Wednesday, December 9, 2009
What a decade it's been. From 9/11 to Afghanistan. iPods and smart phones are essentials. Reality TV has taken over the airwaves. The global economic meltdown, terrifying; the election of Barack Obama, amazing. Social networking replaced face-to-face contact with Facebook, Twitter, and Lifecasting. Hi-def became widespread, and TVs became flatter while DVRs replaced VCRs. Pluto is no longer a planet, and film actors are often not real actors (think CGI).
One fun way to review the decade is by watching Newsweek's The Decade in Seven Minutes.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Just this morning, I was at the dentist's office when the receptionist was going through the mail. She counted five holiday catelogs. In one day. All from the same company.
So here's my present to you: Catalog Choice.
This Web site allows you to opt-out of paper catalogs; and it's not an all or none kind of thing. You get to specifiy which ones you don't want to receive. It takes a little prep work on your part, becuase you have to have the offending catalog handy (so you can enter the right codes), but it's well worth the effort.
Me? I'm a catalog shopper, but I also try to keep my stack to a manageable level. Catalog Choice helps make that happen.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Game 6: The two starting pitchers – Pedro
Game 6: The two starting pitchers – Pedro
I’ve spent more-than-imaginable hours watching the Amtrak Acela series (also dubbed the Turnpike Tussle), and I’ve been astounded by the statistics announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver deem important for the TV audience to know.
When the Phillies left-handed-hitter Chase Utley hit two home runs off a left-handed pitcher, it was only the second time that’s ever happened. Babe Ruth did it first, in 1928.
I’ll give you that one. Apparently anything that compares with Babe Ruth is interesting to someone.
This is the 12th World Series that Joe Buck is calling, paired with Tim McCarver, who is analyzing a record 20th Series.
Now there are statistics on the guys announcing the statistics!?!
Sometimes I think they just make this stuff up.
This is the third time a World Series pitcher has started after only three days rest, a steady diet of Cheetos, and wearing women’s underwear.
OK. I made that up. But you get my point.
I don’t want to know every bit of data; I’m looking for insight. Tell me what’s relevant and why it matters. Otherwise, the announcers are just filling airtime until the next pitch. Oh yeah, that IS what they’re doing. Filling airtime. Trying to keep the TV audience from getting up for that next beer or bathroom visit.
As if that were even possible.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Three years ago, I introduced the concept of holding training runs on the same cross country course as the race. This year, I stumbled onto an idea that has really taken off: buddy up. The intent is for seasoned runners to pair up with newbies on the training runs, and for people who run a similar pace to find new running buddies. For the race on Oct. 10, there is a reduced buddy-up entry fee for runners who register together by mail.
The results so far have been a significant increase in women coming out to the training runs -- and about half the registrations being of the buddy-up kind.
As one of the members of the race committee remarked, "Women like to race with someone; men like to race against someone. I guess they are basic differences between the sexes."
Whether it's a gender thing or just that misery loves company, it doesn't matter. What I'm thrilled to see are more women taking the time for personal fitness...and a little bit of fun for themselves. Winning and medals are beside the point.
Monday, August 24, 2009
If these things truly rejuvenate your brain, I should be good to go for another decade or so. My husband and I just got back from two weeks in Ireland where we tackled a bunch of brain-taxing skills:
- Driving on the opposite side of the road. On the opposite side of the car. Shifting with the opposite hand.
- Navigating in a place where the streets have no names. Or, if they do, they're not posted anywhere.
- Reconciling the differences in directions given by a Garmin GPS, Ordnance Survey maps, and locals.
- Dodging cows, sheep, and buses on narrow, rock-wall lined roads, which are more like foot paths.
If you're inclined to give this a try, you should first read up on Irish driving. One good source is "Surviving Driving in Ireland" by Rick Steeves. Then be bold and take the wheel -- the right-hand drive wheel. It may feel wrong, but it's the right way to go.
Monday, August 10, 2009
- Not one, but two ways to "Simpsonize" yourself. At the Web site for the Simpsons movie, you can create an avatar (like mine here) and play a game. Or, you can upload your own photo at the SimpsonizeMe site and be automotically transformed.
- Recently, I found one more reason to be a fan. Stormy weather and Delta airlines had joined forces to delay my trip to Ireland for a night. Instead of being airborn, I was housebound. I turned on The Simpsons in time to see, "In the Name of the Grandfather," in which the family flies to Ireland (on Derry Air) so Grampa can revisit a pub where he had the best night of his life. They also visit several places I've been to and some on the itinerary of my delayed trip. Many thanks to Homor and Marge and the rest for letting me see a wee bit of Ireland in advance.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Most companies put a lot of time and money into the numerous components of branding, which starts with the company name. So what happens when that name -- the first thing a potential customer or employee or business partner sees -- is less than appealing?
