Tuesday, December 24, 2013

#26Acts of Kindness

On December 14th I intentionally avoided the news, the radio even Google news because that day marked the first anniversary of the Newtown school shooting at Sandy Hook. The reminders are everywhere here in Connecticut. I did however go on the twitter as I do most weeks and found something that was new to me called #26acts. Newscaster Ann Curry started this idea in the aftermath of December 14, 2012, but I had never heard of it. Ann invited her twitter followers to join her in performing 26 acts of random kindness to honor the children and adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. So a year later, I'm joining the movement.

On December 15th, I bought the guy next to me lunch. I've seen him around town. He sits in the library for hours. He walks everywhere. Something is not quite right. But he's a nice fellow, says hello and smiles. When he sat next to us at Andros Diner, I thought, "I'm doing this. I'm going to secretly buy him lunch." He literally ate $11 worth of mashed potatoes and gravy. This plate would've fed four other people but he's skinny as a rail. I hope he was happy that someone bought him lunch. I hope I didn't insult him. I didn't wait to see his reaction. Now I know his name is Jimmy, like my dad.

Sometimes I forget I've made this commitment and then I'll remember and it makes me smile. Like this morning, I held the door for a man and his daughter at Billy's Bakery. They were loaded down and looked like they needed an assist. And he said, "Well aren't you sweet. Thank you and Merry Christmas." Because I held the door. That's how tough it is out there.

I'm counting everything by the way. I finally decided to be civil again to a co-worker that I literally thought I was going to strangle last week. But I put it away. I am doing my #26acts. I put a little extra in the tip jar at Firehouse Deli for those college kids working their tails off. The tip jar says something like, "For school and other dreams." I mean who puts their faith and dreams in a tip jar? Those kids at Firehouse do, so what the hell am I thinking by not believing as well. Give the dog some of that $9.99 Boar's Head sliced chicken that she loves. You bet. That counts.

I read one woman's story of leaving a gift card in her favorite snack section of the grocery store and I thought it sounded kind of silly at first. How totally random is that? But that's the idea. Because like any act of kindness we do for others, it really makes us feel better for the doing.

I meant to send this as a letter to my family because it's often the ones closest to us who don't receive our acts of kindness. I wanted them to know how much I appreciate their support as I decided to transition back to being a freelancer. I'm out here on a limb and they keep saying, "No go further. Get really out there on that limb. We will catch you if you fall."

Now how kind is that? After all these years and all the times I haven't been kind, they'll catch me if I fall. I hope my family reads this. I hope others do too. I want to spread the good will I feel doing my #26acts.

#26acts peeps. Give it a try. Merry Christmas to all! Love, Beck

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Inanity of PR aka I Really Miss Buzzwhack

In a land far away called Raleigh, I used to be a PR person for some pretty big technology companies aka Cisco Systems, IBM, etc. PR is really not for the faint of heart. Sure it sounds glamorous, with all that crisis communications and those paradigm shifts. But you're still pitching and slogging and duking it out with clients or journalists.

The worst of it though, in my opinion, is the language we're required to use to describe something simple. For example, a tech reporter might say, "Oh so it's a new version of their existing software. Why would I care about that?"

And my client would require me to say, "Well it's much more than version 3.2.1 of our current OS. It's a paradigm shift that will create new revenue streams for VARs and VADs alike."

You see my point? Buzzwhack was this great site that tracked and poked fun of all this jargon and PR nonsense. I don't know what happened to Buzzwhack but it appears to be no more. Perhaps gone the way of the other dot coms that faded into the woodwork.

I was talking with a friend on Friday and he had this great idea for a blog. What if I wrote about my personal life using PR speak? So I'm going to give it a whirl.


Risher-Morton Family Debuts Next Gen Meatballs 
A Paradigm-Shifting, Game-Changing Experience for All

In today's tomorrow, I decided to teach my son how to make meatballs. The synergies that exist between the meats in the Stop & Shop meatball mixture, have led to my rapid adoption of a meatball addiction.

It's a truism that there are many brands of spaghetti sauce on the market, but I firmly stick by my favorite, an industry-leading blend of tomato, basil, olive oil and red pepper - Rao's Arrabiata sauce.

