Saturday, December 23, 2006

The JOY of the Blog...

I have to tell you how much I continue to enjoy "TIME" magazine's choice this year for "Person of the Year" as You (the electronic public, basically) and this most recent participatory sample was a perfect showcase for what I'm talking about.

A fitness writer locally for the Post Dispatch wrote about her husband (this dude I kinda' know from work) providing what amounts to Dietary Landmines when he returns from trips out and about. This post from her blog is included below, as are links to her post for you to chime in as well.

It is a great sample of how great it is to be able to exercise your mind as you write creatively and I hope you enjoy it!

By Amy Bertrand
12/21/2006 4:46 pm

Doesn’t it seem like everyone is trying to sabotage our diets this time of year? If it’s not the delectable samples at the grocery store, it’s the tins of goodies given as gifts. If it’s not the cookies we have to bake for school, it’s the grand Christmas dinner coming in just a few days. It seems sabotage is everywhere, and my husband is the biggest culprit of all.

He’s one of those tall, thin people who doesn’t have to exercise (though he should for his health) and never watches what he eats. So I try to never send him to the grocery store. He comes back with cookies, cake mixes, Krispy Kreme donuts. Lately it seems that every night after dinner he has to get something sweet.

It’s tough trying to stay away from sugar when it’s all around you. I think I’ll try to convince him he needs to diet (maybe I’ll shrink his pants!) so it will be easier on me. Two summers ago we dieted together for a couple of weeks, and it was so easy. I think I need that again.

Oh, and a quick update. I weighed in today: one more pound lost! Only 14 to go!

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 21st, 2006 at 4:46 pm and is filed under Fit Mama. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Response from Mike Wilkerson - 2GuysTalking:
I don’t know your husband real well koff! but I can totally relate with you about the “sabotage”, especially at the workplace. If it’s not the crap that’s in the vending machines (do we REALLY need 9 choices of Hostess Snack Cakes, only 2 whole grain and one sugar-free choice???), it’s the mountain/gauntlet of stuff that people have stacked in their cubes when you walk by/visit during break - or my absolute favorite to hate:

"the stuff “left on the cafeteria tables that people don’t want.” "

Note to Readers: Things left on the tables can and have ranged from:

– an ENTIRE UNOPENED GAGA-bag of chocolate M&Ms (I kid you not - who would leave these kinds of things out?) - you know the one you can actualy put small children into.

– Leftover Krispy Kreme Donuts that have “are they still fresh” fingerprint-impression/dents on the tops and sides of them - Eek!

– “Flaxx Cookies” The only word I can think of that describes the taste of these items is like the begining of your common vomit sequence. Kind of dry but wet because your stomach contents are in general, “wet”. While they are supposed to be good for you, it is clear to me that the tuffet Miss Muffet would sit on tastes very much like these little tidbits.

– “Fresh” Fruit: A sadly more common leftout on the tables is the “fruit people being from home” that - folks, is like bait for fruit flies, health inspectors, and of course, the kids from Ethiopia with flies on their eyeball. This has ranged from banana’s that people wouldn’t even contemplate touching much less making banana bread with, to mounds of plastic-bag encased tomatoes that people “don’t want to have go to waste” to which I usually say “it’s not going to waste - if you’d leave them at home outside they would feed millions of beneficial insects and help to save ‘da Earf’ from those that would harm it.”

– Noname Brand Candy: I can’t recall some of the things that have been left out, but you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about here. My horrific memories for this in general hover around Halloween time, where the people that bought “the crappy, unwanted, kids turn and walk away disgusted” candy (yes, those GODDAM peanut butter in wax paper things - YES!), those little candy covered chocolate balls that have no general writing on the clear plastic package and taste “almost” like chocolate, and of course, the butterum rounds that were originally designed to be shot from some kind of military pressure gun to fell enemy combatants before they issued plastic bullets. Don’t be deceived, they are made from the same basic constituents that comprise the hard rubber extract for tires used for humvees in the Gulf.

– Leftover Sandwiches: Umm, does anyone think that anyone is actually going to pick up, unwrap, review, and then take back to their cube, the just less than half of your submarine sandwich that you’ve wrapped up and left out in clear view? Please.

