Monday, March 18, 2013

New Blog

I have made the move to a new site for the blog. I was waiting to make an announcement until I got a couple of bugs worked out. But, lets face it, considering the rate at which I'm doing that it might be 2021 before it's done, so I decided I should just let you know...

Here's the new site:
Yes, the blog has its own separate place to live now!

I've written a few posts there.

If you want to subscribe to the RSS feed of the new one, click here.

I hope to see you there, soon!

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow Storm

“The snow began to fall again, drifting against the windows, politely begging entrance and then falling with disappointment to the ground."
                                   - Jamie McGuire in Beautiful Disaster

We are in the midst of a major storm. Well, I suppose by now we are at the end of it. The snow has stopped. In Hutchinson where I live it is currently 16 degrees and we have about 16 inches of snow on the ground. I suppose this is appropriate.

I took this photo out my office window yesterday as it was just getting started. This morning I took the one below.

This is in a very protected area between my house and my neighbor's house, which is why it hasn't blown off. The snow stopped after dark tonight so I didn't get a final shot, but it doesn't tell the whole story because there's a limit to how much will stay in place

The car tells another part of the story.

Yes, that lump is the car.

I have not been out of my house since early yesterday when I went outside and turned the car around so it was facing out of the driveway, and parked near the sidewalk. I learned that lesson the hard way a few years ago when we had almost two feet of snow. That was in late March and it was a bit of a fluke. We've not had much snow the last couple of years and I have to say I have missed it.

Snow is really beautiful and the last couple of days have been lovely. We even had thunder-snow early the morning. I didn't go to bed until about 4 a.m. because I was watching it snow. Stunningly beautiful.

Although I was already incredibly thankful to be able to work from home, I have been reminded further how delightful it is to be able to work in my home office and not have to go out on days like this. On the downside, I will miss having lunch with Trish tomorrow, but I can't imagine I'll be able to get out of my driveway.

I live on a major street, and it's always a bit ironic that the street will be pretty clear, but those of us who live on it can't get to it. The plows will have piled feet of snow at the ends of our driveways and packed it down quite thoroughly. So, unless we have the superhuman strength to hack through the packed down frozen and refrozen mini-mountains at the end of each drive we are stuck until things clear a bit.

Fortunately, we had plenty of warning this was coming, and I went and grocery shopped a few days ago, so I have plenty of things in the cupboards. Actually, I do at almost anytime, but am even more prepared at the moment. I am getting ready to enjoy someone's cooking other than my own, but I don't think that will be tomorrow. The high is supposed to be around 25 so I imagine most of this will still be with us at dusk tomorrow. We will get up to the freezing mark on Saturday, but there's a possibility for more snow on Sunday. Whatever will be, will be. As long as we keep power, I'm in good shape!

It was an absolutely beautiful snowfall. Just gorgeous. And I'm so thankful to be able to enjoy the falling snow from a warm house, and not need to worry about getting to another office. I am blessed.

I'm going to post a couple of photos that show the progression, just for your amusement.

They're calling it the Blizzard of Oz, and that seems a nice moniker. It has been a wonderful experience, but I'm guessing after another day of it, we're going to be getting a bit weary of not having a change of scenery. I haven't been any further than my front porch.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Carnival Cruise it's about the Time, not the Money

Carnival Cruise line has been in the news the last few days because of their ship that was stranded for five days, with a full load of passengers, after an engine fire. The problems were numerous, not the least of which was there were no restrooms.

Passengers are complimenting the staff on doing as well as they could under the circumstances. Carnival is paying people's travel expenses home and giving them a refund, plus $500, and another cruise. Those are all wonderful things, but the real problem is that money doesn't compensate people for their time.

It's always about time, and how you're spending it. Most of us would certainly not choose to spend five days on a ship with sewage leaking through the walls. It seems it was far worse in some areas of the ship than others. But I think it's safe to say it's not the vacation anyone expected when they got on board.

This is one of those situations where no one did anything wrong as far as we know. (Cause of the fire is under investigation.) But, nonetheless something went horribly wrong.

