Monday, April 30, 2007

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Meet and Greet

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which has been workin' it with a steady stream of public relations, has a meet and greet coming up in May. The Small Business Expo sounds promising, featuring exhibitors from dozens of companies.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber Small Business Expo will be held on May 18th from 7:30 am - 11:00 am at Receptions Inc., 1379 Donaldson Road, Erlanger, KY.

Turn Off The TV Week is Over: How Did You Fare?

Well, I did it. I didn't watch TV (or videos or DVDs on my notebook) for a week in honor of 2007 Turn Off The TV Week.

I listened to WEBN for several days, switched to 89.7 for the weekend and listened to a lot of my CDs, too. I read a lot of books, organized my place and I went out more often than usual last week, which made it more difficult, because every bar in town has a TV these days.

So it's Monday, and I'm working on a big project... and listening to the radio. Yup, no TV yet. Oh, I'll turn it back on eventually, but for now I'm alternately enjoying NPR again and perfecting my Steven Tyler high kicks whenever I listen to rock radio. So far, I have two bruised toes and a scraped knee- I have a lot of love for Aerosmith, but I'm not particularly coordinated.

Lessons learned? I'm going to be more thoughtful about what I watch on TV in the future. I'm also going to watch a movie or the news (or a schlocky Lifetime movie), and then turn the TV off, and turn the stereo on, instead of leaving it on all the time while I'm working. I may still shop at the grocery store like my parents are out of town for the weekend, but I know that it's up to me to monitor my TV watching.

Note: Like a lot of these offshoot holidays, I found that a lot of people didn't even know last week was Turn Off The TV Week. If you participated, how well did you do?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weaving Stories, Songs and Poetry: Jordana and Scott Bravo

Last night I went to see Jordana play in the east end and she was, as always, lovely and amazing. She was joined by Scott Bravo, a prolific musician who plays a haunting acoustic guitar. Bravo enchants with the spoken word, introducing his music with funny, insightful stories, and drawing you in to every song he plays. Like Jo, he clearly lays his heart on the line every time he creates a song or plays for an audience.

Jordana's folksy, soulful blend of music is making it back over the river in May, when she plays at Covington's own Down Under on May 18th and Bar Monet on May 19th. Mark your calendar now and arrive early if you want to get a seat.

Northern Kentucky Day Trips: The Dayton Art Institute

The Dayton Art Institute is a worthy day trip any time- it's a beautiful structure, housed in a sun-dappled, charming old neighborhood. The curator makes smart decisions with a sense of whimsy, making the visual display inviting, engaging and crisply amusing. Through June 24th, the Dayton Art Institute is running the "Marilyn Monroe Life as a Legend" exhibit.

As a vintage clothing dealer and collector, I'm more than fascinated with the bygone era of the 50's and 60's. I didn't have Motley Crue and GnR posters on my walls when I was growing up- I had posters and photos of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Marlon Brando, and a host of other 50's icons. I watched, and re-watched, movies like The Seven Year Itch, How to Marry a Millionaire and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I devoured Marilyn Monroe biographies and became convinced that she wasn't a flippant, dizzy starlet, but a greatly misunderstood comedienne. And a tragic, haunted woman given to sad musings that often hinted at her loneliness: "it's all make believe, isn't it?"

I've wanted to go back to the Dayton art museum for a while, and this seems like the perfect excuse for a day trip. The admission for the Marilyn Monroe exhibit is $14 for adults and $12 for students with ID. The general admission to the Dayton Art Institute is free, so there's plenty to see without paying, too. Open daily.

Cincy Business Magazine Rates the Burbs, A Blogger Doth Protest

A Covington curmudgeon takes a swipe at CincyBusiness magazine, who ran the millionth magazine article this year about why the Cincinnati suburbs are such a great place to live.

Actually, this was my first-ever letter to an editor. When I was at Miami, one of my favorite poli sci professors (also a department head) told me how he and several friends used to compete to see who could get the most letters to the editor published. One of the group was published in Time magazine and they all threw in the towel after that.

43 Things has some funny posts on how to get a letter to the editor published. I wrote mine as I always write when I disagree with something, impassioned, quickly, and wholly without reservation. If that helps.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bottom Feeders, Swindlers and Lying Cheaters: The Rip Off Report- Beating Down Northern Kentucky Scams

My dad is the king of righting the wrong and the champion of the underdog, especially when he thinks he’s been ripped off or somehow treated unfairly. He’s always told me to stand up for my rights, fight for what I believe in and not to give up if they tell me no- somewhere, someone is waiting to hear me tell my story.

I inherited the fight for what you believe in gene. I have a list of (franchised) restaurants where I won’t eat because they have discriminatory hiring practices. I don’t shop at certain grocery stores because they’re non-union. And like my dad, I’m on a first-name basis with many folks in my local Attorney General’s office.

Case in point: I worked downtown years ago and parked my black VW Scirocco (yeah, I know, it was a hot car) under the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge every day. When they started painting the bridge, we were told it wouldn’t be a problem, and anyway, they’d let us know before they started on the Ohio end, so we could move our cars out of harm's way. Not so much, I discovered, when I walked outside one day to find my baby covered with a fine mist of white paint.

