Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

24 10 2013

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“Just gonna have to be a different man.” ~ “Changes” by David Bowie

This year I made a commitment to change. I’m not talking about the cliché New Year’s resolution about eating better or a getting a gym membership – although my achy knees would appreciate the effort.  My goal was to take a good look at what I was doing personally and professionally, and promise I would make some changes… positive moves to make my life better.

What did I do? In a nutshell, I decided to look at things differently… my relationships, my political and moral views, my work – everything! I moved a few close relationships to hibernation, and awakened a few more. I expanded my personal and professional network to include people who provide joy and challenge. I took a hard look at my beliefs, and afforded myself blank slates to help reevaluate them. And I decided to do tackle some creative things… blogging, reading, and playing the ukulele. (The uke is shelved right now, but I’m committed to getting back to it by the end of the year. Much to the chagrin of my family and close neighbors.)

Although I’m happy with my progress, there is more work to be done. It’s good stuff and I’m filled with optimism.

It’s only late October, so this not a year-end project status report. Last night, I had the pleasure of attending a going away party for a friend. This person is an author I’ve gotten to know over the past year, and the gathering included other writers and recent acquaintances. The common thread was that they were all very creative people.

In my year of change I’ve been very fortunate to have met and spent quality time with people who have really inspired me. Authors, newspaper reporters, marketers, artists, photographers, videographers, bloggers, musicians, etc. I’ve always been fascinated by the creative process, and how talented people do that voodoo that they do so well. How they see something, and are able to form it into a story, a movie, a painting or a song.

Last night I was reminded of my biggest key to change – surrounding myself with creative, positive people as much as possible. They have inspired me to write, to read, to think, and to even play the ukulele. Creative people help expand your mind, and they’re good for the soul.

Oh… wine works too!

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Glance Links – October 2013

21 10 2013

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Just some stuff that caught my eye recently, and might help you in your marketing efforts!  If you have any that you would like to pass on to me… hit me up!

Email-MarketingDefinitive Guide to Engaging Email Marketing – If you are new to email marketing and need to get started, or you are a guru looking to kick it up a few gears, this PDF download from Marketo is for you. Kind of odd to see something this comprehensive – over 150 pages – with lots of tips and info… for free! Download it before they change their minds!

CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business – Do you use email in your business? The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations. This link from the Federal Trade Commission explains it all for you, or you can download the handy-dandy PDF!

Goodbye, Keyword Data: Google Moves Entirely to Secure Search – I’m not an SEO expert, but I do know just enough to get me into trouble. I’m not sure what Google is trying to do, but it’s clear that marketers will lack some basic data going forward. An interesting read…

Turning-off-LinkedIn-Activity-Broadcast-Updates-390x250LinkedIn Makeover – Donna Serdula wants to turn your LinkedIn profile upside down… but in a good way. Yes, she is a gunslinger for hire, and her site is full of great tips and blog posts that will help get your professional profile noticed. But Donna is also a Philly area girl who is “not affiliated with or endorsed by LinkedIn in anyway”, and she loves helping people tell their story. Her information has helped me more than once, and since I’ve never paid her I thought I would send some of my peeps her way. Enjoy!

Just a few tricks and treats for you… Aren’t these spook-tacular? Happy Halloween, my friends!





B-Musings – Scary Blueberry Pancakes Edition

15 10 2013

“B-Musings”… sharing random blurbiage and ping-pong balls rattling around my dome.  Why?  Because I can, and I have a blog!

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Dead Inside – If someone had told me ten years ago that my favorite television show would be about zombies, I would have snorted derisively. That snort has evolved into a sinister laugh… I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead, and the zombie genre as well!

I’ve never been much a horror fan, with the violence so gratuitous. But what intrigues me about The Walking Dead and the zombie apocalypse genre is that it usually focuses on the victims and how they are reacting and interacting in extreme situations. Yes, there is violence and gore, but it is so over the top you have to laugh – in a “Dan Aykroyd playing Julia Child” sort of way. With characters that are so well realized and outstanding effects, the show is a breakthrough at a time when television has never been so good.