Carnival is between a rock and a hard place. They cannot ever replace that time. Regardless of what they do for passengers, it will never buy back those days and nights, that wonderful anticipation of a great time that was dashed, the vacation time people used to take the trip, or the time they spent getting to and from the ship.

It's always about the time. Money can't buy it. Reimbursements can't buy it. Free cruises can't buy it. Time once it's spent, is gone. These folks won't ever get that time back, and Carnival can't appropriately compensate them for it unless they happen to have a time machine lying about.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quote of the Day

Television turns the viewer into a bystander whereas a book incorporates readers into the story.

       --- W.C. Jameson
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Sunday, February 10, 2013

StoryCorps Creator David Isay at Watermark Books in Wichita

"The soul is contained in the human voice," says David Isay, creator of StoryCorps.

For nearly a decade, StoryCorps has been recording people's lives. They have permanent booths in various locations, and traveling ones that stop around the country, where people can interview someone they love for 40 minutes. The mission is, "to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives." Isay spoke at Watermark Books in Wichita this week.

Isay explained the booths are designed to create an intimate space. The lighting is low, the interview participants are alone with just a facilitator who keeps notes on the interview as it progresses. "We see every interview as valuable and potentially sacred in people's lives," Isay says. "It's an act of generosity when people come to the booth."

They do take photographs of the participants, but Isay says, "We will never have cameras in the StoryCorps booth." He loves the intimacy and power of the human voice, and said even if they were video interviews he would probably close his eyes to listen to them.

In the reception before the event, Isay mentioned that people are always surprised by something that comes out in the interview, even if it's with someone the person has known all their lives. "The reason people get emotional is that listening is authentic and genuine," said Isay. "Listening to a loved one tells them how much they matter." And it reminds them their stories are important.

The StoryCorps website has a list of questions people can use to do their own interviews with people in their lives, without coming to a booth. They've been gathered over the years as ways to get people to talk about, "the great themes of human existence," says Isay. As you might expect those are love and death, and not career paths.

"The trick is not to wait," he says. StoryCorps has a "National Day of Listening" the day after Thanksgiving, when they encourage people to have these conversations. Of course, it can be done anytime. "It's always an amazing experience to have these conversations," he says. He knows of what he speaks. He says he recorded an interview with his father, and listened to it the first time at 3 a.m. the night his father died.

In the last decade, they've recorded about 50,000 interviews. Each conversation is recorded and the participants walk away with a CD. A second CD is made that goes to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, if the interview participants agree. Isay said more than 99% of people do agree.

I was first introduced to StoryCorps when I worked in public radio. Each week there's a segment on Morning Edition. Now I listen to the podcasts regularly. However, that is not what StoryCorps was designed for. Isay explained that was merely a byproduct. "The real purpose is giving people a chance to have these conversations, to know their stories matter," he says.

They are thrilled to have the Morning Edition segment, but only 1 of every few hundred interviews is edited down to a short segment for the radio. Recently they started doing animations of a few of the stories to appeal to a younger audience. Those are done for about 1 out of every 200 radio segments.

The series has also produced some books, including the latest, "All There Is," which was just released in paperback. This particular one focuses on love stories. All of these things grew out of Isay's passion to get people to record and preserve their stories.

StoryCorps works with about 500 non-profits every year to seek different voices who might not otherwise have an opportunity to record their stories. "For people who feel most silenced ... this is a profound experience," says Isay.

When producing documentaries earlier in his career, Isay gave equipment to teenagers to capture their personal stories. He says he learned as he heard them interview their grandmothers, great aunts and other people in their lives, "the microphone gave a license to have conversations they'd never had before." StoryCorps was an outgrowth of that experience. He now spends most of his time raising money for StoryCorps. "I will devote the rest of my life into growing this, I hope, into a national institution," he says.

He said StoryCorps is about celebrating the American story and being reminded to pay attention. "It's amazing the poetry, the grace, the beauty you can find in people walking down the street if you just take time to listen," he says.