Having carefully selected my mission-critical ingredients, I put the next generation of Morton to work mushing meat, bread crumbs and an egg together. To somewhat dilute the total cost of ownership of Rao's tomato sauce, we also blended in a small can of store brand sauce.

With a state-of-the-art spatula, Will blended the cooking meatballs into the tomato sauce. Using superior cooking style, Will was able to tightly integrate the sauce and meatballs into a cohesive, strategic sauce.

"This experience empowers me to redefine the way food consumers manage the design and delivery of meatballs across disparate tomato-y landscapes," said Will Morton, teenager.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. All forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain as they are based on current expectations and assumptions concerning future events or future performance of the company or in this case family. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which are only predictions and speak only as of the date hereof because we are too chicken shit to come out with actual predictions that might later become a PR nightmare should they prove to be untrue.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Compression Hose, Chin Hairs, Varicose Veins. Oh My!

Is this an homage to my husband's favorite ad?

No it's not.

Here's what really happened.

I was at my friend's parents' house. We were talking about all kinds of stuff. She's a 48 year-old new mom. I'm a 49 year-old mother of a teenager. Her sister was there, another mom to a teenager. Their older parents were there. My friend's vascular surgeon husband was there. So three middle-aged women, older parents and a doctor - really nothing was sacred in terms of discussion topics.

We were talking about things like facial hair (women's). We were talking about compression hose (had no idea). We were talking about pacifiers. 

That's how it was going. 

I confessed to the group that I had recently discovered a vein on my calf I wanted to have fixed. Hint, hint vascular surgeon. I so thought we could handle this "amongst friends" if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

See what happened was...one day...in the daylight...I saw this vein. 

Okay before that, let me say that I got lucky. My mom has good legs. My grandmas both had good legs. So I got lucky in the leg department. Like this summer I was walking through the mall and this older lady -- I'm going to say 80? -- said out loud to me, "You've got great legs." Of course I was by myself and there were no witnesses, but I swear she said it.

And I said, "Thanks doll!" Cuz that's what old broads call each other. Doll. Sugar. Hon.

But the thing is, I've only seen the front of my legs recently. Then I caught a glimpse of the back of my legs. And without my knowledge or consent, something had happened to one of my good parts. One of the parts I thought was still standing. 

This weird vein that's a dot - like the skin is smooth and then there's a dot of a vein about the size of a small pea - well that just appeared overnight. That's not right. That pea-sized vein dot is not right.

And I thought, "I have a what on my what what?"

What the hell?

Oh the horrors of getting old.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pimsleur on Hiring a Hooker in Marseille

I have studied French for much of my life so technically I should be fluent. In fact, that is not the case. There was a time when I was conversant, when I was living in France and forced to speak the language daily. Now I am rusty. 

About two weeks ago, I decided to check out French conversation tapes from my local library. While focused on getting my pronunciation right and remembering vocabulary, I wasn't really paying attention to what I was actually saying. Then on my way home from work one night, it suddenly hit me. Those Pimsleur people really have a sense of humor. 

Here's are a few sample conversations I'm learning in French:

How to Hire a Hooker in Marseille

Male voice: Je veux passer quelques jours à Marseille. (I would like to spend a few days in Marseille)

Female voice: Ensemble? (Together?)

Male voice: Oui. J'ai cent dollars et quatre-vingt euros. (Yes. I have 100 dollars and eighty euros)

How to (Not) Pick Up Women

Male voice: Est-ce que vous êtes seule mademoiselle? (Are you alone Miss?)

Female Voice: Non, je suis avec mon mari. (No, I am with my husband)

Male voice: Si vous n'êtes pas seule, je vais partir. (If you are not alone, I am going to leave)

How to Thwart a Bank Robber

Male voice: Donnez-moi quatre-vingt dix euros. (Give me 90 euros)

Female Voice: Je ne veux pas. Je veux partir. (I don't want to. I want to leave.)

Et bien, c'est tout!

NB: When I tried searching the term French in Google images, many of the results were people dressed like mimes. Not all french people dress like mimes FYI.