Others that parked in my row took small payouts from the construction company that painted the bridge to have their cars repainted. I opted to take the construction company to court. Where I represented myself. And won. This may have been my dad’s proudest moment.

The Rip-Off Report provides a community-based list of scams, rip offs and companies to avoid in general. Search on Ohio or Kentucky to read several new rip off reports posted about local companies this year.

Take the information you read on the Rip Off Report with a grain of a salt. It’s not terribly regulated and clearly, sometimes the reports are based on some sort of personal problem between the parties involved.

The Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Citizen Information Center have additional information about ways you can avoid getting scammed.

From the FTC: The 2006 Top Fraud complaint categories for the Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN Metropolitan Statistical Area:

Rank - Fraud Categories - Complaints - Percentage

  1. Shop-at-Home/Catalog Sales 316 11.0 %
  2. Internet Services and Computer Complaints 282 9.8 %
  3. Prizes/Sweepstakes and Lotteries 271 9.4 %
  4. Internet Auctions 222 7.7 %
  5. Foreign Money Offers 108 3.8 %
    Total: 2,872

Best Damn Sports Show does Old School Rap

Best Damn Sports Show Period has a special Top 50 show coming up where they'll focus on the 80's.

Listen to the old school rap written by KRS One, Kool Moe Dee and Young MC to go with the top 50 plays.

Does anyone else remember the cheesy old school rap songs done by the football teams in the 80's? And the even cheesier rap music videos done by some of them, too?

Friday, April 27, 2007

My Favorite Concert Tee

I recently blogged about the first concert I ever attended and a comment I received got me thinking about a related artifact, rarely seen outside of my home, but greatly revered and worn regularly: my favorite concert tee.

My favorite concert t-shirt has some holes in it now, and has grown soft from many trips through the laundry, but the band's name still burns as brightly as my memory of that night. It still fits me perfectly, and it still makes me smile every time I come across it in the wardrobe.

At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, I had just moved to the Midwest from the West Coast and found myself floundering, that first year, feeling out of my element and looking to make new friends with common interests. It happened, quite by accident, when a beautiful senior girl (with an even more beautiful faux-hawk) turned around one day in class and caught my amateurish notebook sketch. "You like Suicidal Tendencies?" she asked, and right then, I knew we'd be friends.

We quickly dispensed with the formalities (getting me an ID, introducing me to the other club kids in town) and headed off to the now-defunct, but still infamous, Jockey Club in Newport.

The band playing that night was intense. Too shy to jump into the mosh pit, I volunteered to help collect pull tabs from beer cans to benefit dialysis patients (the sponsoring group in turn recycled them for cash and donated the money to the cause). I worked at a booth in the back of the club, sipping Foster's and actively soliciting tabs from passers-by.

By the end of the night, I'd managed to talk almost everyone in the bar to donate all of their tabs, and had amassed a bagful. Then I heard: "Thank you so much for all of your hard work. What's your name?"

I turned to find Keith Morris, the lead singer of my-then favorite hardcore punk band, the Circle Jerks. I introduced myself and he insisted on giving me an over sized Circle Jerks sticker, autographing it personally, again thanking me for my help. And then he reached behind the booth. And handed me. My favorite t-shirt.

50 Years of Laughter, Love and Fun

50 years ago today, a demure blue-eyed blonde (truly the last of the Norwegian blond bombshells) and a dashing dark-haired Irishman (he of a fiesty, firebrand Irish stock) decided to take the plunge and celebrate their love through holy matrimony.

My parents were bobbysoxers when they met in the 50's. Mom, a glamorous vision in her stylish cardigans and pencil skirts, was pampered by her doting family in her small Minnesota town. Enter dad, dark and dangerous, with a slicked-back D.A., leather jacket and torn white t-shirt- and a penchant for hopping cross-country trains. Well, anyone could have predicted that it was bound to happen. They met on the opposite ends of a double date, and quickly ditched their dates to be together.

Today is my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. Through untold trials and tribulations, including bearing eight children, moving umpteen times, several different businesses and illness, they've successfully made their mark on the world- with grace, reason, and wit. Their love is enduring, filled with secret jokes, holding hands and loving glances that speak volumes. Folks, true love still exists, and their love has lasted and lasted, in a world where most couples can't make it 5 years- let alone 50.

My father once told me this story about my mother:

"We had our fishing poles so we stopped along the Columbia for a while. I turned and looked at your mother at the perfect moment. There were a thousand sparkles all around her. It was beautiful. It was mica on the gravel along the shoreline. She was just... beautiful."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

National Turn Off The TV Week: 4 Days Without TV or What Hath God Wrought?

I'm about halfway through my non-watching TV week today. I posted a blog with questions about turn off the TV week a couple of days ago and promptly received answers from the Center for Screen-Time Awareness, so all's well on the TV front. I haven't cheated, not even by accident, and I'm not missing it at all.

I am feeling kind of out of it, I listen to the news and look at it on-line, but I still had to be told at Sunoco today about the tornado in Texas. I don't think I'll buy the newspaper, I don't like the local paper and am not sure where I can buy current copies of the ones I do like.

The only hard part for me is being such a poor sleeper, I woke up at 4 last night and couldn't get back to sleep. Normally when I can't sleep, I put in a movie, but DVDs are also verboten this week. Instead, I put away clothes and continued the massive project to move the vintage clothes, shipping supplies, etc. to my office, reclaiming my dining room at last (hallelujah). I did that for a couple of hours then read for a bit and then back to sleep.