"We're seeing humanity at its best," Isay says about the interviews. "When we do that we're on holy ground," he says. StoryCorps teaches us about humanity and the importance of listening. "One of the lessons of StoryCorps is to be in the present and take time to say things to people we love," he says.

Greg was kind enough to take this photo of me with Dave Isay, who was incredibly personable and pleasant.


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Friday, February 08, 2013

Chocolate Tasting at Holy Cross

It has been a few years since I first started seeing references to chocolate tastings. But, there was never one near me, so I couldn't go. Although it didn't seem as wonderful as going to tea, I still thought it seemed like a great way to spend a little time.

Well, last weekend I finally got to go to one. Unbeknownst to me, it has been happening in the town where I live for five years prior to this one. And I've never known about it.

I consider myself to be pretty "in the know" so I'm not sure how I could have missed this. When I mentioned I hadn't known about it, the response was that there had been a big story in the newspaper a year or two ago. But, I had missed that, so I hadn't known.

I know a lot of people in town. I even know people who attend church there. No one had mentioned it. This leads me to question if they really want outsiders to attend, but everyone was very welcoming and engaging. I think it's just a case of believing that a story in the newspaper is all you need to do for publicity for any event. It's not, if you want to engage a broad audience.

The newspaper is great, and I actually learned about this through The Bee, an entertainment publication of the local newspaper. But a Facebook page would have been helpful. Asking people who go to church there to share it around on Facebook would have probably brought in a few more people. Some flyers around town at Third Thursday, a downtown art and music event that happens each month. So many options, most of which are free.

I went to their website and from there connected to their Facebook page, to discover they didn't even promote it on their own page. Why? Why not spread the word?

How many more cool things am I missing? This one I now have on my calendar for next year! If you want to put it on yours, mark the first Saturday in February.

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Nine Things You Should Stop Posting on Facebook

Facebook is wonderful for staying in touch with people from all stages of our lives. It's also easy to over-share. This is not about frat party photos by college students - it's about grown-up people forgetting they're in a public space, not a private one.

The first thing to remember is that if you are ultra-concerned about your privacy, you should not be on Facebook in the first place. You can read about deactivating/deleting your account here:

If you do plan to remain on Facebook, you should stop posting the following:

1. Anything that can be debunked by This includes, but is not limited to, privacy settings on Facebook and where to send Christmas cards to soldiers. Please, spend your time investigating it on snopes instead of continuing to clutter Facebook with this spam.

2. Your dirty laundry. If you feel the need to offer someone an ultimatum, explain how you're just not going to put up with their foolishness anymore, or any other such thing, please do it privately. The rest of us do not need to be involved. This does not make you look strong, it makes you look desperate for validation. Your friends who jump in to offer support do not look like kind, caring individuals, they look like people who have a co-dependency problem. Healthy people do not do these things. It's not flattering. Remember this is a public space.

3. Naked photos of your children. You may think that shot of them in the bathtub is really cute, but the rest of us feel uncomfortable seeing it. Yes, maybe that indicates our society is all messed up, but it's just the way it is. The only people who aren't uncomfortable with it, other than you and their grandma, are pedophiles. 

4.  One post right after another, so you're effectively taking over someone's wall. This is NOT welcome.

5. Photos that demonstrate how much alcohol you consume. If you're at the restaurant in Puerto Rico where the Pina Colada was invented, it's understandable you'd want to post a photo of it. That tells us you travel to interesting places. Two dozen empty glasses on the table tells us you have a drinking problem. Your co-workers, clients, bosses or mother do not need to believe a cluster of empty glasses/bottles/cans is the most interesting thing you have to share about your life.

6. Shared photos or status updates from pages with obscene names. Unless you would use the F-word in a conversation with anyone on your friends list, don't do it on Facebook, even by proxy. This is an easy mistake to make, unfortunately, but do pay attention. People will forgive the occasional lapse, but it's something to definitely not make a habit of.

7. Tags that are not accurate. Do not tag people in photos in which they do not appear. The people you're tagging will be annoyed with you. Their friends who go to look for them in the photos will be annoyed with both of you. None of this will earn you any good will. 

