Saturday, October 11, 2003

Hot Off The Presses

Here's Chapter Two of "How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Salesforce In Ten Easy Steps" -- I was planning to write it yesterday, but was still noodling around with some plot twists and turns today, and just finished it now.

Midler Does Clooney

This will be a great album. It features one of my all-time favorite songs -- Slow Boat To China.

I'd Love To Get You On A Slow Boat To China

What a great song! It's an oldie and my dad and I used to dance to it. He taught me everything I know about dancing and big band music. You should see me cut a rug to Pennsylvania 6-5000 -- another big band hit I love. My dad had a band called "Billy Suitt and The College Boys" on Lake Michigan in the summers when he was a lifeguard. He was about 6'4" at age 15 and quite the looker. Great dancer and wonderful singer -- sure miss his low bass harmonies on all our family songs. Man, he did a helluva "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and his "When The Saints Go Marchin In" was also a knock-out.

On A Slow Boat To China

Kay Kyser
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser

I’d love to get you
On a slow boat to China,
All to myself alone.

Get you and keep you
in my arms evermore,
Leave all your lovers
Weeping on the faraway shore.

Out on the briny
With the moon
big and shiny,
Melting your heart of stone.

I’d love to get you
On a slow boat to China,
All to myself alone.

Uma Net

Oh, yes, there's a Uma Thurman Network. Isn't the web a wonderful place?

Re-imagine! Don't Tell

This Tom Peters book is visually a knock-out. Don't tell anyone, but I want to EAT the book, not read it. It's so delicious. It's done by my favorite picture book publishers, Dorling Kindersley, DK, or Darling Kindergartens, as I call them. They do a whole pile of books my son reads about Airplanes and The Human Body and Legos and all sorts of beautiful stuff.

They did one of my favorites, which I bought for background research on Alpha Males, yes, My Big Bedside Bond Book. And they did these terrific books on sex with wonderful pictures. This one and this one and this one.

To have a business book done in this format says everything -- it says, "Come have fun." And it says, "I'll make it easy for you." And it says, "Look how beautiful business is!" And it says, "Look how exciting business is!" and it says, as all DK books say, "Here's everything you need to know about this subject, all in one very very handsome, cool place."

Re-imagine! Talk About In Your Face

There's the funniest picture in the very beginning of the book. I mean a really big mug shot of Tom Peters looking right into your face and ... uh oh ... it says, "I'm Mad As Hell" a bit scary. The anecdote about how he wanted to give his MBA back to Stanford University because the guy who was the dean of the business school when he was there was none other than the guy who ran the Audit Committee for the Enron Board -- well, it's a great story.

Re-imagine! Business Spa Weekend

Reading Tom Peters' new book, Re-Imagine! Business Excellence In A Disruptive Age. I'm going to blog about it all weekend. I'm imagining (or re-imagining) I'm in a fancy spa where you get to rethink everything you ever knew about work, business, enterprise, industry and it's like one big spa treatment for your head. You sit in the sauna, you stoll into a cold shower, you go back for a steamroom visit, back to the icy shower, try some jacuzzi, get all rejuvenated as your business muscles get toned and you realize a whole new way to approach this stuff. This stuff called work. This stuff called business. You know by the end of the weekend when you finish the book and your spa visit, you'll be kicking ass, feeling good, looking buff, ready to change the game

[Editorial Disclosure: I don't really know Tom Peters. I did shake his hand once at a seminar he did. I also did a project with his company in 2001. I'm not working with them now. They aren't giving me any money for anything. I've been reading his books for a long time, long before I ever met anyone affiliated with him or his company. I just think he's swell.]

Friday, October 10, 2003

Brassens -- In the Forest of My Heart

Here's goes nothing -- don't ask me to save the meter and rhyme. I'll try to translate this love song with an eye on idiomatic expressions rendered at least comprehensible and maybe even give it a little poetry.

It's a very poetic, sexy, earth song. It's about the dark forest of a man's heart and especially how his friends are there for him through thick and thin, good women and bad, marriages and death. It's ironic and imaginative and down-to-earth and beautiful in it's very very simple lyrics. It plays with language in a beautiful way.

Of course, poor flat-footed Google tried to just be accurate, but even botched that, because it has a logic that is about the heart, not the head.

Reminds me of the well-known Pascal quotation: "Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connais point." Even this is hard to translate, as it plays off the fact that there are TWO verbs in French for "knowing" -- one is a scientific brain logical knowing of "reason" (savoir) and one is a gutteral, physical, intuitive, knowing of the heart (connaitre) and this says exactly what that dichotomy is all about. "The heart has its reasons which the head will never know." or more precisely "The heart has its reasons that Reason knows nothing of. "

Bois -- means wood like you find in a lumberyard, but also means woods and forest; also the Bois de Vincennes is a famous park in Paris and a neighborhood, so you would not translate it, but leave it as is.

Copains -- comrades, buddies, pals

Cours -- it means the courtyard, but in this sense he's talking about the place he grew up and played with his friends in the street. It says all that in one short word and again, courtyard in American English sounds very proper and fancy but French courtyards and how French buildings are built around a courtyard are common and not fancy to them -- it just doesn't translate.

Il m'accompagne a la maire -- this means literally, "Every time I go to Town Hall," but of course, it means something much more important in French. That's where you get married. So it's saying, every time I get married, my friends are there for me. Again, the ironic feeling it suggests is, "EVERY time?" and makes the listener think, "How many times has this wild guy gotten married?'' No mention of any woman in the lyrics, makes the honored and important place of his male friends all the more keen. They walk with him to every wedding and there's a sense they know he's once again walking into a disaster ... but they are always there for him.

Chaque fois que je meurs fidelement -- this means literally, "Every time I die, faithfully, my friends follow my casket to the cemetary." But of course, the joke and the irony is saying "EACH time I die." What the hell does that mean? Don't we die only once and hope our friends are still around to follow our coffin to the grave? Yes, so that's his point. His friends are so steadfast that whether it be the real BIG death or other failures he suffers, they are ALWAYS there for him.

