Dog Days for Charlie the Poodle

Cambridge is heating up. The poodle is napping on cold floors, and the dog days of summer are upon us. IMG_3287As I’ve written about too much already, we live in a terrifically dog-friendly area. Between the dog parks, vet, and groomer around the corner, Charlie has all he could ask for without having to get in the car. Which also saves Tom and me from the car full of poodle drool that inevitably comes from putting him in the 4runner whether it be for 15 minutes or 15 hours (we’ve done both).

We did, however, have to put him in the car to head to North Hampton, NH a few weeks ago. But it was totally worth it to see Charlie romp around the beach and play chicken with the waves.

Back at home, Charlie has also made friends with Tudor, a 5-year-old boy. Tudor lives across the street from our park and religiously comes out to play whenever he spots Charlie from his window. Tudor loves to ask the other dog owners at the park “How old is your dog?” and then proudly tell them that Charlie is only 1 1/2 years old. Charlie chases Tudor around the park with his bike or soccer ball, and eagerly awaits Tudor’s shorter-than-usual toss of his tennis ball.

Even though Charlie gets lots of play time at the park with friends like Tudor, I’m also gone most of the day now because of my internship with EchoDitto. Lucky for us, EchoDitto loves a good pooch party in the office from time to time. Last week, both Charlie and Rascal, Nicco’s westie, spent the day in the office together. Charlie didn’t stop exploring the office or even sit down until about 3:30 in the afternoon, so all the Ditto’s got a bit more of Charlie than they probably anticipated. But we made it through the day, and he only shredded 3 Wikipedia stress balls (in case you forgot it is a tech firm, that will confirm it). He also got invited back. I, however, was exhausted after monitoring him and working all day and do not have plans for him to return in the near future. Overall, Charlie gets a B+ for office etiquette given he is a less-than-2-year-old poodle.

It’s pretty great to be a poodle AND an Allin. You get to travel, make new friends, and enjoy a comfortable work-life balance. Some days when Charlie is really lucky he even gets a few cheerios or an ice cube. Maybe as the dog days of summerIMG_3239 heat up even more he’ll get multiple ice cubes.

Until Next Time.

My Summer of Tech

Two of the abnormal things about going back to graduate school are 1) I get a real summer again and 2) I go back to “summer associate” status. Luckily, the team at EchoDitto – where I’m spending May, June, and July – are an exceptional bunch working on compelling, meaningful projects. About 12 people work in EchoDitto’s Somerville office with the rest based in D.C. or scattered across the country. This July marks the firm’s 10th anniversary.IMG_3148

EchoDitto describes itself on its site saying “We empower leading organizations to have a greater impact through the creative use of new technologies. We design participatory campaigns and build technical tools that enable individuals and organizations to make the world a better place.” For me, that means spending each day with a team that is not only digitally capable and savvy but also building careers with an eye to generating a positive impact in the world. We also have the option to get Boston Burger every Friday for lunch and the office is charlie-the-poodle friendly – unexpected perks of the office.

If you are interested in the work they’ve done to build sites for progressive organizations and institutions, I would definitely recommend checking out some of their profiles. Some of my favorites are Project AWARE and the community portal for divers we built, and a site for thousands of events across the country connected to Food Day (mark your calendars for October 24th).

Earlier this month, I also got the chance to travel to NYC for the Personal Democracy Forum, one of the nation’s largest gatherings of people interested in using digital tools for social good, public services or political action.

I got to geek out at talks by Rebecca Mackinnon, An Xiao Mina, and Anthea Watson Strong. And discovered some resources I will absolutely take advantage of in the future – like civic participation platform Loomio.

I particularly loved Loomio’s story of coming into formation. The New Zealand-based site was started by a team of developers interested in creating a better method for participants in the region’s Occupy movement to communicate and make decisions. Today, clubs, government agencies and coalitions worldwide are using Loomio to make collective decisions. I snagged a screenshot from them to give you a sense of some of their tools, but I recommend checking out their site if you are currently looking for a way to better organize many different groups and their opinions. Screenshot 2014-06-22 15.11.21
To complete my summer of tech, I’m also taking a Coursera course through the University of Michigan on Python programming language. For those of you who are interested, the next section of the course doesn’t start again til October, but as someone with limited programming experience, I can attest that it is very accessible. So go ahead! Click on some of these links and start thinking about how tools in the digital space can make this world a better place.

Until Next Time.



#allin for the World Cup

My heart is still a little heavy from Portugal’s last second goal for a tie vs the US last night. However, that said, I could not be more proud of the quality of play from our team. It was a fantastic game to watch…one that had Tom and I jumping off the couch and screaming loud enough for people to hear us down the street through open windows. My heart is only heavy because I felt like we really deserved, and had an opportunity to, win.

Tom and Nick on the edge of their seats during US v Portugal.