– Almond Bark: That’s right. While you and I know that the educated public knows what Almond Bark is, this one through me for a loop. Out on a table during the first week of December was - you guessed it - 2 giant blocks of raw, ready to cook white and chocolate almond bark. No package, no wrap, no nothing. The only thing more horrifying than these two giant chunks of almond bark being displayed by someone? That’s right - I cannot fool you. That they were GONE when I returned before lunch.

Amy, I feel your pain, and it is NOT easy, agreed.


Check it out online and chime in for yourself! Don't forget to leave comments here!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Hellos from the Man...

The GARBAGE MAN that is!

I just got an automated call (that usually realy cheese me off, but it was from a number I'd never seen before: 1-999-999-9999. Hmm, I wondered as I clicked the "Answer" button on my T-Mobile Sidekick. And what to my wandering ears should appear?

A stout automated male vocal greeting from my garbage collection company (WM - Waste Management), telling me that next week, during the Christmas week, that my pick-up schedule would be delayed 1 day, and that the same would occur during the New Year's week as well.

Now I know how many of you have made the call to the garbage company wondering where the hell they are when the pile you've got sits unattended on your driveway's corner - I've done it a LOT, especially with the company we just gave the boot to in April of this year. But this is the first time this year I've actualy received a message from the garbage company letting me know what's coming up in ADVANCE of a potential problem.

Kudos to the fine people at WM and to them, and all other citizens that will be informed in advance I say a Merry Xmas to all, and to all a clean and knowledgeable garbage. pick-up ;)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Being Your Own Publicist?

In the last three weeks I've been trying to collect a litany of information that will help my podcast partner Brian and I grow the 2GuysTalking Podcast Networks visible footprint not only on the web, but in general. I found an outstanding article that I thought I would share with everyone here in hopes of creating the same brainstorming opportunity that Brian and I had with it. I am please to boast that i partake in many of these already! Enjoy!

"Being Your Own Publicist: Forget Stepping into the Spotlight, Create Your Own
From Guy Wisdom: Career & Money at Men's Health Magazine:

Tom Hanks doesn't need anyone's help. Not anymore. Occasionally, at strange hours, when the light is bad and hope is dim, you'll find the reason on cable: Bosom Buddies. It ran for 4 years, and Hanks never won an Emmy for it, but he put on that dress and everyone in town suddenly knew his name. Tom Hanks was visible. Think about your career. Who knows your name? Heck, how many peers even remotely understand your talents, your drive, your potential? If you're not sure, you need a publicist. Not a Hollywood type--just someone who knows you well.

Someone like . . . you.

What follows is an eight-step, do-it-yourself networking plan, whether you work in a colony of cubes or have your company name stenciled on your pickup. Put it into practice and watch the job offers, promotions, and clients accumulate like interest.

Good networking is more about farming than about hunting," says Ivan R. Misner, Ph.D., author of The World's Best Known Marketing Secret. "It's about cultivating relationships with other business professionals." He used that theory when founding BNI (Business Network International;, a referral service with more than 54,000 people in all fields trading contacts around the globe. The point being, you don't track down the big elephant. You plant some tasty grass, lure him in, and let him go back and tell the rest of the herd. Then you'll have elephants in your field for years.

People do business with people they trust," says Misner. "Until you establish trust, you're not effectively networking." Heed Tim Robbins's example in The Shawshank Redemption. With one ballsy gesture--helping the bull guard with his taxes and asking only for a few brews for his fellow inmates in return--he planted the seeds of a network that would bring him freedom. So sow. This week, make one selfless gesture toward someone in your office, like offering an 11th-hour hand to a project team on deadline. Then repeat every week for a month. That's four seeds scattered, four trusts gained. Just remember . . .

Don't help just anyone; who are the four people in your company (or industry, if you're self-employed) who need to know you? This roster is different for every field, says Misner, but some classics never fade: your boss's boss, a key human-resources contact, the guy who organizes the corporate golf tournament. Look for opportunities that play to your strengths. To get the ball rolling, simply use what Misner calls the four magic words: "How can I help?"

