Sunday, December 30, 2007

Great photo

This is of my youngest niece. There is something so expressive in her eyes.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Crouching tiger, hidden Dexter

What is it about cats and Christmas trees?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

O Tannenbaum

We love our Christmas tree. Both Doug and I can stare at it for hours. Not only is it pretty, it's full of meaning. Most of the ornaments tell stories, are a part of our history. There's the Surfing Santa, which we got when we went to Hawaii. And the Disney ornaments from our trip there. The ornament from Mark Twain's house in Connecticut and the Santa from Kansas City. Speaking of Kansas City, there is a KC Chiefs ornament, an Arkansas Razorbacks ornament and, of course, a football Santa ornament. There are the ornaments Auntie M gave us, the one Gary & Tom gave us and the one Cindy & Greg gave us. Our tree might not make Decorator's Quarterly, but it is full of love.

Actually, at least during Christmas time, the house is decorated with love and stories. From the myriad of International Santas to the pine nativity scene that was my grandfather's, our Christmas decorations are our family history.

It's funny, but when I remember the Christmases growing up, I remember the traditions and the decorations. I had this green felt stocking with a little girl on it. I wish I knew where it was so I could hang it today. I remember playing with baby Jesus in our manger scene and mom's band of angels. I remember the elves my grandmother made. But it wasn't limited to our house. I would go to Mrs. Goolsby's house and was fascinated with her Nutcracker and this wooden tower that turned when lit by candles. I'm still surprised we don't have any of those, but the ones at the stores look cheap -- not the craftsmanship of what I remember.

We hate to think of our parents passing and I know it will be years. But I do hope mom will leave her Christmas decorations to me. That way I can look at the Santa she made in grade school as it hangs on my tree and remember how mom also liked to have the traditions of Christmas and the tree.

The mysterious case of the disappearing mouse

If you think you have someone on your list that's tough to buy gifts for, try finding something for a cat. Dexter is 12 years old and in that time has received maybe three toys that he likes. Then again, what do you expect, he is a cat.

Yesterday he received a leopard-patterned mouse with refillable catnip. This actually interested him. Or at least the kitty version of crack did. He went wild with the mouse, until, of course, he got bored (he is a cat, after all).

Last night Dexter was on the bed and I was playing with him with the catnip mouse. He who usually likes to stay at the edges of the bed, was actually between us. After awhile, I got bored playing with Dexter (because he is cat). I placed the mouse on my nightstand, read for a little bit, then turned off the lights and went to bed.

This morning I decided we should play with Dexter for a bit, so I went to grab him and the mouse. Only the mouse was no where to be found. I searched the nightstand, behind the nightstand, next to the night stand, and under the bed. No mouse. Doug wondered if the dogs got the mouse, but I figured they couldn't because it was behind the clock and if they had, there would be mouse guts all over the bedroom. I figure that Dexter climbed on my nightstand in the middle of the night and stole his mouse. Why? Because he's a cat.

Nine hours later and the mouse has not been found. I've checked out Dexter's usual haunts and there is no sign of a mouse. The mouse is gone. As for Dexter's other Christmas toy, this thing that looks like a it has a fly fishing lure at the end and spins, he's totally ignored it. It will spin around him, hitting him in the head, and he doesn't move. He is, after all, a cat.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Eve 2007

It's been a pretty quiet Christmas around here. Doug's parents are dealing with snow in northern Missouri and my family is going to have its gathering on Saturday. We opted to celebrate by ourselves.

Last night Doug and I went to Karen & Tom's, our friends who live in a log cabin in Dripping Springs. Each Christmas Eve they have their family, friends and any Christmas stranger come to their house for a celebration. It's always a fun time, with everyone trying to outdo each other on funky gifts and hidden meanings written as clues on the presents. There is always a lot of laughter and good times. Doug felt right at home, as he got a roll of toilet paper in his stocking (a gift his mom used to give).

We also got dance lessons last night, as Manda, Karen's teenage daughter, was showing everyone how to do Soulja Boy. The video is a little squished, as I filmed it vertically and when I turned the frame, it sized things. Guess I still need to work on the video capabilities of my camera.

Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 in review

Love those folks at

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What do you want for Christmas?

I cringe when I get asked that question. I guess I have to admit that I am difficult to buy for. Problem is, I want very little, or what I do what you either can't buy or it's too expensive. I think my friend CJ was right in her post about Christmas.

I want someone to come makeover the house, a la Queer Eye. I want someone to lay new flooring (assuming Doug and I could ever figure out what we want). I want someone to tell me exactly what to plant where in my front yard and help in giving the yard some curb appeal. I want a new couch -- one that is not 13 years old and getting frayed on the arms. I want not to feel rushed all the time.

I want photo collections of when we were growing up. I want family heirlooms that remind me where we came from. I want something thoughtful and artistic that reminds me of you every time I look at it. Our house is full of stories and I want you to add to it. I want a letter telling me how much you care.

I want classes -- things that will further develop my interests. I want some good books. I want a weekend getaway; even a day trip will do. There are so many places in central Texas I haven't been to. Don't ask me if I want to go, just tell me that we are going. Invite me to a great restaurant I haven't tried before. Discovering new, unusual places is the great fun of eating out. Invite me over for dinner. That's where memories are made.

I hate to admit this, but gift cards aren't for me. I may never tell you this, because I don't want to hurt your feelings, but most of the time they go unused. I think I was born without the shopping gene, because I really despise shopping. When I do go, chances are I forget the gift card.

The places I like to shop, at least for things for me, are local quirky places and festival/markets. I'm much more likely to use a gift card from Blue Moon Glassworks than from Kohl's. Even then, most of the material I buy at Blue Moon is used in a gift for someone else.

So yes, I'm difficult to buy for. But the things I want can't be bought. This Christmas I want the gift of you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

You know you're in Austin when...

  1. You own both formal and informal tie-dye
  2. Your summer shoes are your Birks, and your winter shoes are your Birks...with socks.
  3. The food at the company holiday party is all vegan, organic, soy free, wheat free, dairy free…
  4. You drive on Airport freeway for an hour before you realize that you are never going to get to the airport
  5. Your next-door neighbor has polka dots painted on their lawn.
  6. The mayoral candidate wears a silk thong, leather bra, and really needs to shave.
  7. The streets and freeways all have more than one name.
  8. You know that anyone wearing pants in November is just visiting from Ohio.
  9. You keep a list of companies to boycott
  10. Your hairdresser is straight, your plumber is gay, the woman who delivers your mail is straight and your Mary Kay lady is a guy in drag.

From the Mix 94.7 Happy Hour show.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Apple for the teacher

With yesterday's graduation, the semester is officially over. This week I received a couple of very thoughtful emails from graduating seniors. This is the reason I teach.

I also wanted to tell you that you are truly an inspiration and excellent instructor. You carry yourself in a professional manner, teach others how to utilize their PR skills, while still exercising your own. I learned a lot this semester. If I hadn't had this class I would have know from books what to do, but would have never had hands on experience. My learning style, as well as many others, application is vital. I'm not trying to be a kiss up, since I'm graduating, but wanted to tell you myself....not through the school... Thank you dearly!

I really want to thank you for everything. I know you've thought about going back and working for a PR firm full time, and I know you are probably great at that, but I don't know what I would have done without a teacher like you during my college career. You are the only teacher that has taken the time out to get to know me on a personal level, and I'm really grateful for that. I've learned a lot of valuable information throughout your classes, and I'm excited to use it all in the real world. You are a great teacher, and I really look up to you.

These comments are some of the greatest Christmas presents one can receive.


Yesterday was the first time I attended graduation as a faculty member. Honestly, it's not because I wanted to, but because I HAD to. Although I knew from my own experience that Texas State runs pretty efficient graduation ceremonies, I still dreaded because other graduations I've been to where they go on for two hours, you don't know anyone but one person, and the speeches are boring.