I saw an interview with series creator Robert Kirkman, who asserts that the “walking dead” in the show are actually the survivors, not the zombies. I thought that was brilliant, and it helps me understand my fascination. It’s all about people struggling to live and understand. Cool stuff… that’s why Sundays are “dead” to me.

Speaking of Being Dead Inside – The laundry list of what sickens and appalls me about this world continues to grow. Adrian Peterson played football for the Vikings on Sunday, mere days after his two year-old son was murdered. It boggles the mind that he would do that, or that his family and friends would not counsel him otherwise. God forbid, if something like this happened to me… I would be numb, unable to speak or move. And I’m positive my employers would refuse to even let me work.

I had similar shock and indignation when the Kansas City Chiefs played a game just days after one of their own players murdered his girlfriend, then shot himself at the team training facility – in front of his coaches!

Have we all lost our humanity? Peterson and the Vikings, you should be ashamed.

Dark Days for Philly Sports?  The Phillies are in free fall, and face at least a few seasons of retooling.  The Eagles are lucky to be in a weak division, and also rebuilding. The Flyers are in limbo and the Sixers just plain suck.

My friends, the team to watch in Philly is the Union… young, aggressive and fighting their way into the playoffs. Union manager John Hackworth is the most tenured professional coach in the city, and PPL Park is selling out every match. With average attendance outpacing the Sixers, soccer is now the fourth most popular professional sport in Philadelphia.

It’s time for those on the fence to embrace the beautiful game! Haters? We don’t need you…

Pet Peeve of the Month – People “Liking” their own posts on Facebook. Dorks!

And speaking of dorks…

government-shutdown-heroHow About A Shut “Up”? – I can’t believe I’m going to attempt to add to the enormous, smelly mound of dung that is  “government shutdown” commentary… and where do I start? Certainly, I’m not going to pick a side in this argument because both have an equal share in this mess. Also, I think we are too far gone to make any substantive improvements without a complete overhaul of the system.

Partisan politics is here to stay, folks. When Mr. Smith goes to Washington, he brings the party noose tied tight around his neck and a boatload of owed favors. In a few months he sees that it’s a pretty good gig – lots of money, power and a huge ego boost. So, he wants to stay and to do so he needs money and the backing of his party. What is right – and what makes sense – is replaced by an overwhelming primal need… survival!

Every decision made by a congressman or senator is about being re-elected, not about what is right for his constituency. A prime example is the bullshit legislation passed by the House the other day approving back pay for the 800,000 furloughed government employees affected by the shutdown. Co-sponsored by Virginia Reps. Jim Moran (D) and Frank Wolf (R) , it is clearly an attempt to buy votes in a state that has the most furloughed federal employees. What this actually amounts to is a vacation funded by tax dollars, and if somebody did that for me you’re damn right I’d vote for them!! More than once! I’m not saying that these people will not experience hardships being furloughed. But like any citizen out of work they deserve unemployment compensation, not back pay.

I know it’s not that simple. Of course we should be concerned that 800,000 non-essential government employees will be without income. But shouldn’t we also be concerned about the ridiculous number of positions in the federal government deemed “non-essential”? And what does it say about us that we have allowed this whole situation to spiral out of control?

As usual, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Please leave me a comment, or check the box that calls me an idiot. What? You can’t find the box? Insert another sinister Halloween laugh… 





In The Pink

12 10 2013

1378511_10201590047145506_440261426_nRecently, a friend asked me to support her charity walk/run for Pediatric Cancer Research, in remembrance of her son who was taken a few years ago. If I didn’t know her, this cause would have been completely off my radar. But I remember the hard times experienced by her family, so I gladly donated to the cause. All over the world there are plenty of saddened family members and friends ready to take up the cause for many, many diseases. I remain encouraged by people’s capacity for goodness, even during sad times.

In the past few days, I’ve been thinking about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a little hard to ignore as pink is everywhere. I’m trying to understand why this particular type of cancer gets so much attention versus others. For that matter, why just cancer? Equal allocation of time and resources could be argued on behalf of Stroke Prevention, or AIDS, or my personal cause – Diabetes research. These concerns are just as important, but lack the commercial marketing machine to merit an entire month of focus.

