Thursday, January 31, 2002

The Way We Work

Per David Weinberger's praise of Jeneane's site Hyperlinked Mom, I've been haunted by her description of a near-perfect balance of child-rearing, writing, working, living, loving that she's managed to pull off.

I applaud her. I'm trying to do just about the same thing and so far, so good, BUT so many people (and I won't even say women, because many men are trying hard to have a balance of work and family/friends and are even more discriminated against in the workplace for this, than women) are simply not able to pull this off.

Two books speak to this in rather shocking and alarming ways — Crittenden's The Price of Motherhood and Williams' Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What To Do About It.

In the Williams book, we meet the very scary corporate robot drone, she calls "The Ideal Worker." The Ideal Worker works full-time, is fully available to travel at the corporation's convenience and time schedule, has no child- or elder-care responsibilities and is ideally not married and willing to relocate.

The Ideal Worker is never inconvenient to the corporation. In other words, if you have a life (and a family), you are essentially screened OUT of these jobs, which usually come with high financial reward and authority. I know we're all working to change this, but check these books out for a chilly view of the state of most worker bees lives.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002


Is it me, or has anyone else noticed how shockingly complicated and high-tech kid's CANDY has become? I can barely figure out how to open most of it or even eat it. I was trying to tell my son about the extremely boring, simple candy we used to eat — like those multi-colored drops of hard sugar on adding machine paper strips we called "button candy" and plain old Hershey bars and stuff like Bit O'Honey. He was shocked.

If you're up for a day of real live retail trend-hunting, check out candy at the supermarket, toys at Toys 'R Us and shoes at Target.


Doc's mention of the piece from Fortune's website about blogs was appreciated. But they seem to totally miss the inter-bloggatory cross-play activity of blogs. Can anyone say LINK?

I did like their thought that maybe blogs are filling up the holes left behind by the disappearance of so many industry rags. Yeah, maybe, but it's still not the whole story.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002


Why isn't Andrew Sullivan writing about our favorite invisible friend, Mr. Halliburton?

Just Do It

I keep trying to find time to fix my Blogroll and add about a zillion names of all these cool bloggers I've met online, but I'm severely HTML and TIME-challenged and haven't pulled it off. But I will, I will, I will. Give me a day.

Au fait, JYS, ton email ne marche pas. J'ai essayee de t'envoyer une message, mais elle a "saute".

Monday, January 28, 2002

Useful Interfaces

I am a harsh critic of interfaces, I admit. I like the simple ones. There are very few. Good user interface must be robust, simple, intuitive and inviting.

There is the one called McDonalds — you give them money, they give you food. Then there is the one called FedEx — you give them a package and money, they get the package to the guy you were sending it to.

I like the car key interface — you put the key in, it starts the car, you take the key out, the car stops. Although, when I was in college I rented a car one time that started, but when I took the key out, it kept going. This was interesting, I thought I might have to shoot it like an animal.

Other Useless Interfaces

Someday I'll understand why MS WORD has a number of basic editing functions not in the EDIT pulldown menu, but exiled in unlikely places.

You need to search high and low for simple things like Headers/Footers (weirdly hidden in VIEW) and page breaks (also weirdly hidden, but this time in INSERT) and the strange pile of stuff under TOOLS including basic stuff like editing and printing an envelope or label ... I know this is old news, but it's freshly annoying every single time I use WORD.

User Interface Confessions -- or I Cook Everything On Popcorn

My life is too busy and too complicated to give two shits about reading manuals or learning new complicated interfaces.

So when it comes to microwave ovens, I cook everything on "Popcorn". A frozen dinner = 2 popcorns. Leftover pizza = about .5 popcorn and of course, popcorn = 1 popcorn. In Microwaveland, the currency is Popcorn.

Sometimes to really amuse myself, I press the other buttons and howl to think some engineer actually spent time designing something nutty like the REHEAT menu which says "SEE COOKING GUIDE BEHIND DOOR" (Yo, man, I cooked that thing months ago — 2 popcorns and it was a flamer!) Then it has three more menus! 1. Dinner Plate, 2. Soup/Sauce, 3. Casserole. This really has me roaring.