I have read a few books this week, but nothing of value; just schmaltzy page-turners from the 70's and early 80's (which, let's face it, I love). I have the Lee Iacocca book on hold at the library, so I'll run over to pick it up today. I also have the American Hardcore DVD on hold, but I'll have to wait to watch it until Sunday.

For Immediate Release: Nothing.

The Cincinnati Enquirer continues to run story after story about the booming job market in Northern Kentucky. But take a closer look at these "news" articles and the only thing you'll find is a stack of press releases from the incoming or expanding companies.

That's not surprising. Approximately 90% of all news generates from press releases, and newspeople rely on releases of information to generate articles and feature stories. But they're also given an opportunity, if not an obligation, to research stories and to provide some objective reporting before they print them or show them on TV.

What's disappointing about the Cincinnati Enquirer's news coverage of incoming Northern Kentucky jobs:

  1. The Cincinnati Enquirer insists that Northern Kentucky is becoming a technology sector. In fact, inspect the new jobs more closely and they run more along the lines of call center, help desk and order fulfillment.
  2. The same Enquirer article focused on Ross Perot's Perot Systems expansion into the area and ignored Perot Systems consistently below-bad ratings for equality; they ranked at the very bottom in a study done by Human Rights Corporate Equality Index last year. And, they're one of many in the tech sector who send the "good jobs" overseas, leaving us with only the routine-production jobs.
  3. Another recent news story in the Enquirer touts that 2005 "marked the end of a job-loss trend in technology in Ohio and Kentucky." The article then goes on to explain that after losing almost 50,000 tech jobs between 2000-2004, Ohio and Kentucky added less than 2000 tech jobs in 2005 and that overall, our techies make $15K to $20K less than the national average. Reason for celebration? Hardly.

Northern Kentucky is clearly spinning itself as an info-tech hub, and more power to the cause- this kind of PR will probably lead to more companies moving to the area, too. Hopefully a few of them will live up to the hype.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Iceballs Are Back!

Iceballs, the grown-up version of an oversized sno-cone, are back for the summer season! I ate my first iceball of the year (lime ice, no ice cream) this week. And had my first ice headache of the year this week, too (ow).

Once, when I was in high school, a friend found out his girlfriend was cheating on him- with the ice cream dude. My friend showed up unannounced at his girlfriend's place, catching them together, and chased him into the street. Ice cream dude- of course- got on his ice cream truck to make a speedy exit. This was all the more undignified because the faster you drive an ice cream truck, the louder and faster the music gets too. I still giggle every time I hear that music, remembering that day. We laughed so hard that my friend had to stop running, and ice cream guy lived to deliver popsicles- and whatever else he was serving up- another day.

Get summertime iceballs at Schneiders Sweet Shop in Bellevue or Sweet Tooth Candies in Newport. Schneiders and the Sweet Tooth are owned by the same family but the candies made and served are somewhat different at each store.

I like the Sweet Tooth overall for service + candy + they are very twee there, when you order dark chocolate covered caramels they put them in a gold box for you. I always feel guilty, knowing the box top will end up on the floor of my car with the rest of the junk by the time I hit 10th street.

  • Schneiders Sweet Shop is located at 420 Fairfield Avenue in Bellevue, Kentucky.

  • Sweet Tooth Candies is located at 125 w. 11th Street in Newport.

Driving in to Classic Car Shows in Greater Cincinnati

I've always loved classic cars. One of my brothers restores 280Zs "just for fun," and even modified one to turn it into a convertible. Someday, when I get around to all of those things I want to do, I will learn how to work on classic cars.

And inevitably, when the weather gets nice, I start thinking again about buying one. My reasons for not buying one in the past include (in no particular order): I don't have a garage. I need a reliable vehicle for road trips.

I'm starting to rethink this again. I can rent a garage, possibly right down the street. And I can rent a car for road trips. The rest of the time, I work from home, so it's not like the wear and tear of a daily commute is an issue. Now the decision becomes, what car to buy?

I'm torn between a classic VW Karmann Ghia convertible (or a coupe with a sunroof) and a host of other classic VWs (Thing, Squareback). At the other end of the spectrum are muscle cars, and I have to admit, I've always been a fan of the 70's Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible. Strictly speaking it's kind of girly for a muscle car, but that's fine by me.

While I'm pondering the classic car I want to buy, vintage car enthusiasts are gearing up for a host of classic car shows in greater Cincinnati:

  • The 30th annual Sharonville antique and classic car show is one of the best and most comprehensive classic car shows in the area, offering classic car trophies in almost 30 categories. Sunday, April 29th from 9-5. Downtown Sharonville. I think this one is always free.

  • The 37th annual Cincy Street Rods Rod Run and Car Show includes a swap meet and a number of festivities for the family. Sunday, May 20th from 9-4. Butler County Fairgrounds, Route 4 in Hamilton, Ohio. $5 general admission.

  • The Concours d'Elegance classic car show also celebrates their 30th anniversary in 2007. This year's theme is The Legends of British Motoring, but this enormous Cincinnati car show features cars of all types. Another special feature this year highlights 30 years of Best in Show Winners. Sunday, June 10th from 10-4. Ault Park. Proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation, the cost to go is $20 pre-sale or $25 at the gate day of show.