Friday, September 6, 2013

And Then I Saw a Gal Carrying a Diskman

Over Labor Day, I saw a young woman out walking with a Diskman. And I thought, "Hey is she actually carrying a Diskman?" And then I thought, "Hey didn't I write a blog about a Diskman?" And then I looked up my old blog and found this:


Long Live the 80's

The pressure is on. My brother and his wife are having an 80's dance party this month and I have to find the perfect costume. I was looking for an old bridesmaid's dress so I could portray Alexis from Dynasty. Couldn't find one so my whole Dynasty idea is out the window as is my idea for my husband's matching Zamfir the pan floutist costume. I believe Zamfir is or was once married to Linda Evans. Or maybe it was Kenny G? Six of one, half dozen of another.

As I sat thinking of ideas from the 80's, I began seeing flashbacks from those days. Tastes, sights and smells I remember like they were yesterday.

1) TAB. I think TAB is probably still sold in Bulgaria but it will never recapture its former glory.

2) Indian Earth. Unless you're an 80's girl, you probably don't know Indian Earth. It came in this cool mini-clay pot and the applicator was the cork top. The cheek bone it created was rather severe.

3) Parliaments. No, not George Clinton's back-up band. Parliaments. Smoke'em if you got'em.

4) Walkman. The clumsy precursor to the iPod. A must-have for tuning out the 'rents. (actual weight 2lbs versus the Diskman weighing in at approximately 5lbs)

5) Mickey's Big Mouth or PBR, et al. Any beer you could afford as a teenager.

6) Famolare shoes. Okay I just found out those shoes are made in Brattleboro, Vermont. I thought they were Italian for God's sake.

7) Buf Puf. I nearly scrubbed my face off with the Buf Puf. Someone should've said something.

Other things I remember are innocence. Having no fear. Getting out of the house as much as possible. Rick Springfield.

Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Makings of Mr. Right

Too long off the blog. Not for lack of content. Writing for work and writing my blog for fun...can at times be mutually exclusive. I'll keep this brief since I'm getting back on the horse after weeks. This thing happened with my son and I just thought it was sweet.

Will was away most of the summer so I'd left his room alone. I didn't worry about peach pits growing fuzz in his garbage can, or dirty socks left under the bed. It was nice and quiet and lonely as hell.

When he came back home, I returned to my old habits of daily visits to his room. Will is an A #1 pack rat. This trait gets in his way at school when he can't find his book in the piles. Or he does his homework but forgets it under the papers on his desk. Will collects random scraps of paper, guitar picks, chapsticks, pencils in various states of sharpness, receipts, beef jerky pouches, etc. He dumps everything out of his pockets on to his desk and then doesn't give it much thought. Or so it seems to me.

I was shuffling through a stack of papers on Will's desk to see if there was anything that could be tossed. Then I found it. It was a 3 x 5 note card lying face down . On it was a list of 5 items for dating. 

Will has many girl friends that he sees frequently to hang with on weekends or go to parties. My favorite party so far was the one for his friend from Nepal. Her father is extremely strict. For her 15th birthday she was allowed to invite one boy in a sea of girls. I dropped Will off and went inside to meet the parents. Nice parents. But it's strange having your son be the only boy. I gave him lots of completely obvious tips like use your manners, be polite, no swearing. He's since gone on to be one of the only boys invited to a New Year's Eve party, bowling parties and movie nights.

Will has had some dates with girls from school.  The first girl was a beauty. She looked like Mila Kunis. But she made her sister cry in front of Will so he decided she was kind of mean. A few more dates with another girl. They decided they were better suited as friends. It's all been very civil so far. While he's still where he is, I am delighted to know that what's been on his mind is a simple list of 5 dating rules.

The first? Be friends with her.

The last? Take her somewhere that costs $30.

I think he's definitely on the right track. I'm not exactly sure where he got the $30 figure but it sounds fair to me.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Half-Baked: A Poorly Conceived Plan

This spring in Connecticut has been unusually cold. Even for Connecticut. Where it's cold a lot. When you're a Texan like me, living in a place as cold as this, it wears on you. You get a little stir crazy. You start to contemplate things you wouldn't even consider under normal circumstances. And that's why I went tanning. Not spray tanning. Actually tanning in a bed.

