Friday, December 26, 2008

Lessons from My Son



My 16-year-old son wanted to be a chef. So I asked a friend who owns a restaurant if he could possibily work for him. My son was 15 at the time. He put him to work in the kitchen. He does prep, he works on the line, in almost two years now, he's picked up a lot of skills.

While he no longer wants to be a chef, realizing how hard the job is and how difficult it is to have a real life when you spend your nights in the kitchen, he does know what to do. Unfortunately he rarely cooks at home. I still do most of the cooking.

But for Christmas, he insisted on having his Uncle Giles' potatoes. These are scalloped potatoes baked in about 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream. The pan is buttered and rubbed with garlic then the potatoes are mixed with the cream and baked for about 2 hours. I insisted if he wanted this unbelieveably rich dish, he could make it. He used the Mandolin, sliced the potatoes and proceeded to put them in a big bowl he filled with water. Then he put the bowl in the sink and ran the water for about two minutes over the bowl until the water ran clear. He said this was how you get rid of the starch. In my zillions of years of baking, I'd never learned that trick.

The potatoes were undeniably, the best potatoes I have ever eaten. And they will only be made one time a year.

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The Flip Video


So in the last 10 days a lot has happened. Sorry not to have posted sooner but I hardly had a moment to shop! We all know that's important.

This holiday season I kept to my spending diet. Important gifts only. Not a lot of the empty shop like crazy stuff. The best gift was the Flip Video, a barebones video recorder that I got at Staples for my son and husband to share.

I thought it would be a cool thing to have on fishing trips, for quick videos of the moment that my son wants to shoot. Who knows. It got rave reviews everywhere. See below.


Read here

Let's see if it passes the test of time...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Lesson on Openness




It was obvious to me that the industry I work in -- advertising and marketing -- was tanking long before my newest client told me that her company was being folded into the parent company.

She's a smart, well-liked executive who came to the agency side from the client side with big ideas.

She hinted that the parent company might call me for some help. And they did. That presented me with a big of a dilemna. My loyalty of course, is to my former client. She was shown the door and is trying to put together a new venture. But the prospective client is a big organization. A foot in the door for something that could become something bigger.

After I got off the phone with big company guy, I called my former client. I told her I'd been asked to meet with the big guy. And she said, "if someone wants to pay you money in this economy, I understand." Not sure what kind of response I was looking for, but I knew I could not meet with the Big Guy, without letting her know. Maybe, 10-years ago, I would have done things differently. But I've learned that being upfront and honest is the best way to move forward in business.

Now if only those bastards on Wall Street were reading this blog!


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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Show Must Go On



If you're wondering why so long between posts, it's because "A Christmas Story" has occupied all my free time.

I think my mother said "If you want something done, ask a busy person." I'm now just a plain exhausted person.

But you won't believe this. "A Christmas Story" opening on Friday. It was a really good performance. Saturday comes and as the crew is checking the 80 sound cues, the amp blows for perhaps the 10th time. Did I mention the show is being produced in the Wilton Playshop - a truly historic building with prehistoric wiring, insulation, heat, etc? After 1/2 hour I realize my husband isn't going to get the system to work so I race back home, lug his 50-plus pound amplifier into my car, race back to the theater and after delaying the start of the show 45-minutes, we go on. Thankfully every audience member stayed, cheered and enjoyed the show.

Come Sunday, still working on a rigged up sound system. We're 3/4 of the way through the show, readying for the very funny bunny scene when "pop" out go all the lights. The magic of cell phones informs us that it's not just the theatre, but half the town. A tree falls down, the powerline crumples and lights go out for hours.

We ask the audience what they want to do? Do they want to come back? Do they want their money back? Do they want to stay?

Amazingly, they want the show to go on. So we rig flashlights, open every window and door and perform the last 5 minutes in the semi-darkness.

Live theatre. You never know what's going to happen. But if you roll with it, you can be surprised, engaged and get a standing ovation.

Two more weeks... I understand the electic was fixed today and a serious grounding problem that could have burned down the entire building has been fixed. Perhaps this coming Friday night we will have an actual sound system.

For real fans of the show/movie. Check this out:


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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Teddy Bears Make You Smile



Many years ago, one of my clients challenged its resident branding genius Brian Collins, to come up with a christmas lobby display. It had to feel good and do good.

Brian envisioned a giant Christmas tree made of teddy bears. And right before Christmas, the tree would be disassembled and given to kids in city hospitals.

Today when I arrived at the office, the teddy bear tree was sparkling. The bears - all red. (The colors have changed from year to year, but red is my favorite).

It was a simple and elegant idea. And like all simple and elegant ideas, it has not gotten tired. In fact, it continues to bring a smile to my face, and everyone who enters the building no matter how many times it is seen. Once again, proving the adage that big ideas last. Thanks Brian - here's to you.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Learning to Build



As usual, I have overextended myself. After finishing campaign mode, I've been in "play" mode. My inability to say "no" has landed me as Producer of the Wilton Playshop's holiday production of A Christmas Story. And as the playshop is overseen by the wife of the very nice man who has employed my son as a trainee chef in his restaurants for the past two years, I really couldn't say "no" when she asked me to produce.

For the past three weeks I have found myself engaged in volunteer wrangling, set building, set painting, organizing and begging.

Last night I reached a new level of building expertise. I actually built the railing for these stairs. I drilled the holes and bolted in the anchor boards -- using a ratchet wrench to tighten everything up. I measured, used a chop saw, and built the railings, screwing in a side rail and covered rail on top. Then I attached the rail to the wall, again, measuring and sawing to make it all just right.

For many, this is an easy thing. For me, not so much. But it is more fun than my day job (seriously). And while it doesn't result in an article that makes my client famous, it does result in a solid piece of foundation. I'm not ready to give up my career, but this is quite rewarding.



TEXT

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Doing My Job

Nothing still thrills me like seeing a story I helped create make it on the page. And when it's the Wall Street Journal, nothing could be sweeter.

We all need validation that we know what we're doing. That we know how to do our job well. So my validation pill is a story where my client looks good in the WSJ. If I could only take that pill everyday.... Check it out.