  • The 53rd Annual Antique And Classic Car Parade is an awesome show and because of the location, attracts a lot of pristine cars from up north. Saturday, July 28th. cars on exhibit from 8 to noon, then they take off for the parade and are on display again from 3-5. The parade pretty much shuts down the city, so try to go in the morning. Downtown Hamilton. Free.

There are also about a gazillion classic car cruise-ins at Cincinnati restaurants, one of the cutest, quaintest things about living in the Midwest. Where else can you admire hot vintage cars, listen to an Elvis impersonator howl "Hound Dog" and argue with someone who looks like one of the guys from ZZ Top for 30 minutes about the pros and cons of the Hamilton County demolition derby vs. the Butler County demolition derby? (The Hamilton County demoliton derby is more flashy, but the Butler County version has less rules- if that's possible.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What Was the First Concert You Ever Attended?

Just a totally random question to see if there are any good concert stories out there.

My first concert was Quiet Riot and Joan Jett at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. No, I'm not kidding.

I wasn't allowed to go. My friend Nikki and I had taken my dad's truck unsuccessfully out for a ride (I was 13) and smashed it into a massive tree at the bottom of the carport. So I was In Trouble, more or less, or in any case, was not supposed to go to the show. Plus there was some debate on whether I was old enough to go to a concert, anyway.

The day of the show no one was even home so I just went. It was an all day concert outdoors on a beautiful summer day (the infamous Oregon "Jam"). I was still home hours before anyone else. The next concert I went to was The Fixx, which was also good and my first indoor concert.

I have been to I-don't-know-how-many concerts since then, saw the Dead a bunch of times, Neil Young too, and have also managed to fit in completely random bands like Todd Schneider and Metallica. And I try to get to the Pops or the symphony at least once every season. Eclectic doesn't begin to cover it.

I think the last show I went to was John Mellencamp at Riverbend. I went on a party bus with a bunch of crazy west siders who rolled down the lawn when John Fogarty sang Proud Mary ("Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river"). We were behind a bunch of bikers who started clogging during John Mellencamp, clogging like they meant it, dancing like they'd been professionally trained. They were just unreasonably good dancers.

A friend and I were talking the other day about how we never go to concerts anymore. I don't why; I always have a great time when I go to a show. She says she prefers going to a small bar and hearing a guy or two sing acoustic, because of the intimacy with the music.

For me, I think it's just a distinct lack of interest in the bands touring today. I do want to see The Police but when I checked on tickets for Cleveland, it's $50 for "back of stage or side of stage" and I think they were sold out of the $90 tickets. So now I am trying to decide just how badly I want to see them.

Turn Off the TV Week: Day 1 Without Television

In a recent blog about Turn Off the TV Week, I talked about my out of control TV habit and pledged to keep the TV turned off all week long.

So far, so good. I hid the remote under the davenport on Sunday night so I wouldn't turn it on by accident on Monday morning.

Yesterday, I started off the day by listening to WEBN (I like their morning show), and ended up keeping 102.7 on all day. They play far too much Motley Crue, but other than that, no complaints.

Today I planned to go the highbrow route and listen to NPR but the rock station was on so I'm still listening. I'll switch over to CDs of The Police and The Breeders after my lunch date.

I do have some questions about the "rules" of TV Turn Off Week:

  1. What if I watch DVDs on my notebook? Is that cheating? My nephew says yes, so I haven't done it.
  2. What if I am at a friend's house and they have the TV on? Can I just tell them to turn it off?
  3. What if I am at a public venue (OK, a bar) and I accidentally look at their TV? Is it like Lent, where if I accidentally eat candy it doesn't count against me? (this according to my mother)

I sent an e-mail to the Center for Screen-Time Awareness. I'm not sure who else to ask.

Call For Artists: Bellevue, Kentucky's 6th Annual Art in the Park

Bellevue, Kentucky's 6th annual Art in the Park is scheduled for Saturday, September 8, 2007. The Bellevue Renaissance group has put out their annual call for artists, with a June 30 deadline for application entry.

Art in the Park has quickly become one of the nicer art fairs in Northern Kentucky, and for local artists, it's a real find: inexpensive space rentals, tons of art lovers ready to buy, and friendly, laid-back people.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I Forget: Ways to Improve Your Memory

Yesterday I went to the store to buy three things. I had some odds and ends to buy and I'd been adding them to a list as I thought of them, so I wouldn't forget. One of the items was dishwasher detergent. I found my what I needed, paid and left the store. I got home, and was standing in my driveway pulling everything out of the car when I realized. I bought laundry detergent instead.

A mental glitch? Or a *sigh* blond moment? Maybe. But like most people, I'm becoming more and more convinced that I'm actually losing my memory.

Maybe it's the result of my misspent youth. That would seem fitting. I do know that unless I have things written down, I will forget them. In the time-honored tradition of my mom, I also have to leave things out so I will see them, in order to remember what I am supposed to do. As you can imagine, this quickly becomes chaotic.