Yesterday changed my mind.

It started in the gym, where the students and faculty gathered pre-ceremony. "Ms. Quackenbush!" the students yelled as they came up to me all excited with hugs and post-graduation plans. One student's company finally started conversations about permanent employment, while at the same time he is interviewing with another company in LA. Another student secured a position as a flight attendant with a major airlines. She wants to travel a few years before settling down to job in PR. Others were just excited school was over. I had to laugh at one student who has yet to learn how to fix a tie. Actually, that was several students, because no one could help him. "They should teach this in class," he mutters.

It was also good to chat with other faculty. With varying schedules, we don't see each other much. We can laugh and joke. Dave Nolan, walking beside me in the processional, tells me, "don't fall" as we are going down the steps, then proceeds to speed up, so I'm almost jogging to keep up!

Our department sits on the front row, facing the students. We are positioned so that the students have to walk past us before they go on stage. If they see me, my students wave, shake hands, give a high five or just hug me. "I'm so proud of you," I whisper. Some of these students I've had since I first started teaching and now they are graduating. Others, I may have just me this semester, but they taught me as much as I've taught them. It's bittersweet to see them all go.

The ceremony is over 75 minutes after starting. Not bad. I'm glad I went. I was very proud to see my students graduate. I wish them all the best for their future.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas nights, Christmas lights

Last night was the perfect Christmas night. Doug and I went to my faculty Christmas party in San Marcos, arriving home about 9:30. The weather was so great -- in the 70s -- that we decided to go for a little spin. We piled the dogs in the back of the convertible, put the top down, turned on the Christmas tunes and drove around looking at the Christmas lights. We saw some really pretty displays, and some really fun displays, and it started getting us in the Christmas spirit. It was really one of those simple pleasures in life. I can't think of a nicer way to spend a Christmas evening than enjoying the lights and the night with the ones you love best.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Grinch

Today is the 50th birthday of the Grinch, at least according Book People, which is throwing party today in his honor. One of my most memorable Christmas event was when my elementary class did "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" with various students acting out different parts. I actually had one of the biggest roles -- I was a reader, meaning I read a section in the book while the other students acted it out behind us. In fact, from the 6 or so readers, I had the longest, and the last, section to read. The night of the play, one of the other readers was a no show, so I had to read her part too. The spotlight was on me!

Doug was laughing when I told him this last night. I couldn't remember what grade I was in -- maybe fourth or fifth -- so I called mom to ask her. Not only did she not know, she didn't even remember this. One of the few things I remember from elementary school, and one of my favorite Christmas pageants (and the only one where I was featured), and my mother didn't remember. Go figure.

Anyway, ever since that year, whenever it was, the Grinch has had a special place in my heart. Here's to you, Mr. Grinch -- happy birthday!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mr. Sam would be livid

I started my career in the marketing departing of Wal-Mart (SAM'S Club, actually) at the corporate headquarters in Bentonville. It was just four short months after Sam Walton, known to all of us as Mr. Sam, passed away. I was there for three years, until 1995, and you could still feel his influence in everything we did.

I knew things had changed by the time we moved to Austin in 2000. The evening we moved in we ran to the nearby Wal-Mart to get something we needed. Gary, a friend of mine from Wal-Mart days, was with me. As we stood in line, we looked around. With one glance, Gary said, "Mr. Sam would be rolling in his grave if he could see this now." I agreed.

It's only gotten worse, which makes me sad, as I am still a shareholder. Below is from a friend of mine in San Antonio. Not only is this not the Wal-Mart way I knew as an associate, heads would have rolled. At the very least, Mr. Sam would come back and haunt them.

Anyways, so he gets back from Hollywood Video with his movie, and bam, I get sick. I have to go get some medicine immediately. At this point its 11:20 p.m. and Im not sure what time HEB closes. I know that Walmarts are 24 hours (supposedly) so we go to the closest one (in the ghetto). Karl wont let me go in by myself, so he comes with me and gets himself a Hungry Man T.V. dinner and a few odds and ends. This lady comes on the loud speaker and the only coherent part of her announcement is 11 minutes.

Anyways, I get my medicine and we get in one of the three only open cash registers lines. There are about 15 people in each line and Im thinking this is ridiculous. So, I go ahead of Karl and get my medicine and then the cashier says, "Im sorry, it's midnight and we cant take any more customers." What do you mean you cant take any more customers??? His stuff is on the conveyor belt thing, his debit card in his hands and you are turning him, and about 20 other customers away??? Besides, that wasnt no 11 minutes. By the time we got in the store, got our stuff and got in line, that was all of 5 minutes (if that). If Michelle wasnt so damn slow of checking people out, maybe everyone in line would have made it through no problem.

"Im sorry, she said no more." Well thats bullshit. Turning people away. They need to have someone at the door telling you that they are closing and you have all of 5 minutes to get your shit and pay for it... not get your shit and get in line, but to hand over the cash for it. And thats another thing, there were still people walking in to the store after midnight and not a one of the employees at the front, looking through the bags said a damn thing. Have the deceny to tell people they are wasting their time.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Is she smarter than a fifth grader?

You have to wonder about those Carolina girls. First, Miss Teen South Carolina proved she wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. Now, Kellie Pickler, an American Idol finalist from North Carolina proved that not only is she not smarter than a fifth grader, she's not even as smart as a third grader. However, it makes a funny video.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The latest on Leslie

You have to read John Kelso's blog about Leslie's new magnets. It also seems like Austin's most famous homeless person now has a home, or at least lives in a shed instead of a box. Be sure to watch the video that goes with the story.

I told Doug I want a new set of Leslie magnets to go with my last year's set, but I think Doug has had about enough of these s/he-nanigans.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nothing to do today

Okay, that's not 100% true, but tomorrow is my last day of class for the semester. All my grading and class prep is done. Tomorrow my PR Writing class will present their end of semester project. After that, they will have their final writing test on Dec. 6. Both my PR Campaigns classes will present their client projects tomorrow and then they are done, except for evaluations. My Intro class is taking Test 3; their final on Dec. 6 is optional.

Obviously, I will have a lot of grading after tomorrow, but for today, it's eerily quiet. I have my own end of semester project for the Web Design class I'm taking, but no grading hanging over my head.

It's been an interesting semester, to say the least. Every class and every semester has a different personality. On the blog, I can't go into much detail, but I'm scratching my head on the way some things have turned out.

One thing I will say, this was my fifth semester teaching Intro to PR and between last semester and this, I really realized how much I love teaching this class. There is so much to cover and I'm able to get students excited about PR. Unfortunately, I won't be teaching it next semester. They are going to large, 300+ Intro classes. Instead, I'll teach an Ad/PR Management class.

I am looking forward to the break and am finally starting to think about the holidays.

Razorback sad

Despite being ecstatic about the Razorback's win over LSU, my joy quickly turned to sorrow Monday night when Doug woke me to tell me that Monday Night Football announced that Houston Nutt resigned as head coach. News came out yesterday afternoon that he's going to Ole Miss. Arkansas fans are vicious and it's surprising that he lasted 10 years. Lou Holtz only lasted 6 years as head coach. I'm curious to see who will take over the coaching job.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

And I thought our dogs were spoiled...

Check out this article on Christmas gifts for pets. I don't think I can convince Doug to buy Allegra a $120 pearl necklace, do you?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wooo Pig, Soiee!

The Razorbacks beat #1 ranked LSU last night in triple overtime. Not only did my beloved Hogs win, the game was exciting to watch.

Doug's parents left this morning. They arrived Tuesday for Thanksgiving. It's actually been fairly quiet, although Doug might not quite agree. I've actually been sick with some sort of congestion, basically coughing non-stop, including all night long. Sleep hasn't been easy and I passed on most activities. Still, I think Jim & Barbara had a good time. Doug took them to the usual haunts.

Thanksgiving was fun. In addition to Doug's parents, we had two friends over. I think everyone had a good time.