8. Complaints about Facebook. No one is forcing you to be on Facebook. You shouldn't do things that stress you out that much.

9. Photos taken in the bathroom. It's private space. Anything that's private shouldn't be posted on Facebook.

Facebook is a public space, so treat it as such.

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Monday, February 04, 2013

Sweet Honey in the Rock

Sweet Honey in the Rock was performing in North Newton on Saturday evening and I went with some friends. It was in an older gym/auditorium with a balcony. That's where we chose to sit and arrived early enough I was able to snap this photo of the rows of chairs.

The performance was quite wonderful, including a couple of numbers that were really moving. I kept hoping they would sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." I think it would be a great number for them.

That concert was the wrap up to a Saturday that also included a chocolate tasting at a local church. It has been going on for five years previously and I've never heard of it. I consider myself pretty tuned in, but that had certainly escaped my attention.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Nearby Adventures

Greg and I went to Inman today to try out the Harvest Cafe. It was wonderful. We will be going again for sure.

The plan was to head back after lunch, but we ended up going a different direction. One of the many things I love about being able to work mobile!

It was a beautiful day in the mid-seventies temperature wise. So, it was a shame to not go enjoy it.

Somewhere along the way I took this snaphot because it struck me as a "typical" Kansas scene. In reality, these views of uninterrupted horizon are getting rather scarce in many parts of the state. There's usually a structure, some power lines, or something else made my humans in view.

It could be argued the cultivated field is also made by humans, as well as being cleared of trees by them, but I'm going to overlook that little detail and enjoy a relatively natural scene.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Redefining Normal

We went to dinner tonight at our favorite local diner. We decided to sit at the counter and during the meal heard a commotion behind us. A gentleman had gone to move his chair out of the way of someone passing by and had toppled off of a small step. When he got up, it was clear his fingers were broken. Maybe he had had them on the edge of the chair as he fell over in it, and they were crushed, but I'm not sure.

He was incredibly stoic. They were bent backwards and he was bleeding. I know it had to hurt. I asked if they wanted us to call 911 and his wife said she would take him but they needed to pay. I told them to just go, we'd take care of that. The restaurant just comped their food, but I didn't want them to waste any time getting some medical care.

It reminded me just how we never know what will happen at any given moment. Never.

I'm sure they were just planning on having a meal out, maybe with plans for some other errands. And the next thing they know they're on the way to the ER. Hopefully he won't have any permanent damage, but I know that must have been really painful. And not having use of his right hand for some period of time is certainly going to be difficult.

We go through our days expecting everything to be "normal." We make plans for tomorrow and next year and retirement. In reality, any moment could be the last we know before having to redefine "normal." 
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Friday, January 18, 2013

New Car

I have a new car. I didn't really want to get a new car, but learned before Christmas that my car really shouldn't be driven at highway speeds anymore. So, I had to do something.

I rented a car for the trip to Kentucky for Christmas and did some shopping around there and online. I even went to Nashville to drive a Smart Car. They're so darned cute and I really liked it. But, they're only rated at 40 mpg and the Honda Civic is 39 mpg.

In fact, it seemed all roads keep leading me back to the 2012 Honda Civic. I didn't start out to get that particular car but it just kept coming up. So, I now have one.

Before Christmas they were offering lease deals on these that were really appealing, with about $2,000 down and about $200 a month. But a local dealer was wanting to get the 2012s off their lot so much that they offered the same deal minus the $2,000 down. After much research, and talking to other companies, no one could beat the deal they were offering, so Wednesday afternoon we did the deal.

Greg went with me so he could drive the other car back for me (and of course take photographs!). The car is so old and has so many miles they couldn't offer me anything substantial in trade on it. It would be a great car for a high school kid who just needed to get to and from school or something similar. Maybe the perfect solution will come along. I'm thinking maybe I'll donate it if nothing else comes up.

Anyway, I'm very happy to have this decision done for the moment. It was taking up way too much of my mental energy thinking about this for the last month. It's done for now!