Monday, November 24, 2008

PR - An Ethical Dilemna


In my networking attempts, I reached out to a friend asking if he knew of some financial advisors looking to start reaching out to clients and media. It seems to me that when things are in flux, confusing and somewhat dire, keeping your clients informed - even if it's just to let them know you have their back - is vital.

He told me to check out this new PR Firm and even suggested I "hook up" with them. The firm in question is quite interesting. It's being created by CNBC analyst Dan Abrams (pictured) who was passed over for a larger gig at the network. So he thought he'd start a PR Agency that would tap into the expertise of working journalists - and those journalists who due to the hard times we're in today, are no longer "working."

At first blush it seems an interesting proposition. PR is all about getting your message out with as much control as you can negotiate. But for a working journalist to get paid for giving PR advise, it does cross that ethical boundary. And given the transparent world we live in today, it invites even more questions about the sanctity and independence of the press.

We all know Fox News, WSJ and NY Post -- or any news outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch has bias. But knowing that bias is there, we can read between the lines.

When the insights and machinations that go on behind the scenes to negotiate a story are influenced by reporters, we don't know what lines to read between.

As a former reporter and longtime PR person I know that I frequently interview reporters about potential clients to get their view of the landscape. But these same reporters are not going to help me guide a story when I then come to them with a pitch. Or even when they come to me wanting to confirm some rumor.

The challenge today for businesses in every sphere is keeping up with the blogosphere and having influence on blogs. While like trade pubs of old they are derided inside companies as nothing more than gossip rags, we all know that where there is a little smoke, there's a little fire. We also need to realize you can't control everything. Far better to try to conduct your business in an open and honest way. Any reporter whose credibility is intact will never forgive the slightest misleading comments or influence. These are tough times. Facing it honestly is the way to go. Trying to influence it with spin control will make it worse.




Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cleaning Up


I knew I had another life lesson from my grade-school friend Barbara but couldn't remember what it was until the other day. (By the way - this is not my kitchen, but it could be...)

I was making my "famous" macaroni & cheese. Usually it starts at one end of my kitchen and goes to the other. That's because it requires a lot of pans for a simple dish. But as I was going from one prep to the next, there was a voice in my head that kept saying: "if you clean up as you go along, it will be easier." So I kept cleaning up and putting things away as I went along. By the time the dish was done, the kitchen was relatively clean. And the dish was delicious. Thanks Barbara - a lesson learned (though one I'm not sure I can always follow).

To give you an idea of how I make macaroni & cheese just know that it includes the use of 4 pans, three measuring cups, cutting board. And misc. cooking tools.

Here's what I do: boil water for pasta. Chop onion. Cook bacon to be mixed into dish. Shred cheese (I use Cheddar and pepper jack). Drain pasta and in the pasta pot melt butter. Cook onion in butter then add flour for roux. Add cumin and coriander, salt and pepper. Add milk in a stream and mix with whisk. Let mixture boil. Add cheese. Add pasta. Mix in bacon. Then, butter a large casserole pan, add pasta mixture to pan. Let set. Melt butter and add breadcrumbs - I like panko. Then top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake in oven 1/2 hour or until crispy on top.

Let me know if you want the recipe. But clean up as you go along.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Making Rain



So the hunt is on. My destiny is in my hands and I'm going on the hunt for business. When I went out on my own, I did so with the deep sense that I never wanted to work at a company again and be subject to its internal politics. My fate would be in my hands.

So now I seem to be at a crossroads. Having worked with one of my clients for 10-years, I have broken my own rule about being part of an organization. The ability to function as a consultant and advisor -- whose advice is actually listened to -- has been lost with the ebb and flow of changing management. I believe my value is not recognized and I am now seen as part of the internal hive.

I need to reassert my independence. And I have many options. I'm actually excited.

I spoke to one of my oldest first time clients today and was reinspired. He helped me remember what I do best. And he also suggested a strategy for articulating my value to the current client in disarry by going directly to the new CEO and telling him my story.

At the same time, I'm going to go through all my contacts and start the process to see what else is out there. Stay posted. I hope to learn a lot.




Monday, November 17, 2008

Keep your Enemies Closer (or Rivals...)


Brilliant move by Obama - Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State.

Not only is she a great choice and will make a terrific cabinet member, but the choise shows how serious a leader Obama will be for our country. While the pundits are saying that this move is one of the lessons that Obama learned from Lincoln about keeping your rivals close, I think it is more than that.

Obama is showing that he is a true unifier. Earlier today he met with McCain. Now comes word of Hillary's selection. I wouldn't be surprised to see a republican on his cabinet. This is going to be so much fun to watch. Let the change begin.





Blackberry Out



Poor Barack. He is in the beginning stages of blackberry withdrawl. As POTUS, every single letter, text, etc is part of Public Information and as a result, the use of the blackberry device and even email is tightly controlled.

I'm guessing he can't even send a text to the girls asking WTF (which is what I text to my son all the time).

I went through a little blackberry withdrawl myself today. I forgot it at home. I found that I didn't miss it as much for the messages and constant mewing, more that I had my calandar and contacts.

Amazing the role that technology plays in our lives. My favorite vacation is the technology out vacation. We go to the middle of nowhere in Canada and fish. No phone, no internet, no TV. Totally out of it. And I look forward to it every year.






Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Writing on the Wall



When my husband was fired from a job many years ago, I suggested that it was actually a good thing. The job was making him miserable. He wouldn't have left on his own, and perhaps this was just what he needed to get excited about something new.

Let's just say all didn't go as planned and now some 20-years later, he's finally on the right track.

So now that I've gotten a strong hint that one of my clients is not totally in love with me - a client I've had for 10 years and provides 80% of my income - I too now have an opportunity to do something about it -- luckily before they do it to me.

I've complained about the constant change in management, the lack of clear direction and the issues with the current team in charge. Truth is, I've been unhappy. But because the money is good, the job a challenge and everyday offers up something new, I've stuck with it.

