December 27, 2008

First words on their last day and other links

the cakeI pulled out the laptop today, cleaning up my list of "must read" sites. At the end of the day, I see that changes in journalism still attract me. You?

Perhaps, I always will. You can catch up on Jim Smith's ideas of who will announce by the Dec. 29 deadline in Flint on Free From Editors. He expects half of the newsroom to go.

The cake is from the first big buyout bash - one of the folks going in the second big buyout posted a bunch of photos today on Facebook. Still waiting to hear when the bash is, but at least I found some "helpful phrases" to use.

What are Twitter friends for?

Jim MacMillan: Blogging, News, Information and Opinion from Philadelphia, like many of us knows of folks who are leaving the news business. He remembered his last day - you want to be remembered, but it's not really a day to celebrate.

Another round of layoffs and buyouts were coming up and he didn't know what to say. So he used Twitter to solicit advice on what do you say to journalists on their last day ... or the day that they find out that they are done.

Suggestions included send a message to them reminding them about some good work; buy a beer; take them out for fun; make sure they are on Linkedin and recommend them .... and more

Quest for Expertise « Disparate

Tracking down the "rule of thumb" that it takes 10 years to be an expert; blogger includes primary sources, more links to follow

Top 10 tips for journalists who blog « Save the Media

Gina Chen's new blog is Save the media. The post with 10 tips could be squished into fewer. Her 10: Start with intro; be accurate, use attribution; know audience, get a personality; talk, write, give something new, give an opinion; interact. My take: Be a journalist to look up to by writing accurately for a group of folks who care about something, but more importantly be an opinionated human being who follows the golden rules of giving credit where due, gives more then takes, and doesn't bore people to death. You know, someone you wouldn't mind sitting next to at another chicken-dinner fundraiser.

What the Ann Arbor News should do
A former employee gave up waiting for the newspaper to explain what's going on with the buyouts and changes coming to this Booth newspaper so she explains what she knows and what she thinks should be done

Exploitation of the Voiceless
More proof that you don't have to buy expensive equipment - more on the Flip.

An editor looks at what was

newspaper boxA weekly newspaper gives a former editor, Tom Honig, a place to write about what changed at the Santa Cruz Sentinel. It's about one newspaper, but could be about many.

First, Tom tells us how depressing it can be to pick up a skinny newspaper, especially when it once was larger.

He talks about credibility. Plus, he shares the story of a newspaper going from a family-owned newspaper to one owned by a chain and then another chain.

Take a gander: News & Culture in Santa Cruz, CA | 12.03.08

A bonus is the printing of a Phil Meyer piece on "the elite newspaper of the future." Yes, it's a repeat, but it is important advice for all who are deciding how to ensure the success of newspapers

December 8, 2008

A measure of success (or something)

It's the end of the year, a time when I usually measure how well I've met goals of the year. Plus, I need a break from gloomy things so what can be more uplifting then Twitter. TweetStats helped me learn a lot - like 19 times in 13 months I've had Twitters that were exactly 140 characters long, that 36% of my tweets are replies to others and I share a lot of links, talk a lot about the iPhone, news and Twitter.

I love word clouds (see illustration) as a way of telling me what I'm saying. If only I could get that at the dinner table :-)
The TweetStats program shows May, August and October were my slow Twitter months. But, boy was I noisy in Feb. when I had more then 100 (and to my surprise lots of folks still followed me.)

Sunday seems to be my favorite day to send out a Twitter. I'll Twitter at any hour of the day with 8-11 p.m. EST my most popular times (although 6 a.m. seems popular too).

One nice gift from TweetStats - it shows what program I used to send Twitters and that helped me remember that Hahlo was the program I liked on the iPhone (before its last crash; some days I'm so glad there are computers available to help us keep track of life's little things.)

Even more, I'm glad life is a bit more normal - I'm actually watching Jay Leno for the first time since October.

(If you click on the graphics you can actually read them.)

December 5, 2008

What people say: Angels

A friend notes that me without computer access is like an angel without wings.

That makes me laugh because two groups that started calling me Mary Angel recently are waiting for projects that require my computer. And the same day I heard the angel line is the first time I heard from them in awhile.

Wish I had wings - I would fly the coop to a clutter-free, no boxes, no pain place (with consistent computer access, please)

December 1, 2008

Following follies: Real life and online

I failed following today - at the grocery store and online. And that's actually a good thing for me.

At the grocery store, a place I rarely go, I lingered too long looking for Goo-Goo bars and something to heat later for dinner. I wanted a few other things for the 10-hour road trip on Tuesday too. But I was walking too slow and as everyone who was in the store knows I don't listen well either.

At least that's the opinion shared by my daughter right before I suggested perhaps she should do her own shopping and then wait for me in the car. Afterall, I may not shop a lot but I can do it on my own.

Now, I suppose some of this is because she is scared to start her cancer treatments, sad about leaving a job she worked hard to get and I get that she is physically hurting.

But I am doing her no favors by being her punching bag. As I explained later, moms are people too. And though I love her dearly, her words are not the only thing I listen too - yes, I talked to a stranger which is why I didn't hear her talking to me. It was tough, but I also had to remind her other folks have needs too. Her cancer card doesn't wipe out needs of others. We still have to eat, sleep, breathe, even laugh. Yes, the caretaker needs caretaking too.

Online is harder because I don't get this autofollowing stuff - especially if the new follower gets upset because they don't like what I tweet or post or say.

Just because I comment or heaven forbid follow someone, it doesn't mean I want to be best buds. It might just be I need what you are righting about right now

See, I know I love this new techie stuff - I tried Mr. Tweet, Qwitter and PeopleBrowsr as soon as I heard about them - but these days I am just as interested in breast cancer at 24 or anything Girl Scouts or Open Space or journalism or storytelling and I might post, tweet or bookmark that. Don't like the diversity? Feel free to unfollow. Feel free to tell me why. Just don't expect me to change anytime soon.

November 30, 2008

Listening, sleeping, traveling

Life unravels quickly. New software, new ideas pop up faster then I can keep up because the only routine is that there is none.

I am back in Tennesee. The first day I had the fever my daughter was warned to avoid. I slept while she worked and accepted a card filled with wishes and dollars. It is good that we returned so they all could say goodbye.

The second day, I filled out the dreaded, annual, yes the man with alzheimers still needs the government's help to survive - safely - forms. When I look for thelaptop's powercord, I discover it is in Michigan

That means I am limited to the iPhone.

I had hoped to bring a piece from my head to the computer to help me figure out what to say at my dad's service on Saturday.

I wanted to empty the warp and weavings of people and time that haunt me when I return to the place where I was told -30
years ago - that I would never see 30 years old.

I wanted to finish a few projects to prepare for the launch of 3 new projects - 1 destined to be a part of Typepad's Bailout Program for Journalists.

Instead, I will try paper. I will try reading. And perhaps more sleep so that I am strong for the new results and actions wwaiying our return on Tuesday, a return after the snow

Instead I listen to those who say I am too
Raw to share right now


November 22, 2008

Who is leading the Girl Scouts now?

Catching up with some of the Girl Scout convention action instead of packing :-)

Just in case you don't keep up with all the e-mail lists and blogs about Girl Scouts and read every word in the the workbook, I thought I'd share some information about the new Girl Scout board.