This guy obviously works late at a quiet lab designing useless interfaces while his wife is trying to get a meal on the table for a screaming toddler, a voracious kindergardener and believe me, he has no CLUE about the people who use the machine he makes and the deep dark secret of his marriage — his wife cooks everything on POPCORN.

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Stranger Than Fiction -- Here Comes The Goddess

Have you read Leonard Schlain's The Alphabet Versus The Goddess? It is some amazing book and nearly indescribable.

I know this is a tough thing to swallow, but imagine that the printed word is battling it out with the graphic image, that standing on one side of the ring (with the printed word — think Alphabet) are men and on the other side of the ring (with the graphic image — and this means sculpture, painting, iconography, all visual media — think Goddess) are women. Got it, so far, Alphabet v. Goddess.

Schlain, a neurosurgeon, explains this is how male and female brains process information — in radically different ways — men tending towards words which are linear and literal, women towards images which are holistic and intuitive.

He then drags you through all of ancient and modern history to show how more word-based societies were patriarchal, more visually-dominant societies were matriarchal.

Ready? I know this is a big stretch. He then finishes up with the radical notion that the Net is facilitating the transition from a patriarchal world to a new matriarchal society. That the Net thinks, talks, connects like women do. Goddess Wins. Check out the book.

The Emperor

In the Tarot, there is a guy called The Emperor. This guy is your mega-implementor. He is the guy who gets things done. Other people are standing around thinking of good ideas. This guy is prototyping the shit out of an idea — maybe an idea not nearly as good as yours — but he's DOING IT.

In Seth Godin's new book Survival Is Not Enough, he actually explains how a company can do this — mega-prototyping, mega-implementing — he calls it zooming. It's interesting, because in a way, this is exactly who Seth is — The Emperor — and he's actually gotten what he does best down on paper. Of course, all Emperors can look forward to most people in the world hating their guts.

So, of course, in the category of Imitation-Being-The-Sincerest-Form-Of-Flattery, don't miss Marek's hilarious homage.

For All You Rider-Waite Traditionalists Like Me

I still like to get my hands on a different deck now and then. And one of the best user interfaces for Tarot is I like the CARD-A-DAY one click spiritual simplicity they offer.

Friday, January 25, 2002

Dark, Darker, Darkest

Who would believe the Enron movie would go from slapstick comedy — with Congress playing the Keystone Cops — to film noir -- with a former vice-chairman slumped over the steering wheel of a Mercedes? I may take my popcorn and go home before the final credits.

Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye

Of course, the game is over now for John Lindh. Not only is he no longer "Walker", but he's also not the frail, scrawny, hirsute, slightly romantic, Manson-like, dirty-faced boy of yesteryear.

Despite all the charges leveled against him, the most serious offense in American society is about to be added to the list — he's fat!

Glass House Throws Stones -- Hypocrites All

Amazing what crawls out from under a rock when you pick it up. As we lift the Enron boulder, any number of "bipartisan" vermin in fancy suits are to be found.

The New York Times piece this morning "Enron or Andersen Made Donations to Almost All Their Congressional Investigators" by Don Van Natta is the real story. Did I read it correctly, that "of the 248 senators and House members serving on the 11 Congressional committees, ... [a whopping] ... 212 have received money from Enron or Anderson"!?!

No wonder Jack Valenti from the Motion Picture Association of America was in attendance, he's trying to option the rights for a screenplay — this will make an incredible movie! But it won't be called Mr. Smith Goes To Washington II.

I say put them ALL on trial — Senators, auditors, House reps, Oilmen — and have the impoverished Enron janitors, secretaries, mailroom guys, and receptionists start asking the questions.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Seth, Let Your Hair Down Man!