Now the hard truth is that I should really be looking hard at how I might fire them. I need to realize that I probably can't match the income. But I can find a better client. One who respects what I have to offer. I still get a charge everytime a story ends up with high visibility. I enjoy giving advice that I know makes a difference. Being able to zero in on a solution and know that its the right thing to do, makes my day.

So I love what I do. Now I need to find someone else to do it with. The search is on. Stay tuned.




Puppy Cam - watch Dogs Sleep



My sister said I had to post this puppy cam. But as the embed code is broken, to see it you need to go to the link I've posted in the comments (I'm having some technical difficulties)

It is a live video cam of six Shiba Inu puppies who spend 90% of their time sleeping. At first I thought this was ridiculously silly. And I kind of dismissed it as evidence that people will watch just about anything. But as it's been playing in the background, I find myself going back again and again to see what the puppies are doing. And everytime there's a bark in the background, my dogs bark back.

Judging by all the internet chatter on this, it has gotten almost as much attention as Sarah Palin's shopping spree.

I do want to see what happens when they get bigger. It might get more interesting.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Shopping




So after being urged to visit many different sites - smart bargins, nordstrom, zappos, etc., I finally just decided to find the right boots - then figure out where to get them.

Since my old dying pair are Donald Pliner, I searched for specifics - Donald Pliner Black Suede ankel boots. Shit - where would we all be without Google?

I found a pair very similar to the ones I own. A little added search found them for the lowest price on Piperlime - this is a relativiley new shoe shopping site brought to you by Gap. What it does is aggregate different brands and prices. I thought the interface was very friendly and they had what I wanted. So I took the plunge and bought them. What a relief. Free shipping too.





Friday, November 7, 2008

Spending Diet


Since I came back from San Francisco in July, I've been on a spending diet. It's been going better than my "sea food" diet. The one in which I eat everything in sight.

But I've resisted buying. Or at least resisted the high calorie binges. I bought a new bag at TJ Maxx. I successfully shoped for new shoes in Laura's cast-offs (scored some great boots and sandles - it was like minus calories).

It seems that as my spending has shrunk, my waist line has expanded.

But now I'm in trouble. I actually really need a new pair of boots. And not just any boots. I need to replace the great black suede ankle Donald Pliner boots I got on sale 3-years ago for $99. The problem is that the boots I want are like $400. That's fucking crazy. Who spends $400 on boots?

My sister says to think about how many times I'd wear them in a year and then figure out a cost per wear basis to make it more palatable. (Sorry about the food puns - they work).

In an effort to curb my hunger for the $400 Cole Haan Fiona's, I've been on a shopping frenzy. Loehmans, TJ Maxx and every shoe web site known to man. Nothing has satisfied the craving.

Then tonight I decided to check out the boots again at Cole Haan. Guess what? They are actually no longer on their web site. Can it be possible in this market that they have sold out of these ridiculously expensive luxury boots?

If anyone sees anything close to this perfect pair, let me know. I like a slightly pointy toe, a slender but rugged heal and prefer black leather or black suede. The search is one.

Maybe if I lose 10 pounds I'll buy the damn things. Zappos has them....





Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Canadians Prank Palin



Just when you thought the fun with Sarah was over, check out this video. Palin got had by someone pretending to be French President Nicholas Sarkozy. How she didn't realize this was a fake call is proof of her total idiocy.

More to the point, how she would agree to a call with a sitting foreign President without getting the approval or even letting the McCain camp know about this proves how totally incompetent and clueless she is. Hopefully this will be the nail in the coffin of her political future. This is beyond belief! Oh! Canada!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fried Squirrel



This morning the lights went out. All I could do was wonder how I'd be able to catch up on the morning news reports about the elction returns. Thankfully we put in a generator so imporotant house functions will work - ie, refrigerator, toilet and internet.

Then I read this story online and found out why we lost electricity. You just can't make this stuff up: From the Danbury NewTimes:

Squirrels strike again!

Staff Writer
Article Launched: 11/05/2008 01:47:53 PM EST

By Eugene Driscoll
DANBURY - A squirrel wandered into a CL&P substation on Triangle Street today, causing a 60-minute power failure that caused scores of traffic lights to go dark during the morning rush hour.
About 5,000 CL&P customers were without power.
It was the second time in six weeks a squirrel at the Triangle Street substation caused power to go out.
Are city squirrels suicidal?
No, said Mitch Grossman, spokesman for Connecticut Light & Power.
"It happens. It is part of maintaining the grid. These animals and birds sometimes step where they are not supposed to," Gross said.
How often does it happen?
In Georgia, squirrel-related power outages tripled between 2005 and 2006, according to an article in USA Today.
CL&P doesn't keep track of squirrel-related power problems, but Gross estimated animal-related outages - birds, squirrels, raccoons or other critters - have accounted for 17 percent of all power failures in Connecticut this year.
That is about 2,200 of about 13,000 power failures in the state.
Animal-related power failures are much more common than lightning strikes, which comprise only about 6 percent of all electrical problems.
Trees and their branches are still the power grid's nemesis, accounting for about 35 percent of all power failures this year (down from 50 percent last year, thanks to an aggressive CL&P tree-trimming operation, Gross said).
Squirrels do not get fried merely by touching an electrical line. The incidents happen when a squirrel touches the line and something nearby, such as the metal part of a transformer. Killer current then flows through its body.
At a substation, the equipment picks up on the disturbance and automatically shuts down. It takes about an hour for CL&P workers to inspect the area and turn the power on again, Gross said.
The utility company has equipment meant to ward off animals.
"In our substations we use squirrel guards. It is a device that covers certain equipment to hopefully keep them from going where they are not supposed to go," Gross said.
Squirrels are naturally curious animals. They could also be attracted to substations and utility pole transformers for warmth or shelter.
However, not everyone is worried about the fate of our furry friends.
"All Squirrels Must Die!" the Web site DeadSquirrel.com declares.
It features essays with titles such as "deadly encounters with squirrels," "stupid squirrel screwed up my new car," and "James Bond squirrel: This cunning squirrel faced a .22 assault head on while in a cage and escaped!"



History




What an amazing moment in history. I have Obama Lawn Signs!!! Who wants one?




Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween



A big happy birthday and happy Halloween to my sister Laurie.

It has always been a big celebration in our family - probably because of Laurie's birthday and the combination of lots of candy.

I've been getting super into the pumpkin carving thing and last year we took it extreme. I found this site on the internet extremepumpkins.com with directions for a flaming pumpkin. The easy way to do this (and safe) is to soak a roll of toilet paper overnight in kerosene. Carve a big pumpkin with a large opening at the top (my son Eric did this one). Place the pumpkin on a cookie sheet and light her up. The results will amaze and impress.

Happy trick or treats!




Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stay Inside the Shark Cage



I have been in the PR profession for like 20-years. And I'm still learning something new - seems like every day. That's one of the reasons I started this blog.

But yesterday was a lesson I will never forget. We brought a media trainer in to help a client understand how to speak from a message box. Picture a box in the middle of a piece of paper that contains the central point of what ever story it is you want to tell. Than all around the box are themes that support your message.

We came up with an original idea at the center and terrific points to support our story. And as we started questioning our CEO - easy questions then hard -- a former big CEO who is on his board came into the room. He looked at our message box, listened to the client answer a couple of questions and then he said:

"You have just steped outside the shark cage with that answer. You're going to get your arm ripped off. If you keep stepping outside the box, you'll get ripped apart. Think of that message box as a shark cage. If you stay inside, you will be safe. If you go outside, the press will tear your head off."

Brilliant metaphor. Life lesson.




Sunday, October 26, 2008

Undecided?

My sister sent me this quote from Author David Sedaris on Undecided Voters. It says it better than I could ever say it:

“I look at these people and can't quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention? To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. "Can I interest you in the chicken?" she asks. "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it? To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked."

- Author David Sedaris, on undecided voters





Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Terry Tate Tackles The Issue

I just could not resist. Forgive me.



http://view.break.com/592038 - Watch more free videos


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reading the Script




I attended two debates today and was shocked to see the two Republican incumbent candidates again and again read their responses to questions from prepared scripts. The first was John Hartwell and Toni Boucher for State Senate (he's "my" candidate). And the second, Jim Himes (pictured with his family) and Chris Shays for Congress.

As seasoned politicians my expectation was that Toni and Chris would be well versed in all the issues. I had thought that they were prepared. I had hoped that they knew the issues well enough - having been our representatives for many, many years, that they could speak from the heart.

On the other hand, their two challengers John and Jim - not politicians, but proven business executives -- both spoke directly at the audience. They may have had notes, but they did not read them as prepared scripts.

It was almost insulting to have to sit and listen to a canned response versus an open exchange of ideas as the Debate format offers. I clearly have a bias - but I honestly feel that the Democratic challengers outshone thier more seasoned counterparts by speaking simply and straight to the crowd.






Judgement




Colin Powell today endorses Barak Obaman. At the core of his endorsement is the issue of "Judgement." Powell says that in watching Obama, he has displayed the judgement required to lead our country. That he is more inclusive, he crosses lines.

He said that Obama is a transformational candidate. He has both style and substance.

Powell said that he has to question McCain's judgement. His lack of judgement was evident in his selection of Palin. It continues with the way in which he has been running the race. The robo calls, the negativity and narrowness. The Republicans move far to the right is also an issue.

He questions how the Republican party at large has conducted itself.

From Meet the Press: "Powell also told NBC’s Tom Brokaw that he was “troubled” by Republicans’ personal attacks on Obama, especially false intimations that Obama was Muslim and the recent focus on Obama’s alleged connections to William Ayers, a co-founder of the radical ’60 Weather Underground.

Stressing that Obama was a lifelong Christian, Powell denounced Republican tactics that he said were insulting not only to to Obama but also to Muslims.

“The really right answer is what if he is?” Powell said, praising the contributions of millions of Muslim citizens to American society.

“I look at these kind of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me,” Powell said. “Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party has become narrower and narrower.”

It has already been called a "racial" move by some on the far right. For shame.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Old Lady Bloggers

I love this! Two supposedly 82-year old women from Texas have a blog
http://margaretandhelen.wordpress.com/
And they are hysterical. In commenting on the last presidential debate they say:

"But who the hell is Joe the Plumber? Seriously. What the hell was that all about? Joe the Plumber? Joe Six Pack? The new McCain strategy seems to be banking on a lot of guys named Joe with a beer in one hand and a pipe wrench in the other. Is this a political campaign or a dating service for the Palin women?"

I wish they lived in Florida.




Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nice Works



The takeawawy from Debate watch 3 (and 2 and 1) - is that John McCain could have helped himself a whole lot more if he behaved like a decent human being. If he only had one ounce of sincerity in his voice, one honest look of respect for his challenger -- he could have made the American public actually hear what he said.

But he was petty. He was petulant. And it did not serve him well. Imagine him sitting across from a leader of another country and trying to hold back his small mindedness. If he could not rise to the ocassion and treat Obama and the American public with respect, how can he serve this country?

A debate is not just about works and counter punches. It is a visual contest as well. From the moment McCain gets on stage -- be it while meandering the floor as he did in Debate 2 or smugly smirking as he did last night, he looks profoundly unpresidential.

Obama on the otherhand, demonstrated the poise, calm and patience that one would expect in a leader.

And I love how NPR next day checked all the facts. See link here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/common/image_enlargement.php?imageResId=95768882

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old Dogs, New Tricks



Funny story. My friend Barbara Hoffman was recounting a story from High School. She recalled coming by our friend Susan's house one evening only to find Susan's father Victor, in his underwear trying to chase down the dog Benjamin who had apparently taken off. Seeing Victor - a fairly high ranking executive at IBM - on the front lawn in his boxers was surely a funny sight.

But Barbara remembered this image. And when she felt intimidated in a job interview or conversation or altercation with anyone, she remembered Victor running around in his briefs.

I thought this was a smart way to stare down those who put you on the defensive. I actually recounted the story in a meeting yesterday with a client and reporter for the WSJ. It has legs (so to speak) and can be applied to many situations.