In The Forest Of My Heart

In the forest of my heart
deep in the Bois de Clamart
just as small flowers grow there
my friends stand by me there
In the forest of my heart

At the end of my street
my pals know me
and know my wild reputation
and know my wild heart
At the end of my street

In the Bois de Vincennes
deep in the woods
just as small flowers grow there
friends who grew up with me
are still there for me
in the forest of my heart

When there's no more wine in the flask
at my table
my friends are happy to drink my water
they stay to drink water
they don't need my wine

In the Bois d'Meudon
deep in the woods
just as small flowers grow there
friends who grew up with me
are still there for me
in the forest of my heart

My friends are there as I walk to be wed
wed at the Town Hall
every time I marry
my friends stand by me

In the Bois de Saint-Cloud
deep in the woods
just as small flowers grow there
friends who grew up with me
are still there for me
in the forest of my heart

Every time I die, my friends stand by me faithfully
they are there faithfully
following my casket to the grave
to the grave
my friends are there.


Of course, the words are lovely and simple, but the most incredible thing is the music. His voice is rough, dark and haunting. Very south of France, very full of life and pain and sorrow, so the songs are just beautiful in their wisdom and simplicity.

Talk About Lost In Translation!

I'm just plain mean I guess ... I asked Google to translate this French love song and what a mess it made. I guess to be fair, I should take a whack at it myself. Honestly, I don't think poetry or songs CAN be translated.

Jean-Yves, you'll love this:

George Brassens
With the wood of my heart


With the wood of Clamart has petit' S flowers there
Y has petit' S flowers
Y has buddies with, with the wood of my c?ur
With, the wood of my c?ur

At the bottom of my court I am famous
I am famous
To have the badly famed c?ur
The badly famed c?ur

With the wood of Vincenn' S has petit' S flowers there
Y has petit' S flowers
Y has buddies with, with the wood of my c?ur
With, the wood of my c?ur

When y has more wine in my barrel
In my barrel
They are not afraid of boir' my water
Of drinking my water

With the wood of Meudon has petit' S flowers there
Y has petit' S flowers
Y has buddies with, with the wood of my c?ur
With, the wood of my c?ur

They me accompagn' NT with the town hall
With the town hall
Each time I Marie
That I Marie

With the wood of Saint-Cloud has petit' S flowers there
Y has petit' S flowers
Y has buddies with, with the wood of my c?ur
With, the wood of my c?ur

Chaqu' time that I die accurately
They follow my burial
My burial

... of the small flowers...
With, the wood of my c?ur...

Au bois de mon coeur

A favorite love song of mine from the French folk singer Georges Brassens. Perfect for Friday nights with good food, good friends, good wine and one other thing, oh yeah, good sex. I knew there was something I missed on my list of good things.

Georges Brassens
Au bois de mon coeur


Au bois d'Clamart y a des petit's fleurs
Y a des petit's fleurs
Y a des copains au, au bois d'mon cœur
Au, au bois d'mon cœur

Au fond de ma cour j'suis renommé
J'suis renommé
Pour avoir le cœur mal famé
Le cœur mal famé

Au bois d'Vincenn's y a des petit's fleurs
Y a des petit's fleurs
Y a des copains au, au bois d'mon cœur
Au, au bois d'mon cœur

Quand y a plus d'vin dans mon tonneau
Dans mon tonneau
Ils n'ont pas peur de boir' mon eau
De boire mon eau

Au bois d'Meudon y a des petit's fleurs
Y a des petit's fleurs
Y a des copains au, au bois d'mon cœur
Au, au bois d'mon cœur

Ils m'accompagn'nt à la mairie
A la mairie
Chaque fois que je me marie
Que je me marie

Au bois d'Saint-Cloud y a des petit's fleurs
Y a des petit's fleurs
Y a des copains au, au bois d'mon cœur
Au, au bois d'mon cœur

Chaqu' fois qu'je meurs fidèlement
Ils suivent mon enterrement
Mon enterrement

...des petites fleurs...
Au, au bois d'mon cœur...

Happy Days Are Here Again

My sister in California -- who was NOT an Arnold Schwarzenegger supporter by a LONG stretch -- admitted to me that there's a "happy" feeling about having Arnold win that's just what California needs. She said something I totally agree with, it feels good to know someone happy wants to make other people happy. It's a very electable quality. Most politicians are such a drag and so DOWN, they are really hard to rally around.

I was amazed to hear her say it. She's very left-wing and very feminist, so I feel like if she's okay with Arnold, he's really got a chance.

Let's face it -- he's an Alpha Male (albeit clean-shaven and we do tend to favor Alpha Males with facial hair here at H's Comment) -- and he's got a winning "let's kick ass, let's have fun" attitude. Hard not to fall for that in a movie star, politician or just the boy next door.

How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Salesforce In 10 Easy Steps -- Step 2: Can I Get That In Writing?

[Step One: See this link to find out what happened in the story so far.]

So we were all in a bar again, this time in Century City, mobbed with entertainment lawyers and accountants who were concentrated in that part of town, just on the edge of Beverly Hills. I didn't drink that much until I joined this salesforce. The "we" was Bryce Bennington and William Sanders and me. Like I was trying to explain, there was no mystery to a salesforce in Los Angeles having such a perfect surfer dude blond babechasing specimen of male meat such as my friend Mr. Bennington. He was the consummate flirt and had no end of energy for explaining to any woman floating my his lair -- barstool, I should say -- that sales was all about seduction. Bryce had beer. I was vodka and tonic. William was scotch on the rocks.

Speaking of seduction we were talking about the new Head of Marketing -- a Frenchman named Francois Granger -- who some how got wind of us making fun of him in the conference call the week before and was about to descend on the three of us to accompany us on salescalls. Surely the most dreaded activity in the world for free-ranging cowboy and cowgirl salespeople -- dragging the guys from HQ into your accounts to meet your customers. But after we yucked it up about how Marketing never knows anything about real live customers and avoids them like the plague and shoots their wad and budget on setting up idiotic one-way mirror focus groups, this new guy, we were all calling him Frenchie, or at least Bryce was -- called our bluff and was taking us up on our dare to actually visit real customers.