Here are some of my un-faves:
- The Dump: TV ads for this bargain furniture store stick in my head because of the amazing number of times the announcer repeats the company name in an annoying way. As for the name, I thought the whole reason to buy new furniture was to keep your home from looking like a dump.
- Rent-A-Wreck: This name under promises and over delivers. That's usually a recipe for success. But with cars, the word "wreck" is an accident waiting to happen. It makes me think the car I rent won't be reliable, and it doesn't matter if I trash it because it's a wreck anyway.
- Goof Off: I actually use (and like) this self-proclaimed "miracle remover" (another misnomer because it doesn't really remove miracles). What it does remove are all the spills, drips, and splotches I leave behind. But Goof Off? If I'm working that hard to clean up after myself, I'm certainly not goofing off. But I guess it's a better name than Obsessive Compulsive Cleaner.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wawa's core purpose is "To Simplify Our Customers' Daily Lives." And that's exactly what it does.
- Need a little caffeine pick-me-up? Wawa has dozens of fresh coffee pots to pour from, so you never have to wait for a fresh brew-- or someone else to pour.
- Concerned about the once-and-trash nature of disposable coffee cups? You can drink "green" with a refillable Wawa coffee mug that fits snugly in the console of your car.
- Lunch? Head to the touchscreens to place your order, and it's ready in minutes. Couldn't be easier.
I know I'm not the only Wawa fan. There are 149,099 on Wawa's Facebook page. There's even a Facebook "Addicted to Wawa" group.
No, I don't work for Wawa. I just love being able to satisfy my everyday needs with one quick stop. And the gas prices are hard to beat.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I'm not sure what the value is of knowing so much about your money, but it's a fun bit of mind trivia. To learn where your money comes from--and where it goes--visit Where's George.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
1) Peter Shankman, in his "Help a Reporter Out" evening email on June 24, writes:
"Is Twitter changing the world? Just check out what's up in Iran. Or Dell - Dell computers announced that they had brought in an additional $3 million in sales from their outlet store through the use of Twitter. Pretty cool considering that it appears one person manages that Twitter account for Dell..."
But before being swayed by these exceptional examples, make sure to get some balance with the following:
2) Matt Jones, of Advertising Age, presents his insightful perspective in "Why I Hate Social Media: Because Media Itself Just Isn't That Interesting--Not Even The Social Kind."
Thursday, June 11, 2009
What began in the 1950s as a radio series hosted by Edward R. Murrow has become an international project that engages people in "writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives."
I've listened to these essays for years on NPR, and now that the series has concluded, I was glad to find its new home on the This I Believe Web site. You can browse and read essays by theme. You can listen to the essays. And you can contribute your own insights.
Among my favorites is Bela Fleck, "Doing Things My Own Way," originally broadcast Sept. 26, 2006. I'm a big fan of his music, and I was eager to hear him talk about how he approaches life. It was touching to hear him attribute much of his "individualist, bone-headed nature" to his grandfather, whom he calls Opa.
You can view the "Top 25 Most Viewed Essays This Week," which recently included words of wisdom from Penn Jillette, Helen Keller, Muhammad Ali, Tony Hawk, John Updike, Colin Powell, Amy Tan, and Elie Wiesel. How's that for a lineup?
You can even subscribe to This I Believe podcasts.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Now that there are nearly naked women playing full-contact football in only helmets and shoulder pads--with the briefest of bikinis--it makes me wonder: Why do NFL players wear all that protection? What babies.
This brings to mind the old Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers discussion. Yes, Astaire was a great dancer, but Rogers did everything he did--and she did it backwards and in high heels.
With women playing the big manly game in their skivvies, don't you think the pros are feeling just a little bit silly right about now?!?!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Take Twitter: 140 characters. That's it. Of course, many people cheat by including links to (gasp!) longer messages. But the whole point of Twitter is to answer the question: What are you doing? To which I reply: Who needs to know? Anyway, now that Twitter has been co-opted by marketeers and politicians, will the public move on to the next cool (and, I hope, lengthier) communications vehicle?
Brevity can be an art. Smith magazine is the self-billed "Creators of Six-Word Memoirs." After asking readers to summarize their own lives in a single sentence, they published the results in Not Quite What I Was Planning. Clever, but not as complete as Ernest Hemingway, who once wrote this telling story in six words, "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."
I like a quick read as much as the next guy, but sometimes less is just, well, less. Less filling. Less satisfying. Less engaging. The standard excuse people offer is, "Well, you know, nobody likes to read anymore."
C'mon. People like to eat fried foods, snack on ice cream, drink alcohol, and sit on their butts watching TV. That doesn't mean it's what we should do. Instead, we try to watch our diets, add more fruits and vegetables, cut down on portion size, walk the dog, and get to the gym.