Next time I'm in that spot, I'll think of Victor. I think he'd like that.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lessons from Friends of Long Standing



High School Reunion - 30 Years!

So the full impact of seeing all those familiar faces and the emotional impact of long forgotten memories has not sunk in.

But the dinner the night before with frinds of longest standing -- Barbara Hoffman, Nancy Weiner and Susan Goldberg (maiden names of course), was the most perfect way to re-enter this transient zone of remember when.

I forgot how funny Nancy always was. And I forgot how wise Barbara always was. And I forgot how Susan was freinds with EVERYONE!

Lesson of Day One - we can always start again - no matter how young/old we are. And we can be successful in many things.

Picking up and leaving home at age 46, starting a new life far from what has been a normal day for a lifetime can bring new perspective and talents. Barbara goes from NY society life where she dressed and outfitted the ladies who lunch to a much simpler and happier life in Peach Tree Georgia where she grows tomatoes! Who knew?

And Nancy has a 5-year old when many of us are now looking at colleges. From teaching at a highly regarded private school, she's teaching on a farm. (And looking for a home for a few good goats).

Susan has stayed home (literally and figuratively). But the Scarsdale of past is a different place today and sometimes it seems learning to live with a familiar place with a different set of walls is almost more challenging.

So while you can go home to visit. You take what is best from wherever you've been and you bring it with you wherever you go.

I'd like to have a little more of Barbara, Nancy and Susan here in Wilton.

Friday, October 10, 2008

PR Lesson of the Day




When they say "It's the Economy Stupid," what they are really saying is that this is the topic of the day and that's all anyone wants to hear about.

This is an imporant lesson. And once again proves something I learned from Howard Rubenstein - one of the smartest PR guys ever. If you can make your story tie into what is happening in the news, you will get interest and visibility. True then. True today.

What this means for the PR business today is that your story has to relate to the economy to get visibility. In fact a reporter at the WSJ told me that point blank yesterday that unless your story has some relation to the events in the financial markets, it's not a story for the next several weeks, possibily months.

This is an opportunity. If you can get clients and others to pay attention.

But it also works in this election cycle. My candidate has siezed on this issue as issue number one and formulated a distinctive strategy for dealing with a looming budget deficit. And I think he has the right idea.

The question I know need to answer is how to make my business survive at a time when I am seeing clients (and clients of my clients) cut spending way back. This will be a long, hard road.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How Low Can it Go




The stock market is reeling. The S&P 500 stock index has fallen 42 percent over the last year. The NY Times says that its nearly as bad as one terrible 12-month period from late 1973 to 1974. "Other than that it's the worst decline since 1932." This photo was taken downtown today. Someone painted the bulls balls blue. I believe the paint has since been removed.

It's too late to pull out of the stock market. Yet investors are withdrawing money from mutual funds like crazy. That is enough to set off even more of a melt down.

I am not a financial expert. I still add on my fingers. But I think that until we elect a new president the market will continue to freefall.

A reporter at the WSJ told me that several months ago Rupert Murdoch said he put all his money in bonds - treasuries - and out of stock. Rupert Murdoch can sometimes be a smart man. If only he wasn't a republican....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obama Mania



Ok - I admit it. I saw this on my friend Michelle's blog (sugarpieexpress - it's listed on my blog list). I had to post it because I think that there really is an art form in campaign design/signs, logos, etc. Obama happens to have wonderful design on his side. It is interesting and is reflective. It makes you think. That is the essence of good communications -- engagement.

He's got it. McCain's is very traditional and predictable. That speaks to the very heart of the differences - that "change" thing.

One more thing. My husband sent me this video of O'bama the Irish. It's hysterical. Enjoy.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Red vs Blue



This came courtesy of my good friends in Connecticut local political groups. We are small, and we are outnumbered. But we clearly are smarter. This is the first time a post comes 100% from outside. I think it poses an interesting challenge.

SECESSION

Dear Red States,

We're ticked off at the way you've treated California , and we've decided we're leaving.

We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii , Oregon , Washington , Minnesota , Wisconsin , Michigan , Illinois and all of the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas , Oklahoma and all the slave states.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Nancy Pelosi. You get Sarah Palin.

We get the Statue of Liberty. Y ou get WalMart.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America 's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama .

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals.

They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We do wish you success in Iraq , and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite , thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red state s believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals than we lefties.

By the way, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico .

Sincerely,
Blue States

Friday, October 3, 2008

Debate Guide



So while there was no hoped for car wreck, there also was not coherent answer to most of the questions. A friend sent this to me. I think it's great.

What did I learn? That we long to see people fall on their faces. We're a mean bunch.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hypocrisy



I saw this photo in the NYT and did a double take. Then my mouth fell open and I was speechless. Yes. I was speechless.

How is it possible that she could wear a polar bear pin? She said the Polar Bears don't need protecting and are not endangered. Now she's mounting them on her lapel. I'm at a loss....

She Doesn't Read!!!

I can't help myself. In the interview with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin could not name a single magazine, newspaper or media outlet that she has recently read. What did she say? She said:

"I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media," Palin replied. Asked for examples, she said, "Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years." -- Poor Rupert Murdoch!

Asked again for an example, Palin told Couric: "I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, 'Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?' Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America."

In remarks aired Wednesday on CBS' "The Early Show," Palin told Couric that she thinks media coverage of her has been guided not by sexism but by the fact that she isn't "part of the Washington herd."

Oops

So the blogosphere thing can be tricky.

As I am finding with business, there is no longer anything that a company can call "internal." For once a memo goes out, once a new product is planned, once an idea is articulated, it somehow finds its way into the ether.

The notion of "where there's smoke" there's fire is true. If a reporter calls asking about a rumor, chances are there is some element of truth to it. So while I was getting calls about a magazine being sold or a CEO retiring, behind the scenes, these things were really happening. In front of the scenes, I had deniability because I HAD NO CLUE.

Today, however, there is a new transparency. Nothing happens behind the scenes anymore. With blogs, a newsmedia that runs news as it happens (and sometimes before it happens), we are all subject to exposure.