It all started when a client asked me to attend their big annual event in Vegas. It's called Hexagon Live.  I spent two weeks ahead of the event researching case studies from their clients that I'd been asked to interview. These are companies from around the world doing very cool stuff with our client's geospatial mapping software. Very technical stuff, very complex applications. Lots of studying. 

But in the back of my mind, because after all I am a girl, I was thinking what will I wear? I hadn't even swapped out my winter clothes for summer. Because it was still so cold. It was not cold in Vegas however. The weekend I arrived the weather forecasters were predicting the temperature would be in the low 100's. I panicked. How could I dress for 100-degree weather and not put my hideously white legs on display?

So I started with a little bronzing. I had some left over from years ago. It was probably expired because even after two applications, I didn't really have a tan.Off to Vegas I went in all my pastiness, praying I wouldn't have to wear a skirt. 

When I came back to Connecticut it was still cold. Enough already. I got a new, stronger bronzer. Oy that was a disaster. Stripes and swirls everywhere on my arms and legs. My wrists were orange. Ridiculous is how I would describe my look. 

That's when a girlfriend from work and I decided to go check out the new tanning salon nearby. We'd stopped in weeks before but the place was still under construction. This time, they were open for business. We decided to try one session on the spot. You could choose to sit in there for up to 20 minutes but Julie decided to do 10 instead. The check-in girls looked at me and politely suggested I try 8. 

In we went. Everything was new and clean. I had to walk back out to ask for those little mini goggles. Then I got into the bed, for the first time ever, and sat there for 8 minutes. 

Without pulling the lid down. Because I didn't realize you're supposed to do that. 

In the end, I'd tanned about 2/3 of my body. So my back and part of my right arm looked somewhat tan and the rest was the same. I know Julie wants to go back but I think I'm out. When you grow up in the South and you're used to the actual sun on your skin, tanning just isn't the same. And then there's my deep-seated fear of looking like Magda from There's Something About Mary. Or that crazed tanning mom

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Memories Like the Cobwebs of My Mind

In recent weeks, I've seen two movies that delve into the subject of memory: Oblivion, starring Tom Cruise, and Trance with James McAvoy. Oblivion is a big budget, sci-fi extravaganza that was probably produced by the Church of Scientology. No I'm totally kidding. Because Morgan Freeman is also in the movie, and he's like an atheist

In Oblivion, Tom Cruise plays one of the last humans still left on Earth following an invasion by aliens. We are told these aliens, called Scavs, launched a nuclear war that left the moon with a giant hole in it and purportedly much of the planet uninhabitable. Most earthlings left for a space village in the sky, while Tom aka Jack and his lady friend Victoria are charged with minding the slow removal of the Earth's water. They are kept company by a fleet of drones, known only by their numbers, that are programmed to target and destroy any remaining Scavs.

Tom goes on patrol every morning to repair downed drones. His lovely partner keeps an eye on his progress and warns him of Scav sightings. Those pesky Scavs. They are having a run of good luck lately, damaging drones and downing a US  spacecraft that's from the past, but in the future. It's this incident that causes a rift between Jack and Victoria, heretofore always considered an "efficient team." And the unraveling of secrets begins, including the fact that this team has had their memories scrubbed.

I won't give all of the plot away. It's actually pretty twisty and likely the film deserved better ratings then it received. But IronMan 3 is kicking ass in the big budget movie department with $75 million in box office last weekend versus $4 million for Oblivion.

Trance on the other hand is a film by Danny Boyle, the director made famous for Slumdog Millionaire. James McAvoy's character, Simon, is in security at a prestigious auction house when an expensive painting is stolen. During the robbery, Simon is hit over the head and suffers a serious injury. From that point forward, his memory is shaky. This plot also takes some major turns and it becomes imperative, if not life threatening, that Simon recall the events of that day.

I Coulda Been a Contenda on Name That Tune

My memories are a strange thing. I can remember many, many, many song lyrics. If Name That Tune was still on, I would rock that show. (This is so cool. I just googled Name That Tune and a free app came up that is like Name That Tune for the iPhone.) But I can't remember other things. Important things. Like my anniversary. It took me forever to remember it correctly. I got married on July 6th and my husband's birthday is July 9th. But I always feel slightly panicked when I try to keep them straight.