This is the last week of classes and then finals. I am heading into the home stretch.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Best Thanksgiving television show ever

Fans of WKRP will remember the "Turkeys Away" episode. For a Thanksgiving promotion, the station decides to give away turkeys in a turkey drop. However, they decide to drop live turkeys, not realizing they don't fly. Hilarious! Later reruns of the show didn't air this episode for reasons of political correctness.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Last night I had one of the best things I have ever tasted when we went to dinner at Siena. We were (belatedly) celebrating our anniversary and Doug made reservations at one of my favorite restaurants. It's actually been several years since we've been there, but he thought since I'm reading about Italy and dying to go, at least he could take me to Siena for our anniversary.

The dish that was so good was an appetizer:
Fichi Ripieni con Pecorino Toscano
Wood roasted figs wrapped in Parma
prosciutto and stuffed with pecorino Toscano,
garnished with Tuscan olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar

The flavors just exploded in your mouth. I think I could have made an entire meal from this dish.

I have to say though, the rest of the meal wasn't as great as I remembered. The ravioli was outstanding, but the veal chop I got seemed a little tough and chewy -- not what I expected from veal. Doug liked his pasta Bolognese and while he didn't say it, I don't think he was wowed by his Cacciucco.

There was also an issue with the wine. Looking at the cork, he noticed that the wine line was too far up, which means the wine may have gotten too warm. When he sampled it, he thought it was okay and just needed to decant a bit. Of course, when it finally opened up, you could tell the wine was starting to go bad. We probably should have sent it back, but we don't like to cause a fuss.

Still, the service was great, and while the port and dessert looked great, we were stuffed and ready to head home for the evening. Overall, Siena is still one of my favorites, if for no other reason than the figs!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Losing it, just a bit

I don't know if at 37 I can blame it on old age, or if it's just the end of the semester or what, but this morning I started wondering if I was getting a bit addle-brained.

I picked up my cell phone to see what time it was, then I went to get the clothes I wanted to take to the dry cleaners. Noticing none of Doug's clothes, I reached in my purse for my cell to call him, and it wasn't there. A minute earlier I had it in my hand and now it was gone. I searched the purse, the table and just couldn't find it. I decided to use my home phone to call it, only to find that I had dropped it in the closet when I was grabbing the dry cleaning.

Then, at the dry cleaners, I pulled out the top I wore yesterday to show that I had spilled on it and there were spots. Only looking at the shirt, there were no spots on the front of the shirt. Had they magically disappeared overnight? Flipping the shirt over, I found the spots. Guess I wore my shirt backward all day yesterday and no one, not even myself, noticed.

I'm glad I'm not preforming brain surgery today -- I'd probably leave a sponge inside someone's skull.

New blog to check out

Gigi Taylor is a Texas State professor and advertising professional. She is also one of the many people suffering from cancer. She was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and has a tumor on her liver. The prognosis is good and she's started chemo. She's also started a blog to talk about going through her treatment. Please check it out.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

Has hell frozen over?

Either two nemesis have called a truce, or it's the end of days, when the lion lays down with the lamb. Much to my surprise, Allegra and Dexter both snuck on the bed when I laid down for a quick nap to relieve the tedium of grading papers. I don't know what surprises me more, Dexter getting on the bed (which he hardly does when there is someone on it), Dexter getting on the bed with Allegra on it (heaven forbid!) or that Dante wasn't anywhere to be found.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dog hike

This morning we took the dogs for a hike at Walnut Creek Park. I really love this place, partly because it's leash-free and partly because it's close to Pflugerville. However, with the trails, woods and creeks, you can forget that you are in the city. It's a great way to get an hour of exercise and fresh air. The dogs love to roam and splash in the creek. It's fun to watch them run ahead, turn and run back to us, simply because we walk slower than they run. Of course, after an hour, they are tired and no longer run back, but simply choose to stop and wait.

I've read some comments online where hikers hate that this is a mountain bike park. We've never had issues with that. The cyclists are friendly, even when Dante, aka "cement head," doesn't listen and decides to block the trail instead of getting out of the way as we told him to. So much for hundreds of dollars of obedience training. The cyclists just laugh and keep going. Also, we go early enough in the morning that cyclists aren't much of an issue. As we were getting back to the car at 10 a.m., there were about a dozen cyclists gearing up and getting ready for their ride.

This is the first time since the spring we've been to the park. One nice addition since our last visit was trail markers. Not that the park is that big, but it's nice to know where we are heading. Now that the weather is great, I can't wait to load up the dogs and start hiking on the weekends.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Guys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses

I have a bacterial infection in my left eye. Ugh! Twenty years of wearing contacts and this is the first time it's happened. In addition to having to put drops in both eyes every three hours, I also have to wear my glasses and I hate wearing glasses. Blah!

Auctioning off my heart

Last night was the Find Your Heart in the Art charity art show benefiting the American Heart Association. My piece went for $175 in the silent auction. That was the max amount, or the "buy it now" amount (I'm not sure how that works). There was actually a bidding war on it. Woo-hoo!

The event was nice and I got to see a lot of people I know. I even met a few new folks. Unfortunately, I was exhausted. The next art show needs to be a day where I'm not on campus all day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Great media personality

Last week was Mass Comm Week at school. With more than 50 speakers in more than 30 sessions, I was exhausted by end of day Thursday.

Our keynote speaker was Ralitsa Vassileva, anchor at CNN International. As chair of the week, I spent a lot of time with her and the one thing that struck me was how humble and sincere she was. I wasn't sure what I expected, but having worked in the media since high school, I was not expecting this. She is truly a nice, sweet, sincere person.

One example, after her talk, students lined up to speak with her, get her email address, etc. The speaker after her was local morning radio personality Bobby Bones and the room was utter confusion with students leaving after Ralitsa and more coming in to here Bobby Bones. Eventually, we migrated out into the hall. We're in the hall for several minutes, the door to the packed auditorium is open and I finally suggest we go down to the first floor where it is quieter and they could talk without having to whisper. We go downstairs and the director of the School of Journalism & Mass Communication offers her office, but asks Ralitsa if she would like to freshen up a bit before continuing. Ralitsa politely declined, saying this one student had waited to talk to her for 30 minutes and she didn't want to keep the student waiting. She talked to the student for at least 15 minutes. What a pro!

Not only did Ralitsa give the keynote at the school, she went with us to the celebration that night for the 10th anniversary of our graduate program. She also attended a dinner the director hosted, which included some of our top broadcast students. She also spoke for 45 minutes at 8 a.m. to an Intro to Mass Comm course. All the while she was an utter pro and did an excellent job with the students' questions, even when the questions were a bit loaded.

In addition to her being a sincere person, her talk was interesting. She grew up in communist Bulgaria and became a journalist with the fall of communism. She talked about coming to the US with her son and just two suitcases because that's all they had. She discussed meeting Ted Turner and what a visionary he was.

Students in the Online Journalism class were live blogging during the event. See what they wrote about Ralitsa. I know as a jaded media watcher, Ralitsa renewed my faith in the way journalism should be.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Media experts to speak at Texas State

Two months of hard work pay off this week. It's the annual Mass Comm Week at Texas State. We will feature more than 50 industry experts and notable alumni covering a variety of issues, topics and trends in mass media. Our headline speaker is CNN International anchor Ralitsa Vassileva, who will discuss her career and international news coverage at 2 p.m., Oct. 24 in Old Main 320. Here is the complete schedule.

Thanks to my PR Campaigns team, we've received a lot of coverage about this event, including a mention in the Statesman, three advance pieces in the student newspaper, The University Star, and a piece on KTSW (the student radio station).

The last few days has felt like the calm before the storm. It seems like I have everything in place, but it just feels like that can't be right. It's like I'm waiting for the shoe to drop. What did I miss when organizing this? Maybe the fact that I'm worrying about this means that it's all put together and well planned. Maybe I'm just a worrier by nature (okay, that's not a maybe, that's a fact).

