Wednesday, December 31, 2008

May You All Have A Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year

I want to wish all my friends, family and colleagues a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. I hope you achieve all your dreams and successes and suffer no heartbreaking losses.

And please remember to pay it forward. Do a good deed for someone, but don't expect anything in return. Remember, we must take care of our own, and that includes family, friends, and those who are less fortunate.

If you have lost a connection with someone you loved, a parent, a child, a friend, reconnect. If you owe someone an apology, give it. If you're too lazy to pick up the phone, don't wait any longer. Call.

And please be kind to the environment. Remember, the earth is a living, breathing thing.

God bless you all.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thank you, U.S. Troops

As I reflect upon this Christmas Day, I just want to say thank you to all the U.S. soldiers around the world who are protecting our freedoms and our democratic way of life. For all the times you wonder if you are appreciated, you are. For all the times you wonder if you are doing the right thing, you are. For all the time you've spent away from your family, especially on this Christmas holiday, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifice.

Merry Christmas. Come home safe and soon.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Please vote for me!

To all my family, friends and business associates,

I am writing to ask you to vote for me. On the website, I put up a suggestion of how I feel the heatlhcare system should be changed. Votes get ideas to the second and then the final round. Winning ideas are actually going to be presented to Barak Obama after he is sworn into office.

About a week ago, my suggestion was ranked #2 in the global health category. I have 67 votes mostly from people I don't know who read my idea!

If you disagree with my idea, that's fine. You can simply do nothing. Or everyone is also free to write a comment.

Here is the link:

Then click on the "67 votes" box. You will have to register to vote.

I appreciate your support. Thank you,

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Friday, December 05, 2008

How to Find a Job in a Down Market

As a freelance writer and editor who’s pretty well plugged in to most of the goings on in the advertising, marketing and digital media industries, I will often get requests from people in the industry who have lost their job to help them find a new one. Just this morning, I learned of two more people in our personal circle who have lost their jobs. So I thought the time was right for a blog post that discusses all the ideas that I generally recommend to people who email me.

When looking for your next great career move:

1) Don’t limit yourself to your local market. Do you work in the kind of field that would allow you to telecommute? If so, consider working for companies in California, Canada, Chicago, or anywhere that is too far to drive to. Don’t be afraid to submit your resume for a full-time position is Timbuktu and tell them all the benefits 1) of you and 2) of why they should hire you to work remotely (less overhead, less wear and tear on the environment because you won’t be driving to work). Be willing to travel to the office 2-4 times a year, but make sure it is clear that it is on their dime.

2) Don’t limit yourself just to the ads you find in the classifieds. Choose the top 10 to 20 companies you would most like to work for and contact them. Tell them that you’d like to discuss how you can [fill in the blank: grow their business, strengthen their team, etc.]

3) Consider freelancing. I’ve met freelance data analysts, direct marketers, even contract CMOs. Anything that you can do full time you can freelance. In this tough market, all companies are likely downsizing a little. But they will still have projects that need to be managed — they just can’t afford to pay benefits or pay full-time staff. While you may ultimately want a full-time job, consider offering your services as a freelancer to leading companies. Tell them they’ll get best-of-breed services without having to pay for benefits or a full-time salary.

4) If the company that recently laid you off or is planning on letting you go is running or sponsoring an conference or trade show, negotiate a free ticket so you can scower the exhibit hall or network the sessions to find yourself a new job. Companies will rarely turn down this type of request due to the guilt alone.

5) Reach out to all your existing contacts, including: vendors, PR reps, friends, family members, church members, your son’s baseball coach. You have a network. Don’t be afraid to use it.

6) Finally, step outside your career box to see how your strengths would fit another industry…and they will. You just need to see yourself differently. If you’re in sales, you can sell anything. If you’re a marketer, you can market anything. Tell them why and how everything you’ve ever learned would be a great fit for them.