We moved a lot as kids. Thanks IBM. So I also have trouble remembering where I was when something happened. Was that California or was that Connecticut? Sometimes I can remember because of what was around me. Was it sunny? What clothes was I wearing? If it's sunny, and I'm wearing OP shorts, that was Cali.

As a teenager, I worked in a home for retired Jesuit priests in Weston, Massachusetts. Kind of a weird job but all the Friendly's waitress jobs were taken. Some of the retirees could remember everything. Brother Sullivan, for example, looked after the wine in the apparently enormous wine cellar at Fairfield University. He could remember all the wines. For Father Eberle however, every day was a new day. Every day, I was the new girl. 

Last weekend, my husband and I went to Radio Shack to invest in something called an RCA cable. We had to google that too. My husband walked in the store then shortly after walked out. He wanted to check the connection to the cable. "She was right," he said. Then he walked back in and out again. Cable in hand, we were trying to read the Tiguan owner's manual to see how to work this magical cable that would allow us to connect our iPhone to the CAR! Spooky scary cool.

I said, "What do you think Radio Shack girl would say if we asked her to help us? I think she would say we are old." He nodded in agreement. I actually figured it out before we had to enlist the help of Radio Shack girl. Thank god!

The first song that played from my phone through the magical car cable was an oldie from the Counting Crows Mrs. Potter's Lullabye. "If dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts." That's the line I've been thinking about. 

The Persistence of Memory pictured is a painting by Dali, in case you don't recognize his style.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

One Car, Two Years, Three People

For the past two years, we've been a one-car family. It's not been easy driving to the train and baseball and work and repeat. I wish I could say our decision to own one car was eco-driven, our own personal statement about sustainability and green. It's not. It based on cowardice. My husband and I cannot stand dealing with car salesmen. Or car sales ladies. Either one.

For my husband, I think it has to do with his upbringing. His father owned an auto parts shop growing up and he spent his summers stripping engines and foraging for car parts. He got hit in the face with a dolly and split his nose open. He drove a forklift off a cliff (or large hill). He sweated through many North Carolina summers, cursing under his breath. He did say it was a slight improvement over working in a tobacco warehouse.

For me, it's that I've never really been a "car" person. Or maybe I never got over my first car. When I was 16 years-old, my dad bought a red Triumph convertible - TR6. I think he actually bought it for himself, but at some point realized that when you're 6' 4", the TR6 is not the optimal driving car. Unfortunately for my dad, that car was a stick shift and I wrecked the transmission. And that was all she wrote. 

I know. Youth is wasted on the young.

When I went to college, I lived in New Orleans. I took the streetcar, hitched (yes I'm an idiot) and my roommate had a car. Then I spent a year studying in Paris and taking the Métro. Mais oui. When I worked in Manhattan, I took Metro-North. All along I had this car my parents bought me. It was a blue Volkswagen Golf that I got when we were living in Massachusetts. It had no A/C. Now when you're living in Massachusetts, that will probably work. When you move to New Orleans or Raleigh, that will not work. The Blue Bunny as I called her eventually died in North Carolina after 12 years of loyal service. Boy did I go through some hot summers.

My next car was a Volvo station wagon I bought from my friend Amy. It had 178,000 miles on it. Again no A/C, no air bags or other modern safety features. On a positive note, it only cost me $1,500. I drove that car back and forth from Cisco in RTP for a couple of years. Then I got married. I got pregnant. And we needed a car. A real car with air bags and seatbelts that worked. We traded in our old Volvo for a shiny new Volvo sedan. It was awesome. We even leased it through the business, so it was sort of like a free car. When the lease was up, we turned her in. 

At Least My Car Doesn't Have an 8-Track

By that time, my dad had sold us one of his old Jeeps. Then he gave me my grandma's Jeep when she wasn't allowed to drive anymore. I'm thankful he gave me that car because the car she had before was a pale yellow, gigantor Caddy with Al Hirt stuck in the 8-track player. Slowly but surely those two Jeeps died and my husband and I were faced with the ugly truth. We needed a car. From like a dealership. We were going to have to negotiate.