I am, however, looking forward to this week and hope the students, faculty and guests are looking forward to it as well.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What's been keeping me busy

I have been so busy this semester. I'm teaching four classes and then taking a fifth -- a Web design class. I think I could keep up with that, but I'm also in charge of our annual Mass Communication Week at school. This is three days where we bring in guest speakers, industry experts and notable alumni, to discuss issues, trends and careers in the mass media. This year we have more than 50 guest speakers. I've spent a lot of time arranging the event, trying to get through the university red tape to pay for travel, and working with a team of students from my campaigns class to publicize the event. To see who we have coming, click here.

I can't wait until two weeks.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Finding my heart in the art

One of my fused pieces will appear in the Find Your Heart in the Art show. The show is Nov. 1 and is a benefit for the American Heart Association. Show details can be found here.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Until You Walk a Mile In a Pair of Crocs…

This was written by Katie Kasprzak, one of the students in my PR Writing class. The assignment was to write a column. Katie's was really funny and blogworthy. With her permission, I have posted it below

Until You Walk a Mile In a Pair of Crocs…

We have all seen them, might even own a pair or two, and if not, then we are curious what the buzz about Crocs really is all about. These plastic, holey shoes that range from a variety of colors and are ridiculously overpriced seem to be getting everyone’s attention these days. Famous for outfitting boaters, chefs and gardeners, these shoes have taken fashion to an entire different level.

I vowed I would never wear them. They reminded me of gardener shoes. They were big, bulky and not even mildly attractive. Then I got a job at Cabela’s. My friends told me that I would become a victim because they are “comfortable.” I laughed. Then one day it rained, no, it poured. My shoes were soaked and I had a nine and a half hour shift to work. I gave in. I headed straight to footwear and bought a pair of khaki Crocs. I was hooked. They really are comfortable!

Customers comment that they are hideous and tacky. I can’t agree more. Now that I own them, I have vowed only to wear them to work. Okay, and walk my dog. Okay, and maybe the next time it rains on campus. Okay, so maybe I’m just not ashamed to wear them anymore. The truth is they are just shoes. Really, really, comfortable shoes. Crocs are indestructible, washable, colorful, slip resistant, weightless, yet hated by virtually everyone that comes across a pair.

So whatever happened to allowing and respecting a difference of opinion? I don’t personally like the shoe, even though I own a pair. I don’t harp on Croc owners, yet every time I wear mine I get a reality check and people point out how unfashionable these ever-so-popular shoes are.

Crocs are ugly; in fact there are more than 500 Facebook groups that allow people to express their concerns regarding Crocs. In 2002 only 1,500 pairs of Crocs were sold. In 2006 however, Crocs were projected to reach sales more than $200 million. Now that is a lot of ugly shoes!

So, until you have walked a mile, or stood on your feet all day, in a pair of Crocs, back off those that have.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

When the past comes back to haunt you...

Mom recently scanned some old photos. Doug saw this one and deemed it "blog worthy." Come on folks, it was the early 90s, this hair style was fashionable. Still, it's a little embarrassing. I can't wait until Doug's mom scans some photos of him and I post those. I seem to remember some photos with a mustache -- now those are funny.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Snake terrorists

Check out the front page story in today's Statesman. Seems like some folks thought it would be funny to throw a python at a guy working the drive-thru at Taco Bell. The Stateman broke the story last night and now it's being picked up by KLBJ, KXAN and KVUE. As the Statesman reporter told me, funny stories go a long way. Next thing we know folks will be tossing alligators at the Wendy's drive-thru.

Time wasters

I officially waste too much time on sudoku.

Your time: 3 minutes, 46 seconds

0 min 60 mins
Rank: Top 5%

Medium level average time: 8 minutes, 6 seconds - more details.

The other thing I'm wasting my time on is learning Web design. See the changes I made to my site. Yesterday I started learning Dreamweaver, which meant I went out and bought Adobe Creative Suite 3 (with an academic discount, of course). Next week I'll learn about Photoshop. I've tried to play around with it today, but man, I didn't get it. I also played around with InDesign. It's been years since I've been in Quark, and while InDesign is similar, it has a lot more features. Of course we're not even using InDesign for the Web design class. Anyway, by the end of next weekend I should have a fairly decent site.

Monday, September 17, 2007

When it comes to heart disease, there are no mulligans

One of the things that kept me busy this summer has been coordinating the marketing for Heart Ball and Go Red programs for the Austin American Heart Association. Our first event, the Third Annual American Heart Association Classic Golf Tournament, is in 10 days at the Avery Ranch Golf Course. (If interested in playing, visit

I really think the graphic (below) and the mulligan headline are catchy and I'm pleased with the results. Although I have to admit, the creative concept for Go Red (Go Red, Austin Style) and for the Heart Ball (Hearts of Hollywood) really blow me away. Those designers did an awesome job. I'll show those off closer to those events.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Simponize Dara

A fun little way to waste time. Upload a photo and Simponsize yourself.


Last weekend we went to Houston, visited the Johnson Space Center and saw the Chiefs game. I thought I posted a few blog posts from my cell phone, but I guess something happened. Freakin' AT&T. The week has been crazy and I'm going to spend the next four days grading, writing a test, trying to organize Mass Comm Week and trying to get my arms back around the stuff for the American Heart Association.

In the meantime, check out my new Website. In addition to teaching four classes, I'm taking a Web design and production class.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In the right

Brain Lateralization Test Results
Right Brain (66%) The right hemisphere is the visual, figurative, artistic, and intuitive side of the brain.
Left Brain (42%) The left hemisphere is the logical, articulate, assertive, and practical side of the brain
Are You Right or Left Brained?
personality tests by

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to school time

For most of central Texas, today is the first day of school. But not for me. I started Thursday. Despite what I said before, I have gone back to teach one more year at Texas State University-San Marcos.

All summer I was job hunting and while some things seemed promising, there were few jobs I was actually really interested in. However, I've heard that it takes a month for every $10K worth of salary one was looking for and since it had only been three months, I expected it would take several months yet. Then I got a note from the university. They were in need of a PR teacher. I was already slated to teach one class and they asked if I would think about returning full time for at least another year. A raise was offered, as well as an opportunity to apply for a more permanent position, so I had to consider it. My class schedule was basically two days a week, which would allow time to grow my own business as well as the consulting business Doug and I are starting. I asked if I could have a similar schedule in the spring so I could continue my networking, and they said yes. There wasn't a lot of downside, so I said yes.

It ended up that my one evening class didn't make, so I am back teaching the same three classes I did last year -- Intro to PR, PR Writing and two sections of PR Campaigns, all on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Additionally, I'm auditing a multimedia Web design class, also on TTH. Throw in five hours of office hours and I have a full day on each of those days, from 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Two weeks ago when I went to sign paperwork, I grabbed my mail from the summer, which included class evals and letters from the VP of academic affairs. The later informed me of certain students who, upon graduation, listed me as one of the professors who made a difference in their college life, along with any comments those students made. I had a half dozen from spring graduation and it was very touching. I also read my class evals. About 95 percent were extremely positive, with one student per class saying something like I was too hard and assigned too much work, I seemed to think this was the only class they took, etc., etc. etc. Of course, I took those for what they were worth -- after all, until they get a job where they are expected to work 50+ hours a week in a pressure cooker, they don't know what work is.

I guess I must not be too disliked, both of my Campaigns classes are filled to the brim, with 20 students. The past two semesters the classes were capped at 15. The other section of Campaigns only has 13 students with 6 open seats. I'm sure there are reasons for that, but on Thursday, when the students started talking about the teacher for that section and the things he does, I put a moratorium on it. Hearing about him just raises my blood pressure and I wasn't going through it again this semester.