I hope this information is helpful. Best of luck to all of you who are currently or may become unemployed. I’ve been there too many times to remember so I completely understand. Go get ’em!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

You Can Find Absolutely Anything on YouTube…

Recently I began making an Excel spreadsheet of all mine and my mom’s old 45s to get them ready for sale on eBay. My mom’s records are all fifties and sixties music, including some real classics such as Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog”.

I wanted to add the year the song was released to each line, which is not on the record, so I found myself searching the Internet. Ironically, I found a lot of the years marked on YouTube videos. It surprised me that I would find any of these old songs or groups on YouTube but, believe it or not, most of them are.

I was really taken aback when I found an old song from the fifties called “Diane”, by The Bachelors. This is a song that my mom used to play for my sister Diane when we were kids, saying that it was my grandfather singing to her from heaven. Listening to it brought back such wonderful memories.

I’m in heaven, when I see you smile…
Smile, for me, my Diane
And though everything’s dark
All the while, I can see you Diane.

Wow, does that take me back.

Then I started finding songs I loved from the seventies, such as the Poppy Family’s old folk tune, Which Way You Going Billy. I must have played that video 50 times last week!

It’s true, you can literally find anything on YouTube. Marvin Gaye singing I Heard it Through the Grapevine. Glen Campbell. John Denver. Every song I looked for, I found. Even Gospel songs like Shout to the Lord that I needed to practice for church.

I dare anyone to go to right now and search for a song. Any song. Seriously. Right now. I bet you’ll find it. And let me know about the great memories you're able to bring back by looking at videos on YouTube!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations Mr. President!

I am so proud! This is the most momentous happy occasion that has taken place in my lifetime. There have been momentous unhappy occasions, such as 9/11 and the death of Princess Diana, but this is a positive moment that will change me forever.

I don’t know about you but I am numb. I feel overwhelmed and in a state of shock over having helped create such a historic event. And to be watching CNN when they were the first to declare Barack Obama president-elect is a moment I will never forget.

What was even more amazing was the extent to which the world was watching. They said on the news that 78 countries were watching. I spoke to friends in Australia and Austria and their entire countries were on the edge of their seats. My husband spoke to a friend in France who couldn't wait to hear the news and our choir director's family in Norway was watching excitedly.

I am thrilled and proud, but also a little bit numb at the enormity of this event and the fact that I played a role in it. My husband says that Barack Obama was not born, he was sent. I think he is right.

Now I can't wait for January 20th to see him sworn into office!

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Message to All Agencies and PR Firms

I know times are tough right now and some of you are laying off full-time employees. This may leave you in a position of needing to outsource more of your content needs to freelancers, and I just want to ask you to consider me when you're looking to hire from the outside.

In addition to writing for some of the leading trade magazines in the marketing, advertising and digital media space, I also work with private clients, including agencies, PR firms and technology companies, on their content needs.

I can help you with white papers and case studies; I can ghost-write articles that get your clients' bylines; I've written research reports, web site content and press and collateral materials.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any content projects you need help with. You can reach me at 203-854-1055 or Thanks.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Don’t Believe in Coincidences

One week ago, my husband Adrian and I were given the sad news that his cousin Paul was murdered. This is a double tragedy as just six weeks ago, we buried Adrian’s Uncle Vivian, Paul’s father. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized the bigger significance of this.

Adrian’s uncle died peacefully at the age of 77. But as sad as it was to lose him, thanks to his passing, some 100-plus family members and friends all got to say good bye to Paul — an opportunity we would never have had if Vivian had not died first.

Since we got the news, the thing that has been running through my mind on a continuous loop is seeing Paul — at the head of his father’s casket. Sitting in front of us at the funeral in church. Sitting on his sister’s porch, with his arm around Adrian and Adrian’s arm draped around him, big smiles on their faces as I snapped their photos. And then the after party, where he sat next to me and my mother-in-law for a half an hour and had a long wonderful talk with us. So close I could reach out and touch him. We would not have had these beautiful quality moments if not for Vivian.