Bryce finally shut up about which customers to take a Marketing Guy to and which customers NEVER to take a Marketing Guy to. It was one of those things not-so-good salespeople did on a regular basis to cover their asses -- only parade the guy around in front of your best customers. I tried to do the opposite. William and I agreed.

William was six years older than Bryce's bubby beach boy 39 (going on 13), but came across as about three decades wiser to my mind. He was very East Coast, buttoned down, serious and I have to add, seriously handsome, also seriously married. He might have been the only salesman I'd ever met so far that didn't try to hit on me within the first month on the team. Bryce was a boy babe too, but such a hot tamale, you had to handle him very carefully. I'm a nice looking blonde, no movie star I'll tell you, but a cracker jack salesperson (thanks to all these great people -- mostly men -- who showed me the ropes througout my career). Bryce had tried to get into my pants ... let me see ... a few times, well, ... maybe 4 times, no ... well, there was the sales meeting in San Diego ... I don't remember. It's just Bryce was one of those guys you have to keep reminding "We're at work, dear! This is not a Roman orgy!" He was an eager puppy. I actually kindof liked him, but I would never information let that spill.

"But check out the schedule, I don't get it." Bryce said.

There was everything riding on this visit -- William and I knew it. Bryce was no dope, he should have figured it out, maybe he was just playing dumb.

Our manager was leaving the company in a month and these two Alpha Males were going to have a bloody battle to be promoted into her slot. This visit would probably have a lot to do with who won, who lost. I was a senior saleswoman, but new to the company -- only there 4 months by now. I wasn't really a contender.

"Look at this, he has a early meeting with us in downtown LA. Cool. Then he takes off with you William to see three customers in your territory -- hits Beverly Hills, Century City, Manhattan, Redondo, the Marina, but drags Sally along. Then he comes down to Orange County and San Diego with me the next, again, he drags Sally along for the ride. Then he's got Sally all to himself in Burbank, Westlake and the rest of the Valley."

Bill gave me an UP eyebrow.

"Come on, Bryce," I said. "He wants me to be Little-Miss-Notetaker. I get to tell him my version of the all the calls, tattletail on you guys, since I'm not in the running anyway."

"So we better treat you really FINE, girl. Bartender, bring her anything she wants!" he said pounding on the bar and then cozying up to me. I whacked him away.

William was looking at his watch. He had little league games and bbq's with the family and all that happily married stuff the other two of us kind of envied but often made fun of.

"I gotta take off," he said seriously. We said our goodbyes to William and he headed out.

Bryce and I finished up quickly and headed home. I was wondering about this Frenchman, but wouldn't have to wonder for long, since he was appearing the next morning at the ungodly hour of 7:00 for a meeting with us. I was chanting "Francois, Francois, Francois" in the car on the way home to try to get "Frenchie" out of my mind and mouth, hoping not to slip and refer to him that way.

He was there before us the next morning. I recalled he'd been in the San Francisco office and had flown down the night before. He reminded me of someone. Some French actor. I think it was that big beefy roundish one named Gerard Depardieu. But he was a little thinner than that guy and he was funny as hell. We all warmed up to him pretty quickly. He even made fun of himself. He had good ideas. We didn't want to like him. But we found we were liking him a lot.

The sales calls with William went off like clock-work. Still, he had done the same thing Bryce decided to do, only trot out the accounts where everything was perfectly pleasant. Boring, if you ask me. Then off to San Diego and Bryce really did a fine job as well. Most of his customers adored him anyway. We all had lunch in a Burger King off the 5 Freeway and Francois, who told us to call him Francois, not Frank or Frenchie or French Guy or Frog (he'd heard them all), launched into a pretty hilarious story about mixing up words in English when he first started in sales with the company. So that was it, he had started in Sales -- no wonder we liked him.

Then I had him all to myself to drag over to Disney and Universal and Paramount. Sounded exciting, the big LA movie studios, but it was actually a number of grueling meetings with the IT guys and all their issues with our software. The first meeting was rough. The next, the guy chewed me out, but then signed a renewal contract -- the only contract Francois got to see anyone close during his visit., I was happy to realize. And then the last meeting. Well, I took him into the lion's den and let him hear one really difficult customer bitch and moan for a solid hour. We left there on a really unhappy note, the guy telling him our user interface basically sucked and they were ready to rip it out and put in the competitor.

We ducked out of the building and leaned against a wall, trying to catch our breathe, "Whoa," Francois said to me. "You wanted me to see the real thing I guess."

"You bet," I said.

"We better take a break. It's nearly 5:00 anyway," he said looking at his massive gold watch. He was quite the snappy dresser, had I mentioned that? It was a hot day and we both needed a break.

By this point we were over in the Valley near a nice little French restaurant on Ventura Boulevard, so we ducked into the bar there for drinks. We got a small booth in the back and talked over the calls. We were drinking red wine. Just as I suspected he wanted to know what I thought of Bryce and William. I hated being in that position. I dodged it a bit. I spoke about both of their strengths.

"Right, right, but tell me about their weaknesses," he urged. I wondered if he was testing ME all of a sudden.

"Tell me about YOUR weaknesses," I said, noticing and kind of NOT noticing that I was getting DRUNK.

Weird how that moment can slip up on you.

And suddenly you think. "Hey, I'm sitting here with this good-looking French guy that I WORK WITH and I'm getting drunk and I'm flirting." And some part of your mind is saying -- "this is NOT a good idea." Problem is, your body is saying, "Go for it."

And he says, "I have a weakness for women, but many Frenchmen do. We have a bad reputation I'm afraid." looking innocently off into the crowd.

"Is there any food around here. I really need some food."

He orders for us -- something French -- it was probably something disgusting like calves intestines smeared on French bread with a piece of goat cheese on top.

The food helped a little. But then he ordered more wine.

My girl alarms are now sounding in my head. The sirens are loud and fearsome. If I were a firestation, my little firemen would already be jumping out of their beds, into their pants and boots, sliding down the pole, getting the hell out of there fast. Unfortunately, the alarms were getting drowned out.

He reaches over to take my hand. I yank it back.

"Hey," I say, "Aren't you even going to tell me you have a mean old wife who doesn't understand you and never wants to have sex and all that?"