Tweeting may be fun now and then, but give me something worthwhile to read--something I can sink my teeth into--and it will kick around in my head, generating new thoughts and ideas, for years to come.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
According to the site How Many of Me, of all the 306,125,973 people in the U.S, of those over the age of 13:
- 690,307 have the first name Amy;
- 12,276 have the last name Binder; and
- 28 are named Amy Binder.
Wanna see how many of you there are? Visit How Many of Me.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
For this premier race, 400 kids and more than 80 volunteers from SRPS are training for that straight shot down Broad Street, right past City Hall and into South Philly. They've got the determination, they've got the miles under their belts, all they need is some $$$ to help offset the entry fees...and everything else that goes into sustaining the SRPS program.
There's a great fundraising Web site: Run for Philly's Future. Even in tough economic times, it's good to support a cause that focuses on youth, fitness, and running.
SRPS wants to turn the tide on grim statistics for Philly kids:
(From the web site)"50% of our children are obese or at risk for becoming so and almost half of our high school students will not graduate on time. Add a high rate of youth violence and the future for a Philadelphia teen grows bleaker. With your support, we can turn a grim picture into a hopeful one. Students Run provides youth with the opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle while connecting to a caring adult mentor in an environment that emphasizes goal-setting, teamwork & effort."
I'm sold. And my credit card now has a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
This is why I am so enamored of two sites that make it easy for me to get the information I want. Both have relatively simple Web sites. Nothing fancy or Flash-y here, which soothes my content-focused soul. And both leverage their Web presence with push emails to make sure they reach me. Most important, the info they deliver is culled from many places to provide a single source--and great value.
- If you or someone you know is looking for work, especially in communications, check out Ned's Job of the Week. Be sure to sign up for the weekly emails. While I'm not in the market for a full-time gig, it always helps to know who's hiring.
- If you're interested in being a spokesperson in your area of expertise, or you're doing PR work for clients, check out Help a Reporter Out. Peter Shankman does a fantastic job of sending out queries not once, not twice, but three times a day. If you're looking for press coverage, this is a perfect place to start, allowing you to contact reporters when they want to hear from you--and with exactly the information they're looking for.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Now, I know. And you can, too. Spend 18 minutes watching Ed Ulbrich, the digital-effects guru from Digital Domain, explain the magic.
Thanks, TED, for all your "ideas worth spreading."
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Once home, I did a quick Internet search and found that this is an up-and-coming “business” opportunity. You don’t need to be a dentist; instead, you’re a dealer. Taking your reclining chairs and LED light activators on-site for quickie whitenings at conventions, bridal showers, garden shows—just about anywhere.
I’m still in a state of shock and awe. My teeth hurt just thinking of the possible complications.
I’ve gotten used to seeing chair massage and spine assessments at public events, but dental procedures? What’s next—laser eye surgery in food courts? Hair transplants for balding golfers at the first tee?
Is there no modesty? Must everything be shared and on public display?
One news release I found claims “Teeth whitening has potential for unlimited income.” And you can “Be your own boss.”
That may be true, but I prefer to trust my smile—and any other healthcare matter—to the professionals. The ones with the proper initials after their name. In the privacy and comfort of their medical offices.
ADDENDUM: Shortly after posting this piece, I saw a commercial for the CBS Cares Colonoscopy Sweepstakes. Really. With the online promotional materials claiming: "When the colonoscopy is about to begin, you'll be given drugs which will make you feel like you're at Woodstock... only without the music." I kid you not. Apparently CBS cares in a very strange way.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
SRPS uses running to help kids in Philadelphia improve their health , self-esteem, and choices in life. In its short tenure, more than 700 have taken part...and the success stories seem the stuff of Hollywood movies. The latest tribute in Runner's World, by Tom McGrath, is titled "Youth movement: A running program gives inner-city kids confidence, discipline, and a bit of bling."
Heather McDaniel is both program director and its major champion. Congratulations to her and to the entire gang for achieving this national recognition.
I look forward to seeing those newly famous faces and bright blue shirts at upcoming races.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I must be in the minority, because newspapers are in crisis...and I don't get it. To me, a newspaper is like the main meal of the day and blogs are like tasty snacks. You can't get all your nutrition from snacks, but snacks can satisfy your hunger between meals.
Try getting your cat to roll around and play on your blog. Never happen. But just try to keep the cat from batting around the newspaper whenever you're trying to read. That's quality time.
One resource that's working to save newspapers is the Newspaper Project. Click on over and give it a read. Otherwise, we could wind up singing Joni Mitchell songs for departed papers: "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone...."
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
- The 100 Most Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English
- BuzzWhack, to de-mystify buzzwords
- Cliché Site, for explanations of clichés, euphemisms, and figures of speech
- Word Navigator, for help with word puzzles and crosswords