And then it hit me. I don’t believe in coincidences. Could God have planned it this way? Well of course he did! It’s no accident that we got to say good bye to Paul. God knew that Paul would be entering his kingdom and he gifted us with these last precious moments. Of course, none of us knew at the time that we were saying good bye to Paul.

And, remember the horrible American Airlines luggage experience I wrote about in a previous blog post? Well it resulted in us receiving a $400 voucher, which my husband used to make the trip to Paul’s funeral. Was that a coincidence? Did God intentionally put in our path such a horrendous travel experience that it would be guaranteed to cause me to write a three-page letter to the chairman, president and CEO of American Airlines? If we had only had a slightly annoying experience, I would have never written the letter and we would have never gotten the voucher. Was all of that part of God’s plan?

As I said, I don’t believe in coincidences. I won’t say that “everything” happens for a reason — but I believe about 90% of it does. This entire experience, I have no doubt, was all connected in one single thread.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Heard From American Airlines: 17 Days

Well, we finally got a huge apology from American Airlines along with a much deserved e-voucher toward a future flight. I really hope they fix the problems in their infrastructure because if it gets any worse, they may not be able to recover. I'm sure they will share my comments with the staff. I hope it does some good. All I really want is good service.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

No Response From American Airlines

Well, it's been 12 days and we haven't heard word one from American Airlines. But that's okay, because when you put someone up against a wall you need to be prepared to foll0w-through on your promise. We are. It really doesn't matter to us whether they respond or not. We are fully prepared to become Jet Blue enthusiasts.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Friday, September 26, 2008

American Airlines: Has Their Service Sunk Down So Far That It Can't Come Back?

Between my husband and I, we have probably flown 100 times over the course of our lives, both nationally and internationally, on a variety of airlines. And never has either one of us had lost luggage, until two years ago. Just in the past two years, American Airlines lost our luggage three times. But this most recent experience was enough to make us change airlines for good. Check out the letter I wrote to Gerard J. Arpey, chairman, president and CEO of AMR Corp. and American Airlines. The letter should have arrived on Tuesday. Three days have passed and I have not heard from anyone on the American Airlines staff. It's okay if they don't respond, because we have a choice too. Place your bets on what you think that choice will be.

Here's the letter I wrote to Arpey. I'll let you know if and when I hear from American.

Dear Mr. Arpey,

I’m writing to tell you that your airline’s customer service system is broken and that, as one brand I thought I could trust, American Airlines has completely failed my husband Adrian and I.

American was the first airline for which I acquired a frequent flyer number and American has always been my first choice for any trip. But that all changed on September 5th.

I’m sure you understand the value of customer relationships. I don’t need to tell you that acquiring a new customer costs thousands more than its costs to retain an existing customer. Nor do I need to remind you that dissatisfied customers tell four times as many people about their bad experiences than their good experiences…that the customer is in control of the relationship today…that they have the power to choose which companies they interact with and which advertising messages they pay attention to…that the average consumer is bombarded with more than 300 advertising and marketing messages per day and are interacting with fewer and fewer companies on a daily basis…and that standing out in such a crowded and fragmented media world takes exceptional service, something that I don’t feel American has been providing.

Over the course of the last three decades, my husband and I have flown at least 100 times on a variety of national and international airlines. In all those years, we have never had lost luggage…at least, not until two years ago. In the past two years, American Airlines has lost our luggage three times. Three times!!!! All from the same airline!!!! And never from anyone else. Does that statistic seem like a red flag to you?

On Sept. 5th, Adrian and I flew from LaGuardia Airport, New York to Nassau, Bahamas, by way of Miami. When we arrived, only two out of three pieces of our luggage were there. We filed a lost baggage report on that day. It took ten days to get our bag, and American Airlines staff failed us EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

To start with, the AA staff at the lost baggage desk in Nassau were lazy and rude. They showed no interest whatsoever in finding our bag, were not the least bit helpful and were downright rude. I believe you expect nothing but the best from your employees, but if you had been standing over their shoulder as they spoke to my husband, you would have agreed that they did not represent the company in manner befitting a leading brand and you probably would have told them to leave and not come back.