Hip, hip, hurray! As Doc and Jordon Cooper report, Seth Godin's joined us in Bloggerville. But, listen Seth, feel free to do more of those down and dirty "I went shopping" (1.15.02) type blog entries and fewer of the shiny, glossy, DirectMarketingSuperman entries. We want the real live Seth-cam, your head, your voice, as you wander through your day.

Back soon to rave about your new book, but there's a killer quotation I can't seem to find and need it before I can give it the full blog treatment.


Okay, this is out of hand. Now he's keeping me up at night! 3 am, I slip silently off the conjugal futon, grope for the book next to the bed, slip my blue plastic clippy booklight into my robe pocket, negotiate the stairs down to the dark living room and jump into the last 20 pages of GONZO MARKETING, booklight affixed to the back cover. It's so "effing" good, this thing! I didn't wanna like it. I hate agreeing with anyone from Harvard.

Here's my pithy critique: if you haven't read it, you're an idiot.

Kmart, No Big Surprise

Sometimes you wonder if retailers ever ask their customers anything! If Kmart had asked me about their stores, I'd have said, the locations suck, they're in semi-sleazy neighborhoods I don't want to drag my 6-year-old into; the lighting sucks, creepy flourescent lights that make you look like an ugly green martian when you try anything on; their shelves are always messy and their employees are mostly invisible, or if they are available, are best characterized as petulant.

Contrast this with Target, my favoritest, favoritest, favoritest store in the whole wide world. They're in great locations, with GREAT PARKING; they are cheery and pretty inside w/great lighting; their employees are so turned on, they look like a winning rugby team -- they can only wear RED shirts because they are on fire w/enthusiasm, nothing else would be appropriate. And their women's clothes are better looking and a better deal than half the crap you find on Newbury Street, Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive.

The only mystery is NOT that they're going bankrupt (they were visually and spiritually bankrupt already), but what was Martha thinking?

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Blog: Pay or Play

David, Doc, Mike and Tom have a good discussion going about Blogs. Eric Raymond's thoughts in Homesteading the Noosphere address this unpaid fun paradox as well. His notion of "competing for peer repute" speaks to the non-monetary rewards of blogging. Like a jazz player, you riff on a theme and get nods from your fellow players if you rate.

The American Taliman

The John Walker Lindh "trial" will prove to be a travesty, I suspect. There can be no good ending.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Give It To Me Straight

Per David's request, a few words: "I still believe the most significant event in our time is the Web and we have only scratched the surface of what it means. I believe the most significant event happening on the Web now is the explosion of weblogs, aka blogs.

Whether you characterize them as online diaries, daily journals or periodic rants, blogs have one intent ... the truth. They tell stories. They have voice. They sound like real people. Their aim is to connect to others, empower others, inspire others. They are about sharing power, not seizing it.

They are taking the web out of the control of corporations and returning it to the people who first conceived of it. They are turning a whore back into a virgin, no small task, and preparing the way for a completely new way to work, live, think and prosper."


My dad's slight improvement in health. He still doesn't know who I am, but he's sitting up and feeding himself. A bloody miracle. He even kissed my hand and said "I love you." What a great day.


DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza which is a mega-deal. It's not expensive, it sits in your freezer, just put it in the oven, it's as good, if not better than delivery pizza (add or subtract the wet cardboard box taste).

But the real killer app, is their new CHEESE STUFFED CRUST. Very, very good.


Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro. It's really good.

Monday, January 21, 2002

Unarmed Truth and Unconditional Love

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."

-- Martin Luther King

Sunday, January 20, 2002


Great day at my church. Gospel singer, Ray Greene, who is just SO DAMNED GOOD, came to celebrate MLK's birthday, lead the choir in hymns and sing acapella for us.

Our Reverend, Judy Brain, who is also so ... maybe my choice of words is not quite appropriate ... let's just say, SHE ROCKS, asked Ray to talk about his faith.

He talked about a calling. God gives you certain gifts — his is musical.

And here's the very easy (and very hard) part — you're on earth to share your gift, and all you need to do is share it. Are you?

Starless Midnight

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."

