Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Top 10 quotes of the decade

Kids say the darnedest things, right? Well, so do adults. As we draw toward the end of 2009, I've compiled 10 of my favorite quotes from the decade--one from each year. Enjoy!


"You lie!"--Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina during President Obama's speech to Congress on health care

"I can see Russia from my house!"--Tina Fey impersonating VP candidate Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live"


"(I have") a wide stance when going to the bathroom."--Sen. Larry Craig trying to explain his bathroom-stall antics in Minneapolis

"I probably did take my newfound freedom a little too far."--Britney Spears on being photographed sans panties


"Here's the problem. You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do ... Matt, Matt, Matt, you don't even--you're glib. You don't even know what Ritalin is."--Tom Cruise lashing out at Matt Lauer on "Today"

"Not only are we going to New Hampshire ... we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we're going to California and Texas and New York! And we're doing to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House. Yeeeeeaaaaaargh!"--Howard Dean's concession speech in Iowa


"I think gay marriage should be between a man and a woman."--California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the gay marriage debate

"(Osama bin Laden) is either alive and well, or alive and not too well, or not alive."--Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld


"Are you guys ready? Let's roll!"--Todd Beamer to fellow passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, one of the 9/11 terrorist targets


"We don't just have egg on our face. We have an omelette."--Tom Brokaw on NBC's botched calls on the Bush-Gore presidential election

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Daily Candy taste test

OK, it’s been way too long since I blogged here. But I have resolved to do better on that count in 2008. So here’s my first post of this new year ...

Daily Candy is a real Internet treat. This compact site delivers a ton of tips and insights on fashion, culture, travel and other topics without sending you into a diabetic stupor. In fact, many articles contain fewer than 200 words each but are packed with enough Web nutrients to feed our almost insatiable hunger for information.

This warm, comfortable site makes you feels like you’re kibitzing with a pal about the latest trends and hot spots.

Here are seven reasons why Daily Candy is so delicious:

1. The design is fresh and inviting, with a mixture of drawings and photos that smartly complement the copy.

2. The writing is lively and punchy, marked by short, engaging, tightly crafted paragraphs.

3. Clever subheads are liberally and – appropriately – used to break up text into digestible bites.

4. Links are generously sprinkled throughout the copy in a reader-friendly but unobtrusive manner.

5. Content is conveniently segmented by category and by region.

6. Attractive, fun teasers at the bottom of articles invite you to explore other articles.

7. Signing up for Daily Candy email alerts is a snap.

How would I improve the site?

1. Make some of the art a bit larger and more dominant.

2. Include more photos of real people and fewer generic drawings (although the drawings are quite creative and certainly shouldn’t be abandoned).

3. Briefly summarize on the home page what Daily Candy offers.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Quotable quotes

Oftentimes, I long for the days of plain-spoken honesty. Such forthrightness was a hallmark of the presidencies of Harry Truman and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Too many times in this media-savvy world, what comes out of people's mouths sounds too canned and contrived to be authentic.

Thankfully, whether you agree with them or not, a fair amount of people are adept at cutting through the B.S. and giving us the true skinny.

Here are a few recent examples ...

Regarding delays in issuing U.S. passports, U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., said: "To say people must have a passport to travel and not give people a passport is right up there in the stupid column."

Commenting on punching a fellow lawmaker over an alleged expletive, state Sen. Charles Bishop, an Alabama Republican, said: "I responded to his comment with my right hand."

Talking about the jail drama involving Paris Hilton, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said: "My message to those who don't like celebrities is that punishing celebrities more than the average American is not justice."

Reacting to his firing from TV drama "Grey's Anatomy," actor Isaiah Washington said: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." (OK, it's not original, but at least it's quotable.)

And in a classic understatement, the Cleveland Cavaliers' Zydrunas Ilgauskas said of his team's loss Thursday night to the San Antonio Spurs: "I don't think any of us looked particularly good. Not a great game for us."

Monitoring pithy quotes is a great game for all of us. And you can quote me on that.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Author, author!

My good friend Thom Singer (right) has done it again. While many of us dream about writing merely one book, Thom just released his second book. On Wednesday, June 7, a book-release party was held at The Tap Room at Six Lounge in downtown Austin. The group photo is of me with Kelsey August, a longtime friend, and Cheryl Miller, who hosted the party.

The new book, The ABC's of Networking, compiles a wealth of Thom's gems of advice about networking. If you don't know Thom, you should get to know him. He's one of Austin's premier networkers. I can't even fathom how many businesspeople Thom knows in the Austin area.

Thom's first book, Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow and Keep Business Relationships, also delves into the topic of effective networking. (By the way, I'm grateful to Thom for mentioning me in the first book.)

Both books are available on Amazon.com.

In closing, here's my message to Thom and all you would-be authors: Write on!

Monday, June 4, 2007

OMG! Texting has its drawbacks, OK?