The 2008-2011 National Board of Directors includes:


* President – Connie L. Lindsey, Chicago, Ill. (You can read or view the "Great Leaders are Great Servents" acceptance speech of this woman who became a Girl Scout nearly 40 years ago in Milwaukee, Wis.)
* First Vice President – Davia B. Temin, New York, N.Y. (was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* Second Vice President – Linda P. Foreman, Durham, N.C. (was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* Secretary – Angel L. Rodriguez, Parker, Texas
* Treasurer – Joan Wagnon, Topeka, Kans. (was a Girl Scout as a girl)


* Sylvia Acevedo, Austin, Texas
* Barbara F. Adachi, San Mateo, Calif.
* Harriet Edelman, Stamford, Conn.
* Raquel Egusquiza, Dearborn, Mich.
* Ellen S. Fox, New York, N.Y. (was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* Lisa Guillermin Gable, Upperville, Va.
* Linda Mazon Gutierrez, Tucson, Ariz.
* Nan C. Hillis, Winter Park, Fla. (was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* Michelle L. Holiday, Washington, D.C. (was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* John Hom, South Orange, N.J.
* Marie C. Johns, Washington, D.C.(was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* Ingrid Saunders Jones, Atlanta, Ga.
* Karen A. Maloney, Chatham, N.J.(was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* Sharon H. Matthews, Charlotte, N.C. (was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* Robert L. Morris, Columbia Station, Ohio
* Debra Nakatomi, Los Angeles, Calif. (was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* Susan P. Peters, Fairfield, Conn.
* Vikki L. Pryor, New Rochelle, N.Y.
* Patricia Romines, Bartlesville, Okla.(was a Girl Scout as a girl)
* Rhea S. Schwartz, Washington, D.C. and Sun Valley, Idaho
* Sara L. Schwebel, Columbia, S.C. (was a Girl Scout as a girl, who earned her Gold Award)
* Eileen Scott, Basking Ridge, N.J.
* Gail M. Talbott, Cocoa Beach, Fla.
* Susan L. Taylor, New York, N.Y.
* Marisa Tabizon Thompson, Eugene, Ore. (was a Girl Scout as a girl, who earned her Gold Award)

Over on the Boys and Girl Scouts blog, we learn that the newly elected first vice president of the board of directors was once the top cookie seller.

The blog author/administrator says:

"I looking on the Marketwatch site at the press release that the GSUSA put out regarding the election of the First Vice President of the Scouts’ Board of Directors, Davia Temin. I’m glad someone thought to put in this connection with Girl Scouts as it seems like the pros who run the organization many times don’t have a close connection with the traditions of Girl Scouts.

A former Girl Scout, one year Ms. Temin sold more cookies than any girl in Ohio. She was honored by The Girl Scout Council of Greater New York as a Woman of Distinction in 2007."

Did I miss any former girl Girl Scouts (14 of the 27 possible) or directors who earned their Gold Awards (2)?

Originally posted in Convention Talk.

If you look, you'll find support - even in Girl Scouts

The first time I learned that the recent national Girl Scout convention was evidence of the movement leaning left was through a Yahoo group called GreenBlood News.

Carol Lee Spages, who runs the group does a great job of sourcing her posts, so she led us to Politically Direct Jane Chastain. "Girl Scouts go hard left – and downhill" is Chastain's analysis of what happened at the convention.

Chastain, the former Girl Scout who has come out against the Girl Scouts and its Journey programming before, starts off:

Change” was the buzz word for the Obama campaign. Change was also the buzz word at the 51st Girl Scout National Council Session and Convention held earlier this month in Indianapolis, Indiana. It stands as further proof that change is not always for the better.

From the opening ceremony to the exhibitors in the convention hall, it is clear that the direction the Girl Scouts has chosen is a hard left, downhill.

Over on GreenBlood Gab, a companion Yahoo group where anyone can speak, reaction was swift with some agreeing and some not.

What amused me is how quickly Google and Yahoo searches started sending me links to what was Chastain's piece, only posted under different attributions. I'm amazed at how many just pick it up word for word.

Like American Daily, which says it is a site of "Analysis with Political and Social Commentary." and picked up Girl Scouts go Hard Left and downhill. word for word. At least the poster only put the first few paragraphs and linked to the rest.

There's some reaction over on the blog from Lighthouse Trails Research. See Girl Scouts Continue Plunge into New Age Spirituality there, a site devoted to exposing the "dangers of contemplative spirituality."

And some in the Feminine-Genius blog, where the writer starts off by saying she's not into the outdoors in a blog that "explores the richness of authentic femininty."

The original by Politically Direct Jane Chastain has gotten some reaction, like this one by Lee Ross under "Watching the watcher."

Lee starts this way:
"Why does Jane Chastain fear, hate, and/or disdain the Girl Scouts of America (GSA), of all groups? Well, apparently because they're leftists addicted to change kind of like Barack Obama, and because they've added an asterisk to God. And you were worried about al Qaeda while all the while the Girl Scouts were selling God and country down the river of new age waters and multicultural streams!

Now being anti-Girl Scout is hardly a crime, and you have to take into account that Chastain is the same person who basically said that America's financial meltdown was one of God's little ways of telling us that abortion (and a bunch of other modern stuff, I presume) is bad. In the same column where she flat out said that "Obama, has pledged his allegiance to Roe v. Wade, while giving lip service to God. The other candidate, McCain, is honoring God with his stand and, for the most part, has a record to back it up." So we're not talking a lot of open mindedness, here, we're talking the right wing tip of Christian literalness and extremity. But, come on, fear of the Girl Scouts?"

You can read the rest over on Watching the Watchers ("a journal of media criticism and political coverage that has been published since July 2004"), but I really like this reaction to Chastain being upset that Geena Davis spoke to the convention on Sunday:
"Geena Davis is a "left-wing" political activist because she has sought equal treatment of males and females? And even worse, she starred in "Commander in Chief?" Holy crap, how could they foist such filth on young female minds?"

Want to know how scary another speaker was? Former Ms. Foundation president Marie Wilson, who founded the White House Project and Take Your Daughter to Work Day, upset at least one convention goer.

"I was at the national convention, and the feminism of Ms. MS and Ms. Davis was so overwhelming and scary for me that I had to leave the convention hall and go outside for a breath of fresh air. Ms. MS told us that we’d have to help ourselves, “the military won’t help us”. That did it for me - my son is becoming a Marine as I write this, and that was absolutely all I wanted to hear from her.

If you want to see more comments on the original posting, you need to go to Jane Chastain's blog.

November 21, 2008

Girls tell the story in videos done at national Girl Scout Convention

Here are videos taken at the national Girl Scout convention and now posted at ConventionTalk

VIDEO: Girl Scouts was my Safe Haven Pam S, an adult Girl Scout, tells the story of being the only Jewish kid in her school, how Girl Scouts became her safe haven, and how she has passed on the tradition to her own daughter and other girls. The video was done completely by Angelena C. Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Importance of CPR training Lee Knight shares the story of saving her husband's life - and brain - as a result of her Girl Scout CPR training. Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Why we are at Open Space Quick clip about why an adult Girl Scout chose to attend Open Space prior to the 2008 National Convention. Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Julia's Story Michelle G interviewed Julia about Girl Scouts while Stephanie F. stayed behind the camera Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: GSLI nighttime crash Girls being girls having fun after a long day at Girl Scout Leadership Institute on Wednesday night. Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Su Chin Pak Girl Scout Alvine R learns that even Su Chin Pak of MTV has insecurities. Su Chin Pak also talks about what she liked about the Girl Scout Leadership Institute. Christian C did the editng of the video. See another interview with Su Chin Pak Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Favorite moments in Girl Scouts Jessie and another Girl Scout share their favorite moments as Girl Scouts. What's yours? This video was edited by Christen C. Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Mary S finding a Girl Scout friend after 20 years Mary S of the Atlanta area tells the story of finding her Girl Scout friend after 20 years, and how she continues to remember her Girl Scout sister. Laura R is the videographer. Angelena C is the editor. Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Deborah Hearn-Smith Listen to Deborah Hearn-Smith, the CEO of Girl Scous of Central Indiana, talk about role in the convention and what she has done as a Girl Scout. Amber K of Texas interviewed her while Ellie A of Indiana did the camera work. Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Girls speak up to open Open Space A poem was co-created by young women (Splendiloquent Girls) to kick off the Open Space session. Their words remind us who we are truly working for. The video was edited by Angelena C. The interviewees were from the Girl Scout Leadership Institute. The girls shared the poem at Open Space. This poem was...

