Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Doctoral Thesis: Cartooney Voices Are Not Cool Unless...

I really have no plans of pursuing a doctoral degree, but for some reason I always think about what my thesis would be if I were. *NOTE TO UNIVERSITIES: Will Blog 4 School;) My most recent thesis idea poses the question "Why do English speaking people feel it's necessary to mask plain English with strange affectations?" For example: Last week I drove through an ATM that was voice activated. The dazzling BRITISH voice asked me all the right questions so that I could redeem my, ummm...withdraw my money. I want to meet the dude who chose that voice - I'm serious! I want to know why. We have plenty of very talented voice over artists in the US with lovely, lilting voices. Why did you pick the British voice?

A few weeks ago I was watching the movie Clash of the Titans, which came out in 1981. If you've never seen it before, it is a kitschy movie about Greek mythology. I'm like a moth to a flame with this movie - total train wreck, but have to watch it. About halfway through I realize that all of the characters were speaking as if they were at a Renaissance festival instead of galavanting around Greece. Why don't they have Greek accents?

Today my baby boy had a fever and what I thought was belabored breathing. He was so miserable and since I was down with pneumonia last week I was really nervous about him catching whatever bug I had. So I took him to the ER. (He is fine by the way)My Husband, who is an EMT happened to be stationed at the same hospital and met us there. The Dr we met apparently was not thrilled with my over-cautiousness. He started speaking in a weird cartooney voice that was completely unbecoming of a 40+ yr. old man. He also was NOT comforting to my son - he didn't even try to communicate with him. I think he was trying to show up my husband - so he started throwing out medical terms that I could not understand...It was like he was trying to speak the language of dolphins with a Porky Pig voice. It was very uncomfortable. Why did he use that voice? Did he think a cartooney voice would mask his condescendance?

I won't carry on with more examples, but let it marinate for a while. If you hear more examples as you're out and about, let me know. I may need them for my thesis someday - If a full scholarship with generous stipend were to drop in my lap.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Forget about the swine flu – how about a shot of integrity?

I am dually annoyed. Once for having pneumonia – and I'm not a good sick person. I hate being cooped up and not able to play with my kids or work at full speed (or at all). Twice for noticing that no one seems to care about integrity anymore.

Friday, October 9th it was announced that President Obama was the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Seriously? Like, don't you have to do something to encourage peace? Well, lets see what the committee says:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

OOOOHHH Now I know why so many people say they are “visionaries” on Linkedin. I get it – so you can win the peace prize for your vision. Ever heard the phrase ideas are a dime a dozen?I'm not going to go on a political diatribe about the 1001 reasons this is so ridiculous – but I am going to point out that for me the integrity of the prize is completely obliterated. Seriously – past Nobel Peace Prize Laureates include Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King and the 14th Dali Lama. These people devoted their LIVES to peace. They changed the world. Yes, they had a vision for change, the difference is, they implemented change.

In personal experience I have a very close “friend” who helped out a gallery by promoting a charity event and exhibition via twitter. The event organizer asked all of his connections to tweet about the event and they could win a new Ipod friend was happy to pay it forward without the prize, however, it was a pretty cool incentive. My friend tweeted his/her little heart out and in the end won the prize! In twitter vernacular, WOOT! But alas...the prize was never shipped. To make matters worse the organizer ignored several attempts by my friend to get the low down. Why would the organizer ruin his integrity over something so trivial? Is it because integrity just isn't that important any more?

In another personal experience, my husband and I purchased a bedroom set and kitchen table from Ashley Furniture. We found out as we were paying for our purchases that we were going to receive $500 in free groceries in the form of $25 gift cards that we would receive in the mail monthly. We were pretty happy about that – until we figured out all of the hoops we had to jump thru to get the cards. But I did it. I logged in to the specified website, mailed in the required forms, printed out the required coupons, saved my grocery reciepts, mailed them in, etc, etc. We waited patiently month after month for the cards to arrive – but alas, they never did. Then one day they local news reported consumers were angry because the promotion was a scam. I thought for sure that Ashley would take a stand, admit their mistake and go above and beyond rectifying their mistake – but they did not. They sent a lame letter saying they were sorry and they now have partnered with a new promotion company. All we had to do was go to this website, type in a code, find the form, print the form, mail the form with $10 and then we would get our $10 back and in 2 months we'll start getting cards. WHAT??? How infuriating. I'm not paying you to make this situation right! Here was the perfect opportunity for Ashley to really lift up their reputation by showing they had integrity. Instead, they just partnered with another shady operation and called it a day. As an added note, the quality of the furniture is pretty bad.