R u part of the texting generation?

I've had limited experience with this phenomenon. Maybe it's because the keys on my cell phone aren't conducive to texting. Maybe it's because I prefer to engage in good old-fashioned voice conversations with folks.

However, millions of Americans -- especially preteens, teens and young adults -- are texting fanatics.

One of them was sitting next to me on a flight over the weekend from Houston to Austin. Throughout the entire 30-minute journey, Mr. Cool (a dude in his late teens or early 20s) was sending and receiving text messages -- despite the fact that the use of all portable electronic devices is prohibited in the air.

And I've lost track of the number of times a young motorist (usually of the female variety) has whizzed by me on the highway while sending or responding to a text. I'd like to send those motorists a not-so-nice text informing them that I don't want to be killed as the result of a text-and-run crash.

Aside from the fact that texting can be a nuisance, it's also giving life to a new lexicon. The text language is featured prominently and cleverly in a new TV commercial for Ma Bell. In this ad, we learn in an exchange between preteen texter Beth Ann and her frazzled mom that TISNF means "This is so not fair!", BFF translates into "best friend forever" and OMGINBD means "Oh my gosh, it's no big deal." OMGIWTU! For those of you not well-versed in text, that's "Oh my god, I wanna throw up!"

With three-fourths of cell phone users reporting that they're texters and about two-thirds of parents indicating that texting improves communication with their kids, this botching of the English language won't be vanishing. TISNF.

RIP, English language.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tethered to technology

How many times has this happened to you?

You receive an email or phone call from a colleague and you don't have a clue as to what your colleague wants or needs. Laptop computers, cell phones and PDAs may enable rapid communication, but do they enable fuzzy communication? In many cases, the answer is yes. Sometimes we're so eager to quickly answer an email or return a phone call that we're not always sending and receiving clear messages.

If you happen to work remotely, communication can be a real concern. While 69 percent of those interested in workplace flexibility expected it would be easy to set up their laptop to work remotely, respondents in a new Microsoft survey conveyed lingering concerns about those arrangements. Two out of three respondents still were concerned with the security of sending confidential emails or documents from outside the office. One in five said they feared they would feel “out of the loop” if they worked in a flexible environment.

Even for those who don't work remotely, cutting the ties to electronic communication can be tough. In a survey for The Creative Group, 47 percent of advertising and marketing executives said they check in at least daily while they're taking off time away from the office.

It seems we have become 21st-century slaves to technology.

For more information about effective work-related communication, read this article from the Jamaica Observer, visit this blog post by Toby Ward or check out this guidance from Business.com.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hey, buddy, read this @$!#!% blog

Over the weekend, one of the rudest business emails I have ever received landed in my inbox.

The writer -- I won't identify the gentleman here -- chastised me for having the "gall" to not acknowledge an email he sent me in response to some questions I had emailed him. He accused me of being "too big to even take a minute" to thank him for the "damn response" he provided to my inquiries.

He then demanded that I provide him the contact information for the editor at the publication for which I wrote the article. In closing, this person wrote: "It is 'journalists' like you who aren't worth my time!"

Would this guy have spoken to me over the phone or face-to-face in that tone or manner? Doubtful. But an email to someone you've never met or never spoken to before, as is the case here, seems to give some people carte blanche to be as unfriendly and distasteful as they'd like.

Unfortunately, email gives impolite people a mask to hide behind.

Fortunately, we've got help to unmask this problem. Books instructing us on proper email etiquette are popping up almost as fast as spam. One of them, "The Bliss or 'Diss' Connection: Email Etiquette for the Business Professional," is by communications expert Cherie Kerr.

"Sadly, I think many people tend to weaken their business relationships rather than strengthen them with the use of email," Kerr says. "Introducing decorum and protocol is what we have needed for some time." Indeed, the author of the missive I got over the weekend not only has weakened the potential for a business relationship with me, he has destroyed it.

Not long after I was sent the nasty email, I bought a new book at Barnes & Noble called "Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home," by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe. Aside from authoring this book, the two scribes even are soliciting stories online about bad emails you've seen or heard about.

The email I got committed one of Shipley's and Schwalbe's "Eight Deadly Sins of Email" by insulting me so much that I figuratively had to get up from my desk. One piece of advice in their book is relevant in this situation: "When it comes to angry emails, ask yourself before hitting the Send key: Would you deliver the same message, in the same words, if you were within punching distance?" In this instance, my correspondent's answer should have been "no."

For the record, I did apologize by email for not having properly thanked this gentleman for his time. Overall, I addressed his grievances while also defending myself. And I did offer a way to contact my editor.

He mentioned in the email that he didn't know me from Adam. Well, the way he treated me was the way you'd expect a parent to scold an unruly child. By the way, I am not a child. I am a journalist with more than 20 years of experience who has achieved success, in part, by not dousing phone calls, letters or emails with verbal vinegar.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some nice, professional emails to write.