He bursts out laughing, "Is that what they all say?"

"Well," I say, "well, most of them!" I'm freaking out like a girl scout losing her cookies.

He's grinning. "I don't think Europeans tell that story. At least we French guys don't."

"I really should go," I say. I stand.

"No problem," he says putting money down on the table. "I'm sorry, I'm tired, I don't know what I was doing."

"I mean, I can stay, if we just talk business." I say. I sit.

We sit. He pulls back. Thank God. He acts like he's all business. It's good. Not really. I'm still drunk. We talk about something dry and boring to do with the semantic web, I have no idea what the hell he's talking about. I am in that bad place where now that I can't have him, I really, really want him.

I stuff food in my mouth to keep it busy, to offset the wine. We actually manage to talk our way past that tricky moment. He tells me some great things that are happing in headquarters. They are really trying to support the salespeople. They are really beginning to get it. I tell him one of the worst things anyone can do to a salesperson is act like headquarters knows more about the customers. No one knows more about the customers than we do. He agrees. We're getting sobered up, it's going to be okay.

He tells me he'll take a cab back to his hotel, I don't need to give him a ride. I appreciate it. Both of us had probably imagined how nice it would be to make out there in the car alone together. And if that happened and then I have to drop him at his hotel -- well, best to avoid all of that. His hotel and my house are in the completely opposite directions anyway, so it makes sense.

He is polite out in the parking lot. It's a beautiful night. I fumble with my keys, dropping them. I look like an idiot. He bends down to get them, hands them to me. I'm not so drunk anymore thanks to the food, just nervous now. I tell him to have a good flight home. He is leaving the next morning at the crack of dawn. He kisses my hand goodnight. Kisses my hand?! Talk about French! Nobody does that. He says good night, turns, goes over to the cab line and jumps into the first one, heading back to his hotel. I'm looking at his butt. It's cute.

I turn away fast. Don't look, I think to myself.

I get in my car in gear. I take a deep, deep breathe and thank the universe once more for letting me squeak out of that one alive. At home, I'm so hot, I call up an old boyfriend I keep in reserve for just such evenings. We have an understanding. He's a good guy. Very good.

A week later, the word comes down. We're all on the edges of our chairs as the conference call gets going. Whichever guy doesn't get the promotion will probably leave and that's bad for all of us, no matter who gets promoted.

Bryce is sure he has the promotion. William is sure he has the promotion. I think it will be William and Bryce will have some temper tantrum and just quit. Francois announces that I'm the new Sales Manager for the region. They report to me. None of us can believe it. They looked as shocked as I do. They don't know the half of it. "Hey guys, she was the only one who got me a signed contract, remember? And I'm sure she's the only one who can handle the two of you and I don't want either of you leaving. I need you selling."

"Go team," I think to myself and break out in a sweat.

Must Protect My Sources

Okay, I can't say where I got this, but you must lend an ear to this interesting Fox News Blooper (or what it scripted?) about J-Lo and a ... did he really say blow-job? Are they allowed to say that on TV news?

Anyway, it's about a song by Jennifer Lopez called Jenny From the Block, which got me thinking, I'd rather get Jenny From The Blog -- why isn't that girl blogging?

Daniel-kinda Day

Was thinking about Dan Gillmor, Dan Bricklin, then later went to the Post Office, they were playing Elton John's Daniel on the musak system. Was thinking I need to drop a line to Dan Pink. Never sure how these things happen. Also have a friend Daniela I've been missing. Should call her.

Today Is Dan Bricklin Day!

What?! You didn't notice it on your calendar? In September I was celebrating bloggers I haven't met. Now it's October and I'm going to celebrate some bloggers I have met. I think Dan's great. So Happy Bricklin Day. Tell him I said so, if you see him.

Gillmor On Our Winning Losers

Yes, Dan, a Red Sox v. Cubs series would be a humdinger! Cross your fingers. I'll buy the hot dogs and beer.

Ch'i Cheat Sheet

I have this laminated card that is a Chakra and Ch'i Cheat Sheet. I think someone somewhere must have dreamed it up to help young seekers pass some big Existential SAT or GMAT exam somewhere in this universe. I find it both helpful and strange. Anything laminated seems handy and helpful to me. Resists stains and all.

I'm most decidedly stuck in the Sacral. I'm Orange. I'm Below the Navel. I'm in Svadhisthana big time. It's about "Relationships, Sexuality, Intimacy, Abode of Kundalini" Yep. It talks about Prana. My cheat sheet talks about Ch'i. Being stuck above the genitals and below the navel isn't all bad. I can escape, my laminated card told me so,

But honestly my prana is nowhere. I mean I'm not even close to the 7th Chakra. I'm stuck in 2nd gear. But there's hope. I can transcend the subtle bodies of man ... or at least, transcend the subtle bodies of some men. Maybe it's like being a Girl Scout or a Brownie and some how or other, you fly up and make it into Manipura just in the nick of time and you're headed home free before you know it.

But I'm sure not there yet.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

No NYC Blogger Dinner For Me This Weekend

Sorry folks, I would love to get together, but my schedule's really all over the place and I can see I'm not going to be able to plan a blogger get-together this weekend. However, I've got a number of reasons now to be in NYC over the coming months, so I will be able to do it sooner than later. Thanks for all the nice notes. Will give you a real time and location in the next month or so. I will be in CT and NYC this weekend, so if you see me, say hi!

Drug Drop

Heading over to the other side of town to pick up this very hot new drug. A friend has a stash of advance copies of Tom Peters' new book Re-imagine! Business Excellence In A Disruptive Age and I can't wait to start inhaling it.

It actually is legal to purchase in the US. Try this.

Ski & Snowboard School

Just got the new brochure in the mail for Ski & Snowboard School at Wachusett Mountain -- our local ski joint around here. Okay, okay, maybe there are a few things about winter I like. But I just hope we get a little more autumn this October before the snow starts piling up. Was last year intense or did I just dream that?

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Shriver for President 2012

Great fun to read Andrew Sullivan today as he recounts a perfect evening last night watching the movie, Lost In Translation and then going home to see his Hasta La Vista Baby, Arnold, had won California. We sure missed Sullivan at BloggerCon -- maybe next year.