They offered no help whatsoever and suggested we come back and meet the next flight coming in from Miami and “see” if the bag shows up. My husband went back to Nassau International Airport five times. The bag never arrived. We were in Nassau for four days for a family funeral, not a fun vacation. Adrian had to borrow clothes for the funeral. We returned home without the bag.

After a few days at home and about a half dozen calls to the baggage claim center, a customer service rep was able to identify the bag. It had been sitting in Miami the whole time. Even though there was a thorough description of the bag in our claim report, no one put the two together until I pushed them to look further. The service rep then tagged the bag for LaGuardia Airport and hung up.

Several hours later, there was still no word about the bag so I called again. The bag had not been assigned a flight. A new customer service rep put in a request to have the bag put on a flight to New York. But even she couldn’t see that it was tagged for LaGuardia. She asked if we lived near Hartford. I said no. Then she asked if we lived near Newark. I said no. I had to remind her that LaGuardia was the closest airport.

The next morning I called again. It had now been nine days. The bag was scheduled to arrive at LaGuardia at 10:57 a.m. But when I called at 12:00 p.m. no one could tell me if the bag had arrived. I had to call back at 2 and again at 5. Finally at 5 they were able to tell me the bag had arrived — six hours after the flight came in! But even then, no one had picked it up! It was sitting in the baggage area unmarked with no instructions! A new customer service rep put in yet another request to have the bag delivered to our home.

At 10:30 p.m. we get a phone call from the driver. He says he’ll be there at 4:00 a.m. Are you kidding? We’ve been waiting nine days for our bag and that’s the best you can do? I told him he was only authorized to leave the bag if it wasn’t raining, and not to call me and wake me up. He said, “I guess you don’t want the bag.” Don’t want the bag? What? Again, I repeat, are you kidding? He should be fired for that remark!!! And I truly mean that. As it turned out, it was raining heavily at 4:00 a.m. and he showed up at 6:30, and woke us up to retrieve the bag.

Mr. Arpey, we wouldn’t even have our bag right now if it wasn’t for me. I was the one who got the bag identified, not your staff. I was the one who got the bag tagged for New York, not your staff. I was the one who got the bag put on a flight, not your staff. I was the one who got it put on the van, not your staff. Not once did I feel that your staff had our back or was working proactively FOR us.

Mr. Arpey, your entire customer service system is broken at every touchpoint. It doesn’t matter that your flights arrive on time. It doesn’t matter that the rest of the process goes smoothly. It only matters that no matter where we go, our luggage seems to disappear when we fly American. We had family gifts in that bag. What are we supposed to do with them now that we’re home?

And it’s not enough that we got our bag back. We spent considerable time, effort and gasoline in the attempt to retrieve a bag that, in the end, was properly tagged and there was no reason for it not to have arrived in its rightful destination. How do you plan to compensate us for our loss?

Furthermore, our loss doesn’t even come close to the damage that has been done to the value of your brand. How do you plan to repair the damage done to your good name? And finally, can you guarantee my husband and I that, if we fly American again, that this will never happen?

I look forward to your response. If you prefer to do nothing, rest assured that we will certainly do the same when it comes to considering American for any future flights.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

When Did We Start Sending Professional Athletes to the Olympics?

I think it's a sad day when we have to send professional athletes to the Olympics. Who cares if Kobe Bryant gets a gold medal? Or Serena Williams? Why wouldn't they? We would expect nothing less. But the Olympics is not for the Kobe Bryants and Serena Williams' of the world. Its' for amateur athletes who have never earned money professionally.

If they had wanted to be in the Olympics, they should have thought of that before they turned pro.