The quest to improve our memory has become a national obsession. Ways you can improve your memory include:

  • Play games to improve your memory. Wonder of wonders, gamers have great memory skills- so the old adage about not letting the kids play too much Nintendo has almost gone out the window. Recently I started playing a game on my cell phone. I don't know if the game helps my memory, but it's relaxing, and decompressing is supposed to be key to improving your memory, too.

  • Challenge your senses for a unique memory technique. Close your eyes and try to find something without peeking. I tried to do this the other night and was only moderately successful. I wouldn't recommend cooking with your eyes closed, though.

  • Eating a proper diet is essential to improving your memory. Eating breakfast is high on the list. I struggle to eat breakfast every day because, no surprise- I always forget.

  • Improve your memory with a good night's sleep. I am not a good sleeper. I am a sleep-for-three-hours then wake up-and-pace-around kind of sleeper. Oddly, though, I have some of my best ideas when I'm dreaming, and I'm pretty good about filling up my dream journals.

  • Exercise your way to a better memory. It seems clear from memory studies, physical fitness helps improve your memory. A local vintage dealer came over and bought a bunch of stuff and this more or less enabled me to engage in one of my favorite things, moving furniture. I move the furniture around every couple of months or so. But this involved more moving around than usual, and I actually slept really well last night (for me).

Today, I did the Brain Power vs. Brain Age at MyBrainTrainer and found- are you ready? That my "brain age" is 56! I'm going to add how to improve your memory books to my list to pick up at the library this week. Hopefully I will actually come home with something related to memory.

Items currently gracing the fireplace mantel in my living room:

  1. A sampling of my antique art pottery collection;

  2. Two paintings by a local artist;

  3. A pair of high-heeled sandals. So I can remember to wear them to an event this evening.

Cincy Chic Magazine Loves When I Love Chicken

I'm featured in Cincy Chic magazine this week, "the lifestyle magazine for women in greater Cincinnati."

The Cincinnati-based magazine used an article I wrote as the antidote to their wedding issue, describing me as a successful 30-something and "busy socialite." I've been called worse.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Spring 2007 Events Listing

As the weather heats up, so do Northern Kentucky happenings.

Here's a round-up of some upcoming spring 2007 events in Northern Kentucky:

  • The rescheduled tribute to local jazz legend Oscar Treadwell is Monday, April 23rd at the Madison Theater.
  • Visit Covington Mainstrasse April 28th for a sidewalk sale.
  • Parade opens at the Stained Glass Theater in Newport on May 3rd and runs through May 20th.
  • Friday, May 4th is Shop Bellevue! Browse, shop and nosh at galleries and shops along the Avenue from 6-9.
  • May 4th is also opening night for a Midsummer Night's Dream at the Monmouth Theater in Newport. Buy tickets online at the Falcon Theatre Web site.
  • 2nd Sunday Antiques Marketplace in Covington Mainstrasse starts in May.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

National Take A Chance Day

April 23rd is National Take A Chance Day.

I've always tried to take chances. I took a big chance when I quit my job a couple of years ago and became self employed. I take a chance every time I have to speak in front of a large group or bid on more work. On the whole, taking business risks has always paid off, and I have no complaints.

But taking a chance on your future earnings is nothing compared to taking a chance on your heart. Laying your self respect, your pride and your faith in humanity on the line isn't easy; in fact, it's one of the most difficult things we can do.

When you're faced with a difficult decision, try to consider all of the potential end results. There are a few possible outcomes you face when you take a risk:
  1. Things won't go the way you want them to when you take a chance. You'll be disappointed, potentially embarrassed, and risk doing irreparable damage to your heart, mind and soul. But as you grow up, and embarrass yourself constantly, there's less and less risk of permanent damage. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone miscalculates risk and 10 years later, no one remembers the details anyway.

  2. You take a chance and it sort of works out, but not the way you expected. Well, that's life, isn't it? You escape emotionally unscathed but perhaps no better or worse than when you invested in taking a risk. Chances are, you didn't throw yourself under the train, and that's why you got lukewarm results.

  3. Everything works out exactly the way you'd hoped when you take a chance. That's what we're all hoping for. Maybe what you want seems out of reach, and maybe you're right. But like my dad always says, you'll never know unless you try.

A while back I was listening to a radio show and the DJ shared results from a survey given to a group of senior citizens. Not the "over 55" Boomer group, but folks whose median age was in the 80's.

When asked about regrets, the respondents didn't say they wished they'd made more money, owned more houses, or got more promotions at work. Actually, the overwhelming regret was "not enough sex." Drilled down even further, another question about regrets netted the on-spot response "not enough good sex." The other regrets ranged from not enough travel to not staying in touch with friends or mending fences with family.

At the end of your life, what will you regret? My sister had a cancer scare last year. She was fine, and later told mom that if she had been diagnosed with cancer, she'd buy a Miata, a dream of hers ever since my brother bought one back in the day. Ever the wise matriarch, mom pointedly asked, "Well, what's stopping you from buying one now?"

Nothing, apparently, and at Christmas I drove the red convertible all over their little college town while home for a visit. This set off something of a chain reaction, as not to be outdone, another brother decided he'd always wanted a Miata too, and one snugly graces his driveway today.

Get inspired. Make a grand gesture. Do something you would normally never ever do. This year, celebrate this little-known holiday by taking a chance- on you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Saddest Day

This year's Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust falls this week, from April 15-22, 2007.

