Monday, December 21, 2009

Poet laureate recruiting for her successor

In only a few short months, it will be time to welcome another Lake County Poet Laureate. Whomever is selected will have to fill the shoes of giants. Five pairs of them, in fact.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Listing helps manage Twitter feed

Responding to some Twitter accounts’ demonstrated interest in tracking Calistoga Junior/Senior High School alumni, I prepared an overview of Twitter for the alumni newsletter.

I reprint it here in the interest of sharing it with a wider readership:

Twitter is a Web site that allows users to distribute short messages to large groups of other Twitter users. Each Twitter post, or “Tweet,” must be no longer than 140 characters. To receive updates from a given Twitter feed, readers sign-up to be “followers” of that feed. Twitter users may view received messages on their cell phone or by logging in to their Twitter account through Twitter’s Web site.

Twitter users can reply, using the @ symbol, or can refer to another user when composing their own posts. For example, if another user is replying or refering to me, he or she uses @cynthiaparkhill.

Some users additionally use “tags,” relevant key words, to make their posts searchable by topic. These are formed by adding the # symbol directly preceding a key word in the Tweet. #calistoga is one example of a tag. On any given day, a display of “trending topics” will give users an idea of what other users are tweeting about.

Twitter recently introduced a “lists” capability that allows users to conveniently group the feeds that they have chosen to subscribe to. Lists are identified by the name of the Twitter user who created the list and the subject to which the list relates. For example, a number of lists have been set up to follow Calistoga locals. Some of these lists include:

@CafeSarafornia/locals -- Following: 43 users; Followers: 1
@CalistogaNEWS/locals -- Following: 38 users; Followers: 2
@Calistogan/locals -- Following: 38 users; Followers: 3
@CalistogaWater/locals -- Following: 32 users; Followers: 2
@CalistogaDaySpa/locals -- Following: 35 users; Followers: 4
@CalistogaSpa/locals -- Following: 30 users; Followers: 5
@CalistogaInn/locals -- Following: 47 users; Followers: 7
@Calistoga/locals -- Following: 65 users; Followers: 8

List statistics were current as of Dec. 20, 2009.

-- Cynthia Parkhill, ’86 (

Saturday, December 19, 2009

UUCLC Lending Library: Watch for new arrivals

Watch for continuing new arrivals to the UUCLC Lending Library. Church members are enriching the community through donations of various books.

Some of the newest additions include The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran and a second copy of Forrest Church’s Love & Death. If you would like a deeper reading of Rev. Church’s book, you can download a UU leaders’ guide, available as a PDF, from

Thanks to a contribution of funds from the UUCLC Membership Committee, your librarian will soon place an order for additional books produced by the UUA imprints, Skinner House and Beacon Press.

Distributed via email newsletter

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 helps people meet face-to-face

My "Meetup" calendar arrives each week in my e-mail in-box, alerting me to activities by people who have grouped around a common interest.

Scanning a list of the newest groups, I target the "North Bay Skeptics" for taking a closer look. After reading the "Meetup" group's description at, I'm convinced that I fit right in:
"The North Bay, and Sonoma County in particular, is a hotbed of anti-scientific thinking. Vaccine hysteria, modern medicine denial, ideological faux-environmentalism, you name it, we've got it.
"I'm starting this group in hopes of connecting with some like-minded locals. Even if changing the tide is a futile effort, at least we'll be able to commiserate. Preferably over drinks."
I could do without the drinks, but nevertheless I request to join and introduce myself to the group: "I am a person with Asperger's syndrome who believes that improved detection and expansion of qualifying criteria explains why there are more people today on the autism continuum. I don't agree that these increased numbers are signs of an 'epidemic.'"

More and more people are forming bonds these days that transcend geographical connection. Like-minded attitudes, shared hobbies and beliefs are far more meaningful to me than the accident of proximity.

Some time after Molly Ivins died on Jan. 31, 2007, I created a Facebook group to honor the multi-pronged influence that I felt she had on me: "Molly Ivins inspires me to do what I do." The group, which has all of three members, "welcomes anyone who acts from Molly's example." But having stated Ivins' areas of influence once, in December 2007, I've had little reason since then to elaborate -- thus sentencing the group to obscurity because it fails to show up in my "feed."

Even before we could connect instantaneously through social networking sites, shared interests formed the basis of my first successful relationships. In my mid-20s I joined a group called the Society for Creative Anachronism that promoted reenactment of an idealized Middle Ages: absent the religious intolerance and the wholesale disenfranchisement of the lower classes. We had the ability to explore and create the Middle Ages as they should have been -- and invent ourselves in the process. The SCA was a supportive and hands-on environment in which to learn and explore.

Fast forward to today and sites like give users an additional resource to meet face-to-face with like-minded people. When you supply the Web site with your zip code, it will generate a list of groups within a designated-mile radius. Groups native to Lake County include the Wine Country Boxer dog lovers' group, the Lake County Flying Saucer Club and the Lake County Social Media Workshop.

Supplying the Web site with a topic or an interest may result in a list of groups outside of the designated radius. Sometimes there may be no match, or if there is, the match is bizarre.

The only match that came back under a search for "Gilbert & Sullivan" was Sacfoodallergy -- Food Allergy Support of Sacramento. The group's inclusion is apparently due to the last name of one of its creators.

"Savoyard" is even more obscure and the site's apologetic response is that there are no matches. "But you can browse the 8 Meetup groups within 25 miles of Kelseyville ..."

For more information about, visit its Official Meetup HQ Blog:

Published Dec. 15, 2009 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Church donates to bullying prevention program

Three women pose holding a check
Carol Cole-Lewis, Cynthia M. Parkhill and June Wilson
LAKE COUNTY — The Unitarian Universalist Community of Lake County (UUCLC) has taken a special collection that raised $144 toward bringing “Challenge Day” to Clear Lake High School (CLHS).