When did that rule change? I know it's been going on for a few Olympics now. But when exactly did we get so greedy and become such a sore sport that we had to start sending professional athletes? When did we decide that that was the only way we could effectively compete and win? Does everyone else cheat so badly that we had to cheat too?

I think it reflects badly on the United States as a whole. It makes us look like whimps, poor sports, and cheaters. When I see professional athletes winning medals, I feel cheated because there's no competition. There's no surprise. There's no excitement for the new athlete.

How are we ever supposed to get along with our global neighbors if we can't even place nice in a sporting event? I think the Olympic Committee should revisit this ruling. If the Olympics is corrupt, why even bother watching it?

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A whole new appreciation for Billy Vera

I’ve never been a big fan of recording artist Billy Vera. After all, I only knew of one song he ever wrote, called At This Moment, and always considered him a one-hit wonder. Remember, “What did you think, I would give at this moment? When you’re standing before me, with tears in your eyes?”

Anyway, I was never crazy about the song, and have always put it in the same category as Debbie Boone’s You Light Up My Life. Ugh. So when I learned that Billy Vera was the big act last Thursday at downtown Stamford’s (that’s Stamford, Connecticut) Live at Five concert series, I stuck my finger in my mouth and said “gag me” and even considered not going.

Boy was I wrong. And I’m really glad I went. My mind started to change that afternoon when I read an article about him in the local newspaper, the Stamford Advocate, and it caused me to develop a whole new appreciation and respect for the man.

The article explained that he had a very robust career writing music for others as well as himself, including a song called Storybook Children which I remember my mother having when I was child and one that I liked very much. It was on an Atlantic Records red and black label.

He also had and still has a very successful acting career. I was completely sold, however, when I found out that he was originally from my area and played many a gig in a local bar (long since demolished) in my home town, called The Stagecoach. In fact, ironically, the old “Stage”coach was right across the road from the live stage!

Well, when someone local makes it big, I automatically feel a certain affinity and loyalty for him. He was also a very friendly man — he let me take my picture with him — and he was a great entertainer. I really loved all the old stories he told inbetween songs, about the old days with his band and how he came up with the ideas for different songs. All night long, he introduced old band members in the audience.

And talk about well connected, Vincent Pastore, who plays Sal BonPensiero on The Soprano’s, came on stage and introduced him! He said that back in the ’80s, he opened up a nightclub in New Rochelle, New York, and he asked his good friend Billy Vera to be the act on opening night.

Also, Billy Foster, lead singer of Billy and the Showman, who is a long-time friend of ours, told me that Billy Vera actually got him started in music. And it was Billy Foster’s band who backed Billy Vera up on stage Thursday night! Well, if I wasn’t sold already, that would do it for me, because if he’s good enough for Billy Foster, he’s good enough for me.

But here’s the icing on the cake: he told me that he came all the way out here from LA just to play his home town. He didn’t have any other gigs in this area. He just wanted to give back to the people who gave to him all those years. Wow!

Thanks, Billy, for expanding my mind and enriching my life.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A GOOD SUMMER READ: Shadows in My House of Sunshine

I would like to recommend a good book to all of you readers out there. It’s called “Shadows in My House of Sunshine” and it’s written by Emilie Betts, a first time writer.

Emilie, 85, writes a very colorful and often painful history of her life experiences. Going from a rich childhood in the pre-depression era to nearly penniless during the Great Depression and then back to the high life again during the wild and crazy sixties and seventies, Emilie, the wife of the late Robert Betts, former chairman of the William Esty advertising agency, is a natural writer who easily creates a visual experience of her life.

The book is raw and real and gives everyone something they can relate to. You’ll get lost in every page and wonder, what happens next? Nearly every experience reminded me of some memory in my own childhood or life.

It’s a relaxing and easy summer read and one you’ll come away from feeling as if you know her and are much the better for it.

I know I am. I had the honor and pleasure of meeting her recently while she was on her book signing tour here in Connecticut. When I got the email from my local library that she was coming, I read the description of the book and was immediately mesmerized by both the woman and the book.

