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Showing posts from 2011

To Card or Not To Card: Perpetuating Holiday Traditions (or Not)

Recently, there was a discussion about holiday etiquette , which was really just a catchy timely headline for everyday etiquette because it was just about thank you notes. That same discussion -- with its preference for handwritten notes -- has echoed around my circles lately. In general, I am the minority who think that email is all right for sending a thanks or expression of appreciation. I'm kind of in the Warm Fuzzy camp, I guess, when it comes to sending good wishes and positive sentiment -- Bring It On! I have the same philosophy about holiday cards: I really don't care what your reason for the season is, if you want to wish me and mine well, I'll take it! And hopefully, you'll accept my wishes for you and yours, too. But oooh boy have I ever heard some actually rude sentiments around this -- both from the recipient side. I've heard some people say they only accept cards that are specifically Christmas cards. ACK! I've also heard people who

It's because it wasn't what we wanted to hear

My friend Devin shared a site of links to the Jerry Sandusky case, along with a commentary. If you don't know what is going on with Jerry Sandusky, catch up here . There are a string of articles under Top Stories. In short, from one article: Jerry Sandusky, a former defensive coordinator under Paterno, has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys across a 15-year period, and Paterno has been widely criticized for failing to involve the police when he learned of an allegation of one assault of a young boy in 2002. Read more . I read through the commentary and I heard the exact feelings any sane, feeling person would have: bewildered, angry, judgmental, and worse. My husband I just went through a class called "Safeguarding God's Children." It was our second go-round, and it hadn't changed a bit in the intervening years. It's part of the training and certification the church requires in order for you to participate in children's activities now, such as g

One more birthday, another year older...HURRAY!

It's my birthday today. And I opened the day with this status: It's my birthday! Hallelujah for another birthday! I am one year closer to my 2 pm glass of wine and nap! One year closer to wearing hats every day (that aren't ball caps). One year closer to being able to say, "I'm old, I've earned the privilege of being irascible, now sod off!" which has a dual purpose of play on words: "take a hike" and "get off my lawn." Also it will force the Autocorrect Generation to go look up a word. HEH! I am truly grateful to get to celebrate another birthday. My 40s have turned into a time of watching friends with major health crises and losing friends way too young. Each week, it seems, someone else gets struck by cancer. My body has turned into a habitable inn for skin cancer, aches, pains, fat cells, and other things I don't enjoy playing host to, but they are minor inconveniences I can work around. They do not take over my internal space l

A Manifesto of Sorts About Sexism: You don't know from discrimination, sweetheart, and other divisive fallacies

Consistently I read stories, articles and posts about sexism that divide the women's movement into two distinct, mutually exclusive camps: 1. The system inherently discriminates against women, as do the people within it who continue to subscribe to it, and people must fight to remove this to open up bigger and better opportunities for women; and 2. Women must view themselves as their own change agents and foster their own inner potential, thereby breaking through any perceived glass ceilings through hard work and continual success that stems from belief in themselves as leaders and succeeders. The problem with this subscription to one or the other camp is that it fosters a high school football team style loyalty to one side, with a competitive disdain for the other. I read a post that subscribes to Fostering Inner Female Success and the skepticism about an inherently discriminatory system boiled over into outright disgust for the whiny self-described victims. I read a post that sub

A short merciful trip to Chi-town (not the one in Illinois)

Photo of lily pond at Ocean Palace Restaurant in Chintatown, Houston. Photo copyrighted by Julie Pippert, 2011. Do not use without permission. Believe it or not, Houston has a thriving Asian section. Last week, on a school holiday, along with other parents we took the kids from my daughter's World Explorers club on the Asian Heritage Discovery Tour . Here's their general description of the tour (you can customize it somewhat, as needed, for your group and they did a great job of making it very kid-friendly): The route begins at the Chinese Community Center, 9800 Town Park and continues to Asian market and stores at the Hong Kong City Mall. A dim-sum lunch is provided at Ocean Palace Restaurant, one of the largest Chinese restaurants in Houston, followed by a visit to the Buddhist Temple. A traditional tea ceremony or Chinese calligraphy presentation concludes the tour. It was an amazing experience and really let the kids see, hear, touch, smell and taste snippets of Asia. They