I still think there's another story here. I am not the biggest fan of Arnold, but I really like Maria Shriver and I'm thrilled to speculate on the future of this woman with her superstar political family background, her amazing media career, her great childraising clout and finally, her enviable jawbone -- maybe an emerging woman politician just started a serious study of how to run a big White House.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Spiritual Hyperlinks

AKMA suggested a very interesting notion in his Sunday morning BloggerCon presentation, which by the way, was excellent. Each friend, family, colleague, neighbor and all the people we connect with make hyperlinks into our world in a spiritual sense. When we lose one of these hyperlinked people to death, we are diminished, just as our network is diminished. I loved the notion.

Sometimes in the past few years since I've lost both parents, as well as gotten separated and divorced, I will travel somewhere distant and instead of arriving and calling my mom or dad or husband to let them know I arrived safely, I will find that I don't know who in particular to call. I have a bunch a sisters, brothers-in-laws, a brother, a sister-in-law, many friends, co-workers, but still there are times when I don't have anyone to call. It's a surprising place to be. It is sometimes exhilarating to be on an adventure and feel so bold and brave, but often as not, you can have a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and a thought, "Nobody knows or cares where I am," which is really something to grapple with, especially as I've been part of my big family since birth and then a marriage after that for nearly my whole life.

Strangers extend kindnesses at unlikely times and can make you feel so good. Once I was arriving to meet a new friend I'd never met, or even seen, in Europe and he had told me his height in meters to help spot him in the crowd and I realized I had no idea what that might mean, as we were beginning to descend. There was a tall guy in the airplane next to me with his wife and I explained my metric predicament and they were so helpful. He stood up and told me how tall he was in meters -- he was quite tall -- and therefore what to expect my friend's height to be (also tall).

A small spiritual hyperlink and I thank them for it today. They never saw me again and I never saw them, but they took a moment to be kind and I really appreciated it. I am often stunned by how people think their acts of helpfulness and kindness don't matter. Often they matter a great deal. Sometimes we feel shy about being helpful or friendly, but I think we should always reach out and take the risk of connecting with someone.

Back From Cub Scouts

Fun evening with a roomful of 8-year-old boys and their dads, building hovercraft and model airplanes. Per usual, I was the only woman in the room. I don't quite get why that keeps happening. It's getting ridiculous.

After doing planes, we had snack! They had reduced-fat Oreos -- which means I stuffed myself with 3x as many as usual. There's only one thing I like more than stuffing myself with reduced-fat Oreos -- stuffing myself with plain fattening Oreos.

In the Harem

In the harem, they have heard his name whispered
and every wife reaches for her heart
her ample bosom swells at the thought of him arriving
and then she reaches for her perfume;

In the harem, no thigh is dry
but rather perfumed with oil of fantastic
far away scent and her own special scent
as she dreams that he might choose her;

In the harem, it will be a long night
as they await him, the odors of gardenia
and hibiscous and jasmine will fight
with the female scent strongly wanting the man;

In the harem, the younger wives beg the older
for stories of him and the tales begin to unravel,
his kindness, his teasing, his passion, his laughter
The stories make the young girls lips swell;

In the harem, some can not wait the night for him
so girl takes girl, woman woman into
the female ecstacy of mounting tenderness
where they feel his presence close by;

In the harem, she dreses in red gauze trousers below
and red cotton corset half-laced above
to remind him that the choice is easy
and that she remembers how they played;

In the harem, he comes to her, yet nods to
all the others, setting off a cascade of blushes
and rushes of feeling and wet anticipation
as he crosses the room to her.

In the harem, they find private places,
a bed of heaven made for them
and she can remove his armour effortlessly
and he can make short work of red gauze and cotton
as they travel far away, on clouds, wrapped in
one another's arms.

Ok Big Apple Bloggers

Yes, we should do something fun , this weekend (Oct 10-12) but I'm waiting on my friends in Connecticut to give me their idea of our schedule for the weekend before I make a NYC Blogger event date and time. But drop me an email if you'll be around. Thanks, Bill for the ping.

Traffic Cop

Speaking of traffic cops, which I wasn't actually speaking of, but if you clicked the links on post below, you might have run into this uniformed officer ... Well, anyway, speaking of traffic, I'm getting a lot of referrer log business on my site today from here. I honestly can't tell you exactly why. I've got a team of brilliant code jockeys working on solving this mystery. They tell me they're getting to the bottom of the problem as fast as humanly possible. I trust in their industrious activity.

Playlist and Playtime

Hey I just remembered my friends in Connecticut are awesome party throwers. I'm taking my dancing shoes for the weekend. I'm piling up the CD's and getting ready. No stealth about this weekend's disco.

I just better make sure I get into New York City for some business, that's actually the point of the trip.

Meanwhile, it's all play and no work makes Halley a happy gal time.

I'm done touring in support of my Harvard Business Review article. Now, it's time to get serious and start promoting my story in next month's Penthouse.

Hmmmm ... What to wear, ... what to wear, ... what to wear?

Stealthily Yours

At BloggerCon, you might have noticed I was there WITHOUT my laptop. Shocking, eh? I really thought long and hard about it. I wanted to spend as much time listening and not be distracted by IM, IRC and blogging -- all of which I have done and can do at conferences -- but this one was different. I knew I would not be able to really listen and have a machine in front of me. It's just too distracting for me. And I don't make judgements about others who were very wired and running every variety of community app while listening to the speakers. If it works for them, that's great. It's just too much for me most of the time.

Despite my best efforts, in Joi Ito's excellent presentation, half my favorite IRC channel people were wonderfully IN the room and the other half online which was projected on the screen behind Joi -- so you could say I was on IRC in there and you'd be right. No computer in front of me, but I was definately horsing around on the channel. I wanted to explain that I meant no disrespect to Joi -- actually to the contrary, I showed him the highest respect in a certain crazy way. Since he's been writing about it on his blog for weeks -- at a minimum it said, "Hey, love your blog!"

