In my professional career, I learned the most from him. I remember his professional demeanor and straight face -- but we were on to him. One time, he broke down in some department meeting when we made a joke and he laughed. Then his straight face was back on. He was a kind-hearted man and an excellent person. Bart opened doors for me so I could learn, and gave me opportunities to expand, travel and also taught me some life lessons about the work environment. His demeanor was one of confidence and enthusiasm. He seemed to always be in control and he was a mentor to all of us. Bart always offered the best advice for my professional career and he was always a great resource. He was very hard-working and excellent at what he did. He will definitely be missed by the publishing community. I am very sad, but know that he is in a great place now. I will miss him dearly."
Nick Ngugi wrote, "Bart was very good at teaching 'as-you-go.' He would sometimes schedule a meeting with a vendor and at the last minute inform you that he wouldn’t make it and you needed to carry out the meeting on his behalf. He was also a skilled multitasking boss with overlapping ideas, projects and his deadlines that were all 'due immediately.' Most importantly, he truly appreciated other people's efforts and graciously commended them. I feel fortunate to have worked for him for the past four years."
Ted Caris said, "I had the greatest admiration for the cool, deliberate, unflappable style of this guy. He's truly was an institution, a type rapidly disappearing from the scene."
Beth Eddy talked about how Bart taught us the fundamentals that led to successful careers. He left a big imprint on all of us and we owe a lot to "Bart" training. Anyone trained by Bart can write, communicate, and think strategically."
Bart had also many good, personal relationships with friends in the publishing industry:
Yuan Shuixian in China wrote, "We are very sad to lose a very good friend. We remember the days my colleagues and I worked with him, and had good discussions with him in China, at his office and at book fairs. My colleagues and I will remember Bart DeCastro forever."
Tony Roche in the UK wrote, "As well as the business association with Bart that went back such a long time, we shared a common interest in horse racing and shared many hard luck stories as gamblers often do. Bart was such a mild mannered and jovial man, I will miss him and much regret his passing."
Monika Krieg in Germany wrote,
"Working with Bart has always been a very professional but at the same time, friendly and a pleasant experience. We will all miss him and his always friendly smile."
Mu Ying in China wrote, "He was such a good friend of ours and a very kind man. Bart had done so much to build a strong relationship with our company to promote business in China. We know how much he will be missed by many, many of his friends and colleagues."
Doug Wright in Boston wrote, "Bart was a great supporter of our company through the years, and of me personally. It meant a lot to me because I had a great deal of respect for him."
Natalia Vershinina in Russia wrote, "Please accept our condolences over the loss of a man whose work and personality have contributed so much to the publishing world."
His friend Jai Jankiraman in India wrote, "How sad and shocking too. I was hoping to hear from him after he resumed work in November. Bart was a good friend to me and a kind-hearted man. I am very proud of our personal relationship and of the fact that he opened his home to me."
There are many other friends and colleagues of Bart that sent their condolences and kind words. Obviously, the man meant enough for them to take the time to express their sorrow. I am sure just about everyone in this room has a Bart story and I encourage you to share that story with someone who might not know it. I also ask you to freeze that moment in time and remember Bart as that great man in your minds.
Bart was an old-fashioned publications marketing guy. He believed in a hand-shake and in eye-balling people, and he was very rarely wrong. He had the ability for picking out the talkers from the doers. In Frankfurt, he always held more than 50 meetings in four days, and he was able to keep most of his agenda in his mind. He thrived under pressure and he rarely let his health or advancing age get in the way.
I was honored to work with Bart for more than 10 years. We developed a mutual admiration and respect for each other, and we saw each other regularly, to exchange ideas about the publishing world, catch up about our families, and talk about current events. I always enjoyed our time together and will miss our lunch meetings.
Bart was fortunate to be married to Rosamma. She was his "nurse," as he referred to her on occasion. Some of you may recall that prior to him being married; his health was not the greatest. He had a constant fight with gout and other ailments. Rosamma kept him on track and she made sure that he ate the right things. However, on occasion Bart asked me not to "turn him in" when he ate shrimp or some other forbidden food. Yes, behind that stern individual, there was a real human being.
He also didn't know everything. For example, did you know he loved Japanese food, yet he didn't know how to use chop sticks? Once we were in some remote island in Hong Kong and the only utensils there were chop sticks. Bart had to wait for close to half an hour while our hosts searched for a fork, while everyone else enjoyed a great meal.
Bart never complained about his pain. He was a fighter until the very end. I was deeply touched when I went to visit him at the NIH Clinical Center after his surgery and he asked me for a hug as I was leaving his room. That was the last time I saw him and it meant the world to me. Thank you Bart!
In the end, Bart found peace and comfort in God. He and Rosamma received both counseling and spiritual guidance from Fr. Doug Morrison here at St. Mary's, and this helped them prepare for what was to come. Fortunately, Rosamma and Bart shared a deep and devout connection with God and they became prepared to accept God's wishes for Bart. Yes, he is no longer in pain and anguish and he has gone home to meet the Lord.
Bart, we thank you for the privilege of having known you. I know you will continue to impact our lives even now that you have entered the heavenly kingdom. Thank you for touching and influencing our lives in the way that you did. Rather than saying, "Good-bye," I prefer to say, "Until we see each other again."
May you rest in peace, my Friend, Bart DeCastro, and may God bless you.