There are a number of different ways to remember the Holocaust survivors in greater Cincinnati this week. In Northern Kentucky, I was surprised to find a small display dedicated to Holocaust victims at the Kenton County library in Covington.

Though the library's Days of Remembrance display is small, it's still very moving. I walked by it at first, not sure what it was, when one of the items caught my eye so I came back to study all of it, and I was mesmerized for several minutes.

It's hard for me to put into words what's in the case. Paperwork. Photos. Faded paper stars emblazoned with the word Juden. Combat boots lined with human hair.

Today is a sad day on many counts. I watched the press conference this morning at Virginia Tech and I wanted to write something here about those students, their families and the administration that's in mourning today. I wish there was a way to let them know that we are mourning for them too.

Often when tragedies occur, it's too easy to brush them aside: We're busy. It happened a long time ago. It happened in a faraway place to people we don't know. I think we do this because addressing our real feelings is far too painful. It's just too hard to actualize events that involve the innocent, the children.

Maybe you pray. Maybe you don't pray. Whatever your belief system, give yourself the time this week to remember the victims and the survivors- long ago, and today. Your positive energy and good thoughts may not seem like much; but your strength and your goodwill mean more to those people, those people you don't even know, than you can imagine.

Northern Kentucky Storytelling Festival

The second annual Northern Kentucky Storytelling Festival is Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 at the Erlanger Branch of the Kenton County Public Library.

When I was growing up in Oregon, we'd often go camping in the mountains. My dad would tell ghost stories late into the night, somehow drawing all of the other campers around our fire to listen. Looking back, the stories were silly and fun; at the time they seemed terrifying, and I was scared to leave our fire-lit circle. His stories were mainly of the "the call is coming from your house!" variety, and I still remember his face, half hidden by the dark, the bottom eerily lit by a flashlight.

Spinning a yarn takes a solid story told with a lot of style- and it's a unique, almost lost art today.

In addition to listening to some powerful storytellers at the storytelling festival this weekend, you also have the opportunity to "swap stories" with them, too.

Buy tickets at $10 for the whole festival ($8 with a library card) or buy discounted tickets for Friday or Saturday only.

For additional information or questions about the Northern Kentucky Storytelling Festival call 962-4000 extension 4377 or visit the storytelling festival Web site.

Monday, April 16, 2007

National TV Turnoff Week

The national "Turnoff the TV Week" runs from April 23- 29.

Some fast facts about American TV watching habits from the Center for Screen-Time Awareness:

  1. The average American household has the TV turned on for more than 8 hours a day;
  2. The average American watches 4 1/2 hours of television daily;
  3. 50% of Americans have at least 3 TVs, and only 19% of homes have 1 TV.

And here's a shocker: the Center aligns increased television watching with obesity in children, which has increased right alongside the dependency on TV. When I was growing up, I wasn't allowed to be in the house when it was nice outside- something that's hard for parents to monitor when they're both at work.

A few years ago, I shut off my cable for more than a year, because I felt I was too dependent on television (this is not an unpopular choice in my PBS-watching family). I turned the cable back on when I heard Monday Night Football was moving to ESPN. And then somehow, over the last year, I started watching more and more TV.

My friend Ann recently asked me about my TV watching habits. Here's how I stack up:

  1. I work from home, and have always liked to work with some background noise, so the TV's on all the time;
  2. I work all the time, so the TV's on All The Time;
  3. I start with the Today show (I told Ann this doesn't count, because it's news, after all), segue into music videos, then move into cheesy Lifetime movies (I don't care what you say, that Tori Spelling is a darn good actress), baseball and finally end up with Letterman and late night Sex & The City reruns (I already own the DVDs);
  4. I only have one TV- I don't believe in having one in the bedroom;
  5. My favorite shows are CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood and, Cheaters.

I was shocked to find out that my need for background noise somehow morphed into upwards of 12 hours of TV time a day, and that includes leaving to run errands, walk, go out with friends, etc. 12 hours a day! How did that happen?

So here we go. I'm throwing in my hat, and saying for the record, I won't watch TV next week. I'm hoping I'll be more productive, hear some new music, learn what's happening on Air America and maybe, just maybe, take some more time off from work. I'm hoping.

I don't know if I can survive TV turnoff week: It starts on Monday- I just checked, and that's when A&E runs the old Sopranos shows.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Northern Kentucky Sports of all Sorts

For your to-do list: Men's Rugby and Women's Roller Derby events in Northern Kentucky.

A while back I was at Hap's and was surprised to find that the fellow talking to me plays rugby- for a Cincinnati team.

My brother played rugby when he was at school in California- and it's a rough and tumble sport. I never got to see him play (though I did beg, borrow and steal a number of his rugby shirts). His involvement in the sport piqued my interest, and from time to time I've made an effort to watch games and stay on top of some of the rugby rankings. The opportunity to see a rock 'em sock 'em live game is tempting, and it's added to my to-do list this spring.

The Northern Kentucky Grubs Rugby Football team plays against the two Cincinnati rugby teams, the Queen City Rugby Club and the Cincinnati Kelts, and teams all over the midwest weekly through May, according to their online schedule.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Black-n-Bluegrass Rollergirls bring new meaning to the term sportsmanship as the reigning Northern Kentucky roller derby team. The team photo and the general language of the Web site, which emphasizes riogorous practice sessions, leaves no doubt that this is a team to be reckoned with.