TV is Getting Dirty (and I'm getting to be an old fogey)

Soaps are coming to an end . ABC even cancelled All My Children . In its place, a cooking show. I suppose it's a little silly to feel a bittersweet twinge at the thought. I've never really been in to soaps, never really watched them, not the daytime ones anyway. It wasn't out of snobbery or anything; I was into other things. That didn't mean I was ignorant of them. In one of my early jobs post-college, a producer for the studio where I worked was obsessed with Days of Our Lives , and that's what the lunch room TV was tuned to, end. of. discussion. Layne was this brilliant producer, organized and charismatic, who had gorgeous girl next door looks and a tomboy personality. We had so much fun at that job, the young crew of us. Inside jokes, tons of creative and diverse work, and a really neat end result. I kind of knew at the time it was a good gig, but only now, twenty years later, do I really know how amazing and blessed that time was. It's fun to remember. Those

A sense of place

My mother lives in Bastrop. For years my family trekked to Bastrop for vacations and holidays. For years we walked along the Colorado River, either enjoying the Christmas displays or just the pretty scenery. For years we visited her little church and got to know the congregation, her friends. For years we hiked the woods behind her house, and bird watched in the pine trees in her front yard. For years we ate at local hotspots such as Maxine's and got dessert from the soda fountain at the drug store. For years we fell in love with this adorable and quaint little town, whose main downtown street was preserved through the Texas Main Street program , a program my husband learned about back in college and that we admired greatly. For the last week, we've watched Bastrop burn : BASTROP, Texas -- The massive wildfire is now 70 percent contained. Tuesday morning, firefighters cleared areas for more residents to return home. Police removed the barricades at 10 a.m. for the neighborhoods

The cost of growing (older) kids

The clerk told me the total and I flinched. Literally. We'd just finished gathering all the school supplies specified on the list for my oldest daughter, now in an upper grade of elementary. The expectations are much higher. And so is the cost. It's also a lot harder. Her questions are more complex, and her moods more mercurial. Once upon a time I could have gone to the store and bought the supplies for her. Now, however, she has a vested interest in this and all purchases, as well as many aspects of life…because in her mind, they all reflect on her. She sees herself in a new way. She's becoming self-conscious about the music she listens to, the clothes she wears, how she fixes her hair and accessorizes, the way she talks…everything. When did all this happen and what do I do? I swear five minutes ago she was just starting to talk! So, after shopping, I came to Facebook and stated that back to school shopping was a physical pain and added a few melodramatic OUCH c

Keeping Stress from Kids

It's been a little stressful around here lately. My husband's car, which we just invested a couple grand in back in the Spring with hope it could last a couple more years, went kaput. Both of us are working a lot, and let's just say that while we're glad for employment, the dollar doesn't stretch like it used to. Due to emergencies like the car, some of the less pressing "need to dos" for our house keep getting pushed further down the priority list, which is a bit of an issue. You know, life. Life is a little rough around the edges for a lot of us. As adults, we're more or less equipped to deal with it. Age brings perspective, and if you're lucky, a good set of tools and community to lean on while dealing with it. Kids don't have this, though. It's hard to say no to kids about things you once said yes to. It's hard to cut things from their lives that you all once enjoyed. You know it's a good example, and the right thing to do, but

Love is king, but is content?