AKMA was seated behind me, typing stuff on IRC that appeared up on the screen in the front of the room. He was daring me to go up and stealth disco Joi and his words were being projected in front of me and behind Joi, if you can imagine the weird logistics. Also funny and wonderful was actually trying to figure out who from our IRC channel was actually not only online, but in the actual room there at Harvard, but since I hadn't been introduced to everyone and they didn't have name tags visible, I didn't even realize they were there. Boris was one of these folks for instance and then I asked AKMA to point him out in the room. Accordian guy was NOT one of these guys since he had an accordian on the floor next to him, anyone could have picked him out, but I also saw him at the party the night before, so I knew who he was. Same with Ryan who I met in my first morning session.

Since Lovely Liz Lane Lawley was on the IRC channel up on the screen, I felt like she was in the room too. When Bob Frankston entered the back of the room, I asked AKMA to tell him welcome ... which he typed into IRC and it went up on the screen. I guess I was riding IRC sidesaddle so to speak.

Joi handled all the levels of engagement and distraction in such an amazing way, I finally had to give in to AKMA's rather unpriestly goading, along with Britt's bubbly encouragement -- and attempt to slip behind Joi, just out of his line of sight and try to stealth disco him in complete surprise mode. It was a surprise. He and I had been talking about trying to disco Dave but the opportunity never presented itself. I know Joi didn't expect me to disco him. We never did get around to discoing the statue of John Harvard in Harvard Yard, maybe next year.

BloggerCon Review

Elaine wrote a very complimentary review of my session and also mentioned how much fun it was to hang out with favorite bloggers like Betsy Devine and Frank Paynter at lunch Sunday. I really love what she wrote about Si and AKMA. I agree that it was terrific to see them and spend a lot of time with them.

Great to see you too girl! Thanks Elaine.

All Things Distributed But One

Hey Werner, how are we supposed to manage without you to hang out with? No fun at all to say goodbye! And how are we supposed to manage without you Adam? And you Susan? And you Dan? And you AKMA? And you Glenn? And you Debbie? And you Doc? And you Joi? And you Chris? And you Ed? And all you guys?

So, yes, it's was great to be with you all this weekend -- but not at all great to watch you fly back to the ends of the earth. All things can be distributed, but wish we could keep our new friends a little closer a little longer.

Tres Grand Vitesse Yes

Also very fast, also very pretty. And what's not to love about ending up on the Cote d'Azur in the blink of an eye?


Now this is cool. Looks like a streamlined shark made of white taffy. And talk fast. But maybe you prefer a TGV?

Bullet Train Not

I love taking the Acella train to New York, but it sure ain't no shinkansen. I still don't understand why it's all gobbed up with local train traffic and can't break free to go go go fast fast fast.

Riding That Train

Off to New York this weekend. People to see. Things to do. Hope the weather holds. New York bloggers, drop me a line.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Am I Sexually Dimorphic? You Betcha!

So a helpful reader let me in on what "sexually dimorphic" meant when I wondered about it in an earlier post, after reading it in the bird book today. It said the black-throated blue warbler was "one of the most sexually dimorphic of all the wood warblers. "

It's a piece of cake -- it means the boy warblers and the girl warblers look different. In fact, the coloring on the male and female warblers is so different, I knew as soon as I saw the identifying marks and photo that I had a male bird in my hands.

I'm Just Hitting People In The Head With Wrenches Now

This is something my kid just said to me about his video game which is supposed to make me feel better because I was telling him the shoot 'em up games with machine guns are so violent and gross.

Oh, yeah, thanks, I feel much better now.

My Sick Bird

Where to start. First, if you didn't read the posts below -- go back and check them out. A bird whacked into our door today in Boston and lay sadly little stick feet up in the air on his back on the brick bib around my front door where they usually toss the New York Times every morning in a blue bag.

We made him a shoebox condo with green grass wall-to-wall. We found out who he was ... I thought he was a she for half the day ... but then the markings told me he was a he and he was a black-throated blue warbler. Pretty bird.

We had to go to a football game in the afternoon. God, I wish I could make this less complicated. I should label certain paragraphs OPTIONAL PARAGRAPH 1A and 1B etc. If you want to jump to the not-optional paragraph, feel free. Earlier I wondered if I should take him to the football game. Poor bird, thinks he's just flying around looking for insects to eat and next minute he's at a football game routing for the losing team, waving a felt banner with a little head plaster on his head. Never know what the day will bring

OPTIONAL PARAGRAPH 1A: I decided to leave the bird home in his shoebox and hide him in the entryway but then some cat might get him so I wasn't sure if this was the best way to go. I mentioned this to my son who seemed not at all concerned, being an 8-year-old boy and more interested in what his two friends who were visiting were up to and all. So I finally got all three boys in the car and we go over to the impromtu football game which is a bunch of local dads and their sons and my kid and me.

OPTIONAL PARAGRAPH 1B: Of course, my idea of playing football with a bunch of boys and their dads starts with sitting in the car putting on my make-up which I hadn't managed to bother even putting on that day, being exhausted from the non-stop conference the day before. My son is NOT wanting to go play football I'm noticing, and as his friends and he have been trashing my house all day, I'm not really happy to find he does not want to play, because I would like a break, but he wants to stick with me. To get a minute to myself, I lock the car doors. It was hopelessly selfish, I admit, but sometimes you just need a little estrogen refuge and time out from all these men. Honestly, for some weird reason, having to do with growing up in a family with 4 girls and a boy (who was off to college before I really got to know him) and spending my first 20 years completely in the company of women, girls, Barbies, pink ponies and all things feminine -- I'm talking pink -- and then went to an all women's college, now the tables have turned and I am mobbed with men. Sometimes it's just too much.

OPTIONAL PARAGRAPH 1C: I'm having "a divorce reaction". I'm beginning to be very aware of when a "divorce reaction" is happening. This one was called -- "Listen, I can teach my son a lot of things -- what a hard-on is, what a urinal is, why men love to fart and belch, but a woman must draw the line somewhere and FOOTBALL is it." I refuse to teach him football. I refuse to play a "pick-up game of football." I refuse to unravel the mystery of why men like to play football. I refuse to comment on the weird linguistic problem that all Europeans use some form of the word "football" to describe soccer and we use it to mean something completely different that has little to do with a foot or feet.