Seeing the students, especially in one of my Campaigns classes, was like old home week. Now that it's my fifth semester of teaching, I've had many of the students, either in Intro or PR Writing. Two girls I've had in both, and realistically, they should get a different perspective from another professor, but I know that I'm the best and right now, they don't have much options.

I think some of my friends thought I would be more excited than I am. It's almost like I'm resigned to teaching. That's not exactly right, but as hard of a decision as it was to leave, it was just as hard to return. Mentally, it took a lot for me to separate the identity of a teacher from who I was, but after several months, I had done it. Now I have to reconcile that part of me back into the whole. But it's only been one day and that was mainly getting to know the students. Give me a few more class periods to get into the swing of things, and then I'll be excited.


From this weekend's Miss Teen USA pageant. If Miss South Carolina's answer is any indication, it's pretty obvious why one-fifth of Americans are clueless.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Our new car

We are closing on a new (for us) car this afternoon. It's a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GT convertible. Actually, it has really low miles and is under blue book, so we are getting a good deal. Plus Doug has been jonesing for a convertible since our last trip to LA when we rented one. Of course, I'm not sure why he thinks he'll get to drive it -- it's my car!

One recommendation, if you are buying a used car, and are in the Austin area, be sure to use the AutoPI service. They come and check out everything with the car. We've used them three times now, once they saved us from buying a lemon and twice they confirmed we were getting good deals. Well worth the cost.

Disclaimer -- this isn't our car, it's just the same make/model/year/color and looks exactly the same. We just don't have a photo of our car.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How NOT to market your charity event

I spend a lot of time volunteering as well as doing my fair share of pro bono PR work, both professionally and via my students' classroom projects. PAWS Shelter, Austin Cycling Association, the Zach Scott Theatre, the Fine Arts Festival and the American Heart Association are just a few organizations I've done PR for. Because our dogs are rescues, I pay attention to fundraisers for Austin rescue groups. Yesterday, I received this email announcement:

Subject: Charity Dog Wash

Do you have a dirty dog? This is not a pick up line. Seriously, if you've got a dirty, stinky or mangy dog, bring him by the Bark N Bubbles dog grooming salon this Sunday and the MorningX will wash him all shiny and clean for you. What's the catch? No catch really, we just want a $10 donation (at the very least) which will go to a local Pit rescue organisation. Come out to the Dog Wash and meet some delightful Pits who may change your mind forever. We'll have refreshments and snacks, as well as 101X goodies, and you'll be doing something constructive with your Sunday instead of getting drunk.

So at first I'm thinking, "hey, this might be fun and a good cause. Allegra was really smelly the other day (I swear, she has BO on hot days); maybe we'll do this."

Then I read further. I don't care how nice some people say pit bulls are; I'm really not wanting to meet one up close and personal in a stressful situation with a lot of other noise and activities going on. After all, Dante is a big wuss and doesn't like chihuahuas (or poodles or any other toy breed that barks at him, or any dog that barks at him, or anything that looks at him cross-eyed), I don't think he can handle a pit bull. But I keep reading and keep thinking about going.

Then I get to the call to action. Excuse me? Are we trying to be clever, because it just falls flat. Actually, it's somewhat offensive. Not only do we usually do something constructive on Sundays (which most of the time involves construction and/or cleaning), I can't really recall the last day, much less Sunday, I spent the day sitting around getting wasted. It's not daily, weekly or monthly occurrence.

In marketing, there can be a fine line between a home run and a huge stinking foul. As I tell my students, "always have someone read what you wrote because what was in your head may not be how it reads on the paper, and when in doubt, leave it out." I wish the charity well in its fundraising efforts, but quite honestly, this email was a turn off and the only baths our dogs will be getting this Sunday will be in our backyard.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Murphy reigns (again)

Speaking of what my face looks like, I remembered the other thing Murphy's Law did a few weeks ago. I found out that I am allergic to benzoyl peroxide. Of course I didn't find this out by reading it somewhere. I found this out because my face, particularly my eyes, swelled like a pumpkin and my complexion became as rough as sandpaper when I used a face wash that contained the stuff. I was not a pretty sight. In fact one day I had a meeting for some work I'm doing for the American Heart Association's Go Red campaign. A friend was having it at her house because she was recovering from plastic surgery. When she saw me she thought I was doing something to my face just to make her feel more comfortable. I wish!

It took several days to get back to normal, and even now, my skin feels drier than usual. But I can now go out in public and not be mistaken for a leper. If anyone needs some face was benzoyl peroxide, I have an almost full bottle that I won't be using any more.

Celebrity look alikes

I'm not sure if I should be offended that I look more like guys than girls and that I don't even know who most of these women are. Of the two women I know, one is dead. Oh well.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Murphy reigns

It all started two weeks ago. Our friend Robert was able to get us a deal on new kitchen appliances -- stove, dishwasher and an over the range microwave. He came over that evening to install them and all went well until the guys realized that the cabinets over the stove were two low. They emptied the cabinets, left the stuff for me (I was out at a networking event) to go through, installed the microwave and had a beer or 10. Despite having work left for me, I was still very pleased.

The next night I was again out at a networking event (Austin is crazy full of them mid-month). Some guy who came the night before to try and sell us an alarm system came back that night to talk to Doug. State of the art, no install charge, has cellular backup (which our current one didn't), etc., etc., so Doug agreed. I came home that night to a darkened house. When Doug agreed, they had installers nearby who came over to and started work. About 5 minutes before I pulled into the driveway they blew a fuse, which blew the entire house. Good thing I like candles and have plenty of them. The guy couldn't figure out how to get the thing going and since I didn't want to be without electricity in July until 9 a.m., the alarm guy called an electrician, who came over at 10:45 p.m. and had the lights on by 11. Good deal.

For some reason the dogs went crazy that night. In and out all night, couldn't settle, didn't want us to sleep. The next morning we found out why -- they found baker's chocolate from the emptied cabinet and had eaten some. As wound up as Dante was in the middle of the night, Allegra was lethargic in the morning. Doug and I, despite being exhausted, went to our Wednesday morning networking meeting, but instead of hanging out after, working in a coffee shop and going to an lunch networking event, I started worrying about the dogs and came home. Allegra seemed bad and was throwing up on the carpet. Luckily, by the evening she was much better.

Now I'm sure there were some other things that week, in fact I think there was something bad every day, I just don't remember it because of what came next. Doug sliced opened his foot on Sunday. He dropped the hummingbird feeder as he was hanging it. Of course, dinner was ready, so I told him to just clean it up after. He did, but didn't think to put on shoes. He ended up cutting a huge gash in the bottom of his foot and was bleeding all over the patio. He bled out one towel and not knowing exactly what to do, I called the insurance company. Here it is America and the first place to call is insurance. I just didn't want to get charged for going to the emergency room. I talked to a nurse who had me first have Doug lay down, as he was about to pass out. Second, I was to put on a clean towel and when he was okay to stand, take him to the emergency room. I found some duct tape, that all American invention, duct taped the towel to his foot and got him in the car.

Three hours later we left the emergency room, Doug with six stitches. After a stop at the gas station and 24 hour pharmacy, we made it home. As bone tired as I was, I cleaned the blood and the glass off the patio just so we wouldn't have any emergencies with the dogs.

The last thing to happen was Tuesday, when Plexi died. She was a fish, a pleco that is used to clean the tank. We just got her Sunday afternoon and we think the other fish picked on her until she died. I was sad and Doug said no more naming fish. He wasn't too happy that I wanted to bury her instead of flushing her, but I got my way.

Saturday we saw a play at the Zach, An Almost Holy Picture. In it, the character said that his dad always believed that good things happened in threes and bad things in sevens. The character's wife said that the Hopi Indians believed everything happened in fours. I don't know what I believe, except that the last few weeks have been crazy and feels like Murphy's Law is in charge.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Relaxing on a Sunday evening

Busy weekend. We've been rearranging the house. Our spare bedroom is now a hobby workroom and we FINALLY have room in the garage for the kiln. Tomorrow we get our new dishwasher, range and microwave/vent. For now, Doug is out playing poker and Dexter and I are hanging out on the couch.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Dexter in the sink

And they say cats don't like water ...