VIDEO: A Girl Scout for 60 years Meet Bonnie LaForme from Florida. She's been a Girl Scout for 60 years. As an only child, Girl Scouts helped make her connections. She stayed involved with Girl Scouts while in college and since. Find out what job she really loved the most. The interviewer and videographer is Katherine D. Sue McNabb... Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Michelle, Susan and Kat share their Girl Scout stories Michelle M of Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, Inc. in Florida and Susan D, Girl Scouts of Jersey Shore in New Jerey, share memories of two camping experiences. Katherine B, Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey talks about her daughter's Gold Award project and the impact it had. Tracy C did the camera... Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: GS Stories from Carol Lee Spages, Maggie E and Stephanie T Listen to what three Girl Scouts from GS of Nassau County shared with digital StoryWeavers at the 2008 Convention, Tracy Carrol interviewed and took the video Carol Lee Spages, owner of the e-groups Green Blood News and Green Blood Gab on yahoo. Carlie M interviewed Maggie E and Stephanie T while Carmel... Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sat, Nov 1 2008

VIDEO: Sick, with no friends Jessica B tells her story of going through a very serious illness and the support she received from her Girl Scout sisters to Mayesha H, interviewer and videographer. Barb S is the editor. Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Fri, Oct 31 2008

VIDEO: Girl Scout Destinations Interviewer and Videographer PJR catches up with Kaitlyn B. from Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, Inc. in New Jersey while she was at Girl Scout Leadership Institute Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by Gabriel on Thu, Oct 30 2008

VIDEO: Rachel & Alvine's Girl Scout Story Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by Gabriel on Thu, Oct 30 2008

VIDEO: Molly K's Girl Scout Story Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by Gabriel on Thu, Oct 30 2008

VIDEO: Girl Scout Leadership Stories Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by Gabriel on Thu, Oct 30 2008

VIDEO: What does Girl Scouts do for older Girl Scouts? Girl Scout Robin M interviews Gregory Jackson of the Girl Scout headquarters staff on what he thinks Girl Scouts does for older Girl Scouts. The video was recorded by Teresa R and edited by Kelsey H. Posted to Swapping Our Stories (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Mon, Oct 6 2008
VIDEO: Committing to Action, Advancing Our Mission Lisa (left) and Martha Webb at Open Space Lisa Hinshaw shared photos and insights in the closing session of the National Council. She also asked all members to honor the commitment to discuss the 64 topics Girl Scouts had submitted online and at the convention. Each idea was seen by one or more Girl... Posted to Live from 2008 Convention (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sun, Nov 2 2008

VIDEO: Cafe Conversations Posted to Live from 2008 Convention (Forum) by StoryWeaver on Sun, Nov 2 2008 VIDEO: Closing comments and reflections from Open Space This video includes some photographs and thoughts of Open Space, held just before the Natioinal Girl Scout convention.

November 19, 2008

Technology mends, bends, breaks

Sometimes we are blessed that today's technology lets us achieve the impossible - or at least what we plant in our brain as improbable.

I needed the impossible: To be in two places at the same time. With my father. With my daughter.

I needed the impossible: An overnight cure of chills, sniffles, sore throat.

I needed the impossible: Letting go of a shared project, secure in knowing it would continue.

My husband helped with first, driving to my dad, holding a cellphone and letting me share another set of "love you's and goodbyes."

By the time my husband arrived at my dad's hospital an hour away, I knew going to see someone with pneumonia was too risky for my own health, for my daughter's health. I need to be here to comfort my daughter, even as we both know I cannot assure her of a different fate. But the opportunity to express love once more mends the ache of wanting to be with my father physically as he takes his last breaths.

To achieve the second meant swallowing my pride. Yes, I couldn't believe that the name of the solution had slipped from my mind. Yes, I couldn't believe I was going to break my promise to me to avoid rejection. Yes, I would be needy again. But the first words in 11 months let me know I had not misjudged the man's heart, only failed to recognize boundaries. Bending isn't breaking.

The last need seemed to be met with a public, gracious offer. But words that to most would read as positive shout to me "go away." Yeah, call me if you need me....oh, don't forget I don't return calls.


Question leads to more questions

One blog? Many blogs? I toss the question out on Twitter and get Twitter responses and a thoughtful blog post.

How many weblogs? Topical vs. personal
So, the short answer is I have questions to answer before know which way is right to write.

Why am I writing?

Am I an expert on anything?

Do I want to be?

Should I be?

Can I be?

Will the permanence of what I write play a role in determing what I write, or at least what I share?

Do I care?

Should I care?

Wasn't age 2 supposed to be the one when you ask questions forever?

November 18, 2008

Observations of distractions: 0

I listen, I read, I watch videos. I follow one thought to the next . I let the hours slide by. Then, wonder why.

Is it really a lust for learning? A curiosity for knowing? What am I to do with this insight into change, community, journalism, technology and, now cancer, dying fathers and blogging.

I like the idea of zero life when I hear that someone too young has died. If I don't hear the news, does it happen? As I wait for my father to draw his last, labored breath I realize everyone is too young

Edward Vielmetti started me off on a tangent when he delicioused a link on going EmailZero, which, when I read led me to his Oct. 8 post on Twitter Zero.

Basically, the argument is don't read all of Twitter; just keyword it - that is search for keywords that you care about. It worked in Usenet; works elsewhere too.

Again, I stumbled into this practice without realizing others do it; just as I once could not ignore a ringing phone, but now can with ease I find that I can dismiss unread items in the rss; ignore twitter for days; skip friendfeed, facebook. too...

Instead, I rely on the Tweetscan of words I'm most interested in for Twitter, RSS feeds by individuals of Twitter or subjects collected via

I read via Ed about Facebook Zero - no, but maybe the sepia idea would work
Scott Brown on Facebook Friendonomics Brown called the Facebook app Fade Utility, something that would blur the neglected profile. It calls attention to what you are ignoring, then you can decide if you should/could/want to pay attention

But I'm usually happy enough reading the status updates via the RSS. But even then I'll just nuke the whole thing.

Wish I could nuke some of what is happening now. My daughter jokes with a coworker that it is a good thing that they didn't start the weight-loss contest a few weeks ago. After all, the pounds slide off easily now - 12 pounds in 10 days despite the fact that she's emptied the Halloween candy bowl twice, gobbled chips by the handful and endured her mother's forced home-made meals, plates of vegies and offers of cheese. Yea, Katie has a legup. She has cancer.

It's the same reasoning e she uses with a co-worker moaning about weight gain over pregnancy. "I know a cure," she says quietly.

And when another co-worker complains about a bad day - something happened at school - Katie stops that with a smile, and the line. Oh, really you have cancer too?

The lines tumble out of her mouth so quickly. I wonder if this is her way of ensuring she knows that it is real.

Today gives us another reason to move back home. The MRI folks need the ultrasound. The ultrasound guy says he sent it three times and he knows the fax is working because no one else complains. The fax? I don't think so.

That smile carries her into a district meeting, where the boss announces with tears what's up with Katie. That tears up more, who offer to help in anyway they can. She jokes so they stop crying.

ha. ha. ha.

November 16, 2008

For the record: Jelly was better

Given a choice, I'd rather be the jelly smooched between slices of bread then a layer of an open-face sandwich.

It's not my choice.

I can only choose to focus on now, this second. That's enough. Breathe. Pray. Grab a bigger plate.

To understand, read Sandwich woman: Spread between cancers. My father died while my daughter was a few miles away in another hospital, getting prepared for her cancer treatments.

November 11, 2008

Sandwich woman: Spread between cancers

Cancer now links my daughter and my father. I am equally helpless with both. Jelly.

I watch my daughter joking, hearing between the words the fear of the unknown.

I watch her face as she shares an update on my father that comes through my brother indirectly as he warns us to no longer consider a hospital recommended the week before. Now, my brother is unsatisfied with the care given my dad as he lets it slip that there is no feeling below the arms, that he expects The Call any day.

I think of the last conversation with my dad, the day I had to tell him what my daughter had. I heard his voice, and wish I had not. I wish I could have held forever the memory of what his voice was, not what it is. He spoke for a long time and I could feel love and fear, even as it was impossible to decipher the actual words.

I am not the perfect daughter. Not even the good daughter. I thought there would be more time, that first I had to be strong. And then, when I was ready to hear more stories, ready to make more decisions, I had to leave again. We are good at postponing, it is our tradition.