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I read an interesting blog post recently, written by a woman who is bothered by the revelry surrounding this month – pink trashcans, National No Bra Day, etc. One of her points is that as a victim of the disease she is allowed to poke fun, but others making it cute is disrespectful. It will be argued that this fun stuff raises money, and I get that. But the effort and monies spent increasing awareness could be pipelined directly to research… a no frills approach if you will. And there are accusations that companies use their connection to the charity to boost sales. In some ways, that might be more tragic than the disease itself.

She also says, “… seeing October 13th advertised as “National No Bra Day” and as a “fun” way to support people with breast cancer has pushed me over the edge.” Maybe she sounds a little bitter, but who wants to call her on it? I certainly do not.

Please read her fantastic blog post here, and think about some of the tremendous work that other charities do without so much attention. Also, please support my friend’s charity, Joseph’s Angels.

I’ve written this post over several days, being cautious not to offend too many people. I offer no answers, just questions. As usual, I welcome your comments.  JL





My Beautiful Game

2 10 2013

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A few weeks ago I posted my thoughts about baseball, and what I missed about the game I loved as a child. This elicited some great responses, and may have caused a blood vessel to burst in the heads of one or two people. I like the conversations my posts create, and find great joy in providing a forum to respectfully share views.

In the interest of fair play, I’ve decided to turn my keen eye to the game I love… soccer. My beautiful game. Don’t worry, I’ll only allow myself to gush for one paragraph. Or two. Maybe three…

When I coached young players I would always say, “It’s a simple game… If the ball is in their end, kick it in. If it’s in your end, kick it out.” Maybe I over simplified, but I believe soccer is the ultimate team game – a choreographed dance where each member has an equal share in the success and failure of the team. There are star players on teams at every level, but they can’t excel alone. Behind every great goal scorer several players who serve the ball. Accordingly, in front of the best goalkeepers are three, four or more players working together to minimize shots. Eleven players, working as one.

No sport in the world requires more athleticism and fitness, and puts more emphasis on playing for your country. Beyond that, I still love the simplicity… forty-five minute halves, no stoppages, no time-outs, no instant replay, only three subs per team, and the unrivaled pure energy that exists in a soccer stadium.

That’s the good stuff… nuff said!

But soccer isn’t without faults. Some are inherent in all sports, some are soccer specific. Things that need to improve…

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  • Faking Injuries – I hear about that more than anything else from soccer skeptics. I’ve lost respect for more than a few talented players because they get hurt when brushed by a feather. Thirty seconds later they are running like nothing happened. I’d love to see referees empowered to caution these players and get this out of the game.
  • Racism / Hooligans – Mostly in Europe, this continues to be a problem and clearly says more about the countries involved than the sport. Nothing makes me cringe more than video of players being subjected to this, or fan violence in the stands. Always newsworthy for soccer detractors, it needs to be dealt with.
  • Corruption – There are increasing stories about corruption in the game, from match fixing to bribery. FIFA has been the subject of numerous questions through the years, and now it looks like a major investigation will be underway about the choice of sites for the 2022 and 2026 World Cups. Obviously, when there is a great deal of money at stake, doors can open for some people to cut corners. Since soccer hasn’t reached a fever pitch here in the states (yet), U.S. Soccer and MLS haven’t been associated with such problems. We could probably learn some lessons from England, arguably one of the most rabid soccer countries in the world and virtually free from this type of scandal.
  • Winning – Yes, believe it or not winning is a problem… but only at the youth level. And this is a problem for all youth sports. Too much emphasis on building winning teams erodes the skill level of all our athletes. Basic fundamental teaching of a sport is giving way to a “win at all cost” mentality, and the players are suffering.  It’s a broken system that needs correcting. It’s not a coincidence that the United States produces the most talented athletes in the world, but doesn’t compete at the highest level in soccer.

I always draw a distinction between the sport and the game. When I spoke about baseball, my commentary mostly concerned what the sport has done to adversely affect the game. Truthfully, I love the game of baseball, of soccer… and also hockey, football, basketball, etc. You have to admire the competition on the field, the pitch, the ice or the court.

I’ll have to keep an eye on these bad things about soccer, and hope they don’t adversely affect what happens between the white lines.  And I’ll continue to love my beautiful game, unless it becomes too much of a sport.