We missed each other that day, but she was kind enough to contact me afterward. She welcomed me into her home and, on a beautiful sunny day, we had lunch on the back patio of the adorable English cottage she refers to so lovingly toward the end of the book. I look forward to future lunches and interesting discussions with my new friend.

Check out Emilie’s website.

Click here to buy the book.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Spam Alert

I need to alert everyone to a dangerous spam scam. Today, I put an ad on to try to find a home for my mom’s cat. I put my real name, my email address, and my cell phone number (real smart move, Lynn).

Well, within three hours, I had three emails all from guys wanting to pay top dollar for my cat. They think my cat would be perfect for their little family – they’re all married with a couple of kids, of course, and live in quaint towns with a big house and lots of yard space – and would send the bank check right away if I would only give them my complete name, address and phone number. Yeah, right.

One guy was all the way on the other coast. The second guy was about 8 states away, and the third guy – well he tried to get me to believe he was in the U.S., but he didn’t do his homework. He said he lived in Rockville, Delaware. Hey stupid, Rockville is in Maryland, not Delaware. Then he followed that with “US”, as in, “I live in Rockville Delaware US.” Again, hey stupid, if you live in the U.S. and I live in the U.S., do you really need to clarify that point? I think I know where Delaware is – or Maryland, which ever state you decide you live in. And here’s the kicker – there was an ad on the bottom of his email for Swiss Air!

I tried to remove the cat ad but couldn’t get my user name and password to work. I found the phone number of the president and company founder, Becky Saul and called. She picked up the phone and was very nice. She told me that in recent weeks their spam complaints have picked up, and that they were working on making the site blind like dating sites are, so you can’t see the personal information of the pet owner. Great idea.

In the meantime, I wanted to alert everyone to the problem and caution them not to put any personal information on such sites. I learned a hard lesson.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Thanks, Tim for All Your Wisdom and Entertainment

I am very sorry to hear about the sudden death of political anchorman Tim Russert who ran the Sunday morning NBC television news show Meet the Press.

I met Tim last year when he was on tour for his book, Big Russ and Me. As a journalist, I was assigned to write an article for the Greenwich (Connecticut) Citizen — a small local weekly newspaper — on an author breakfast, for which he was one of the guest speakers. I had the honor and pleasure of interviewing him for 10 minutes after the breakfast.

Every time I saw him on television afterward, I felt proud that I once was within just a few feet of him and had a live conversation with this very important journalist and man.

Tom Brokaw, who broke the news, said that, among the many losses associated with Tim’s death, was the fact that Tim would never be able to report on such a historic presidential election, which he was looking forward to. That is truly unfortunate.

I didn’t buy the book that day. Now I wish I had. I would have gotten an autographed copy, something that everyone who is rushing to the Internet to buy his book tonight will never have.

What I do have is the memory of him, brief though it is, and that I will cherish. My condolences go out to his family and his colleagues.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Don’t Care What Your Thumbs Think

Lately, there seems to be a run-on of TV and radio commercials featuring objects brought to life. Some of these are so ridiculous I can’t believe they passed client approval. It started with a Stop & Shop supermarket commercial where the products themselves told listeners about their new low prices. More recently, I’ve heard a radio commercial where the letters “H” and “R” (as in human resources) introduce themselves. In another commercial, a guy stops furiously texting to talk to his “Mr. and Mrs. Thumb”.

Perhaps the creators of these types of commercials saw the genuinely sincere and funny success of “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” TV commercials and said, “hey, this is a great idea,” and thought automatically that consumers would gravitate to other objects coming to life. Perhaps they’re one of those people who give their private parts names and thought they could translate that idea into a winning ad.

They were wrong. They forgot the part where the creative has to be interesting and unique and the message has to offer value. After all, they are speaking to adults, not kids who will laugh at anything. They also forgot they need to be compelling enough to get these adults to open their wallets.