The team is currently working to raise money as part of the 2007 Walk-n-Roll Across America Benefit for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). No bouts scheduled yet, but stopping by a practice to watch the team throw down might be worthwhile. If you think you've got what it takes, the team is currently looking for new members too.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Orthographic Elements of Copwriting

Recently, I had a note from a Covington resident on myspace pointing out a typo on my company Web site. It was a funny one, I had accidentally typed in "copwriter" on a links page instead of copywriter. I thanked him, wishing I did something exciting like write for the police, and quickly fixed the error.

I'm glad he told me about the typo. It's not something you want a prospective client to see. I would never have noticed it, because like everyone else, I am too busy working on client Web sites to ever go back and clean up my own Web site. But it got me thinking.

As a writer, I think I am often judged more harshly than others for my loose-use of the English language. I am an easy target, because I frequently make up words, or change the meaning of words to suit my needs, apparently a no-no to the world's unofficial fact-checkers. I just laugh politely when someone points this out. Also, like many people, when I get upset, my words sometimes come out in a jumble. But if you're dunce enough to laugh at my mistakes when I'm mad, woe betide you- you get what you deserve.

Some years ago I had a friend who married young and argued a lot with her young husband. She would often try to trip me up and get me involved in their arguments (I quickly learned to stay out of them).

Example of innocent question asked by friend: "Do you think it's OK to point out someone's grammatical mistakes?"

Me: "No, I think it's really rude."

Her: "But what if you want to help them to be a better person?"

Me: "Unless they asked you to do this, it isn't nice and probably rather hurtful."

Her (disapprovingly): "Well. I disagree. I think if you tell someone when they make spelling errors or pronounce things incorrectly, you're really helping them out."

Me: "You're probably the only one who notices, or cares, so I don't see how this would help them out at all."

I don't think they are married now. Surprised? If you feel the need to correct others, consider becoming a 3rd grade teacher. The world isn't a classroom. And for the would-be teachers of the world, I say don't be so animostic- or such an apostrophascist. Put away the red correction pen and enjoy the company of the people you're with- or you might just become defriended.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Don Imus is Ousted

Once MSNBC refused to simulcast Don Imus' radio show, it was only a matter of time. Amidst the flurry of activity since Don Imus made inappropriate comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team on his radio show, which included fleeing advertisers, MSNBC's decision to cancel, and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson meeting with CBS' President and CEO Leslie Moonves, comes the announcement that Imus is out.

I don't feel bad for Don Imus. He was kind of a jerk to Howard Stern on Howard's way up (according to Private Parts, Stern's movie) and Imus had a tendency towards remarks aimed at groups like the "liberal elite media." And really, the next release of information from Imus' camp will probably outline the details of his new gig. I'm guessing he ends up on-line or a couple of doors down from Howard, on satellite radio. Either way, I'm sure we'll be subjected to more of his nonsense over the airwaves by the end of summer.

NKU School of Business Keeps AACSB Accreditation Maintenance

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) just announced that 16 colleges received accreditation maintenance status this year- and NKU is one of them.

Business schools have to prove successes in categories ranging from resource management, faculty and students interactions and degree program achievement in order to maintain accreditation.

Only eight schools in Kentucky have accredited AACSB programs: Bellarmine, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead U, Murray State, NKU, UK, University of Louisville, and Western Kentucky University.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Northern Kentucky News Updates

Back from Hilton Head today, and so far the score is weather- 2, travelers- zero. I come back to this mess and my friend Ann has been stuck in Green Bay all afternoon, after being re-routed from Milwaukee. April snow? Count your blessings, Northern Kentuckians!

New Northern Kentucky news happening while I was out of town:

  • Toyota Boshoku America’s North American home office is moving to Erlanger, bringing 100 new jobs to the region. Side note: Ever been to Jo-An’s? I had some excellent sushi in SC but Jo-An’s is amazing, too.
  • Ways to combat the Brent Spence bridge commute problem are still being bandied about at the Post. Side Note: They'll need to re-do the Clay Wade Bailey in a couple of years. It's filled with commuters cutting across to get on the Brent Spence from downtown every day.
  • More condos and more development planned for Newport on the Levee and the surrounding areas. Side note: Do we really need to build another mall on top of that mall?

That’s about it, really. Good week to be out of town.

Things to do Really Soon in Northern Kentucky / In the Not to Be Missed Category:

  1. Democratic candidates for governor debate high school students at the Campbell County High School auditorium in Alexandria tomorrow at 6 pm.
  2. Saturday May 5th, Southgate House has a bunch of great bands doing a Native American Indian Benefit.

Bully for You: Schoolyard Bullies, Then and Now.

In high school I faced the worst of all possible teenage angst-filled situations: I moved. From Eugene, Oregon to Butler County, Ohio. Quite a culture shock. I made a lot of good friends at my Ohio high school. And I had a lot of fun, maybe too much fun- my parents made me take a year off before I started college to decide if I “really” wanted it (I did).