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Days and the Ideas

I am blessed these days to have opportunities to work on projects I really love. Most of them involve a lot of computer time - writing, social media, etc. I've also been working on some other website projects of my own. All of these have left me less energy for blogging here.

It's a pity, because delightful, fun things continue to come into my world, and I'd love to share them all. But, I'm adding more snippets to Facebook these days just because it's easier. Please feel free to connect with me there.

This is also a time when I've been sorting through things in my house and finding new homes for many of them. I have some ideas of things I want to arrange differently so I am working on that, too.

Meanwhile, my brain continues to spawn a thousand new ideas a day. I wish I had the time and energy to bring them all to fruition. Instead I'm sorting through them, deciding which are deserving of my attention. It feels unfair to have to leave some ideas unfulfilled, but necessary nonetheless.

Oh that I could just find a way to make more hours in the day!

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Monday, January 07, 2013

First Impressions... and Second Ones, too

Word came out today of a restaurant closing that we enjoyed going to. I'm sorry to learn of this, but it reminds me what a tremendous impact can be made on people from one bad experience.

This place became somewhat regionally famous for a few years and when visiting friends who lived in the area we would go. The food was good, and that's what kept us coming back. The atmosphere was okay but nothing spectacular and the service was the same.

Then one Sunday we decided to make the thirty minute drive over for lunch. We arrived to find a buffet of food that was nothing like what we'd previously had. It was barely edible, and the quality of a chain steak buffet place, if that. I don't frequent those places because I look at the buffet and think, "There are 400 things here, but nothing I want to eat." This was much the same, only without the selection. We all left hungry and paid about 1.5 times what we would have paid at a chain place. So, less selection and less quality, but more money.

And, the worst part of it was, our expectations had been dashed. We were expecting good food during the entire drive. We were preparing ourselves for something delicious. That wasn't what we found. We never went back. 

Was that fickle? Yes, absolutely. The public is fickle. If we'd had stellar service every time we'd been there would have been another draw. If the atmosphere was stunning we might have wanted to go back for that. But if the food is the thing and it's suddenly not good, there's no reason to go back.

Obviously, our very occasional visits of 3-4 people a few times a year, were not significantly affecting their bottom line. But, if that experience were repeated with dozens and dozens of people over many years, it would add up to a negative impact.

Everyone has a bad day, and goodness knows I've been the recipient of much grace from many people over the years. But this is a good reminder of how important it is to give people a great experience in every interaction with you.

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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Holiday Season Coming to a Close

I spent Christmas and New Year's in Kentucky with family. It was a nice time, and as you can see from the photo, we had a substantial snowfall there - about nine inches I'd guess. It was beautiful - big, puffy flakes that covered everything. Blissfully, we never lost power. But, we were snowed in on the farm for a few days. My brother got out with the truck, but I stayed put.

It was no problem at all except I had wanted to go to Nashville to drive a Smart Car and it delayed that until Saturday. On the upside of that, friends from Kansas City were in Nashville on Saturday so I got to have lunch with them.

The reason I wanted to go drive a Smart Car was that I learned right before Christmas that I need to replace my car. I ended up renting a car to drive to Kentucky because I didn't have time to do anything about that before then. Needless to say, this was not news I was happy to hear, but I'm sure the perfect answer will present itself.

I love the Smart Cars, but they don't get very good gas mileage as you'd expect. So, I think it's not the right choice for me. I'm considering if I want to buy something or lease. Not sure what to do, but I'll find something perfect.

During the holiday season I got together with six women I graduated high school with. Some of them I hadn't seen since graduation, none of them more recently than our ten year reunion I don't think. However, Facebook is a great way to reconnect with people. You do feel like you get to know people by being involved in their daily lives. One of the women was so kind to organize and it was great to see everyone. Usually when I go home I hardly leave the farm. It was nice to see people from high school, and in some cases from grade school. 

Now that 2013 is underway, I'm looking at what's around the bend. As usual I made no New Year's Resolutions, but did spend a little time thinking about what the next year should be. So many options. I am so blessed and so fortunate.

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