Monday, February 26, 2007

My High Tech Legacy -- (Snort)

So, in the grand Internet scheme of things, I forget that my personal and (until recently fairly dormant) professional lives cross. I recently Googled myself because I was looking up an old article reference that I knew had been on the web. In doing so, I realize that even these blog posts are showing up much more prominently than I ever expected. Not that there's too much to be ashamed of. Not that any of my new colleagues are looking me up... Let's hope not, anyway.

I did just find this, which really freaked me out. It's in Spanish, which I don't speak anymore. (Eight years of bilingual education as a young kid, but French is my game.) It references one of my very few published writing credits, a chapter in a little tome published in 1997 called The Intranet Resource Kit. The best I can tell, the author is referencing me and a colleague of mine with regard to the type of corporate culture necessary to facilitate a good working intranet.

Other Googlings result in some PR interviews I did for CyberSearch, a really great and cutting edge product for about the year that it was marketable, as people conducted offline searches of the Internet. (AOL and other ISPs realizing fairly quickly that the per minute/per hour charge for Internet access was a short-lived cash cow...)

My new colleagues are all doctors who have insane schedules, work endless hours, run hospitals, clinics, non profit organizations, write grants, and on top of all of that love and support spouses and children. So I sincerely doubt that they're spending a lot of time wondering about my background.

A disclaimer, just in case -- To my new colleagues -- don't be afraid. I really do have a career background that doesn't involve stuff like this. But having both personal and professional personas does make me a lot happier.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Book Club Rocks

We had our -- don't know how to say "every 15 months" in "--nial" terms -- book club selections last night, and frankly they're exciting! Every member brings two (hopefully) very different books and describes each. Through a process that is slightly less complicated than choosing the next Pope, we come up with the final list. I've also included the ones that didn't make the cut, because frankly they all sound pretty interesting!

Here's to the third Monday:

The Secret -- Rhonda Byrne
Broken For You -- Stephanie Kallos
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings -- Maya Angelou
Star Lake Saloon and Housekeeping Cottages -- Sara Rath
Suite Francaise -- Irene Nemirovsky
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals -- Michael Pollan
Silas Marner -- George Eliot
Rise and Shine -- Anna Quindlen
The Memory Keeper's Daughter -- Kim Edwards
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game -- Michael Lewis
A Northern Light -- Jennifer Donnelly
The Freedom Writer's Diary -- Erin Gruwell
The Tortilla Curtain -- T.Coraghessan Boyle
The Year of Wonders -- Geraldine Brooks

The "Also Rans:"

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -- Jonathan Safran
No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in WWII -- Doris Kearns Goodwin
A Tribe Apart: A Journey into the Heart of American Adolescence -- Patricia Hersch
Crazy in Alabama -- Mark Childress
Karelia: A Finnish-American Couple in Stalinist Russia -- author unknown
The Power of One -- Bryce Courtenay
The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century -- Thomas L. Friedman
The Pavilion of Women -- Pearl S. Buck
Pitching My Tent -- Anita Diamant
The Last King of Scotland -- Giles Foden
Lost Daughters of China -- Karin Evans
1984 -- George Orwell
Eating Heaven -- Jennie Shortridge
The Measure of a Man -- Sidney Poitier
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia -- Elizabeth Gilbert
The Year of Magical Thinking -- Joan Didion

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A New Thing I Love

This is the best thing since sliced bread. (Or multi-tabbed browsing, which I must mention was pioneered by our old product circa 1993...)

Back to the best thing ever. Christy told me about Pandora. Have you tried it? Omigosh, for a music lover it is just about as good as it gets. Type in your favorite artist, and it automatically provides radio-like stream for you to approve or not.

So far I have channels for Wilco, Lucinda Williams, Liz Phair and Uncle Tupelo. That's just a few hours' worth of listening.


Sunday, February 11, 2007


We have a boy, a boy, and a girl, in that order. Our boys are wonderful, sensitive and intuitive. But they are in no way prepared for the invasion of "girl things" into their lives. As my eldest informed the ultrasound technician the day the news broke, "We don't do girls at our house." (What that makes me, I can only guess.)

So before my daughter came along, they never paid close attention to the My Little Pony commercials, or the Bratz aisle in Target -- except to hear me wonder aloud who designed a doll whose feet come off, fully shod. Creepy. Maybe the idea is to eliminate the micro tiny shoes that Polly Pocket or others wear. I won't even mention how offensive I think the Bratz dolls are in general, though my boys have heard all about that too.

My daughter just turned two. About a week before her family dinner birthday party, we were at the coffee shop and another girl, probably age five or so, came in with this doll:

To say she was interested in it would be like saying I am interested in coffee or chocolate. I am not interested in coffee and chocolate. I need coffee. Crave chocolate. Desire them both. So it was for my daughter with this doll. I think you can see from the picture that she is pretty cleverly packaged. A doll that disappears into a bouquet of flowers! How cool is that? The little girl was aghast that my daughter was honing in on her action. The need flourished.

I didn't know at the time that she as a Barbie, otherwise known in our house (by the brothers who can articulate it) as "She Who Shall Not Be Named." Or more accurately, "She Who Shall Not Enter Our Home." I certainly didn't know she was The Flower Girl in the Barbie Wedding Doll series. Even I have a problem with that, but I digress.

You may have guessed at this point that Flower Girl Barbie lives at our house now. I didn't invite her. My mom bought her, having witnessed the love affair that fateful day at the coffee shop. Our daughter simply adores her. When we told her it was a Barbie doll, she promptly christened it "Garbie." Which is, in garbled 2 year old speak, an expression of love, awe, and "I go the cool toy that girl in the coffee shop had!"

Where have all the English Majors Gone?

All my life I have been told that good reading and writing skills would serve me well in any discipline or career. I even changed my major in college from pre-engineering to English and French, because I was far more interested in reading literature and writing essays than trying, in vain, to "get" chemistry.

I've never regretted that decision. It was the right choice for me, though I do confess that when interviewing for my first job there were many moments when I was thinking, "Four years of private college tuition and I'm waitressing?" It only lasted a year and a half. And it wound up being my French, not my English, that landed me that first job.

Fast forward nearly two decades. I am shopping at my local Target, and stumble upon this:

It immediately caught my eye, not because of the riveting packaging (yawn) but because I happen to need some of these. So I picked up the box, and then I saw this:

Someone at the Rubbermaid Company actually gets paid to write this copy. Several other people get paid to review the box it in a product meeting and give it the green light. Yet another employee is in charge of having the boxes printed. No one along this line, even the printer, picked this up? Talk about quality control issues!!! (Or, just control issues -- those would be mine. I wasn't nicknamed "The Red Pen" for nothing.)

So go ahead, major in English. And please, check your spelling.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Call it Intuition...

... but Howard K. Stern is behind a lot more than propping her up in front of the cameras.

After learning of Anna Nicole Smith's untimely, if not unsurprising, demise, my friend Christy emailed me reminding me that I had predicted this scenario shortly after Anna Nicole's son's death.

The question is, will he ever be nailed for it? In spite of living in a high tech, DNA, crime scene investigation world, I wonder if he had way too much time, under the influence 'witnesses,' and non-US jurisdiction going for him in pulling off ... something.

It is sickening that a five month old child is now being clawed at from all angles -- Stern, two other men claiming to be her father, members of Smith's own family -- in an attempt to get to money she may not have even had rights to.

So sad.