Global IQ

On the 4th we were hanging out at a friend's house and I started thumbing through the latest issue of Newsweek. The first thing I noticed, and thought it was hilarious, was that they were saying it was the summer double issue, but only 78 pages. I swear, magazines continue to get thinner by the year.

Anyway, it's the Global IQ issue, with 181 things you must know. I ended up getting so interested in the issue that I bought it yesterday (didn't think I would be a good guest if I spent the next few hours reading instead of chatting). So far it's pretty interesting.

If you have some time to kill, I'd challenge you to take the Global IQ Quiz. It's 130 multiple choice questions, so it will take awhile. I scored 52% on the quiz. Post your score in the comments section.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Update on perfect job

Back in November I wrote about seeing a listing for what would have been the perfect job for Doug and me -- chief beer officer. We never heard anything from the company and hadn't thought about it in awhile until a couple of weeks ago. Doug and I decided it must have just been a marketing ploy. That was until last week when I was flipping through one of his beer magazines (yes, I was a bit bored) and saw an ad congratulating the new chief beer officer. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to wait until there's a new opening. In the meantime, I am still searching for my perfect job.

Austin, the live guitar capital of the world

Since I haven't blogged about this, I figure today's story in the Statesman's Austin XL is as good of an opportunity as ever. Austin, the live music capital of the world has turned into Guitar Town. Thirty-five 10 foot art guitars are on display various places around Austin. I think my favorites are the "Keep Austin Weird" guitar, which has somehow turned into an interactive art piece, and "Music Capital." Maybe I can convince Doug to buy one for our funky backyard collection when it comes auction time. When you have a chance, check out the photos.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Funniest thing I heard today

It hasn't rained a drop in 32 hours. I think that's the longest we've been without rain in months. As I type, Doug is mowing the lawn. While he was at beer night last night, our neighbors on both sides and across the street took the opportunity to mow. Feeling embarrassed that we have the tallest grass around, Doug is remedying the situation.

Even without rain, central Texas is still feeling the effects of the flood. Rivers are swollen and some reservoirs and water treatment centers are damaged. Residents of smaller towns have a limited water supply and even then are urged to boil their water. Which leads me to the funniest thing I heard today.

I'm in my car listening to the local news channel. Reporters are providing updates on the situation. One reporter is interviewing an official from the town of Taylor:

We're encouraging all of our residents to conserve water and do things like not wash their cars or water their lawns.

Huh? Am I missing anything here? After all this rain the last thing anyone needs to do is water their lawn. Chances are we won't need to water our lawns again for six months (not that we water much, which is why our grass is now the greenest it has been in years, but that's a different post).

We can have two years of drought, go on water five day water rationing, but it takes a flood for city officials to remind us to conserve our natural resources by not watering our lawns. You've got to love small town officials.

PS: I'm watching Doug out the window and can see how frustrated he's getting. The grass is so high that it's wrecking havoc on our mulching mower. He can go about 20 feet and then the mower wants to give out. He has to pause, back up, and wait for the mower to catch up. It's stopped three times in the backyard alone. Make that four. He'll be ready for a beer when he's done. There's no chance he'll water our lawn any time soon. Make that five times. I better make sure there's a cold one in the fridge.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Let the sun shine in

There is sun this morning. I can see it. Usually June is bright and sunny, but not this year. I can't remember the last day that we didn't have rain, even if it was just a quick, 10 minute storm. Of course, this sun won't last. It's raining south and west of Austin and we are still under a flood warning.

Luckily, where we are, we aren't in much danger of flood waters. None of the roads we usually drive on are closed. It is just wet, ugly and muggy. The worse thing for us is that it's been at least two weeks since we've been able to mow and the grass is getting high. It's actually getting to Doug. Every morning he wakes up and says, "maybe it won't rain today and I can mow this evening." I just smile and don't tell him how much rain the news has predicted for the day.

We've had more ran so far this year than what we normally have for the entire year. Luckily, the rain is constant, just intermittent throughout the day. Doug says we now know what it would be like to live in Seattle.

All I can say is that I'm glad the drought is over. The last two years have been bad. Droughts only end with floods -- that's the cycle. Now our lakes are full (some are overflowing) and we have our water. Now if the rain would just subside and we could get some sun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Educating on higher education

I heard a report this morning on the radio that average starting salaries for teachers in the Austin Independent School District was slightly more than $40K. On one hand, I think this is great. I think teachers work very hard and deserve the pay, and having higher starting salaries will attract more people to the profession. The average starting salary for PR folks in Austin is between $28-32K and my students think it's low (of course, unlike teachers, you can get raises pretty quickly and can be making some good money in just a few years). Maybe more people will think about teaching if they felt like they could make decent money.

On the other hand, the story depressed me. Why? Because as a starting university professor I was only making $36K. Middle school teachers with a bachelor's and no experience can make more than I did with a master's and a dozen years of professional experience in the subject area I was teaching. Something is wrong with our educational system, at least our higher ed system.

For years there have been complaints about public schools and pay disparity, yet few have looked at what is going on in higher ed. One of the most eye-opening pieces I've seen on the subject is a documentary, Declining by Degrees. The universities are losing the best and brightest professors and it's the students who suffer.

The director of the School of Journalism & Mass Comm at Texas State continues to encourage me to get my PhD. However, she's using the wrong selling points. She tells me that starting salary for a newly minted PhD is almost $50K. I didn't want to tell her that I was earning that seven years ago and my professional salary right now, without toiling for four years with no life, is quite a bit more than that.

Funding is tighter in higher ed, but the push is to get more students through. It's not easy. And when good teachers, in professional degree programs, begin looking to go outside academia to earn a living, the situation only worsens. You have to wonder what is left.

I loved teaching and think there were some great faculty members. However, the future was somewhat discouraging. When you are in that kind of situation, there are only four options:
  1. Live with it as it is.
  2. Change your own mindset/attitude.
  3. Work to change it from the inside.
  4. Leave the situation.

I couldn't do the first two, try as I might. Not having tenure and given the structure of academia, I wasn't able to do the third thing. That just left me with option 4.

Going forward, I'll continue teaching at the university level as a per class adjunct as long as they will have me. Given the situation, that will be awhile (assuming they offer evening classes). I will be able to reach the students and maybe some day, when they get older, they will work to change the system.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I had issues

Last week I was having serious connectivity problems with the Internet. First of all, we decided it was time to upgrade our cell phones and decided to shop around and look into changing our mobile carrier to Cingular/AT&T and bundling our local and Internet services with our mobile. One piece of advice -- shop around for technology services every few years. Doug and I don't do this often enough, but when we do, we always seem to get more service for less cost. Since we had not really looked at our DSL since we bought the house six years ago, we found that we could upgrade to a faster speed and save $30 a month. A no brainer, right?

That's where the problems started. I kept asking if we would need to upgrade our modem or router and was told no. I put the order in on Monday and the new service went into effect on Wednesday. What did the new service bring? An outage, of course.

First, I thought it was just the storm coming through that knocked out service. That happens sometimes. I had a lunch meeting so I decided to just leave early and hang out in this cafe, drink tea and use their wireless. After the meeting (and the storm), I went drove back home. Still down. I had several things I needed done, and another meeting that evening, so I went to another cafe and hung out there the rest of the afternoon. While there, I called AT&T. I was told that the service upgrade was happening that day and that's probably the issue. No big deal I thought.