I got exposed yesterday. I monitor an industry blog and on occasion, I will comment on a post. I do this under a nom de guerre. But in yesterday's post - which was very innocuous and thankfully did not call out a client -- I signed the stupid post "Toni."

Not sure now what to do. There are a lot of Toni's out there, but if I'm monitoring those blogs, I know a lot of other people are as well. I'm just waiting for someone to tell me they saw my post.

The lesson? Just like there's no more transparency in business or life - there really is no anonymity. Sooner or later, you are exposed.

UPDATE: Nailed! Just got asked by a friend if I was "Toni" on the already mentioned Blog. Things move in superhigh speed online.

The Root of All Evil

According to a new film out by Bill Maher 60% of the US Population actually believes the tales from the Bible. They believe in Noah and the Ark. They believe that snakes talk. In sum, they believe that things that can't be explained by science or fact, are true nonetheless. And they believe this because they were taught at a very early age about god and their religion.

I was taught as well. But I have to say, somewhere along the line I came to the realization that the only one who was going to help me in this world was me. I have a hard time believing in some all knowing great being.

Thankfully we have Bill Maher and his new film "Religulous" that is being called an "uproarious nonfiction film about the greatest fiction ever told."

Bill made a special appearance on Jon Stewart's show the other night and I was rivited. One of my friends said she was shocked that he was so far left and that she found herself agreeing with everything he said. Me too.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fame



My friend Mike has been playing with the Roxy Perry band now for about 3-years. They just came out with a new CD and we celebrated the release at the Georgetown Saloon on Friday night.

I thought they sounded awesome. My friend Mike is on keyboards. He told my husband they've played better. I missed his solo - which I heard was funny.

He teaches philosphy by day and plays keyboard by night. I know there is something profound to say about that, but I'm not in a very profound mood today. Short and sweet - if you have a passion for something, go for it. It would be a shame to say, should, woulda, coulda...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Save Levi



I promised not to post about that silly woman now running as a VP candidate, but this piece from Bill Mahar is tooooooooooo funny. I love the fact that he calls poor Levi, father of Bristol Palin's incubus a "political prisoner."

I think we should all get Save Levi t-shirts.

Do Lawn Signs Work?


As you know by know, I have a thing for illegially placed lawn signs.
But what has become more interesting in my little tiny town is that signs all over are disappearing. The idiotic head of the Republican Town Committee had a letter to the editor this week decrying the lack of "democracy" afforded to the GOP as scores of McCain/Palin signs have been taken down in town. (I swear it wasn't me - honest). I didn't do it this time.
The guy's letter is literally impossible to read. Everytime he writes something he makes the case for NOT being a republican. But what is interesting is that the Democrats have not really had signs up at all. We just got our signs for our party candidates and the Obama signs -- in limited quantities, just arrived. So what's the noise about?
According to this very interesting article from a political friend, Lawn Signs don't even work. They make people feel like they are part of a cause, but don't really influence voters.
I have another point of view. I think they add to the visibility of a candidate, especially on the local level. If all you see is one candidate's name out there all the time, you're liable to think they are hard working and well liked. So it seems to me to be important for the competitor to also have his or her name out there.
My new strategy is to put my candidates signs up right next to his competitor -- at least when the signs are on public roads....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jews for Obama - A Sarah Silverman Film


The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Not much more I can add to than this. She was brilliant with her film, I'm fucking Ben Affleck. This is a close second. The point, that we need the generation of parents and grandparents to really think about what they are leaving behind for their children. Will it be hope as offered by Obama? Or war, distrust and religious fanaticism as offered by McCain.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Cult of the Yogi


I have missed Yoga. I realized that today when I finally got to a class. I've tried to stay away because my Yoga studio teaches a fairly aggressive form of Yoga that is hard on the wrists, elbows, joints in general. I thought this was supposed to be good for you!

The funny thing I've found is that a lot of people have Yoga injuries. Even those who practice more easy going forms of yoga.

So what's up with that?

Here's another interesting thing about Yoga. You get there. It's a de-stressing environment. Yet as soon as you leave the studio, the stress of just crossing the street erases the magic "om" feeling of zen you had for maybe 10-minutes.

Last note on this subject. My studio has a "celebrity" type co-owner. He came on board after hooking up with one of the owners and now is the hot teacher. He's so hot that he is now teaching one class that you need his "permission in advance" to take. That does not strike me as the way of the Yogi. It strikes me as the way of the egoist.

Did I mention that when I emailed him this summer asking for a little help with my injury he never got back to me?

Is it because I'm not a size 4 like everyone else? Do you have to be a "beautiful" person to succeed in Yoga?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Truism

"People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did." "But people will never forget how you made them feel".

This line was at the end of an email from my Mom. And it made me think of something that I've never forgotten.

Now, everytime I see Alex Witchel's name in the New York Times, I still remember. I like what she writes, but I can't forget that when I was around 12 or 13 on the Scarsdale Swim Team, Alex Witchel was my bully.

She and another girl - her name was Ellen - delighted in tormenting me. To this day, I don't remember what they did or what they said, I just remember hiding in the locker room every day after practice. I was kind of a tough kid myself. I was the oldest. I was bossy. I was used to getting my way.

But this quote reminded me that while I don't recall the specifics. They way I felt those days is still with me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lessons of Number 1

Since I'm in "marketing" it would follow that I'd write about some marketing lessons.

Here's one major rule that the top marketers seem to keep forgetting - if you are number 1 in the marketplace, you should NEVER take on number 2. You should not even acknowledge they exist. It is ok for number 2 or number 3 to take on the leader - it gives them the challenger status and everyone loves the underdog. But for Number 1 to take on Number 2 is a mistake.

Why, because then Number 1 looks defensive. They look like they really care about Number 2 or 3.

When Budweiser (the leader) bowed to pressure from Miller (the challenger) after Miller mocked Bud in its ads, it made Bud look like a cry baby. And it drove sales of Miller to an all time high.

So what does this have to do with today's lesson?