News of test results slip into conversations between my daughter and nurses or receptionists. But, then, as if they realize what was just revealed they stop reeling off the results and say the doctor will explain all of this on Thursday. Thursday can't come fast enough. Thursday should never come.

We talk of hoping that her hair will grow back curly, of a friend's offer to turn her mane into a wig, the weirdness of where hair grows and where it doesn't.

I listen. I worry. I collect information, I help where I can, I answer the emails and phone calls. I debate - how much truth can she hold now and what is the truth.

For years, it has been my father and my daughter who have visited me at the hospitals, who offered their own brands of humor and caring to nurse me through challenges.

It is hard to believe that now I am to be the strong one, the filling between the two generations stung by cancer.

November 10, 2008

Fill my ceiling with Twitter, more

I watch the world waken as Twitters slide into my account. Sometimes another screen holds Facebook statuses. Pump in Friendfeed and RSS

On days like today, when only my mind escapes the concrete truck's dump, I so need that reach of humanity. Even when the mushiness of my mind prevents timely responses, I want to read the echos of the world

Make me laugh. Make me think. Make me smile.

Above me lies - again - a boring white ceiling. Imagine the Twitters, the statuses, the feeds floating across in ink-jet perfection. 72 point? Or larger?

This distraction that could render useless the need for yet another numbing pill on days when holding the iPhone hurts as much as carrying your world.

But like the old man who remembers his roof leaks only when it is raining, these ideas of constructive distraction come only when I am incapable of implementing. Unlike the old man in the fiddle performance, the conversation is one sided. The only sound comes from the iPhone - until the battery dies or someone who can move comes home.

I watch from afar as the world starts to sleep, imprisoned by playing a normal person yesterday.

November 9, 2008

The past creates shadows on today

I am breaking a lot of self-imposed rules, ironically while reading others who write about online friendships.

I am writing on the iPhone (makes it hard to cite URLs) but last night as I reviewed another day of firsts, I started thinking about some posts that have caught my brain. There was Louis Gray, who reminded how sometimes we can help our virtual friends in the real world with a gesture as simple as using PayPal to pay a bill for someone in need. Kate Carruthers
wrote about this need we have to know who are friend and who are foe.

I remember jumping yesterday, sharing everything about my server in the hopes a problem could be solved while I shivered my way through a night of badly needed sleep. I could hear my grandfather shouting, reminding me not to trust anyone, not even my own mother. Yet, I gave everything - more then was needed - because I was so tired of wrestling with permissions, passwords, scripts, etc.

I just surrender. My favorite books, notes and even techies are nine hours away. I am too fragile today to open my email, to check the server, to see if what was promised was done and that all is right in the world.

I want to believe .... at least for awhile longer. Friend or foe? Why can't I believe what I know from the eyes and the heart?

My grandmother probably turned over in her grave, too, as she watched me create a fake Alfredo sauce from cream cheese and other surprises. I cry later over the dinner too. I am finally cooking - but not in the place I so much want to be right now. I cry because I can't cuddle. I cry because I am cold.

I just cry. That makes me mad because big girls don't cry. Mothers don't cry. I don't cry.

I jokingly say I hope a recommended book has a chapter on how to stop all the crying. The emailed reply explains "The tears were there, crying releases them."

I carry the thought today as I visit Big Lots for the first time, demand (nicely) a printed newspaper and tell my credit card company that it is me making these out of character purchases in multiple states and yes, online, too

My daughter and I look for a college course, try on marked-down Halloween wigs, make plans for the years down the road, and ...

And I wait until I close the door on the game room turned bedroom to cry once more, wanting to believe I trusted, trust the right people, the right things, the right doctors, the right words, the right everything.

The fears are there; crying sometimes releases them.

The past is here with the people who preached and the choices I made. The new movements release the unnecessary to allow survival.

And I cry.

Updated 5/13/09 with links and fixes like . verb tenses and spelling.

November 7, 2008

Culture shock: Living with 24-year-olds, living here

I did not expect smooth sailing when I moved in with my daughter and her boyfriend. It is surprising, to me, the things that shock me.

Like, I have learned to bring my own reading material now to the waiting rooms of the hospitals and clinics near this small Tennessee town. First, I never know if I will have Internet access. And second, I'm a reader and I guess many folks around here are not. Otherwise, why so many out-of-date magazines.

I now look to see what is the newest magazine and the oldest magazine in the designated waiting area. Yesterday, the oldest was from 2002 and the newest from 2006.

Today, I read Wired while waiting. Imagine my surprise when I was asked if it was a home magazine. Really. I left the magazine behind so perhaps she read it.

I missed the changing of the leaves in Michigan so it is nice to catch them here in Tennessee. However, I would like some horizontal parking lots here. It is a struggle to get out of the car each time we stop.

The city I left was fairly Democratic; the one I am in now swings Republican. That led to a whole new set of political ads the days of the campaign and conversations I am sure I would not have heard back home. Interesting, but different. OK, I don't want to hear any more about the KKK.

Last, but not least, is finding the differences in how 24-year-olds live. I am discovering new TV programs and channels, new foods, new routines and even some new attitudes.

Did I mention the futon? Or exercise machine that is my clothes closet?

I also discovered the advantages of being first up are a hot shower and a fast Internet connection. Boy, games are Internet hogs :-)

November 4, 2008

Hotel of huggers, great service

My recent stay at a Marriott was bookmarked by service beyond the expected.

I love driving - especially when the traffic is light and good music is filling the car. The four-hour drive to Indianapolis brought back memories of many road trips as a roadie, a musician and a festival organizer. Only now, I could stay in touch with family and friends with a txting splash at each road stop.

I have been to Indianapolis enough times now - to visit friends and IUPUI for seminars and computer-assisted reporting workshops - that I should have remembered how much I don't like getting into the downtown area. The twists and turns are confusing.

Plus, add to the last-minute rush getting ready to go see my daughter in Tennessee after the convention. It added up to a tired woman checking into the hotel about 10 p.m. on a Saturday night.

Guess I looked bad - the hotel gave me room 444 because they said I looked like I needed an easy number to remember - and that was before I discovered my iPhone was missing.

Fortunately, the man who carried in my bags, boxes and suitcases - and I had a lot - went back to my car and found the missing phone.

The second night was broken up by a fire alarm - false - but the rest of the stay uneventful until I tried to leave.

On Wednesday night, I was to get a roommate. So, I had arranged for her name to be added to my hotel room. At 1 p.m., I learned about my daughter's cancer. At 10 p.m., I listened to a voice mail from the potential roommate who thought I was staying at a different hotel and had given up and gotten another room

When I checked out, I was surprised that there was nothing extra on my bill, but I was a little distracted so didn't review as carefully as I usually do.

Something made me stop, though, and I suddenly noticed that the bill showed I had been there one night only. Then, I noticed the bill was for the woman who never checked in. I explained that she hadn't checked in so she couldn't check out and that I needed my bill.

I burst out crying (and gee, I thought I had already cried all that I could). The clerk came out from behind the counter to hug me, then quickly got the right bill -- which did have parking and Internet charges -- and assured me they would sweep my room to see if I forgot anything. They also assured me that that the other woman was no longer assigned to the room.

It took nearly 30 minutes to cross the lobby as Girl Scout friends first greeted me with joy, then disappointment as they learned I was leaving and why. It was a lobby of hugs.

By then, the bellhop and car guys had loaded my car, filled my coffee cup, fixed my map and they, too, hugged me before I left.

October 31, 2008

Blogger writes about Conversations that Matter, while others use Twitter

The National Girl Scout Convention is getting some attention outside the walls.
Jack Martin Leith talks about the Conversations That Matter, learning about them through a post by Christine Whitney Sanchez, on the Open Space Technology e-list.