What if the tollbooth guy collected business cards instead of quarters? How many contacts would he have in an hour? The best networkers have mastered this philosophy. "Put yourself in the doorway that potential clients will naturally walk through," says Lynne Waymon, owner of She tells the story of a 28-year-old financial planner who specialized in retirement strategies. He took up ballroom dancing and met so many 40- to 50-year-olds that his doorway quickly became jammed. Where do your potential targets congregate?

Networking gurus call them symbiotic or synergistic relationships: You partner with a compatible, noncompetitive peer and exploit each other shamelessly for mutual benefit. "Put a lawyer, CPA, financial planner, and banker in a room for an hour and they're going to do business," says Misner. So if you're a plumber, every contractor, electrician, and building inspector in town should know how good you are. If they don't, why not?

They're the Three Deadly Sins of networking. The prideful guy scoffs at using contacts for blatant ladder-climbing. He's going to make it on his own, damn it. "Those people end up in the unemployment line," says Misner. "Very few people become successful in a vacuum." As for shyness and fear, they can cripple otherwise ambitious, talented people. But even if you're shy, says Waymon, "you can learn a few networking skills that you can turn on at any given moment." She cites film director Mike Nichols (The Graduate), who refers to himself as a "site-specific extrovert." To shyproof yourself in social situations, prepare yourself to answer the two inevitable questions:

"What do you do?" Too many people take a humble approach: "Oh, I'm a CPA." Show love for your work--there's a difference between bragging and branding. "First, give them your best talent or skill," says Waymon. "Then tell them a time when you saved the day, solved the problem, or served the client."

And everyone, no matter what he does, has a story.

A better answer: "I'm a CPA. I negotiate with the IRS." They say, "Wow, that sounds like a tough racket." You say, "It can be, but last year I convinced Uncle Sam that my client's horse farm was a business, not a hobby." You've suddenly become one sexy CPA.

"How are you?" (a.k.a. "What's new?") This query usually elicits chitchat about blown saves and rain delays, which accomplishes nada. Waymon recommends answering with "gives and gets"--what you can give them ("I hear you need more office space") and what you'd like to get ("I'm looking for a new assistant"). This approach makes for a rich conversation. Plus, you now have a reason to follow up later.

Too many contacts languish in our PalmPilots. Every Friday for the next 6 months, schedule a quick phone call to someone you should have spoken to in the past 6 months. Yes, schedule it. Otherwise you won't do it. Neglect is the turf toe of a networking plan--even if it doesn't end your career, it'll certainly slow you down. "Remember," says Misner, "it's not net-sit or net-eat. It's network."

Misner's team recently asked 2,000 business pros if they were satisfied with the number of referrals they receive. Eighty percent said no. Then they were asked whether they gave any kind of gift or thank-you when they received a referral. Only 20 percent said yes. "I don't know about you," says Misner, "but that feels like a possible correlation." Thank-yous take different forms--a handwritten note, a lunch, a beer, a small freebie--but each goes a long way toward cementing a business relationship. Misner sums it up with two words: "Givers gain."

Flying During the Holidays...

I don't know if it's because of the way my familial ways have been "built" over the years, but I've never "flown" anywhere for the holidays. If I DID fly somewhere for the holidays though, I know that I would have found this article/interview from Kate Dailey at Men's Health Magazine who speaks to Patrick Smith, a commercial airline pilot and author of "Ask the Pilot: Everything You Wanted to Know About Air Travel." Enjoy!

"Stress-Proof Your Holiday Flight

Going home for the holidays? Here are 19 travel tips for an easier, safer trip.
By: Kate Dailey, Men's Health

Our holiday flying fears used to be so quaint: Will my flight be delayed? Will they lose my gift-laden suitcase? Will that large, sweaty woman ambling down the aisle sit next to me? These days, we also worry about terrorism and security lines and whether the airline can squeeze in our flight before declaring bankruptcy. It's enough to make you want to take the Suburban, gas prices be damned.

Our advice: Don't.