I was thinking today about the old Tylenol case study. In the fall of 1982 a malicious person or persons placed cyanide tainted capsules into Tylenol Extra Strength bottles, resealed the packaging and as a result 7 unsuspecting people were murdered. Johnson & Johnson took immediate action by forming a 7 person team to first determine “how to protect the people” and second “how do we save the product”. You can read more about the case here. In the end, Johnson & Johnson retained their integrity by doing the right thing. Responding quickly and smartly to a bad situation. Apologizing in a meaningful way – and then implementing their recovery plan. They acted with integrity and made improvements that would protect consumers from future acts of terrorism.

For me, social media is a giant bright white canvas that I can paint over and over to develop a layered landscape of integrity. The company I work for, Automation Service, is a remanufacturer. Remanufactured products (in our industry) automatically have a stigma of being second best, or not as good as the original equipment. It is my number one priority to develop a culture of integrity surrounding Automation Service's brand, and social media has become one of the most important and effective ways of carrying out that mission. I guess what angers me is the realization that perhaps integrity is not as important to others as it is to me. If that is true, then I will remain the outsider ~ because I will not put the paint brush down!

As an added bonus for making it this far down the blog post, here are some folks who I deem as having integrity and are worth a follow or search on twitter:

@zappos and @southwestair have both been doing it right for a long time. They are social media pioneers and consumer advocates

@Dloesh is a Mom, blogger, tweeter and radio host extraordinaire. Her blog is mammalogues, and she is blazing trails for conservatism in St. Louis. She tells it like it is, no holds barred.

A really fun follow is @rizzotees. He's a small business owner who is great at engaging his customers on Facebook and Twitter.

And now I leave you [dramatically] with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

If you want to be important WONDERFUL.
If you want to be recogninized WONDERFUL.
If you want to be great WONDERFUL.
But recognize that he who is greatest among you
shall be your servant.
That's the new definition of greatness.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

5 Great Links For Creative Inspiration

Although I mostly work out of an office I am still largely isolated and sometimes just need that little extra zazz to get the creative juices flowing. For me it always seems like the oddest, most random thing gives me the spark I need to make an ok project GREAT. Here are 5 great links that I recommend to get YOUR creative ON.

1. Hey! Play with your food!! Here is a link to some amazing sandwiches that are sure to inspire!
2. We all could learn from spaghetti sauce. No – this is not advice from my Sicilian Grandfather – but a nice TED talk by Malcolm Gladwell.
3. Who knew coffee mugs could be so inspiring? Here are a few that are sure to make your morning more interesting. My personal fav is the dunk mug.
4. Here is a beautiful list of websites that use texture to their advantage – just gorgeous work!
5. I’m a big fan of Adobe Kulercolourlovers is taking it to the next level by adding characters to the color schemes! Fun Stuff! WARNING: The first one is called buttstache - If you have an 8 year old they may not let that one go!

There you go! I hope you find some inspiration today!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Wild Time at the Finn Inn: A Rant About Kid-Haters

Our 18 month old son is our little comedian. He is bright, full of life, curious, strong and WILD! If there is one thing that I adore about parenting it is watching my children experience the world with such zest for life. Sundays at our house are “fairy” day, as my 4 year old daughter calls it. I call it Family day, but she misunderstood me and since fairy day is much more fun, we’re going with it. This week we decided to take a drive up to Grafton, IL along the Great River Road. We had a great time checking out the local shops, exploring down by the river and, of course, eating. We decided to take the kids to the Finn Inn – an interesting little place that has aquariums with fresh water fish at each table. The dining area is set up like a maze to maximize the number of tables that have a view of the fish, resulting in quaint little alcoves. We thought we were lucky because we landed in one of the little alcoves with only 3 tables, which meant we could let our kids have some fun.