Jack quotes Christine:
"The 900 person Open Space for Sharing and Learning has just concluded with members posting 62 topics over two sessions. Picture girls standing at the microphones, thanking the adults for truly listening to them and adults tearfully expressing their passion and gratitude for everything they learned. Lisa Heft did a magnificent job of holding the space and inviting new thinking."
He also Twittered several times about Girl Scouts, including these Tweets

@skap5 says" K Cloninger CEO of Girl Scouts flipped business model on its head." Membership orgs?

Girl Scouts of the USA model participatory democracy using Open Space, World Cafe & Appreciative Inquiry. about 14 hours ago from web

Also excited to be here is PJClou9 from Minnesota, who tweeted just a few minutes ago:
"Having fun at Girl Scout convention!"

Early her Tweets included this:

"Hoping everyone's Halloween festivities are ready to roll. I am going to eat dinner than Wii w/Girls Scouts til 8. "

Here's another Tweet:

skap5: @jackmartinleith I spoke with Kathy Cloninger CEO of Girl Scouts recently and she is fantastic. Flipped the business model on its head.
And another:

brandologist: Went to opening ceremonies of Girl Scouts annual convention tonight. Mayor Ballard read proclamation of today as Girl Scouts day.

CMCMediaGroup: covering the girl scouts convention

Did I miss anyone?

This originally appeared in Convention Talk, a discussion board set up by the national Girl Scouts organization.

Big blow: Daughter, 24, has cancer

It's getting tiring to hear how unexpected it is for a 24-year-old to have cancer. To fight the insurance battles so soon. And to know how fast we must act.

I left Michigan on Sunday to drive to Indiana to get ready for the Girl Scout Convention, where a project was to drive Conversations That Matter and get girls to become digital storyweavers.

On Wednesday afternoon, I got the unbelievable news that my daughter has breast cancer. For the rest of the day, the phrase "first, you cry" came to mind as the tears just kept coming. I knew they needed to be out of my system before I made it to Tennessee where my daughter now lives.

The people I had been working with were wonderful - understanding why I had to leave and several people added to their jobs and new ones stepped up to take over some of the things I had taken on.

They also quickly provided support in numerous ways, making sure I ate, rested and surrounded with hugs and love.

I drove from Indy to Tennessee, through construction and detours, stopping frequently to stretch, and rewarded by being able to hug my daughter.

Today, we spent at the Hope Cancer Center learning how much we don't know yet and getting scared by what we know. One thing for sure is that it is aggressive and treatment needs to start ASAP. But first, we need to know more:

Is the cancer in one place? That requires more tests, which the insurance company says it must precertify the need first.

Did the pathologist have more information and it is just the fax that is missing it?

Yet, the doctor was frank: surgery, chemo and radiation is necessary. What's left is how much and when. And for that we need some of the blood results back, an MRI and a cat scan done.

Looks like we have found another good reason I took the buyout. I can now live in Tennessee and help my daughter survive choosing a doctor, a treatment plan and then living through it. Perhaps I can find a way to stop the weight loss, the pain.

Perhaps, my being here will help my daughter - already determined she will fight and win. In fact, she went to work today at her pizza place. She's swamped with customers, can barely stay awake and yet says she needs work to help her focus.

Much in the same way, I'm trying to help with the Girl Scout convention long distance.

But mostly, I still want to cry at the unfairness even as I know nobody ever said life was fair.

Open Space starts with listing ideas

The idea of self organizing through Open Space fascinates me. It's the ultimate in showing democracy rules, that the crowd is wise.

The people present at Open Space determine what will be discussed during the session. Before I left Indy for a family emergency, Gabriel Shirley took time from his from his Digital Production and Digtial StoryWeaving duties to give me a quick tour and explanation of Open Space.

I watched girls and women go to a table, pick up a note that listed the issue they wanted to talk about, announce it over a microphone and then go post it on the "wall."

Later, I took a few minutes to look over some of the topics that people wanted to talk about and had posted on the wall. I was glad that someone took this photograph to help me preserve this memory.

I heard lead facilitator Lisa Heft announce that the enthusiasm of the group meant Open Space volunteers had to expand the number of topic groups. That was exciting. so was seeing girls among the adults.

Volunteers are working to transcribe the discussion and plans created by self-organizing groups. I'm hungry for information from the convention floor as well as from open space.

Originaly posted in Convention Talk, a new discussion board for the national Girl Scouts organzation.

October 28, 2008

GS Central unfolds in Indy

It's been inspiring to watch the Indy convention center unfold into Girl Scout Central.

The city too! I came back to my hotel tonight to discover a request to share my unused lotion, shampoo, etc. by putting it in the provided Girl Scout bag for a local service project

Speaking of donations ... got time to help some of us transcribe what happens at Open Space (a few spots left - register at 8 Thursday). Stop by StoryWeaving Cental anytime after 3:30 Thursday. That transcribing will take awhile so if you can't make it Tursday stop by another day.

We also want to share results from conversations. If you are willing to text for those who can't stop by, get a Ask Me About texting sticker. During or after the business meeting just text when asked, see if a conversation supporter (in aprons) has collected written thoughts by non- texters that you can text or stop by StoryWeaving Central to see what we have collected.

You will be able to see texting results live on screens at convention and via a web site plus on some printouts.

Oh and we are looking for people who were at 2005 convention to interview. Plus we need folks willing to journal about this year's convention.

We have other needs posted on site. Stop by. Say hello!

Originally posted in Convention Talk, a discussion board created by the national Girl Scouts.

Meet a StoryWeaver

A big part of the effort at the Girl Scouts annual convention is to use story to connect people.

In Convention Talk, the online discussion board for Girl Scouts, I wrote:

Remember back in July 2008 when the first Convention Connections newsletter was distributed to Girl Scout Councils and posted on the convention web site. One article suggested we practice story-telling by thinking about our own Girl Scout experiences, including leadership lessons and special people who had an impact on our lives.

In the past three months, I've "met" some incredible people by becoming involved in the StoryWeaver project. (I put met in quotes because those meetings have happened over the phone and on the web.) And I love hearing, reading and seeing their stories, especially their Girl Scout stories.

One of the first people I "met" was Gabriel Shirley But Christine Whitney Sanchez was the second.

I've been inspired to do a little weaving thanks to Lou Creber, who was heading up the Story Looms and organizing the Elders and Greeters. Unfortunately, Lou won't be in Indy.

I did get to meet Nancy Moeller, when I went to Macy and did some practice texting and worked with three girls who used borrowed video cameras to interview adults about their Girl Scout leadership stories. (Watch for the videos soon, and watch for the girls in Indy.)

Meanwhile, keep coming back through the convention.

UPDATE: Lou did make it to convention - she arrived on Wednesday. I still didn't get to meet her as I had to leave to be with family. (Yes, before the official opening of the convention. Thank goodness for the Internet)

October 27, 2008

So many firsts: Some alarming, some scary

It's not often I get to have so many firsts on the same day/night. Let's see, 3 a.m. false fire alarm at hotel, a few scary phases and then all those new people. I survived.

We'll go backwards and start with the fire alarm that sounded at 3 a.m. in the hotel. I was almost ready to make the trip down to the stairs when the announcement came on and said it was false. Nice wakeup call.

Of course, I'm wondering if it is related to the problem of no hot water earlier today at the hotel.

Earlier in the day, I finally got to meet with some folks who really made the last three months of my life beyond interesting. I've talked with them on the phone (almost daily in some cases), exchanged lots of emails (definitely daily) and txted some (including sending one a message meant for my husband (must be careful).

Still despite that Dale Carnegie class, despite hosting a radio show, despite speaking on stage before thousands, was I ready to walk in the lobby and say hey? (They have all met before).

They didn't bite. Well, not at least until dinner.

The day started off scary - seems that a prescription is missing. I unpacked everything - including the stuff I packed for the time I'll spend in Tennessee. Nothing. My theory is the dog ate the pills, grabbing the box during the round of packing. Whatever. That left me with finding a way to get refills. (OK, first I debated skipping the prescription, but since I already skipped the flu shot I thought that might be too scary.)

I don't like it, however, when the concierge tells me "I should be safe there."

Actually, there was no reason to be scared of the drugstore or meeting the folks I could never call strangers. Dinner was much more of a family affair.