We test drove a few cars including a sensible Subaru Forester. Ultimately, we bought a Volkswagen Tiguan. Get it? It's like a Tiger and an Iguana, in the same car. My husband swore he wouldn't buy a VW, but they are nice cars to drive. Have we had problems? Yes. You betcha. That's the nature of cars. That's why I hate cars. They're so needy. It's always, "I need oil. There's no air in my tires." Such high maintenance. 

As often as possible, I drive the scooter my husband bought me for Christmas about 10 years ago. Not a terribly practical vehicle for New England. But I love my scooter. It's a Yamaha Vino. It's silver. I have a shiny red helmet and a horn.

My dream car is a dark blue Porsche 911 Carrera convertible. As a kid, we lived in LA briefly and my dad had a friend in La Cañada. One day my dad and I followed him to his house, trailing behind him in his Porsche 911 Carrera. Maybe I'm dreaming this but I think it really happened. I remember that beautiful car, the mountains in the distance and the feeling of being in LA.

I guess when you are finally able to buy a Porsche, there's not a lot of haggling that goes on. Or maybe the haggling gets worse? We shall see.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Second Screen Effect: Raising A Generation of Media Multitaskers

In the April 1st issue of Adweek, there is a cool infographic about the issue of the second-screen effect. At my house, I call that behavior "doing two media at once." I frequently have to tell my son, "Stop doing two media at once." Apparently he's not the only one who has caught on to this idea. 

According to the stats (via Adtheorent):

Among those with a TV and computer, 52% are somewhat or very likely to use another device while watching television. (Source: IAB)

So called "media multitasking" is on the rise particularly with younger people. The article goes on to state that media multitaskers have fewer emotional highs and fewer lows. I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news -- or neutral like their emotions. 

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a fellow copywriter / blogger / social friend and also father to a teenager. We were discussing all the implications of our kids being tethered to a phone, tablet or other device. He said he does check his daughter's phone from time-to-time to see what she's texting. What he found alarming was that she is often texting about nothing. Literally. Nothing.

"What r u doing?"


"what r u doing..."


Really, this is text-worthy? How much radio frequency is used up by texting "nothing" back and forth between teenagers? It's ridiculous. Or so it would seem to me. And to my friend. Not so to the youngsters. 

I didn't actually get a cell phone until I was 35 years-old. I only caved after realizing that with a new baby, there might be need for me to call someone for say roadside assistance or I'm running late to daycare or something else that I would consider urgent. Now of course, I'm on my phone alot talking to friends, surfing the web, updating my social channels on twitter and facebook and pinterest.

One time I walked in on my son and he was on his phone Skypeing with a friend while watching TV on his iPad. He had turned his phone to face the tablet so his friend could watch the show too. They were watching TV together on the phone. I don't understand this behavior. Or possibly it's that I can't relate. 

Adweek calls the younger generation digital natives, while I fall into the nonnative category. I can remember a time when there was one home phone, one TV with only a handful of channels, and these things called books. Was it a better time? I don't know. It was my time. Now it's the digital natives' time. I hope they use their power for good. Just don't use it for nothing.

You can find me on the twitter @fightingfinn or sometimes I go outside without any device at all.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Does My Hair Make Me Look Like Billie Jean King?

Over the winter, I cut my hair short. Well I didn't -- but my girl did. My husband and I have this deal about my hair length. Actually he has a deal that he thinks I care about but I don't. I understand it. The fear that is. There is a certain mom haircut that looks a little mannish. It says I've given up and now I'm buying my jeans at Costco

But that's not the look I have. At least I didn't think so. 

I'm always rushing around. Rushing and rushing. Typical mom. So I started blow drying my hair in a way that went a lot faster. It involved not using the brush and instead just pushing my hair back with my fingers. I thought I was looking pretty good. That is until I took a look in my rear view mirror and thought, "I look (a little) like Billie Jean King."

So I asked my husband, "Hey, do I like like Billie Jean King?"


Me: "I'll take that as a yes?"

Him: "It's not that you look like Billie Jean King. But if you cut your hair any shorter, you're going to be getting dangerously close to the mom haircut."

Me: "I do not have the mom haircut."