OPTIONAL PARAGRAPH 1D: I get my make-up on, I get out of the car, I witness my son standing on the football field hating to play football, not knowing what the hell is going on, not knowing why everyone runs back when the guy with the ball looks like he's going to throw it deep into the field, being the only one standing there looking like he's waiting for a bus. I gesture for him to come over to me. He comes over and starts crying that he hates football. I feel like an absolute shit. We sit and watch and I tell him not to worry, I hate football too, but thought maybe he'd like it. We decide to go for a walk. I have been writing in a journal with an ink pen, I ask him to come with me to the car to lock them up in there before we start our walk.

OPTIONAL PARAGRAPH 1E: He opens the car door for me and tells me that he's got the bird. I say, "What?!" He explains that he's smuggled the bird in his shoebox in the back of the car to the football game because he was worried for him. I flip -- knowing the bird's probably been jostled to death by the car ride -- and ask him to show me the bird. The bird's in the shoebox, big hole cut in the top of the box thank god, and when I lift the lid looks pretty perky.

We put the bird next to the car, the box open to the air, no lid. I'm hoping the bird flies away. We go for a walk. The only other people around seem to be the dads and kids playing football. I speculate as to whether the football might just land in the shoebox, kill the bird and then my son and I will be feeling really horrible about that, but decide that won't happen.

We walk all the way to the other side of the field. I look over at the car, I see the box. I see two kids about age 12 looking down into the box. They are neighborhood kids on their bikes. I suddenly get worried. Maybe they will mess with our bird. I start running across the field fast, yelling "Hey, that's our bird," and they are peering down into the box and then curiously up at me. Now I'm somehow crossing the football playing area and everyone is running with me in my direction. I suddenly realize I've managed to run right into the big play of the day and one of my kids friend's is holding the ball and racing me for the goal line, or whatever it's called, but I'm racing to make sure the birds okay. The two boys on bikes are looking at me.

The kid makes the touchdown and everyone cheers about a second before I get to the shoebox. The shoebox is empty.

"Where's our bird?!" I ask, breathless.

"He flew away," the one kid says. I wonder if he's telling me the truth. Maybe he smashed the bird's head on a telephone pole and won't tell a mom about it.

"Where?" I say.

Both boys point off into the woods in the same direction. That's good enough for me -- they couldn't have conspired to tell the same story I figure. My black-throated blue warbler is free. Free free, we set him free. The box looks so empty.

"Where'd you get him?" the kids ask, now beginning to wheel their bikes down the road.

"He hit the house today," I explain.

They look slope-shouldered like disappointed adolescents -- makes me know they would have probably liked to do something to the bird, but really did miss out because he flew away.

I wish the bird the best. I empty the shoebox grass and wood chips in the woods and we go home. We are not big football fans. We're happy our bird flew away.


Adding the link to The Kicker-- Elizabeth "Gawker" Spiers excellent new nest at New York Magazine.
Will blogroll her later.

Bird Hospital Here

A pretty little dark blue-grey bird hit the front door, fell and lay upside down on the brick landing. I felt terrible for her. It's a lovely fall day, but crisp and laying on the bricks on your bird back can't be fun. My son thinks she broke her leg. I think she's stunned.

We made her a bed of grass (I pulled from the lawn) on one side of a shoebox and he added wood chips on the other side. We want to keep her safe from cats and other troublemakers while she rests up. I was really wanting to touch her slate blue-grey feathers. Slate is such a hard stony material and this looks like slate made of velvet. I longed to stroke it.

We know nothing about nursing birds, but the shoebox once housed a fancy pair of black leather slingbacks and has a very uptown look with cream paper and blue paisley pattern, fine wallpaper for any home and together with wall-to-wall weeds, any bird should be proud to call it condo.

She's in the entry way, a bit warmer than outside, but not in our too hot house.

I've got my Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds out on the table and I'm browsing it and I can't figure out who she is. She is the size of a sparrow, but her color makes me think maybe she's a nuthatch or a creeper or maybe a warbler. I want to take a closer look but told my son not to mess with her, so I can hardly go over there and pick her up to look at her colors and shape. Another way to miss my mother. Wish she were still alive, she'd know in a minute what we've got on our hands here and how to help our patient.

Blogging At Work

My session at Harvard's BloggerCon was all about whether tis nobler to blog at work or just plain shut up. Jon Swartz has a piece in USA Today all about this. Check it out.

I don't mean to make the issue sound so cut and dried. In fact it's a complex and challenging problem. We had a terrific discussion of what new blogging tools we need to make the leap into a reasonable, flexible, supple blogging interface that allows for sharing information inside and outside a workplace and still manages to protect confidentiality, dodge legal issues, connect with customers and be productive. Thanks to all participants who helped me envision a terrific new way to solve the mystery of how to bring blogging into the workplace. by designing tools for a next generation blogging standard.

How To Ruin A Perfectly Good Salesforce In 10 Easy Steps -- Step 1: Focus Group

Bryce was just about the worst combination of tall, handsome, blond, charming and married you could imagine. But he was also a killer salesman and our manager knew how to send him in for the kill. He'd been salesman of the year about five years running here in the LA territory and there wasn't any chance of that letting up any time soon. As long as our manager left him alone to use the Santa Anita racetrack as his conference room, the most expensive LA restaurants as his closing dens and every other man's wife as his "network" it seemed the sky was the limit. His boyish charm was in full throttle still at 39, but there was a feeling the playing field was about to change. We'd all heard the rumors about this new marketing manager being brought in from Europe to HQ in New York to shake things up.

When I got there in the fall, there was a motley assortment of sales talent we called "the team" but there wasn't a whole heck of a lot of teamwork going on that I was witnessing. I'd been a saleswomen for about 10 years by then and they brought me in as a senior salesperson -- a woman -- to bridge the gap betweeen Bryce Bennington's high octane testosterone selling style and the quiet, extremely elegant mild-manner rock-solid-technical knowledge sales strategies of William (never Bill) Sanders. At 45, William had been through it all, was unflappable, the classic 42 Long, and had deep and respected industry contacts that were unassailable and a multimillion dollar deal gravitas any salesperson would envy. When this man handed you a Mont Blanc, you signed on the dotted line without missing a beat and you knew he was giving you the pen for keeps and you wanted it.