Study: Txting helps parent-teen relationship

I think I already knew this but it's nice to have some confirmation - even if the study was funded by a phone company.

Sometimes, it pays to clean out the files from your computer. I'm trying to make sure I'll have lots of space for video, text messages and other items from the Girl Scout national convention so I'm tossing a few things.

I re-discovered a study released in April that found that parents who text may have a better relationship with their teens:

  • More than half (53%) of teens that text message think their relationship with their parents has improved because of text messaging.
  • More than half (51%) of parents who text with their teens agree that they communicate more often with their kids now than they did before they began text messaging and that text messaging has actually improved their relationship.
The survey, commissioned by Samsung Mobile, was conducted by Kelton Research and included 300 American teens ages 13 – 19 and 500 American parents with children ages 13 – 19.

A press release on the survey is available. So is a video with teens and parents talking more about why they text.

originally posted in ConventionTalk, a discussion board created on the national Girl Scout web site to discuss the national convention/meeting of delegates.

October 26, 2008

Helicopter or chicken soup mom: How do you decide

Struggle time - just when should a mom drop everything to be with her daughter? Is support from miles away enough? Or should I leave this event and drive six hours to be next to her just in case the biopsy finds cancer?

But what if the results are not in? If it's not cancer?

Am I listening to the words and missing the meaning when she says "please, wait to come."

Will it be enough to wait by the phone? To send warm, encouraging thoughts.

Oh mom, what should this mom do?.

October 23, 2008

I voted - but it wasn't easy getting a ballot

Unbelievable is the only way to describe the way the absentee ballot system runs in Grand Blanc Township, near Flint, Michigan.

I'm heading out of town and originally expected to return the day before the election.

My daughter will soon get a biopsy so I want to extend my trip - by days and places - and spend some time with her.

It is a last minute decision, so I stopped by my local government office to get an absentee ballot. That's when the unbelievable part started.

I needed the paper ballot now, not mailed to me at the house I wouldn't be at until after the election. I also didn't want it mailed to a hotel.

Instead, I was told that legally it was impossible to give me a ballot now.

As I pressed the issue, I was told that it would be too confusing to do it now but I could call the next day, make an appointment and come in to get a ballot. And no, I couldn't tell her what time I was coming the next day, I had to call the next day.

By the time, I reached my car I was fuming. First call went to the county election department - very helpful. She led me to the state elections department. In between, a search of regulations and court rulings.

The county and state were sure I had heard wrong and the state even called the township to clarify.

I got my ballot. It took a while - long enough for one official to have a long discussion with me about how busy they are and can't really provide a ballot to every person who wants one on their time.

A steady stream of people came in and out during the two hours I was there. Each filled out the required absentee ballot request and patiently nodded when told the ballot would be mailed to them. Guess we have money to burn in my local government as we certainly wouldn't want to save on postage by handing them a ballot.

So a future fight, on another day I blackened the holes; let's see if it gets counted.

October 19, 2008

Faith: The bigger picture

I collect quotes - for inspiration, for cards, for journaling, and now for blogging. I was stopped by what one mother said about her son's recovery in a recent newspaper article.

The 14-year-old was hit by a car while riding his bike. The mother was praying. And though she hoped for recovery, that is not what she prayed for:

"I wanted God's will to be done no matter what it was because he knows my son better then I know my son....he knows what kind of life (Chris is) going to live - I don't.

Kelly Thornsberry, who was quoted in The Flint Journal on Oct. 19, 2008, page A4, has the bigger picture in mind. She reminds me once again that our children are not ours, no matter how much we would like to think they are.

October 14, 2008

It's a tradition: Change and griping

"What Happened to the Girl Scouts" is the headline on a magazine article that comes up in an Internet search. I'm amazed that mass media has picked up on the changes, an undercurrent of dissatisfaction in Girl Scouts.

Will it be about the merging of councils, the changing of programs, or lambasting the values? Is it pegged to the 51st National Council meeting in Indianapolis Oct. 29-Nov.2?

It is a look at values - the downplaying of international relationships. It is a look at changes - a handbook revised just 11 months after being published.

Nice - an article written in 1955 - has words that connect with today's Girl Scouts.

What pops out for me in the May 1955 Atlantic article is this:
"Every six or seven years the Girl Scouts completely revise their manual. In between - ordinarily the book remains the same during additional printings except for minor typographical corrections."

So change is a tradition.
"Yet less than a year after the first printing, more than sixty changes were ordered. Some expressions were toned down, strong sympathies diluted, and a few plain facts erased."

So revision is a tradition.

Author Ben H. Bagdikian, "one of the first to be alarmed by the policy of retreat disclosed in the article which follows" carefully looks for evidence that Girl Scouts, the organization, has changed its thinking, its values. He cites examples like this:

"The old Handbook said, "Scouts and Guides all over the world are known for their willingness to help other people." In 1953 the "all over the world" was dropped."

So debating the inclusion or exclusion of a phrase in documents is a tradition.

Today's hot topic on the Internet e-mail lists is that "they" are against "unhealthy traditionalists."

The phrase - an obstacle to changing a program - is found in a table cell in a "Strategic priority" document shared with a Yahoo group on Feb 16, 2008:

"There is an unhealthy devotion to traditions on standards, uniforms and

Another shares that she saw the phrase as "an unhealthy attachment to tradition" in a PowerPoint she was forced to watch. Later, someone sends out a PowerPoint from an annual meeting where it was held.

Now, a group has ordered shirts that say Unhealthy Traditionalist: Eat 2 Thin Mints and call me in the morning."

I'd prefer to push for the positive: Healthy Traditionalist: Eat 2 Thin Mints and call me in the morning (Can you be healthy eating thin mints?) because I think traditions are healthy.

But then I think debate is healthy and so is change.

"Have the Girl Scouts themselves changed? Have they altered their basic ideas about international friendship and the United Nations?

Nothing of the sort. The Girl Scouts of America was and is a fine organization which still encourages idealism, good citizenship, and international friendship. What happened in 1954 was that the Girl Scouts in the forty-second year of their existence decided it was no longer safe to say so too plainly."

Another section in the article also makes me smile:
"The (1954) pamphlet correcting the new 1953 Handbook was filled with instructions like: -

"Page 86. Change the sentence beginning with Line 2 to read: 'Service is your way of making a contribution to your community." A few months before, it had read: "Service is your way of making this a better world in which to live."

In 2008, we are back to "Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place."

Traditionalists, after all.

October 13, 2008

What's best? Mashed, baked or hash brown potatoes

Pulling someone's dream into yours or yours into theirs is like dealing with spuds.

I just can't decide which way is best.

Should you strive for mashed potatoes, peeling the skin to see what is inside, cooking each individual piece to the right degree, then throwing them under the mixer with just a bit of milk and butter.

Can you live with lumps? Or do you keep beating until everything, everyone is on the same page.

Or do you leave the skin on, knowing the richness it can provide, and throwing each into the oven to slowly become done. There, a place where you can still identify the individual pieces to be selected and eaten individually

Or is the skin not the issue? Leave it on or leave it off, but dice each potatoe before tossing together in the well-seasoned pan to create a dish that speaks loudly of individuals but draws it's strength from the mixture.

What happens when you take on the chef's role near the end of the project? Past the time of dreaming together and nearer the time of it must be done.

I wonder why i was I supposed to know there were pictures in your head. Or that easels shed pages filled with sketches that explained concepts some believe were magically implanted in my brain.

Did I maneuver the group plan to fit my dream because I was the one willing to use the tools? Did I let the all positive affirmations drown out the collection of no's and maybes.

Yet, now I have enough time in to see the pattern of how some can complete, compete, and/or critique only when the work is almost done. Some need an almost finished structure before they see the possibilities which, of course, means redoing

Quotes of resistance being a part of the story strengthen the one told by my body as the leg starts to wobble and the mind escaped into mush.

I hear again folks telling me chaos is expected, to be prepared for surprises.

Right now I am thinking of skipping the potatoes.