This image is from Shelly's Pybop " Content strategy Success in 5 Steps. " It's a really clear visual of the flow and process that I think is crucial. It's very worth studying. This week I've been training nonprofit arts groups in the art of social media. In one section, I discussed "worthy content." I flinched a wee bit as I did so. There's plenty of worthy content out there that barely sees the light, and there's plenty of unworthy content that sees way too much light. Who am I to judge? The consumer of said content. That said, it's subjective. But people want a formula. So there's a book. Ann Hadley & C.C. Chapman wrote a book, Content Rules . In the words of Beth Kanter , The book shares the secrets to creating good content on social channels that engages your audiences. They offer principles, how-to steps and tips, and case studies. My favorite chapter is “Reimagine: Don’t Recycle: Anatomy of Content Circle of Life.” Bet

The Curious Case of Delicate Steve (and what it may teach us about PR and pr)

On All Things Considered, Frannie Kelley told a story about a band she learned about from a press release. Except, it turned out, the story was very little to do with the band and very much about the press release. The Band Delicate Steve is a sort of indie instrumental style, based on the clips I've heard. It's mostly upbeat, I think, and reminds me a lot of movie soundtracks. If you like Badly Drawn Boy, I think you'd like this. The band is lead by Steve Marion. Steve is a 23-year old Jersey boy who plays multiple instruments. Steve is currently on tour. But that's not what the press release said. The press release was conceived of by Yale Evelev, who runs the label Luaka Bop, and executed by Chuck Klosterman, former Spin writer, and author of two books ( Fargo Rock City and Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story ). The Press Release Yale Evelev thinks band bios are boring. Frannie Kelley quotes him as saying : "I've watched how writers write about

There are girls in tech...but there can be more (with your support)

While researching girls in tech topics, I consistently run across these awesome women doing so many things in tech...around the world. For example, while searching Twitter for Girls in Tech (on any given day) I found an international array of people supporting girls in tech in Indonesia, Africa, Asia, Israel and more. I set up Google alerts for the same search and was bombarded. I ran across a great article that explained in Africa, across the continent, young women lead the tech scene . The Silicon Sisters just released a new iOS game, made by women for girls . You've got Girls in Tech with chapters spreading around the US. But then we see a few other sides to the story, too. There are good questions and discussions about inequity, and how to balance the scale, such as Allyson Kapin's Where are the women in tech and social media? There are appalling and bigoted assertions about women being their own worst enemy, with no actual solutions, such as Michael Arrington's Too F

A Great Love Story: The Young and the Chemical

Driving home from school with my girls is what I think of Quality Catchup Time but they probably think of (or will soon) as Suffer the Mom Inquisition. The latter title comes from an inside family joke about Suffer the Mom Love, which is when I give hugs to children and pets because they want and need them even as they pretend they don't. Trust me, I can tell the difference and respect a sincere no but give a smiling "Oh Moooooooommmmm" a good squeeze. While in the van, I ask each girl very specific questions so as to avoid potential monosyllabic responses. My younger daughter has been trying out her storytelling skills and we've been working on the "that's a great story, what a neat imagination" distinction from "that really happened, how interesting." Sometimes it's hard to tell. Such as in the telling of the story/report from the other day: Daughter: Today I have a romantic tale! *giggles* Me: A...romantic tale? Daughter: Yes! *giggles*

In which Hollywood plays the best April Fool's Day joke ever: Hop

Yesterday, after an admirably long run of successfully avoiding April Fool's Day pranks, I got punk'd but good by Hollywood. I went to go see the new movie for kids: Hop . Ha ha Hollywood, you really tricked me with your great cast lineup, all of whom had me totally fooled that they'd never do anything except creative and clever cinema. I was lulled into a false sense of security between that and the Toy Story series. That's the best con, you know: get to know your mark, build a sense of trust and then WHAMMO! I fell for it! You got me with your con of "worthwhile artistic cinema." Friday afternoon, I made one of those infamous "it seemed like a great idea at the time" decisions. I joined a group of friends and we took a gaggle (honestly, it was a gaggle -- I lost count at the sheer number; I know I brought four and it seems as if everyone else brought about that many too) of kids to see Hop . If you have kids, you probably won't be able to avo