Microsoft has come out with a new campaign on the heels of a badly received "teaser" effort featuring Seinfeld and Bill Gates. The new ads proclaim that I'm a PC is a good thing. It is directly taking the piss out of the Apple ads where the "PC" character is some poor shlubby nerd -- actor John Hodgeman -- to be specific. While "Mac" is super coolish Jason Long.

If you remember the rule, Number 1 (Microsoft) should not even acknowledge Number 2 (Apple). But here's where things are squirrelly. Microsoft doesn't really compete with Apple which is a hardware company. Microsoft is a Software company. While the operating system that powers Apple is different. Microsoft has such a huge command of the market, it is puzzling that they see Apple as a competitor.

The reason Apple is the competitor is because Apple took Microsoft (the PC) on in it's advertising.

I have to say however, that I think the new I'm A PC ads by Crispin Porter Bogusky are brilliant. And the reason is because they hijack the PC character. And they show that being a Nerd is ok.

This will be an interesting battle to watch. And maybe a new lesson to learn.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hope


At lunch today with my friend Michelle I expressed my pessimism about the future of our country. I have doubts about Obama's electability. But she came back at me with the goods - see below.

Guess we should never give up hope.


And here’s a solid analysis of state-to-state electoral votes . Obama’s got a slight lead, had a larger one in the summer, but it’s not all bad news. And my ex-Dean campaign friend feels more optimistic than most Dems these days, for the following reasons in particular:
It's not all doom and gloom for Obama. So far this month, he's seems to have solidified his narrow margin in Michigan and New Hampshire (states McCain is hoping to flip) while expanding his edges in the Bush states of Iowa and Colorado, where he now leads by 9.7 percent and 2.3 percent , respectively. If he wins these states in November--along with Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Mexico--he wins the White House. New Democratic registrations and Chicago's sophisticated field operation will surely help. But what the last week of polling has shown beyond any doubt is that McCain's successful convention and shocking choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate have shifted the map ever so slightly to the right, transforming a landscape that favored Obama into a landscape that favors, well, no one. For the next six weeks, then, expect Obama and Joe Biden to play defense (Pennsylvania, Michigan) as well as offense (Colorado, Virginia, Nevada) while focusing much of their attention on the king of all swing states: Ohio. But don't expect the final map to look all that different from 2004.

Please Buy a Book


My first job out of school was working for Random House. I started in the marketing department of the educational division and then moved into the children's book division at Knopf. My job, as assistant to the Editor in Chief was to read the slush pile. Seriously boring. Try reading submissions from all over the country about speaking dogs, cats that sail and birds that teach the alphabet. When my boss was out, I took naps in her office.

BUT, I do love to read. And this week's NY Magazine article on the decline of the book business has me feeling sad. So I plan to go out and buy a book. And the book I'm going to buy is James Frey's Bright Shiny Morning. I'm going to buy it because I'm listening to it on CD as I drive into the city and I think it's great. And I'm going to buy it because I think he got a bum rap when he wrote his memoiors and was exposed as exaggerating elements of it (tell me who doesn't). And because Oprah Winfey made him apologize on her show. And last, because this story in New York Magazine says his book isn't selling well -- and I love it.

Lesson of the day - Don't believe everything you read. Take that anyway you want but I swear the part about the nap is true.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tina Fey for President

You have to love it when even the gossip magazines get into politics. I'm not sure when US Magazine became the conscience of the democratic party, but they followed up their critical cover story on Palin with a brilliant home page homage to Saturday Night Live's broadcast last night with the headline "Watch Tina Fey mock Sarah Palin."



Here's another funny thing about US. My sister works for a major retailer that sells US and other magazines at the check out line. They got calls about their Sarah Palin cover story from customers demanding it be removed or they would no longer be customers.

This story has a happy ending. The retailer refused to pull the magazines. But when will they do as so many advertisers have done before? Give in to the threats of the religious right who know how to mobilize hundreds of individuals to complain?

We live in a scary time in the United States. Thank goodness for US Magazine (honestly, I don't read it - if I have to get my gossip, I will read PEOPLE every now and then - this may change now).

May all the families in middle America read it. And GET IT.

A Lesson from Rove

In today's NYTimes, Frank Rich notes: "Karl Rove for once gave the Democrats a real tip rather than a bum steer when he wrote last week that if Obama wants to win, “he needs to remember he’s running against John McCain for president,” not Palin for vice president."

I think I said that about a week ago. I can't believe the amazing talent that Obama has working on his behalf is only now getting it right.

Republican's play dirty. They do it on the local level with push polls and bullying tactics. And on the national level by lying.

Smart, intelligent people HAVE to take this on. I was at an event last week and someone said, we can be persuaders. People will listen to you - your friends, your family, anyone.

I may go canvassing in New Hampshire. Those "sure" things don't look so sure anymore.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Bad Disney Movie

Tonight on Entertainment Tonight or one of those silly programs, Matt Damon was interviewed at the Toronto Film Festival saying that Sarah Palin is a "terrifying possibility." He added that what the Republicans are doing with Sarah Palin is like a A Bad Disney Movie. My experience with Disney Movies is not happy and light. Usually there's no Mom - the kid's an orphan, there are lots of bad guys and happily ever after usually isn't. I don't know if that's what Matt was thinking. My impression was that he thinks -- and I agree -- that all this Sarah shit is out of hand.

In fact, I think it is really a "bait & switch" by the very clever Rovatics who brought us 8-years of Bush. Seriously, all we're talking about is this stupid woman. We should be talking about the stupid man -- McCain. He's the dumb ass running for President. He's the one whose judgment needs to be questioned. He's the one no head of State from any other country will speak with. He's the one who in a single decision, showed that any independent mindedness left in his head has evaporated into the Conservative ether.

But the "fairy tale" story is also something my favorite opinionator opined on today. Thanks to Mom for reminding me to read Maureen Dowd. One of my favorite lines: "Why put out a press release about her teenage daughter’s pregnancy and then spend the next few days attacking the press for covering that press release?"

I donated money to Obama yesterday. It is the only way I can stay sane.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Confession


I didn't realize how local politics got under my skin until I saw a sign for a republican candidate who is challenging "my" candidate on the road that takes me home everyday. It's a small local road and I walk my dogs up and down it at least three times a week.