October 12, 2008

Finding results not always easy

My journalism background helped me reply to a post on GSUSA's newly launched discussion board.

Girl Scouts elect and send delegates to a National Council meeting every three years. In 2005, many came early to participate in Open Space. There's another Open Space to kick off the meeting this year. Some are asking why repeat it if there's no evidence of results from the 2005 conversations.

That evidence had started being discussed in another thread. Plus there's a video final report that I think shows someone was listening.

And I think in all parts of our lives the only assurance we have that issues we bring up won't be ignored is if we take the responsibility for making sure they are not.

Here's the rest of my reply:

I wasn't there in 2005. But as a "recovering journalist," I know I often was/am frustrated when trying to follow up on the success or failure of a project because:

  • No one kept track of what happened after the big campaign, or the community discussions.
  • Or I couldn't find out who was keeping score
  • Or that person couldn't share the results
  • Or the outcomes weren't measurable. For instance, how do you measure influencing a person's thought process?

Do we know if something said at the 2005 Open Space triggered an idea or action months later? Did seeing what happened at Open Space lead to the concepts of Open Space being used to solve another problem?

I ended by saying I hope we hear from folks about the 2005 and 2008 conversations here so we can all share what we know.

Yet, I don't expect many responses because I don't think people connect what was said in 2005 with actions in 2008. I'll base that on years of watching too committees coming up with plans to breathe life into downtowns.

October 11, 2008

Did I stumble by asking?

If you think someone is smart, do you ask if they social bookmark?

Or is that intrusion?

Is it better to search through digg, delicious, stumble it etc. on your own?

I don't mine sharing (should I be deleting the ones I am no longer want? Or never go back?)

Quick, I need help.

October 10, 2008

Even Girl Scouts have stories to tell

My buyout-funded sabbatical is turning into an amazing adventure of story-telling, crowdsourcing and surprises.

Helping to start the discussion board for the Online News Association's convention in September was so simple compared to launching a discussion board for the upcoming convention of the Girl Scouts.

The Girl Scout board is part of an effort called StoryWeaving and it should surprise no one that someone soon posted a question asking what StoryWeaving is anyways.

Here's my answer from there:

"I've asked the woman who is leading the StoryWeaving idea at this convention to also answer but I wanted to share my thoughts as a long-time Girl Scout and "retired" journalist who volunteered to help via the convention web site in late July.

When I first heard the term "StoryWeaving", I thought people would collect stories from Girl Scouts of all ages and then share them at convention, in new trainings, web pages, wikis, etc.

I expected to tell - and hear - stories about times when I saw the guiding principles of Girl Scouts in action ... those times I remember because they keep me in Girl Scouting when I'm neck-deep in the parts of the movement I don't like.

Since then, I've learned that type of story-telling, story-sharing and story-swapping will happen but it is just a part of StoryWeaving.

StoryWeaving is more then "once upon a time." It's real conversations about things that matter to us, the members of the organization. It's using techniques (methods?) to draw out the thinking, the wisdom of the crowds.

StoryWeaving will give us the chance to talk about leadership and the Stewardship Report.

StoryWeaving will let us share ideas about what we think is essential if the Girl Scout organization really is going to be (and be recognized) as the best organization for girls, Another acitivity should get us thinking about what we do next. (That we, by the way is the organization, the councils and the individuals.)

I think StoryWeaving tries to fix what happens at most of the conferences and conventions I go to - the brilliant ideas and best solutions come from conversations that happen in the hallways, the lobby, and over a meal.

I can't (yet) explain all the terms to you - Open Space, World Cafe, Appreciative Interviews, Digital StoryWeaving, etc. But I've already seen how powerful we become by using the wisdom of the crowd.

And I end with what is my biggest surprise: the Discussion Board. I've wanted the membership organization to tap the advice, the wisdom of at least its Internet-using Girl Scouts ever since we first had an AOL home that became a listserv (That's WAGGGS-L, still a listserv, still running - I know because I'm still the moderator.)

Wait until I tell you about arming teenage girls with video cameras or building wikis or ...

Update:Sometimes, I hate the written word because can't see reactions and there are no followup questions. Some saw the above as negative. I was trying to say that maybe this discussion board is a success story from 2005.

The reasons I diid not believe such a board was possible five weeks ago is my experience outside Girl Scouts.

This is the third time in 15 months that I have been involved in helping a non-profit organization start a discussion board. This was the fastest operation.

Even in an all-volunteer organization using free software, it can take months. There are technical, financial, and legal, issues. Plus there are things like what to call it, getting everyone on the same page, training moderators (I can go on)

So yes , there was a a discussion board set up for the proposals. There were plans to seek topics for one of the conversations through the web somehow.

But there was no budget or staff in place for an all-member ConventionTalk board - our own virtual open space

Actions speak. ConventionTalk shows a commitment to listening and a willingness to using technology

(a public thankyou to the WAGGGS-L listserv beta-testers,, and GSUSA staff and volunteers who moved at the speed of light to launch this)

September 11, 2008

ONA08 job fair was fun!

I'm not handing out the resumes - yet, but I was in the Online News Association's Job Fair room all morning as an ONA volunteer.

Recruiters from AP, NPR, Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly and others were interviewing folks. (Anyone hired yet?)

Amy Adkins, who coordinated the job fair, is amazingly good with names. Folks who had mailed her resumes for the recruiters would come in and she knew they were on the job fair list without even consulting it. And that was without sleep the night before.

The Q&A on positioning yourself in the marketplace was interesting. Some discussion about copyediting, changing newsrooms and advice - "Get to work on time." I couldn't hear all of the discussion because I was staffing the welcome table right then and answering questions. But I heard that advice loud and clear.

Some lucky ones got to sign up for a one-on-one resume critique by former Detroit Free Press recruiter Joe Grimm, who didn't make the Q&A session because he was working one of his new jobs. He sent a great handout – My Career 2.0, advice for journalists in a changing environment. (Be bold, pick up the pace, be entrepreneurial, be a leader, build networks, and geek out.)

By the way, it wasn't my purse that was lost. I just sent out the announcement on Twitter. Isn't it nice that the purse was found and that job candidate will be able to fly home (yes, her purse had her ID, $$ and credit cards.)

And isn't it nice that folks like Brian Henderson will buy a volunteer a cup of coffee and Reginald Stuart shared info on how someone can own Helen Thomas' White House typewriter. (See before Sept 19).

Originally posted in the ONA forum "Discuss the Pre-Conference Workshops"

August 15, 2008

What do you do? Pulver gives me an idea

It's on my mind as I get ready to head into a bunch of conferences. How do I tell people what I do.

Fortunately, I'm not the first who doesn't know what to say when asked What do YOU do?

So Jeff writes:

"When you attend a networking event and are meeting people for the first time, my observation is that the people who are “professionals” who are working in their chosen profession have it easier than others introducing themselves since most people have a general understanding what an: Accountant, Actor, Artist, Director, Doctor, Lawyer, Writer, ... does.

But if your chosen profession is slightly off the beaten path, what do YOU say? How do YOU describe yourself? How do you answer the question, “What Do YOU do?” How much information do you give of yourself to a total stranger when asked? "

Tough question to answer for a person on a buyout-funded sabbatical because as Jeff says “It is not about what I did but what do I do.”

Many woman who have elected to stay home have faced that question over the years. A woman who has never had a job tells me she tells folks she is a painter. She is because she paints.

A sister-in-law echos Pulver without ever reading him, saying it is tough to decide which role to share. It depends on the moment, where she is, and the mood. Perhaps she is a writer. Or a teacher. Or a mother.

Pulver, too, falls back on roles defined in a professional world even as he understands what else he might say:

"Rarely do I tell people that I’m a dreamer. That I love to look into the future and explore the unknown. That I believe in karma. And in having a heart."

"... my desire to challenge the status quo ..."

I wish more people would tell me things like that when we meet.

Doesn't it matter that I want women to trust technology and believe you don't criticize if you're not willing to help fix the problem?

Wouldn't you rather know I collect old linens to recycle into collaged hangings that rarely get finished? Or transfer dreams from ideas into reality?