Posted by: Dante Preciado to the NY Real Estate Lawyers Blog | November 26, 2009 6:12 AM

Saturday, February 27, 2010

M. Gordon "Reds" Wolman

I was lucky enough to have Reds as my undergraduate adviser at Johns Hopkins, and to this day I count him as one of my strongest influences in mind and attitude. A preternatural charm, combined with equanimity, generosity, and intellect is how I best remember Reds, not to mention the trademark bow tie. Many of us try to emulate Reds, but I doubt any of us had the full package. Anyone who has not been lucky to have met this incredible spirit may wonder at the ready use of superlatives in remembrances discussing Reds, but more than anyone else I have met -- and I have know my share of world-class researchers like Reds -- Reds's spirit electrified the space around him. Even at 85, Reds remained a rock star.

Decades later, as fortune would have it, I returned to Hopkins with a doctorate to serve in his division at JHSPH. A great homecoming. And I doubt very much I would have made it that far without his example to follow. I'll never forget my job talk at Hopkins when, after a few minutes into my presentation, I saw that iconic bow tie topped with red hair and a smile enter the lecture hall. I was happy that he had remembered one of the dozens of undergraduates he has advised over the years, and my confidence soared.

An exceptionally gracious letter from Hopkins's new president is one of many remembrances.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Thursday's HCR Summit: Calling the conservative bluff

EJ Dionne hits it on the head with this money quote:

And that's whose bluff Obama is really calling with this summit. He's saying: Please, establishment media, look honestly at what the Republicans are doing. Instead of offering lectures about bipartisanship or nostalgia for some peaceable Washington kingdom, look at the substance of our respective proposals and how they match up against the problems we're trying to solve.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Steven Pearlstein - The myth of Washington bipartisanship and the art of true compromise -

Steven Pearlstein - The myth of Washington bipartisanship and the art of true compromise -

Not bad for the business columnist:
The only way a democratic system like ours can work is if the majority party acknowledges that winning an election means winning the right to set the agenda and put the first proposal on the table, though not the right to get everything it wants. By the same logic, if members of the minority party want to influence that policy, they have to understand that it will require them to accept some things they don't like to get some things they do.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Daily Kos: The 2010 Comprehensive Daily Kos/Research 2000 Poll of Self-Identified Republicans

Daily Kos: The 2010 Comprehensive Daily Kos/Research 2000 Poll of Self-Identified Republicans

Judging from the answers, it would seem that 25-50 percent of Republicans are hard-core on every issue: Palin is more qualified than Obama, Obama is a socialist, Obama wants the terrorists to win, et fricking cetera. It makes you wonder what Independents are thinking. There will be no so-called post-partisan era simply because the boundaries of reality are at issue, not just policy. There will be no post-partisan era where we agree to disagree, as in a healthy democracy. What there will be will be -- if Obama rhetorical approach is successful -- is a persistent co-opting of the "independent" voting faction, and I think he might be on to something. Maybe. On the pessimistic side, Reagan's success did not come from simply cultivating the right-of-center independent vote and disaffected liberals, his lasting victory was in defining the Democrats as representing the discarded ideas of the past. So far, Obama has not turned his rhetorical gifts to the historic task Reagan set for himself, and that will leave a legacy as fragile as Clinton's when Gore decided to run from Clinton's accomplishments. At this point in history, Republicans should have no credibility on foreign or domestic policy, but somehow Bush's eight years are off-limits as an object lesson on the failure of Republican policy. By comparison, after Reagan's first year in office, it was fashionable to associate Carter with failure and weakness. Certainly, Bush is a failure and an embarrassment to the Republican establishment, but the Democrats are too polite to show that Bush's failures were a failure of ideology, not simply of one administration. Essentially, the Democrat's rhetorical task is to viscerally associate the Republican ideology with weakness and confusion, just as Reagan successfully did against the Democrats. By the same token, Democrats must avoid trying to paint the Republicans as merely "wrong" or "incorrect" in their views, which is entirely too intellectual a position for politics and entirely unsuitable for the opponent. The Democrats should say, "We've tried it their way for eight years, and their deficit has weakened our country, and their wars have weakened our country, and their policies have weakened our moral standing around the world. It's time to return to the values of civility and common interest that has made our country strong." Or something like that.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama regains footing, but more forceful advocacy needed - The Boston Globe

Obama regains footing, but more forceful advocacy needed - The Boston Globe

Probably the most on-point editorial.

Them's fighting words

My favorite line from Obama's speech last night: "Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership." No minds were I changed across the aisle, I can safely say, but if Obama keeps up these needling attacks just maybe the Republicans will relent. I doubt it, but maybe there is still a way to get HCR passed. Now, what kind of fight does Obama have in mind?