I'd been there about four months when we all got called into a Monday morning meeting by our manager. Mary Carpenter. Mary was a great manager, a perky blond in her late thirties, still very pretty, but wonderfully momish now. Lately I got the feeling she seemed ready to throw in the towel -- just stray remarks about her kids, husband, laundry got me thinking that. As a mom of three boys, there was nothing Bryce could throw at her that she couldn't throw right back at him. And she and William were a terrific team, they'd worked together at IBM before this current salesforce, so they were like two ice skating champs, ice dancing their way across the rink to a peppy waltz, never missing a step.

I should have known that third kid at home, now only about 9 months old and her husband's promotion to a new position in his law firm would spell disaster. It was a rainy January day in LA that all Los Angelenos dread. Two weeks after Christmas -- my tree was still up complete with little surfboard ornaments. A cold (45 degree) slanting, pummelling rain was hitting the beach as I drove in from Redondo. There's no coat in your closet that would keep you warm and dry enough. Your suede shoes are in grave danger. Everyone's cranky.

"Okay, first of all, big news our of New York. The new marketing manager, Francois Granger, has a plan you'll all want to hear. Conference call in about 15 minutes," Mary said.

"I'm not calling anybody Francois. What kind of frigging name is that anyway?" Bryce jumped in.

"Down, Bryce, down," Mary said. "And one other important piece of news, I'm leaving."

"Holy Guachamole!" Bryce was up in a flash, grabbing his blond locks, with a big "oh my aching head" gesture of intense pain.

I could tell by his reaction he really hadn't seen it coming, but with the slight shift of William in his chair next to me, I sensed that he had known for a while.

"Mary, tell us the story," William said in his Easy Listening Radio Station voice. He was really a very attractive guy, but solidly married in the opposite way Bryce was -- you never even considered flirting with him, but instead went to him for fatherly advice and were always glad you had.

The rest of the room knew what was really going on -- Mary leaving meant a battle royale of the Alpha Males about to take place. Bryce and William would be up for the slot and it would not be pretty to watch what happened to the guy who lost. I was too new to be considered and the other three were too junior.

She explained her husband wasn't just being promoted, but being asked to go to HQ in New York and they were moving by end of February.

The conference call time was approaching so there wasn't much time to talk about who would be taking Mary's place. There was six weeks to worry about that, but I got the sense from her switch to the topic of Marketing that there was bigger smoke going down in that area, with this announcement from Francois Granger.

We dialed in and Mary went about the diplomatic stuff, welcoming the French guy, introducing us, making the usual stupid jokes about LA and the beach and the rain.

Granger began a long, almost incomprehensible presentation about the new direction marketing was taking. To say he had a heavy French accent was an understatement.

Bryce was clowning around from the beginning and Mary made sure the MUTE button was ON, so as to avoid any embarrassments.

He was saying something about "Focus Groups" and the way he pronounced "Focus" sounded a bit like something rude.

At the end of the call, we all made happy horse shit noises (as Bryce liked to call them) of "thanks, welcome, we're eager to be working with you" and hung up.

Bryce launched into a mildly hysterical white board parody of the speech drawing out a diagram and labeling all the internet boxes "ZXTML" and pronouncing it with a phoney French accent.

"Since you lousy lazy-assed salesmen know nothing about Zee XTML, I shall demonstrate zee way zee French do it. Zee XTML is more fun zan a barrel of Maginot Lines! And zee Marketing guys here in zee headquarters know better than you silly salespeople who actually spend zee time visiting zee customers. We don't need to talk to zee customers! We do not need to talk to zee salesmen! What we need is a good FUC-US GROUP! "

"Bryce, cut it out, " Mary tried to stop him, but had no energy for it.

He went on "Yes, boys and girls, if there's any thing Marketing knows how to do to salespeople, it's how to FUC-US!"

This made the room instantly erupt in laughter and I remember thinking it would be a classic moment for all of us. It was a moment in time we'd all refer back to as things began to change. There was no doubt things were about to evolve. If you asked me that day, I would have put money on William being our new manager by March and Bryce having a lot of trouble with that. But it was still January and I was no tarot card reader. Mary managed to calm the room and get us back into the work day and on our way out to see clients, or even off to some dreaded paperwork, whether it be the loathsome wrangling of expense reports, or worse, some form of reporting our sales activity.

By four we were all in the bar downstairs at the Chinese restaurant, drinking stronger than usual drinks, playing with our little pastel drink parasols, flirting a little, whining a lot and wondering what was headed our way. The subject of conversation was an old standard. How marketing sat up in the war room making maps, sticking little pins into the different quadrants, making decisions for salespeople who had to do the real dirty work. They poked a little pin in a map of LA with a red paper flag attached to it but salespeople were in the trenches doing the real heavy lifting -- not weilding a push pin but rather thrusting a bayonet in the belly of the prospect, to bring in the bacon. Bryce was explaining why this was the reason marketing people didn't know Jack and salespeople couldn't help hating them. It was another of his "real men are in sales and everyone else is a wimp" storylines.

On the drive home I found myself laughing out loud at his great pantomime of Francois's speech on focus groups and wondering if there ever was a simple way to get sales and marketing -- oil and water -- to mix. There might be something really valuable about getting a conversation going between the two. We might all make some money out of the deal. Nah, I thought as I turned into my rainy driveway, too good to be true.

[This is a fictional account of a fictional salesteam. What's that thing they say, "any ressemblance between real live people and these people is no good reason to sue my ass" ... you know what I mean.]

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Something About Passion

Meeting all the bloggers at BloggerCon was truly a treat. It got me thinking about the most basic quality of blogs -- whether they be technical or journal-like or warblogs or whatever type, the best have a passion about their subject that is undeniable. And the bloggers themselves are a passionate bunch. Just an honor to be in the same room with them. Thanks Dave for making it happen.