But in addition to the great friends and great memories, I have some other, less happy memories of high school, too. One time, I was at a party and I found myself surrounded by girls from the senior class, demanding to know why I was “hitting” on their boyfriends. Accepting a cup of beer from the keg with a polite “thank you” didn’t qualify as a flirting, I explained, and I didn’t know who anyone’s boyfriends were, anyway. In addition, I wasn’t seeking anyone out. Knowing only the people I arrived with, I wasn’t really talking to anyone but them, unless someone approached me and initiated a conversation.

This didn’t go over too well. The idea that their boyfriends were, in fact, coming on to me (strongly, but I left that out), was not something the girls wanted to hear from the new girl. They continued to harangue and harass me until they got bored. (Though I should point out, one of them came back and apologized. And stated that she agreed it was hardly my fault. We actually ended up friends.) Most of the other girls left off, dazzled by the tall beer pyramid constructed by a group of wrestlers. One of the girls didn’t leave off then, or by the end of the school year. In fact, this girl continued to harass me long after she graduated from high school, mostly by phone.

My transgression, which remained unnamed throughout all of her many calls to my home, in retrospect probably had a lot to do with moving into town and almost immediately snagging the school’s most ungettable boy, aka the love of my high school life.

I deeply loved, in that sweetly special high school love kind of way, my boyfriend, and unwittingly pissed off a number of girls in the process. Because before I arrived on the scene, he wasn’t known for dating much, let alone having a girlfriend. The reason I attribute my she-bully’s actions to him is simple: I had a sneaking suspicion she was one of his fans and years after high school, they ended up together.

I was at a party a few years ago when a friend of the she-bully told me of their ultimate coupledom. I boldly told the bully’s friend that bully-girl had called me incessantly and in fact seemed somewhat obsessed with me, even after she graduated from high school and supposedly moved on with her life. “Yeah,” she mused. “I hear she did that to a lot of girls.”

OK. So my high school bully wasn’t run of the mill. She was a murderous cheerleader mom-in-training and presumably, a wackjob. And in the long run, her future was a dish best served cold and I could care less about who she ended up with, or how, or why.

But back then, moving to a new, small town, where cliques had been formed in kindergarten, was scary enough without becoming the instant target of people I looked to for friendship. Instead of feeling welcomed, I often felt threatened and unhappy during my first year at the new school.

The term “bully” wasn’t used much in high schools then, and certainly wouldn’t have been reason for anyone getting in trouble. If anything, the picked-on kids were told to suck it up and learn from the experience. As if there was anything of value to learn. Or as my mom said, rise above it and just ignore them. Great advice in theory, but hardly helpful during a time when every day felt like it was 23 hours too long.

I don’t know if I would have done anything differently if I were in school today. The only thing I could think of to do back then was to avoid the she-bullies in the hallways and to try to talk it out when I got the threatening phone calls. We live in a different world now. When children feel threatened or harassed at school, there are consequences from suspensions to expulsions to litigious actions. More than 30 states have passed anti-bullying laws to help protect children in school. Cyber-bully laws in particular have been getting a lot of attention in the news, since sadly some online bully’s victims ended their lives rather than face another day of abuse.

I want to tell my nieces and nephews everything that happened to me when I was young. I want them to learn from my experience, and most of all, I want them to fight back. Not in the parking lot after school, as so many disagreements were handled in our small town, but by talking to a counselor or to a trusted teacher or administrator- or to me.

What I don’t want them to do is what I did: nothing. I’m braver today than I was back then. But when you’re young, and unsure of yourself, and you face mini-tragedies like switching schools, anything on top of it just feels compounded, making you feel like a loser. I can’t turn back the clock and take a stand against my high school bullies. But I can tell the little ones what happened, and beg them to talk to someone, anyone, if they feel threatened or harassed at school. And maybe, just maybe, helping them will help turn all of my high school memories into good ones. At least I hope so.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Get Healthy Kentucky: State Wellness Program Battles Obesity

In a recent blog, I ruminated about my annual attempt to lose weight in spring.

Some fast facts about health issues, a weighty problem faced by Kentucky residents:
  • 63% of Kentuckians are overweight;

  • Kentucky residents are ranked 5th overall for obesity;

  • Kentucky has the highest adult smoking rate in the US.

In response, Kentucky governor Ernie Fletcher is once again running the Kentucky wellness program, Get Healthy Kentucky. The eight-week challenge highlights Kentucky health issues and helps residents manage a personal weight loss regimen. The Web site provides information about wellness program events in Kentucky, healthy weight loss tips and healthy recipes, too.

Locally, the Let's Get Healthy Northern Kentucky program offers free registration for the weight loss challenge, and you can monitor the overall weight loss results for Northern Kentucky each week as registrants log their progress.

I often end blogs by listing things to do today in Northern Kentucky. Today I'll list what I pledge to do over the next eight weeks as my contribution to the Kentucky wellness program:

  1. Get my cholesterol checked. I haven't done this in years.
  2. Sign up for the Let's Get Healthy Northern Kentucky program. What the hey.
  3. Start going to yoga again. My work isn't going to suffer if I get up and go to class for an hour.
  4. Keep up the walking, which I started as soon as the temperature went above 40 degrees (I know, what a wimp, right?).

Share what changes you and your family pledge to make during the Kentucky weight loss challenge. What will you do to support Get Healthy Kentucky? Feel free to share your favorite healthy weight loss tips in the comments area of this blog.