Until the next morning, when there still wasn't service. Still in bed, I called AT&T. We looked at the modem, we looked at my settings, we looked at everything and decided it was the router, which wasn't theirs. They gave me the number to call Netgear; when I did, I found out that we were out of warranty (of course) and couldn't get phone service without paying $1/minute. We could, however, get free email tech support. Just how I was supposed to email without connecting to the Internet, I didn't bother asking.

Before he leaves for work Doug hands me another router, still in the box, that we got free when we bought the laptop. It's not as good as Netgear, but promises that it's easy to connect in just 4 minutes. Even I could do it, right? Wrong! Massive chill pills and the thought of picking up shards of glass were the only thing that kept me from throwing the new router at the window. It's time to leave the house and find a connection.

I live in the 'burbs. Despite it being close to Dell, there aren't a lot of cute little cafes teaming with wi-fi and I really didn't want to drive all over town to get a connection. First stop, Starbucks, where my hunch was confirmed -- it's T-Mobile only and you have to pay for the service. Those capitalistic bastards! Next stop, Java Cafe, which was more of a greasy spoon diner, but it had free wi-fi. By this time my battery is low on the laptop from all the previous time on phone support, so I take the only table with an outlet, a big corner table, and order breakfast. I get online and go the the Netgear site and email tech support and wait for a response. I'm okay for awhile, but lunch time comes and the manager boots me out. There's a wait and I just can't take up the table any more. I understand, but am still pissed. I have things to do, I need my Internet!

I have no idea where to go and get in my car. I start heading for one of the cafes I hung out the day before and then decide to try this little Thai restaurant instead. They send out emails to me and seem pretty tech-savvy. Maybe they have wi-fi. They did, and had one outlet with an empty table nearby. I sit down and start computing. After the lunch "rush" (three tables) is done, I realize something -- I am the only person in the restaurant and it will close in 30 minutes. Great. I had to pick a place that closes between lunch and dinner and I am the only person keeping the waitstaff from leaving. Ugh. However, I finally received a response from tech support and decide to go home and try it again.

Unfortunately, it didn't work. Even with the email from tech support, I couldn't reset the router. Frustration is high so I do the only thing I know to do. I leave it for Doug and go to a girls' night out. Alcohol, while it won't fix the router, will make it so you temporarily don't care.

The outcome of the story? Doug came home, spent a few hours cussing at the router, but then realized I was coming home and that he wanted any peace, needed to get it working, which he did.

Yes, my Internet addiction is being fed. It's at the point where I can't even remember not having the world at my fingertips. My frustration of not having access makes me wonder if connectivity is worth it. Then again, I don't really want to find out.

Monday, June 18, 2007

If they could see it now

I'm really not sleepy so I turned on the TV. Broadcast News is on and I have to watch. It's one of those movies I love, but when I think about my favorite movies, I never seem to remember it. Yet when it's on, I'm glued to it.

As I'm watching the first few minutes something strikes me. This movie was made in 1987. What would these characters think about the world of news and politics today, 20 years later?

We're introduced to Aaron as he is making fun of an Arnold Schwarzenegger television interview about Schwarzenegger's latest movie. I wonder what Aaron would think of Gov. Schwarzenegger? Then there's Jane, who speaks out at a conference against the softening of the news. Nobody listens. The audience claps when she shows how a lead story on all three networks was of a domino stacking competition, missing the point that the networks neglected to cover a major policy change in nuclear policy. No one seemed to care that news was turning into fluff.

This was 20 years ago, before the rise of cable news, way before the Internet. The 24/7 news cycle wasn't even a concept. In many ways this movie prophesied what has become of our news. I guarantee Jane would throw a hissy fit about all the coverage of Paris Hilton's jail time or the death of Anna Nicole.

I think it was easy for this movie to predict what was going to happen to news. Things were starting to become more evident. The year this movie was made, I still wanted to be a foreign correspondent for Newsweek in Central America. That's where the action was. Journalism was my calling. Yet by the time I graduated in 1988, I didn't want that any more. I could tell that journalism was going tabloid and that wasn't me. I went to college not knowing what I wanted to be, but still registered as a journalism major because that was what was on my application and the advising line for that major was short (true story). Only later did I learn what PR was, how it had a strong journalism component, and how PR was all about telling the positive story. That's when I decided what I wanted to be.

Funny thing is, Broadcast News had no influence on my decision. I never saw the movie until I was well into my career. Yet every time I watch it, there is something that resonates with me. There is a definite warning the movie is trying to give and yet we're not paying heed. I wonder what Jane and Aaron would say to that?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Jesucristo Superestrella

Last night we volunteered for Jesus Christ Superstar at the Zachary Scott Theatre. What's interesting about this production is that it's bilingual. The show was both in English and Spanish, with some songs using one or the other language, while other songs were sung in both. The set design and costumes were also very Mexican in look and feel. This is the first attempt to do the show bilingual and it seemed to work.

I have to admit, Joseph Melendez, the actor playing Jesus was hot. I might burn in hell for this, but after the show I was saying how I would go pray in his church any day of the week. The director brought Melendez in from New York so no one really knew who he was. There was a lot of speculation whether he was gay or not, because, let's face it, 90 percent of the male actors at the Zach are (not that there is anything wrong with that). A friend who is stage manager for the show, confirmed that Melendez is in fact straight. Dios mio! At this point, Doug decided it was time to leave, with or without me, and left me chatting with the girls until they pointed out I better go catch my ride. ;-)

Actually, the best performance was John Pointer, playing Judas. He rocked the house.

My only disappointments were that they did the song "I Don't Know How To Love Him" only in Spanish. This actually was a pop hit in the '70s and one of my favorite songs from the show. I'm sure if it were in English I would have sang along to it; Doug said for this reason it was a good thing it was in Spanish. The other disappointment is that the show started with someone dressed like an Aztec god, doing a dance. He was brought out later in the first act, but I would have also liked to see the second act start with him. It was fascinating watching him leap and turn in the air.

The next time we are scheduled to volunteer at the Zach is the July 21st opening part of An Almost Holy Picture.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Good blog

Check out this blog by Tim Sanders, former Yahoo exec. I was turned on to him several years ago when he was on the JB & Sandy radio show. Since then he's been a frequent guest. He was on earlier this week talking about email etiquette and why the Longhorns beat USC for the national championship. Check out the replay if you want to hear some great stuff.

It's been a long time...

It's been a long time since I rock and rolled
It's been a long time since I did the stroll
Oh baby, let me get back, Let me get back,
Let me get back, Baby where I come from
It's been a long time, Been a long time
Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time
Yes it has...

Apologizes to Led Zeppelin, but I know I've been a bad blogger. There's no real excuse, but a lot of things have been going on, some busy, some I wasn't ready to talk about. Of course, after awhile things get away from you and you feel guilty. I mean, why should I feel guilty about not blogging or worse yet HAVING to blog, but I was, so it continued to build. Then the other day I was talking to some bloggers I met at a networking function and they convinced me it was okay. I could go back. And so here I am. There have been things I have wanted to blog about, but hadn't logged on because I thought readers needed to know why I hadn't been blogging. So here it goes:

Life has been crazy.

Okay, no excuse, we all have crazy lives, but for awhile my life was crazy busy and got away from me. Then I started a period of transition and now, well, I don't know, I'm just here.

It started in February with an email from a PR agency I've done work for in the past, asking if I could spare some hours for a week. It was a week where nothing major was going on at school, I there wasn't a test to write or project to grade or anything like that, so I said yes, I could give them about 20 hours for the week. That 20 hours turned into almost 2 months, working 25-30 hours a week. I would get up at 5:15, leave the house at 6:15, drive 50 minutes to San Marcos, do what I needed to prep for that day, teach class at 8 a.m., teach another class, have office hours and leave campus at 12:15. I'd drive to downtown Austin and work most evenings until 6:30, sometimes 7 or later, often being the last one to leave the office, and head home, lucky if I could squeeze in a 30 minute workout. Then it was home, dinner and anything I needed to do to prep for class the next day, fall exhausted into bed and start all over. It was like this four days a week; Fridays were easy, it was working 8 hours a day at the agency. Weekends were spent grading and doing class prep. Blogging was the last thing I wanted.