Martin Luther King

Saturday, January 19, 2002

May 2001 and Thanks For All The Fish

I knew a year that started with losing Douglas Adams on 5.11.01 was headed in a bad direction, but I'm still so sad about that.

2001 = A Loss Odyssey, losing jobs, losing lives, losing it.

You have to wonder if now that Adams is on the OTHER SIDE, if he didn't write the Richard Reid scenario. Flight attendant discovers crazy fuck shoebomber, she intervenes, he tosses her on buff passengers, passengers toss her back on him, everyone jumps him, vacationing doctor drugs him and then everyone watches Legally Blond all the way to Boston.

Don't panic, and whatever you do, don't let 'em see you sweat.

Ce que je veux dire ...

Ecoutes Jean-Yves, what I meant to say, ce que je veux dire, c'est que ... de toute facon, en effect, effectivement ... ton blog a des liens au trucs cools en Francais qui m'aide a ameliorer mon langue ... your blog has links to cool stuff in French that help me improve my French.

Je ne suis pas stupide, moi! Je VOIS bien que tu ecris en Anglais ... I'm not a complete idiot, I SEE that you write in English.

BTW, or should I say, au fait, AF, why not write en deux langues? Pourquoi pas?

Also, je suis desolee, so sorry that the SCIENCE SUCKS graph was rather rough on you French folks, but honestly, it's a rare foreigner who visits France and is treated particularly well.

Moi, j'adore les Francais, mais c'est parce que j'ai appris le langue and if you can parler a little francais, the people are way nicer to you. Well, actually, I take that back, they're rather snotty and arrogant anyway, but at least if you can understand the snotty things they're saying, it's kindof amusing.

Tomislav's Job Dilemma

I like Tomislav's discussion of whether to take just some job, or try to actually work at something you care about.

It's tough to keep bread and cheese on the table especially in this economy, but if you have to be a dead-hearted walking zombie all day at work to make a LIVING, is it a living?

What if you knew, when you went into your next job interview that in a year or so, you could be sandwiched to death in a skyscraper or french-fried by red hot magma, wouldn't you attempt to earn your daily bread in the most meaningful way possible? Easy to say, hard to do, I know, I know.

There's always one alternative most people forget. Go work for FREE for someone you'd love to work with/for some part of the week and then do some money job the rest of the week.

Also remember this out-and-out LIE that making lots of money, driving the red sports car and showing off a metallic credit card, be it platinum, gold, pewter or tin, will get you laid more often than the next guy. Not so! It's alive people with alive faces and alive bodies that get the action. It's all about staying alive.

Friday, January 18, 2002

All The Leaves Are Brown ... Californication

I miss California so much sometimes. Exiled here in Boston going on 16 months now. Not that it's not a great town, but ... the thinking just isn't as expansive. You get in a delicious habit out there of believing anything is possible.

Even if you hate the Red Hot Chili Peppers, check out the video of Californication. Their video game-ification of California is so great.

And the lyrics -- A teenage bride with a baby inside, getting high on information ... buy me a star on the Boulevard -- weird and wonderful.

The haunting guitar intro describes the size, emptiness, and beauty of the West and the desert, like nothing I've ever heard.

Gonzo Book Plug = Gonzo Plook?

A friend sent me Christopher Locke's book from Amazon and they threw in a special treat, Locke's new workout video GONZO MARKETING AM YOGA. It's so good. Even better than Rodney Yee.

His Downward Dog is hot, but his Twisted Sage pose really rocks.

Something Else Happened On September 11, 2001

With all due respect and sorrow towards those who suffered on that day, I can't help thinking something else happened on 9.11.01. The STORY changed. The old plot was that you could be entrepreneurial and brilliant and brainy and win. The hero was a thinking man. A man of brains.

On that day, the new heroes carried the old heroes out on their backs. The new hero was a caring man. A man who was brave, strong, loving. Maybe not so brainy, but he kept his wits about him. A brand new hero, a man of heart.

If you were taking a Zen inventory of the day, you couldn't help noticing a major shift in sensibility. Head + heart = a new hero. We can't think our way out of this anymore, but we might just love our way out of this mess.


