Saturday, April 28, 2007

Thought of the Day

A parent cannot be invisible.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Breaking News From The Snack Cake Aisle

As the former Marketing Manager for Dolly Madison I am saddened by this shelf talker I spotted at Price Chopper. As a kid who grew up a fan of the Vanilla Zinger and learned later that it is not Vanilla or Chocolate, but the Raspberry Zinger which is purchased most often, I am saddened.

Another brand bites the dust. More thoughts on this to come.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Request

I didn't think I had anything to say about what happened this week at Virginia Tech. I was wrong. I really don't want to add to the din of reports and comments about what happened and why. Rather I'm writing this to make a request from everyone. Reporters, politicians, civilians. All of us.

I first heard about the incident while listening to Jim Rome while in the car. He, very carefully, relayed that there was a report of a shooting at the campus of Virginia Tech. He relayed the initial report that there were over twenty dead. It was clear that he was shaken by this information coming across the news wires and he very politely spoke for a few moments about how this report had rattled him and that he was not ready to do his job of being a sports commentator and radio show host. He took a break and went to commercial to gather himself. I did not get to hear the rest of his show as I had reached my destination, but I commend him on how he handled himself.

I heard a few more "breaking news" reports later on in the day. I purposefully did not seek out any information but heard about it nonetheless. It was all over the television. So I turned it off. It was all over the radio, so I turned it off too. It came via email. It came via rss feeds. So I turned them all off. I unplugged.


Because I know what the air feels like on a day like that. I know what silence sounds like on a day like that. I know because almost twenty years ago I was locked into my high school and ushered into the cafeteria as my classmates and I learned of a shooting at a neighboring elementary school.

I was there as people asked questions. I was there when people frantically called home to check in with loved ones. I was there when they said a woman walked into the elementary school, announced she was giving a lesson about hand guns and proceeded to shoot six kids. I was there when we learned she shot the brother of a classmate. I was there when we learned she killed herself in that classmates house. I was there when we learned she was an alum of our high school.

And though the high school was not supposed to let students go home without a ride as an effort to ensure everyone would get home safe, I walked home alone one and a half miles to my house. I have never experienced quiet like I did on that walk. No one was out. I did not see a single car driving down the street on the way home. No neighbors in the yard. No one. Just silence. And sunshine. It made an impression.

And I know what it was like when summer camp opened a month later and several classmates of the young boy who died in that elementary school classroom had to attempt a return to normalcy. And I was a new camp counselor.

I suppose unplugging was my way of giving the grieving families space. I did not need to hear this information before they did. I did not need to know where the shooter bought his guns prior to the next of kin being contacted. This was not my tragedy. Nor, I should say, was the event of nearly twenty years ago my tragedy. No one I knew was hurt or killed. I just happened to be there. I was not involved. As for the events of this week I know that in time all the information about what happened will come out. I can wait. Something I wish our media outlets would do as well. Alas, that has not been the case.

Instead we see Matt Lauer (whom I like on most days) reporting live from the campus the very next day. Within minutes there were numerous television and newspaper reporters on site interviewing students, faculty, paramedics, police officers, friends of the injured, friends of the deceased, people who were in the classroom next door, a custodian, the guy who owned the shop were the guns were bought and former classmates of the shooter. All this at a time when the interviewees were asking more questions than giving answers. And it all seems wrong to me.

Why must our national media organizations swarm around a tragedy, jockeying for the best position and interview? Why must they interview students the same day the event occured? Why, instead of conducting an interview with a student still in shock, don't they help them find a counselor to speak with first? And while the questions asked may be legitimate questions to ask (though not all were), and though many if not all of the reporters relayed well wishes and condolences and the conclusion of each report it just felt insincere.

I'm sure any one of those reporters who might read that would take issue and defend themselves as being most sincere, but come on. Isn't there anyone with a sense of what is needed here? Give them space. Make your self accessible, but do not pursue this. It is not worth the scoop.

I have no professional training in grief counseling. What I know is that I recieved advice on how I could help the kids at camp if and when needed. The advice I recieved then is my request now for the people closest to this tragic event.

Give them the time that they need to absorb what has happened. Give them time to grieve. Give them space. Be there for them. If they want to talk they will. When they ask questions, answer them. They have suffered through a traumatic event. They will all handle it differently and you need to watch out for their best interests. Not yours.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Message In A Bloggle

Once when our family was vacationing in Cape Cod I put a message in a bottle and tossed it in the Atlantic. It was a lark. Just for fun. Not littering, just the pre-pre-precursor to spam (sending a note to no one in particular and hoping against all hope that someone would find it, open it, read it and choose to respond). I remember thinking it would be so cool if someone found my bottle someday and wrote back as requested in the note. I was probably seven or eight at the time. And in Massachusetts. That would have made it wicked cool.

A few months later I receive a letter in the mail. Someone had found my bottle, opened it up and read my note. As requested they sent a letter to me letting me know where and when the bottle had been found. I remember getting the letter but not where the bottle was found. I have a foggy recollection that it was in the Carolina's somewhere.

Last June I posted a copy of a letter that I had saved from my Wienermobile days. It was left under the wiper blade while Jeanne and I were out eating dinner. You can read the letter here. It was left by a young girl named Lindsey.

I didn't really expect to get a response to the question in the title of the post. But yesterday Lindsey Mulligan posted a reply on this blog. She's alive and well, and by the looks of traffic reports to the site, she has lots of friends around the country who have now read the original post with her letter.

Lindsey's mom and Aunt have even posted replies. Her Aunt thinks she should get a ride in the Wienermobile, since her mom made her go to bed early all those years ago. Unfortunately I am not sure I can help with that request. I do not work for Oscar Mayer any more and I couldn't even get it to make an appearance at our wedding ten years ago. I'll send a note to the folks in Madison anyway making a plea for you to get that ride.

That would be wicked cool.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Saturday Morning Light Show

As the mid morning sun came through the beveled edge of the lead glass windows leading upstairs it cast a prism of color on the door to the hall closet. I ran to grab the camera and captured these images. I would have sat in front of the door to watch the light show all morning if we weren't running late for dance class.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

DIY Target TV Spot

We got a coupon book in the mail from Target this week. It had about 35 or so coupons in it. They used the back of the coupons to create a flip book. I showed it to the girls and they thought it was neat. So, taking it a step further, I scanned in the images, added some music and a few goofy iMovie FX and... voila! A TV spot for Target using the flip book images.

Okay... it's not the greatest, but seriously folks, this only took about an hour to do. Gotta cut me some slack.

What do you think? I see a whole lot more DIY tv spots coming down the road from fans of big brands like Target. And yes, we do shop there.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Bevare Ze Milky Pirate

Mary read the last post and said to me "Um, Dan? That was pretty deep. Should I be worried about you?"

The answer? No worries. Here's something she'd expect me to post. Enjoy.