To me, these types of commercials seem like a copout – a lazy “let’s put anything on the air” attitude from people who have forgotten everything they learned in college or from the leaders of the industry. Or perhaps they simply had a hangover that day. Who knows.

But in today’s market, where consumers are successfully skipping over, fast forwarding through or simply ignoring ads, who can afford to be anything less than exceptional? Let’s retire these slapstick attempts at garnering attention and get back to some real quality creative. I promise I’ll pay attention if you give something worth paying attention to.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thank you, God - Nelson's Back

On Thursday, May 10th, 2007, I wrote a blog post about Nelson - a man who was being deployed to Iraq - and how his deployment made me feel.

Two nights ago, just shy of one year overseas, Nelson walked into one of our karaoke spots. He's home and in one piece. Not a scratch or a mark on him.

Thank you, God. Now could you please work on bringing the rest of them home?

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Who Needs Television?

That’s exactly what I began wondering when I started watching “Lost” on the Internet a few weeks ago. I became addicted to the series during season 1, three and a half years ago. It is, in my opinion, the best written script on television. But I never watched it, because I had missed the bulk of the first season and I didn’t want to start in the middle. I decided to wait until I could watch the pilot and all the subsequent episodes in order.

I finally got that chance three weeks ago — halfway through season 4. And I did it on the Internet. ABC makes every episode available through its website. So there I went. I watched every episode from seasons 1, 2, 3 and the first half of 4 (before the writer’s strike) sitting in front of my computer, all in a space of about three weeks. I am now fully caught up in time for the first new episode since the writer’s strike ended, scheduled for next week.

The whole experience was really great, and it changed my views on television as a medium. I was in control of what I watched and when. I wasn’t beholden to a TV schedule. I could pause, replay, fast forward. There were commercials, but most of them were just 30 seconds — not the four to six minutes of advertising you get from the broadcast networks.

And I realized, who needs television? I wished I could do that with every show — watch it when it’s convenient for me. For a fleeting moment, I thought, hey, that’s what TiVo’s all about. Maybe we should get TiVo. But then, I had a second thought. Who needs TiVo? Will watching TV on the Internet put TiVo out of business?

Experts say that the “second screen” — the computer — will never replace the first screen — the television — because people want larger screens and they want to be able to sit and relax in front of them without doing any work. I get that. And I agree with that. But we all know that there are companies figuring out how to hook up computers to the television, and early adopters are already doing it.

So what happens when early adoption moves to early majority and all of a sudden everyone is sitting back on their leather couch in front of their 60-inch flat screen surfing the Internet for TV shows? What happens to television then? And TiVo then?

A major paradigm shift is taking place in 2009 — all of television is going digital. The significance of this is, all television is being formatted to fit the Internet medium. When that happens, the question will become, how many broadcast networks are smart enough to take advantage of it?

I watched approximately 72 episodes of Lost on the Internet. Each show had one advertising sponsor, which generated approximately 10 commercials. That’s 720 impressions just on me. How many mes were out there last week? And the week before? A hundred? A thousand? Just 10,000 people watching on the Internet would generate 7.2 million impressions. That’s a sizeable number.

But here’s the big catch: as much as I said I wasn’t going to watch those commercials, I found myself doing it again and again. There was a 30 second countdown to click back to the show. Many times, those 30 seconds were up before the commercial ended but I clicked back to the show anyway, missing the tail end of the commercial. But there were plenty of times when I found myself watching the commercial and forgetting to click back to the show until the commercial ended.

This is a major paradigm shift in consumer behavior. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. In fact, I’m certain this is a trend that will only grow.

Will this result in the generation of online-only television? New shows that aren’t good enough to bear the multimillion expense of a television pilot but would cost less to produce for the Internet? There is tremendous potential here. And I’m ready to be the guinea pig. The test case.

Now I find myself 10 days away from the next Lost show being available and there is nothing I can do but wait. Sigh. I guess I’ll just have to watch television.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Funny? Maybe. Sad? Definitely.