Doc's new word for plugging a blog is great. But I still can't get over Doc dressed as a nun from the Sound of Music. As the lyrics suggest, "and underneath his wimple, he's got curlers in his hair, Doc Searls is not an asset to the Abbey! I'd like to say a word in his behalf — then say it Sister Margarita — Doc Searls makes me laugh!"

Which is to say, this guy has it figured out, whether playing a Von Trapp, watching the stars with his son snoozing in his lap, or just fiddling around with his computer, he's having lots more fun than the rest of us. Doc, please write the Book of Fun, we all need to remember how to do it.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

A Word In Spanish

Somebody help me out. Every morning we get The Boston Globe and the NYTimes on our doorstep, on the WRONG side of the door. I have to open the whole door wide, usually go out on the snowy landing, then reach to my far right to get the papers neatly hiding under the hinge of the door. My neighbors get to see me looking like hell, half-dressed in a variety of unseemly outfits. It's gotta stop. I need to write a note to the delivery man that says, "Please put the paper on the other side of the door." My left/his right. Please send Spanish.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Open The Conversation

I thought I might get out the door and crunch my way through the crusty Boston snow to the library this morning, until I read Doc's blog, which stopped me dead in my tracks. As for Bloggers v. Journalists, aren't we talking about power?

Just as we were brainwashed into believing the Captains of Industry knew how the hell to run a business (pre-1990's), before the Web undermined that illusion - yes, links do subvert hierarchy - Bloggers challenge the notion most Journalists hold near and dear, i.e., that they are only "objective" writers, when in fact, they are mostly "elitist."

We've learned in the last ten years that sometimes a guy with an MBA from HBS can be an elitist, narrow-minded chicken shit, compared to some brave, bold, creative, "mongrel" entrepreneurs. This fundamentally changed the balance of money, power and influence in business.

Now we're watching Bloggers create a new narrative worldview that is essentially "open source" and has as its main intent -- empowering and education others. Much traditional Journalism seems to have as its main intent -- grabbing power, establishing status, dominating a conversation and denigrating others.

Bloggers have the potential to devalue the stranglehold Journalists have on a worldview. This is about power. This is about changing the game. Or changing the way the game is reported. Journalists don't need to take their worldview and go home, they just need to shove over and give Bloggers some room on the bench.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

The Fundamental Things Apply, As Time Goes By

To offset the unpleasantness of visiting my dad in the nursing home, I mentioned my kiss strategy below. An American marketer and a French blogger were quick to inquire as to the scope of my definition of the word "kiss."

I plan to define it in the broadest terms possible and hope to share my "kiss my ass" sudden job departures, my "KISS" business strategy and all other standard smooching events. BTW, someone's put a great list of songs together which feature the word "kiss" in the title. Besame Mucho is a favorite.

Jen's Dad Okay!

I had a particular interest in whether Jen's dad had made it, since I spent a good part of Christmas in hospital ER's too. She's a great writer and her descriptions of holding it together for her dad and then the eventual outbursts of tears are amazing. She learned what we all learned in 2001. No time like the present to say — I love you — because you may never get another chance.

Happy Days Are Here Again ... Maybe

You can hear it coming. A rustling in the leaves. More of my free agent friends are getting more work, finally. I think the tide is turning. I hope that big money fish is swimming your way.

Madison Avenue

My dad was the quintessential NYC adman - classic 1960's Madison Avenue type. He worked as a Head Creative Guy for a bunch of agencies, when they really were on that avenue. Then he got an offer he couldn't refuse. To work for that charming entrepreneurial maniac Charles Revson at Revlon. He had some amazing stories about that time. We lived on Park Avenue at 80th. I crawled across ad storyboards and commercial shoot props, before I learned to walk. He was 6'4", thin, dapper, full of stories, sharp as a tack when it came to words. He's got dementia now. Doesn't know who the hell I am, when I visit the hospital, but grins his charismatic salesman's grin as I enter his room. "Dad, do you know my name?" I asked the other day. He couldn't come up with it, but said, "Didn't we work together in New York?" Would that we did, would that we did.