The next day, I started using the brush again. Besides, I don't look like Billie Jean King. I look like Yolanda from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. You know the one. She's always saying "dahling" with some vaguely Prussian empire accent. Here's Yolanda.

NB: I met Billie Jean King and actually wrote some interview questions for Mary Carillo when she interviewed Billie Jean King at one of the USTA's annual meetings in Palm Springs. Yeah that's right. I did. BJK was as nice as can be, so it would be totally fine if I had her haircut. 

Also my husband designed the plaque they gave Billie Jean King when the USTA dedicated the stadium to her. But he's probably forgotten about that. I didn't. It was a good day. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Things I Invent at My Day Job (II)

For those of you who missed it, Things I Invent at My Day Job (I) was a seriously funny blog that I wrote filled with ideas from my co-workers that I stole. Now I know what you're thinking. Are you funny, or is it just that you stole funny material from your co-workers? Listen hair splitters / knit pickers, if I write the blog filled with stolen material, then it's all mine.

So the much anticipated follow-up is here. Things I Invent at My Day Job Numero Dos. 

Large Print Cosmetics

Actually this one is my idea.  That's why it's not that funny, but incredibly practical. See the other day I was shaving my legs with conditioner - by mistake - and I realized how often these days I make the mistake of reaching for the wrong bottle of whatever cosmetic because I can't read the fine print.

This is what my labels will look like going forward. 





Embalming Fluid

Realistic Fingernail Polish Names

Honestly I pity those poor fingernail polish namers. The pressure must be huge. Every season, something new. How many ways can you say pink? Here are a few real examples of fingernail polish names: muchi muchi (mauve pink), no pre-nup (sheer pink), exotic liras (decadent fuschia aka pink). Exotic liras is currently out of stock. I'm thinking that's an older pink name because liras don't exist anymore.

So at work we decided to start our own line of fingernail polishes that are realistically named so you know exactly what you're getting. First out of the chute from Julie was granny underpants. It's off white.

NB I just attended a Seth Godin webinar and he actually wrote a blog that appeared shortly after mine about not want to wear reading glasses to see the shampoo labels.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Top 3 Things that You'll Never See on Goop

Honestly I don't visit goop often but I was pleasantly surprised to stop by today and see my twitter friend and fellow Texan @BreneBrown writing about vulnerability, the subject of her book Daring Greatly. I had originally planned to write a snarky blog about a few of my secret shames and how anti-goop they are - at least it seems to me.

In reading Brené's post, it occurred to me that maybe I should cut the snark and just put my crap out there. Just me daring to be vulnerable. And leave Gwyneth Paltrow alone. Because in all reality there is a really good chance that GP likes Fritos too. I mean who doesn't like Fritos?

So here are my top 3 things that Gwyneth Paltrow might possibly like as well but I really doubt they will ever be featured on goop.

Frito Pie

I love Frito Pie. They serve it in malls in Texas. I had a very interesting conversation with my Connecticut work girlfriends about Frito Pie. Turns out, they'd never even heard of it. What? When I was searching for Frito Pie images for this blog, I found out that people actually make it in the little Fritos bag. But I'm kicking it old school in a handy mall container. The recipe is super simple and involves only processed food. It's fantastic. Trust me.

• 4 cups Fritos
• 1 can (15 ounces) chili - no beans (Hormel preferred)

• 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
• 1/2 cup diced green chilies
• Sour cream, onions and salsa (optional)

Use the Fritos as your crust. Heat the chili and pour over the Fritos. Sprinkle cheese and other goodies you like on top. Grab a fork and some napkins. And a Zantac.

Spanx Bathing Suits

Obviously, it goes without saying, if you're eating Frito Pie you may at some point need to purchase a Spanx bathing suit. Spanx bathing suits can be any brand really. Miraclesuit is another one. Miraclesuit promises to make you look 10 pounds thinner in 10 seconds. I am so in on that.

There's only one small problem with Miraclesuit, Spanx bathing suits etc. It's like any malleable object you apply pressure to, for example silly putty. When you squeeze silly putty in your hand, it will seep through your fingers. The same holds true for flesh. Yes a Spanx bathing suit can create the illusion of a waist (finally, a waist!). But suddenly I have an ass too?  