So when I saw her signs, I did what anyone who knows me would expect -- I took them down.

Feeling a little guilty, I asked around. Apparently the signs - which were not on private property, but strategically placed on curbs that don't front anyone's home -- are illegal. Signs can be placed on private property, but any signs on public land, can be removed. Technically it's probably the town's job to take them down, but as my town is ruled by a King who forbids the lesser staff in town hall to even talk with him, I doubt he'd enforce sign removal for someone in his own party.

I was in my rights to remove the signs. And I would do it again. Just like every spring I trim the lilac bushes growing in my neighborhood.

Friday, September 5, 2008

She Shoots Wolves and Bears

I can't promise this will be my last post on Sarah "it's all the media's fault" Palin. But I've gotten so much good stuff from folks, I can't resist.

Let's start with John Stewart who pointed out that while she said "no thanks to that bridge to no where," she did in fact support it and took the money to build it.



I don't think anything more needs to be said about why this woman is not qualified to be one-step away from the presidency.

I just may stop now and focus on why McCain - who put me to sleep last night despite my son prodding me awake about 6-times - has shown how inept a leader he will be and why other world leaders refuse to speak with him.

"I'm Sorry" Works

This is a lesson I've learned over and over and over again. Bad news happens. When it does, be honest and if need be, apologize.

This week an internal memo outlining talking points and details on a mass layoff at a media company was somehow "sent to all" in a company-wide email. Shit happens. In our digital age, it will continue to happen. And as bad news travels at lightening speed, no sooner had this email been sent company-wide than it appeared on an industry magazine's web site. Shit happens again.

Here's where there was a missed opportunity. The company never said "we are sorry this happened." They never apologized to their staff and they missed an opportunity to say they were sorry in the media. In fact, in a conversation with the reporter who wrote this story, he said to me that if only they acknowledged this mistake and said they were sorry, the story could have taken on a whole different tone.

We are all human and we all make mistakes. "I'm sorry" goes a really long way.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I Love Debbie Phelps


When I first heard that Chico's was talking with Debbie Phelps, mother of swimming phenom Michael, I knew it was a brilliant marketing move.

Women constitute the largest viewing audience of the Olympics. I know I sat there riveted every time he swam. And the fact that NBC constantly showed Debbie Phelps and her daughters in the stand certainly made this a family story.

Chico's is in need of an image update - or at least a reason to reconnect with their core audience. They have lost me for sure. Partly because their styling has changed. I've got a couple of really great tops that I love, but every time I go in the store I think the clothes look old fashioned.

I'm obviously not their target. But I will go stop in next time I go by a store. Debbie is their customer. And there are a lot of Debbie's in this world. This is a huge step for women over 50 in the marketing arena. Dove was out there first and others have followed. Nice that Debbie won Gold as well...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Juno Effect



I know I take things way to seriously. And I should be thrilled with McCain's STUPID choice for VP. Afterall it can only benefit the democrats. But I think he has set women back beyond the stoneage.

Why is ok for a teenager to be pregnant? Why is ok to tell girls today that being a Mom is a great job? Why aren't we telling girls they too can pursue the American Drean?

By putting Sarah Palin on his ticket knowing (if he really did know), that her teenage daughter was 5-months pregnant, McCain is by turn saying teen pregnancy isn't a problem. It's a personal choice.

I'm sorry, but I don't think so. I think parents have to do their job. Enabling bad behavior is a choice. And those who enable it are not doing their job as parents. And if they can't do their job as parents, how can they be next in line to run this country?

Not for nothing, but teen age pregnancy is on the rise.


">http://www.webmd.com/news/20080711/teen-pregnancy-rates-edige-higher




And furthermore, good Old John even opposed funding to prevent teen pregnancy:






Ok, just one more thing. When I was in high school, if a girl got pregnant, she got an abortion. Today, it seems that is not an option. And soon it will be illegal -- I have no doubt. So even if you look at how it is treated in pop culture today - say as in Juno - the girl was at least smart enough and given the support to understand that she had a future and wasn't ready to be a mom. I don't want to make a judgement here on poor Bristol Palin, but her boyfriend's myspace/facebook page makes it clear he ain't ready to be a daddy.



Monday, September 1, 2008

What's Keeping Me Up At Night (1)


SO, lately we've been hearing these loud screeches at night. I first heard it when I took the dogs for a walk. (I'm taking them, trying to make sure they know I'm the leader of the pack). It was a loud screech sound.

">http://www.owlpages.com/sounds.php

Naturally, I thought it was a screech owl. My husband heard it. It kept my son up one night. And one night when I could not sleep I could hear it like it was right outside the window. So I investigated. Turns out, it's not a screech owl, but a barn owl. Right in our very own woods here in Wilton.

It eats mice and chipmunks. It will be getting fat this year. I hope.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Piece of My Tart


I bake a lot. You can tell.

New discovery - Barefoot Contessa cook book and a shortbread crust for fruit tarts. Perfect for summer with berries from the farmer's market. And easy.
3/4 Cup butter at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teas. vanilla
13/4 cup flour
pinch of salt

Combine butter and sugar in mixing bowl and using paddle, mix until just combined. Add vanilla. Sift flour and salt then add to sugar/butter mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a flour-dusted surface and shape into a flat disk. Press dough into a 10-inch round false-bottom tart pan. Chill until firm. Butter one side of a square of foil to fit inside tart and place it butter side down on the pastery. Fill with beans or rice and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans, prick tart all over with fork and bake again until browned, about 20 minutes.

Women in Politics

I couldn't wait to see what Maureen Dowd had to say about McCain's choice for Vice President. I was hoping for a little more substantive remarks on Palin as a candidate and less about appearances. I guess that will come.

">http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/opinion/31dowd.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin


As to the choice, thinking outside the box is good, but the blatant play at women unhappy that Hilary didn't get the nod, an Alaskan who screems "OIL" and a conservative, is overtly offensive - at least to me. Out of hand, I have to dismiss anyone who doesn't believe in evolution.

Will the American people be smart enough to get it? I have my doubts.
 
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