Later we moved to Riverdale, NY -- the green rolling hilly suburbs, compared to NYC. Most kids had a hobby horse. My sisters and I rode a sphinx. In my house, we grew up with every prop that appeared in any ad my dad had ever worked on. If you saw the 60's Revlon ads with Suzy Parker painted up in sexy Egyptian eye makeup, heavy black mascara, you probably saw my sphinx. She was draped across it. This was no run-of-the-mill sphinx. It was a sturdy, paper mache sphinx, sandy yellow, strong enough to carry three young girls bareback for an arid ride across the vast desert of our cedar attic at 4925 Arlington Avenue.

Monday, January 14, 2002

Kiss of Death

My dad is dying. He's 83 and was shuffling along pretty well despite a very bad heart, until December 2 when he fell and broke his hip. He's been in and out of the hospital five times and in two rehab facilities in a month and the "happy holiday season" wasn't too much fun.

Some good came of it. A friend gave me this amazing book How We Die. Nuland writes poignantly about how most people long for two final scenarios — to die with dignity and not to die alone. Most Americans will not get either.

It is painful, sad and scary to go into these places (nursing homes) where so many people are so needy. They reach out for you, like kids left late at daycare.

My dad has dementia. Doesn't know who I am most days. I sit with him for as long as I can, just holding his scrawny hand, his skinny arm bruised from too many IV's. I play mind games to cheer myself up, to keep my half-full glass from emptying. As I sit there, I am now cataloguing every kiss I've ever received. I have received some excellent kisses and would like to acknowledge and thank all parties concerned.

About Paula

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Paula Zahn sexy AND smart. It's 2002 guys, don't sexy and smart go together?

Sunday, January 13, 2002

Opps I Did It Again

It's this darned name — Halley — it throws everyone off. Doc, I'm a girl! I was named after my Great Aunt Halley who came with the comet in 1910.

Meanwhile, you're in good company. I worked with Bob Metcalfe on his book Internet Collapses in 1999. My job was to get brilliant people to write schpiels, on subjects like Linux, ISP's, DSL, other stuff I love. Two really smart guys met me by email, agreed to write rebuttals, corresponded with me for MONTHS and at the end of the project, I left them voicemails to thank them. Both were stunned to find I was a GIRL geek. It must be the Aramis aftershave I wear.

What Work Is

I seem to be getting into some sort of RiverRouge melancolia, but believe me, I'm really not as obsessed with cars and layoffs as this blog might indicate. But what a poem this is about work.

Friday, January 11, 2002

"Polishing The Ford Blue Oval"

Hope you didn't miss Bill Ford, Jr's heartwarming speech on CNBC about how much he cares about the "Ford Family" — his, or the 22,000 ford family workers he's laying off?

He had some encouraging words about keeping the Ford brand shiny. I wonder, when he suggests "polishing the Ford Blue Oval" is this career advice for those getting the axe — just grab a chamois and forge a new career path at your local car wash?

Thursday, January 10, 2002

It's A Goddess Thing, Guys

Or how Britney won the war. In case you missed it, two brilliant, heat-seeking missiles were launched by Ms. Spears right into Osama's backyard recently.

First there was the November Vogue Magazine cover with her sunny Marilyn-trompe l'oeil back-arching portrait in red, white and blue bold American attitude.

And if that weren't enough, her first video after the WTC attacks was the highly erotic, deliciously political "I'm A Slave 4 U". You'd suspect it was shot in Tora Bora, but try the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Was Brit offering to become the next (and 5th) Mrs. Bin Laden, giving this fairy tale a Beauty and the Beast ending? What a way to win the war!

It harkens back to Andrew Sullivan's find — the NY Review of Books article where Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit discuss that most deadly force — female sexuality. Bye Bye Burqua.

Let The Story Begin

So what's the deal with THE STORY of the Ford Thunderbird with it's luxurious Nudo leather seats?