This video is supposed to be funny. Yeah, it is funny. But it’s also – and even more so – really frightening and sad. There’s actually two different points that I think are being made in this video:

1) That the illegal immigrants – while they are illegal – are human and deserve to be treated like human beings and not like things or cattle.

2) Be careful how you treat them because one day you might be in their position too. With all of our customer service and tech support going out of the country, all of our farmers going bankrupt and all of our money going to Iraq, this is not a far-fetched idea.

In my community, our one and only factory is closing down by 2010. What else are 3,000 factor workers going to do? While anyone can go back to school and start over at any age, it’s easy to say when we’re not in that position. Recently, in my town, a 59-year-old man who was laid off from his job jumped in front of a train. Sure he had lots of options. Apparently, he didn’t know what any of them were. Sad. Very sad.

On the first point, I’m not happy about the fact that we have hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens in this country. They use our hospitals and don’t pay for them, and their children, some of whom are born here which makes them citizens — a twisted idea in itself — and many who are not, go to our public schools for free. And they don’t pay any taxes. But on the flip side, whose fault is it that they’re here? Not theirs.

How can you blame someone for trying to make a better life? It’s not their fault they were able to get through the border. It’s ours. If we don’t want people walking over our borders or staying longer than their visa allows, then we should stop them.

Meanwhile, have you ever seen a street corner full of day laborers? I have. In my community we have a corner where the city even put up a “day laborers” sign. You should see how they converge by the dozens on a single truck when someone pulls up. And they stand out there in all kinds of weather, all day long. All they want to do is work. Is that so bad? They’ll do anything for any price just to survive, which is more than I can say for the spoiled rich teenagers who won’t even work in a grocery store. Or tennis moms who would rather spend all day at the spa than making her own spending money running a cash register. We should be grateful for some of these people who are willing to do the jobs that the average American thinks isn’t good enough for them.

Yes the illegal immigrant problem is completely out of control. But blame the politicians. Don’t blame the immigrants. They’re just trying to feed their families.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The U.S. Dept. of Census Is Misinformed

I believe the U.S. Dept. of Census is misinformed when it comes to those little check boxes on their forms, and on any other document in which they ask you for your race.

While there is only one check box for the entire black race, in fact, all people of color do not actually fit under one race. In fact, people from the Caribbean are very different – extremely different – from African Americans.

They don’t think alike. They don’t talk alike. They don’t dress alike. They don’t eat the same food. They don’t worship the same way. They don’t listen to the same music. They don’t dance the same. They are in fact, quite different. Yet, the U.S. Dept. of Census has but one box, labeled African American, where I think they should have two: one for African American and one for Caribbean/West Indian. I think this would provide a much more accurate representation of the American population.

Everyone talks about how the Hispanic population is growing. The Asian population is growing. What about the island population? Jamaicans, Haitians, Bahamians, Dominicans. There are more and more of them in the U.S. every day, but does the government really have an accurate read on their growth?

Think for a moment how this information is used. The make-up of your region’s population could determine how much federal and state funding your schools get and what the money is used for. It could play a role in which grants are set up, where they’re set up and how much money is put into them. It could make a difference where nonprofits set up shop, do their work and what they determine their mission to be.

It’s also used to deliver marketing messages. Today, it’s a top priority for marketers to create a message that is relevant to its audience. Marketers jump through hoops and over barrels on a daily basis to try to understand who their audiences are, where they are and how best to reach them without wasting their message on people it is not appropriate for. Marketers would definitely benefit from more accurate Census data.

Some people are uncomfortable filling in these boxes and feel they should not be there at all. But if they are going to be there, and we are all going to be required to fill them out, then at the very least, they should be accurate. It’s time for a change. I strongly recommend that the U.S. Dept. of Census add one more box to their population form – for Caribbean/West Indian. Let them stand up and be counted. They deserve it.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.