Now, let me explain our idea of “fun”: 1. Of course we do our best to teach table manners to our kids, but they are 4 and 1 – and that is a challenge for any parent. 2. If my kids want to get excited over breadsticks and squeal with joy – ROCK ON kids…I love that they love food. 3. I let them pick what they want to eat – and as you know, sometimes it takes a 4 year old some time to make a decision. Patience is a virtue.

So, here we are at this crazy place with giant fish swimming around at our table – my kids were in heaven!!! We knew from the beginning there was NO way Grady was going to stand for being trapped in a high chair with tankfulls of fish just within reach. This was evident after we placed him in said highchair and he flung a spoon past the table next to us nearly hitting the woman I will heretofore call sourpuss. Of course, my husband and I were horrified and apologized profusely. I think sourpuss grunted in response and her husband whimpered something too. My husband and I exchanged glances knowing that this has set the tone for dinner…we were now next to a kid-hating table and we were doomed.

I try not to care, and let Grady sit next to me in the booth. He was so excited and we had a hard time keeping him off the table so he could get a closer look at the fish. The table next to us was barely speaking. They were a dark cloud hanging over our sunshiney day. One of the gentlemen behind us had a t-shirt that said “If YouTube Myspace I’ll Google Your Yahoo” – and as if the t-shirt weren’t ludicrous enough, it also was adorned with a giant puppy dog in the middle. Grady, eyes the puppy dog and patted its head and saying Puppy…Puppy. We regularly shout “good job” and applause when he correctly identifies a picture, so he was just doing what we have trained him to do (be smart). Anyway, the guy was visibly unhappy with the petting…once again I apologized profusely only to get a mumble in return and the dark cloud became lower and darker.
Then came the pièce de résistance – the breadsticks came and my kids booth shouted “oooohhhh Coooool” “YAY YAY YAY” “BREAD”. I know what you’re thinking - Yes- we feed them regularly. They just get SUPER excited about food. Anyway…the black cloud harrumphed and gnawed…then started growling about how THEY try to keep THEIR family away from that GREASE…and stick to grilled tilapia and rice. (NEWSFLASH: YOUR TILAPIA SUCKS – AND IT HAS ½ LB. OF BUTTER ON IT SOURPUSS).
So, we all get our lunch and enjoy food was thrown, everyone was happy – life was good again. After dinner I could still feel the dark cloud looming over us and Grady was getting antsy, so I took him outside to wait. After we left my husband reported that the black cloud convo suddenly became lively as they proclaimed: “That is why WE never had children” “Well at least I can KEEP CONTROL of my children”.

REALLY???? REALLY Mother Superior???? Let me just tell YOU something: The world is a better place because of my two gorgeous, bright, curious, smart, loud, wild children. I will NEVER apologize again for their glee, happiness and zeal for life. If you don’t like it, then YOU get out of OUR way. And for the couple who was proud that they had never had children – GOOD. Thank GOD for not breeding more haters. Life is for the living - let us be happy!

Parents, please share your restaurant war stories as well as tips on how to keep your meals sane. Thanks for reading my RANT. I feel much better now!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Get your kids cooking with this fun contest!

Snafood is running a great giveaway contest thru October 17th. You could win great prizes by Curious Chef. The Curious Chef product line includes child-size utensils, party kits, and build-a-kitchen kits. It's an innovative line that is worth checking out.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A New Look for Fall

Hey - The View from 5ft2 just got a little more sweet! What do you think about it? I want to give credit to all the fun template and widget makers who helped me out. The blog template is made by Deluxe Templates. The tag cloud widget was found on compender - which has a lot of great tips & tricks for blogger. And last, but not least, AddThis provided the social media widget.

This Is Only A Test

I'm testing out different blog template designs...please ignore the mess! Should be up and running again by Monday.