Does it help to know I'm not working now? That I'm - gulp - retired even though I'm busier then ever before.

Or shall I just watch your eyes smile when I tell you I'm not working right now.

August 5, 2008

Beyond the buyout, beyond the bylines for journalists

I started this list of things to help me know others went on to new careers after the newsroom. Some left early, some left later. All are still living. Some happily every after.

Let's start with the St. Louis Magazine that took a look at 20 who left in 2005 in: They took the buyout and now some provide a community site that has moved.

Some choose to write out on their own. Here are two:
  • Mike Himowitz writes MikePluged In (Updated: In April 2009, we learned he's now deputy managing editor of MedPage Today, an online site that brings breaking medical news to doctors and medical professionals.
  • Downing's Views j are those of a journalist turned blogger. He often writes of politics, but he expands the topics sometimes.

Blog helps track ex-workers

A number of journalists from the Toronto Sun keep up with each other and the newspaper at the Toronto Sun Family blog.

Some folks move on - a film on the effects of buyouts. Update: The DVD is available now. The film description says "takes viewers inside disheartened newsrooms to document the devastation and into the community to learn what readers think of journalism’s fate."

A former newspaper photographer, Heather S. Hughes, writes about what he doesn't miss now that she's a wedding photographer.
"I don’t miss putting my heart and soul (and personal time) into a story that I thought was important to tell, only to see the photos never run in print and get posted online three days late, while getting no feedback or appreciation from anyone."
She also wrote about starting your own business, sharing what she learned in creating her photography business.

Former newspaper columnist and Hugo Award winner John Scalzi tells Eat, Sleep and PublishGood writers will always make a living Meanwhile, he's blogging at Whatever.

Find your own description

Some find different words to label the separation - hey, I've gotten used to buyout-funded sabbatical for me.
"Today begins what I call my "Katharine Weymouth Fellowship," and what the Post calls a "voluntary retirement incentive package." It was announced a scant month after the new publisher took over in February. This was her first buyout, but the paper's third in five years, owing to declining circulation and tanking ad revenue"

says Annie Groer in After the buyouts, the goodbye.
"In return for leaving, I got an adequate chunk of cash, an inadequate pension and a shot at re-invention. (Insert cheery boilerplate here...."I look forward to this new chapter of my life. I have several projects and a book to finish blah blah blah.")"

What some co-buyout-ers from the Washington Post are doing:
  • Sue Schmidt is now at the Wall Street Journal
  • Rick Weiss join the Center for American Progress.

The Huffington Post has more details, including photos.

Making your place in the world

And though Joe Grimm of the Detroit Free Press hasn't even left yet, he certainly has put together an afterlife with books on diverse topics like folk music and newspaper images, a blog on online recruiting and a visit to his first unconference. (Update: Joe left, started teaching in August 2008 at Michigan State University, among other things.)

When the paychecks stop, inspiration might come from this post on tips for being on the dole. Besides learning that beagles do not make good assistants, you'll learn about setting up your office and where to spend your time. (Hint: Networking). SB Anderson has started his own company since writing the post.

Watch out for you

Or perhaps a reminder to focus on self care when cutting the corporate cord.

Leaving the Working World? Watch Out For PISS: Post-Institutional Stress Syndrome by Elizabeth Coleman.

This post was updated Aug. 3, 2009, to update links and where some folks are today.

Stalking or starving? Your status now

I remember watching two men watching me, tracking me. In some shadows, my heart can still race.

I eagerly await status of folks I rarely see, partly for assurances they are still there, partly for a pause that refreshes.

Is the craving to know stalking? Or just starving for interaction?

Two bloggers I follow write about seemingly separate ideas, but somehow my mind links them to this stalking/starving idea.

Louis Gray outlines a relationship highlighting why being polite may not always be right as he talks about a potential web friendship that turned bad.

Gray was being polite and answered a number of comments, emails. But he watched a relationship with potential sour as the man's attitude changed. Without knowing the other person - did he expect more speedy responses? was he misled by the intimacy the internet can create? did he forget that text leaves no room for body language?

Over on GotBeeler, there's the sharing of Facebook statuses as an art. He cites some folks he thinks have a knack for using a 140 characters or so for delivering a universal truth, a puzzle of words that promote a smile, a combination that makes you pause to ponder.

As I read through his choices, I realize that I'd like to follow some folks so that I could benefit from these pearls. Yet, in no way, could I ask them to be my Facebook friends.

It helps me realize, though, how I do count on some people for their updates - David Armano who reminds me of the pleasure of motorcycle riding and enjoying life, Michael Stobbe whose puns make me groan, Hassan Hodges who shares the delights of a growing child and changing workplace. Beeler too.

In describing the artful way some update their statuses, Beeler notes that some rely on their children for help. And though Beeler moans that his children don't give him clever lines, I realize that all children do - it is just that some of us don't recognize the good lines. Or know how to use them.

Beeler notes:

"These artists take the mundane update of where they are or what they are doing and routinely add a li’l somethin’ somethin’ to it. They make checking status updates every 5 minutes worthwhile."

So, inside out, is it stalking if you only read statuses and rarely contribute your own? Is it stalking to add strangers you know only via their blogs or web postings? Is it stalking to add colleagues from across the miles when you know there will never be a face to face meeting?

Or is it starving for a link to someone else, a safe relationship with low expectations.

August 4, 2008

Now what? Potential helicopter mom worries about fillling empty nest

My daughter wants to come back to Flint.

And once again, my copy of Dr. Spock's baby book seems to be missing the chapter that could prevent me from becoming the next helicopter parent. (You know, the parent who hovers over her child to ensure all is right with her world. You can do that to a 24-year-old, right?)

Broken promises in the workplace had started her thinking about next moves. Her boyfriend's work week was slashed from full time to 32 hours. Her company opened stores in other communities, but no work was done on what was to be her store. Weekly crisis mean no time for her to do different things.

At first, the questions revolved around the delicate balance of seeking new jobs as a newcomer in a small town without losing your present jobs.

Then, the focus switched to a new job in a state with work. Texas? Nevada? Massachusetts?

I thought the rumblings of returning to Michigan were the after effects of her recent nine-hour road trip here. Good times with family and friends filled the brief visit.

Scheduling the rest of her vacation time led her to realize she would not be here for the family reunion, Thanksgiving or Christmas. She would miss more memory-making times.

It is another memory sparked by a Facebook status update of two girls returning home from camp that helps me understand what's really happening. My daughter may live somewhere else, but Flint, Michigan, is still home.

I remember the first postcards from summer camp, the ones that plead to be picked up now, that beg to be rescued from a miserable life, that assure us her counselors are the meanest people in the whole world.

Then, I knew the proper response was to wait for the homesickness to pass. By the end of camp, this sad experience would become the best days of her life.

Now, I'm not sure if I should keep encouraging her to find a job first or invite her to crash here while searching for a job within commuting distance.

Do I listen to Spock once again, knowing I won't "spoil the child" by picking her up when she cries (silently this time) or listen to the elders who suggest strength develops when children learn to soothe themselves?

I replay a comment from yesterday's family reunion:

"It's hard for someone who doesn't come from a family like yours to understand the loneliness of being far away."

The observation slips in as we note who is at the reunion and who is not. Record numbers are set when a couple with five kids make their first appearance. But another record is set because for the first time two of my mother-in-law's grandchildren are missing because they live out-of-state. Both have called their parents, requesting reunion updates and sad that they will not be at the township hall.

In my family, I go months without seeing anyone from my family, weeks without calls, days without Facebook updates or emails. My husband calls his mother almost daily, commutes frequently with his oldest brother, and sees all of his siblings at least once a week.

Perhaps it is because since 1975 my family has been scattered across states and until 2007, all of his family lived within 20 minutes of each other.

Is it that difference in families or a fear of helicopters that allows 474 miles to separate my daughter and I?

Is it time to change my line from get a job first to what are you waiting for - an engraved invitation?

Is it past time to make room in my home to match the room in my heart?

After all, my daughter wants to come home.