Flying is still the fastest, safest way to travel—by far. With passenger loads inching back toward pre-9/11 levels, we asked Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot and author of Ask the Pilot: Everything You Wanted to Know about Air Travel, to explain the laws of the sky so you can cross fear off your holiday list.

Q: LET'S start with a question on everyone's mind these days: Do pilots and flight attendants still have sex in the cockpit?
A: If so, I haven't been included. It's a myth, I think, that stems from the heyday of flying, when pilots were the rock stars of the sky.

Q: NOW that that's settled, what's the best way to choose an airline? Can I trust my life to Air Baltic, for example?
A: Choose by comparing schedules, service, and price. Don't base your decision on safety. It gets into real statistical hairsplitting. Say you have an airline that's had one crash over 10 years and another that's had two crashes over 10 years; to say that airline A is safer than airline B is kind of silly. All airlines are regulated by a higher agency, whether it's the FAA in the United States or the JAA in Europe, and all must meet similar safety requirements.

Q: BUT aren't some U.S. airlines repeatedly slapped with maintenance violations?
A: Those can be really misleading. You'll find that the vast majority of maintenance infractions are paperwork snafus. Also, don't choose an airline based on the age of its planes. Some airlines advertise the newness of their fleets, but it's somewhat meaningless—except maybe to calm the unjustified fears of fliers remembering stories about jet engines dropping into cornfields. The reality is, airplanes are built to last more or less indefinitely. On average, U.S. airlines have pretty much the oldest fleets in the world. Newer planes have better air-conditioning and are more fuel efficient, but they're not necessarily safer.

Q: BUT aren't newer planes a sign of a financially healthy airline, one that's less likely to cut corners?It's difficult to make that correlation.
A: Look at Sabena and Swiss Air, two of the most recent bankruptcies. They were in business for 7 decades and had some of the newest fleets in the sky. Fleet turnover among the large U.S. airlines is less frequent, because the infrastructure surrounding their planes is so immense. You wouldn't be retiring just a plane, but the parts, the loaders, the training that mechanics receive.
IS it possible to escape through the toilet like Leo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can?I saw that movie on a plane. I don't know. I'd have to investigate the nooks, crannies, and crawl spaces of every type of plane.

Q: SO what's changed, securitywise, since 9/11?
A: Um … I'm not really supposed to say.

Q: CAN you give us a hint?
A: Some of the things that sprang up after 9/11 were valuable, useful ideas. Screening all checked baggage for explosives, which is new, and making sure every checked bag matches up with a passenger onboard. A side note: Avoid packing Cheddar logs and fruitcakes. They're so dense they can set off explosives scanners.

Q: DO I really have to keep my window shade open for takeoff? Some of us would prefer not to watch the world whiz by at 150 mph.
A: If the shades are open, passengers can keep track of which way is up during an emergency. Windows are also a source of light if the cabin goes dark. The crew dims the lights during takeoff so, if the plane loses power, your eyes won't have a hard time adjusting to the dark.

Q: FAIR enough, but will using my BlackBerry crash the plane?
A: People have this idea that if you're using a cellphone and you hit the "send" button, the plane is going to flip over. The effects would be more subtle, but it's not a scam to get you to splurge on the onboard satellite phones. There have been cases with cellphones interfering with cockpit equipment—in one case, a ringing cellphone caused a fire alarm to go off. As for iPods and CD players, the crew wants you to hear their instructions, so they don't want you to have headphones on during takeoff. A laptop can't be used during takeoff and landing because it could become a projectile.

Q: DO airlines really think we don't know how to fasten our seatbelts?
A: The preflight safety briefing strikes me as a whole lot of legalspeak turned into really bad performance art. It needs to be shorter and cleaned up, and then people will pay more attention. Here's what you do need to know: the location of and how to operate the doors and the flotation equipment.

Q: IN the event of a water landing, won't we sink before we can grab our seat cushions?
A: When you think water landing, you picture crashing into the middle of the ocean, with ships coming to rescue you. But don't forget that if you're at a coastal airport, there's water right there. There have been several cases where passengers have made use of the safety cushions. And don't inflate your life vest until you're out of a plane. It's designed to float—even deflated—in the event you're knocked unconscious. By inflating a life vest, you make it more difficult to maneuver out of the plane. There were passengers on a hijacked Ethiopian Air Lines 767 who were trapped in the plane as it sank because they inflated those vests too early.