Then in mid-April it was suddenly over. The crazy client I was working on changed its mind on some things and the agency figured out how to offload some of the work I was doing to another office. While I really liked the money, making almost double working part-time what I did teaching full-time, I also didn't mind that they didn't need me. It was two weeks until the end of the semester and student projects were due and finals were coming up. It was my busiest time of the semester.

So mid-April, I'd been doing PR work and getting paid well for about 2 months and I realized I missed the work. Yes, there was a lot of BS to deal with from clients, but at least I got paid to deal with it. On the teaching side, it's mid-April, I loved my students and loved being in the classroom, but still hadn't been asked to come back in the fall. For 2 months they knew they needed someone but as as the director told me, it was like the movie Sophie's Choice and she was "choosing not to choose." Such is the life of an instructor. Unless I got that PhD and got on tenure track, my future would be uncertain. There was also a lot of non-classroom BS to deal with, only I didn't get paid to deal with it, and quite honestly I was very disheartened, disenchanted and frustrated.

Last day of class. I'm like a proud parent, watching my students present their projects to their clients. I'm sad, as I know I may not see some of them again. The campaigns class is graduating and I have no idea if I'll be back the following year. Finally, on that day, I get asked if I want to come back the next year and say I need to think about it. And think I did, especially as the next day I had an interview with one of the top tech PR firms. I spent a week with a constant headache, trying to weigh my options. It was made more difficult when I didn't get the job at the firm.

Do I stay with what I know that is safe, although I am frustrated, or do I take a chance for something more? I thought about all the times I played it safe and how it really didn't work out like I hoped. I thought about what I try to teach my students about taking chances and going for it and following their dreams. I decided that it was best if I left the university, at least as full-time faculty, and let the school know my decision. I did offer to teach one or two classes a semester, particularly at night, and they accepted. This was the day of my last final. I packed my office and left, saying goodbye to hardly anyone because it would be too hard.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that for the first few weeks I had a lot of cognitive dissonance, or wonder whether I did the right thing, especially when I heard that the PhD they hired to start in the fall bailed on them, leaving them down two PR instructors. I also felt a little bit of a loss of identity. Who was I, if not an instructor at the university? Let's face it, what little they pay is made up by prestige.

But now things are picking up for me. For the last month I've been networking like crazy, meeting new people and attending events. Things that they always say you should be doing, but let's face it, for three years I've been locked in an ivory tower between grad school and teaching and making it back to Austin for a networking lunch hasn't been feasible. I look at my calendar for this month and almost every day has something; next week I have a meeting every night and have lunch appointments almost every day. In between times, I'm meeting with companies that may want to offer me a job or at least some freelance work. And believe it or not, I have turned down some offers (especially for freelance work), because it wasn't right. I have to have the belief that the right thing will happen for me.

So what I have learned from all this? First, you don't have to settle. Second, you have to believe in your own worth and stand up for it. Third, people are nice and friends are important. And finally, you can go blog again.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Doug's new job

As I write this, Doug is on his way to his new job.

As regular readers might know, last month a company rescinded its job offer to Doug. As might be expected, he was upset about it. He had turned down several interview opportunities because he thought he had that job in hand. One of the ones he turned down was AMD, which originally contacted him in November, but weren't ready to move forward until January. He followed back up with them on Jan. 26, had two phone interviews that day and an offer by 5 p.m. He was on top of the world.

It's taken a bit longer than they hoped for the background check to clear. They wanted him to start Wednesday but it didn't clear until 9 this morning. At 9 they called him and wanted him to be there by 11. Obviously, the few days of waiting was nerve-wreaking, but he is totally psyched.

It's a 3-6 month contract, but could easily go two years and/or turn permanent. He's doing process improvement work, which he really enjoys. The only downside is the commute from Pflugerville to south Austin, but he realizes he could just go early and workout to miss the traffic.

Be sure to wish him well -- this is the job Doug has been waiting for.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Swinging into the semester

We've finished the first two weeks of the semester. Getting started back up is busy, which is why I haven't blogged much. It's my fourth semester teaching (second as a full-time faculty member) and yet there are days I'm still not used to it. Although I initially wasn't ready for the semester to start, after missing three days of classes because of the ice storm, I was finally ready to go back to school when it started two weeks ago. Now, it seems like we've been in class for months.

I didn't sleep well the night before classes started. It was almost like when I was a student. I was worried about my classes -- would the students like me, would they get me. Yet, for the first time in my teaching, I'm getting returning students. Out of 28 students in my two campaigns courses, I've had 12 of them previously. Out of 14 students in my writing class, I know 4. Last semester I only had 2 students out of 148 who I knew at the beginning of the semester. Now I have students who are choosing to take classes because I'm teaching them. It's also the first semester where I've had a small (38 students) Intro class. This means I only have 80 students among my four classes. Compare this with 90 students just in Intro last semester.

I'm actually pretty excited with my campaigns classes this semester. Having taught it once, I'm a little more experienced, but also, these students seem on the ball with their client work. I think we can get a lot accomplished. I've been pretty easy with my writing class thus far. Last semester I made assumptions on where they should be in regards to their writing skills and I was wrong. This semester we are starting with the basics. It's boring, I'm sure, but I'm hoping it will help them to be better writers.

I think I'm starting to get into the rhythm of my new schedule. Last semester I was only on campus 2 days a week, but I went from 8-4:30, with basically an hour break at 9:45 and an hour at 3:30. This semester I'm on campus 4 days, but am done by 12:30 each day. I don't like the mileage on the car, but the hours, and commute home, is much better, plus I'm not as exhausted.

I'm still not sure what the fall will bring, if I'll be teaching or doing something else. It's looking more promising that I could be teaching, but one never knows.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Austin Barbies

Austin Texas Barbies
ANNOUNCEMENT: Mattel recently announced the release of limited-edition Barbie Dolls for the Austin Texas market:
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" Westlake Barbie"

This princess Barbie is sold only at Davenport Village . She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade, Prada and LV Handbags, Rolex watch a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey and a 25,000 sq ft. patio home.

Available with or without tummy tuck and facelift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.

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"Round Rock Barbie"

The modern day homemaker Barbie is available with Ford Wind star Minivan and matching gym outfit. She gets lost easily and has no full-time occupation.

Traffic jamming cell phone sold separately

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" East Riverside Barbie"

This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, a Ray Lewis knife, a Chevy with dark tinted windows, and a Meth Lab Kit. This model is only available after dark and must be paid for in cash (preferably small, untraceable bills) unless you are a cop, then we don't know what you are talking about.

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"Lakeway Barbie"

This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of Rolls Royce convertible or Hummer H2. Included are her own Starbucks cup, credit card and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.

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" Bastrop Barbie"

This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans two sizes too small, a NASCAR t-shirt and tweety bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has a six-pack of Bud light and a Hank Williams Jr. CD set. She can spit over 5 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's butt when she is drunk. Purchase her pickup truck separately and get a confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free.

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"Warehouse District Barbie"

This collagen injected, rhino plastic Barbie wears a leopard print outfit and drinks cosmopolitans while entertaining friends. Percocet prescription available as well as warehouse conversion condo.

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"Buda Barbie"

This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Bastrop Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter-top. Also available with a mobile home.

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" Travis Heights Barbie"

This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Travis Heights Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.

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" Del Valle Barbie"

This Barbie now comes with a stroller and infant doll. Optional accessories include a GED and bus pass. Gangsta Ken and his 1979 Caddy were available, but are now very difficult to find since the addition of the infant.

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"Hutto Barbie"

She's perfect in every way. We don't know where Ken is because he's always out a-'huntin'.

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"Downtown Barbie/Ken"

This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding/subtracting the multiple snap-on parts.