RHO Name That City

My husband says that watching any of the Real Housewives of New York, Beverly Hills, Atlanta, New Jersey etc is like watching wrestling. It's like middle-aged woman wrestling. 

I disagree. There's something so mind numbing and yet reassuring about watching these shows. I love when one of the housewives tries to launch a singing career.  Here's a classic video of "Countess" LuAnn de Lesseps singing Money Can't Buy You Class. I had a cousin back in Texas named LuAnn. We called her Ludy. This LuAnn should've reconsidered the bustier that sort of - or alot - makes her look like a drag queen in this video.

NB: I wrote this blog several weeks ago and since then Gwyneth has come out to rag on herself about her worst Oscar outfits including that one that was like sweatshirt material.  You know I totally think that a gal who would wear sweats to the Oscars might go for a little Real Housewives and Frito Pie. 

NB2: I just checked back with goop and the site is currently featuring oyuna for goop - cashmere throws starting at just $900. Really?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

March for Change -- Post 12/14

After the great blizzard Nemo (seriously the most ridiculous name), my mood was foul. I have grown to hate snow. Snow is the enemy. Snow causes back injuries from shoveling and broken hips from falling.

On Sunday morning, two days later, we woke up here in the Northeast to a day almost like a day out West. The sun was so bright it reflected off the icicles that were hanging everywhere. While we still had many more hours of shoveling to do, my mood lifted.

If I can see the sun, I'm okay.

After being socked in for the weekend, I completely forgot about Valentine's Day and a commitment I'd made in January to participate in something called the March for Change. To honor the two month anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, a group of women initially (and men) decided to take action.

The events of 12/14/12 saddened us all. It didn't matter on that day how you felt about politics or guns or the 2nd Amendment. You were still someone's mother or father, someone's child, someone's sibling. I remember I took a half day off from work to do something -- I don't know what. I was listening to the radio on my way home and had to pull the car over I was so distraught. Then my mom called and my roommate from college who lives in Littleton, CO (home to Columbine). We all cried on that day. We cried during Christmas. We lit candles, sent teddy bears and generally did what any compassionate human being would do in the face of such terrible tragedy. There were so many acts of kindness from around the world, it seemed like it would just go on.

And then winter set it. The holidays were over. It's human nature to forget. I remember my friend Deb posted something on Facebook about a march and it stuck with me. Why not? It's been a long time since I got off my duff and did something about an issue, any issue.

As the day grew closer and closer, I started to think maybe this is silly. What does it matter if I go? Look at all these other women who have been lobbying State leaders and rallying buses and taking charge. So I'm going to show up in my lame green track suit jacket and that matters?

More than 5,500 women, men and children showed up today in Hartford. That's twice the crowd that was predicted. It was another beautiful sunny day. The snow was still on the ground but I had to take my coat off to stay cool. There were speeches from politicians on both sides of the issue. There were celebs (Christine Baranski, you rock). There were activists and organizers. But it was the families, of course, that got to me.

Henrietta Beckman from Mothers United Against Violence. She lost her son.  Colin Goddard who survived the shooting at Virginia Tech. Survivors from Aurora. A father who lost his 14 year-old, the same age as my son. He was stifling back tears.

Jillian Soto spoke about her older sister Victoria, a very brave teacher who died that day in her classroom trying to shield her students. She said, "Vicki was already my hero. She didn't have to die to be my hero."

And Veronique Pozner spoke about her six year-old son Noah who was murdered that day in Newtown. She reminded us of all the things he will never experience from middle school to dating, and marriage and kids. She said on this beautiful day, "Noah will never feel the sun on his face again."

She spoke of Noah not as a martyr but as a typical child full of energy and difficult questions and curiosity. From far away, I couldn't see it but she held up one of his last art projects for Thanksgiving. You know the one where kids trace their hand to make a turkey. And then Noah was asked to label each of the 5 feathers on the turkey with something he was grateful for that day. He wrote:

1. Electricity (possibly a reference to recent power outages after Hurricane Sandy)

2. Books

3. Friends

4. Family

And on the last feather, he wrote

5. The Life I Live

Less than one month later, Noah was killed.