Tom and Nick on the edge of their seats during US v Portugal.

But fear not! Nate Silver and his blog give us a 75.8% chance of advancing out of the group stage. Here are all the potential scenarios for how the US can advance. I’m already ready for Thursday…

Our World Cup Hashtag

It goes without saying that Tom and I are excited about Adidas’ chosen hashtag for the World Cup. “#allin or nothing” is about as close to perfection as you can get for us. Their “Wake Up Call” ad brings some goosebumps and a chance to feel the excitement of soccer and the once-every-4-year spirit of the World Cup that can seep into your heart…especially since it features Argentina’s Messi, and I keep replaying his stoppage time goal v Iran from this weekend.

Screenshot 2014-06-22 08.58.34

Showing my advertizing ignorance, I was particularly proud that I was “clever” enough to come up with the “allin”concept before adidas. All the way back in 2013, was born. However, my ego was quickly deflated when I realized adidas launched their “all in” ads in 2011 and have been showing ads under the tagline for many years (time for a cable subscription). So while I’m not as innovative as I thought, at least our friends are thinking of us as “#allin” flashes across their tv screens and minds.

IMG_3383We’ve had a ball (ha) watching the World Cup this year. Last Monday, we saw the US slip passed Ghana with our favorite bar tenders at the Kirkland Tap and Trotter. We had hot dogs and beer to form our American spirit as we watched. They now do a different hot dog every Monday on a pretzel bun, and I’m not willing to say how many different options I’ve already tried. The photo from their Facebook page shows you how awesome they are.Screenshot 2014-06-22 09.42.35

If soccer itself is not your sport, at least there are some fantastic post-goal celebrations you can get on board with… Colombia and Ghana have both made headlines with their full team dances.. a trend I wouldn’t be sad to see more NFL and NBA teams emulate.

Regardless of the fitting hashtag associated with the World Cup, it has been a welcomed addition to our already full summer. We are ready for more weeks of wins and witch doctors but, unfortunately, not Wayne.

I’ll close with a piece of memorabilia from my sister – Emily’s – days of soccer stardom. Enjoy this gem and get ready for Thursday at noon.

Until Next Time.

Screenshot 2014-06-22 10.01.23







One Year Later: 4 Thoughts on Marriage

Three weeks ago Tom and I celebrated our one year anniversary. We opted for a simple dinner at one of our favorite Cambridge spots, Cafe Sushi, because May was a month full of fantastic, foodie visitors, and sushi sounded like the best path to getting back to our healthier selves. But the last month has given us several instances to reflect on our first married year and our hopes for the future. One of my dearest high school friends, Will Baucom, proposed to his fiance while staying with us in Boston, and last weekend we traveled back to Jackson, Mississippi for Tom’s close friend, Will Fontaine’s, wedding (lots of Wills).

We’ve been through a lot in our first year as Allins: Moving from Mississippi to Massachusetts, Completing one year of courses at Harvard, Starting a new job at Full Contact, Surviving car registration at the Massachusetts RMV, Cooking our first Thanksgiving meal, and Keeping our poodle alive for one more year. We have also been fortunate to share the year with friends new and old from Jackson and NYC to London and Nairobi.

I’ve learned a great deal through one year of marriage with Tom in Somerville. As final thoughts, here are 4.

1) Contrary to previous belief, I CAN sleep with the light on.

I go to bed at 10:30 each night (okay, okay most nights I don’t make it past 10). Even as a graduate student, I rarely stay up. Tom, however, would much rather be up past midnight. Tom has learned to tolerate my early bed time in exchange for my tolerance of his late night internet exploring or reading. This has been especially critical for Tom who committed to reading 12 great works of American fiction this year as his New Year’s resolution.

2) Someday, I will be the parent that deals with sick children, not Tom.

Dogs make messes. Big dogs make big messes. I’m the clean up woman for those messes and will continue to be. Enough said.

3) Marriage is different.

I know this might not be true for everyone, but it has been true for me. I’ve always been surprised when people are asked how it feels to be married and they say it is the same. (I’ve also always felt it was completely wrong … why would so many be fighting for marriage equality if it was “the same?”) Our day to day lives feel similar, but I certainly approach each decision with Tom differently than before we were married. There is now a long-term future to be considered, and each small action we take towards one another ultimately shapes our relationship and the life we build…and while that might not be unique to marriage, it does come from making a life-long commitment to one another.

4) Being an An Allin is Awesome.

Sometimes I still can’t believe I get to be married to Tom Allin. I know that half of you just rolled your eyes, but I can still remember how excited I was to talk to Tom in the fall of 2008 in social dance class. I’m grateful that I get to live my life with someone who continues to be a pleasure each day we experience together. Tom has also taught me a great deal about sacrifice and patience this year by making the transition with me to Boston for my graduate program. I hope someday soon I can do the same for him.

Until Next Time…