Q: AT the end of Say Anything, Lloyd Dobler tells Diane Court that after takeoff, once the "fasten your seatbelt" sign turns off, you're in the clear as far as accidents go. True or false?
A: True, pretty much. Statistically, most accidents happen during takeoff or landing. [According to Safe Skies International, less than 10 percent occur at cruising altitude.]

Q: HOW does my pilot on Lufthansa communicate with the tower at O'Hare?
A: English is the official language of the skies in North America and, for the most part, overseas.

Q: IF the engines fail, will we fall from the sky?
A: Because sometimes after takeoff or before a landing, it sounds as if the engines have stalled.If the engines failed at cruising altitude, the plane would become a glider. Airplanes glide all the time. It's routine during descents to set up zero-thrust conditions where the engines are at idle, which is more or less the same as having no power. They're still providing electricity and pressurization, but there's zero push. After takeoff, you often feel a reduction in thrust. It's standard practice. You're past the most critical point of flight, and all that thrust is no longer necessary. Or it could be a noise-abatement procedure. Don't let landings scare you, either. They may be intentionally firm or crooked to compensate for weather or runway conditions. Judging a flight by the landing is like judging a surgery by the sutures.

Q: WHAT'S with all the scary noises planes make during the descent?
A: The landing process is like a stairway—you step down one segment at a time. There are a lot of power changes, and sometimes the air brakes are deployed, giving off vibration. Where exactly these things occur depends on a bunch of things, but you'll hear the engines roll back, accelerate, roll back, accelerate. It's normal.

Q: AIRBUS keeps promising planes with dance floors and swimming pools; U.S. airlines barely let you out of your seat. What gives?
A: When the 747 debuted, they had upper-deck lounges with pianos. It was exciting for a while, then they crammed in more seats. Whether that happens with the Airbus A380 remains to be seen. On its superlong hauls, Singapore Airlines has a buffet zone with heated floors so you can walk around barefoot, and a lounge area where you can stretch your legs. On 18-hour flights, you don't want people to develop deep-vein thrombosis.

Q: PILOTS carry guns now. What kind of damage could a gunshot do to a plane?
A: It depends. The idea of having the guns onboard is to use them only for absolute, last-ditch efforts. So you have to assume, if a gun is fired, that the situation is pretty deadly to begin with. The pilot wouldn't be concerned about knocking out equipment.

Q: CAN we assume there's a federal air marshal sitting in first class?
A: If you're flying into Washington, D.C., or New York or Los Angeles, then there's a good chance. But only about 5 percent of flights have them.

Q: SO what are some insider tricks for surviving airport security?
A: It's common sense. Show up early and leave your suicidal tendencies at home."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

IMDB Update - Interesting...

I have been going to the Internet Movie DataBase since it's inception back in 1996. Many things have changed, all for the better, including it's most recent alteration to the front page of what can easily be called the most prolific online entertainment research tool in history.

Cleaned up as many websites have over the years, the newest alteration to the IMDB provides you with a now center-based search field, rather than the hallmark left-top navigation-based search bar that I think will become very familiar over time as I continue to use it. What is also missing, though I would guess it is temporary, is the litany of advertisements on the top, ranging from DVD releases to the arrival of any one of thousands of feature films that have made their way to the silver screen over the years. I also see some broken images, which thankfully provides me with some saisfaction when not everything in a "site revamp" that i've been involved with doesn't all flesh out the first time. Chew on that, Steve :)

I also like that the DVD and feature film arrivals have what amounts to a very important place in this incarnation, along the left-hand side, giving what is a true "at-a-glance" view of what is coming up on entertainment.

I encourage everyone to check out the metamorphasis of the Internet Movie DataBase here at one of my other favorite online tools, The Internet Archive at Archive.Org, which gives a great history of just about any website that's been online. Also be sure to stop by the newly improved IMDB online and let us know what you think, here in the LunchTimeGab.Com's Comment System!